Thank you for your express loan certificate that you mailed me. It arrived today, and I looked at it with some interest. However, I'm afraid I must politely decline, and I figured you should know why.
For one thing, I have never dealt with you before in my life. For that matter, I don't even know where you got my name and address from. In fact, the letter is addressed to "R. Marks" - which suggests that you got it out of a phone book. Oh dear - do you even know if I'm male or female? Perhaps you should know that if you're going to offer me a loan.
For another thing, there's a bit of information missing here, isn't there? For example, you don't mention the rate of interest anywhere. Now that seems an important tidbit, doesn't it? Surely it should not have been left out. I mention this in particular as a quick Google search has revealed that I would be lucky to get off with 30% interest. So, as far as I can tell, you're offering to hand me $3500, and for the privilege extract several thousand more. In fact, there are stories of people spending ten years making regular payments on their loans with you, only to never even touch the principal amount. Surely you wouldn't inflict that on me - but, then again, you did hide any mention of the interest rate. So, although you may not realize it, you really do seem to be hiding something.
So, as I said, I must decline. It seems terminally stupid to take a loan offer from somebody you have never contacted before in your life, and who doesn't state the terms up front. I am not a terminally stupid man. However, you will be happy to know that I have found your letter of some use - it was very effective at protecting the other garbage in my bin from chinchilla droppings after I had to clean up around my pet's cage.
A giant left us yesterday - Ray Harryhausen passed away at the age of 92.
There was something special about how Harryhausen practiced his craft. In his day, he was one of the best creature FX men in the business, if not the best. His stop motion creatures became so well known that where most movies are referred to by their directors or actors (a Ridley Scott movie, a Brad Pitt movie), his movies were referred to by his name instead. Clash of the Titans, Jason and the Argonauts, they're all Ray Harryhausen movies. His work and his creations were the stars.
To a degree, while creature effects have become more realistic, I'm not entirely convinced they've become better. It's not a matter of just looking real - Harryhausen managed to break away from just creating creatures, and instead created characters. Even the giant vulture in Clash of the Titans, who gets a small fraction of screen time, is imbued with life and personality. Occasionally, a CGI character such as Gollum manages to do the same, but they are few and far between.
Mr. Harryhausen, you will be missed. And, most of all, you will be remembered.
One of the things about marrying a Catholic girl in a Catholic church is that they put you through a marriage preparation course - my fiancee and I had ours this weekend.
Now, having been through one, I would go as far as to call it invaluable. It was really good and useful material. That said, I really wish that the "communications and conflict" speaker had used different terminology - specifically in the phrase "fighting is healthy for a relationship."
Unfortunately, the news came down a couple of days ago - the CW's new show Cult has been cancelled. And this really is a pity, as it was my favourite new show of the season.
Cult was one of those shows that was too smart for its own good, and that was part of what made it so great. It had a show-within-a-show concept that was actively parodying the show...and just about every other overwrought and ridiculous television evil-conspiracy show out there. It was a wonderful and welcome antidote to the idiocy that was The Following, wherein law enforcement could be outwitted by an inanimate carbon rod, and an intelligent viewer could give him/herself a concussion from all the facepalms.
But behind the self-parody (and the parody of everybody else) was a truly chilling mystery. The plot revolved around a campy, ridiculous show named Cult, which appeared to be extending its talons into the real world. People are disappearing, and at least one of the police detectives who should be stopping it is in on it all - and has enough power to protect the conspiracy with impunity. So, the main characters must stand alone - there is no authority figure they can reach out to, and the corrupt detective is willing to kill to keep the conspiracy intact.
So how does it all come together? What was the meaning of the campy show, and the real world cult around it? What was the conspiracy planning to do? Why were people disappearing? Now, we may never find out. But it was a wild ride while it lasted - is it any surprise that it was created by the same man who created Farscape?
Easter Sunday is coming up, and with it the final parts of History Television’s epic miniseries The Bible, or as I like to call it, “The Biblical Train Wreck.” What is truly amazing about this miniseries is just how bad it has managed to be. Watching it has been a fascinating experience.
Earlier this year, Roaming Robots in the United Kingdom announced something wonderful – they had just acquired the franchise rights to the Robot Wars brand, and Robot Wars was now going to return. Not only was this a boost to Robot Wars fans like me, but it may also be one of the most important technology announcements of the year.
You see, back around 2004, I had the great pleasure of working as a lead writer and editor for Queen’s University’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. My job was simple – highlight the department’s research to attract alumni contributions and recruit new students out of high school. Underlying this was a creeping concern that was beginning to appear in trade journals – not of a brain drain, but of a straight-up talent shortage. The number of people entering science and technology programs was dropping. Today, it’s close to a crisis. Thousands of entry-level technology jobs in the United States alone are going unfilled because there just aren’t enough college and university graduates to fill them.
The writers of the articles in the early days were baffled. Science, technology, robotics, they all seemed to have become commonplace, and students wanted something more interesting. Little, if anything, appeared to provide the surge needed into science and engineering programs.
Oddly enough, there was one solution that never seemed to get mentioned in those early articles: “Make it fun.”
If you read my last post, you saw a link to some press materials for RobotBoxing.us, which is attempting to create a robot boxing league. Taking a closer look at it, well, it does raise a hackle or two.
Let me put it this way - one of the things that always annoys me about technology pundits (and sometimes hardcore fans) is this idea that new technology is basically miraculous and infallible. Now, the press materials for RobotBoxing.us makes a few claims that I really doubt hold as much water as they think. Just going over them a bit...
I will admit it - I'm a Robot Wars fan. Back when it was on, I thrilled to the exploits of Chaos 2, Razer, and Hypno-Disc as they battled it out in the arena. I "ooed" and "awed" as robots were flipped and shards of metal flew across the screen.
So, with Syfy bringing actual heavyweight robot boxing to the screen in their new show, Robot Combat League (and putting the pilot out early for people to watch online), it raises an interesting question - is this the next robotic sport?
There are those who think it might be - RobotBoxing.us is trying to start its own heavyweight league. And, the robots from RCL are a revelation in a way - they can deliver blows with sufficient force to damage each other without falling over in the process. If nothing else, they are an absolute proof of concept.
So, can it succeed? Well, that's a difficult question to answer.
Battleship is the most baffling movie I have ever seen.
Late one night, my curiosity got the better of me, and I watched it. And here’s the thing – it is not a bad movie. It’s not a bad movie at all. The writing is quite intelligent, the alien invasion scenario is nuanced, the performances are decent, and the visual effects are stunning. The suspenseful scenes are suspenseful, and the scenes that are supposed to be funny are indeed funny. In its parts, it is pretty much all good.
And yet, Battleship manages to be an absolute train wreck of a movie, even to the point of causing that macabre fascination that keeps you from pulling your eyes away from a car crash. It is not a bad movie, but it is a wrong movie. On just about every level, Battleship is just wrong.
And since this is the sort of movie that people should be dissecting in film schools for years, figuring out exactly what makes it so wrong, I thought I’d throw a few of my own thoughts and observation into the mix.
You know what? When it comes down to it, I think there’s one huge problem with Battleship, and really just one: tonal shifts.