Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) Review

A dark and brooding look at the sinful desires that corrupt people is not what you would expect out of Disney as a theater goer in the early Eighties. Yet that is exactly what this movie is. When a strange carnival named Dark's Pandemonium arrives at a small town, harrowing encounters with Dark and his minions follow. Soon the lives of the townsfolk are on the line, if not their very souls.  Filled with horror, regrets, and menace the movie is ultimately about fathers and sons. UPDATED January 2014 with better screen captures and completely rewritten text.

Something Wicked This Way Comes Title

The late Seventies had not been kind to the Walt Disney company at the box office. In an attempt to regain lost audiences the studio had been moving more toward the serious side in their films; starting in 1979 with The Black Hole and the dollowing year with The Watcher in the Woods. 1982 was supposed to be the year of big change with the experimental TRON and this gothic movie hitting theaters to revitalize the company’s box office success.

Alas, that plan fell apart due to a disastrous test screening that led to reshoots a year later designed to make the movie more acceptable to a family audience. However, those changes did not change the movie enough and the end result was still a dark and terrifying movie that was guaranteed to give small kids nightmares.

Friday, January 24, 2014

BBS Memories

After reading an article at Ars Technica reminiscing about calling dial up bulletin boards with a 2400 baud modem, I’ve been trying to remember details of those days. Twenty years of the Web have erased most of those memories to my disappointment. Even remembering names of the BBSs I frequented escapes me.

What I do remember is mainly concentrating my attentions on an OS/2 board near the end of my long distance calling days. At that point, America Online had become my main destination and so the primitive ANSI based boards were on the way out, not only for me but for most users. I wish I could remember the board’s name that has slipped so easily from my personal memory banks.

Monday, January 20, 2014

TRON: Legacy (2010) Review

A surprisingly beautiful and layered movie that vastly improves upon the original film in every possible way. While the action is spectacular, the real story is both a social commentary and variation on the prodigal son. Filled with extraordinary imagery, kinetic action, and good acting, it may not have been the smash success Disney envisioned it succeeded in being thought provoking and very, very entertaining. UPDATED December 2011 for Blu-ray review and HD screen captures, January 2013 for technical details.

Tron Legacy Title

I’m old enough to have seen the original TRON in a movie theater and always had a soft spot in my heart for it.  Disney’s experiment wasn’t a great movie, but was a passable B movie with an A level budget.   Still, it was great fun and interesting to look at with an equally interesting soundtrack.  28 years later, the sequel arrived in 3D during a disappointing winter box office.  So did it live up to the hype?

Tron Legacy Walt DisneyTron Legacy Flynn 1989

TRON: Legacy starts with a lasers forming the outline of the Walt Disney Pictures Enchanted Castle which is a nice touch. This was in 3D at the theater; the screen captures in the review come from the Blu-ray so I may be a bit fuzzy about where 2D and 3D transitioned. Lines of blue light follow, tracing circuit patterns that become city streets while Jeff Bridges voice is heard talking about “The Grid.” It is a very pretty sequence indicative of things to come.

The year is 1989 and widower Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is telling his seven year old son, Sam, about getting into The Grid in the first movie. TRON and CLU are mentioned as helping him build The Grid and a promise is made to take Sam there one day. But something big has happened, a “miracle” and for the moment the boy has to stay put. Another promise is made and Flynn leaves to work on his project.

Life Is Like a Boat

Full of waves that bob us up and down, the water we sail on through life is rarely calm for any lengthy amount of time. The past eight days have not been still, but have not been tempest tossed either. Illness has been part of the downs of my life during this period. Most of them in fact.

Mostly bedridden to start out the week, it felt like I lost a month of things needing doing rather than days. On the other hand, a few good things happened that ranged from the mundane scoring of cheap DVDs at Alco to meeting with a congressional candidate that my father has been pitching tax reforms to.

On the negative side, somebody knocked our new mailbox off its post in the middle of the night. Tire tracks showed it wasn’t either of the snow plows, but a smaller vehicle that hit the post. The hill it fell down is very steep and treacherous, so I had to wait until I was feeling better to retrieve it from the snow. Thankfully, total body weight routines help with balance far more than I realized.

So things weren’t oppressively dull.

I did lose five days straight on weight training, but bobbed back to higher levels of pounds pressed. Things went swimmingly until yesterday, when pain induced sleep deprivation combined with upper respiratory issues made for a difficult day at church. Teaching adult Sunday school to a room filled with professionals from all walks of life and two thirds of the stake presidency while brain dead is not recommended.

My beloved Hoist V2 home gym did not get used as it was beyond my physical stamina after church. Today started out equally poorly, but somewhere after Noon rolled around, I became functional again. Before and after sessions of Pinball FX 2 verified I wasn’t imagining this and so I got to workout again.

One must adjust to the ups and downs of life or risk the chance of developing lifesickness, the equivalent of being seasick but more disorienting and disheartening. With less throwing up, I hope. Knowing that waves always go up and down is a big part of developing the emotional sea legs needed to cope with life. Not that I’m always on an even keel.

If my friends could have seen me ranting at the cats, the computer, and the world in general while being very ill Monday, they would have been shocked. An unusual combination of sickness, exhaustion from CFS, and high pain had me worse than the normally surly attitude I exhibit when ill. Of course, this passed and life went on.

Feeling better allows me to appreciate things properly, such as the beautiful song the post title was taken from. Here’s a live performance of Life Is Like a Boat by Rie Fu:

Simply lovely tune.

This song was the end theme for the first season of the anime Bleach and I’ll always fondly associate it with the character Rukia. I think you’ll find it stands on its own perfectly well.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

TRON (1982) Review

A tale about a human crossing over into a virtual world hidden inside video games, this movie predicted much about a rising technology using an amazing combination of live action, animation, and pioneering computer generated special effects. Featuring a simple story that’s owes much to Spartacus, the sheer spectacle of the unusual imagery made this a cult classic.

TRON Title

Turn on a TV set or go to a theater and you’ll immediately be bombarded by brilliant and unreal visions of people or things doing physically impossible actions in defiance of the laws of physics or existence. In a world filled with computer generated (CG) graphics it all seems humdrum today.

Rendered by artists using computers instead of airbrushes and paint, CG is used in everything from commercials to sports broadcasts (virtual 1st down lines, anyone?) with no way to escape it. Let me take you back to a far gone period where this wasn’t the case and computers themselves were still mysterious rather than ubiquitous.

The early 1980s to be precise.

Desperate to regain a declining youth audience in the late ‘70s, Walt Disney’s movie division was willing to try new things. While conventional animation was considered dead or at least comatose, a slew of live action movies breaking the child friendly G rating were commissioned. Among them were The Watcher in the Woods, The Black Hole, and the radically experimental TRON.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Technical Difficulties

Since last Saturday, I've been having problems with the DSL service provided by my ISP with frequent outages. Tech support is supposed to be investigating it, but nothing concrete has been found so far. So I'm way behind on posting and other Internet related doings.

Adding to the grief, I was so ill yesterday I accidentally clicked on the close button for the movie review that's been so troublesome. Exhausted, I thought I was clicking on the cancel button but it turned out to be the close out without saving button. More than half the review was lost, so another setback.

For the hat trick, the window in the basement blew out again. That's been the only easy thing to fix!


Somebody ran into our new mailbox and knocked it down the hill into the trees. I'm thinking of climbing up or down to get it, in the mean time we have to pick up the mail in town -- 12 miles away. 

At least the first pass on the movie review is finished and I may get the thing up tonight.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Evens and Beginnings

Titled thus due to boredom with using "odds and ends" for posts

Things have slowed a bit on the blog due to my working on a movie review that has a great deal of extras. While I've grown to love seeing all the details of how a production came to be made, it takes a great deal of time to wade through all the content. Looking up a previous review of a connected movie has added more to do, since I realized the old one needs a rewrite to include bonus content too.

Earlier this week I had the chance to eat at a restaurant I'd been wanting to try out for years. Hu Hot is billed as a Mongolian grill, so I was salivating at the opportunity to sample their hot sauces. In the end, I focused exclusively on their second hottest, due to a strong craving for garlic. The food was good though it was something of a learning experience.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

UPDATED: We have water again as of late last night. It turns out the wind blew out one of the small windows in the basement! Old farmhouses sometimes had windows to let in light that are about a quarter of the size of normal windows. Just one blown back into the basement was enough to turn it into a deep freeze.

Original post:

All sorts of warnings have been given about how bad today would get and I was too ill the second half of yesterday to remember to fill containers with water. That mistake came home to bite me on the behind, of course. While I was at church, the water froze and none of the tricks that normally get it going again in subzero weather worked for my father.

While the raw temperature at the house was only –4 F (-20 C), wind chill was closer to –18 F (-28 C). The blowing wind is the culprit behind the frozen pipes and it will be days before things get better. Overnight forecasts indicate around the wind chill temperature for the high tomorrow!  Add in wind and we’ll see –50 F (-46 C). Blowing snow will be the insult added to injury.

As a result of the preparation fiasco of this autumn, the 50 gallon water drum was never filled and thanks to yesterday, no other containers were. There are few things more annoying than breaking the Sabbath to me, but it turned into an emergency when no empty gallon jugs were to be found. At some time they were thrown away to my ire. So a trip to the local grocery netted four gallons of water for drinking purposes to last the next couple of days.

As far as the toilet goes, I’m melting snow in buckets for that purpose. At least I don’t have to use an outhouse! I don’t even want to imagine what that would be like.