Thursday, July 14, 2005

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

I love it when I get the opportunity to share my opinion in surveys. It's not much work and it could lead to new programs, services and products that are better suited to someone like me.

I'm on the Harris Poll's list and get invited to take an online survey about once a week.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Blog or the Bat

Following is one of the funniest email conversations known to man, immortalized here for posterity. It began when Joe sent an email announcing the latest update to his blog.

I am vexed as to how you find time to keep a blog going and won't find the time to see Batman Begins. It's almost as if you don't want Batman to fight crime anymore. It's almost like you think Batman isn't a hero, but is a vigilante. It's almost like you don't want to support Batman's movies so that he can continue to make modifications to the batmobile, batcave and batsuit. It's almost as if you want the citizens of Gotham to suffer so that you can write about guys on horses needing a lot of dimes to get through make believe Old West Tollbooths. It's kind of like you only want to help out Batman if Batman helps you out… well Joe, Batman needs to help out everyone, not just you. Batman isn't your personal bodyguard Joe… he's a man… a man with a vendetta… a man with a vendetta in a suit that makes him look like a bat. Maybe you don't want Batman to have proper weight lifting and training equipment so he will loose body mass and become a walking target for such villains as the Joker, Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Egghead, Bookworm, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Ras Al Guhl, The Man-Bat, Clay Face and big rubber sharks that hook on to his leg when a mystery yacht that he is trying to board disappears and forces him into the sea, only to make Robin get some Bat Shark Repellent out of his selection of Oceanic Bat Sprays. I mean Batman has a lot of work in Gotham to do and Wayne Enterprises can't afford all of his gadget and secrecy needs. His movies provide valuable cash flow to continue his assault on crime. Maybe it's time you made a choice Joe: The Blog… or the Bat?
Your Batman supporting friend,

Say, I know a couple people whose names start with H and M (and end with ans and egan) who still haven't seen the BM movie yet either. (That's BatMan, not BowelMovement.)
...I'm not sure what all this means, but there seems to be some importance...

Well Hans and Megan (yeah I figured out your names),
It seems as though you would prefer for Batman to wear a ski mask and a black jogging suit instead of his super sweet survival Batsuit. I'm sure that will strike terror into the hearts of criminals everywhere. UGH!!!! Maybe in your world Batman drives a 1985 Sky Blue Plymouth Horizon… maybe that's how you would like him to speed after criminals… I would prefer the Batmobile however (and the monetary contributions of theater goers to Batman's movies support such gadgetry). Maybe you should just go see Revenge of the Sith again, supporting people who don't actually exist in a time that doesn't exist. I, however, will support Batman in his real-life assault on injustice by paying $8.75 to see his movies multiple times.
UGH!!! It's like talking with children!! Crime loving children that is.

Seriously Michael. Seriously.

Well if it isn't Mr. "Batman comes second to my Blog".
Batman hates you.

For the record, Revenge of the Sith isn't imaginary. It just happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

And sucked. Hard.

Batman vs. Obi Wan
Batman = Winner
Obi Wan: Whoaa! I use a lightsaber! I like light that cuts people! Whoooooahhhh! I have a beard! Whoooahhh! I used to be a Padawan and train young Han Solo with a sweet pony tail and stuff. Let's go Batman!
Batman: I'm Batman
Obi Wan: I'm an imaginary construct
Batman: I'm real.
Batman then proceeds to wrap up Obi Wan with the Batarang, and there's nothing that Obi Wan can do with his cutting light, because he's imaginary. Then Batman leaves Obi Wan tied up and hanging from Robert Fett's ship until Commissioner Gordon can get there with District Attorney Harvey Dent. He then drives away in his Batmobile (which if Hans had his way would be a 1985 Plymouth Horizon) to fight real crime and not weirdo Hyperspeed Limit breakers.

Michael, you dirty crack whore, enough with the Batman already. It's not so much that we don't like Batman, it's more that we just are sick of you talking about it. Am I gonna pay to see Batman? No. Does this mean I don't care about the citizens of Gotham? Damn right! F*ck Gotham!! If cities like Los Angeles and NYC can survive with just a police department, then I think the 'ol Gotham PD will suffice as well. But you go ahead, drop another $8.75 at the
UltraScreen, maybe that'll compensate for the rest of us that just don't give a sh*t. I'm out.

You sound like a troubled youth. Perhaps you could take a few tips from Batman. His search for justice could really be a good influence on you. It is almost like you don't want Batman to succeed in his war on the injustice that plagues the heart of Gotham. If you want, we can talk more about Batman. While you spend your money on continually rerenting "The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood", I will spend my money purchasing and viewing Batman's movies to insure that his assault on crime continues.
Joe's mom also now knows that you swear and think swear words in your head. Man is she mad.

I am vexed as to why people like Joe, Hans and Tom would rather see Batman use a Nerf Dart gun than a gas powered high tensile wire repelling agent. I wouldn't be surprised if they wanted Batman to give his cave over to animal rights activists and wildlife preserve organizations, instead of using it for his intense and highly necessary crime fighting needs. They would rather see Batman operating out of an efficiency apartment than a super sweet, super secret batcave. It makes my stomach turn… and Batman's no doubt. After all the good that he does for the people of Gotham, Joe can't pay $8.75 to make sure that when Batman scales walls his line doesn't snap. All I know is that if I were Batman (which I may or may not be), I would feel really let down by Joe and his star wars loving fans who spend money on an imaginary world over a real one.

I love you, Tom.
Michael, seriously. What's the deal? I thought we were friends. Plus Batman is fake.
And Star Wars Rules.

I'm not friends with people who support injustice.
Wherever there is suffering, Batman and the Three Amigos will be there. But you wouldn't support them either… because you have to spend all of your money on supporting a little green goblin who talks backwards and waves a flashlight around. WHOOOOAHHHH!!!!! Why don't you just support the green goblin who is spider mans arch nemesis too! You seem to like little green goblins a lot. Little green goblin lover.
Batman's suit is The Force Resistant as well as knife proof… so not only would Obi Wan's force not work on him, but his "flashlight cutter" wouldn't work either. Batman probably uses copies of Star Wars (the original trilogy version prior to the special editions) to burn as fuel for the engine in the Batmobile.
I'll bet your Mom is really excited that you love Tom, what with his head full of swearing and everything.
In closing I would like to say a few words….
Batman is real.
Star Wars is fake.
Joe is a good man. Perhaps his support of a fake universe is a bit misguided instead of supporting heroic justice in Gotham City, but it's forgivable… and he will eventually help Batman purchase gadgetry and secure crime fighting devices through viewing of the movie.
Joe's love of superheroes is exemplified by his dressing like superboy for Halloween some three years ago. Also all of his posters of wonder woman, batgirl and superwoman lead me to believe that perhaps the lady superheroes like Joe and Joe likes the lady superheroes. Perhaps in the long run, Joe will be influenced by these superheroines and their tightly fitting supersuits to support Batman in pursuit of justice.
But I digress.
Joe is a symbol of justice in his own right. His Blog is not an enemy of justice… it most likely exemplifies the freedom of speech that is part of the justice we all share. His stories bring a smile to my face, and my sources tell me… to the face of Batman.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


If you haven't read Dribblings yet, head over to He’s got some stories that range from amusing to side-splittingly hilarious.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

War of the Worlds

No one would have believed in the first years of the twenty-first century that this world would was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over the matter.

What everyone does know is that if Steven Spielberg directs a summer blockbuster with Tom Cruise and big budget special effects, the world will come out in droves and the studio will make a fortune before anyone stops to wonder if the movie is any good.

Let me save you about $8 and two hours: Do not go to see War of the Worlds. Instead, you might consider reading the book by H.G. Wells. It’s more engaging, more horrifying and more insightful.

Spoilers follow—though the overall plot of the story should be stored in the memory bank of anyone over the age of 13, and everything in the movie was borrowed from existing alien flicks. The style of the tripods and alien technology was very similar to the 1950’s movie, and the aliens were very reminiscent of Independence Day. (This is one of the biggest disappointments to me. You’d think it would be time for a fresh look to aliens. Why not follow the description in the original book?)

The movie opens with Morgan Freeman (I can’t think of his name without hearing Stewie in my head) narrating the adapted opening lines of the book as the camera pans out from chromosomes to amoebas in a drop of water to a wide shot of a city. I thought to myself, “Cool, they’re acknowledging that we already know the ending and are going to bookend it.” Then we meet Tom Cruise. For some reason, during the movie people keep calling him Ray, but it’s clearly Tom Cruise. He’s a longshoreman operating a crane to unload a ship.

Let me step back a moment and discuss my expectations. I read though some reviews and got the impression that War of the Worlds would be relentless, horrific and nightmarish, making “Independence Day look like the Muppet Movie.” One compared it to the intensity of Saving Private Ryan. With that in mind, I was braced for some jolts and a bit of graphic violence; so I fully expected one of the huge shipping containers to crush someone in the first couple minutes of the movie. Didn’t happen. I’ll go ahead and reveal at this point that there are absolutely no graphic injuries sustained by even the extras. If you’re looking for it, you can see where it’s implied that someone was killed, but it’s never on-screen…with the exception of the initial heat-ray attack in which people are instantly vaporized, leaving their clothes to come floating back down to earth after they disappear with what I swear could have been a cartoony POP! Hardly the arresting sight described by Wells:
“It was as if some invisible jet impinged upon them and flashed into white flame. It was as if each man were suddenly and momentarily turned to fire.
Then, by the light of their own destruction, I saw them staggering and falling, and their supporters turning to run.”

I should point out that I got the distinct impression in several places that Spielberg was intentionally mimicking the style of a 1950’s sci-fi flick, so the implied violence fits. I’m not saying he succeeded in this task, just that he tried it in some scenes (especially near the climax). In fact, I would have liked to see even less of the tripods. Leave them to our imaginations—that’s what makes the book and Orson Wells’ radio drama work!

At times, scenes didn’t flow well into the next. Even cuts within scenes sometimes seemed disjointed. I read somewhere that this movie was rushed in post, so that may explain the choppy/sloppy editing. At least I hope it does. Still, that doesn’t excuse it. The style of the cinematography, the visual storytelling was somehow unique. In the beginning, I actually thought I might want to see this movie again to study Spielberg’s new breakthrough style. But soon CG effects and screaming Dakota Fanning took over… and you couldn’t pay me to watch this movie again any time soon.

The story is broken into three acts. In the first, the “Things” (they’re never referred to as Martians) arrive riding EMP-inducing bolts of lightning into the tripods, which have sat buried under our feet for a million years. They rise and start systematically wiping out the humans with their heat rays. This act is marked by short bursts of frantic pacing and the spectacle of technology from “somewhere else.”

The second act begins after Tom Cruise’s is lost charging over a ridge with the army which is summarily destroyed by the tripods. As Tom runs away, Tim Robbins calls to him from the “safety” of a tornado shelter in the cellar of a farm house. Don’t ask me why Tim Robbins calls to Tom Cruise, or how Tom knows he’s calling to him alone, but he joins Tim in the cellar. Later, Tom will ask why Tim “brought him there”. What the...?! This was actually my favorite act. Tim Robbins’ performance was quite good. The claustrophobia and tension were enough to make you hold your breath for a moment or two as the serpentine “eye” searched for them. Of course, the “eye” was CG and less than convincing.

As we switch over to the third act, Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning exit the house to find a spellbinding fairytale landscape covered in red vines flowing with the blood of the humans who’d been sucked dry by the “Things.” Of course there’s the brief imprisonment in the basket (ah, the War of the Worlds I know and love!) and the Luke Skywalker vs. AT-AT like grenade attack on the tripod that came so close to making sense. Before you know it, Tom Cruise has walked to Boston and the “Things” are starting to die. Up to this point, the military couldn’t bring the tripods down because of a force field protecting them. Apparently, when you get the flu, your technology stops working because the remaining tripods were unprotected and easily brought down by an RPG. Oh yeah, and Tom Cruise’s son is still alive. The end.

One more note about parallels between this movie and the real-world events surrounding 9-11: Yes, Speilberg uses our contemporary societal understanding to tell a story that’s relevant to today’s world. That’s what sci-fi does. And no story more so than War of the Worlds. For over one hundred years, the story H.G. Wells originated has been adapted and retold with the technology of the day, making social commentary and playing on the collected fears of its audience. This movie is no different.