Old Fools...

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):

Okay, I would just like to point this out: http://nicolettetwilight.deviantart.com/art/Death-II-57405387. Completely and totally awesome. If this is the face we see when we leave this mortal coil, we would all be off with a smile.

Rumours abound that Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor will be doing a small bit on the current Doctor Who series reprising his old character as he meets David Tennant’s Tenth Doctor. It is only for the ten minute Children In Need special, but hey, that in itself should be the right amount of awesome (and explain previous comments that the Doctor was on the Titanic).

Wonder if Tegan and/or Nyssa will be tagging along- although this fan wants Peri to show up as she still looks the same (Ace would be best, as Sarah Jane already showed up and got a spin-off, but Davison’s Doctor never met her).

The new Doctor Who by the way is my favourite show at the moment and I cannot wait for the third series to come to DVD.

(Doctor Who theme song now is playing happily in my head)

Beloit College just released the results of their look into the mindsets of kids who are starting college this year. While most of the results are just reminders of how old you are, some of them are alarming:

- Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.

- Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.

- MTV has never featured music videos.

- The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.

- Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.

- Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.

- Burma has always been Myanmar.

And a few are actually a sign that the world may be getting better:

- The purchase of ivory has always been banned.

- They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.

And of course, some just show that we are getting stupider and stupider:

- “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
- Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.

Oh, and by the way: You (meaning me) are Old.


God still hates me and other fun facts

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):

"Racism isn't born, folks, it's taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list."- Dennis Leary

Hey, I am now at http://cattterpillarboy.deviantart.com (mind the number of t’s). You can see some of my sketches and photos and where you can laugh at my lack of skill and talent. Also if you are reading this on Myspace, I am debating just using the Journal function there instead of here, so if you really, really, really want to know what I am thinking head over there, make fun of me- I will not mind.

If you are reading this on deviant art, find me also at http://www.myspace.com/catterpillarboy, http://catterpillarboy.livejournal.com and http://catterpillarboy.blogspot.com (again, mind the number of t’s). I regularly post my thoughts to practice my writing in hopes that one day, maybe one day I will get something published.

By the way, there are approximately ninety three million bloggers currently out there making the chances of you actually really reading this about the same as winning the lottery.

Better luck next time, buddy.

Eighties bands are going straight to hell: Duran Duran has a song with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland while the Violent Femmes are suing themselves. They should all just do something respectable like what Belinda Carlise and Tiffany did and pose for Playboy.

Not that the world needs a view of Simon Le Bon’s Le Bon Bons.

What sucks: One car is in the shop (there goes my salary for the next few months) and the other one’s CD player just died. The one in the shop has not had a radio for about ten years now by the way.

More proof that God hates me.

Okay, enough already: They are threatening a remake of Enter the Dragon, turning it into “contemporized drama about a lone FBI agent who pursues a rogue Shaolin monk into the bloody world of underground martial arts fight clubs” and being “more 'Raging Bull' than 'Crouching Tiger' in its viciousness.”

Yes, they have remade Fist of Fury a million times, but remaking Enter the Dragon in this manner is not only unncecessary but also disrespectful. I hope this one gets passed over along with that CGI movie that Rob Cohen wanted to make.

What I did not see this past weekend: Stardust

I am waiting for the DVD- is that wrong? Should I turn in my Neil Gaiman Fan Club badge? Actually I wanted to see it, but as always- life intervened and I will have to wait a bit longer before seeing it.

The book is pretty good- I remember the late nineties waiting month after month to get the next part in the story and then paying the outstanding amount of $29.99 for the hardcover. The story is an intersting romp through fairy tale conventions, a romantic comedy and interesting coincidences.

Well now, they have reissued the hardcover with a green cover with extra added material that just makes me sick- why could they have not done that with the first release? Bastards- I hate double dipping (in this manner at least).

But my copy is signed Neil- so, nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah…

Seen (a little): Persied Meteor Shower

We woke up at 2am on August 12th and looked out the back yard and a bit at the darker parts of our neighbourhood. We did not venture much further out being half asleep and all- but for about an hour in the midst of street lights and city glare we were able to catch a few small ones and one big one streak across the night sky. Pretty good for an hour’s watch.

If there is one thing I like about where I live it is that being pretty close to the city I can still see a pretty good view of the stars at night with a good array of constellations visible on any given night, as long as conditions are clear.

Something else I did see : The Crow- Stairway to Heaven

The show was fun in its own campy way but was pretty bland by today’s standards. Most of it comes in the production design- it looks as if they just took the sets left standing for other shows and just used them. The fact that there are recognizable places from the X-Files does not help.

The original movie- of which is the basis of the show was pretty bland plot wise (most revenge stories are) but excelled in atmosphere and ambience. But here- most scenes take place in the daytime, which, come on- how many people who wear black all the time are even up by 9am on a weekday anyway? There is almost nothing ‘goth’ about this show.

The Good: The regular and supporting casts do a convincing job in their roles (the exception being the recurring bad guys of Top Dollar, Fun Boy and Tin-Tin, whose performances are cringe worthy at best). The stories are not award winning, but there are some pretty good ones here and there (I especially like the one where the title character gets an evil tune stuck in his head- we have all been there, how often have you wished you could have gotten rid of a stupid song out of your head?) and so far there has only been one bad one (the one where the Lazarus Group was introduced). Mark Dacascos does some incredible stunt work (especially one ten foot jump where he strikes a pose in mid air).

The Bad: As previously mentioned, the production design. The music (and all the bands that are featured). Decently shot fight scenes (you have Mark Dacascos but you never get to clearly see his moves). The fact that the Crow make up just shows up whenever it wants to. Jeff Albrecht and his love life (totally unnecessary).

Overall: It is a little better than contemporaries the Highlander TV show and about as good as Hercules and as campy as Xena (Xena being the crown champ for shows like these). It is way better than the Beastmaster and Conan show. It is nowhere as good as the original comic book- but then again, none of the movies, novels and follow up comics were either.

But on any given day, when there is nothing but reality TV, talk shows and second rate sitcoms on, this show is a decent distraction.

Rating: B


Harry Situations

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):

WARNING: The following begins with a rant:

"Wieso bin ich ich verdammt?"

Warum darf ich einen Scheißemagneten sein? Ist es deshalb viel, um Leben zu bitten, deshalb viel nicht zu saugen? Und warum jetzt? Ist es, weil ich dreißig bin? Ich weiß, dass Leben nicht gerecht- ist, aber kann vielleicht ich mein Glück erhalte, in der anderen Richtung jedes jetzt und dann zu schwingen?

Klar gibt es nichts, das ich machen kann, werde ich nur damit und Hoffnung für das beste leben.

Aber erlauben Sie vorläufig bitte dass mich dies wenig wettert.

By the way, I do not speak German.

Although, by the way: Ich bin der Bote des Teufels. Ich bin die Ausgeburt des Bösen!

Rant over, for the most part.

A co worker of mine helps run a German Short Hair Pointer rescue here in Austin. They are having a micro chipping event at the PetCo on Brodie Lane at the 290 Freeway on August 25, 2007 from 2pm-5pm. It will cost about $25.00 per animal, proof of rabies shots and the contact info for your vet. More info can be found at www.texasgsp.org. By the way, the event if for both cats and dogs.

Check them out; they are good people who work for a decent cause.

By the way: Comic books are dead, long live comic books. I have finally decided to give up collecting comics on a monthly basis, going to the trade instead (with exceptions here and there-mostly for indie books). A couple of reasons why- the trades are usually a wee bit more affordable, by not much, but just a bit (unless you are splurging on those oh-so-beautiful Absolute editions).

And superhero storylines are not as great as they used to be: helped out by the glut of crossovers (Infinite Crisis was good- it’s the follow ups that lost me; Civil War started off okay but too many tie-ins were needed to catch the whole story, World War Hulk is awesome so far by the way and I really hope it ends with the Hulk completely annihilating the Illuminati before reverting to his savage state), event-oriented tales (the Death of Captain America was decent, I could care less about the death of Bart Allen) and the fact that it has been a while since I have found a book that has that ‘re-readability’ factor (I miss Brian K. Vaughn on Runaways although I like to reread most of Warren Ellis’ work).

Plus I will not be able to make it to my comic book store on as a regular basis as I want to anyway (stupid life getting in the way).

It sucks, but I blame the comic book market. Your generally uninteresting stories and rising prices have shoved another fan away. You will still see me at the comic book store every now and then, but forgive if I do not care what happened to the superheroes lately.

Hey, I am still reading something though: Harry Potter Se7en (not where Harry gets Ginny’s head in a box, Morgan Freeman is Dumbledore and what are the seven deadly sins for wizards anyway?)

I finally finished the book (seven days for seven hundred something pages). There was an engaging beginning, a meandering middle act and a finale that brings everything to a head, blows stuff up good, a final showdown, a final secret origin and an epilogue that people will keep talking about for a while just because you want to know more about what happens next.

It is definitely a decent book, a decent capper to the series. As I mentioned before, the Battle at Hogwarts is just plain epic. You get giants, centaurs, monstrous spiders and deaths aplenty on both sides including deaths that you did not see coming or deaths you did not want to see, I mean why did you have to break up the Weasley Twins? They, along with Neville Longbottom are the Boba Fett of this series. On the other hand, the death of Bellatrix was a long time coming.

You also get true love (Ron & Hermione’s snog in the middle of the battle), a pissed off Mother Weasley, the reason you should get on the good side of house elves (watch out for your shins!), Malfoy’s comeuppance and the betrayal of his minions, a spaced out sequence in the land between death and life and that final showdown- the way Harry just called him Riddle just took balls.

But I think, the greatest impact was, although it diverted from the action, was Snape’s not so secret origin. Proving he was the most magnificent bastard there is, his was the most complicated character in the series and ultimately the most tragic. He embodies the entire theme of the series that love is truly a most powerful and even frightening weapon against the dark side.

In the end you find yourself wanting that there was more to the story (despite the bits in this book and the other books that just drag on) the story ends in the right place and the epilogue fills enough to know there is a happy ending, that the sacrifices were not in vain and more importantly, fires the imaginations of readers everywhere with what exactly happens in those nineteen years and beyond (my guess is as valid as yours).

Grading Time:

Harry Potter 1: A delightful, whimsical introduction to a brand new world. But written too much like a children’s book (which it is, keep in mid) which may turn off people to continuing on to reading the rest of the series. Rating B+

Harry Potter 2: The quickest read of the bunch with the most straight forward story of the bunch. It is like Jo wanted to maintain the momentum started by the first book without bogging the story down with too much detail. That said, the back story of Tom Riddle is fascinating though and I guessed correctly with this book that Ginny would be Ms. Potter one day. Still written like a children’s book though: Rating B

Harry Potter 3: The darkening begins and Jo shows incredible atmosphere and bravery in not even including the arch villain in book- just the results and consequences of his actions. Sirius Black being a good guy is my favourite twist in the series. Rating B+

Harry Potter 4: The turning point in the series and one that shows no one is safe in this series. My favourite book of the series. Rating A+

Harry Potter 5: I never finished it, the beginning just dragged on forever with nothing happening and Kreacher just annoyed the hell out of me, turning me off. And we all knew Cho Chang was never the one for Harry. Rating: None as I never finished it (I may one day…)

Harry Potter 6: It hurt my head to read this book. It was one long trailer for the next book and shows that Quidditch had stopped being interesting at least three books ago. To Jo’s credit though, I was able to catch up pretty well to the story despite missing most of the last book. And at least it had zombies. Rating: D

Harry Potter 7: A return to form begun in books 1-4 although by itself it might not be as great. Then again, if you are beginning your read of the series with the last one, you might just be a tad mental. A very effective and logical the end to the series. Rating: B+

The Series As A Whole: We are all used to trilogies. How about a seven-ology? Very ambitious and despite a misstep here and there, it was very good as a whole. And despite what anyone says, it was nice to see kids (and adults) get into something as analog as a book in the age of laptops and Ipods. The series fired up the imaginations and will keep doing so for a long time. Rating: A-

(What’s next? I hope Jo Rowling does other novels set in the universe, but I she is also not restrict herself to that universe. Some short stories and the Harry Potter story as seen through other eyes would be nice as well. But I hope we do not get a glut of the property like how the D&D novels have become).

ALSO SEEN: Babylon 5: The Lost Tales

I am a recent convert to Babylon 5. I had Season 5 for a while due to Neil Gaiman’s episode. I have always wanted to see the rest of the series but they were priced out of my reach for a while. Well, a few months ago I finally got to see the original series in its entirely and enjoyed it immensely (I have yet to see the TV movies and Crusade).

So now after ten years or so, we get a new story into the mix. It all starts off with an awe inspiring opening sequence full of nostalgia and really makes you wish for G’Kar to make an appearance.

First of all you have to take into consideration that this was made with a low budget and that the stories would focus on just a single character from the series. So- there are no interactions between the old cast while the station (and sets) are very sparse. Special effects were nice though- though the dated effects of the original were fine by themselves.
The first story with Lochley was pretty throwaway, but I will leave full judgment for later as it seemed that they were setting this story up to be continued later (Lockley: Warrior Nun?).

The second one though was pretty awesome. Sheridan is still a bad ass. And although the ‘Would you kill Hitler when he was young and has not done anything (too) evil yet’ scenario had been done to death in sci-fi, but the way this story told it was very effective.

In short, this direct to DVD movie shows the strengths and weaknesses of the show. But more importantly for me (and the long time fans) it was more just nice to revisit the universe again.

Nice to see you again Old Buddy: You get a solid B.

PS: The set story in this package however, was the short comic book story included in the DVD if you bought it from Best Buy. At four pages, it was a very touching tribute to the characters of G’Kar and Franklin and the actors who portrayed them.

PPS: To JMS- enough with the sock puppets already.

PPPS: The character of Galen is okay- but he was just a pale imitation of Marcus. JMS, please film the short story you wrote, "Space, Time & the Incurable Romantic", because I would like to see my favourite character one more time. Thanks!


slashing up my crooked little veins

Once upon a time in the not-too-distant future (in distant days longing to sense it all so clear):

First things first: A belated congratulations to my cousin Theresa in Anchorage on her graduation from high school. And not only that she graduated in the top 20% meaning she is better than most (if not all) of you).

You are a bright and very smart girl who will one day be President of something spectacular. We are very proud of you.
From Angry Asian Man: Just another example of how privileged kids have no grasp of what it means to be the target of prejudice and stereotypes: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_519659.html , http://www.timesleader.com/news/ap?articleID=28056 and more at http://www.falloutcentral.com/news/2007/06/28/facebook-a-wonderful-forum-for-connecting-anti-asian-racists/. More proof that there exists a public perception that it is okay to hate Asian Americans to the point that kids can make a mock hate page and get away with it (the Facebook page was up for a YEAR before it was even taken down). If they targeted another minority you know you would hear more from the mainstream press about it.

Busy like crazy the next several weeks so silence from me coming up (not that anyone cares or anything anyway).
Slashing up my crooked little veins…

Hey, I finished reading another book: Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis

Not bad actually, not bad at all (unfortunately I may be biased as I am known to enjoy the madness of Warren Ellis).

Crooked Little Vein has to be read with a couple of things in mind. One, Warren Ellis has mentioned that he started the novel with no expectations of it actually ever seeing print, as he was being barraged by his agent to just get something written so she could show something to her bosses that she was doing what she gets paid to do so. Because of that non-expectation, Warren Ellis holds back very little in his descriptions of the depravity and fetishes of America. So keep that in mind, if you are easily shocked this may not be the book for you (the books ventures very often to Too Much Information territory).

Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the fun ride.

The book is short (about three hundred pages) and a very quick read- it took me about five days to finish but if I sat down and read it straight through I think I could have finished it in a day. Adding to that there are chapters that are only a paragraph long and one or two that only contained a sentence.

So what does that mean? Warren Ellis does not waste space in long drawn out descriptions of settings and character and goes straight to the nitty gritty. This does not mean that the book lacked atmosphere, Warren Ellis has a way with words in that he can say so much in what others would take forever to get across. Part of it is in the structure and choice of wording but more of is comes from the attitude he instills in the story and the characters that inhibit the story. Now, coming to think of it, the attitude of the way the story is told is so strong, it is almost a character unto itself.

The novel is equal parts Raymond Chandler (it is a detective story after all and the main character Michael McGill is nothing more than the bastard son of Philip Marlowe), a bit of William Gibson (mostly from the character of Trix), X-Files type conspiracies and It’s A Mad, Mad World type road trip (imagine the Amazing Race where the contestants had to go to a country’s red light districts instead of the tourist destinations). The story tells of the search for America’s secret second Constitution- the one written on alien parchment by the Founding Fathers and was supposed to keep us moral and sane until it got lost fifty years ago.

Along the way we visit various parts of America and see how the lost constitution has impacted us by many visits to the underbellies of different cities (New York, Columbus, San Antonio, Las Vegas and Los Angeles). From McGill we see the horror in its insanity and from Trix we see the beauty in its individuality, idiosyncrasy and creativity.

So yeah, it is also the tale of some who likes something and some who does not and the bickering of the two. But in the end, McGill realizes and accepts the insanity and just another aspect of his and our lives and we learn that there are lines that someone as open to new experiences as Trix is can have a line that even she will not rightfully cross. It is as how I look at life- there has to be a balance of things, you cannot have too much of one thing. It is not that McGill and Trix compromise their beliefs; it is just that they (especially McGill) come to accept that diversity keeps life interesting.

It is a fight against the bland, the boring and the detritus that gets shoved down our throats by the mainstream and forces us to accept it as good. Yes, there are strange and even awful things that happen in a theatre where they show Godzilla films, in Texas (as an outsider living in that State, it is a welcome admission that I live in one of the weirdest places in the world) and even in a place as ordinary as Columbus, Ohio. But as Warren Ellis puts it with a smile in another of his books: It is a strange world. Let’s keep it that way.

The Good: If brevity is the soul of wit, this is the most soulful book you have ever read. A wonderful alternative to the brick like novels that go on forever, I could study this book just for the structure and the choice of words. Like Neil Gaiman, he can tell an entire story that will stick to your mind in a short sentence.

The book is also very laugh out funny. It has been a while since I have had so much fun reading a book.

McGill and Trix are also very compelling characters (although being very stock characters from Warren Ellis’ library). You feel sorry for McGill for being a shit magnet yet you find yourself cheering for him and Trix is the Suicide Girl of your dreams.

Could Have Been Better: I found myself needing a small break after all the depravity described in the book. It can be a bit much, but after a quick cleansing of the mind by viewing some muppet shorts, I got back into the saline shots, the ostriches and the horror/beauty of Los Angeles.

I could have also used some of the futurist commentary that Warren Ellis has in books like Transmetropolitan, but I hear that his next novel goes into Sci-Fi territory so I am sure there will be plenty of that.

(By the way, for fans of Warren Ellis, this novel is in the same crooked little vein as Desolation Jones and Fell)

Overall: A+, the best book that I have read so far all year.

Hey: I am still reading another Book: Harry Potter Se7en

I am almost 400 pages into the 700+ page book, just after the [SPOILER ALERT]* heroic death of Dobby. So far it is a good book, although [COMPLAINT TIME] not as good [yet?] as some of the earlier entries. There are sections of the book that still just drag without anything significant really happening. Usually this is where books expand on characterization, but the characters have already established, it just seems like they are wasting time on purpose. For about three chapters the main three just hop from one place to another and argue with one another and Harry just mopes about his inaction (unless the point is that this is the portion of the book that becomes a Wong Kar Wai film).

That said, when stuff does happen, it is pretty damn exciting. Characters die at a rate you would not believe- some pretty heavy characters do not even get a death scene!

And the chapter I just finished is the best one yet. Harry and Ron just got captured, taken to Malfoy Manor and are trying to break out as Hermione get tortured by Bellatrix. They have to get out-NOW! - and when all seems desperate but who shows up to save them but Dobby! The formerly annoying house elf basically becomes Neo here as he blasts our heroes out, crashes a chandelier onto the bad guys fighting those that enslaved him once and just save the day in such a fashion you just gotta cheer for the little guy.

Unfortunately he sustains a mortal wound, but he goes out with the satisfaction he did a great job.

All of a sudden, Harry Potter becomes a great episode of 24 and who would have thunk it that the house elf gets to be Jack Bauer? A very interesting change of pace for JK and here is hoping the rest of the book just picks up from here.

You know, despite my complaints, I did read 300+ pages in just two days so the book does tell a very compelling tale. And the take no prisoners approach is just awesome (and JK does take no prisoners and all of her characters are fair game which is an admiration I have for her).

The reading is going to slow down because of the work week but I should be done with this book by next week. By the way, there has got to be more about the Deathly Hollows than just being plot coupons.

*Saw the Meredith Vieira piece on the Potter phenomenon and wondering how many Scottish drugs she took during her all expenses trip to interview the author (ANSWER: All of Them).

UPDATE: The Battle of Hogwarts- just epic. Just awesome if any place in the series needed to be the site to a major engagement, it is that damned school. Dumbledore’s Army and the Order of the Phoenix plus some plucky students against the Sith, I mean Sauron and the Orcs, I mean Voldemort and the Death Eaters to the end- I just wish some of the Slytherin kids stayed to help out- I mean they cannot be all bad, can they?

ANOTHER UPDATE: I finished the book and I am glad to say that Snape truly is one magnificent if tragic bastard.

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