Thursday, January 31, 2008

Upcoming Concerts

Denver Pops Orchestra
“Great Scenes in Music”
Night on Bald Mountain, In the Steppes of Central Asia, On the Beautiful Blue Danube, and more!
Saturday, February 2, 4pm
Admission is free!
Emmaus Lutheran Church
3120 Irving St, Denver, CO 80211

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BrightonMusic Orchestra
“Homespun” concert featuring compositions by local composers
Sunday, February 10, 4pm
There will be local arts & crafts on display beginning at 2pm
Admission is free!
Brighton First Presbyterian Church
510 S 27th Ave, Brighton, CO 80601

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Leaving Haloscan? Use this handy scraper

I recently decided to use entirely to blogger comments for my blog, but I wanted to retain my old comments for posterity (and/or to occasionally enrage me). So, I went a-googling , and eventually came across a Haloscan comment scraper which performed the task very admirably. You just need to have python installed and be ready to enter your Haloscan username and password.

Note that it may not work forever, but it works as of today.

My next task is figuring out how to automatically put all the comments into blogger. Hoo boy.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cloverfield (2008)

Bad Robot, Paramount Pictures
Directed By: Matt Reeves

(This review may contain spoilers!)

I wasn't interested in this movie when I first saw the trailer for it (and I had been blissfully unaware of the viral marketing campaign that was apparently used to promote it); I'm not a big fan of monster/disaster movies, and the first-person-limited camcorder-style reminded me of the Blair Witch Project, which I found terrible and boring. So, I wasn't particularly looking forward to seeing it last night with Steve and most of the DLP brothers.

However, my (admittedly low) expectations were exceeded. Cloverfield makes much better use of the camcorder POV than Blair Witch. I didn't even experience any motion sickness (which is quite a feat for me), although some of the others I was with did.

The premise of the movie is that it's the recovered footage from a personal video camera found in New York's Central park following a monster attack. It begins with some footage from the "Best Day Ever", a day on the town by Rob (one of the protagonists) and his best friend/lover, Beth. However, the tape (ok, it's actually an SD card, but for the purposes of this review I'm calling it a tape) is then reused, and partially overwritten, to record the going away party for Rob, who's leaving for Japan. Because of this, the movie is interspersed with short scenes from this earlier day, which add a poignancy to the unfolding events of the monster attack.

This on-the-ground perspective gave a fresh twist to the "monster movie" theme for me (though I've read elsewhere that it's been done fairly frequently). The usual plot for a monster movie takes place from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, and although we have a narrator for the movie (Hud, who's operating the camera), he's annoying, unintelligent, and as clueless as we are. All these people are trying to do is to save themselves and those they care about, futile though that may be, and we're kept in suspense because we're thinking about what we would do in the same situation (and how we might not fare as well).

My favorite part of the movie is at the end, when Rob is addressing the camera to let anyone who might find it know who he is. It's somewhat subtle, but Rob mentions that it's 6:42am, which is exactly the time when he began recording the Best Day Ever, nearly a month before.

So, I enjoyed this movie. I was never frightened, but it was certainly tense. That being said, there are a few nitpicks I have to make.

1) There's no reason to see this in the movie theater. None at all. Unless, of course, you want to sit in the front and get motion sick. The special effects are relatively limited, and nothing that couldn't be enjoyed on a television.

2) The party scenes are WAY too long. The film is only a scant 84 minutes, and the party takes up 10-20 of those minutes without providing...

3) ...character development. There isn't any, to speak of. I couldn't care less when Marlena, Jason and Hud die. I was more excited to see the little space parasites (or whatever they are) than anything else.

4) Inaccuracies and unlikely behavior. Others have mentioned this, but apparently Liberty Island would NOT be visible from the Brooklyn Bridge. Beth's building stands at an unlikely angle. Everyone I went with found it hard to believe that Rob would continually risk himself to rescue her, even though it was likely she was already dead and he had already lost his brother, and that the others would be willing to tag along. (As Steve put it, "Honey, I love you, but if something like that ever happens to you, you're on your own!") Also, Hud sure held on to the camera for a long time (as long as he could, in fact); we'd have dropped it much sooner.

But these don't really take away from the film overall (with the exception of the party), so I still recommend seeing it - when it comes out on DVD.

I, Robot (2004)

Canlaws Productions, 20th Century Fox
Directed By: Alex Proyas

I had avoided seeing I, Robot when it first came out for various reasons. I had heard it was a large departure from the book (which is a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov that explore the consequences of Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics), and that it was full of crass commercialism. Additionally, although I enjoyed Will Smith in Men In Black, my opinion of him as an actor was not high at the time.

So, it was interesting to watch I, Robot for the first time on Friday, and not because I had particularly wanted to, but because Steve had to for the SciFi class he's taking. Some of the faults that had kept me away from it were true, such as the obvious and annoying product placement and a not-terribly-good performance by Will Smith, but others weren't. For example, although the plot didn't follow any story contained in the book, there are similarities to another Asimov short story - Robot Dreams, although the similarity is brief (and Susan Calvin is decidedly more badass in the short story than in the movie). The movie also explores the potential consequences of the Three Laws, keeping it in line with Asimov's stories.

I really enjoyed the special effects, though, especially the look of the robots (I prefer the NS-4-style robots to the NS-5s). There was some very nice cinematography, and everything had a nice, not-too-distant future look and feel to it.

Overall, I probably wouldn't watch this movie again on my own, but I wouldn't object to seeing it again.

More Pentapede Poems //o\\\

You know, pretty soon people will start thinking I've lost my mind and given it to the pentapedes.

They'd be right.

A pentapede I recently captured made this offering to be released:

There once was a pentapede stuck,
And ended up all out of luck.
It tried to rhyme,
But ran out of time,
When it was suddenly hit by a truck!

They also offer these alternative lines to the previous poem:

The Pentapede a Monster is,
Giant with a Scary Hiss!
This fright'ning hiss will chill your Heart
As it tears your limbs apart!

On another note, they adored the movie Cloverfield.

Shared Feeds in the Sidebar

I've added a neat feature to the sidebar: my shared feeds from Google Reader. You can see the articles' titles on the sidebar, or you can go to the page (click 'read more...') where you can see the full article (or part of the article, depending on how the original site has it set up) and even subscribe to a feed of my shared items for the convenient ability to read it in your own feed reader!

(Consequently, article mentions will become rarer in the blog itself...)

The City Born Great - How Long 'Til Black Future Month?

The second story in N. K. Jemisin's anthology How Long 'Til Black Future Month? , "The City Born Great," is an exciting ta...