Video Game Redux

The poor sap who watched 24 hours of video game movies has posted his experiences here. He was inspired by Eli Roth’s 24-hour horror marathon idea (meh) and asked what others would consider for a 24-hour movie theme.

First of all, 24 hours of anything is a lot. 24 hours of movies is … almost unthinkable. My mom used to do a Shogun marathon, where she showed the entire 10-hour saga in one day. That was craziness. I’ve sat through a few double-features in my day, but mostly short movies. (Two back-to-back Charlie Chaplins, for example, is a cakealk. I saw War of the Worlds and When Worlds Collide on a double-feature as a kid and that worked all right.)

The After Dark Horror Festival was a lot to endure (my recap here) and it was only eight movies (far short of 24 hours) spread out of three days! And with 40 minute breaks between each film, during which The Boy and I were pretty active.

But say one was going to inflict a 24-hour film festival upon one’s self. I don’t think I’d go with a genre theme. Too tiring. (The exception might be westerns, since there have been so many of them made, you could have horse operas, melodramas, musicals, romantic comedies, horror, and even sci-fi and porn.) But in general, no genre.

Instead, go with a person. I saw a great film series of movies shot by James Wong Howe (40 years as a cinematographer). Or Mel Gibson (action, comedy, drama). Hitchock would be easy. You could do a Judy Garland theme, but you’d want to watch them chronologically backwards so that you could end with high-energy optimism instead of increasing depression over what Hollywood can do to great talents. How about Jack Palance? (Shane, Batman (1989), City Slickers, The Professionals (1966), Without Warning, Cyborg 2, etc.) Get even more obscure, like using the late Charles Lane who was in over 100 movies.

Or go abstract. You could do a Kevin Bacon type thing and figure out what movies you wanted to watch, then connect them in improbable ways. You know, like, “24 Hours of Movies That Won’t Make Me Homicidal By The Last One”. Just a thought.

The System Works! Yeah?

I did my taxes a couple of weeks ago. I made substantially more money (about 1/3 more) than in 2006, so I paid substantially more in taxes (double or triple).

So, the system works.

Hooray?

Here’s a fun bit of snark on the black market most of us deal in from an anarchy site.

I wonder if blogging qualifies as part of the black-market. There are professional commentators after all….

Smartest Show Ever?

Granted, my list was off-the-cuff and not meant in any way to be definitive, but this blog points out an omission of grievous proportions in my top ten “smart” shows.

“Rocky and Bullwinkle”.

And I was thinking a lot about putting “The Powerpuff Girls” in there, which was a very smart cartoon.

It also points out that the guy claims to watch 10 hours of TV a day. For a smart guy, he’s an idiot.

Randal Schwarz Talks Squeak/EToys on the XO

Randal Schwarz, Perl expert/Smalltalk convert, talks about Etoys running on the XO (the One Laptop Per Childmachine) over at Lab With Leo.

Randal runs through the moving a car/steering a car warhorse–which, if you’ve seen a demo of Etoys, ever, that’s the one you’ve seen–but this is a very good quality video and sound, and a nice energy.

Emphasis is on tech, naturally, so it probably won’t help to stem the tide of “What do third world kids need computers for?” challenges, but he does mention that you can steer a car on someone else’s computer. That I’d like to see!

Mensa’s Top 10

Red Eye is talking about the “smartest” TV shows, according to Mensa President M. R. Knowitall. The list is uninspired. I liked these shows,but “M*A*S*H” wasn’t smart so much as reinforcing a particular political point of view. (This can be applied to several shows on the list.) I mean, for a show about war, it was phenomenally stupid about how war is actually conducted. And “CSI” uses science slightly less rigorously than “Star Trek” did.

Of course, I have to wonder how someone claiming to be so smart could also have a broad enough experience with The Vast Wasteland to put together a truly authoritative list. It takes a moron who has destroyed his brain with countless hours of TV viewing to do that.

And with that in mind, I’ll throw out a few “smart” shows. But first I’m going to exclude science, history and other non-fiction programs because duh. “Cosmos” was great, and smart, but being about science, it could’ve sucked and still been smart, being about science and all. I’m also going to stick to American programming, if for no other reason than to keep things manageable. (“Doctor Who” gets an honorable mention anyway.)

Dennis Miller Live. So smart even he didn’t get his own humor.

Mystery Science Theater 3000. You heard me. The beauty of the show was the way it jumped from the highly intelligent to the wonderfully juvenile and back in seconds.

Playhouse 90. Brilliant writing that survived horrible butchery in the form of sponsor censorship.

The Simpsons. The early seasons in particular not only referenced highly erudite material, but was one of the great social satires ever written.

NBC News Overnight. News programs–network news shows with TelePrompTer are almost unrelentingly stupid–but this one was an exception that not only looked at stories with a bit more depth, it didn’t treat the audience like they were stupid. I lost a lot of sleep as a kid the summer and fall when it was on.

Futurama. Steeped in science and physics with two codes (so far) embedded into the program for interested cryptographers.

Northern Exposure. This comedy was smart enough to get an Emmy for best drama. Which I guess means more that the Emmy voters were stupid. (Or was it Golden Globes?)

Deadwood. This was a challenging show on a lot of levels. The dialog was a mixture of obscenities and pseudo-victorian-cant that often required several viewings to parse and then several more to actually comprehend.

America/Fernwood 2 Night. They mentioned this on Red Eye. I’m going on largely positive memories that I have. After 30 years, it might not seem as smart as it did at the time.

I would give the guy Jeopardy, but it’s not really any smarter than, say, Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? The questions are harder, sure, for some definition of “hard”, but I actually think, if you’re going to include game shows, the smarter ones–in terms of challengng the viewer–are things like “Wheel of Fortune” or “The Price Is Right”.

‘cause, look, if you don’t know the name of Alexander the Great’s horse, you don’t know it. (It was Bocephalus. Go look it up!) But you might be able to figure out the “popular catch phrase” with one more letter, or make a strategic guess about the price of a reclining armchair, even if you haven’t gone shopping lately or seen “Saturday Night Live” since it was funny.

So, I’m gonna round out my ten with Maverick. Interspersed amongst the gun fights and fistfights was a character who would go out of his way to avoid both, and it often had plots that kept you guessing often enough that you were surprised when the plot was resolved with some sort of violence.

These shouldn’t be confused with “best” shows, either, although they were darn good, and many of them are going to appear on some folks’ top ten lists. And I can think of a few other really smart shows, like “Moonlighting”, and a whole boatload of shows that started smart and ended stupid. (“X-Files” anyone?)

But hey, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Blake’s First Rule Of Prognostication

I used to be a pundit, of sorts, of technical matters. I wrote an back-page editorial for a German magazine for years in which I talked about various issues and how I saw the tech world unfolding.

I was very bad at–and soon stopped attempting to–see the future. However, I have observed that some people can make lots of money and press by pretending to see the future. And I see what my major error was. I was always trying to predict details about what was right around the corner. What was going to happen in the next six, twelve or eighteen months. You can’t do that, of course, because it makes it too easy to check on your results.

If you want to be a successful fortune teller (and get the money and PR for it), you have to predict the big things that are going to happen, and they should be about 20 years out. Seven years is bold, but still pretty safe, and 100 years is too far to care.

So, my first rule of prognostication is this: Successful fortune-telling requires seeing things far enough into the future that you can avoid being checked on.

Indeed, most of the environmental “terrors” I’ve seen in my life have been predicted twenty years out. In the 1990s, we were supposed to be out of raw materials, most especially oil. There were supposed to be 20 billion people on the planet. And the new ice age was to be upon us.

The exception was nuclear winter, which required a hypothetical situation that virtually guaranteed no one would be able to check the results.

Heh. I got so to ranting I forgot what made me think this. (Via Instapundit.)

Human-equivlaent AI predicted by 2029 [link to BBC article].

We needed a new AI prediction because the last time I recall such a prediction was 1989. Now that everyone’s forgotten that one, we can move on to the new prediction.

There is a segment of Christians, I’m sure, that has been predicting the Second Coming, every generation 100 times over. My dad used to do some (data processing) work for Morris Cerullo, who was predicting it in the early ‘80s.

But some would have you believe that only the religious believe in false prophets.

This Just In: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

Fidel Castro has resigned, apparently, according to Fox News.

You know, The Motorcycle Diaries is really an excellent film, but you have to forget what Che Guevara grew up to be. It’d make an interesting double feature with Andy Garcia’s The Lost City.

Anyway, yeah, Castro. Worker’s Paradise. Best pal of a lot of Hollywood stars. Creator of a nation-state so great, people float over shark-infested waters on doors to escape it. Go figger.

For myself, I think Cuba would make a great 51st state. But I’m just imperialistic that way.

The New Old “Star Trek”

I’m not a Trekkie (nor Trekker) but I do have an essay on the joy of “hams” lurking in my head.

However, I do like the new special effects enhanced “Star Trek”. They were very smart about it: Flat mono sound cleaned up and given some depth, lighting made a little more vivid, exterior space ship shots cleaned up and smoothed out–but nothing (or very little) apparently added or redesigned. It’s all ‘60s futurism in all its dated glory.

I suppose it wouldn’t have fit Lucas’ vision to do this with Star Wars, but it’s a nice compromise: less than a complete overhaul and more akin taking the scratches out of your old LPs.

Working for the Weekend

One of many songs I never heard in the ‘80s. It wasn’t until it appeared on a “greatest hits” twenty years later that I heard it.

But I digress. The Boy, unlike his parents or any one in his family (going back 3-4 generations) is something of a mogul. We sent him to take some classes on money over the summer, but the best these guys had was “Open an IRA and don’t buy anything. 50 years from now, you can retire!”

So, we decided to send him here. And that’s pretty much taking up this weekend. I’ll try to get the Cloverfield review up tomorrow, though. And I’ll put up my thoughts on the class, too, for those who are interested.

Enjoy your weekend!