Dead Caterpillar

The universe is a vast cosmic conspiracy ...

Email notifications from Hell

Saturday, Jun 22nd, 2013

Receive an email from Amazon for “Product Review Feedback.”

Unsubscribe from “Product Review Feedback” in user account settings.

Receive an email from Amazon notifying me that I have been unsubscribed from “Product Review Feedback.”

Unsubscribe from email notifications for “General Account Changes.”

Receive an email from Amazon notifying me that I have been unsubscribed from “General Account Changes”…

Curl up in a corner and cry.

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Why internet nerds hate internet explorer

Thursday, Jun 20th, 2013

There’s nothing wrong with Internet Explorer, intrinsically. At least not to the end user. To the end user, web pages are just as pretty in Internet Explorer as they are in Chrome or Firefox. The real subject of ridicule isn’t IE, but the typecast of people that use IE.

As a web developer, IE is the bane of my existence but that is only because I need to deal with obscure browser compatibility quirks while getting pages to display properly in older versions of IE. But the end user doesn’t comprehend any of that. To the end user, the pages are just as pretty as they are in Chrome or Firefox. It’s the type of end user that is the subject of ridicule… It’s their acceptance mentality. The sort of people that use Internet Explorer are the sort of people that don’t question the options they are immediately presented with and this betrays Technological Inferiority. That is why we internet nerds scoff and chuckle to ourselves when we see someone using IE. Also because we’re better than everyone else.

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“This is The End” was a good time

Sunday, Jun 16th, 2013

Okay, this movie is not for everyone. Especially asthmatics. Seriously, my ribcage still hurts from last night. I struggled to catch my breath in between cackles of laughter during the Whitney Houston scene (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). This one’s up there with “Anchorman” and Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian.” I didn’t think you could fit so much funny in 107 minutes. In one scene, James Franco and Danny McBride engage in a pedantic argument over the proper etiquettes of masturbating in someone else’s house… You don’t need to hold a degree in funny to know that scene was funny. You don’t even need to watch the scene to find the humor in it, you can just read my banal description again.

James Franco and Danny McBride engage in a pedantic argument over the proper etiquettes of masturbating in someone else’s house.

Pfffft Hahaha! It’s spit-your-drink-out funny!

In another scene, Jonah Hill is possessed by a demon and his friends are forced to perform an exorcism but end up lighting him on fire instead. Channing Tatum becomes McBride’s bitch  and mad props to Tatum for having the balls to tuck in his balls for that scene.  Oh yeah, and Michael Cera plays a coke-snorting asshole in a jacket.

Who would have guessed, in a million years, that Michael Cera would play a coke-snorting asshole in a jacket? That’s exactly what is so god damn brilliant about this movie. It completely dispenses with any form of convention. At first you think all the actors play themselves but when Jonah Hill goes full on fruity with a strange  Mr. Rogers-type persona, you don’t know what to think.

Michael Cera’s Stupid Asshole in a Jacket persona is perhaps the funniest because it creates this odd sort of cognitive dissonance when you realize Cera is playing a character contradictory to his typecast. We’re used to seeing Cera as a mild-mannered, quirky  and endearing boyish figure. But in “This is The End,” he snorts coke and slaps Rihanna in the ass. Comedy gold! I found this sparkling gem on the IMDB page.

Initially Michael Cera wasn’t really slapping Rihanna’s butt, but rather making the motion and stopping right before touching her. As a result, the scene wasn’t working on camera because it looked too fake. Eventually Cera asked Rihanna if he could really slap her butt, she said yes but on the condition that she be allowed to really smack him across the face each time. Cera agreed.

Ha! By far the funniest sentence in that paragraph is the last: Cera agreed.

“This is The End” is a satire of everything:  the Hollywood lifestyle, the Apocalypse genre, the dick joke genre … shit, even religion! At one point, the characters come to the realization that they are in the biblical End Times and everything they are experiencing is foretold in the book of Revelation. This leads to a curious discussion about God. At some point in the very cheeky discussion, the actors stumble into the doctrine of the trinity. In an attempt to better explain the concept of God being three in one, James Franco makes the analogy that God is “like Neapolitan Ice Cream.”

Neapolitan Ice Cream. I fucking lost it.

The movie takes a lot of passes at religion but in a very smart, subtle way. It certainly doesn’t take any potty shots. Writers Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg don’t make fun of End Times Christian theology by explicitly telling us how absurd it is. Instead, you whisper this is so absurd to yourself when you watch an almost literal interpretation of the book of Revelation play out.

Okay, so, bad guys go to Hell, good guys go to Heaven. Sounds good in theory, but what about the logistics? Is there some kind of threshold of good deeds you need to cross before you can be beamed up? And what are you going to do when you get there? Surely if it’s any fun it will have roller coasters and weed… The movies explores those ideas and I think those ideas are at the core of its utter hilarity.

Also, Michael Cera snorting coke and slapping Rihanna in the ass. Nobody saw that coming!

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The Rains of Castamere

Saturday, Jun 8th, 2013

Let’s talk about GAME OF THRONES SEASON 3 EPISODE 9, the fucking pearl harbor of television. The episode that will live in infamy. 6/2/13, the day “The Rains Of Castamere” first aired.  Never forget!

I don’t normally write positive reviews. I find it easy to describe why I hate something, but when I love something, I don’t have words for it. I pretty much just stare, dumbstruck.

We all know what should have happened, what ought to have happened, according to modern television tropes. According to pretty much every TV show plot ever. What should have happened is that the Starks, the good guys, kill the Lannisters, the bad guys. Then Robb takes the throne to avenge his father’s death, yada yada yada. That should have happened. And yet that would have been completely forgettable.

What did happen, though, was … Holy fuck, completely unforgettable.

It was just another happy Westeros wedding, with wine, dancing and general festivities. Until the instruments begin ominously playing “The Rains Of Castamere.” … Until that dastardly look Lord Bolton gives Cat, just before she realizes… just before


Fuck! I lost my shit. That scene was perfect. Good drama is like a good back stabbing: completely unexpected and cuts you deep. Or should I say, hehe, in Talisa’s case, front stabbing (*commence slow clapping*).

Willie Nelson (aka Hogwart’s disgruntled janitor) captured a lot of the nuances of cruelty in that scene, like taking a swag from his wine glass while watching the Starks’ butchering. I mean, who does that? Only a Frey. And the utterly helpless look on Robb’s face… That look said it all. Sometimes, the good guys lose.

Oh but it was just perfect. I won’t forget it.  Everyone at work is talking about it. Hell, the whole country is talking about it. Amazing how fictional events can sometimes have more of an effect on society than real, actual events. “The Rains of Castamere” is sort of like my generation’s version of the JFK assassination. I know it’s not real but, it feels real and that’s got to count for something.

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Burnt bread is way underrated

Monday, May 27th, 2013

I’ve been getting into toast. Toast, not so much as a food, but sort of like a hobby. Cinnamon toast. Cream cheese on toast. Cottage cheese on toast. Toast with hummus. Toast with jam. I love toast! I have it several times a day. I have yet to find another person that shares my enthusiasm for toast.

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Why I’m a Pagan

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

I was born three times. The first time, it was a physical birth. The second, I became a born-again believer and accepted Jesus Christ as my Personal Savior. The third time, I gave up Jesus and was reborn into The World of Rational and Critical Thinking People.

Because …

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I gave up childish things.” - 1 Corinthians 13:11.

(And believe it or not, I’ve misused scripture in worse ways. During my college years I justified drinking with Mathew 4:4, “Man cannot live on bread alone!” And in keeping with the wisdom of King Solomon, I abstained from all labor under the sun because “vanity of vanities, all is vanity! What profit has a man from all his labor In which he toils under the sun?” I knew my catechisms.)

Nowadays  I wouldn’t call myself a skeptic, atheist or anything like that. I still believe in a lot of things. A lot of crazy, far-out things too. I’ve also seen some crazy, far-out things (as if that counts for anything). But I have learned to be distrustful of the things I believe and even the things I have seen. Because I have been wrong before (read: because I have been Christian before), I will always be suspicious of my beliefs. I am distrustful of them. I am wary of my own personal biases. I would not die for them. I would not kill for them. I do not look down on others who do not believe the same things I do. Okay that one, maybe, a little, but I do not accuse others of committing a crime, worthy of eternal punishment, for not drawing the same conclusions I have about God (or lack thereof), our origin, destination, etc..

Because genuine belief or disbelief does not equate to sinfulness or wrongdoing. “Credulity is not a crime.” Your willingness to believe something says nothing of your virtues as a person or the quality of your soul. It is just that simple.

Sure I could choose to believe that the Bible was the inspired word of God. It would be easy. I could also choose to believe in countless other books written by countless other people, all pouting the same thing, that theirs is The One True Religion, that, when you die, you go one place really great if you followed all the rules and procedures correctly, or one place really bad if you didn’t. Too bad if you were born in a Muslim country or, from the perspective of the Muslims, too bad if you were born in a Christian country. Too bad if you made the mistake of believing in the wrong thing during your lifetime. It’s off to the eternal soup with you… And that soup is hot.

Well, that could be true – any number of religious dogmas could be true. Theologians use a lot of smart-sounding words and arguments after all, there’s the Ontological Argument, the Cosmological Argument and I hear they’ve even got a teleological one. But there is one argument which defeats them all, and it is not taught at seminaries, or any religious institution for that matter. I’m speaking of the argument of Common Sense.

The Common Sense Argument says that God didn’t give us free will so he could command us to use it the way he wants us to. That God didn’t do the most honorable, glorious act ever by sending his only son to die for us to save us from … himself. That voice inside your head which Christians believe is The Holy Spirit? That’s actually your conscience speaking. Your conscience, not to be confused with certain members of THE ALMIGHTY GODHEAD.

And regular, plain ol’ heathen folk have consciences too. We’ve all got magical voices in our heads. Alright, none of us are perfect. The very word human implies flawed, hence why we say things like I’m only human.  We’re only human but we are at least better than the evil, worthless hellbound pukes popularly depicted by The Bible and other great works of fiction. Everyone struggles to do the right thing, just as much as they struggle to do the wrong thing. We’re not good or evil. We’re both. Isn’t that fairly obvious?

I also despise the Christian tenant that this life is a meaningless speck of dust in comparison to eternity, so we might as well just give it all up to Jesus. And that a temporary existence without God would be tragic and meaningless so … heck! Might as well just give it all up to Jesus!

Could it be that one day I will die and everything I did and all memory of my life will eventually be forgotten? That might be true. But nothing can change the fact that I was once alive, that I was here, that I lived and did things, that I happened. Whether I can or cannot be remembered has no bearing on the fact that I happened.  I actually happened dammit and that’s enough for me. It has significance. So I am not intimidated by the thought that there might not be a God or an afterlife. At least not intimidated enough to break my ass on an old wooden pew for an hour every week.  I can find more worthwhile things to do with my time on Sunday morning like sleeping or reading or making waffles.

Besides, I am not convinced death is the end. We are all born with that same intuition which refuses to comprehend non-existence, which tells us there is  more. I believe there is something hiding behind the curtain. I could be wrong.

And if  it turns out the Christians got it right, I doubt I’ll be eligible to pluck on harps in the clouds with the flying  naked babies for the rest of eternity. I would be a hypocrite to not admit that I might be wrong. Erroneous is a more fitting word because wrong implies wrongdoing, but if the Christians got it right, I’m going to hell for sure. God will boil my ass. Forever! Along with pretty much everyone. Though, honestly, I wouldn’t see the point in any of that (Christians cite something something er uh FOR THE GLORY OF GOD! something something something). Still, I am not afraid. I’m okay with that. That’s a risk I’m willing to take (which, coincidentally, is the same thing I’ve told myself before making my best life choices). I’ll take my chances with pretty much everyone.

Same goes if, on the off chance, the Qur’an isn’t a load of horseshit. If the Muslims win the come one, come all Dice Roll for Eternal Destiny, I doubt Allah will be rewarding me 72 virgins, especially since I just called his holy book a load of horseshit (and I would add that the prophet Muhammad is a NINNY, but that’s as far as I’ll go because I value the area of flesh and bone that connects my head to my shoulders). If the Hindus got it right then I guess I don’t have too much to worry about. Unless I’m reborn as a malformed Aardvark or something. Maybe I’ll be reborn as a cow? I think I’m moo material. I’d also settle for a moose (Cool!) Nirvana? (Awesome!) But no matter what happens, I’m sticking with my guns.

I’ll pull a Marcus Aurelius (or whoever it was) and take comfort in the fact that If there really is a God and he’s a double-o God, a good God, then he will understand why I have chosen the path that I have chosen.

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Idioms are for idiots

Saturday, Nov 10th, 2012

“Money doesn’t buy happiness”

Yeah but I’d like to make some and find out for myself just to be sure.

“Looks can be deceiving”

… and so can personalities. Idiot.

Come to think of it, looks aren’t at all deceiving in comparison to personalities. If you’re ugly, you’re ugly. If you’re fat, you’re fat.  There’s no hiding it. But if you’re an evil, treacherous, lying conniving bitch, there’s plenty of ways to hide it. It’s a magical thing I like to call the makeup of personality.

“If life give you lemons, make lemonade.”

Let’s face it. When life chucks you a bag full of lemons, the last thing you want to do is make lemonade. Lemon squeezing is tough work. Sometimes the lemon juice gets in your eyes. Forget lemons. I much prefer it when life pours me a straight glass of lemonade. Or Whiskey.

“A picture is worth a thousand words.”

First off, what picture are we talking about and what words are we talking about? The devil is in the details. Somehow I don’t think a picture of some old grandpa’s ass crack holds a candle to 1,000 words of William Freaking Shakespeare. Now if it’s Stephenie Meyer we’re talking about, I don’t think her writing holds a candle to a picture of some old grandpa’s ass crack. So you see, it would be difficult to find a picture that was worth exactly one thousand words. Unless of course you took a picture of a thousand words … wow, that’s metaphysical.

“There’s no I in team”

But there’s an an M and do you know what M stand for?? ME!

“Think outside the box”

The very fact that you are repeating that cliché means you have failed, utterly, in your own attempt to “think outside the box.” The very meaning of the idiom contradicts its usage…

“Don’t think outside the box. Don’t think inside the box. Think about the box.”

I made that one up working at the ol’ box factory. I told all my coworkers. I thought it was very clever. To this day I continue to use it as an amusing anecdote in conversations… No one has laughed at it yet but I remain hopeful.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Also, you never miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

It is what it is.

Of course it is what it is! What else could it be?! It certainly isn’t what it isn’t!!

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A hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Sunday, Oct 28th, 2012

This whole storm of the century thing has got me excited. The radio DJ says “we’re in for a whoopin.” It gives me an excuse to stay at home, which is where I’d be anyway on weekends, but I guess it’s comforting to know that this time, everyone else is staying home too.

I just came back from Michaels to stock up on candles in case the power goes. Note: I am a grown man of twenty three, capable of growing sideburns and a full moustache. So you can imagine that I wasn’t exactly overjoyed by the prospect of walking into Michaels for the sole purpose of purchasing scented candles. But it turns out they had quite the selection: Sparkling Pine, Buttercream, Apple Cinnamon, Cranberry Chutney… I found myself browsing the candle aisles for an unmasculine period of time. They come in all sorts of shapes and themes … Fall candles, Halloween candles, Christmas candles. Jesus, I spent the better part of an hour sniffing candles. I think that there is such a thing as Candle Crazy. Full grown men of twenty three are not immune. Now I know why they have entire stores, like Yankee Candle, dedicated to candles. People get Candle Crazy!

You laugh but my room is now filled with the sweet aroma of Pumpernickel.

After Michaels, it was off to the book store to find something to read by candle light. I picked up “Sad Desk Salad,” a novel about the career of female celebrity gossip blogger. By God! It has just struck me now that the target audience of that book is almost exclusively women! And this after the candle shopping incident … I think I might be developing feminine tastes!

Excuse me as I do a few chin-ups, briefly check the sports section and practice loading my pump action.

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Product Recommendation: Spotify

Saturday, Oct 6th, 2012

I’m saying goodbye to CDs, ipods, radio stations and all other traditional forms of listening to music.

I once considered myself a Music Pessimist. That is, I rarely enjoyed music. Listening to the radio became an exercise in eye rolling because “I Will Wait” by “Mumford and Sons” played on the radio eight times a day. Every day. That and the same Maroon 5 songs, “Some Nights” by (not so) “Fun” and all those Pink songs about being a tough rocker chick who doesn’t care what the world thinks, even though the world has to listen to what she thinks nearly every day in the top billboard charts, a million times over. It’s nauseating.

The record companies pay the radio stations to repetitively play shit so they can sell 6 million copies of Adel. I know this because I used to be a radio junkie. I’d scour the web, hoping to find a station that genuinely played variety. Through internet streaming, I tuned into dozens of radio stations all over the country: Houston, Chicago, L.A, New York, you name it, even stations in the U.K. I hoped to find The One, a station without mind-numbing repetition. But guess what? I’ve found that every station follows the same template. You can’t get true variety. It’s remarkable. ‘The One’ doesn’t exist, not here in Virginia, not in New York, not anywhere. Because to play music, the radio stations need to cater to the record companies, i.e. the people that actually own the music. And the record companies make money by selling 6 million copies of Adel every year. The best way to advertise Adel is to spam her singles on their network of puppet radio stations fifty times a day. So live DJs don’t even pick the songs anymore. Basically, it’s a fucking conspiracy.

And the only alternative to radio, really, is my ipod. But with that comes its own slew of chores: downloading the music (cha-ching), importing the music into itunes, pruning and organizing the library, transferring music to the ipod, backing up the itunes library, etc, etc. Then when my hard drive fails (usually about three times a year), I’d have to repeat the process all over again. I just don’t have time for that.

So I became a Music Pessimist.

The solution

I’ve concluded that ownership of thousands of songs in any format, digital or not, is completely impractical. That’s why I’ve decided to stream all of my music through a free service called “Spotify.” There’s no ownership involved, which removes a lot of the impracticalities. But although I don’t actually own the songs, the playlists and library that I create in my Spotify account will literally be saved forever. No need to back them up because I never downloaded the songs, it’s all streamed. In a way that provides something more permanent, more possessive than actual ownership. My library and playlists last forever, and I will always have access to them so long as I have access to the internet. But if I buy the CD, the odds are quite high that it will be scratched up and unusable within a year. Why pay for something you can’t keep when you can get it free and actually keep it? That’s my logic in now using Spotify for all my music needs. From my home computer, I can get the entire collected works of Bob Dylan instantly, on a whim, at the click of a button. And when I boot up my work computer: Bam, it’s all there. No file transfers. No downloading, all I need to do is sign into my spotify account using whatever (phone, computer, music player) from wherever.

Spotify gives me the ability to search for any song, any artist and instantly have access to titles… The quality of the music is better than radio and I can create my own radio stations based on preference within Spotify, sort of like Pandora sans the constant ads. And unlike Pandora, I can skip songs and play them as many times as I’d like. So it’s sort of a dream come true for me. Spotify. Try it out. In the digital age, the world needs a smarter way of listening to music.

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Batman The Dark Knight Rises Review: Total Shit

Saturday, Sep 29th, 2012

I wish I could come up with a witty or amusing way of expressing that the new batman movie was shit. I’ve made sincere efforts to do so, but I’ve come up dry. Hence the words: the new batman movie was shit. And that’s probably why I could never do this writing thing for a living. Most of my movie reviews would begin with the words: “It was shit.” My editor would spurn me to be more descriptive. To which I’d reply that I meant “A gangly giant turd of nasty, smelly, shitty shit-shit.” Such was Batman Rises.

The best part was the end, not the end part where batman pulls the ol’ take-the-bomb-out-with-ya-but-still-come-out-alive, I mean the end-end. The part where the screen goes blank, the credits roll and I stand up to leave. Everything before that was irritating, especially Alfred’s teary-eyed melodramatics:  “I raised you [dramatic pause] from the time you were a wee little boy [dramatic pause],” etc, etc.

Fill in the rest. It’s pretty much exactly the same thing Alfred said in the first and second. And that’s the thing about Old Man Love – you can’t over do it, even if you’re Michael Caine with a London accent. Especially if you’re Michael Caine with a London accent. I miss the classic portrayal of Alfred as the dutiful butler whose affection for Bruce Wayne was subtle and understated. That was the whole point, actually, of his formal butler relation to Wayne. Remove the ‘formal’ part and you just have a sniffling old whiny bastard.

I get that Bane is a cool badass villain – Tom Hardy’s been lifting weights and wears a respirator – that’s cool, in an old school darth vader sort of way. But what exactly was his motive for tearing Gotham apart? I’m confused. Was it because he spent his childhood in an underground prison somewhere in the middle east? Oh so he’s buddy-buddy with Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter. Surprise! But how does a career mercenary, somebody who kills for money, suddenly switch to an ideological-driven maniac? These questions are important to people with basic critical analysis skills.

Even overlooking that Bane throws batman into a highly escapable prison with HD TELEVISION, the movie’s sense of proportion and realism was so far out of focus that it could hardly be ignored. The idea that one man can bring an entire city to its knees is a comic book idea, and there’s nothing wrong with it in that context. But when you see it on the big screen with live actors, it appears strikingly ridiculous. In a big city, we’re talking about millions of people – that’s thousands of metro cops and I don’t care how much Karate Bane knows or how many protein shakes he consumes daily, just one swat team would nail his ass, along with all his mercenary cronies. Even more ridiculous was the part when the United States military was thwarted by Bane’s antics. Oh yeah, and the New York Stock Exchange.

I’m not asking that movies and fiction be realistic in the sense that they be similar to our own reality (i.e. the classical, colloquial definition of ‘realistic’). I’m only asking that they be realistic within their own context. Goblins and dragons make sense in a Harry Potter movie because the world of Harry Potter is one of goblins and dragons, the context allows for them. But when the context of a story poses to be similar to our own, like in Nolan’s Batman movies, the expectation is that the characters and objects within the story follow the same rules as our own reality. And in our own reality, you can’t walk into the New York Stock Exchange, in broad daylight, plug in a laptop and blow up the entire economy. Then escape on a motorcycle. Physical strength, in our reality, does not give you an advantage over cops or people with guns. That’s why it all appeared strikingly ridiculous. The Spiderman movies, in contrast, made sense in the context of their own world (which posed to be similar to our world) because the heroes and villains were not regular people, but ones with super powers (unlike Batman and Bane).

If all the cops were trapped underground, how the fuck did they survive without food for months? People brought them down food, eh? But If people brought them food, that would mean they had a passage for escape. Are legions of cops really going to toss down their hand guns and start throwing fists when confronted by an army of gun-totting mercenaries? Gaping plot holes like that ruin it for me. I am literally blasted out of the story and reminded that I am watching a movie. I am reminded that it is all just pretend, and Christian Bale looks quite ridiculous in that bat costume. The good movies don’t constantly remind me that it’s only a movie – they bring total absorption, I’m sucked in and I only snap out of it when the credits roll.

There aren’t a lot of good movies. I agree with Sturgeon’s law: 90 percent of everything is absolute shit.

I might have liked the movie a little, though, if I could hear what the characters were saying over the dramatic background music. Movie makers, especially Christopher Nolan, really need to lay off on the dramatic, ear-raping background music. I can’t hear myself think, let alone Anne Hathaway’s sensuous whisperings. And I’d really like to hear Anne Hathway’s sensuous whisperings, thank you very much.

Well, in conclusion you have another “Big and Loud” Hollywood blockbuster that the critics are just swooning over (in no way influenced by the millions spent by Warner Bros. on marketing and PR). Nolan is a good director with a proven track record (See: Inception, Batman Begins, Memento) but this bloated 2 and a half hour peace of shit didn’t pass in my book. There’s just too much going on, too much forced emotion, a lack of interesting characters and an utterly nonsensical plot. In other words, Total Shit.

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As above, so below

Thursday, Jun 14th, 2012

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Prometheus was a bit thin (movie review, contains spoilers)

Sunday, Jun 10th, 2012

The music was right. The CGI was right. The plot was okay, about as good as a mediocre episode of star trek (if there is such a thing), but okay. It’s hard to tell how good the acting was when you consider how bad of a script they had to work with. I think this scene from one of Ridley Scott’s earlier movies best represents my opinion of the movie as a whole.

downvoting ceaser gif. thumbs down roman jif. downvoting roman

Yeah, I’m a bit of a movie snob.

The opening scene hovers over a majestic, primordial earth full of lush green valleys and gigantic waterfalls. A crazy-buff alien guy performs some kind of self-sacrificing ritual. I thought that was just great. I had no idea what was going on, but I still thought it was a great sequence. Sure I had questions: who is this guy? is he human? how did he get so impossibly buff?  is this earth? the future? past? what is he drinking? why is he drinking it? what kind of aftershave does he use? But I was confident some of those questions would be addressed later in the movie. It all went downhill from there.

The emotional vibe took a complete 360. Suddenly we’re on a ship orbiting a strange planet and everyone is just so complacent and boring. The crew during the briefing scene are collectively scratching their heads and hemming and hawing about the mission, which is basically to discover the origin of the human race. I don’t think anyone cares except for the tried and cliche “anything for science” characters (Shaw and Holloway).

Compare that to the briefing scene with the marines in Aliens. That scene served a purpose: we get the idea that our cast is a bunch of gun-toting, cocky bastards. The only thing we learn about the characters from the briefing scene in Prometheus is that they don’t really give a shit, and that complacency carries into the rest of the movie. When they first fly into the alien planet and discover the alien structures, you’d expect someone to at least say something exclamatory after the discovery of other sentient life in the universe. Hardly a peep. It’s all routine. But when the characters don’t give a shit, the audience doesn’t give a shit either.

A few scenes later, we’re in a cave and the tattooed mohawk character, Fifield, is frantically yelling “let’s get out of here,” because the crew has just discovered the 2,000-year-old rotting carcass of an alien (and that’s not me exaggerating numbers, the carcass was literally 2,000 years old according to the main characters first-glance assessment). And there’s nothing wrong with yelling “let’s get out of here.” The phrase is practically a necessity in a Sci-Fi thriller. It just has to be built up to. There has to be enough emotional strain, horror and suspense before someone gets hysterical and starts screaming things like “let’s get out of here.” Finding an alien body that’s been dead for 2,000 years does not constitute enough emotional strain, horror and suspense. I wasn’t feeling it.

The tattooed mohawk guy is the perfect example of poor and inconsistent character development. When we first meet the tattooed mohawk guy, we are lead to believe he is some sort of badass (and I don’t want to stereotype people here, but the tattoos and mohawk did nothing to dispel that notion). Then, in the cave (which is actually a ship corridor), he practically pisses his pants and gets hysterical the moment something strange happens.

The male scientist, Holloway, tells Fifield to “keep it together,” but later Holloway loses it himself. Although he says the finding of the dead aliens is “the greatest discovery in the history of mankind,” he proceeds to lapse into an existential crisis, drinking and feeling sorry for himself, after one day of searching and not finding a live alien. One day. I spent more time searching for my lost sock. It sort of contradicted the establishment of his character as the level-headed scientist, out for the betterment of mankind, who would do “anything and all it takes.”

Charlize Theron played the token corporate tool, but produced hardly any real friction or conflict in the story, though she tried hard. She did light the diseased Holloway on fire with a flame thrower (good riddance) but that seemed like a major overreaction. I don’t think the audience bought it. She could just as easily have put him in a med pod outside the ship like the captain suggested. Or at least thought it over a bit. For God sakes, at least take a few minutes to assess the situation! But she had to light him up, right there, on the spot, no questions asked. I resolved to not feel outrage because of how obvious a solicit for emotion that scene was.

Paul Reiser, who played Burke in Aliens, was a much better token corporate tool in my opinion. His actions evoked hatred and disgust, and the snake oil salesman persona got a lot more under my skin than Theron’s female careerist act.

Ripley: He figured that he could get an alien back through quarantine, if one of us was… impregnated… whatever you call it, and then frozen for the trip home. Nobody would know about the embryos we were carrying… me and Newt..
Burke: This is so nuts. I mean, listen – listen to what you’re saying. It’s paranoid delusion. How – It’s really sad. It’s pathetic…

In that scene from Aliens, you can see the guilt manifesting on Burke’s reddening face. It was just perfect. Burke made me cringe.

“Meredith Vickers” only made me scoff. The character didn’t have any clear motivations except to survive. That’s the biggest thing really, she wasn’t after anything and therefore didn’t have any bearing on the plot. Shaw and Holloway were there for science, Weyland for meaning, Fifield for money, but it seemed like Theron’s charactor, Meredith Vickers, was just sort of along for the ride. She was only there to try to intimidate people and make excessive eye contact.

I can go on and on about the characters, or lack thereof. There’s a Scottish lady who’s entire role in the movie was to have a Scottish accent. That’s literally all she did in the movie: have an accent, and provide the novelty that comes from having a Scottish accent. There was an Asian guy too that stood on the bridge and looked out the window of the ship during a few scenes. All he did was be Asian, and literally nothing else… except for the scene in the end where, out of the blue, he sacrifices himself along with the captain to destroy the Engineer’s ship. I didn’t care that he scarified himself because I didn’t know anything about him, except that he was Asian. I felt nothing! It’s kind of like reading about someone who was killed on the news. The information means little to me because I didn’t know who the person was. Poor character development.

The only half-way decent character was the android, David. The robot had more personality than the humans. But David was basically a ripoff from the android in Aliens. I felt like I was having déjà vu when his head was torn off. The very same thing happened to the android character in Aliens. What is it with androids constantly losing their heads? *Slaps knee.*

Shaw was another character transplanted from aliens: the resourceful, enduring female protagonist that Sigourney Weaver captured so well. She teams up with the decapitated android just like Weaver did at the end of Aliens. Cool, I thought that was cute, but we’ve seen it before. And I think it was done better the first time around.

The movie did have some redeeming qualities. There was no eerie, claustrophobic atmosphere like in the Alien series, but the scenery was fab-tastic. The technology on the ship was mega cool. The plot moved at a steady pace and there’s at least enough gore and mangled flesh to thoroughly pique your interest. There’s an “oh shit” moment at the end, when we witness the first birth of the creature from Alien. Not a plot twist, but more of an “oh shit” moment, because we all saw it coming. But still, even though we saw it coming, it was cool to see it finally get here. I liked the connection with the Aliens plot.

But bottom line, all in all, Prometheus is worth a watch, but only to satisfy your curiosity. It’s not torture, but it’s not the best two hours and four minutes of my life, either. I give it a solid B minus. I think Ridley Scott outdid himself 30 years ago with the Alien series. Prometheus didn’t quite measure up.

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Life on the beach

Sunday, Jun 3rd, 2012

I moved to Virginia Beach about a month ago for a job. I love everything about the area except for the 6 lane, horrifying, cutthroat and merciless i’m-going-to-slit-my-wrists traffic. I nearly lost all faith in humanity.

But other than that, life is good.

My dog is lovin’ it. I take her for a walk on the beach every day. The first time I took her there, she drank nearly a gallon of salt water. That night she threw up dog food and hasn’t drunk any since — I think she’s learned a valuable lesson.

I remember learning that same lesson myself when I was a kid, around the age of seven. My family was at the beach on vacation and I got thirsty. I asked my brother to fill a bucket with water from the ocean so I could drink from it. “You can’t drink that because it’s salt water!” he said. “It’s alright,” I said. “Just make sure when you scoop up the water with the bucket to not get any salt in it.”

Again, I was seven.

Anyway beach life is just jolly. My condo is literally steps from the ocean. I’m in the chick’s beach area, on the bay side, but it might as well be ocean side because you can’t see across. Actually, it might technically be considered “ocean side” because, if you look east, you can see the part of the inlet that goes to the open ocean (I take great solace in that fact). I’ve also got a great view of the Chesapeake bay bridge (which is also a tunnel). The bridge looks fantastic at night. A lot of people say the bridge ruins the view of the ocean. But to me, it feels like the ocean has Christmas lights wrapped around it. So I’ve got no complaints there.

the chesapeake bay bridge at night

It’s not a very good pic but you get the idea. Here’s another pic of the same view during sunset.

chesapeake bay during sunset

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Beach pic from way back when

Saturday, Jun 2nd, 2012

My family was always big on beaches. We are a beach-going people. Nearly every year we went to Florida on vacation, but not for Disney Land. We always headed straight for the beach after we checked into the hotel and spent every other day of the vacation doing the same thing: beach beach beach. And I used to think that was normally why families went on vacation to Florida, for the beach. I later learned in life that most people go on vacation to Florida to wait long hours in lines at over-rated and expensive amusement parks. Thank god my dad was cheap. I loved the beach and I always will. Mickey can suck it.

Here’s a pic from those days. My dad just sent it to me out of the blue.

No I didn't apply a hipster black and white photo filter. It's just the camera my dad was experimenting with at the time.

I’m pretty sure that’s a gummy worm I’m holding in my hand. I had a fascination with gummy bears, gummy worms, and all things gummy. In the cafeteria at school, I would always be on the lookout for trades with fruit snacks… that’s one thing I miss about being a kid: trading lunches. You can’t do that when you’re an adult. Just picture yourself at work, in the break room during lunch hour asking around: “hey, does anybody want to trade for my apple?”

People would look at you like you’re fucking retarded.

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A message for tailgaiters

Saturday, Jun 2nd, 2012

If you don’t know, I fucking hate tailgaters, with passion and zeal. And I have encountered oh so many of them here in VA Beach. Oh so many tailgating jerkholes. I got tired of rolling down the window and screaming things at them so I made this custom bumper sticker.

Get off my ass

At first I was going to have it say something clever and punchy like “If you’re reading this, you’re too close” or “I break for tailgaters.” But I wanted bluntness, I didn’t want cute. I wanted to portray extreme annoyance (and possibly a hint of neurosis), and that’s why I used the small red serif font. I gave it quite a lot of thought. The seemingly bland sentence, “Get off my ass,” actually took hours of deliberation. I wanted to convey that tailgaters were both on my ass, and needed to get off it, but I was struggling to find the right words.

I believe I was in the shower when it hit me: Get off my ass. It’s simple, concise and communicates the message perfectly. I ran out of there like a dripping wet Archimedes and wrote it down. I found this site called Zazzle which will mail the sticker to you after you submit a design. And boy after I slapped that sucker on there, I haven’t had a tailgater since.

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