Saturday, June 28, 2008

Hilarious Yet Pretty Disturbing

From the archives of the Angry Video Game Nerd. Warning: This definitely falls within the category of Not Safe For Work. In fact, you better go ahead and clean out your desk if you watch this at work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Friendly Neighborhood Iron Man

Well, I finally saw it. Being among the ten last comic book geeks to see this, it was difficult to avoid spoilers as folks raved about the film over the past month and a half, but mostly avoid them I did. In a nutshell, I'll definitely be buying the DVD, possibly the Blu-Ray disc, at the end of September (its rumored release date).

Some spoilery follows after the pic, so the other nine comic book geeks (and anyone else) can skip this section and rejoin us after the cover to Tales of Suspense #39.

No rhyme or reason to the following points; just some stuff I liked and/or noticed. No doubt this has been echoed on every other comics/film/geek blog in the ether, but it's my turn now.

  1. Changing Tony Stark's initial demeanor from the somewhat serious industrialist of the comics to the over-indulgent playboy/man-child seen in the film was a change for the better. If the early characterization from the comics had been carried over into the film, I doubt very much that the script would have been as strong.
  2. At the moment, I'm in the middle of reading the 1960's run of Tales of Suspense. While I appreciated the sexual tension between Tony and Pepper Potts, I kind of missed the little love triangle that also included Happy Hogan. Hogan is more or less window dressing in the film, but I guess it's not that big of a deal.
  3. I really didn't mind the other changes from the mythos like James Rhodes being a military liaison, Obadiah Stane's history with Stark International, and of course, the Afghanistan setting instead of Vietnam. It all felt right.
  4. The first shot of Stark being his hand around a glass of Scotch was certainly inspired. Although Jon Favreau doesn't think the "Demon in a Bottle" story will figure into the next film, I'd like to see it in Iron Man 3. Maybe combined with the "Armor Wars" storyline as an impetus for Tony to get his act together.
  5. I might have missed this in the "Special Thanks to" part of the credits, but the Stark logo looks awfully similar to Lockheed-Martin's.
  6. Speaking of the credits, yes I did stay after for the extra scene. It had already been spoiled for me, but it was still kinda neat.


So there you have it. It was a terrific movie first, a semi-decent adaptation second. Most of my friends aren't nearly as well-versed in the Iron Man mythos and their opinions on the film ranged from good to awesome. It appears to have a bit of staying power too, meaning people are still seeing it. This bodes well for Marvel's first foray into filmmaking. Hopefully The Incredible Hulk will fare just as well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tick Tock

How was everyone's weekend? Mine was pretty good all things considered, thanks for asking.

What needs considering? Well, I decided to take Arf and Zoe on a nice, long walk through some of the trails in the Manassas National Battlefield Park, which is next door to my house. Lots of wilderness to walk through, with which I had hoped to tire the dogs out. Well, tired they certainly were but they were also covered in ticks. That's right, I must have pulled something like 35 of those little bloodsuckers off of my pups Friday evening before I gave them both a bath. And of course, I managed to snag a couple of those buggers myself including a tiny deer tick on my ankle. Hopefully, it won't turn into Lyme Disease and make me cut off my head with a chainsaw (it's a trick I can only do once).

Saturday was spent cleaning, taking garbage to the dump, and a little organizing before a friend came over to watch Free Enterprise. Free Enterprise is one of those romantic comedies which I can certainly relate. Besides, it's full of pop culture, dare I say geek, references so it's got that going for it (which is nice).

I found my DVD set of the first two G.I. Joe mini-series on Sunday and ended up watching them both. Cora watched with me for a while. When I asked her what she thought, her response was, "Interesting." However, she didn't elaborate. Oh well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In the Great Hall of the Justice League...

If this nation or, in fact, the world needed heroes, that time is now!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Look Kids! Comics!

As you know from posts like this, I've been tracking down GIT's DVD-ROM collections of Marvel comics so I can legally own digital comics of the characters I love. While these discs aren't perfect, they're a terrific way of owning decades worth of comics for a decent price. According to Snell's blog post yesterday, it looks like Marvel is getting into the DVD-ROM act now as an addition to their Digital Comics Unlimited service.

In September, Marvel will issue the DVD Digital Comic Book Archives beginning with Iron Man and Hulk for $29.99. What does your $30 ($25 if you can finagle a discount) get you? Exclusive "Marvel Digital Comics Reader" versions of the first 50 historical appearances of each character plus "bonuses galore." That's 50-60 cents a comic, which isn't terrible but a far cry from the 5-6 cent price point from the GIT collections.

Personally, I'm rather torn. As Snell pointed out Sunday, the Marvel Digital Comics Reader versions are gorgeous! They are clean and incredibly vibrant in color without any of the details lost to age or paper issues. Also, I'm very curious as to what these bonus features will be. I don't really care to read company-produced bios but it would be pretty cool if say an episode or ten of the old Marvel Superheroes cartoon were put on there. I'm not holding my breath but it would be cool.

Given the reasonable price point, I may go ahead and order these. If I don't like them, then I know a couple of folks who would.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Yes, We Have No Bananas

Not feeling too talkative today so here's a picture of Dr. Zira from Planet of the Apes, only one of the most awesome movies ever made (so says me). And never give Zira a banana, because she loathes them.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Return to Jericho

Thanks to pretty much every site that ever dabbled with the late series Jericho, here's the alternate ending had the series been picked up for another season. If you haven't seen the second season yet, you may want to skip this until you do (DVDs on sale beginning tomorrow). Had Miriya been a boy, I seriously would have considered Robert Hawkins Baisch as a name—he's just that awesome. All right, enough talk, here's the ending:

Friday, June 13, 2008

We Now Return to G.I. Joe!

After a three-month hiatus, the Unofficial Index to G.I. Joe has returned with a new entry. I have several entries in various stages of completion so we shouldn't have too many, if any, interruptions. Check it out and never let the enemy take your breakfast!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Relics


Over at The Digital Bits, Mark Altman has written a guest column he terms as a eulogy for the late, lamented laserdisc format. For the uninitiated, laserdiscs were the precursor to DVDs, except they were the size of an LP. There are plenty of other differences but this Wikipedia entry can explain it a whole lot better than I can.

Laserdiscs effectively died about 10 years ago when DVDs really began to catch on. However, it was always a niche market despite the superior technology to the prevalent VHS tape. The reason? It was pretty darn expensive. A movie on VHS might cost you $20; the special edition laserdisc would probably cost $80-100. A disc at that price would have at least one audio commentary, possibly alternate versions of the film, featurettes, and possibly some kind of feature where you would run through frame by frame. This is stuff we totally take for granted now with DVD, but it was a big deal back in the day.

My laserdisc journey actually began in 2001 when a friend was selling his player and three trilogies that hadn't made it to DVD at the time: Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars (albeit the special editions). He sold it all for $200 and I eagerly jumped at it. Eventually, my collection grew thanks to a local member of the Home Theater Forum, eBay, and Goodwill finds by Em's aunt and uncle. Now there's nearly 400 discs in my collection.

Even with the plethora of DVDs out there, some stuff will likely never be available again. The deleted scene with Harrison Ford in E.T.? Not likely on DVD. The Quentin Tarantino audio commentary with From Dusk 'Til Dawn? No way, as Tarantino doesn't do commentary as a rule. I can guarantee you will never hear the incredibly frank Albert Broccoli audio commentaries for the first three James Bond films in future DVD editions. This stuff and much much more are why me and my fellow laserdisc fans continue to hold on to this dead format.

At some point, I need to go through my discs and write about them. Would all of you be interested in that?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Oh Hey, It's Wednesday

Time really got away from me this week. It's been a bear of a week and it's not even over yet.

Monday began interestingly enough until we were greeted with the news that the subway had derailed between the Courthouse and Rosslyn stations. Exactly the way I needed to go. Thankfully, Emily was able to come pick me up from the office and we drove home.

Tuesday morning, Emily and I carpooled and she drove me to the office. I had an appointment in the city that required a dark suit. Keep in mind that the mercury shot past 100 degrees that day (just as it had on Monday). Yes, I'm aware that talking about in the urban jungle of DC in a dark suit on a hot day is lunacy but decorum must be maintained and all that. Oh, and nothing like sweating bullets just before having to meet someone important.

And more commuting fun was had yesterday when equipment malfunctions caused sizeable delays. I must have spent close to an hour in that sweltering station with 700 of my closest friends wearing that dark suit. It was lovely I assure you.

I began feeling a tad off yesterday and more or less went to bed as soon as I got home. Woke up this morning with the congestion from hell. In my haste to make carpool on time, I forgot to take some Mucinex with me. And seeing as how I bought two boxes yesterday, I couldn't buy anymore today at the pharmacy near the office lest I be picked for trying to run a meth lab. Feh, I say.

Meeting a friend for a coffee and a chat this evening. I might also have some good news to share soon.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Threat of Spontaneous Combustion

Hello. Good day. Happy to see you.

In case you weren't aware, it was pretty damn hot over the weekend. Thankfully, Cora's birthday party went off without a hitch yesterday. Held at the Magic Putting Place, the kids played putt-putt golf and then feasted on pizza and cake. A good time was had by all.

In the "What are the odds?" Department, the mother of one of the girls was none other than the intensive care nurse who attended to Miriya during her stay at the hospital! Since there wasn't a whole lot of time when we left the hospital back in March, I took the time to personally thank the good nurse right then and there. She was especially pleased that my baby girl was happy, healthy, and huge :-)

After the party, I tried to unwind in our non-air conditioned house by watching a couple of movies. First up was Downfall, which was a chronicle of sorts of the last ten days of the Nazi regime. It's a decent film although a number of details are omitted or changed to streamline the story. Next up was 300, which I had been meaning to watch since Christmas. It's an interesting movie in a stylistic sense and a great excuse to watch extended fight scenes. Otherwise, the story is pretty weak.

So there you have it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

One Froggy Day

utterz-image
It's definitely Friday.

Mobile post sent by julianbaischir using Utterzreply-count Replies.

Fried Day

It's been a bit of a rough week and I'm more than ready for it to be over. One of our network engineers declared today as Hawaiian Shirt Day (a la Office Space) and there are five of us (out of 25) clad in festive shirts. 20% participation isn't bad I guess. It could just as easily been nearly 0% and I could have been asked to come in on Saturday.

No big plans for the weekend. I'll probably work on cleaning the basement so it can be my de facto oasis of relaxation during the summer. The plan is to eventually use it as a study/reading room. My original idea to turn into a brothel was immediately shot down.

Day of a Thousand Comics

Amazon's two-day shipping continues to seriously rock my world. Yesterday, the first half of my order arrived with the second half scheduled to arrive today. Yay!

The comics in question? Two of the GIT Marvel DVD-ROMS—The Amazing Spider-Man: The Complete Collection and Fantastic Four-Silver Surfer: The Complete Collection.

The Spider-Man DVD-ROM contains Amazing Fantasy #15 (Spidey's very first appearance) as well as every single issue of The Amazing Spider-Man from #1 to 531 and first 34 annuals. 566 comics total = Awesome!

The sister titles like Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, and the adjectiveless Spider-Man are not included here (let alone the metric buttload of mini-series and other assorted spin-off titles), but I'm not going to get my panties in wad about it. This is a damn good deal. I snagged this for $35 and change from the good folks over at Amazon. Amazon still has some left so I would order it without delay as this collection is now out-of-print and will begin commanding secondary market prices before long.

The Fantastic Four-Silver Surfer DVD-ROM contains Fantastic Four #1 to 543, the #1/2 issue, and the first 33 annuals, as well as all four series of Silver Surfer and its nine attendant annuals. That's 766 comics! Holy crap!

Not included here are the Human Torch material from the early 1960's Strange Tales, the plethora of mini-series and spin-offs, or any of the titles featuring the ever lovin', blue-eyed Thing. Again, I am certainly not going to quibble over crap like "false advertising" because this stuff isn't on the disc. 766 comics for $35 (or 5 cents per comic) and change sort of makes me feel like I'm stealing.

Amazon still appears to have a number of these left so get them while you can.

Due to arrive tonight:
It's going to be a great summer.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Extreme Commuting

I've posted commuting stories before but they all pale in comparison to what happened tonight. We (not the royal 'we' but my carpool driver and I) leave Rosslyn aboard the Metro where we're told that the train will be ending at East Falls Church station four stops from the usual Vienna station. The storm had taken down trees and screwed with electrical systems. However, we're also told that train service is working from West Falls Church to Vienna. This left us with a problem: getting to the West Falls Church station.

Metro offered shuttle buses between stations but that was a huge problem for a number of reasons:
  • Buses came very sporadically, not surprising because of rush hour traffic.
  • A bus holds maybe a train car full of people.
  • Trains were still coming every 15 minutes or so, thereby increasing the number of people waiting for buses.
So a number of my fellow commuters and I hoofed it. That's right, we walked from the East Falls Church station to the West Falls Church station. That's a distance of nearly two miles using the W&OD Trail. Because I work in an office, I had on a blazer and dress shoes -- not exactly power walking attire.

But walk we did, eventually reaching our destination but not before it began raining again. The drive home was okay, marked by intense pockets of rain and the occasional clap of thunder. It didn't help that the carpool driver was "rocking out" to Led Zeppelin (one of the worst rock bands ever) with half of the windshield fogged.

I'm told there's no power at home so I'm typing this in a local pizza joint eating diet-crashing pepperoni pizza. After tonight's ordeal, I'm surprised I haven't ordered a half dozen cannolis to go with it.

EDIT: Here's a link to Metro's press release.

Sex and the City = Pox on Humanity

The Sex and the City movie opened this past weekend with $57 million, beating the second week of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull at the box office ($44.7 million in case you were wondering). First of all, I want to preface this by saying I am not one of those fanboys from his mother's basement throwing some kind of tantrum because Indy was beaten by a chick flick.

The characters on the television series are quite possibly the most shallow, self-absorbed entitlement whores I've ever had the non-pleasure of seeing, even in fictional form. They "want it all" and feel they should have it all. And even when life is good to them, it still isn't enough.

The worst aspect is that this pattern of behavior has been adopted by American women nationwide as some sort of guide to life. Yay, because the planet needs more jerks. But it's about friendship between women, you say. Great, friends of any gender that are all vapid twits is such a wonderful thing. It's as if high school never ended for these people. If that's the sort of person you see as a guru to life, here's a bit of advice: grow the hell up. It's not all about you.

And for all those that went to the film dressed to the nines (I wish I were making this up), you're just as bad as the Star Wars fans in Jedi costumes i.e., the people you scorned in high school.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Picture Pages Picture Pages

Okay, it's maybe a picture page, singular. As promised, here are a couple of pictures from the wedding day festivities...

First up are my daughters, Cora and Miriya. That's me holding Miriya, but my head is cut off in the picture and I have no neck.


Aren't they cute? Cora was flower girl for the bridal party and Miriya got to drool on my suit. Hey, that rhymes! I'm a poet and didn't know it.

Next up is a picture of me and Charlie Walker, the first astronaut not employed by NASA. He was on three shuttle flights in the '80s. He and his wife, Susan, are friends of my mother-in-law which is pretty darn cool. Not cool is that he's moving to Tuscon this month.


Not sure what the heck's wrong with my face in that photo. But I'm positive my mouth wasn't full of Gulf, jumbo-sized shrimp (there was a metric ton of those at the reception).

Lastly, here I am doing my "Stephen Colbert's Astronaut Friend" pose:


Even former astronauts are not immune to the bunny-ear gag.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ray-e-ain on a Wedding Day

Yours truly started off the weekend Friday night by scrubbing pots. You see, I was asked if the in-laws could use my fabulous turkey-frying rig to boil shrimp for my sister-in-law's wedding reception. "No problem," I say and skip off to get it. Well, the main pot was still of oil from Christmas (I can keep oil for about six months before it goes rancid) and the retrieval basket was rather gross. So, I dump the oil in the fire pit normally used for bonfires (the next one ought to be fun—hee hee) and proceed to scrub and scrub and scrub until everything is clean. The process took about two hours, leaving me exhausted and in no mood for my original plans that night: going to see Iron Man.

Saturday was the wedding, held at All Saints Catholic Church. It was a genuine celebration of faith and there was not a hint of political shenanigans (unlike my brother-in-law's confirmation). Since Em was photographing the event for posterity, I was stuck babysitting. Miriya is at that bipolar infant stage where she can be happy and smiling one minute only to switch over to fussiness and frustration the next. Anyhoo, the wedding was fairly short as far as Catholic weddings go and we were off to the reception. My big job at the reception was to help cook; something I like to do when fire is involved. It rained for about 45 minutes but cleared up fairly quickly. We ended up cooking up arond 150 steaks and 100 chicken breasts total. The verdict: Yummy. I haven't a clue as to how long the festivities lasted, having taken off around 6-ish as a result of my sheer exhaustion. Everyone seemed to be having a great time, which is all that mattered.

Sunday, I was stuck once again babysitting Miriya. At one point, she nodded off and I thought I'd be able to nap. No dice. My beautiful baby girl woke up 15 minutes later and pretty much stayed awake until bedtime that night. No rest for the weary and all that jazz.

Despite it all, I was able to accomplish a bit of geekery in the form of The Andromeda Strain remake. It was okay until the plot veered in such a weird direction, there was no choice but to go along with it. I won't spoil it since A&E is repeating it about a million times right now, but it's a semi-decent stab at remaking the 1971 original film for the first hour and a half or so (the film is four hours with commercials). Once I finish V for Vendetta, I'll probably dig out my copy of Michael Crichton's book and finally read the story that started it all.

So that's it for me. Pictures are forthcoming, including a couple of me and former astronaut, Charlie Walker.

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