Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Bringing them up right

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

We watched Star Wars all the way through with N tonight. He’s been playing with Lego Star Wars and Clone Wars stuff for a while. He’s also been going through the Clone Wars books like candy. I knew it was time when he started messing up canon information with what he read in his Angry Birds Star Wars book. That was just going to far.

He’s seen bits and pieces before, but this was the first time he really paid attention to what was going on. He was really intensely watching during the trench run.

Favorite part: “When Luke Skywalker blows up the DEATH STAR!”

I’m so proud.

Movies, games and other late night thoughts.

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Thanks to R’s tendency to only sleep when supported vertically, I’ve been putting her in the Baby Bjorn and finding other things to do. These things need to be generally stationary and relatively quiet. This means that I’ve been catching up on my Discover magazines, quickly exhausting Turner Classic Movies On-Demand and finishing off some video games (with headphones on).

As a result of this I have several random observations:
A) Watching The Manchurian Candidate (1962) while heavily sleep deprived is especially surreal. It also gives you crazy violent dreams, so I wouldn’t recommend the overall experience. [1]
B) I’ve now completed Bioshock which I started back in December. There was about a three week hiatus, but I made a pretty hard push to finish it over the last few days/nights. I really have to applaud the writers and designers for writing a compelling storyline with reasonable psychological and ethical hurdles. The scenery is very dark and bloody and combined with adult dialog, the game is rather squarely rated “R”. However, despite this, it rarely seemed gratuitous like other shooters I have played (and generally stopped playing). There was suitable opportunity for a ‘thinking player’ rather than a ‘rapid reflex’ player to ambush/evade/out-think the enemies with sufficient moments of sheer combat chaos to keep the heart going. I have Mass Effect waiting in the wings, but I think I’m going to evade game-commitment and install NFS:Undercover next. [2]
C) Every time I read another article about the plasticity of the brain, and the growing field of neural-mechanical interfaces I really feel like I’m in the wrong line of work. I am continuously amazed at how remarkably flexible and adaptable the brain is at integrating with new inputs. This is reinforced by watching N learn to spell, associate numbers with objects and generally become more sophisticated physically and mentally every day. We’re starting this road again with R, and so quickly she develops reactions to certain stimuli.

  1. Great movie though. Angela Lansbury as the manipulative Mrs. Iselin is fantastically dark. []
  2. Yes, I purchase and play games well after their initial release dates. Both Bioshock and Mass Effect have recently released sequels. I do this to keep my PC costs in check and to get a true bargain for my entertainment budget. I think I picked up Bioshock for about $10, and got a ridiculous number of entertainment hours out of it. []

Well, it wasn’t the plot that impressed us.

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

I think two or three other movies could fit into this framework. Feel free to name them in the comments.

Avatar ~= Pocohontas


Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Well this is the requisite Avatar response post since it seems like the primary thing to write about these days other than the impossibility of complete aircraft security.

Overall, my reaction was very positive. I’m notorious for pointing out the inconsistencies in computer generated effect and plot lines. But strangely, perhaps intentionally, it was the live-action sequences that felt out of place in this film. I’m not sure that I ever felt like the environment was truly photo-realistic, but it wasn’t cartoon-ish either. The film moved along at a steady pace, with the occasional ‘slow’ section was more than filled with eye candy. The same technique was used to distract you from the occasional plot hole… quick, change scenes to something pretty and the audience won’t notice the flaw. I saw the 3D showing (for the exorbitant price of $13), and the depth given by this illusion was worth it. The depth made the scenes more enveloping, and they didn’t kick you in the occipital lobe too often.

This is not a spoiler for anyone who has seen the previews, but stop reading if you’re the nervous type about such things.

Star Wars Engineering

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

First read John Scalzi’s Guide to the Most Epic FAILs in Star Wars Design at AMC.

And then, if you still need more, you can try The Inbox of Nardo Pace, The Empire’s Worst Engineer.

This last item could pretty much be a blog all on its own consisting of nothing but engineering gaffs from various movies.

Nate Sings

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

A couple of weeks ago, Nate came up to me while I was sitting at the computer, put his head in my lap, and started singing to me. I tried to get video of it, but whenever I pull out the Flip, he just wants to watch video of himself. I finally was able to convince him to sing for me a couple of days ago. I hope you enjoy.

For your musical enjoyment

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Chris has started playing his trombone again. Nate finds it fascinating, and decided he needed to play “bombone” too.

Merrie Melodies

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

As you may have noted if you follow K’s twitter feed, she and I went to a Syracuse Symphony Pops concert last night (Friday). This was not just any concert, but the Syracuse premiere of “Bugs Bunny on Broadway” conducted by George Daugherty. Essentially, there was a movie screen over the orchestra where the famous musical Warner Brothers cartoons were projected with the musicians playing the score.
I have to say that it was a challenge to decide whether to watch the cartoons or the percussionists keeping up with the pseudo-sound effects. The voice acting and true sound effects were piped in from the original animated shorts.
Although this was no high-culture event, it was great fun to see (and listen) to young and old appreciating the wacky stylings of Bugs and cohorts while listening to those now famous arrangements of classical pieces.
To open the concert, the “Flight of the Valkyries” was played to set the mood, and later the conductor asked the audience how many people thought “Vagner” vs “Kill da wabbit!” (the far and away winner of course).
To hear the live performance of the “Rabbit of Seville” and “What’s Opera Doc?” was worth the price of admission, even if several cartoons were essentially played in their original form with the orchestra only opening and closing the cartoons.
One interesting piece of trivia: The famous opening chord that modulates into the Merrie Melodies (or Looney Tunes) theme is produced by an electric slide guitar. According to the conductor, they tried many different effects to reproduce this live before the original guitar was found in the Warner Brothers studios. When matched with an antique and temperamental amplifier… the magical sound is produced. I always guessed that this effect was produced by simply turning on a record player with the needle down. In any case the critical instrument was there, and the sound was richer than any TV reproduction can achieve.

In all, great fun and a memorable night out.

Transformed expectations

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007

So my friend John and I went to see Transformers Monday night. I have to admit, I enjoyed the movie. Now don’t get me wrong it had some pretty cheezy scenes, but the action was well coreographed and the animation was quite believable (and I RARELY think CGFX are any good). Mostly it helps that we don’t really know what a giant transforming robot ought to look like, and that glossy metal surfaces are easy to replicate in the theoretical ray tracing world of a graphics engine. Overall I enjoyed the film and I don’t (completely) regret the $9 it cost me.
Some spoilers may follow, but since the theater run is all but over I’ll press on.

Harry Potter on Crack

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

At least that’s what it felt like to me. K & I went to see the new Harry Potter movie, Order of the Phoenix, last night.
Even though I won’t get to anything resembling a spoiler for quite a while, I’ll put the break here to protect those who wish to keep their film viewing untainted. There will be another spoiler warning before the plot/storyline comments if you want to dare a bit further.