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Archive for August, 2007


Shore


Swoon


The Elms


Newport on the Shore


Boats in the Hahbah

From our visit to the mansions – the only day during my trip when I actually managed to take any pictures.

Sorry about the top three thumbnails not working.  WordPress’s picture editor isn’t exactly a flawless beast.  It only offered “thumbnail” as an option once, and when I tried to do it manually, thumbnails didn’t seem to exist for most of the rest.

Just click the pictures/boxes to see them.

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Stuff

The trip to Boston was fine.  Sure there was terrible service on the plane, an interestingly lethal 13 way intersection (with exactly zero street signs) right outside the train station in Boston, and a jam packed bus (that seemed to have no intention of informing you where you were) to ride on.  Other than that, though, it was all fine.

Spent yesterday evening basically resting and recuperating, and most of today in the library while Jennifer worked, so nothing much worth reporting has gone on yet.  But the weather is nice in Boston.  Unlike Atlanta, where the weather can suture you to the concrete if you’re not careful.

I’ll take some pictures eventually, but nothing to say yet.

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I was reading up on NES emulators the other day, because I’d been feeling the urge to play Baseball Stars again, and found out that someone (or several someones) has developed an emulator  with online multiplayer capabilities.  How flipping cool would that be?  Baseball Stars online.  I’m there.

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I read in a day or two old New York Times today that Jose Offerman was being brough up on assault charges for hitting a catcher and a pitcher with a bat in a scuffle during a minor league game.

Personally, I hope he spends time in jail.  Not because I have anything against Jose Offerman, but because I think the example needs to be set.  But then again, I may not be the person to make decisions along this line.  I still think that Sandy Alomar should’ve been banned from the game for life for kicking a pitcher in the belly with his cletes.  I’ve had a personal grudge against that man for 15 years over that particular fight.

However, by all logic, you have to fight with your hands.  If you’re going to get into a fight, whatever.  But when you bring a weapon, that’s a criminal offense everywhere.  Why should a baseball field be any different?

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It seems as though I’ll be going to Scottsbluff the first week in September to perform my Reverential duties and marry Keith.  It’s a pretty busy time for me, but it’s probably tougher for him to find someone else, at this point, than for me to just fit it in.  And I’d like to be there anyway, so why not?

I am a Reverend, after all.

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While lying on the bed being practically unconscious last night, both Jennifer and I watched our first ever episode of Chris Barrie’s “Brittas Empire.”  It was ungodly funny.  I suggest you all go watch.  If they’re all like that episode (in which Gordon Brittas is accused of distributing drugs, taking $650,000 in drug payments, killing 7 people, beheading another, and knocking down three old ladies), then it’s basically a really edgy version of Fawlty Towers.

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I think that’s it.  Out and over.

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Lessig and Lobbyists

I must admit that the unbelievable busy-ness of the last eight months or so of my life has kept me from checking in with Professor Lessig.  I haven’t read his blog in quite some time, but I did so today.

He has apparently caught the anti-lobbyist bug as a tangent to his work on copyright reform.  (Funny how he started writing about it a mere month or two before Michael Moore made it a centerpiece in “Sicko.”  Great minds…)

Anyway, I just thought I’d mention it as he summed up a position quite well.  I thought it was worth quoting:

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“The problem is not, as Clinton seemed to suggest, that anyone believes that lobbyists are evil. Of course they are not evil. Lobbyists are often among the best educated, hardest working, most sophisticated people in Washington. They know their stuff. They are fantastic at conveying the message. They are typically decent, polite and honorable people. They are not in any sense corrupt, any more than lawyers, or press secretaries, or union stewards are corrupt. They have a job; it is to persuade. The people who succeed in that job succeed because they are good at what they do.

But just because a system is populated with good people does[n’t] mean the system itself is not corrupt. And the problem with this system is the way it obviously queers good judgment when so much effort by politicians must be devoted to raising money in order to keep your job.

Put differently, if there were a way to fund campaigns that wouldn’t create the stain of corruption, we would still need (and want) lobbyists. Their job would be simply to make policymakers aware of the interests they represent. But just because your job is to educate politicians, it doesn’t mean you have to be able to give politicians money.

…[L]awyers represent their clients before a judge. Does it follow from that that judges must be free to take money from lawyers? Even just to redecorate their office? ”

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I, personally, might take issue with the claim that no one believes lobbyists are evil.  I might even go so far as to say that Michael Moore might believe that very thing.  (Good ol’ Mike does get a bit essentialist with human beings in his films; it’s tough to know whether or not he’s like that in real life.)

But the basic point still stands.  When money is entered into the equation, then it seems to me that such is in complete contrast to the stated aims of a lobbyist.  If your sole purpose is to be a good rhetorician and convince politicians that your way is the right way, then what is the value of ending the conversation with “oh, by the way, here’s a large bucket of cash; peace be upon you.”  It doesn’t make much sense.

One might also argue that, without lobbyists, it would be prohibitively expensive to campaign and no one could do it.  By that logic, I’d argue that we could do without quite a bit of what they spend that money on anyway…  Namely, saturation marketing via paper advertising (which hardly appeals to the intellectual voter) and belligerent/negative campaign ads in ultra-expensive timeslots (which hardly appeals to the sentient human being).

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Who ever would have thought that the problem would not be his pitching, but the inability of the Red Sox to score any runs?

Last night, Daisuke Matsuzaka got his second no decision in a game in which he only allowed one run.  He’s also taken three, count-em THREE losses this season in which he only allowed two runs.

The man already has 13 wins and 8 losses.  It the games had been logical, he should have around 18 wins and five losses right now.

My prediction of 24 wins, which was based as much on the Red Sox’s offensive capabilities as it was on his pitching skills, wouldn’t have been very far off if he’d received any kind of run support.

For those who would argue that he’s also been the recipient of huge offensive explosions, rescuing bad starts, he’s only won four games in which he gave up four runs or more.  And, since we can kind of discount 4 as league average for a starting pitcher, only two of those were 5 runs or more.  So I wouldn’t say he’s received much in that department either.

Even splitting the difference and keeping the two run losses and the five run wins, he should still be leading the majors right now with 15 wins…

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If anyone tries to pull this common argument on you …

  • “Barry Bonds’ power peak coming at age 37 was unprecedented in baseball history”

…use this as a response.

Other players who’s biggest homer years came at age 37 or later:

  1. Tony Gwynn – 17 at age 37 and 16 at age 38.  His two peak years.
  2. Paul Molitor – 22 at age 37.
  3. Ty Cobb – 12 at age 39.  (tied a career high he set at age 35)

It is also not uncommon to hear that people expect Ichiro to have more power as he gets older – as his speed diminishes, people expect him to hit for the kind of power that he displays in batting practice.

The point is, good hitters, who pride themselves on their base-hit totals and/or have the ability to steal bases, tend to increase their power numbers late in their careers as their ability to leg out singles and steel bases diminishes.  Swinging for the fences becomes more common.

Just because Barry had more power from day one, does not mean that this doesn’t apply to him.  Note that his speed also diminished in ’99.

Perhaps he simply started swinging for the fences more often.

Not saying it’s incontrivertible evidence…just pointing out a logic flaw in the arguments of those who are too easily convinced of guilt.

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(And, for those who would claim that the 3 examples above aren’t applicable, trying to cite Cobb as a problem specifically because he played before the long ball – remember that Gwynn and Molitor run directly counter to that argument.  They played through the rabbit ball year of 1987, and still managed to hit more homers at age 37.)

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killed

Jesus….thanks, Uncle Cowboy-guy.

I didn’t even see it coming.

happy hat

Happy hat.

angry hat

Angry hat…

cracker hotel

Pure cross marketing genius!

There’s certainly no jarring transition from “glorious edifice” to “package of crackers.”

None at all.

.

And finally…

pimple blood

Is it just me, or does this ad make it sound like one is either supposed to A) drink fresh blood, or B) change one’s blood regularly like motor oil?

Whichever is the case, I’m all for it.

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I went and filed all my paperwork and such for my passport this morning.

First, despite the fact that I took the picture myself and used the self serve kiosk, the lady at CVS somehow managed to charge me $9.00.

Second, when I went in to film the paperwork, I was told that it normally takes 12 to 16 weeks to get a passport (as opposed to the 10 to 12 that it stated online).  So I was talked into buying expedited service for $60.00 more.

So, instead of paying $100 for a passport, I paid $170. 

Both of these people are desk jockeys.  There’s no conceivable way they would have benefitted from screwing me, but I feel screwed all the same…

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I’m fine with people who want to believe that steroids were done and that they caused monumental increase in numbers.  I don’t believe that, but I’m fine with other people thinking that way.

My problem is the conviction people manage to feel about something which they literally know nothing about.  It’s all supposition, and yet people feel justified in crucifying or defending whomever with/against anything.

There is an article on ESPN right now that does a simulation of Hank Aaron if he had played in Barry Bonds’ time, to attempt to see what park adjustment and ‘steroid era’ adjustment for do for Hank.  It basically attempts to even the playing field, and assume that whatever other people were getting, Hank would’ve received it too.

Ultimately, the article claims that the projections are that Hank would’ve hit 11 more in modern times than he did in his own era.

There are 76 comments on this article as of now.

I read about 40 of them before I got tired of the standard blustery show of Barry haters.

Why was I concerned enough to read that many, you might ask….

Because there’s an error in the article.  It claims that Hank’s 1975 season, transposed to 2005, would go from 27 homers to 15, and then says that such a result works out to +3!!  The rather simple actual math is…-12.  Which is an error of 15 homers.

So the projection, if it is not a bizarre typo, actually gives Hank four homers less than his real total.  Not 11 more.

To the best of my knowledge, no one even bothered to notice this before they started ranting.

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“Stranded” (2002)

Last night I watched this film, starring the apparently beautiful Vincent Gallo and the actually beautiful Luna, for the first time.  I’m usually a sucker for ‘trapped on Mars’ plotlines, because being trapped somewhere weird is usually an infinitely better sci-fi plotline than being attacked by something weird.  One involves humanity and the other involves explosions – and I prefer humanity.

Anyway, if you’ve heard anything about this film, it is probably that the acting is terrible.  This is half true.  There is some badly written dialogue (like people calling other people by name, when a person wouldn’t really do such a thing), and the voice acting (via the dub) is pretty bad at times.  However, the acting, from a visual standpoint, is relatively good – but then again, it mostly consists in standing around and looking morose, which isn’t particularly a tall order.

Oh, and the dub is out of sync as well.  (It’s a Spanish movie, in which they were speaking English, but in which they were apparently dubbed in post-production in both languages…so I guess they didn’t care enough to have the actual english dialogue lined up with the mouths.  Or perhaps they ran out of money doing two dialogue dubs…)

Anyway, outside of the acting, the film itself is actually pretty good.  The plotline being that they survived the crash, but don’t have enough supplies for all of them to survive long enough for a rescue mission.  So a few of them decide to “go for a walk” like Captain Oates.  (There were also five people in the Scott of the Antarctic expedition, so the film is clearly playing on that historical event.)  The bulk of the film, then, is spent in watching two groups: first, those who’ve gone walking (who are transmitting their expedition through grainy camcorder footage) and those who stay behind, who are simply watching their friends die.

Stylistically, the film works very well as it produces much of its tension through the “Blair Witch” effect.  It is surprisingly effective to have characters wander aimlessly in a wasteland, with no real hope of survival, and just watch them move along in crappy footage.  The film was really riveting at these points.  And there was a beautiful bit of metaphorical photography when a character dies; another character runs her hand down the mask of his spacesuit and reveals that his eyes are closed, which, of course, makes it look as though she closed the eyes of the dead, as people would do normally.

In terms of plot, things don’t go quite as well.  Making discoveries on an alien planet was somehow handled better in “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” fifty years ago.  Without divulging any plot points, all I can say is that, in hindsight, most of what they found was pretty stereotypical.  There wasn’t a great deal of creativity involved in the scenario.  And the Vincent Gallo character, who was supposed to be a somewhat hateful, pessimistic, sex-obsessed jerk, hits pretty much the points you’d expect, without ever doing anything that could be construed as ‘meaningful’ to a reading of the film.

Upon reflection, the story is very weak.

Ultimately, however, the film really isn’t about space or Mars, so anything along those lines is forgivable.  The film is about dreams, beliefs, and death, and it works as a metaphor for feelings of isolation, or of being lost with your company in an equally inhospitable warzone (reading ‘Mars’ as ‘war’ symbolism), as well as it does a straight-forward image of doomed exploration.  For me, it was an excellent depiction of pessimism in general; I felt able to strip the ‘doomed’ aspect from these characters and simply see them as characters in need of counseling.  On that level, it worked very well as a generalized view of varying forms of human emotional wreckage in the brilliantly non-specific locale of ‘Mars as ugly wasteland.’

I actually found the film to be quite good.  It certainly goes on the pile, with “The Last Man on Earth,” of films that can be seen as both laughably bad in execution and profoundly good in conception.  Though “Stranded” isn’t nearly as laughable as “Last Man,” it does have its B-movie moments…

But, in general, it’s worth watching.

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Along similar sci-fi lines, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is being remade again.

On the one hand, Body Snatchers is one of those plotlines that is difficult to screw up, as it’s not very ‘expensively action oriented’ as far as sci-fi ideas go.  However, lets look at the track record from the last five years.

  1. The Time Machine:  the George Pal version (1960) is a classic in every way; the Guy Pearce version (2002) was a steaming pile of dung with exactly one redeeming quality – Orlando Jones.
  2. War of the Worlds:  the George Pal version (1953), while being significantly too religious, was a solid invasion film that spent the bulk of its time on human struggling rather than special effects; the Spielberg version (2005) was essentially just Jurassic Park done with big explosions.
  3. The Stepford Wives:  the Bryan Forbes original (1975) is still a brilliantly creepy small town nightmare that plays as much on the theme of conformity as Body Snatchers, but from a feminist slant; the Nicole Kidman version (2004) was apparently (I haven’t seen it) a comedy in which the ending makes no sense when compared with the rest of the film.

Well, zero out of three is a pretty good success rate.  Clearly there can be no reason to worry that they’ll fail and turn Body Snatchers into a lame action-festival…or a comedy…

At least, there’s “The Manchurian Candidate.”  The remake of that wasn’t too much of a step down from the original.  That gives me hope.

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It just dawned on me yesterday, after receiving an email that I’ll talk about later in this post, just how much I’ve actually done this summer.

I’ve moved twice; looked into Ph.D. programs; researched the Atlanta Better Films Committee heavily (online, on microfilm, and in two archives so far); had small vacations in California, Nebraska, and Tennessee (briefly); had a little bit of contact with Janet Six about Webster Edgerly research; wrote an abstract on the BFC for a conference in Brussels in December; was accepted to said conference; and am now trying to deal with the passport and financial issues which come with that.  All while holding down a 30 hour per week job (admittedly, one at which I have no duties whatsoever) and having a girlfriend.

It’s no wonder I don’t feel like I have much free time.

So anyway, I get to go to Belgium in December, barring paperwork or financial accidents.  Yay me.

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