August 31, 2004

Brief update from Nebraska

I am typing this in as quick as I can at an internet kiosk at a hotel. (If this is the future of access, then the future is a strange place of carpal tunnel and strangers looking over my shoulder.)

Brief updates to be elaborated on later:

-U-Haul never called us back with a reservation pick up place. Did you hear me? YES. That means that even though I'd had a reservation for one month, when the day arrived, they simply... blew us off. We had the entire house packed, and ended up sitting there all day, waiting by the phone for the call. ALL DAY. HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF SUCH AN OUTRAGE.

- I don't know what "overdrive" means.

- Everyone, from the hotel desk clerk in Davenport, Iowa, to the waitress in Ogallala, Nebraska, to the SBC man who took my order to disconnect service, has assured me we will be victims of Road Rage if we intend to drive a 15' truck pulling a car trailer through mid-afternoon L.A. traffic. Yay! Something to look forward to!

- It turns out that if you took all our possessions and compacted them into a cube, the cube would exceed the area of a 15' Budget truck, by the addition of the exact area of one '92 Tercel. That is, if you subtract a bike, a shelf unit, and a rubber tree plant.

- So far, this trip is the best.

Posted by Chris on 08/31/04

August 29, 2004

Blog Hiatus

Operation: Go West is in go mode, people, repeat, we're in go mode. Doubtful that any updates will come from the road, although you never know.

Everything packed, check. Audiobooks set on iPod, check. Road atlas in handy place, check. UHaul truck and hitch picked up and ready to go, check minus. They called yesterday to tell us our pick up location had changed, and they'd be calling back. Well, it's Moving Day and I'm still staring at the phone like a jilted prom date.

Why, oh why, did I not remember the Rental Vendors Maxim, which clearly states that for critical moves and movies, PICK UP ALL RENTAL EQUIPMENT AT LEAST A DAY AHEAD OF TIME.

In the meantime, while I wait on hold for hours, my neck killing me from holding the phone and taping boxes at the same time, why don't I amuse myself by hitting refresh again and again and seeing how many dogs I can get in the pictures at the left.

While the blog is inactive this week, why not go see "Hero?" Or visit Or American Prospect?

Posted by Chris on 08/29/04

we are already sad with the missing of you.


please to return shortly.

Posted by: friend jessica at August 30, 2004 4:04 PM

we are already sad with the missing of you.


please to return shortly, and tell me:


Posted by: friend jessica at August 30, 2004 4:04 PM

I having the missing of you duty today. I am sad as well. Settle in and blog soon so that we can commence with illusion of you having never left. Make references to Chicago weather and recent articles in the Sun Times. Help your friends, for christsakes.

Posted by: fattyfat at August 31, 2004 12:08 PM


Posted by: fattyfat at August 31, 2004 12:09 PM

Although I may leave town soon in shame because I don't have a dog that blogs and I pretended I did and I got punk'd. See you in LA.

Posted by: fattyfat at August 31, 2004 12:10 PM

Yah, well, try sitting in the office now with that empty desk just... just... just... STARING at me.

It's haunted, I swear. I fully expect to see the really-bad-CGI-hyenas in the hall some morning when it's so damn QUIET.

Posted by: AragornSoS at August 31, 2004 4:41 PM

Chris, I told you to clean the mess off the bedroom wall.

I tolerated what I thought were your excremental "sexual adventures" because you're one of those liberals - and therefore the only hope for our nation as it daily sells off more freedoms and bits of its soul to the whingeing American Taliban, right-wing, corporate Christian, anti-sex, anti-freedom, anti-choice, constitution-hating, news-ignoring, thought-avoiding, inner-lifeless, war-mongering, Bush-apologizing, pro-pollution, SUV-driving evil baddy bad bads.

I had no idea the excremental wall patch is in fact a bas-relief portrait of our lord and savior, Jesus the Christ, sculpted with great precision and detail from the accumulated fecal matter of over three years. Complete with real hairs and assorted molds!

I broke two chisels taking it down and threw my back out hauling it out of there. As I looked into His cracked and crumbling face, His sunken eyes and crown of shit thorns, I knew I must forgive you. Good luck in California.

Posted by: Chris' old landlord at August 31, 2004 9:06 PM


I agree with what you're saying. Thanks for sharing the info with us.

Posted by: webcam at March 3, 2005 5:48 AM

pms remedy. pms relief. pms relief

Posted by: pms relief at May 6, 2005 2:01 PM

August 26, 2004

The Exorcist: The Beginning

To give you an idea of the tone of this film, the only thing missing from Father Merrin's costume as a young man is a bullwhip. When we first see him - throwing back shots of whiskey in a crowded Egyptian bar, where someone is trying to convince him to acquire a rare antiquity - he already has the fedora, the scowl, and the whole unshaven, khakified look. Soon the ex-priest and archeologist is discovering a hidden passageway beneath a pagan tomb. He even gets a Short Round-type sidekick later, although Short Round was never suspected of being possessed by demons.

Clearly this was to be an action / horror film, then. Perhaps this was to be expected considering the director who survived the development process of this film long enough to receive credit - Renny Harlin. He’s turned in more than a few enjoyable action thrillers, so it’s no surprise that the movie would go this way, although I'd have liked he and Stellan Skaarsgard to have dialed back the Indy a bit.

In no way does "Exorcist: The Beginning" even approach the original, but who said it would? And the last two films in the series have more than prepared us for the letdown. There is an interesting story somewhere in there, but it’s unfortunately buried under a lot of melodrama, horror movie clichés, and none of the ambiguity which made the original so unsettling.

Even though I was prepared, the missed opportunity is still unfortunate. Unlike many perfect films, “Exorcist” actually DOES beg the question of what the hell that thing was anyway, and what happened before. The title character in the original film wanders through a long, almost dialogue-free prologue, which although mystifying as to its connection to the rest of the story, is also completely menacing and effective in setting the tone and the exorcist’s back story. “Beginning” purported to take it up from there, and although it supplies some good ideas, it mostly wastes it, turning into a standard flick, notable only for its cast, excessive and brutal violence (a lot of it involving children, as if Harlin felt he had to up Friedkin’s ante from the original), and the fact that this is the second version of the film.

The second version? Considering that “Beginning” seems like a low C script effort at best, how bad could the previous one be? This may be another film that has a more interesting production story than plot.

Posted by Chris on 08/26/04

Hey chris, what a great review here! It's really well written! I thought you were quoting someone else since it sounded so highbrow and professional!

Posted by: friend jessica at August 27, 2004 9:56 AM

August 24, 2004

Astounding Feats in Design

I just got a new work laptop, a Compaq Evo N800c.

Location of "Insert" Key: Right next to the space bar, which is a good out-of-the-way place next to a rarely-used key. Because you wouldn't want to hit Insert accidentally. The only way it could be more inconveniently placed is if hitting the "e" key twice in a row turned it on.

Location of "Function" key: Right where the "Ctrl" key is on standard keyboards, so good luck to me on unlearning a lifetime of typing habits.

Location of numerous helpful "Windows logo" keys, which cause window menus to pop up randomly: Seemingly all over the keyboard. I haven't finished mapping them out yet, they're so numerous.

Today's most popular Google search terms: "disable insert key compaq."

Special note: A good 20% of this entry, and likely all future entries, had to be retyped after accidentally "overtyping" during revisions or having the cursor randomly jump up to a previous paragraph.

Addendum: Now testing - THE TOGGLER.

Posted by Chris on 08/24/04


Posted by: MARGE at August 24, 2004 3:11 PM


Posted by: HOMER at August 25, 2004 1:46 PM

August 23, 2004

Operation: Go West status - Fastfinding An Apartment

Boxes. Boxes? Boxes! Boxes, boxes, boxes, and box, boxes, boxes.


That is what our apartment is right now. Total boxes. All boxes, all the time. NOTE TO SELF FOUR WEEKS AGO: You're going to have too many boxes. Ease up on getting the boxes.

Also: Our nerves could not take going out west without having a new Landlord to complain about, so we put a partial deposit on a place about a mile from Office, and credit report approval pending, ahem, that will be it. Although new Landlord is perplexed that anyone would even think to rent a place sight unseen, and has called us several times to make REALLY SURE that we want to do this. (I'm ignoring every Impending Doom Warning Bell on the dashboard right now.)

P.S. By the way, if you see a picture of a dog on this blog, then your computer may be infected with spyware. Conversely, if you see a picture of a building, it means you've been pre-approved for a mortgage and we've been trying to get a hold of you.

P.P.S. Regarding the Devil's Search Assistant. What was I talking about below? I somehow transmuted "Fastlook" into "Fastfind." Which is another malware offender, but the difference is that Fastlook simply won't be removed. Perhaps that is one of the malware's defensive techniques, to cloud the minds of their host.

Posted by Chris on 08/23/04

The Way It Works

I don't want it to be illegal, therefore it isn't. That's the way it works.

Thanks to FattyFat for the links. If these don't work, do a search for "red vs. blue" and "internet.";sid=2004/8/13/18037/9310


Posted by Chris on 08/23/04

August 19, 2004

The Return, or the Never Leaving, of the Devil's Search Assistants

Japanese title, "The Devil's Search Assistants Hang Around."

Ad-Aware saw fastfind's dirty handprints all over my system, and I told it to wipe them clean; and then when I restarted the PC normally, and brought up IE, there was a Spybot pop-up: A process has tried to change your home page. But... but... I just destroyed its alien nest! I poured gas all over its eggs! How can it still live?!?

Oh, it lives still. FASTFIND... had returned. Or, never left.

I told it to deny the change, and remember my choice. And then I went to Google to try a search. First thing, kid brother shows up: Sidesearch was back. Sigh. And then when I hit my "home" button, it brought up: fastfind.

Ad-Aware and Spybot are impressive, and may be protecting me from other malstuff, but fastfind eludes their dragnets.

Perhaps I should take the advice of a recent comment and just switch to the Firefox browser...

Posted by Chris on 08/19/04

Here's what upsets me, and it has nothing to do with your post.

EVERY SINGLE DAY there are pictures of Mondo on your blog and NOT ONE PICTURE OF MARGE. EVER.

Posted by: friend jessica at August 20, 2004 8:07 AM

Angry Human Lady,
That's because on my blog, I post amusing photos of handeye prancing on our lawn in Ravenswood, running after thrown comic books and begging for new DVD's. We're friends, see? He links to my blog, I link to his. Everyone knows YOUR dog can't blog because she can't type. Ha Ha, Ha Ha, non-typing dog! Maybe if she had a little border collie blood (the world's smartest breed) she could learn to type, or learn to outsource the typing to another dog, like a Jack Russel. But she can't. Ha ha! Bark! Bark!

Mondo the Dog
transcribed by Mr. Bubbles the Jack Russel Terrier

Posted by: mondodog at August 20, 2004 10:05 AM


I hav a blog for 2 YEERS NOW.


Posted by: MARGE at August 20, 2004 11:14 AM

AND. u type like suk!

Posted by: MARGE at August 20, 2004 11:22 AM

August 18, 2004

Maxim of Haste

Maxim of Haste: If I am in a hurry, my overall speed will be no greater than that of the slowest, most annoying person I encounter.

To wit: There will inevitably be one particular person who manages to get in my way to a higher degree than most clueless foot- or auto-traffic when I am in a hurry. Perhaps this person is driving very slowly and sporadically in the right-hand lane deciding where they are; or maybe this person is walking down the middle of the sidewalk reading a book, and I cannot get around them because of opposing traffic. They definitely don't use blinkers, they're not aware of anyone else on the road, or they often stop for no reason in the middle of the sidewalk to look up.

I may as well fall into line directly behind this person, because the harder I try to get around them, the more I will be fouled up by the next obstruction. And then ultimately they will arrive at the curb or the stoplight one step ahead of me, still maintaining their same impaired pace.

Corollary to the Maxim of Haste: If I am so annoyed by the delay this person causes that I actually mutter under my breath or sigh heavily, then they will be going to the exact same place that I am and there will be an awkward reckoning.

Posted by Chris on 08/18/04

my god, what is worse than the 'awkward reckoning'. It's not so much fire and brimstone and weeping and gnashing of teeth, but a hefty "oh geez"

Posted by: friend jessica at August 18, 2004 3:47 PM

My whole LIFE is an Awkward Reckoning.

Posted by: Chris at August 18, 2004 4:54 PM

So that was YOU behind me today, with the sighing and the muttering? Here I was thinking it was the DAMN KIDS! again...

Posted by: AragornSoS at August 19, 2004 11:21 AM

Don't forget they who go slowly and completely centered on the steps while going down the subway stairs (or up the stairs to the el) as your train is coming.

Posted by: kjk at August 19, 2004 12:01 PM

AragornSOS: So that was YOU ambling down the center of the sidewalk talking on the cell phone and making me late?

Posted by: chris at August 19, 2004 3:05 PM

But according to the village elders, They Who Go Slowly and Completely Centered on the Steps While Going Down the Subway Stairs (or Up the Stairs to the El) As Your Train is Coming will not disturb you if you wear the safe color!

Posted by: Chris at August 19, 2004 3:07 PM

Lo! there's a safe color? why was i not informed!

Posted by: kjk at August 21, 2004 3:39 PM

The Devil's Search Assistant

My Internet Explorer browser has recently been possessed by Satan, or more accurately by several satans working in league with one another. This has forced me to do that which I despise above above all else, which is learn about the Windows registry and which of the various DLLs and executables all stuck in their system folder hidey-holes are real and which are LYING IMPOSTERS.

The symptoms: Recently an annoying little sidebar has begun sliding open on the left side of my browser whenever I enter search words in a field. This little unwanted search assistant will have grabbed my search words and will display a few of its own helpful suggestions. It's clearly some little piece of third-party malware or scumware, something that's stuck its little hooks somewhere into my registry.

While this is not exactly being OWN3D, B1tch! or HAX0R3D! it is annoying. Imagine a kid brother following you everwhere you go, right on your heels, trying to be helpful by interrupting conversations to offer his own answers. Also imagine that this is not YOUR kid brother, but the kid brother of some asshole up the street.

I'm not being singled out for attack, but at some point one of the many V'iag-ra emails or pop-ups snuck a little trojan horse onto my system, and my DLLs, thinking it a tribute to their god Poseidon, brought it inside the walls of the system folder fortress.

I downloaded SpyBot - Search and Destroy! and had a scan. (But not before going on a mad witch-hunt through the Windows folder and deleting an important set of files that enable me to search for files.) Oh, the layers of scum that had accumulated. I happily removed the problems it found, but SpyBot did not actually find the little search assistant.

A further web search did, though. Some upstanding start-up that wanted to get into the lucrative search engine racket decided that rather than advertising, they'd just write their URL into the nether regions of my registry. (I will tell you that their URL is but I think it would be a bad idea for you to go to that page. For all I know going to their page is like inviting Count Dracula into your home.)

So I found the registry keys it had written itself into and removed them. (Although I'm not sure what one is meant to put in their place...) But still the unwanted assistant popped right back up. This even though I'd set the "Use Search Assistant" key to NO! NO! NO!

Further searches revealed that as many times as I was removing their foul fingerprints from my registry, some villainous process or executable was putting it right back in. Oh, did I mention that my notepad had been replaced with some foulware changeling program sometime back? So that every time I ran notepad.exe, I was spreading germs and filth throughout my system? Yes. I don't know if this was the purveyor of Annoying Little Brother Search Assistant, but I note it for the record anyway.

So while I'm trying to figure this out, the good, kindly folks behind came a-knockin'. Again - I heartily recommend that you NOT go to that page. They are another business that has decided that the best way to transact with you is to change your preferences and settings. And their method is to switch your homepage around to be their page. Oh, and by the way, you can't alter it.

Who does business this way? Who thinks that hijacking my home page and denying me the chance to change it back is going to make me consider using their site? Oh, wait - I forget that the telemarketing industry thrives. This approach must work with some people.

Right on the Fastlook page there is an "uninstall" option. Here's what it says on that page:

Browser security is a very important issue. More and more people, nowdays, neglect the security of their browser, and as a result, end up being victims of so called "browser hijacks".

If you are a victim of such a hijack, please read the following before sending a complaint.

We are not responsible for these kinds of activities, we are buying surfers' searches from webmasters all over the world. Maybe some webmasters, who are sending visitor traffic to us, are challenging your system's security. We are not aware of this, nor are responsible for this. If you do, however, experience this situation, please, submit his affiliate ID when reporting to us.

We do not condone this sort of activities, and we investigate every complaint we get. Also, please include all the relevant information, like what exactly happened to your computer, where you surfed, to get the hijack (quite often it comes from porn pages), etc.

As a cure, we can recommend you to run a special third party program that can help clean your system.

The program executable -> FL Uninstall Executable
The program archive -> FL Uninstall Archive

Simply copy it to your coumputer and run. Programm will uninstall FastLook from your system.

After doing this, we strongly recommend you to update your system, clicking on the link

There is a security scanner there, you can easily scan and fix all your system's vulnerabilities. You should visit this url and scan your system very often, in order to keep your browser free from hijacks and other even worst things

Is this a little bit like having the man who just robbed your house lecture you on home security? The only thing more ironic than having the malware search assistant give me some links where I might learn about "malware," is having Joseph Skelton of Suite 31 Don House, 30-38 Main Street, GIBRALTAR, GB ---, GI, 350798316 (The person WHOIS says is registered to) admonish me to scan my computer often to keep my browser free of hijacks and even worst things.

So I'm not about to run their "uninstall" thing; I download a thing called Ad-Aware, boot into Safe Mode, and scan. Ad-Aware finds some entries for Fastlook. I'm not sure what happens when I remove them yet; I had to leave to go to work. But the way this is going, it will probably unleash something bigger and worse, possibly the Kraken of hacks against my PC.

It has occurred to me that, like one of the journalists said in "Ghostbusters," these "cleaning" utilities like Spybot and Ad-Aware might be behind this whole thing anyway. Note to self: keep an eye on these things.

And perhaps one reason I can approach this light-heartedly and as a learning exercise is that my PC's days are numbered anyway. As soon as I can get a copy of Office for OS X, I'll be Mac-only at home.

Posted by Chris on 08/18/04

Mac: 1
PC: 0

Posted by: friend jessica at August 18, 2004 3:46 PM


Posted by: Chris at August 18, 2004 5:01 PM

Strangely enough, our amazing market economy has not produced a counter vacinne that actually works in removing or preventing malware. Spybot Search and Destroy has some effectiveness, but not enough. Those in the computer industry seem to have adapted an attitude that things you didn't install, don't want and don't need and that harm your ability to do what you want to do, is simply NORMAL.

Posted by: fattyfat at August 19, 2004 8:27 AM

even prior to going Mac full-time, consider running something besides Internet Explorer on win32. I'm a big fan of Firefox (a lean, mean, customizable version of mozilla that runs on win32, OSX, linux).

Posted by: jeff at August 19, 2004 1:44 PM

btw: Office 2004 for the mac is worth the money. I love it.

Posted by: jeff at August 19, 2004 1:45 PM

I had not considered Firefox. Do I have to think in Russian to get it to work, though?

Posted by: Chris at August 19, 2004 2:59 PM

August 17, 2004


Intelligence matters. The job of the president of the United States is not to love his wife; it’s to manage a wide range of complicated issues. That requires character, yes, but not the kind of character measured by private virtues like fidelity to spouse and frequency of quotations from Scripture. Yet it also requires intelligence. It requires intellectual curiosity, an ability to familiarize oneself with a broad range of views, the capacity -- yes -- to grasp nuances, to foresee the potential ramifications of one’s decisions, and, simply, to think things through.

From Matthew Yglesias, "The Brains Thing", The American Prospect, Axis of Drivel, September 2004 .

Thanks to FattyFatterson for the link...

Posted by Chris on 08/17/04

August 13, 2004

Executive Power

Today I am doing Local Support, and I'd forgotten that whenever any of the company's high ranking executives fly into town to present one of their Power Point roadshows, this will happen:

(A Low-Ranking Employee from the executive's business unit rushes breathlessly into the I.T. office from a meeting.)

Low-Ranking Employee: (Abruptly, as if some accident has happened and someone is bleeding from it) Hey, we need a power cord for a Sony laptop. _________'s PC is about to go down!

Me: Go down? Uh-oh! What's happened to his power cord? Is it not working?

Low-Ranking Employee: (Without any hesitation at all, which would at least indicate some understanding that this is ridiculous) He didn't bring it.

Me: O.K. I don't believe we have any extra.

(The Low-Ranking Employee continues to look at me for a second; and then she looks around the office a bit, to see if maybe there's a spare lying around that I'm not telling her about. There AREN'T in fact spares I'm not telling her about, but even if there were I wouldn't tell her, because once an AC adaptor leaves the office the rule is that you will never see them again, and they are at least $100 a pop, and frankly "He didn't bring his" doesn't inspire a desire to help out a lot.)

Low-Ranking Employee: Well, this is a problem, because his battery is about to die and we're in the middle of a meeting.

Me: I'd suggest QUICKLY transferring that pres over to someone's laptop before his battery completely dies.

(Low-Rank leaves and will begin scouring the office for unattended laptops, to take their power cords.)

I'm not sure what is more amazing - that a person paid more annually than what Low Rank and I combined make multi-annually cannot be bothered to remember that his electrical device runs on electricity, or that someone under him would allow themselves to get out of breath about it.

Posted by Chris on 08/13/04

August 11, 2004

Basic Knowledge Gaps

It occurred to me that I could buy a scooter for non-interstate tooling around in Santa Monica, since we'll be a one-ailing-car family. I'd want something that is as efficient as possible while minimizing the dork factor.

What I'm saying is, I'm not looking for an actual motorcycle, but something smaller. On the motorcycle spectrum I'd say this item would be far, far down the scale from the Dennis Hopper Easy Rider-style chopper, and closer to the thing Peter Parker was riding in Spider Man 2. But not a Razor, not something that you stand up on. And not one of these "pocket" bikes which I feel were designed for use by circus performers. Does that make sense?

Jesus, I can already feel the blank look of some Honda salesman burning into me. How can you not know this, he will be wondering. What kind of person could grow to manhood and not be able to state plainly his preference of motor-scooter?

I constantly find myself in the position of seeking out a product or service I feel sure exists, I mean I think I've seen it in a movie, or maybe I heard about someone having it done one time, but I am unfamiliar with the makes and models, cost points, the vendors, what I should be looking for, EVERYTHING. Periodically I seem to develop a need for which no known technology has been developed (making a clear wireless call to someone from the surface of the Earth, for instance), but more often I feel I'm playing catch up to everyone else's complete and encyclopedic knowledge of goods and services available to the average human.

So, to my extensive list of Knowledge Gaps that other people seem to be born without, I can then add:

  1. How to accurately estimate distance in yards or miles.
  2. Car makes and models.
  3. Sports teams and trivia. (All sports, all teams.)

    In retrospect I feel not participating in that second season of tee-ball as a child was my downfall with these first three. Clearly while teaching the kids to hit a softball off a tee, Coach Akins also drilled the basic facts of life - cars, distances, sports - into the kids' heads.

  4. Basic knowledge of flora.

    I'm OK on fauna. Maybe above average! But at this point I feel I'm just now hearing about certain vegetables, and they can't still be discovering them, can they? And when the ladies in my family come up with the name of certain flowers I feel they're actually bullshitting me. NOTE: Not that I really care about this one.

  5. Basic household electrical wiring, plumbing.

    Why does every contractor that enters this office or my apartment expect me to know which walls are load-bearing, or where the conduits are? Am I human stud-finder? Do I study the floorplans?

  6. Universities and their locations around the country.

    I know I didn't take getting into the "right" college as seriously as others, but I also know I didn't see the other seniors drilling on this either. How can people be so conversant in this topic?

  7. Rudimentary fashion sense.
  8. How to handle the threat of physical fights with strangers.

    The "trying to get people to laugh and be your friend" thing worked ONCE. And I think even then it was in an after-school special.

  9. What constitutes a "motorcycle" and what constitutes a "scooter," where you can get them, and for how much.

I tooled around and Ebay yesterday to fill in my motorcycle gaps, and I certainly know more now than then. But I'm still basically flying blind. I have this fear that I'll plunk down a huge wad of cash for something on EBay and then it will end up being some exquisitely hand-tooled die-cast model about a foot high.

Posted by Chris on 08/11/04

man. this blog isn't very good, is it?

Posted by: friend jessica at August 12, 2004 2:56 PM

I read it sometimes, but I find it to be not so good. Probably should list that under basic skills that are lacking: the ability to write and produce a GOOD blog. Geesh.

Posted by: AragornSoS at August 12, 2004 9:08 PM

Yes, I agree, there isn't much going on here - HEY.

Posted by: Chris at August 13, 2004 11:05 PM

ummmm. so just how often do find yourself on the verge of a fist fight with a stranger?

Posted by: kjk at August 17, 2004 4:34 PM

Rarely, but it's one of those things one must be prepared for. You can never underestimate the soccer hooligans. THEY COULD STRIKE AT ANY TIME.

Posted by: Chris at August 18, 2004 5:18 PM

August 10, 2004

What browsers are open today?






Posted by Chris on 08/10/04

Holy cow! My company's fire wall doesn't block this site! My only entertainment ever. When I read those open letters, I'll be honest, I frowned and wept a little for what once was.

Posted by: friend jessica at August 11, 2004 11:37 AM

Think Like A Plane

In about 40 clicks, with a few times having to back up, not only could I spot my apartment, I'm pretty sure that's my car parked out front:

I can see my backyard, I can see the alley I got mugged in that time, I can see where the DirecTV man didn't install my dish on the roof the way I asked him to, I can see the little garden next to my bedroom window! I know it's a recent photo because I can see where Landlady paved over some of the backyard to create a rentable parking space!

Can you spot your place? It's hard at first, and then you begin to remember all the baseball diamonds, parking lots, schools, pools, and hospitals around your place that might serve as aerial landmarks.

Thanks to Brian for the link!

Posted by Chris on 08/10/04

Links for thought

More things to think about, and which I must hate America to link to:

Thanks to friend Jessica for the link, who also must hate America, I mean why else would she even be reading such disrespectful, unpatriotic things? Our poor troops.

Posted by Chris on 08/10/04


We have a new CIA director. Someone get me his file.

In more important news, God bless these people that suffer from Scanner's Syndrome, that malady that makes you want to scan, scan, SCAN THE PAST. (And yes, I include James Lileks in that.) Here's one of the best ones I've seen of late:

Everyone loves mermaids!

Posted by Chris on 08/10/04

August 9, 2004

Open Water

Amazing shark footage, and I literally jumped out of my seat about five times, But to what end?

Apart from the shock value, what is the point of a survival story in which [SPOILER ALERT - SPOILER ALERT - SPOILER ALERT]:1. the characters fall into danger through no real fault of their own, 2. Once they are in danger, nothing they do can really affect their fate, and 3. They both die anyway?

I imagined that if we were going to spend time with two characters floating helplessly in the sea as sharks nose around them, there would be a lot more interpersonal drama, as that would be the only thing the characters COULD do. But that never happens. Compare the interaction of these two characters with those in a movie "Open Water" is being inaccurately compared to, "Blair Witch." There we watched the characters disintegrate, blame one another, and despair against a fate that was essentially out of their hands as well, but it was still dramatically interesting. Imagine "Blair Witch" with Josh, Heather and Mike barely mumbling a word to one another and you'll get an idea of "Open Water." Yep, they were left out there, and yep, they died. So what?

Worse than that is the abrupt and unsatisfying ending. In the morning when the man has bled out from his shark bite, the woman more or less sends him off without so much as a tearful mini-Titanic Rose Loves Jack 4Eva farewell. And then she takes her own final dive.

And what is the point of saying this is based on a true story, when it's clear that the filmmakers have no idea what could have happened between two real divers that were stranded by their charter and died at sea? What is the point of seeing their camera emerge from the shark's stomach at the end, when they clearly didn't document their distress?

Posted by Chris on 08/ 9/04

August 6, 2004

Java Randomry

Well, look who's discovered the random function in javascript. I'm experimenting with having random images come up on the main page today. As yet I have not made the effort to make sure they're all different, though. If you get lucky enough to draw two or even three of the same one, just consider it a strong hand and keep a poker face on.

Posted by Chris on 08/ 6/04

Best I've done is 2 of a kind (2 glasses, 2 buildings, 2 stars, etc). or 3 of a Suit (Dog, Dog, Dog, and Building).

Gotta keep trying, if I hit 4 of a kind and do a screenshot, what do I win?

Posted by: Scooter at August 6, 2004 1:20 PM

I got two apartments for rent, shiny tall building and brutal rabid dog. Did I win?

Posted by: bangbot at August 7, 2004 10:30 AM

Again I got rabid dog, I always get the rabid dog. Rabid dog must be out to get me. When I return from the posting a comment, rabid dog will again be staring at me with its eye of doom. Is rabid dog a terrorist? Has it truly won?

Posted by: bangbot at August 11, 2004 9:19 PM

Yep, it was there. Rabid dog with rabid grin. I'm seeing my own death in rabid mauling.

Posted by: bangbot at August 11, 2004 9:21 PM

August 5, 2004

Manchurian Candidate

Has Jonathan Demme ever failed us? Look at his filmography: Silence of the Lambs, Beloved, Philadelphia, Stop Making Sense, Storefront Hitchcock, Married to the Mob, Melvin and Howard, Swing Shift, Wild Things, many others. My. It's hard to find another filmmaker as consistently solid and interesting.

I give three thumbs up to his Manchurian Candidate. Yes, I liked it so much I've had to install a supplementary thumb to express myself. One remakes a classic at their peril, but he pulls it off with room to spare. He and his producers should be lauded for spotting how this story could still be chilling today, with only minor updates.

If you're even remotely a fan of the original*, you should see this. If you're not, you should still see it. There are slight updates that will keep the old fans interested, and the acting is top-notch. Watch the whole movie and note how he never once talks about political parties. This version (which you'll note is set four years in the future, if you're watching carefully) actually makes a bit more sense than the previous one. I think now that the lead is Denzel Washington, who's clearly shown a willingness to let his hair get a bit more mussed up in a part than, say, Sinatra, it allows the plot to go somewhere it could have originally. Sorry to say I'm not familiar enough with the book to know if this update is more or less faithful.

And if you haven't seen the original, you should. It doesn't matter which you see first. It's not a question of whether Sinatra, Lansbury, and Harvey are better than Washington, Streep, and Schreiber - they were and are all equally perfect in their roles at the time.

This is the movie that Demme's trademark technique of having the actors speak directly into the camera seems made for. If it doesn't creep you out to have Liev Schreiber looking directly at you as he's "activated," something's wrong. Schreiber has been overdue for major recognition (check him out as Orson Welles in RKO 281), and hopefully what he does here will move him up a few notches.

*The couple sitting next to me certainly were. They seemed to be in their sixties, and apparently had not been to a movie theatre since that time either, because nossir, they didn't care for all these ads they show nowadays. When are they going to show the MOVIE, the woman sighed loudly, as the heavy burden of watching the Fandango ads and bothersome "previews" fell to her and her alone. And then when that newfangled corporate theatre owner finally, blessedly allowed the movie to start, they discussed amongst themselves in fairly audible voices the differences in the two versions, and nossir, they didn't care for any of the deviations. They also didn't care for me asking them to stop talking or at least whisper, and in fact shushed me when I did so. You have to admire it!
Posted by Chris on 08/ 5/04

Lighting the Terror Lamps

Some thoughts from the NYT editorial page on terror alerts.

Unless the government is prepared to tell people to stay home from work, there's no reason to keep lighting the terror lamps.

I wish I could speak in the calm, measured tones of this editorial - but unfortunately my primary tool of discourse is shrill sarcasm.

And while you're at the NYT read Bruce Springsteen's Op-Ed piece as well.

Posted by Chris on 08/ 5/04

August 4, 2004

Operation: Go West status

We are all on board with Operation: Go West, and everything is going well with it; if you interpret "all" to mean "just me," and "well" to mean "the plan is riddled with unknowns and uncertainties."

Big missing pieces of the move puzzle include:

  • Where I will live. I have no apartment out there yet, and will be choosing and renting one upon arrival. I understand that is the way it's done there.

  • How I will get there. Will my car continue to function long enough to make it worthwhile to take with? It certainly isn't in any shape currently to make the 2,112 mile trip. For a mere $700 to Reliable Auto it can probably be in that shape again; or, for around $1700 I can rent a U-Haul truck vastly bigger than I need for all my stuff to tow it, and it can sputter around in L.A. But only for a while, because there's no way I'm passing a smog test. But I have to have a car, unlike Chicago.

  • Who will pay for all this.

    Posted by Chris on 08/ 4/04
  • The Stinkeye Loop

    There's one girl that works at the ABP downstairs that gives me the stinkeye, so I try to avoid her but naturally end up in her line every time because the Universe finds that funny. Everyone else has a line one or two people deep except her because I'm guessing she gives everyone the stinkeye, but when I pretend not to notice that her register is open, she calls over to me that SHE'S OPEN, SIR and then maybe she'll be exasperated because I only got ONE roll and why don't people know you get TWO FREE ROLLS? And then because my face betrays everything I am thinking and what I am thinking at that moment is WHY DID I GET IN HER LINE, she can see this, and she gives me the stinkeye.

    Posted by Chris on 08/ 4/04

    August 3, 2004

    Customer Service Rarity

    I just got an email from my web host saying that they were sorry they'd broken my blog, but they'd moved my site to another server, and had not set the permissions correctly. They reset the permissions, then posted a bunch of test comments on my archives to test it.

    I could see that the blog was not destroyed yesterday, just that its location on their servers had moved, so Movable Type was sputtering and scared. I'd actually just backed it up the night before anyway, and I'd been putting off upgrading to the new Movable Type, so rather than troubleshooting or worrying I was just going to rebuild and import the old one, or something - so it was never a big deal.

    I hadn't even opened a ticket with them yet. And I know they broke it to start with but it was nice that they fixed it on their own.

    Posted by Chris on 08/ 3/04

    August 2, 2004

    Review: "The Village"

    Note: Movable Type is currently broken, so I'm hand-posting this using plain ol' Notepad and FTP. So if it looks like crap, so be it.

    M. Night Shyamalan made an enormous splash with "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable," and unfortunately for him, with great entertainment power, came great expectation.

    My disapointment with his junior effort "Signs" was so utterly monumental that I went into "The Village" with one fist already clenched and shaking at the screen. When - and if - the movie met or even fell only reasonably under the barest expectations of one of the most gifted young directors on the scene, I'd lower that fist. Although maybe I'd keep shaking it in my lap until the credits rolled, just to be sure.

    I don't think I was alone in this feeling, because his average score for "Village" right now on Metacritic is terrible - it's just in the high thirties. I think a lot of people were hoping for something a bit more traditional this time. And "The Village" is not that.

    Night's problem lately is that he wants to tell allegorical tales of morality in the guise of horror movies; but what he fails to realize is that they should also work purely as horror films. He wants to do far more than just creep us out - he wants to also relay a very important message at the same time. I say fine! I'm all for a message, but please, Night, don't forget to creep us out like you promised. Because you're really good at that part.

    "The Village" is disappointing, but not in the "Signs" way. It's disappointing that in his strong desire to make an allegory of how fear of an unseen external threat can define a society, he didn't take the steps to create even a barely plausible narrative. And while the plot-holes in "The Village" are enormous, I can think of several ways he might have sewn things up a bit better and still retained the strength of the story. Anyone can - the problems are that obvious.

    Perhaps part of his problem is that he has firmly bought into this idea that his trademark must be his ability to invent plot twists. But that's a one-trick pony, or at most a tired two-trick pony. His real strength is not plot twists, but his mastery of mood. When he shows us that brief flash of a creature in the first reel, whether it's a ghost or an alien or Those That We Shall Not Speak Of, he is utterly in command.

    The failure of "Signs" and to a lesser extent "Village" was that he was still showing us just those half-glimpses in the last reels of the movie, if anything at all. There's a time to just see the shark's dorsal fin and then there's a time to launch the whole damn fish into the cabin of the boat. In "The Village" he picks the exact wrong time to cut away from the creature a few times, but it is nowhere near the lapdance tease that "Signs" was.

    Shyamalan is capable of making a distinctive film, and this one is not without merit. He should be applauded for consistently trying to take the high ground in a traditionally low genre. But he should also be able to look past his own press, and more importantly the efforts of those around him to turn him into a writer / director brand name, and assess his strengths and weaknesses. He would benefit from a strong writing or producing partner on his next creepy morality tale.

    Posted by Chris on 08/ 2/04

    My own feelings on "The Village" are pretty close to some of the sentiments you expressed. I actually enjoyed the first half of the film or so -- we see the mood set, general exposition, a slow unveiling of the town's good points, secrets, some mystery of what exactly is out in the woods, the rules the town must live by. pretty creepy and moody. some good characters emerge. Then, the "twists" kick in and, as each plot twist is unveiled, the movie just gets dumber and dumber -- forecasting itself well in advance. I had a great opinion of the film in the first 20 minutes. I was thoroughly irritated with it by the time it ended.

    Posted by: Jefferson Burson at August 3, 2004 4:31 PM