Strange Brouhaha

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Holy crap... who knew?

Not me, that's for sure. Brian May is getting a (real) Ph.D. in astrophysics. Yeah, THE Brian May, from Queen.

Friday, July 27, 2007

And stuff

The Friday Five had some questions and stuff.

1. What item would you be embarrassed for people to know you own? Well... I'm not answering that! It's too embarrassing! Actually, I don't really have anything I'm embarrassed to own. Not even "Sewing for Dummies" or "The Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework."

2. What is something you splurged on just for you? The computer on which I am writing this.

3. What is something that you own with no real world value that is priceless to you? My imagination and a few tattered mementos from my childhood, like old notebooks and such.

4. Do you collect anything? Dust. Seriously, though, no -- not in any organized way like I used to collect comics.

5. What item belonging to a friend/family member do you covet? Sir F. Crisp's TV is very nice.

Have some Friday Fun

Kiki had some interesting questions over at Friday Fun.

1. Is there any one thing that, no matter how many times you have done it, you can never remember? At work, there is a particular registration function that we are supposed to check with every release. I always need to be reminded about it. I have it written in big letters on my white board, and I still forget it. Fortunately, I'm always reminded.

2. Are you the forgetful one in your family, or are you the family’s human Post-It note? The former. That's why I'm married. The Wife remembers everything for me. I'd forget my name if it wasn't for her. She remembers college for me. And the past 16 years.

3. What is the biggest thing you have ever forgotten? How did it turn out? In college, one of the choirs I was in recorded an album. We were told in no uncertain terms NOT to be late to the recording session. I woke up from my nap at exactly the time the session was supposed to start, so I ran my ass out to the chapel where we were recording. We had been told that latecomers would not be allowed in, but I guess that had no teeth. The director was pissed, though. It didn't help that I fell down climbing on stage. All in all, it turned out okay. (I think I got some slack because I sang tenor, and power was thin on the ground in our section.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"

I went to see "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" last night. Paid full price, plus the extra fifty cents for the parking lot-sized ULTRA SCREEN.

Shouldn't have.

Not that it was completely awful or anything, but it suffered from the same essential problem as the book: weak story. This movie was easily the most pastiche-y of all of them, and without Steve Kloves behind the keyboard, the script was just dull. Really, I feel the same way about this movie that I felt about its book--it's just half of a boring bridge to books/movies 6 and 7.

I still didn't care about the death, which surprised me because of the powerhouse acting talent involved. And this movie is crammed with powerhouse acting talent: Gary Oldman, David Thewlis, Helena Bonham-Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Emma Thompson, Maggie Smith... every single one wasted.

The movie only really came alive when the Order of the Phoenix itself was on screen. Suddenly, everything was dynamic and moving and cool, with this shlubby-looking but awesome magical commando unit kicking ass JUST BY WALKING (and, later, by fighting). But for a movie called "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the actual Order is pretty much absent. A shame, too; I'd watch a movie about the Order.

Save it for a rental, unless you're a die-hard.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

This is a spoiler-free review.

The Youngster and I went to go stand in line for the last Harry Potter book last night. It was fun, and I was glad for the company. Lots of people in costumes -- good witches, bad witches and of course the ever-popular Naughty Witches. Lots and lots of naughty witches. And a cat-girl Hermione.

The bookstore moved us all through pretty well when the bell tolled 12:01. We were at least 500 people back, and probably more like 1000, but we were out of the store and home shortly after 12:30.

According to The Wife, people were still lined up at the store at 8:00 this morning. Now that's dedication.

I finished the book this afternoon, and I have to say that I was satisfied with it. It was as much better than Book 6 as that book was than 5 and 4, which leads me to be a tiny bit suspicious about the book's parentage. In particular, there are several phenomenal action sequences that indicate not just a writing talent that Rowling has not heretofore displayed, but also a taste for action that is notably absent from the rest of the series.

Flat-out, this is easily the best book of the bunch. It has shed the pastiche-y flavor of the other books almost completely, while still retaining a lot of the clunky-yet-charming prose. And the best part about it is that it manages to make every prediction come true, even the contradictory ones.

If there are fans who are disappointed with this book, I cannot possibly see why. J. K. Rowling is not the greatest or most original storyteller, but this book wraps everything up quite nicely, with a long roller-coaster ride to a sweet ending.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Say hey to The Feast

This entry brought to you by Fridays Feast.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being highest) how much do enjoy watching sports on television? Departs on the sport, but overall probably 3 or 4. I like football the most. I don't get basketball, baseball is only good in the stadium or on the radio.

If you could completely memorize any one work of fiction, which one would you pick? Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur." Probably not Paradise Lost.

What is your favorite breakfast food? Portuguese sausage, rice, and scrambled eggs.

Name something fun you can do for less than $10.00.
Go to the library and check ort a ton of books. This question stinks -- there are a lot of fun things you can do for free.

How long does it usually take you to fall asleep? A couple of minutes. No more than five.

Lets try the Friday Fiver

The Friday Fiver seemed doable today.

1. Tea or coffee? If I had to pick, I'd choose tea (Lipton is fine) over coffee. But I don't like hot beverages in general.

2. Do you speak your mind? Not usually, no. I'm not much of a talker.

3. What is your escape? Books and video games. Mostly video games. I'm liking Custom Robo Arena and Tradewinds Legends right now.

4. When is the last time you cried? I teared up a little bit last night finishing "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." I was getting ready for the last Potter book. Yeah, I'll be in line at 12:01.

5. What are your bedtime rituals? Brush teeth, toilet, wash hands, turn off lights. Go upstairs, tuck in The Youngster. Turn off upstairs lights, go into bedroom, shove The Wife out of my spot, lie down, go to sleep.


Kwong On is closing. When I was catching the bus home from school, it was always hard to resist the siren song of their manapua and pork hash. Such good food... oh, and their chow fun. Goodbye, Kwong On.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Petty outrage(s) of the day

On the way home from work today, I saw an ambulance in the rearview mirror. Since there was a lot of traffic, and one lane of the road was closed for construction, I pulled over immediately. Most other people did as well, you know, like you're supposed to when an emergency vehicle is behind you.

Petty outrage 1: why do people not pull over? I admit to a thorough lack of understanding on this. After all, you've got flashing lights and a screaming siren behind you -- dive for the curb!

Petty outrage 2: who are these people who jump out of line the second the ambulance has gone by? Why do they do this? There was almost an accident behind us as people hit the gas to try to get ahead that extra couple of car lengths. Make for the curb in an orderly fashion, leave the curb in an orderly fashion. It's not a difficult concept.

Friday, July 13, 2007


It's an action-figure sized R2-D2 RC robot!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sushi Muramoto

Sir F. Crisp and I indulged ourselves with a stop at Sushi Muramoto tonight. In a word: incredible.

This is one of the places that has sprung up around Madison's new Sundance theater. (Yeah, that Sundance.) It's a small house -- a sushi bar and maybe a dozen tables. You'd think that such a small place would be pretty quiet, but you'd be wrong.

Fortunately, the food more than made up for the noise. We had seven different types of sushi: two different types of tuna, unagi (eel), tako (octopus), salmon roe, shrimp, and crab. I've put them roughly in the order in which I liked them, but understand that each piece was really good.

The tuna was clearly the highlight of the evening. We had toro and escolar. Toro, of course, is the highly-prized fatty tuna, the undisputed king of sushi. Escolar is a white tuna, and its texture was just amazing, very smooth and tasty. I basically had no idea I was eating fish.

I'm no sushi connoisseur, but this was a damn fine meal. We had an appetizer of shrimp tempura, but we basically dropped a bunch of money on seven perfect bites of food. If you're anywhere near Madison, have some money, and like sushi, go to Sushi Muramoto. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Mr. Bob A. Fett and I hit the multiplex this weekend to see the new Transformers movie Neither of us, it turns out, is a particularly freakish fan of the old cartoon series, but we both like Michael Bay. Bay gets an unfair rap on the Internets, most of it from people who Do Not Understand Movies.

Michael Bay, in my opinion, is an incredible visual artist. His movies always look incredible; he knows exactly what to do with fast cars, pretty girls, and explosions. Special effects are a second language for him, and... well, look, you just cannot point to a Michael Bay movie that looks bad. He can evoke pretty much any emotion with just a few feet of film. I will go out on a limb here and say that he is the best action director working today.

On that basis, Transformers is a great movie. The robots do not look like effects. They look like real damn robots, pounding the crap out of each other. The action sequences are a must-see for any fan of action films. Yes: Optimus Prime kicks some serious ass.

The problem with this movie is in the script. It's pretty dull, serving mostly as a framework on which to hang those incredible effects sequences. It also doesn't know if it wants to be serious or funny, and as a result there are either too many or too few jokes. It really, really needed to be a straight-up military action movie OR a grownup version of one of the cartoon episodes. Instead, it was a mildly confusing mush of a story.

But oh, those robots. This will be reference-quality sound and video for your high definition home theater setup.

The solution for the "Michael Bay Problem," such as it is, is to team him up with early -90s Keanu Reeves. Reeves has this incredible physical grace that is ruined every time he opens his mouth. Michael Bay makes incredible visual art that starts going flat when people open their mouths. Together, I bet they could make a sweet wordless movie.

Bottom line: well worth the price of admission, for the action sequences. Especially Prime's fight on the freeway, the fight between Bumblebee and Barricade, and the opening sequence at the military base.

Can we arrest him for St. Anger?

Well, it turns out that the "James Hetfield was detained in London" story was a hoax. There go all the good jokes.

Remember when Metallica was good?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday Eight

Nope, it's not the Saturday Six with two extra questions. It really is the Saturday Eight.

You'll have to follow the link to see the actual questions, because they're a little wordy. I'll try to give my answers correctly, so that you'll be able to guess at the questions.

1. On July 4th, I cooked myself some teriyaki steak (bottled sauce, sorry), corn and potato salad. I used my mom's very simple, awesome-tasting method. I was alone because The Family is out of town.

2. July 4th , 1996 was the day before our wedding, so that one certainly has to rank right up there. We had the best wedding.

3. I don't think I've ever had a bad 4th, or at least one that was bad enough that I'd want to forget it. To be honest, the 4th a such has never been a big deal for me. It's far more important because it's my morn's birthday.

4. The only day I took off this week was Wednesday, although we were allowed to leave early on Tuesday.

5. I am not watching any of the "Live Earth" coverage. I am uninterested and have no patience for sitting through hours of acts that I hate.

6. If I could see ANY band, I think it would be The Beatles in Hamburg, right before they got famous. Or maybe Guns n' Roses at the height of their powers.

7. I am ashamed of nothing that I eat. Why would I be?

8. While it is true that, in general, global temperature patterns cannot be reasonably expected to remain rock-solidly constant, I think it's pretty undeniable that we haven't made things better. I used to call it a myth, but I know better now.

Does it have a barrel that's blue and cold?

Oh, no, wait, that's Mr. Saturday Night Special. This is the Saturday Special. This one is good for more than puttin' a man six feet in the hole.

1. My dream house is? Paid for. I don't know--one with lots of windows and a large finished basement. Wired for networking, too.

2. My dream car is? Reliable, fuel-efficient and paid for. I really like "dream can" questions. I could say "a Bugatti Veyron," but what's the point of having one of those? You couldn't drive it anywhere. Actually... my dream car is chauffeured.

3. My dream vacation is? To an English-speaking country. Not because I'm provincial, but a "dream vacation" includes being able to understand what's going on. I'd still like to visit Ireland, but there's no specific reason.

4. My dream life is? A huge apartment in Manhattan and theater tickets every week.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Uh... why?

I dunno I'm already pretty happy after using the bathroom. I don't think peeing into the Virgin Mary would really make it that much better.

Four... for Friday

Let's see what's going on over at BeliBlog's Four for Friday.

Q1 - Possession: Aside from your home and car, what is the most expensive thing you own?

Q2 - Race: On this day in 1975, Arthur Ashe became the first black man to win a Wimbledon singles title (in tennis) when he defeated Jimmy Connors. Do you think race still plays a role in professional sports or is race no longer an issue?

Q3 - Presidential Power: Earlier this week, in an unprecedented move, Present President Bush commuted the two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Valerie Plame CIA leak. Bush's action marked the first time that a President had ever commuted a sentence before the convicted person ever served a day of their sentence. Do you think the President of the United States should continue to have the power to commute and pardon those convicted of a crime? As background, President Bill Clinton handed out 456 clemency actions--which include pardons, conditional pardons, commutations of sentence, remissions, etc.--including one for his own brother, who was arrested for cocaine possession; while his predecessor, President George Herbert Walker Bush issued 77 clemency actions. (President Reagan, in case you're wondering, handed out 406 over eight years, while President Carter distributed 566 during his four years in office.) Again, the question... Do you think the President of the United States should continue to have the power to commute and pardon anyone convicted of a crime?

Q4 -Annoyances: What's the most annoying part of your day (aside from answering Four For Friday :-)?

1. Probably the ThinkPad tablet PC on which I am writing this. Unless the furnace doesn't count as part of the house. We also had to buy a new water heater recently. That was not cheap.

2. I think race is not as much of an issue today, in American professional sports, as economic background is. Playing sports at any level is expensive, and only kids whose parents can afford it really have a chance.

3. Sure.I don't see why not. Just because The Monkey abused it to appease his ever-shrinking fan club (nickname: "the Drooling Idiots") doesn't mean that the power has no value.

4. I'm not a big far of getting out of bed in the morning.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


Keith Olbermann kicks The Monkey's ass.

Some games I've been playing

I've been looking at the demo for Chocolatier recently. It's a lot of fun. I like trading games like this, and while the chocolate factory process is annoying, the trading aspect makes up for it in my opinion. A great deal at twenty bucks, and I'm sufficiently curious about the ending to buy it.

I can't say the same for Kingdom Hearts II, unfortunately. Circuit City had it for $10 last month, so I snapped it up because the first KH was really good--but it turns out I overpaid. The game got great reviews, but so far it's just a slow, dull mess. Someone forgot to flip the "fun" bit to "on".

Custom Robo Arena is a lot of fun. You buy parts for your robot, fight battles, and that's about it: simple and direct. It's a challenge matching your robot's loadout to your opponent's. My quibble with it, if I have to have one, is that the DS touchscreen is really like an afterthought. But whatever--it's fun, and that's something that Kingdom Hearts I is missing so far.

I've also been playing Tetris DS. It's fun if you like Tetris, although the game modes (other than the standard mode) are kind of forgettable.I'm not sorry I got it, especially since I bought it as part of a 3-for-2 sale.

For my birthday, I got the PS2 version of Test Drive Unlimited. Yes, I wasn't that impressed with it on the Xbox 360, but I figured that I'd give it a longer try. We'll see how it goes.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Script Frenzy post-mortem

It turns out that I am one of just over a thousand people who completed the first Script Frenzy. I wonder why so few people completed it-- fewer (in terms of percentage as well as absolute numbers) than NaNoWriMo. There are the inevitable personal reasons, sure, but I really only worked an hour a day or so. I suppose that people are trying for something other than word count.

I need a new phone

Okay, so maybe "need" is an overstatement, but I'm becoming dissatisfied with my cell phone. Anyone have any phone suggestions? The only thing I want is a cameraphone. Other features don't really matter.

I thought about the iPhone for a second, but it's too expensive and I don't need a computer with a phone. I just need a phone.

Finally, a promise he didn't break!

I guess Emperor Chimpanzee the First wasn't lying when he said that whoever committed the flat-out treasonous act of exposing the identity of a covert agent would be "taken care of."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Where would you go?

This week's Sunday Seven asks "Name seven fictional locations (or fictionalized real locations) from TV or movies that you’d like to visit."

1. Yes, I'm an ass: Hogwarts. I'm ready for the new book. The movie, not so much -- "Order of the Phoenix" was my least favorite.

2. The 23rd century, as seen in "Star Trek."

3. Oz. The land of Oz, that is, not the prison from the TV show.

4. The Future, as seen in "Meet the Robinsons."

5. Punxsutawney, as seen in "Groundhog Day."

6. One of the core planets of the Old Republic, as seen in "Star Wars."

7. The Xavier School, from "X-Men." But only if Kitty's going to be there.

I tried to stay away from places where there was a high chance I'd get killed. You know, like Spider-Man's New York, or Camp Crystal Lahr, or Sunnydale.