Not with a Bang but a Crackle and some sort of 'Bamf'

March 30th, 2010

Forget all this claptrap about the world ending in 2012; the world is actually going to end in 2013. That 2012 date is stupid, anyway - so the Mayan calendar is coming to an end. Oh no! It's December! The calendar is ending! Midnight on December 31 is clearly the end of the world.

Note for pedants: I am aware that even the characterization "the Mayan calendar is coming to an end" is erroneous. Rule 9 applies all over the place here, so stitch a button in it.

I'm not talking about Christian Apocalyptic stuff, either - it's equally farcical. As a nine year-old I was transfixed by Orson Welles sonorously informing me that we lived in the end times, that a man in a blue turban would start the final battle in the valley of Armageddon, having somehow gained approval from Ronald Wilson Reagan. Well, that sure as hell didn't pan out.

Read a little history (okay, a lot of history, this stuff is pretty obscure by now) and you'll see that in early 19th century America you couldn't go ten feet without being harangued about how the End of Days was coming, next week or at the very latest at the end of the planting season. William Miller revealed that the Second Coming was scheduled to happen - no question, Biblically guaranteed - on or before March 21, 1844. When March 22 rolled around, the calculations were checked, an error was found, and the day of the second coming was found to actually - seriously this time - be April 18, 1844.

In May, they found that pesky additional miscalculation, and the date was revealed to be October 22, 1844. All around the country people peered in windows to reassure themselves that they were more worthy of salvation than their neighbors.

Yeah, October 23 clocked in as normal.

By the way, these people are still around. They're called Seventh-day Adventists. Yes, them. There are some 16 million of them. And if you ask them they are all quite certain that the Second Coming will arrive in their lifetimes, probably any day now.

Well... they're right, but not for any Biblical reason. No, the book that will usher in the End of Days will in fact be published in 2013, and it's called The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic.

All I really need to say about The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic is that it's by Alan Moore. Moore knows a thing or two, or nine, or two hundred and seventy, about magic. And he can write like kerosene burns in Hell. And he's crazier than any fifty bedbugs. (Have you read Dodgem Logic? Or the appendices to the Black Dossier? I have...) You pour those three things into a jar, mature them properly, and garnish with lavish illustration, and you get a book which will inspire pimply would-be Aleister Crowleys in the thousands and the tens of thousands.

And, provided with a Comprehensive and Illustrated Tome which Succinctly yet Accurately Presents All Known Efficacious and Puissant Conjurations, well... you will get eldritch Thiago Olsens on a scale that will make the stuff in 'Ghostbusters' seem like a pleasant daydream of normalcy.

Build those thaumaturgic shelters now, people.


March 24th, 2010

From this article:

Heat waves in the Central Valley often push homeowners there into the fifth tier of [electricity] usage as they crank their air conditioners to stay cool....

Bakersfield residents have been complaining that the huge disparity in rates unfairly penalizes them while benefiting residents of cooler climes, such as the Bay Area.

Yes, it's completely unfair that we in the Bay Area are burdened with a more pleasant climate (and, let's be honest, more pleasant everything) than Bakersfield. So it's only fair that we should pay PG&E more to compensate for this (and lower Bakersfield's rates, but I think we should realize that the important part here is about giving PG&E more cash).

Of course, I also pay slightly more for my mortgage than it would cost for a similarly-sized house in Bakersfield. So I propose that everyone in Bakersfield contribute to my mortgage payments, to make up for that discrepancy.

I think it's only fair.

But who was his barber?

March 22nd, 2010

When going to a new barber, or embarking upon a new hairstyle, one oft-invoked option is to bring with oneself a photo of a model or celebrity displaying the desired hairstyle. Of course, this works poorly if the model in question has very different hair, or a differently shaped head, etc. So there's a certain value in finding a frequently photographed individual whose hair is very like one's own.

Sadly, I do not share the hairline of Brad Pitt. In fact, I can't think of any celebrities (off the top of my head, ha!) with hair quite similar to mine. But I just realized today, while perusing totally unrelated matters, that there is a very famous person with hair remarkably similar to mine. We don't share much other physical resemblance, but that hair? That's me.

Well, damn. I wonder how I'd look in a really big hat?

Reviews: The Ghost Writer, Alice in Wonderland

March 16th, 2010

The Ghost Writer - 7/10

Roman Polanski's previous film, The Ninth Gate, is one of my favorite films. I like Polanski's film direction a great deal - it doesn't hit you over the head with gimmickry or flash, it's just quietly effective, too dramatic to be understated but never overwhelming. Like a good author's prose, you only realize after the story is finished how good the writing was.

The Ghost Writer is a good film. But, probably by the very nature of the story it tells, it's not a terribly memorable one. The performances are excellent, the story interesting, and New England by the seaside is a cold and bleak place in winter. I enjoyed watching the events unfold. But as I walked by Embarcadero Cinema on my way to work a week later, my reaction to the movie poster was "Oh right, I saw that."

The film's coda, I have to add, is crap. But other than that, a fine film, but not an exceptional one.

Alice in Wonderland - 8/10

Tim Burton, on the other hand, is a director about as far from "understated" as it is possible to be. Bringing together his hallucinogenic style with the abiding strangeness of Alice in Wonderland is a natural combination, and it works quite well. The movie is a visual feast, from the oddly distorted yet utterly credible Knave and Queen of Hearts to the smoke of the Cheshire Cat's disappearance.

The story is nothing to write home about, although it does decent service to the theme of the reluctant hero. This is not a straight translation of Alice in Wonderland by any stretch; it draws heavily on The Hunting of the Snark and makes up other plot threads from whole cloth, e.g. the treatment of the Mad Hatter. But if not a great story it's certainly good enough, and coupled with the visuals the movie is a real treat.

Also, Anne Hathaway is awesome.

Lifted from Slashdot

March 10th, 2010

@F3rm4t "I have discovered a truly marvelous proof of this, but Twitter 140 chars lolol"