Friday, December 31, 2004

Retaliatory Vandalism

Joey Comeau is one of my favorite people in the world. I cannot explain this. He is neat.

In other news, I am sitting in the cafe where my girlfriend works and they are playing really bad music. It makes me shudder. *shudder* eeehhwewehhh.

Happy New Year.

Reflections on a Thai movie (Extra Excellent)

I just finished watching The Legend of Suryothai, and it seemed important to me to write down whatever thoughts I might have about it. Considering the recent disaster, watching a Thai film did not seem inappropriate.

The trailer hails the film as "The most ambitious Thai film ever made." I have to say that it admirably succeeds at its ambition. It is epic, it is emotional, it is exciting. I felt moved when I was supposed to be moved. I felt admiration for the title character. I was never bored. Considering how long this movie was, that is saying something. The characters are interesting, the violence is effectively graphic, and despite the fact that the story takes place over several years' time, the story is not slow. Not at all.

Looking back at that, I'm being mild. Way too mild. This movie was excellent. I'm going to go back and write something to that effect in the title for this entry now. "Extra Excellent" or something of that nature. This movie...dare I say it...kicks ass. Thrilling, moving, stirring...excellent. 'K? Ok.

I'm going to go to sleep now. With any luck I won't have to watch any New Year's Eve programming tomorrow. Er, today. That would be so nice.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

For those of you who have been looking for an all night boulangerie...

Lore Sjoberg, is excited. And because he is excited, I am excited. But perhaps I should explain in more detail.

Lore Sjoberg is an internet humorist who used to collaborate with David Nielson and others on a website called The Brunching Shuttlecocks. When that ended, he kept us geeky internet types happy with a weblog, which I've linked to above, plus The Ratings and Lore Brand Comics. That's all for background. What's got him all excited (and me, and probably other people, for various reasons ranging from the innocent to the bizarre) is that he's decided to take up animating for Bandwidth Theater as his primary creative focus.

Now, more Bandwidth Theater is pretty exciting. But what's got me excited, as a creative writer who recently embarked upon several new and old projects, is the energy and enthusiasm with which he's taken up the project again. The man is updating his blog pretty much every day and most of the time he is just talking shop about animation. The man's on fire with this. It makes me excited for him.

Well, maybe nobody else gets it. I don't seem to have the words to explain exactly why I'm getting enthused about his enthusiasm. It just makes me want to go write something, so I'm probably going to do that or read some more out of The Unfettered Mind. Ciao, my babies.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

"These guys are either drunk or crazy!"

I just watched the original version of The Flight of the Phoenix.

I haven't even seen the new version and I already know it is a shameful piece of crap. Its trailer is filled with threatening nomads, explosions, and lots of sexy Hollywood people made inexplicably sexier by dehydration and exposure. The original movie involves a bunch of increasingly scruffy and sunburned men, facing certain death, who are just trying to survive by grasping any hope they can find. And it worked. The movie really worked.

It has one of the most hilarious/horrifying twists I have ever seen. It's one of those Twilight Zone moments in which they stare in dawning, disbelieving horror while a small voice in their mind begins to laugh hysterically. There are moments when you actually are not sure that they are going to make it. It was no honeyed up, glitzy Hollywood survivor picture. It was harsh. And it worked.

And now you know.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Hound's Home

Hound's Home

I just started reading through the archives, but it already led to a new subline for my blog. Things are looking good for this one.

Those Greeks again

A correction to yesterday's post. I more or less wrote off the entire list of Greek Historians; I delivered a bad impression of them. It wasn't my intention.

Thucydides was a brilliant writer, in my opinion. He was working in a newborn field of writing and study, so there are necessarily tones and issues of style that might rub a modern reader the wrong way. However, he maintains a feeling of yearning and searching for the truth and the heart of historical events throughout his writing, without sounding nearly as naive as Herodotus. He writes with intelligence and integrity and even those he claims to admire are depicted with all their faults and poor decisions unobscured. That is what I meant when I declared Thucydides to be a true historian.

Xenophon's account of the journey of a retreating Greek mercenary army through many miles of enemy territory makes for a good adventure story. I was impressed by his sketches of the major characters, including himself, and by the flow of the narrative. On the other hand, his heroes come out looking nearly golden and his enemies come out looking like black-hearted cowards, so it's difficult to tell how honest Xenophon is being as it regards what truly happened. I meant what I said about him painting a pretty picture, however. Xenophon's account has an almost cinematic quality at times.

I remember a lot more of Polybius than I claimed yesterday. The accounts of the founding of the Achaen League and their opposition to and conquest of tyrannies in Greece I found particularly absorbing is all. However, the other selected writing by Polybius that is included in the book is his chapter on the Roman Constitution, which includes discussion of what makes a good constitution in general. According to Polybius, a nation of people moves necessarily through a certain cycle of governments, from despotism to monarchy, from monarchy to aristocracy, from aristocracy to oligarchy, from oligarchy to democracy, and from democracy to mob rule. From mob rule, of course, the people return to the rule of a despot out of necessity. I found this interesting; I found Polybius interesting. It was wrong of me to write him off as unmemorable.

That is all. Go back to work.


An article in this month's U.S. News & World Report caught my attention. It was a report on the latest intelligence regarding the insurgency. Recent intelligence reports indicate that Saddam Hussein masterminded a plot to instigate an insurgency and launch attacks on coalition forces in the event that Baghdad should fall and/or he should be captured. Approximately one thousand skilled Iraqi intelligence officers were trained in guerilla warfare and terrorist cell tactics in the months before the U.S. invasion.

Saddam Hussein is the king of the evil dictators.

I mean, when you think about it, he does everything that you're supposed to do as an evil overlord. He researches weapons of mass destruction, he detains, tortures, and executes political rivals and dissident and their families, he tests weapons on civilian populations. He had body doubles, building-sized murals, an elite corps of loyal guardsmen. And, we now discover, he had planned for the eventual defeat of his plans. The current insurgency and political turmoil is Saddam's way of cackling madly and pushing the big red self-destruct button.

Of course, he remains defiant at his trial and likely still expects to be rescued and reinstated by his loyalists. And the insurgency has blown up to include foreign militants, Al Qaeda operatives, and Iranian spies, with a pool of Iraqis in varying states of economic and emotional need to make up recruits for the violent insurgency. The U.S. and the burgeoning democratic government are struggling to deal with infrastructure, politics, and world opinion while combating the rebels, while the insurgents do their best to disrupt the democratic process, scare off foreign civilian aid, and shatter the confidence of Iraqi security forces while making the continued U.S. occupation of Iraq seem increasingly pricey. The Iraqi people are, as always, stuck in the middle, and just do the best they can.

As a human being, of course, Hussein is detestable and monstrous. But as a villain! O, what a superb and admirable man he is.

In other news, Afghanistan has now has a president and he is doing fine.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Greeks called everybody barbarians

A couple of days ago, I finished reading The Portable Greek Historians from which I was assigned reading selections in my Freshman Humanities class two and a half years ago. Man, oh, man. The thing is, it wasn't half bad.

Herodotus has a really obnoxious tendency to go off on tangents to the point that I sometimes forgot what it was that he was talking about. This is not a good habit to have when you are chronicling a war. Still, this is where you read about Leonidas and his two hundred Spartans holding off the entire Persian army. I also learned that one of the principle generals on the Persian side was a woman, Queen Artemisia. She was one of Xerxes I's most trusted strategists and generals. I mean, think about it. The people of this time barely recognized women as rational beings, yet this woman was a general and trusted advisor to the King of Persia.

Thucidydes was by far my favorite. That man was a historian by God. Of the others, Xenophon tells a pretty good story and paints a nice picture. Polybius was interesting but I don't remember anything he said aside from some things on the Achaen League and how they were justified in using force to unify Greece under a democracy.

Now, to make up for my inconclusive rambling - once again I didn't write about the book until almost a week after I read it - here is an introduction to Achewood, by way of yesterday's comic.

Achewood lays out a pretty unique beat, so don't despair if you don't get it. Sample some of the story lines and see if you can dig it. Definitely, in my opinion, and I'm not going out on a limb here, one of the best webcomics out there. If you like things, anyway.

In other news, I am reading some selected political writings of Augustine. Interesting. I am also reading The Devil's Panties, a diary-type webcomic. The two authors should never meet. I'm sure only one of them would find it amusing.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Oh, I'm going to pay for this

I just realized that I do my best work when writing into the sunset.

Current Mood: Murder You!

They should make an emoticon for "Murder You!". On second thought, no. No they shouldn't.

I'm at my parent's house through Christmas. They have the Internet and Turner Classic Movies and all sorts of other things that I do not have at home. Like food, for instance, and furniture upon which to sit.

On the other hand, while I'm here I will be getting exactly nothing done, since the Internet does little more than distract me, and my dad, when not watching something other than Turner Classic Movies, will be giving me jobs to do, unless I retreat to the computer and say, "Homework! I have homework!"

But enough of this misery and weeping! What am I going to do about this problem?

Like all good barbarians, I consult the Oracle .

"O Oracle! Will I achieve anything productive this week?"

Juliette, Dada seer: "Kind words kill sheep."

I...see. As always, the oracle speaks the truth. At least no one will ever be able to accuse me of mass murdering sheep.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Evasive Redirection

Sure I haven't posted in over a week. I don't have internet access at my place of residence! Fool! I will crush you for your insolence! is something that Jeff Rowland said:

"I don't think it's really "gay" if you are a guy who has a crush on Indiana Jones. O to cling fast to that sweaty, swashbuckling archaeologist as you swing across an ancient, bottomless chasm, chased by a furious, desperate squad of natives who've for generations sworn to protect what you've just stolen from them, your cheek rubbing against his stubbly man-cheek..."

Heh. Overcompensating.

Monday, December 06, 2004

The third shoe is right.

Oh, Dada Server, how I've missed you. I don't know how we ever lost track of each other.

Perhaps it was the subcutaneous monkeys you sent me by railcar. I would shake my heart and hear the sounds. The sweet, jingling sounds of vivacious falling monkeys.

Then there was that time I told you that the color of your soul was a blue-green ryoma and your spirit animal was quite clearly Ernie Hudson. You were, at first, flattered, but then you thought too long about Frenchmen. It was always thus.

Meet the people and their lecherous rainbows, Dada Server. Take the time - mind the blood-red thistles - to introduce them to the rest of the fellows from Smalltime Industries. Mass Fiction, UnChat, The Anonymous Message Server. Their hexogonal triptychs salute you.

The question is, does soy milk affect one's menstrual cycle?

The answer is "He who bestirs himself is lost." (Paul Eluard & Benjamin Peret)

Yes, I have been to Super City

I finished reading the Superosity archives today. All six years of comics. Obviously I would not do this if the comic was total crap, but just to make it official: Superosity = Good.

It is weird. Very, very weird. But oh so good. There's nothing I can say right now that hasn't been said on Websnark, so I won't go into details. I wouldn't recommend it to everybody; if I do recommend it to you, it is probable that I find you warped.


MacGuyver lied to me

I was just reading the following items from an article by Michael Crichton. It was in Parade magazine. What? Everyone needs something to read in the bathroom.

Anyway, he talked about all the great scientific calamities we are supposed to be facing right about now: global warming, overpopulation, etc. Killer bees and cell phone cancer and all that other stuff that makes good news but bad science.

But that's not important. What's important is that I have lost my faith in the science of "MacGyver".

The episode in question is, according to the MacGyver entry on, is...well, I can't seem to find the episode. In it, anyway, MacGyver ends up defending a South American plantation from an army of deadly ants that consumes everything in its path.

Some time after seeing this episode, I watched a documentary on the Science channel about killer ants. I learned this: killer ants are a myth.

Well, mostly. There's a big ant in Australia that certain people are fatally allergic to. And there's another type of ant in Africa that DOES have a reputation for mowing down everything in its path and consuming it, though they mostly eradicate garden pests and other vermin and occasionally domestic animals that are locked in small cages and can't get away. They could and would kill humans if humans didn't usually jump up, brush them off, and flee the area.

But the South American killer army ant is a myth. Scavenging army ants are even a welcome sight, because they, like the African ants, kill pests. They have trouble killing anything larger than a small, exceptionally unlucky lizard, however. They may inflict painful bites and cause swelling, but for the most part they are after things their mandibles can easily tear apart.

My first reaction was, of course, "You lie, Science Channel! MacGyver had to use science and engineering in order to defend himself and his friends from the devastating army of South American ants! They killed one of his close friends! It was on TV!"

Then, days later, or maybe even just now, I realized that MacGyver had lied to me. TV shows do not always use real science, it seems. Even TV shows in which the premise is "Science has real world applications that can save your life."

In other news, I'm almost finished reading the Superosity archives, so I'll probably talk about that later. Cheers!

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Explain? No!

So now, Random Facts:

In Brunei, the penalty for drug trafficking is death. Mandatory death penalty for the trafficking of illegal substances. So...Brunei is hardcore. Also, according to the CIA World Factbook, the U.S. is a consumer of cocaine and heroine, a producer of depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, and methamphetamine, and a money-laundering center.

We score in all the big areas. How awesome is that?

In other news, movies I have recently seen!

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: Completely blew me away. Both times I saw it. I also think this may be the first movie I truly enjoyed as an adult. Meaning that its message, adult in nature, had significance to me. I think I was sneak attacked by maturity. +2d6 damage.

Lost in Translation: Well, I was charmed. I even think it may survive a second viewing unmarred. Hmmm, I think I can best describe it as a painting. A really beautiful painting that I could stare at for hours. Yeah.

Hero: I think "stunning" is appropriate. I sure felt leveled after watching it. It had some weak points, but I think they were mostly jarring to my cynical Western mind. For the most part, this movie was like a symphony or a series of paintings representing China's mythical past. A really fine symphony that fills your mind with vivid, emotional images that take your breath away.

Legends of the Fall: Didn't have nearly as much sex as it seemed to when I was a little boy.

And now, I go back to reading the Superosity archives.

So, is this about vanquishing your foes or about destroying the world because you are so terribly sad?

The Warlord said, "Ah! We've won again! This is good...but what is best in life?"

A warrior said, "The open steppe, a fleet horse, a falcon at your wrist, and the wind in your hair."

"WRONG!" the Warlord said. "Conan! What is best in life?"

And Conan said, "To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!"

Conan the Barbarian, 1982
Yes, that is good.

I remember now! Joan of Arc!

Ah, I just remembered one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog: I like to talk about books. I don't belong to a book club; my intellectual side would like nothing better than to sit around with people eating cookies and talking books, but my barbarian side says, "NO! Book clubs are for ladies and homosexuals! They will be CRUSHED!" So.

Anyway, I just read Joan of Arc by Mark Twain. Not too long ago I read his Autobiography. I'd had both books for years and hadn't gotten around to reading them until now. The Autobiography edited by Charles Neider was wonderful. Mr. Clemens wrote the last chapter approximately four months before he died. The whole book is filled with the Mark Twain style that everyone loves and it is probably chock full of lies about his life as well. But it feels honest, the emotion is honest, so that's alright. It wouldn't be Mark Twain if he didn't embellish a bit anyhow.

I didn't know that Mark Twain had written a book chronicling the life of Joan of Arc until I found it on the shelves of a bookstore. Now I know that Mark Twain considered Joan of Arc to be his best book, and he loved it more than any other work. He spent fourteen years in the writing and preparation of it, and when you read it, you can tell that his respect and admiration for the character of Joan of Arc was immense. His narrator is the page, secretary, and childhood friend of Joan, and Twain went out of his way to make sure that all of his facts are correct. I don't really know what more to say about Joan of Arc. Something in her character called out some really powerful emotions in a cynical, agnostic American who, as one reviewer of the book said, "was not disposed to see God at work in the melancholy affairs of men".

A good book. Normally I’d write more, but I finished this book two days ago, so I really missed that first rush of emotion. That's all on books for now.