There’s a new teaser trailer for Constantine, the extremely loose adaptation of Hellblazer that stars Keanu Reeves as an American occult investigator in Atlanta. Who carries some kind of gold cross-shaped shotgun-thingy with a rotary magazine, that he occasionally lights with an eldritch Zippo.
I’m going by the teaser here, because I refuse to have anything to do with this turkey. It’s not a question of “will it suck?”, but “precisely how much will it suck?”. Based on the sub-Keanu-grade acting in the teaser, I think it’s going to be the worst comic-book movie yet. And it may hold the title for several years.
I put 150 miles on my new motorcycle today. No pictures, yet, because I was too busy improving my skills.
Kind of embarrassing, really. I made it through the MSF Basic RiderCourse with no problems, and a bunch of test rides on different bikes, but when I rode out into traffic on my own bike, I stalled it at least a dozen times trying to get into first gear. That’s why yesterday’s ride primarily took place in a parking lot down the street.
Today was fine, though. Drove around the neighborhood for a few minutes to convince myself that I was past that little shifting problem, then headed up to BMW of Santa Cruz County in Watsonville, to pick up a Wunderlicht rear-seat bag. The F650CS comes with a decent-sized tank bag, but I wanted a little more storage while I figure out what sort of hard luggage I’m going to install (BMW has a top case, but it’s been delayed; Riderhaus has a very sturdy-looking mount for Krauser side and top cases, but they’re ugly; Happy Trails seems to be the best of the bunch, with a custom mount for Givi side and top cases).
Next stop, the Borders in Seaside, which was an uneventful trip down Highway 1. Picked up the obligatory copy of the Return of the King DVD, then decided to find out if I was up for something a bit more twisty, Carmel Valley Road. Early on, some clown in a pickup truck decided that the van ahead of me was moving too darn slow, so he passed us both on a double yellow. Never saw him again, and the van turned off soon, so I pretty much had the road to myself. I went a little wide on one turn, the sure sign of a novice rider, but it wasn’t until about a minute later that a Miata came zooming along in the other direction, so I got the lesson without the adrenalin or the damage.
Around 3pm, the wind really picked up, so I decided to cut over to 101 at Greenfield. Same wind, and faster traffic, but on a road that I know well, with no surprises. Besides, it gave me an excuse to see how fast I could go without exceeding the 5000rpm limit recommended for the break-in period. The bike claimed 80mph, but my GPS insisted I was only going 75. Top speed is supposed to be in the 110 range, but I think I’ll wait a bit to test that.
Tomorrow? Well, I sort of took half the week as vacation, so I can do whatever I want. There’s an MSF course layout painted on a parking lot down at the rodeo grounds, so I’ll stop there for some quick-stop and tight turn practice, and then I think Point Lobos would make a nice backdrop for pictures of the bike.
Oh, yeah; my throttle hand is cramped, my butt is sore, my left calf is hurting from the effort of keeping the bike upright when I tried to walk it through a tight u-turn on a dead-end street at the top of a hill (novice, remember?), and I really need to pack the earplugs next time, but I can fill the gas tank for less than $9, and I had fun. Guess there was something to that dream after all.
Number Watch has a real howler this month, with this scary quote from The Times:
The average 11-year-old girl now has a waist that is 2 inches bigger than that of a typical adult women 60 years ago.
The goal, of course, is to support a ban on junk-food ads in the UK, as part of the War on The Concept of Personal Responsibility Obesity. The problem?
2004 - 60 = 1944
Yes, it’s true. Families in the UK today are not faced with the severe food rationing of World War II, so their children will not grow up scrawny and malnourished. Hey, some of them might even be fat, but at least they can be, now.
…only clever high-school seniors will have guns (scroll to bottom of story). Designing and building your own AR-15; now that’s a class project!
Pity he didn’t make an M-1, though.
Update: the local newspaper doesn’t have online archives, so the story is already toast. Google does have a link to the school board minutes covering his project plan, so I’ve replaced it with that (scroll to the bottom). He has since finished the project, although he was unable to bring anything but a photo-essay to school to show off.
Short version: his name is David Bartlemay, and he’s headed into the Marines after graduation, with a goal of working presidential security.
…screwed-up high school students will attack their peers with crossbows and Molotov cocktails.
So, after my Thursday riding plans were cancelled by a database crash, and my group scheduled an all-hands meeting for Friday afternoon, I decided to take the bike into work to show it off. Officially, I’m on vacation, so I was really just riding 70 miles, hanging out for an hour, and riding back. Hopefully getting past San Jose before the southbound traffic got too heavy.
It worked, too, but I didn’t get away quite soon enough to avoid the slowdown around Morgan Hill. Coincidentally, I needed to stop for gas, so I figured I’d cut over to Monterey Road for a few miles, then get back on 101. This worked out reasonably well, but when it came time to get back on the highway, I went into the turn too fast on the on-ramp, and the bike started edging closer to the yellow line and the end of the pavement.
Suddenly, I heard the voice of one of my MSF instructors, Jim Pereyra:
"What do you do? Lean more!"
I pushed on the low grip, the bike leaned over farther, and my turning radius tightened up. One of the many reasons I’m glad I got professional training before I bought my motorcycle.
Okay, this guy is a nut. Armor-plating your bulldozer and trying to demolish your home town over a zoning dispute is, well, just a touch beyond the acceptably eccentric.
Despite the fact that most of his preparations involved welding armor to his vehicle and methodically wiping out half a town with it, the fact that he was also “exchanging gunfire” with the police makes him a gunman. Yes, that’s the headline:
Gunman goes on bulldozer rampage
I’m thinking of printing up a new CNN t-shirt with the slogan “Got bias?”.
Update: The headline on the updated story now reads “Bulldozer rampage gunman dead”. No mention of anyone being injured by a single bullet during his property-destruction spree (in fact, another account mentions that he seemed to be deliberately trying to avoid injuring people), but he’s not a dozerman or an outraged small-business owner, or even just a nutcase. No, the partisan hacks at CNN see him first and foremost as a gunman.
Fox? “Crazed Man on Bulldozer Rampage Found Dead.” Their version also includes a lot more honest-to-gosh facts about the incident. Maybe there’s something to that “fair and balanced” slogan after all…
Update: a number of non-CNN accounts now cast doubt on the claims that he ever shot at the police who were trying to stop him, and have pretty much debunked the early claim that he had fired at propane tanks in an effort to trigger an explosion. Even the BBC, no stranger to “sexing-up” their reporting on the evils of guns, makes no mention of him shooting at anyone but himself. Nonetheless, it will be forever enshrined in CNN’s archives that he was a gunman, who just happened to damage a few buildings with a bulldozer.
“See, see, here it is!”
“No, we haven’t done any digging there, or carbon-dated any remains. Actually, we’ve never been there at all; it’s inside of a national park, you know. But if you interpret these satellite photos just right, it matches Plato’s description exactly!”
“Okay, we have to assume that Plato either deliberately understated the size of the city or that everyone has misinterpreted his era’s units of measurement by 20% or so, and that those goofy translators wrote ‘island’ where Plato meant ‘coastline,’ but these are trivial issues.”
“Well, trivial compared to the chance for me to get major publicity and a chance at serious funding, anyway.”
Your homework today is to decide how many of the seven warning signs of junk science this article demonstrates.
While driving up 101 yesterday, I spotted an RV with a big banner on the side advertising Golden Ring Brides. They had apparently set up their “mobile office” at the Gilroy Outlet Mall, showing off their wares and perhaps hoping for some impulse buys on discontinued merchandise and seconds. Or something like that.
It looks like a pretty typical email-order-bride service. Most of the competition seems to offer more personal details about their product line without requiring registration, but how many others will tell you about her military experience?
That’s right, every product description includes Martial status. It looks like most of them have seen only light combat in a single engagement. At least, I think that’s what they mean…
I’m not in the market myself, although I do enjoy kicking tires, which makes the omission of personal details a real bummer. It’s fun to read a few dozen future-fiancées describe the man they’re looking for, because when you boil it down, most of them are really looking for a dog. Specifically, a Golden Retriever.
These are lovable, well-mannered, intelligent dogs with a great charm. They are easily trained, and always patient and gentle with children. Loyal, confident, sweet and eager to please. It is active, loving and an outstanding family dog. Golden Retrievers enjoy pleasing their masters, so obedience training can be fun. They excel in obedience competitions. Friendly with everyone, including other dogs, the Golden Retriever has very little, if any, guarding instincts. While unlikely to attack, Goldens make good watchdogs, loudly signaling a stranger's approach. This breed needs to be around people to be happy. If isolated from human contact, or left alone for long periods of time, the Golden Retriever may become mischievous. They can be over-exuberant and distractible. Some of the Golden's talents are hunting, tracking, retrieving, narcotics detection, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks. These dogs also love to swim.
Last thoughts about Golden Ring: their logo is, um, rather disturbing from the man’s point of view, Alexandra Shorina could make a bundle as a pin-up model or (exotic) dancer, if she’s not already doing so, and Julia Kruglova looks like a real catch. Something about the way she smiles.
But she’ll be a catch for someone else, because I’m not currently interested in marrying women who are already here, much less going to the trouble to import one.
Rode into work this afternoon (through ridiculous winds), and took advantage of the late afternoon sun to get a few pictures of the bike on campus. More coming, once I coax Photoshop into doing batch conversion of Olympus ORF-format raw data files. And buy a bigger CompactFlash card to hold them…
[ah, the joys of arguing with friends; this little anecdote was originally composed for a mailing list of the friends I play card and board games with on weekends, one of whom described tort reform as “crippling the justice system”]
A few years back, I was foreman on a jury in the civil suit that came out of a car accident. A commercial driver ran a red light and hit some woman’s car, causing damage and injury. The insurance companies had already settled the car damage, the company and their driver openly took full responsibility, and the woman wasn’t seriously injured.
We nitpicked every line-item of her medical bills, knocking out some of the physical therapy and correcting their arithmetic. And then we gave her $20,000 for pain and suffering.
Personally, I thought that the number should have been $0, because they never disputed their responsibility or tried to evade paying for her legitimate medical bills. Maybe I’d have given her money for legal fees and other expenses if they’d tried to avoid paying, but they didn’t; their driver made a mistake, and they handled it properly.
I know I tend to have a somewhat… forceful personality, so I carefully hid my feelings on the subject and asked the rest of the jury if they thought she deserved any money for pain and suffering. Everyone said yes, and I asked if $1,000 was the right amount. By the time I got up to $5,000, I think three people agreed, but it wasn’t until I hit $20,000 that everyone was convinced it was enough.
I then asked if anyone thought $20,000 was excessive. No one spoke up. The immigrant-owned small business didn’t have great insurance, or they wouldn’t have been the defendants. They didn’t have much cash, or they’d probably have settled out of court. But we didn’t talk about the impact our decision would have on them; we talked about our own experiences with injuries and accidents, and how it feels to recover from them.
And that’s what I think about when someone mentions tort reform. There’s a good chance we crippled that small business, and no one even thought about it.
How many times does this happen every day, and how many times is it worse? By an order of magnitude or more? If we’d been dealing with the representative of a deep-pockets insurance company, would we have given her even more? How much more?
Richard Simmons never struck me as the sort of person who’d respond to criticism with physical violence, but when a burly 6-foot biker and cage fighter started making fun of his exercise videos at an autograph signing, he did.
Burly. 6-foot. Biker. Cage fighter. Richard Simmons. Smackdown.
The world is stranger than we imagine.
In the service of Sheila A-Stray’s Redheaded Ramblings, I once again assert my Internet Lemminghood.
1. Your favorite song with the name of a city in the title or text.
New York, New York, Sinatra. In my college days, I’d occasionally mock my fellow students by strutting across campus with my Big-Eighties Boombox mounted on my shoulder, blasting out this tune with the volume set to “stun”. These days I do much the same with Mel Tormé’s Too close for comfort when I find myself at a stop light or in a gas station with someone who feels the need to share his gangsta rap with everyone in a two-block radius.
2. A song you’ve listened to repeatedly when you were depressed at some point in your life.
At seventeen. It felt so good to not be Janis Ian. Also The other end of the telescope, ’Til Tuesday with Elvis Costello. Hmm, and Sheena Easton’s cover of In the winter, a real wrist-slasher.
3. Ever bought an entire album just for one song and wound up disliking everything but that song? Gimme that song.
Jerry Jeff Walker’s Flowers in the snow, from Navajo Rug. Actually, I already had the song on a sampler, and made the mistake of thinking it was representative of the album. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
4. A great song in a language other than English.
Coisich, a rùin, Capercaillie, from Delirium.
5. Your least favorite song on one of your favorite albums of all time.
Lover’s day, ’Til Tuesday, from Welcome Home
6. A song you like by someone you find physically unattractive or otherwise repellent.
Soldier of love, Donny Osmond. I suppose he’s a good-looking guy if you’re into that sort of thing, but I just can’t get past that whole “little bit country, little bit rock and roll” thing that scarred my youth.
7. Your favorite song that has expletives in it that’s not by Liz Phair.
The Queer Song, Two Nice Girls.
8. A song that sounds as if it’s by someone British but isn’t.
Coming up blank on this one.
9. A song you like (possibly from your past) that took you forever to finally locate a copy of.
I got it from Agnes, Tom Lehrer. I had the sheet music for nearly twenty years before he released a CD that included it.
10. A song that reminds you of spring but doesn’t mention spring at all.
Full moon full of love, k.d. lang.
11. A song that sounds to you like being happy feels.
Waterloo, ABBA, in Swedish.
12. Your favorite song from a non-soundtrack compilation album.
Hotel California, Gipsy Kings, from Rubaiyat.
13. A song that reminds you of high school.
Heh. Centerfold, J. Geils Band.
14. A song that reminds you of college.
Laura, Billy Joel.
15. A song you actually like by an artist you otherwise dislike.
You oughta know, by, y’know, her.
16. A song by a band that features three or more female members.
I spent my last $10 on birth control and beer, Two Nice Girls.
17. One of the earliest songs that you can remember listening to.
My sweet Lord, George Harrison.
18. A song you’ve been mocked by friends for liking.
I want your love, Transvision Vamp. Also my complete collection of Debbie/Deborah Gibson albums.
19. A really good cover version you think no one else has heard.
Cruella deVille, The Replacements.
20. A song that has helped cheer you up (or empowered you somehow) after a breakup or otherwise difficult situation.
Tranent Muir, The Tannahill Weavers. There are days I just need to play this song REALLY REALLY LOUD.
In the latest research into the obvious, the University of Minnesota reports that “organic” produce grown in manure is more likely to test positive for fecal contamination than conventional produce.
Remember, you are what you eat. Personally, I’m a synthetic pesticide.
What don’t I like? The current lack of support for hard luggage. BMW’s top case has been delayed due to mounting problems (and now that I’ve seen pictures, I understand why; the added “support brace” bolts onto the plastics, not the frame!), and is pretty small. The Happy Trails mounts for a full set of Givi cases look quite sturdy, but even if you just buy their side-case mounts, you have to take off the stock luggage-rack mount, which changes the lines of the bike. The Krauser side cases still look ugly to me, and Riderhaus seems to be in the middle of switching their online sales to Twisted Throttle. Hepco & Becker have mounts for side and top cases that look nice, but not only do you have to relocate your turn signals for the side mounts, there’s also just enough of a design change in the ’05 bikes that only one of their side-case styles will fit.
So, if I give up on the side cases for now, there are two basic options: Hepco & Becker and Givi. Unlike the current mount for the BMW case, both of these have supports that bolt onto the frame, and the cases you can mount are a lot larger (up to a 45 liter Givi scooter case or a 48 liter H&B). The price is about the same. I’m leaning slightly toward the Givi.
What’s the problem with side cases and bags? The gas cap. It’s located on the right side, below the passenger seat (where the logo is on the left side). All the standard products cover this space; many soft saddlebags would also extend through the space occupied by the luggage rack. The Happy Trails and Krauser side mounts partially obscure the rear turn signals; the H&B relocates them. Of course, the F650GS has the same design, but everyone’s worked around it; the CS seems to be the redheaded stepchild in the current BMW lineup.
Update: Still looking for a good Saki or Beemah graphic to use, but for now, I think I’ll go with this image from the free Girl Genius Holiday Gift Tag collection:
Of course, if someone else pops a mimmoth, he’d add mine to his collection, but that joke will only make sense to people who’ve played the Girl Genius card game.
Someone forwarded the story of the “lone Chernobyl motorcyclist” to Steven Den Beste, which naturally resulted in a lengthy and interesting article that has very little to do with Chernobyl, motorcycles, or the common Internet tendency to share wonderful, unlikely things with everyone you know.
I’m going to go in a different direction.
I received an unwanted call this morning that fell into that gray area of “maybe I’m a telemarketer, maybe I’m someone who’s exempt from the do-not-call list,” and I hung up on them with the following statement:
"Sorry, gotta run, my ham's exploding."
It was, too. Little cubes of ham were flying out of the skillet onto the counter and floor. Guess they weren’t kidding about that “water added” on the label.
First, an annoyance. The main character’s first name is Chitose, chi-toe-say. In the dub (and the previews that appear on other DVDs), this becomes Cheetos. Everyone calls him this, even the shy class president who has a crush on him and wouldn’t dream of calling him by his first name. Other than that, the dub isn’t wretched, but it’s not very good, either, and as usual you should leave the dialog in Japanese with subtitles.
Second, a clarification. The Happy Lesson manga is proceeding more slowly than the anime, and in a slightly different direction (even the main character’s name is different, but it’s still not Cheetos), but it was the first thing to come out in English. They released the TV series next, and just recently the first three OVA episodes, but I think the latter should be watched first, since they introduce two characters who aren’t in the manga and just show up out of the blue in the TV series. The first episode of the TV series is an alternate edit of the OVA opener, but the rest is different, and develops the cast a lot more.
Third, it doesn’t really end, because they made a second season (as yet not officially licensed for US release).
With all that out of the way, what’s it like? Well, imagine a typical harem comedy where beautiful women move into a house with a hapless teenage boy and compete for his affections. Got that in your head? Okay, now throw out the romance angle, and replace it with motherly affection. And make the five sexy roommate-mothers his schoolteachers. Add in a shy-but-stacked classmate as the real love interest, two old friends from the orphanage Our Hero lived in until recently, and (eventually) a socially-phobic mad scientist, and, as they say, “wackiness ensues”.
Yes, that’s nine females fussing over poor Chitose, but their looks and personalities are distinct and interesting, and all of them get at least a little bit of character development. Another sharp departure from the harem anime tradition is the relative lack of fan-service; the women are lushly drawn, but outside of the bath, their clothes stay on, their skirts stay down, their breasts remain ungroped, and the boys aren’t popping nosebleeds all over the place in response to a quick flash.
The plot, such as it is, that ties things together is the lovestruck classmate’s attempts to both discover what Chitose is hiding about his home life and to reveal her feelings to him. It builds up nicely as the series progresses, and ends with major achievements toward both goals, which, unfortunately, are abruptly reversed in the final scene. I had that “Bobby Ewing steps out of the shower” feeling as the writers hit reset and prepared for the next season.
It’s light and fluffy, but well done, and a refreshing take on the harem clichés. I’ll definitely pick up any additional releases in this series. But I’m kinda pissed about that last scene.
I don’t have much practical use for a lighter, but I like carrying one around to assert my membership in a tool-using species (I also carry a pocket-knife, but have found no good excuse so far to carry around a wheel). So, when the folks at Zippo added a small cell-phone-style belt clip to their catalog, I was interested.
It’s crap. The clip snapped off of the damn thing within two days.
…only outlaws will have Captain America, I suppose. Cartoonist Scott Kurtz just discovered the hard way that a lot of the Left-leaning people who’ve been accused of hating America really do hate America. Even Captain America.
Last night, after the day started to wind down I logged into my favorite virtual world for some escape time. The City of Heroes game has been my online diversion of choice as of late. I really enjoy the game a lot.
I've tried just about every character type and I'm settling on my favorites. Last night, for fun, I decided to make myself a Captain America type hero...you know, go the whole patriotic route.
The typical reaction when his red, white, and blue hero appeared in public? “Ugh. I hate our country.” “How can you wave a flag of a country that kills other countries for oil we already have.” “Bush is an idiot.”
Kurtz’s response? A series of macros to quickly counter the reflexive anti-Americanism he’s running into. My favorite?
"I defeated Hitler's reanimated body to defend your freedom to say that."
Let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that one had recently had an unpleasant encounter with some pavement. And, purely for the sake of argument, let’s say that the clothing one was wearing mostly protected one’s body from being damaged by this encounter, but allowed a relatively small patch of skin to be, in the vernacular, “rubbed raw.”
What over-the counter remedies would one find best suited to dealing with this situation? My list (which isn’t at all hypothetical, more’s the pity):
First-aid products might not be a sexy market, but they’ve improved a lot since I last fell off of a two-wheeled vehicle, sometime in the early Seventies.
After reaching the end of Angelic Layer, I found myself thinking about the unsatisfying conclusion to Mahoromatic, and I think I finally understand how it went wrong.
Warning: severe spoilers for Mahoromatic ahead. Safe for people currently watching Angelic Layer (hinthint). I’ll defer a full discussion of that ending for a while. I want to go back and watch the whole thing again first.
Got dragged into an argument by some frothing Lefties who reached multiple orgasms during Michael Moore’s new propaganda flick, and found a song running through my head:
999 shells filled with mustard gas,
999 known WMDs,
put one down, into the ground,
998 shells filled with mustard gas.