Hit Coffee is the story of Will Truman (trumwill),
transplant in the mountain west with an IT background who bides his time
substitute teaching while his wife brings home the bacon.
This site is a collection of reflections
on the goings-on in his life and in the world around him. You will probably
be relieved to know that he does not generally refer to himself in the
third-person except when he's writing short bios on his web page.
Greetings from Callie, Arapaho, a red town in a red state known for growing
red meat. And from Redstone, Arapaho(Aw-RAH-pah-hoe), a blue city with blue collar roots that's been feeling blue
for quite some time.
Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though
if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character
and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.
This website is maintained by Guy Webster (web),
who also contributes from time to time.
Web hails from the midwest and currently lives
in Truman's home city of Colosse, Delosa. He works as a utility IT person at
Southern Tech University, their alma mater.
Also contributing is Sheila Tone (stone) a West Coaster, breeder, and lawyer
who has probably hooked up with some loser just like you and sees through
your whole pathetic little act.
A long while back an acquaintance gave me a VHS tape (giving you an idea of precisely how long back we’re talking) of a movie called Terminal Impact. It was being rotated out of the selection at the movie rental place that he worked. The movie was pretty lame. It was about “college students” (that looked 40) being turned into deadly cyborgs. Not coincidentally, there was a blockbuster film called Terminal Velocity starring Charlie Sheen that came out at the same time. They had a similar name and the font of the title was similar, but that’s where the similarities ended. It was pretty clear that the entire purpose of the movie’s title was to get rentals from people who were confused. (Indeed, the movie was created with another title and they changed it to match.)
Erik Kain wrote about a resurgence of “mockbusters” a while ago. I was talking to a friend who was saying that somebody should do something about this.
I really, really hope that nobody does. I hope that, if Disney and others start flinging lawsuits, that they lose them. Terminal Impact may have been a waste of 90 minutes of my life, and would have been a waste of a couple dollars if I had actually paid for it, but the last thing I want is for courts to have to have to wade through distinctions of impact of a terminal nature versus velocity of a terminal nature. My concern is that it opens the doors to the entertainment variant of software patents.
It wouldn’t bother me if Hollywood Pictures (the makers of Terminal Velocity) forced Nu Image Films (the makers of Terminal Impact) to go with the movie’s original title (Cyborg Cop III). However, two movies with redhead leads with the movie “Brave” in the title strikes me as more problematic. What if it’s a girl with brown hair? What if it’s a year later? Three years later? The opportunities for trademark trolling seem evident, to me. And it would almost certainly apply in only a single direction where Pixar can determine a small studio’s packaging while a small studio would have a much harder time doing the opposite.
So, in the end, we are responsible for knowing precisely which movie it is that we want to see. If somebody is taking advantage of our failure to do so, I can live with that.
I have to admit that I have been coming around on them, DRM and all. I bought Clancy a Kindle last Christmas. She never really used it and when somebody stepped on it and broke it, I considered junking the idea until Clancy said she was really ready to give it a go. So we got another one and since Lain was born, she’s been using it a lot. Kindles, as it turns out, are much better for one-handed reading.
I still consider the DRM to be problematic. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it’s there. But it makes me much more price-conscious than I otherwise would be. The DRM that comes with the books makes it so that I never feel like I am buying anything and adjusting my price-point accordingly. I am typically uncomfortable spending more than $5 on an ebook, while I will gladly spend twice that for a book that I own.
In a way, this is highly illogical. It means that I mostly get inexpensive books that haven’t gone through all of the big publisher filter. So often I don’t know what I’m going to get. I forgo books I know I’ll enjoy in favor of risks. I am about a third a way through a book that is truly dreadful. Unlike a bad song or a bad TV show, that is a considerable time investment that I could have saved for under $5.
And yet, I don’t plan to change any time soon. For $10 or more, I want something I can freely loan out. Considering how much more generous the economics of ebooks are compared to print-publishing, the few times I have spent more than $5 I would have felt ripped off if they hadn’t been gift purchases for Clancy. This way, even if I bite the bullet on a bad novel, I am at least supporting authors and small publishers that are pricing these books how I think they should be priced.
Perhaps the greatest thing about going through Amazon, though, is the synchronization between devices. It’s really nice to be able to switch between my tablet, an ereader, and my smartphone. With baby in hand, I sometimes have to go with whatever is nearby. It’s great being able to pick up where I left off. I collected a bunch of free books from the Gutenberg Project and other sources, but since Lain was born have found them to be less than useful. So I end up picking up a free copy of the same text from Amazon itself.
Last year, my father bought an “ereader” that was aligned with B&N. It was technically a tablet, but the makers (Pandigital) did everything they could to hobble the device to the point that all you could really do is read books, surf the web, and maybe listen to music. When I got home, I tried to set him up with the Amazon appstore, but it was locked down. There is a way to circumvent that, but when I asked Dad if he wanted me to try even though it could result in a disabling of the device (or more likely, my having to take it back home to Arapaho and experiment with it), he figured one in the hand was two in the bush.
Every now and again, I run through the SNES version of Legend of Zelda (A Link to The Past). There’s one thing that kind of bothers me about it. I have some moral reservations about my service to the King:
Most of the town seems to live in relative poverty. Meanwhile, the castle is very large luxurious and the King seems to have an outsized army considering that there is not, to my knowledge, a neighboring kingdom that poses an existential threat. In the opening, the city is portrayed as a place of peace… and a lot of soldiers. Presumably, in order to pay for all of this he would need a significant tax-base. That means that Hyrule either has great mineral wealth, which the royal family is not sharing with its townspeople, or the people themselves are producing wealth and the King is taking an outsized portion of that. Otherwise, we’re looking at conscription and slavery (for the building of the palace and the armor/weaponry). It’s all really quite disturbing that I am supposed to be working with/for the leaders or such a government.
Granted, when the alternative is Ganon, then a tyrant is better than a nihilist. But the sequel to this game should not have been Ocinara of Time, but rather Revolution Against The King.
Sometimes, I really just don’t understand sports media. Particularly when it comes to college sports. I guess sometimes they need things to write about, but even when they write about frivolous things, they write about unlikely ones. Over the past few months, there has been a lot of talk about the Big East Conference being “on life support” or similarly dire terms. Now, competitively, the Big East will be a far cry from what it was the last several seasons (in my opinion, the most under-rated football conference in the country). But there is almost no reason why we should think it even a possibility that the Big East disbands and the schools slated to join the conference scramble for a home or come back from whence they came.
To recap: TCU left before it ever actually joined. West Virginia has left. Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse, and Rutgers are leaving. The eight Catholic non-football schools are leaving. That leaves only Cincinnati, Connecticut, and South Florida as continuous members along with Temple, who joined this past season*. SMU, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, East Carolina**, and Central Florida are slated to join. Boise State*** was slated to join, but has decided to remain in the Mountain West Conference. In the coming weeks, San Diego State*** is likely to make the same decision. Navy*** is also supposed to join in a few years, but I’d be surprised if Navy didn’t reconsider as well.
If you can follow that, it paints a pretty sour picture. Granted, Cincinnati and Connecticut are very competitive within the conference (and also, basketball!). But there is a decent chance they will be leaving, too. That would leave the mediocre South Florida as the sole continuous member of the conference. For the sake of this post, let’s assume that happens (because if it doesn’t my skepticism towards the non-viability of the Big East becomes much, much more warranted).
So that would leave SMU, Houston, Tulane, Memphis, East Carolina, Central Florida, South Florida, and Temple. With the exception of the first two, there is little talk of those schools being invited to a better conference. in the case of Houston and SMU, there has been loose talk about them joining Boise State and San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference. This is unlikely but represents one of the few genuine threats to the conference’s viability.
People look at these eight teams and think how much worse it is than the Big East has historically been. That’s why they use terms like “life support.” However, for the constituent schools, with the possible Houston/SMU exception, it represents the best conference they can join and a better conference than the one they left. There were five top performing schools in Conference USA - their present league - and three of them are a part of the package. Tulsa, number four, would absolutely accept an invitation to the Big East tomorrow if issued an invite. The situation for Southern Miss (#5) is more complicated. Because of their weak financial position, they might not be able to afford it.
Meanwhile, they are leaving behind a lot of excess baggage. And with the possible exception of Southern Miss, anybody they don’t want to leave behind can be invited at a moment’s notice.
Conference USA, the place where most of the teams would return to (all but Temple are former members), is simply not an attractive option. Houston and SMU have been replaced by North Texas and UTSA. Central Florida has been replaced by Florida International and Florida Atlantic. Because of this, a return would mean conference congestion in Texas (six teams) and Florida (four). As a general rule, schools don’t want too much in-state rivalry because they want to separate themselves in terms of recruiting and prestige. SMU doesn’t want to play sibling to North Texas. South Florida doesn’t want to play sibling to Florida Atlantic. So these schools will move heaven and earth not to resign themselves to that fate.
I would say that even if Houston and SMU were to go west, and even if they took Tulsa and another school out of consideration for the Big East, they’d still stick together rather than scramble to get back into their old conference. Replace Houston and SMU with some combination of Rice, North Texas, and UTSA and keep on trucking. The only reservation I have about this is East Carolina. They still haven’t issued ECU (the only school in the lot to bring more than 50,000 fans to each football game, as well as one of the best schools in the present Conference USA) an all-sports invitation. And Conference USA went out of their way to bring in schools that ECU wanted (bucking the general rule, East Carolina actually wanted teams in closer proximity and that’s what they got). If they were to high-tail it back to Conference USA, that would bode ill.
But that’s unlikely, if the members keep a level head, for two reasons. First, because it continues to represent an opportunity to “clean house” and end up with a conference that replaces the two least desirable members of Conference USA with Temple and South Florida. Second, because they are sitting on a huge pile of cash. With the exception of seven of the eight Catholic schools and San Diego State, every departing member is paying an exit fee and they are substantial. If pressed, they can buy Southern Miss’s admission into the conference with that money. And it gives them enough money to set up camp and relax about the present lack of a TV contract.
Now, I’d be remiss if I did not mention the two scenarios in which I could be wrong.
First, if Cincinnati and Connecticut get ACC invites, it’s possible that they have a window where they can turn off the lights on their way out. It takes 2/3 of the conference to vote for dissolution and that represents two of the three current all-sport members (South Florida). However, Temple is a member as well and it’s unclear whether or not they have a vote. There is also a good chance that they can be persuaded not to kill the conference with a carrot (”we’ll waive the exit fee for you two”) and stick (”We will go to court over this”). Given that the incoming teams joined the conference in good faith and are materially harmed by dissolution, it would strike me as unlikely that they would have no case in the event that the conference is needlessly killed.
Second, if the ACC gets absolutely plundered. If the Big 12 goes to 18, for instance (two divisions of 9 with a majority of the ACC), of some combination of Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC pilfering of the ACC to a total number of more than four schools. If the ACC loses both Florida schools, then South Florida and Central Florida are in play. That, in turn, would make the conference substantially less appealing to several members. Possibly to the point that it’s less appealing than returning to Conference USA or heading west would be. If the ACC loses eight, then you are likely to see a near-merger between the ACC and Big East, with less than a handful of schools remaining and very little leverage to tempt anyone away from Conference USA. But this would require more than just the Big Ten and SEC going to 16. If they lose four, the ACC can rebound with just two in order to get back to 12. So both of those would have to happen and the Big 12 would need to expand into the region.
A lot of people are rooting for the Big East’s demise and have been for some time. The conceptually problematic additions of Boise State and San Diego State (and to a lesser extent Houston and SMU, and TCU before those two) only added to the whiff of desperation of something that must be critically ill in some way or another. But with Boise State and San Diego State gone, the geographic blueprint is no larger than that of the old Conference USA and is smaller than that of the Mountain West Conference. And, as underwhelming as the conference looks compared to how it looked a year or two ago, it’s still better than the alternative for most of its constituent schools.
* - Temple is presently only a football member, but all sports will be joining starting next season.
** - East Carolina is presently slated to join as football-only, but a full-sport invitation may be in its future.
*** - Navy, Boise State, and San Diego State were/are slated to join as football-only.
The first round, dedicated to cartoons. This is dedicated to other shows.
My appreciation for Matlock is not one of the things I will defend. I guess it was one of the most accessible legal/law shows on at the time. I’ve probably seen every episode. Most more than once. This is one of the reasons I am not opposed to limiting TV time for any kids Clancy and I have.
I liked this one starting at a particularly young age. Who knew that a bunch of people in a bar would be really interesting to a 4th grader?
When we visited LA once, we tried to be a member of the studio audience once. Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the show, they limited the studio audience to people 25 and older.
This is one of those shows that started out with a unique concept (a long-lost father and son where the son is more mature than the father) that became more typical as time moved on (the kid always learning a lesson that the father sagely reinforces). But it took place in a house with a toy train in the living room. How could I not love that?
HalfSigma writing about smartphones and tablets is catnip to the Trumwill. Here he argues that iPhones are the worst MP3 players ever. The comments about how MP3 playing isn’t what iPhones are for begs the question: why not? There really isn’t any good reason. And especially no good reason that this design mentality should be expanding to other devices:
Grafting the iPhone’s clever, customizable interface onto other products sounds like a universal win. Then again, try using that touchscreen Nano. With the proper dance of carefully aimed taps and flicks, it can do more than any Nano before it. But when it comes to what iPods were built to do—play audio files—the Nano has devolved. The physical playback buttons have vanished. As one Macword reviewer complained when the player was released in 2010, it’s harder than ever to pause or play a track: “You must pull out the Nano so you can see its screen, then wake up the iPod, then navigate to the appropriate screen.” What might have been a one-step operation on the pre-2010 Nano now requires a sequence of three or four actions. And aside from adjusting the volume, the Nano can’t really be operated blind, with one hand in your bag or pocket. A software update this past winter allows for customizing the wake button to perform one function when double-clicked, such as skipping or pausing. It’s an improvement, but not a true fix. Like the iPhone, it still demands your full attention: Both eyes and, in most cases, both hands.
Admittedly, this is a minor detail. But that’s where interface design lives and dies, in the tiny time-savings associated with the simplest operations. An outstanding interface separates the products you love from the ones you simply use. In the Nano’s case, the touchscreen works. There’s nothing broken about it. But it’s clumsy and ill-conceived, given the uses for which it’s supposedly designed. To put a touchscreen on a Nano presumes that a touchscreen can be a universal interface, and that all devices aspire to do all things. But people don’t buy a Nano because they want a mini-iPhone or a micro-iPad. They want something they can shove in their pocket or clip to their shorts when they take a walk or go for a run, a device for playing music on the move. In those scenarios, a touchscreen doesn’t help at all.
As far as smartphones go, there really isn’t any good reason I am aware of that they can’t have a sort of music-playing mode. Why you shouldn’t be able to use your volume keys for stop-start-nextrack-etc in addition to volume control (indeed, my desire to switch tracks or pause-play exceeds my ability to change volume. I mean, I want to be able to change the volume, but generally speaking once I get that right I can simply remove the device from my holster and deal with it manually.
This isn’t just an iPhone or an Apple thing. Everybody has been following their lead and Android still isn’t as good as Windows Mobile 2003 when it comes to this sort of thing (and Windows Mobile isn’t as good as the old fashioned Walkman, for that matter). The push towards fewer and fewer physical buttons is driving this (my old TyTn has almost 20 buttons, it’s successor has 8 or 12 depending on whether you count the directionals, its successor has 7 with no directionals though a zoom scale, and my current Android phone has 7 but all are hard-directed to particular tasks). Other than base aesthetics and a desire to control, I can think of no reason why you can’t have a protruding button (that you can feel through your pocket or holster) that is configurable.
Now, for MP3 playing specifically you can buy a cheaper device that is more specifically geared towards the basic tasks of listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. But it still leaves the question as to why this basic functionality should be outsourced from a powerful device to a much less powerful one. I have my Android phone acceptably doing these things, but only due to my willingness to limit my Bluetooth headsets to a very narrow selection (AVRCP-capable, but single-ear) and it’s unreliable and buggy.
Erik Sofge’s comments about automakers is particularly disconcerting. That’s where easy access to doing things can literally be a matter of life and death. My phone has a superior navigation application than my old Garmin GPS, but I end up using the latter simply because the complexity of using the phone would make me more accident-prone. And neither the GPS nor the phone has the embossed buttons that are easier for effortless control. My car radio does, but it’s not clear how much longer that’s going to be the case. I end up listening to audio from my phone in the car most of the time anyway, which I only have embossed physical buttons on my earpiece because of the great care I’ve taken in that regard. I’m not even listening through the earpiece most of the time (I hook it into the aux jack and listen through the car’s speakers), but still use the earpiece for the buttons that don’t exist on the phone itself.
I still refer to the ability to navigate music as The Walkman Test, even through the last iteration of Sony Walkman’s (Android devices) themselves couldn’t pass The Walkman Test.
I present to you a Tecmo Super Bowl video of Bo Jackson evading defenders for an entire quarter. Well, the quarters in TSB are five minutes long on a fast clock, but still.
I used to play Tecmo Super Bowl a lot. It was a groundbreaking game, for both good and ill. I played several teams, including the Los Angeles Raiders (Bo’s team) for a few seasons. The Bo Advantage really cannot be overstated. Just hand it to him, and you’re golden.
I never won the Super Bowl with Bo, however. I found it difficult to win with any team because it cheated. Hard. The better you were, the better your opponents would become. It would start injuring your players. You’d start fumbling incessantly. The opposing players would start knowing your playcalls. And they’d suddenly become really, really fast. Passes would be turned into interceptions. In the case of Bo Jackson, I threw the ball all of nine times all season. Eight of those times the passes were intercepted. And then Bo would get hurt.
And eventually you would have to play either the New York Giants or Buffalo Bills or some other impenetrable team.
There was a time when I would start the season just throwing games. Trying to lose or cut the magin of victory. But the early season - before it ramps up - is so incredibly easy that it’s simply no fun.
I finally gamed the system by simulating the first eight games and then choosing the worst team with the most potential. It turned out that was the Philadelphia Eagles, at 2-6. Randall Cunningham (known as “QB Eagles” in the game because he was one of the few players that didn’t sign over his name rights) was really all I needed.
Not that I could use Randall Cunningham, mind you. Because as soon as it got wind of how good it was, Cunningham would be hurt. So I went ahead and started Jim McMahon, the capable backup. So if someone was going to get hurt, it was going to be him (they never hurt all of the occupants of any position). They took out my runningback for a game. Which was a good reminder that I needed to play only backups.
Which I did, finishing out the season at 10-6. They must have known was I was trying to do, however, because they never injured any of my players once I put the backups in. In the second half of the Super Bowl, I finally decided that it was “now or never” with Cunningham and the rest of the started. Randall Cunningham was hurt within four plays and a runningback followed.
But I still won my first and only Super Bowl. I played the Eagles again for another season. I used the same tricks, but I still won too many games and couldn’t overcome the Giants at superspeed and lost before making it to the big game.
Phone makers are apparently hoping to cash in on a Samsungian niche of “phablets.” That area between phone and tablet. Samsung, of course, got the ball rolling with the Galaxy Note.
I actually figured that the Note would be a failure. They seem to have moved away from the full tablet sized version, but it’s apparently become quite popular. Which is one of the reasons why it’s so important that the iPhone is no longer sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. They might actually release one of these things someday, but like the iPad Mini, only if someone else demonstrated a market for them.
Now, my animosity towards the iPhone has almost dissipated. I have what I want, and Apple controls a relatively small minority of the market. The only dangling issue are the lawsuits, but even a billion dollar verdict can’t stop Android’s momentum. This isn’t an entirely good thing, because I worry about Microsoft Windows Phone’s continued participation in the market and I’d prefer at least three options. The last outstanding concern I’ve had is “what happens if/when Google decides it’s simply not making money off of these things?”
Most likely, either the handset makers enter into some sort of Symbian-like consortium, or the code gets turned over to Apache or a like organization. Long-term, it could get overtaken by someone else when someone figures out the next Big Leap like Apple did.
There was a brief window where I wasn’t positive that this was going to be the case. Some of my apprehension towards the iPhone was based on an underlying fear that they would actually accomplish their goal of conforming the consumers to their own designs. And this horrified me not just because their design did not match my preference, but because I was concerned that something like the phablet wouldn’t actually come to fruition. Or good smartphones with physical keyboards or even slightly larger screens.
On the other hand, I am a bit glad that Apple is the way it is. Otherwise, they’d be fewer gaps for Samsung to have exploited. If Apple had been just flexible enough to keep more people in their ecosphere, then I’d really be screwed.
First Los Angeles lost the movie business, and now they’re losing TV:
The five broadcast television networks will be rolling out 23 new one-hour dramas for the upcoming season. That would normally be good business for Hollywood’s hometown industry — with bookings for soundstages and plenty of work for the costumers, camera operators and caterers needed to put a show on the air.
But not this year. Just two of the 23 new fall and midseason shows will be shot in Los Angeles County, as cost-conscious producers seek tax-friendly production havens in New York, North Carolina, Georgia and other states.
The exodus has been going on for years, especially in feature film production. But television dramas such as”CSI,”"Criminal Minds”and”Desperate Housewives”have long been anchors of Los Angeles’ entertainment economy, helping to offset the decade-long slide in moviemaking. One 22-episode-a-year network series has a budget of $60 million and generates 840 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.
I, of course, consider this an unmitigated positive. I have long complained about the centrality of Los Angeles and New York as TV show locations and one of the listed reasons for it is that the shows are filmed there. More shows filmed elsewhere should mean more shows taking place elsewhere. Of course, if they start filming stuff in Oklahoma City that takes place in Los Angeles, I’m really going to lose it.
My last year in Colosse, my car was broken into at a very inopportune time where there was much of value inside of it. It was enough that I would actually call the police (much to their dismay at being bothered with $3000 worth of stolen property). The only problem was that I couldn’t find the police department’s phone number on their website. I mean, I looked and looked and it wasn’t there. I didn’t want to call 911 since it wasn’t an emergency, but I was getting really frustrated (and irritated at myself for having thrown away my old fashioned phone directory. While they couldn’t be bothered to list their regular phone line, they did have, on every single page, a hotline to call in the event of a hate crime. Even “Call 911 for emergencies” wasn’t on every single page.
I was reminded of this when I came to a realization about Law & Order. For those of you that don’t know, there are currently three variations of the show. The flagship program follows a murder investigation, Criminal Intent follows a high-profile murder investigation, and Special Victims Unit follows typically anti-woman crimes or anti-kid. The realization I came to is that for the first two shows, which investigate murders, there are two detectives on each case. Whether it’s some fellow that was in the wrong place at the wrong time or the Mayor’s kid, you got two detectives. Meanwhile, the attempted abduction of a child on SVU gets four detectives.
Lesson: If you’re going to attempt to abduct a kid, you’re better off killing them. That way you’ll only have two detectives on your trail.
Sometimes, it feels like my wife and I were raised on different planets.
Ramping up for the new Batman movie, I’ve been immersing myself in Batman stuff. Rewatching old Batman movies and TV shows. I’ve even gone back and watched the old Adam West version. Clancy, who was working on notes in the room, asked when the show was made.
“I didn’t realize Batman has been around that long,” Clancy said.
Since 1966? Batman’s been around since 1939. Okay, I wouldn’t expect her to know that, exactly. I thought that maybe she had seen the show but not known when it was from. I mean, back when I saw it, I didn’t think of it as an “old” show. It was on TV like all the time. She said that she had never seen it.
My wife has never seen the Adam West Batman show!!!
This rocked my world.
She wasn’t impressed. At all. Neither would I be, if it hadn’t been my first exposure to Batman. So now it’s mostly a nostalgia thing. Some people like the campiness of it, though I’m not really one of them. When I originally saw it, I was young enough that I didn’t think it was silly. Now, I can only watch it as though I am trying to see it through the same eyes I saw it back then. Except with a little more knowledge of who the villains were.
I’ve been also watching The Animated Series. It is, of course, better in every way imaginable. It holds up reasonably well. While Adam West introduced me to a lot of the characters, BTAS introduced me to many of the characters as they are supposed to be, more or less. It was about the time I started watching BTAS that I started collecting comic books, which of course also showed me how the characters were supposed to be. The Animated Series, though, reached farther faster, with quicker access to the origin stories (in some cases, inventing origin stories the comic books neglected. Beyond the big four (Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin) and into the lesser-knowns who both did (Clock King, Mad Hatter) and did not exist in the Adam West series.
I, of course, plan to introduce my kids to Batman. It’s kind of weird to consider that they will never see the Adam West series. There’s really no reason, with BTAS being available and all. Of course, there is a new Batman show every few years, and so one may displace it as the Ultimate Introduction. The two that have come since, The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold don’t quite do it, though the latter has its charms.
Of course, the blessing and the curse is that DC Comics has revamped itself into complete unfamiliarity with me. So comic books in general is not something we are remarkably likely to do “together” as I had always thought would be neat. Maybe they will get their act together by then. Of course, it’s always possible that comics as we know them won’t exist by then.
So I was listening to this John Grisham audiobook. It was very much unlike any other Grisham book I have ever read/heard before. It was like a series of random vignettes. One minute, it’s talking about the old owner of the local paper. The next, it’s from the point of view of its new owner. He’s having dinner with someone and the food is being described. He’s on the witness stand explaining how he bought the paper. Someone else is on the witness stand being asked if he knew his wife was cheating on it. I have no idea what the hell the trial is about, but whatever. The narrator is flashing back to having just arrived in the town and being pulled over by a haberdasher. Then a sniper is killing people.
While Ethan tackles the weightier questions of the trilogy, I’ll look at the geekier ones.
All in all, this comic geek can’t complain all that much. This trilogy turned out to be a departure from the Batman tradition in many respects. I’ll start with the third movie and then move backwards.
The most frustrating thing to me, was John Blake. Namely, that he wasn’t named Tim Drake (the third Robin). Given the similarity of name, I actually wonder if it might have been their intent. If their intent was to make the Robin connection a surprise, they gave their game away with more than the resemblence I saw. As the movie wore on, I kept thinking “Just call him Tim!”
I was smacking myself over the head for not picking up on Talia. The signs were all there. How did I miss it? The timeline of Bane didn’t make sense (namely, Bane having simultaneously been crippled in the pit and having escaped uncrippled) as I tried to piece it together. The obvious answer just didn’t occur to me. Watching it the second time was even more painful in this regard. Could they have been more obvious? Tate talks about balance!
This was probably the best depiction of Catwoman that I have seen to date. Unlike previous depictions, rather true to the character. I was a little worried about Catwoman with no overhead mask and the cat ears, but they made it work.
Bane was also well-done, though much more of a departure. The trick of combining the concepts of the Lazerus Pit and Pena Duro was kind of neat. Bane just isn’t the same without Venom. And, of course, it turned out that we were dealing with Bane The Henchman rather than Bane The Mastermind. At least he was an intelligent Henchman and not a drooling idiot.
It’s a bit irritating that Nolan took two of comparatively few minority Batman villains (Arabian Ra’s al Ghul and Latin American Bane) and replaced them with two white people. I’m really quite tired of villains with British accents.
As with Catwoman, they did a good job with the Batman costume throughout the trilogy. One of the more ridiculous things about the previous Batman franchise were the stiff necks. To see anything that wasn’t right in front of him, he had to turn his entire body around. Here they produced a costume that not only looked good, but had much more passable functionality.
Notably, a porn production also did a pretty good job with both Batman and Catwoman’s costumes.
Out of curiosity, will Harvey Bullock or Rene Montoya ever appear movie form? They made Flass a Bullockesque character in appearance, not unlike the corrupt Lt. Eckhardt from the 1989 movie. They had a Montoya-like character in the second. I had actually guessed that she was a mole because they hadn’t named her Montoya. The inclusion of Hugh Foley was an interesting touch.
The lack of an actual Batmobile in this series was an interesting and unexpected decision. Mostly because it’s the kind of thing that directors/producers seem to like to have fun with.
One of the things that struck me is that, starting at the second movie, was that Gotham really had too many good and loyal servants. Commissioner Loeb, a corrupt piece of work in the comics, was actually a good commish. Mayor Garcia. By the time Harvey Dent came along, the city already seemed like it was in good hands.
Whenever a series of movies conclude, I always feel a bit of loss for the villains who weren’t used. I liked that this one introduced some less common ones, like Ra’s, Scarecrow and (a non-drooly version of) Bane. I’m sorry that Riddler and Penguin didn’t get a showing. One of these days I want to see a master franchise. Five movies or more. Let it build, let it continue, and so on.
The NCAA has hit Penn State with a $60 million sanction, a four-year football postseason ban and a vacation of all wins dating to 1998, the organization said Monday morning. The career record of Joe Paterno will reflect these vacated records, the NCAA said.
Penn State must also reduce 10 initial and 20 total scholarships each year for a four-year period.
The NCAA revealed the sanctions as NCAA president Mark Emmert and Ed Ray, the chairman of the NCAA’s executive committee and Oregon State’s president, spoke at a news conference in Indianapolis at the organization’s headquarters.
“In the Penn State case, the results were perverse and unconscionable. No price the NCAA can levy will repair the damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims,” Emmert said, referring to the former Penn State defensive coordinator convicted of 45 counts of child sex abuse last month.
The NCAA said the $60 million was equivalent to the average annual revenue of the football program. The NCAA ordered Penn State to pay the penalty funds into an endowment for “external programs preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims and may not be used to fund such programs at the university.”
As far as NCAA punishments go, and the severity of Penn State’s actions (and the consequences of those actions against others), I can’t really say that the NCAA is being too hard on Penn State here. I can reiterate my previously held view, however, that vacating wins is dumb. Previous players who had nothing to do with the events back in yesteryear should not have their wins taken away. Because, you know, they won. And unlike in other cases, nobody cheated. We can’t even say “but they might not have won without that ineligible player, so we must vacate” as we can in other instances. I think it’s a bad idea regardless because wins are wins and losses are losses, but I think it’s particularly bad in this case.
The rationale in this case almost certainly has to do with a strong desire to deny Joe Paterno his perch as the winningest coach in college football. I can very, very much appreciate the sentiment. But you know what Joe Paterno is? The college football coach who has won more games than anyone else..
The big concern, though, isn’t the vacated wins. It’s the apparent lack of due process. (more…)
A long while back, I used to take calls for CignalTV, a cable and/or satellite provider. It was a short-lived, but surprisingly interesting experience. A fifteen minute call from a mentally handicapped guy who wanted to describe what he was seeing on the NASA channel. The angry customer who came to like me so much that he demanded to be given my “personal office number” and then started screaming at me again when I told him that there was no way to contact me directly. The redneck who was outraged that chocolate erotica had been ordered on his account (the other porn he was fine with, that one he wanted removed). And, sadly, a whole lot of cases of people who were paying for television they quite simply could not afford.
One case involved a guy who was calling because his satellite didn’t work. We’re always instructed to ask the last time it worked. He responded never. His account was six months old. It never worked? Never worked. You’ve been paying $90 a month (he had the everything package), it’s never worked, and you’re just now calling (phrased differently)? Yup. Well, we drill down and discover that he was never eligible for service in the first place. He was upset because we could only give him three months of his payments back. I was largely unsympathetic because I thought he was an idiot who was paying almost $100 for something that he never cared whether it was working or not.
All of this to bring me back to my chore today. Our satellite TV has been out of commission. And, per the script, they asked me how long it had been out. I didn’t really know the answer. A month? Six weeks? I don’t watch a whole lot of TV in the summer. If it wasn’t for the return of Burn Notice and Suits, I probably wouldn’t have called until football season was around. Like me with the idiot, they were flabbergasted that I could go so long without calling. One of them was skeptical. Per the script, they kept telling me “We know how frustrating this is, and we’re doing our best to get your service up and running as quickly as possible.” I told one of them “Ma’am, I’m as cool as a cucumber. Don’t worry about me being irate.” It was in the script, though, so she kept saying it anyway.
They’re going to be sending someone around on Monday. The reception is deader than dead.
When I initially called, they said I owed them $160, which is almost four months worth of satellite. That made me fear that the autopayments hadn’t been going through and that I was cut off for lack of payment. It turned out that, for the second year straight, I was caught off-guard by being automatically re-enrolled in the college football gamepack.
Anyhow, back to the subject at hand, if I’d realized six weeks ago how little TV I would be watching in the summer, I might have cancelled satellite altogether, or put it on hold. Early this year I downgraded to the lowest half-decent plan available. I’ll be upgrading back in time for the sports season.
Rush Limbaugh apparently thinks it is not a coincidence that the main villain of the new Batman movie will be Bane, homonymous with the name of Mitt Romney’s former company:
So, anyway, this evil villain in the new Batman movie is named Bane. And there’s now a discussion out there as to whether or not this is purposeful and whether or not it will influence voters. It’s gonna have a lot of people. This movie, the audience is gonna be huge. A lot of people are gonna see the movie, and it’s a lot of brain-dead people, entertainment, the pop culture crowd, and they’re gonna hear Bane in the movie and they’re gonna associate Bain. The thought is that when they start paying attention to the campaign later in the year, and Obama and the Democrats keep talking about Bain, Romney and Bain, that these people will think back to the Batman movie, “Oh, yeah, I know who that is.” (laughing) There are some people who think it’ll work. Others think you’re really underestimating the American people to think that will work.
As others have pointed out, the character predates this election by nearly twenty years. A little more interestingly, there are comparatively few conservative comic book writers out there, but it just so happens that Bane was created by one of them: Chuck Dixon.
Not to defend Limbaugh, because he clearly has no idea what he’s talking about and seems largely uninterested except in the phonetic angle, it’s theoretically possible that that Bane and Bain are connected. They might have, for instance, chosen to use Bane as the villain of the upcoming movie as a partisan potshot. Early on, the villain was actually slated to be a guy named Black Mask. Then it became Bane. Coincidence? To be perfectly honest, I don’t expect much different from Hollywood. The problem is that it falls apart after even a little inspection.
The truth is, if they were willing to sacrifice their art for the sake of partisanship, Black Mask would have been the way to go. Black Mask was born Roman Sionis, the scion of a wealthy Gotham family who could never live up to his family name. He has a fixation with masks. It would be remarkably easy to make a movie featuring Black Mask as a marquee villain and make him look a lot like Mitt Romney. It would require leading the movie to go somewhere other than where it appears to be going (Bane appears to be down with the 99%). But hey, what’s a plot when you can score political potshots? (At least, that’s what Limbaugh is implying.)
The choosing of Bane as a villain isn’t air-tight, though. First, they stripped him of his origin, more or less. One of the few minority villains out there (Bane is Latin American) and they remade him British. That’s a disappointment, not just for the sake of diversity, but because I’m sick of villains with British accents (even muffled ones). The only think that comic book Bane and movie Bane appear to have in common is their name and a propensity for strategic thinking. This is the opposite of Bane from the previous franchise, who had the origin and appearance (more or less), but was disappointingly a drooling idiot. Even with all of this in mind, though, if you need a mastermind with brute force, Bane is a pretty natural selection.
In any event, this turns out not to be the first time that Limbaugh has taken aim at fellow conservative Chuck Dixon. A long while back, Dixon had a character named Link Rambeau that was clearly patterned on Rush. Apparently Rush got wind of it and condemned it, without regard to the context of Rambeau’s appearance. The plotline involved a ridiculously liberal psychologist making the rounds on talk shows. The psychologist was clearly an idiot (he was trying to say that the Joker was merely misunderstood) and Rambeau opposed this train of logic. In other words, Rambeau was right and the characterization not really unflattering in any meaningful sense.
The other day I watched a documentary about Redstone and its mining history (among other things). I’m not going to name the movie, though if you’re genuinely interested in seeing it, shoot me and email and I’ll tell you privately. I’m breaking down my observations into three or four posts. This is the third, the first is here and the second here. You (obviously) don’t need to have seen the film to understand what I’m talking about.
The Company’s execs actually lived in Redstone. Go to the downtown area and you can see their mansions. Nobody who can afford a mansion wants to live downtown anymore, and so they’ve been converted into hotels or subdivided into co-op apartments (it helps that they’re near the university).
Because of this, it was a bit of a surprise to see that they put up the smelters in the city, rather than having them located somewhere else. Smelters are, essentially, smoke-stacks used in the extraction process. They generate a lot of polution. There were a lot of them out in Redstone’s little sister town, Blackrock. Blackrock retained one of them as a monument, but they’re all gone from Redstone, so I didn’t know they had ever been there.
Anyhow, I found it strange that they would put them in town rather than moving them out to somewhere else, since the executives themselves had to breathe the air. I guess NIMBY wasn’t around yet.