bjarvis: (Default)
We saw the latest movie in the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek Beyond, on Sunday. General review: Not bad, to my surprise.

I hated the first movie. Beyond what I thought was a calculated snub to Gene Roddenberry and his vision, it simply had so many internal contradictions from bad script writing that watching it makes me cringe even as the endless lens flares make me nauseated. I'm willing to accept some contrivances for the purposes of science fiction (eg. warp drive, artificial gravity, etc.) but I can't ignore stunningly obvious problems (eg. Spock watching the destruction of Vulcan as though he were sitting on a nearby asteroid rather than in another star system several light-years away).

Star Trek Into Darkness was a bit better but tried far too hard to shoe in elements from The Wrath of Khan. It had a couple of nice twists but again it fell down where the physical universe just wouldn't cooperate with film-making: if the Enterprise was crippled some 230,000km from Earth and so close to the moon (visible in the background), it was more likely to fall to the moon than Earth. Even if it did fall towards Earth, it would take days to drift into the atmosphere rather than less than five minutes. I could go on for several pages more, but you get the drift.

Star Trek Beyond had better timing and some good plot twists. We also had some relatively good character development so a few characters finally seemed to be fully-fleshed people instead of two dimentional cardboard replacements of actors from the original TV series.
Spoilers below! )
And finally, the biggest mystery of all: Why does anyone keep giving James Kirk ships? Has he ever returned one intact? Seriously, I would not lend the man a pen, let alone a car.

Still, it was overall engaging and I can close my eyes for the most egregious issues. And it seemed much truer to Gene's vision than the prior two installments. I think this one could even earn his endorsement if he was still alive. Well done.
bjarvis: (Default)
Yesterday evening, we saw "The Dark Knight Rises," the latest & final installment in this latest Batman series.

I kinda liked it. Oscar-worthy? I can't think who or why any of the primary characters might be considered for an Oscar. It was an OK movie with a competent and professional cast but I didn't see anything which rises to the level of an Oscar.

Minor spoiler behind the cut, in case you haven't seen the movie yet. )

Lazy Sunday

Aug. 3rd, 2008 07:52 pm
bjarvis: (avatar)
I didn't sleep in too much this morning but I wasn't in any hurry to get out of bed either.

Much of the morning was spent doing minor maintenance on my laptop and our square dance calling laptop, adding a bunch of recently acquired singing calls to the inventory. Backups are in progress too.

Dave R. from Baltimore dropped by for a few hours just after noon. Along with Debs & Jason, we headed over to the Tastee Diner for a quickly lunch, then retired back to our living room to vegetate and chat.

Shortly after 2 PM, Dave headed back to Baltimore while [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I zipped down to the Uptown Theater on Connecticut Avenue NW to see "The Dark Knight." It's an OK movie --once we got past 25 minutes of previews, that is. Yes, the movie runs a little long (2.5 hours) and is relatively violent but the majority of the violence fits the plot & character development and the story moves along briskly.

I'll now commit an act of heresy: Heath Ledger was OK. Just OK. He wasn't brilliant in this movie, it's not (IMHO) up to Oscar Award standards and he's not the best actor of our or any other generation. He was just... OK. Competent and his role well-executed. I thought Aaron Eckhard did a better job frankly, but it wasn't Oscar-winning material either.

I'm planning to spend the rest of the evening relaxing as much as possible, perhaps some minor non-work-related reading.

Lazy Sunday

Aug. 3rd, 2008 07:52 pm
bjarvis: (avatar)
I didn't sleep in too much this morning but I wasn't in any hurry to get out of bed either.

Much of the morning was spent doing minor maintenance on my laptop and our square dance calling laptop, adding a bunch of recently acquired singing calls to the inventory. Backups are in progress too.

Dave R. from Baltimore dropped by for a few hours just after noon. Along with Debs & Jason, we headed over to the Tastee Diner for a quickly lunch, then retired back to our living room to vegetate and chat.

Shortly after 2 PM, Dave headed back to Baltimore while [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr, [livejournal.com profile] kent4str and I zipped down to the Uptown Theater on Connecticut Avenue NW to see "The Dark Knight." It's an OK movie --once we got past 25 minutes of previews, that is. Yes, the movie runs a little long (2.5 hours) and is relatively violent but the majority of the violence fits the plot & character development and the story moves along briskly.

I'll now commit an act of heresy: Heath Ledger was OK. Just OK. He wasn't brilliant in this movie, it's not (IMHO) up to Oscar Award standards and he's not the best actor of our or any other generation. He was just... OK. Competent and his role well-executed. I thought Aaron Eckhard did a better job frankly, but it wasn't Oscar-winning material either.

I'm planning to spend the rest of the evening relaxing as much as possible, perhaps some minor non-work-related reading.
bjarvis: (home)
We were all active fairly early this morning. [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr and I went to the groomers dropped by the barber shop to get our hair cut as well as run a few errands.

Collecting [livejournal.com profile] kent4str back at the house, the three of us went to the National Cryptologic Museum in Laurel, MD, to check out the place and see what swag was on offer at the gift shop. It isn't a large facility but it's kinda neat and unlike any other museum I've seen.

I enjoyed a brief nap in the mid-afternoon but we were up and heading into downtown Silver Spring soon enough for a 5 PM showing of "Wall-E." It was a fun and interesting flick... I love the style of animation and the story was so well executed that I occasionally even forgot it was animated. It'll make a great xmas present for a niece or nephew later in the year.

We're now loitering around the house, all with our individual laptops zipping along the Internet. We're such geeks sometimes. And more than a little disturbingly reminiscent of the humans in the film we just saw. :-)
bjarvis: (home)
We were all active fairly early this morning. [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr and I went to the groomers dropped by the barber shop to get our hair cut as well as run a few errands.

Collecting [livejournal.com profile] kent4str back at the house, the three of us went to the National Cryptologic Museum in Laurel, MD, to check out the place and see what swag was on offer at the gift shop. It isn't a large facility but it's kinda neat and unlike any other museum I've seen.

I enjoyed a brief nap in the mid-afternoon but we were up and heading into downtown Silver Spring soon enough for a 5 PM showing of "Wall-E." It was a fun and interesting flick... I love the style of animation and the story was so well executed that I occasionally even forgot it was animated. It'll make a great xmas present for a niece or nephew later in the year.

We're now loitering around the house, all with our individual laptops zipping along the Internet. We're such geeks sometimes. And more than a little disturbingly reminiscent of the humans in the film we just saw. :-)
bjarvis: (Default)
Saturday morning started earlier with a quick run to Kensington to get my hair cut, then over to Alexandria to help Skip & [livejournal.com profile] ubel_josh move into a new apartment in the same complex. They had already transferred one truckload before I arrived with the help of Jeff & Dave, Christopher and Heather; we shortly had several other truckloads of furniture transferred. Dale, Steve, Doug and [livejournal.com profile] zzbear joined in as well. In all, we had the worst of it done by the mid-afternoon.

I spent the bulk of Saturday evening attempting to upgrade the unholy trinity of Sendmail, ClamAV and SpamAssassin on my Linux box. While I can't say I made a great deal of progress, at least I've determined definitively some approaches to the upgrade won't work. Note to Novell: your implementation of /etc/sysconfig/sendmail is a neat idea but utterly broken. Please try again, kthxbye.

I called a four hour C1 dance/workshop Sunday morning & early afternoon to get our newbie C1 dancers closer to at-speed dancing before we unleash them into the greater dance community. It wasn't a complicated affair: we had only one square and took generous breaks, but it was probably the longest block of square dancing calling I've done to date and the first time I've done significant sight calling & resolution of C1. Our newest dancers did pretty darn well too, signalling verbally when we hit a call which caused hesitation or confusion so we could workshop it thoroughly.

As soon as we pushed everyone out the door, we dashed down to Arlington to collect Jeff M., then head to the Potomac Yards cinemas to catch the 4:25 PM showing of "Iron Man." It was a fun flick and Robert Downey Jr is kinda hot with the facial hair so it was a matinee ticket well spent.

Following the movie, we visited a Korean restaurant in Annandale, VA, which Jeff had researched. Good food although slightly more expensive than I was expecting. Still, Jeff treated us so I can hardly complain about that.

Once home, I made the obligatory telephone calls to my mother and grandmother. I chatted with Mom for a while but could only get Grandma's voice-mail. All is well, more or less, back in Canada.

From Sunday late afternoon, it has been raining continuously and, at times, very vigorously. There are flood watches in place until 2 PM today for low lying areas; some school districts around DC are opening late or have cancelled their classes entirely. 4500 homes were without electricity this morning. Our home is well situated to remain dry and our power remains on, but we've had intermittent loss of our satellite signal since last evening, the first time we've experienced that in years. I hope that the region's water reservoirs are now back up to par.
bjarvis: (Default)
Saturday morning started earlier with a quick run to Kensington to get my hair cut, then over to Alexandria to help Skip & [livejournal.com profile] ubel_josh move into a new apartment in the same complex. They had already transferred one truckload before I arrived with the help of Jeff & Dave, Christopher and Heather; we shortly had several other truckloads of furniture transferred. Dale, Steve, Doug and [livejournal.com profile] zzbear joined in as well. In all, we had the worst of it done by the mid-afternoon.

I spent the bulk of Saturday evening attempting to upgrade the unholy trinity of Sendmail, ClamAV and SpamAssassin on my Linux box. While I can't say I made a great deal of progress, at least I've determined definitively some approaches to the upgrade won't work. Note to Novell: your implementation of /etc/sysconfig/sendmail is a neat idea but utterly broken. Please try again, kthxbye.

I called a four hour C1 dance/workshop Sunday morning & early afternoon to get our newbie C1 dancers closer to at-speed dancing before we unleash them into the greater dance community. It wasn't a complicated affair: we had only one square and took generous breaks, but it was probably the longest block of square dancing calling I've done to date and the first time I've done significant sight calling & resolution of C1. Our newest dancers did pretty darn well too, signalling verbally when we hit a call which caused hesitation or confusion so we could workshop it thoroughly.

As soon as we pushed everyone out the door, we dashed down to Arlington to collect Jeff M., then head to the Potomac Yards cinemas to catch the 4:25 PM showing of "Iron Man." It was a fun flick and Robert Downey Jr is kinda hot with the facial hair so it was a matinee ticket well spent.

Following the movie, we visited a Korean restaurant in Annandale, VA, which Jeff had researched. Good food although slightly more expensive than I was expecting. Still, Jeff treated us so I can hardly complain about that.

Once home, I made the obligatory telephone calls to my mother and grandmother. I chatted with Mom for a while but could only get Grandma's voice-mail. All is well, more or less, back in Canada.

From Sunday late afternoon, it has been raining continuously and, at times, very vigorously. There are flood watches in place until 2 PM today for low lying areas; some school districts around DC are opening late or have cancelled their classes entirely. 4500 homes were without electricity this morning. Our home is well situated to remain dry and our power remains on, but we've had intermittent loss of our satellite signal since last evening, the first time we've experienced that in years. I hope that the region's water reservoirs are now back up to par.
bjarvis: (Default)
Friday night was unextraordinary: [livejournal.com profile] kent4str was calling A2 for the Zig Zaggers in Northern Virginia. We didn't have quiet enough for two full squares which was unfortunate because it was probably some of his best calling to date. I called a guest tip for fun.

We joined Jim & Joseph for their annual birthday bash & chilifest on Saturday afternoon. Lots of guys we've known and a few we hadn't met yet. We had a lovely time, even though I never did try the chili as I somewhat overdid lunch and wasn't hungry. After a short shopping break at Whole Paycheck, we curled up at home with DVDs of "Babylon 5" (early 4th season).

Sunday began with a meeting of the IASGDC 2009 convention committee. While this sounds like a horrible way of spending a weekend, I would point out that the meeting space was above a Kripy Kreme donut store: two dozen fresh donuts greatly helped the meeting. [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr spent billions of dollars on books while we were in the meeting so he's happy for a couple of days.

In the afternoon, we collected Jeff M from his home in Arlington and headed out to see "Cloverfield." It was a fun flick although my head was still a little wobbly from the camera work hours later. OK, there were lots of loose plot threads but that was point of the entire method of presentation: the little people on the ground never get all the answers. I'm not sure how well this movie will translate to a smaller screen though.

Today, I'm UNIX primary point-of-contact for my Dear Employer. Fortunately, I don't have to go to the office unless there's a catastrophic emergency but I do have to stay within range of my laptop. It's a kind of house arrest... better than prison but not freedom either. Ah, well... I had no plans for the day anyway.
bjarvis: (Default)
Friday night was unextraordinary: [livejournal.com profile] kent4str was calling A2 for the Zig Zaggers in Northern Virginia. We didn't have quiet enough for two full squares which was unfortunate because it was probably some of his best calling to date. I called a guest tip for fun.

We joined Jim & Joseph for their annual birthday bash & chilifest on Saturday afternoon. Lots of guys we've known and a few we hadn't met yet. We had a lovely time, even though I never did try the chili as I somewhat overdid lunch and wasn't hungry. After a short shopping break at Whole Paycheck, we curled up at home with DVDs of "Babylon 5" (early 4th season).

Sunday began with a meeting of the IASGDC 2009 convention committee. While this sounds like a horrible way of spending a weekend, I would point out that the meeting space was above a Kripy Kreme donut store: two dozen fresh donuts greatly helped the meeting. [livejournal.com profile] cuyahogarvr spent billions of dollars on books while we were in the meeting so he's happy for a couple of days.

In the afternoon, we collected Jeff M from his home in Arlington and headed out to see "Cloverfield." It was a fun flick although my head was still a little wobbly from the camera work hours later. OK, there were lots of loose plot threads but that was point of the entire method of presentation: the little people on the ground never get all the answers. I'm not sure how well this movie will translate to a smaller screen though.

Today, I'm UNIX primary point-of-contact for my Dear Employer. Fortunately, I don't have to go to the office unless there's a catastrophic emergency but I do have to stay within range of my laptop. It's a kind of house arrest... better than prison but not freedom either. Ah, well... I had no plans for the day anyway.
bjarvis: (drama)
I just don't understand the mournful hand-wringing over the recent death of Heath Ledger. More fundamentally, I don't get the whole cult of celebrity thing.

Why is Ledger's death so newsworthy? Because he was wealthy, good-looking and well-known because of his career? Is that all? I'm at a loss to figure out what else it might be. Thousands of other people make their contributions to the world and pass away quietly and with dignity but because they aren't millionaires or graced the big screen, they die anonymously and uncelebrated.

People are dying here & abroad who have contributed more to the world than the likes of, say, Anna Nicole Smith but get not one inch of newsprint. People are dying of preventable diseases, of natural calamities, of accident & misadventure but are all overlooked because of the overdose of an actor.

I'm sorry for his family but I think there are better uses for our time and energy than public displays of angst over his passing. His death is sad and unfortunate but it is not front-page news.
bjarvis: (drama)
I just don't understand the mournful hand-wringing over the recent death of Heath Ledger. More fundamentally, I don't get the whole cult of celebrity thing.

Why is Ledger's death so newsworthy? Because he was wealthy, good-looking and well-known because of his career? Is that all? I'm at a loss to figure out what else it might be. Thousands of other people make their contributions to the world and pass away quietly and with dignity but because they aren't millionaires or graced the big screen, they die anonymously and uncelebrated.

People are dying here & abroad who have contributed more to the world than the likes of, say, Anna Nicole Smith but get not one inch of newsprint. People are dying of preventable diseases, of natural calamities, of accident & misadventure but are all overlooked because of the overdose of an actor.

I'm sorry for his family but I think there are better uses for our time and energy than public displays of angst over his passing. His death is sad and unfortunate but it is not front-page news.
bjarvis: (Toronto city hall)
Sitting around the house, we caught "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" on the SciFi Channel.

I hadn't seen it before but was delighted to see so much of Toronto.

That it was overrun with zombies, shot up by goons and blown up with a 5 kiloton nuke... not so much. Still, it was a fun flick.
bjarvis: (Toronto city hall)
Sitting around the house, we caught "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" on the SciFi Channel.

I hadn't seen it before but was delighted to see so much of Toronto.

That it was overrun with zombies, shot up by goons and blown up with a 5 kiloton nuke... not so much. Still, it was a fun flick.
bjarvis: (Default)
As soon as I collect [livejournal.com profile] frauholla from the airport this evening, a crowd of a half-dozen of us is going to the AFI Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring, MD, to see Monty Python & The Holy Grail!

Lord knows how many times I've seen this movie, but never on the big screen... this will be a treat!
bjarvis: (Default)
As soon as I collect [livejournal.com profile] frauholla from the airport this evening, a crowd of a half-dozen of us is going to the AFI Silver Theater in downtown Silver Spring, MD, to see Monty Python & The Holy Grail!

Lord knows how many times I've seen this movie, but never on the big screen... this will be a treat!
bjarvis: (passport)
Although I completely destroyed our original long weekend plans, the trip wasn't an entire loss.


  • We got to see three movies we didn't have time to see thus far: The Simpsons Movie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Spider-man 3. This was largely in part because we could find nothing --absolutely nothing-- to do in Buffalo on a weekend night. Believe me, we tried.
  • Buffalo is a mixed city. It is definitely in need of revitalization and renewal in many areas but there are also some very nice neighbourhoods. The people were all unfailingly friendly and they drove in a sane fashion (ie. at or only slightly more than the speed limit, keeping right except to pass, acknowledging turn signals as a request for cooperation rather than a challenge to their masculinity, etc.).
  • We were able to find Coffee Crisp bars, so how bad can the place be?
  • We discovered lots of local history which we had previously overlooked, largely because Buffalo has always been just a border crossing point, a necessary jumping point to get to Toronto and points beyond.
  • Despite the initial & astronomically high spike in my blood pressure when we realized I had misplaced the documentation required to return to the US, we actually had a relaxing time. We kept ourselves largely amused and well-fed, and there was lots of opportunity to simply relax and unwind, even though we never did get ourselves to the hotel swimming pool or spa.

That said, I think we've largely exhausted the entertainment possibilities of the greater Buffalo area in five days of sight-seeing. If we do get trapped there again though, we know some restaurants to revisit and where to find really cheap seats for a movie.

EDIT: Photos are available here.
bjarvis: (passport)
Although I completely destroyed our original long weekend plans, the trip wasn't an entire loss.


  • We got to see three movies we didn't have time to see thus far: The Simpsons Movie, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, and Spider-man 3. This was largely in part because we could find nothing --absolutely nothing-- to do in Buffalo on a weekend night. Believe me, we tried.
  • Buffalo is a mixed city. It is definitely in need of revitalization and renewal in many areas but there are also some very nice neighbourhoods. The people were all unfailingly friendly and they drove in a sane fashion (ie. at or only slightly more than the speed limit, keeping right except to pass, acknowledging turn signals as a request for cooperation rather than a challenge to their masculinity, etc.).
  • We were able to find Coffee Crisp bars, so how bad can the place be?
  • We discovered lots of local history which we had previously overlooked, largely because Buffalo has always been just a border crossing point, a necessary jumping point to get to Toronto and points beyond.
  • Despite the initial & astronomically high spike in my blood pressure when we realized I had misplaced the documentation required to return to the US, we actually had a relaxing time. We kept ourselves largely amused and well-fed, and there was lots of opportunity to simply relax and unwind, even though we never did get ourselves to the hotel swimming pool or spa.

That said, I think we've largely exhausted the entertainment possibilities of the greater Buffalo area in five days of sight-seeing. If we do get trapped there again though, we know some restaurants to revisit and where to find really cheap seats for a movie.

EDIT: Photos are available here.
bjarvis: (avatar)
We should be in Toronto right now, but we're not. OK, fine. I'm still bitter but I'll have to deal with this situation as best possible.

The hotel is charging $10/day for Internet access --10baseT in our room-- but no charge for wireless in the lobby. Guess which I'm using.

After getting online to check what things a tourist might do in Buffalo besides visiting the place where Pres Garfield was shot or watching the house fires in North Tonawanda, we decided it was too late to do much; besides, we have all had a relatively long and annoying day so rest & relaxation was in order.

So we went to see the Simpsons movie at a cinema only a 1/2 miles for our hotel.

I liked it, although there was a couple a few rows in front of us and an unrelated group a few rows behind us who proceeded to recite the dialog of the movie from memory. WTF?! Does that what people do in Buffalo for fun? Fortunately, a cinema staffer came by to request everyone shut up but it was still annoying. Well, that and being trapped in Buffalo.

Following the movie, we slipped next door to Friendly's for a light dinner, then returned to the hotel to snooze.

Various relatives called --sometimes more than once-- offering ideas of how to potentially resolve our situation in Buffalo: having someone in DC courier up my green card (yeah, great, if only we knew where it was), perhaps begging the INS for a waiver (they're not that generous) and so on. Bless their hearts from trying... they love me so much they'll do anything to get me out of Buffalo so I can help pay for the wedding. :-)
bjarvis: (avatar)
We should be in Toronto right now, but we're not. OK, fine. I'm still bitter but I'll have to deal with this situation as best possible.

The hotel is charging $10/day for Internet access --10baseT in our room-- but no charge for wireless in the lobby. Guess which I'm using.

After getting online to check what things a tourist might do in Buffalo besides visiting the place where Pres Garfield was shot or watching the house fires in North Tonawanda, we decided it was too late to do much; besides, we have all had a relatively long and annoying day so rest & relaxation was in order.

So we went to see the Simpsons movie at a cinema only a 1/2 miles for our hotel.

I liked it, although there was a couple a few rows in front of us and an unrelated group a few rows behind us who proceeded to recite the dialog of the movie from memory. WTF?! Does that what people do in Buffalo for fun? Fortunately, a cinema staffer came by to request everyone shut up but it was still annoying. Well, that and being trapped in Buffalo.

Following the movie, we slipped next door to Friendly's for a light dinner, then returned to the hotel to snooze.

Various relatives called --sometimes more than once-- offering ideas of how to potentially resolve our situation in Buffalo: having someone in DC courier up my green card (yeah, great, if only we knew where it was), perhaps begging the INS for a waiver (they're not that generous) and so on. Bless their hearts from trying... they love me so much they'll do anything to get me out of Buffalo so I can help pay for the wedding. :-)

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