Monday, July 25, 2005

Beta Testers Needed

Hey, people. I'm looking for a half-dozen or so beta testers for CDFFL 2005, the latest version of Kevin's brainchild. For those not previously exposed, it's Fantasy Football for Dummies. There's no draft, no trades, no salary caps. Each week you simply pick the lineup you think will do best.

If you're interested in playing a very abbreviated simulated season (say, four or five weeks, each week compressed into a single day, more or less), please let me know. Extra kudos to those running less-common browsers (Opera, Safari, etc.).

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Chocolate Thunder

Those of you in the Cities (or nearby) know that it's been uncomfortably hot and muggy, and you also know that we don't have air conditioning. There's been a lot of sleeping in the near-buff, a lot of wedging fans in windows, and, this morning, a torrential thunderstorm -- which promised to leave things even muggier. So this afternoon, a movie sounded like a good idea. We went to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

It's a curious problem: how do you make "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" without drawing comparisons to the much-loved "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"? The answer, I suppose, is that you can't. You make it as different as you can, of course -- and you fill it with those incredible Tim Burton visuals -- but ultimately, you have to sit down and think about the two together.

On balance, I think I enjoyed this version more. But it was the little things that tipped the scale.

Technology has made the Oompa Loompa songs a whole lot more bearable, as has Danny Elfman (and a return to the words of Roald Dahl). Charlie and the supporting cast were, on the whole, superior. On the other hand, the necessity of cleaving closely to the book meant that the other four children on the factory tour were remarkably similar -- sometimes eerily similar -- to their earlier counterparts.

Again, dedication to the original source material made some scenes repetitive, as well -- notably the mixing room and the shrinking corridor outside of it. Not that there was anything wrong with the scene; it was just that I'd seen it all before -- at least, until the Esther Williams number in the chocolate river. That was new.

The ultimate question, of course, is: who's the better Willy Wonka? And my answer, of course, is: both of them. Depp was frighteningly good, as always: funny and creepy, and the script has given him a backstory and motivations that Gene Wilder's interpretation lacked at a surface level. On the other hand, Wilder's characterization exuded intelligence and wit, and, in the end, incredible warmth, much of which was lacking in Depp. Depp's Wonka didn't seem capable of inventing everything around him, even as Wilder's Wonka lacked any clear reason to do so.

Wilder's Wonka wouldn't have worked in this film, just as Depp's wouldn't have worked in the first version. Both were diamonds; this one had the better setting. End of story. I give it a 91, plus two extra points for the squirrel scene.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Arsi's Next Sig File

I'm not Jesus Christ, I'm Bunny

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Equal Time

I surfed over to Salon earlier to read an interview with Bruce Campbell about his latest book. Since I don't have a subscription, I opted for a day pass sponsored by the ACLU.

In order to balance this, apparently, every time I moved from page to page in the four-page article, I had to click through an MSNBC featuring a very large picture of Tucker Carlson.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Just Fantastic

This afternoon, Emma was visiting our former next-door neighbors (who now live in Hudson, Wisconsin), and Kristi had the brilliant notion of going to see "Batman Begins" at the IMAX at the Minnesota Zoo. Showtime 4:15, and she arrives in the West parking lot at 4:05. Hrm. Change of plan; we'll see it at the nice, stadium-seating multiplex near Scooter's house, where it's playing at 4:30. Only it's not playing at 4:30, it's playing at 3:20 and 7:15.

Kristi sure knows how to plan a date.

So, since we're at the theatre anyway, we end up instead seeing "Fantastic 4" at a 4:35 showing. Not as bad as would have you believe, though I doubt they'll be making the sequel they so blatantly set up. Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans were solid in their performances as Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm, respectively (and you've gotta love Stan Lee for coming up with names like those). The oddly-named Ioan Gruffudd gets the thankless task of playing the greatest stiff in all of comics, Reed Richards, and is rewarded with getting to share screentime with Jessica Alba as Sue Storm, who needs to (a) fire her hairdresser, (b) fire her acting coach, and (c) bury her lip gloss somewhere in the back yard. Sue is Richards's ex, and the current romantic focus of Richards's rival Victor Von Doom (thanks again, Stan!). And sure, she looks hot in her jumpsuit, but considering she's the apex of a lover's triangle, she's got chemistry with nobody.

No real surprises here. It was workmanlike in its approach, and ultimately delivered, but there wasn't much that made you go "Yeah!" the way both of the "Spiderman" movies have.

For Kevin, I give it a 61.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Happy "Embrace Your Geekness" Day

Yes indeedy. Thanks, Kevin, for pointing it out. I'd hate to have missed it.

My blog frequency has dropped, yeah. Mostly, I'm afraid, because of heat exhaustion. Kristi continues to maintain that it would be silly to pay for central air conditioning in Minnesota. I point out the sweat beading on her eyelashes. She hits me. (Not really.)

There's so much going on, and I have no energy to talk about it. Karl Rove, for example. There's a wealth of things to say about Karl, many of them ending with "soap on a rope," but I just don't have the heart for it. CDFFL is coming along nicely, though slowly -- and I hope some new folk will be interested in trying it out this year -- but I'm just too stinkin' hot and sweaty to bother typing about it. Bleah.

Maybe tomorrow. Right now, I need to go find someone willing to embrace my geekiness in this heat. Wish me luck.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Blogus Interruptus

Scooter has finally noticed my absence. Hallelujah.

Those of you who keep up on my life in ways other than this blog are aware of why I took a little time off. It's not something I'm going to be blogging about, so the rest of you can just remain in the dark, I suppose. Trust me when I say that you're not missing all that much.

Why I'm Glad I Don't Live In Nebraska

Let's say, hypothetically, that I did live in Nebraska, in a little town outside of Omaha, and that I were the plaintiff in a lawsuit to get my town to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a park in my little town. And let's say, hypothetically, that I wanted to sue anonymously as John Doe, because I'd already been threatened over my views on the subject of church/state separation. And let's say that the City Attorney defending the lawsuit agreed to allow me to proceed as a John Doe, presumably because the City Attorney found my reasons justified.

Let's suppose that I won, and that the city appealed, and that the case was currently before the appellate court. And let's suppose that, while the case was thus still in progress, and even though I wasn't granting any interviews about the case (in an effort to maintain my anonymity), the Omaha newspaper decided to publish my name.

And my picture.

And a picture of my license plate (and the model of my car).

And where I work. And my party affiliation. And my marital status, and the approximate age of my child.

If it were me, I might be thinking about leaving Nebraska quickly and quietly. And you know, I'm guessing that's exactly what the folks at the newspaper had in mind. Here's the story; you can log in as with password of omahayuck to read it.