Thursday, July 29, 2010

Despicable Me...Alright Until The End...

Went to see Despicable Me today, and enjoyed it for the most part. Not as good as Toy Story 3...or any of the Toy Story's actually, but amusing...

Steve Carrell plays Gru, a would-be master criminal who is being supplanted by younger, more ingenious crooks. An item he needs to pull off the crime of the century is in another crook's house...which is impregnable...except the crook likes cookies...

So Gru "adopts" 3 little kids in order to get into the house. He'll abandon them once his plan is done.

But the kids are super cute, and at the end of the movie he decided to adopt them for real.

All very good, very nice. But the ending really spoiled it for me, on one level.

The three girls are putting on a recital of Swan Lake for him. One of his minions arbitrarily decides that Swan Lake is too slow and dull, and puts on Dance Fever. So Gru gets up onto the stage and starts dancing to Dance Fever, surrounded by these three pre-pubescent girls, and he's doing pelvic thrusts and that's totally inappropriate.

THen we've got the sight of a villain on the moon dancing as well, and he's slapping his butt as he dances.

What is it with this slapping your butt fetish that movies have these days? Some kind of sexual play, of course, but there's a commercial...I believe it's one of those car insurance commercials, where a guy does it...just ridiculous how filmmakers follow each other when it comes to types of humor...

Having said that, I enjoyed the animation. Had a definite Steampunk feel to it. I really loved Gru's decor...I'm thinking how I can get some of that for my house!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday SF on BBC7 Digital Radio

15:30–15:45 Dava Sobel - Galileo's Daughter
Episode 3
7 days left to listen
3/5. Blessed by the Pope, Galileo can continue his work, but convent life is hard for Virginia. 15:45–16:00

(OK, not SF, but interesting nevertheless.)

18:30–19:00 Daphne Du Maurier's The House on the Strand
Episode 3
3/12. On his next trip back to the 14th century, Dick witnesses Sir Henry Champernoune's death.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice rocks

I went to see The Sorcerer's Apprentice today, and liked it quite a bit. Yes, there are a couple of plot holes, a couple of flaws..but hey, suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride.

I actually missed the first five minutes of it or so that explain how evil wizard Morgana is locked into the "grimhold" along with Nicolas Cage's love Veronica, but i got the gist quickly enough.

Loved Nicolas Cage - finally had a decent wig, though apparently his character never bothered to comb his hair. And Alfred Molina as Horvath also rocked.

I was less impressed by Jay Baruchel as Dave. Oh, he did a good job, but his nasal voice got on my nerves. And the love story, so annoying. He's seen Horvath try to kill him and yet he still tries to go out on a date with Becky? I think not.

The female characters had little to do, but were okay in what they did do. Becky has to overcome her fear of heights (mentioned in a previous scene) to perform an essential task, and she is not allowed to show just how brave she has to be to do this (bravery is feeling the fear and doing it anyway). For her to have done what she did would have required a great deal of "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus" as she climbs up every step of the ladder, perhaps a few seconds of "Jeez I can't do this" then a "You can do it, you've got to, jesus, jesus, jesus." That's the way someone who suffers from a fear of heights would have been acting, but Becky just climbs up the ladder with no problem.

Lots of pyrotechnics at the end.

Special effects, great. A few homages. Dave tries to get his mops to clean up his laboratory while he goes to take a shower, to the accompaniment of Disney's Sorcerer's Apprentice music from Fantasia they go wild, and Cage's character Baltasar has to come in and save the day.

In another scene Horvath and "his" apprentice go to the university to find out where Dave lives. The clerk says, "I need to see your faculty ID." Horvath waves his staff and says, "You don't need to see my ID." The clerk says, "I don't need to see your ID." Then the apprentice mimicks the character from Star Wars, where Obi Wan says that to a low-level clerk. Everyone in the theater got the joke and laughed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yahoo Messenger Invades Your Privacy

If you have Yahoo Messenger, with lots of contacts on it, and you post messages on various message boards, did you know that your messages show up on your Contacts list - so that anyone who has you as a contact can see what you're writing?

It can't be an opt in feature, either, because I never opted into it, and it happened to me, so it must be a new feature that is automatically turned on, and which you must turn off yourself... which of course you can't do until you realize it's happening.

(Perhaps its just for Google message boards, as I believe Google now owns Yahoo or vice versa.... )

To be on the safe side, go to Mail Options and at the top where it says Social Updates, make sure you've got that unclicked!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Your child can be born on Vulcan

Or Vulcan.

Wouldn't that be totally cool?

If you're 9 months pregnant and have the wherewithal, why not travel to Vulcan, Alberta, Canada so your child can be born there? Then they'll always be able to say, "I'm from Vulcan."

Vulcan's Starship FX6-1995-A, replica of the Starship Enterprise, named after Vulcan Airport's designation FX6. The town's name has brought some attention that has helped it become a tourist attraction. In the Star Trek television and feature film series it is the name of the homeworld of the Vulcans.

Capitalizing on this coincidence, the town has built a Star Trek-themed tourist station (the Tourism and Trek Station), which provides tourist information, displays Star Trek memorabilia, provides unique photo opportunities, and allows visitors to participate in The Vulcan Space Adventure virtual reality game. Nearby, a replica of the starship Enterprise from Star Trek V has been mounted on a pedestal which includes writing from Trek alien languages like Klingon. The town has also created space-themed murals and signs, and hosts an annual community-wide Star Trek convention known as VulCON: Spock Days/Galaxyfest. This convention attracts hundreds of Star Trek fans from around the world.

Vulcan is a town located midway between the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge, in the prairies of southern Alberta, Canada. The population of the town was 1,940 in 2006, and the population of the county, which is also named Vulcan, was 3,718. The town's economy is mainly agriculture-based. Wheat, canola and barley are the main crops grown in the Vulcan area.

The town was named by a surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1915 after the Roman God of Fire - Vulcan. Originally all the streets of the new town of Vulcan were named after gods and goddesses of the classical world. In July 1927 a major tornado destroyed many homes and the new curling rink of the town. That tornado was made famous when a photograph of it approaching Vulcan was used for the "tornado" article in Encyclopædia Britannica. At one time the town could also boast of having more grain elevators than any location west of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Due to the changing economics of the agricultural industry, one by one the original elevators were taken down. Today Vulcan has only one of the original "prairie skyscrapers" left that once could be seen miles away.

A British Commonwealth Air Training Plan air force base, RCAF Station Vulcan, was located a few kilometers southwest of the town during the Second World War. Many of the old hangars still exist and the runways can still be seen.

Since 1990, Vulcan has hosted the annual Vulcan Tinman Triathlon, which takes place at the beginning of June. This sprint-distance triathlon attracts nearly 1,000 participants. There are classes for adults of all ages and skill levels as well as for teams and children.

In 2006, Vulcan had a population of 1,940 living in 814 dwellings, a 10.1% increase from 2001. The town has a land area of 6.58 km2 (2.5 sq mi) and a population density of 294.8 /km2 (763.5/sq mi).

Thursday, July 08, 2010

In the year 2525

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Press Release: Hobbit steins by Tavern Craft

Glasses Feature Deep-Etched Artwork of The Prancing Pony™ & The Green Dragon™

SAN DIEGO, CA (July 7, 2010) – Taverncraft, a subsidiary of 3 Point Entertainment LLC, today announced the debut of a new series of premium-etched glassware based on the literary masterpieces The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Available both as a 16 oz. pint glass and a large 25 oz. glass stein, each high-quality drinking glass is deep-etched with iconic artwork featuring two of the most popular Middle-earth taverns, The Prancing Pony and The Green Dragon. Perfect for everyday use or gift giving, these dishwasher and freezer-safe glasses are available now at for August shipment.

"Through our popular line of stoneware steins, Taverncraft has built a reputation for both product quality and artistic integrity," said 3 Point Entertainment President Jerry Bennington. "Our steins featuring The Hobbit are wonderful collectibles and perfect for special occasions, but we also wanted to add some items for everyday use. These premium-etched glasses maintain that same level of quality but are also ideal for use just hanging out with friends, sipping cold drinks on hot summer nights."

Pint glasses are packaged in 2-glass sets and retail for $29.99 plus shipping and handling. Each 25 oz. glass stein is packaged individually and retails for $29.99 plus shipping and handling. Additional information, images and ordering details are available at .

Is Your Credit Card Coded Into Your Hotel Key Card?


This is the email making the rounds today, that I received.

Always take a small magnet on your holiday, they come in handy at the end of it.
Thought you all needed to know this

This is pretty good info. Never even thought about key cards containing anything other than an access code for the room!

Ever wonder what is on your magnetic key card?

a. Customer's name
B. Customer's partial home address
c. Hotel room number
d. Check-in date and out dates
e. Customer's credit card number and expiration date!

When you turn them in to the front desk your personal information is there for any employee to access by simply scanning the card in the hotel scanner.. An employee can take a hand full of cards home and using a scanning device, access the information onto a laptop computer and go shopping at your expense.

Simply put, hotels do not erase the information on these cards until an employee reissues the card to the next hotel guest. At that time, the new guest's information is electronically 'overwritten' on the card and the previous guest's information is erased in the overwriting process.

But until the card is rewritten for the next guest, it usually is kept in a drawer at the front desk with YOUR INFORMATION ON IT!

The bottom line is: Keep the cards, take them home with you, or destroy them. NEVER leave them behind in the room or room wastebasket, and NEVER turn them into the front desk when you check out of a room. They will not charge you for the card (it's illegal) and you'll be sure you are not leaving a lot of valuable personal information on it that could be easily lifted off with any simple scanning device card reader.

For the same reason, if you arrive at the airport and discover you still have the card key in your pocket, do not toss it in an airport trash basket. Take it home and destroy it by cutting it up, especially through the electronic information strip!

If you have a small magnet, pass it across the magnetic strip several times. Then try it in the door, it will not work. It erases everything on the card.

Information courtesy of: Metropolitan Police Service.

In actual fact, this is an urban legend.

Here's what Snopes says:

Nevertheless, if it makes you feel better, use that magnet! ; )

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Toy Story 3 - It's a must see

I was initially reluctant to go see Toy Story 3. Toy Story 1 and 2 are two of my favorite films (and Buzz one of my favorite characters). In Toy Story 2 it is established that Woody is "an old family toy" so there's no way in Toy Story 3 that Andy's mom would let Andy get rid of him, even if Andy so desired.

But, as is made clear in the first 5 minutes, Andy doesn't desire. Woody is going with him to college (even though he hasn't played with him in years), and the other toys are going to go into the attic until Andy's return. (Molly can't be more than 10, but apparently she isn't interested in playing with the toys, either

In any event, Andy puts all the toys but Woody into a garbage bag, which he intends to take up to the attic. But he's distracted, his mom finds the bag, and thinking it's garbage, gives all the toys within to a local daycare.

Woody, who has seen all, tries to persuade the toys that it was an accident, but the toys think Andy has abandoned them, and decide to remain at the daycare. The problem is...everything at the daycare is not as it should be...

This is a heart-warming movie, with some real chills. The ending (prior to the anti-climactic ending which will perhaps have you in tears) is extremely chilling - my heart was in my mouth! The messages of Toy Story I and II are present here as well - friends and "family" (family in the widest sense of that world - friends are family) must stay together. All for one and one for all.

Despite the poster, Bo Peep is not in this film. One wonders if the actress didn't want to reprise the role, or the writers realized there was no room for her. Woody's anxiety is between leaving Andy, or leaving his friends "as a group," with no siren call of Bo Peep's love to get in the way of the message.

The shots of Buzz in Spanish mode, so annoying in the trailer, actually make perfect sense in the movie.

Barbie meets her Ken in the movie and is swepot away...but turns out to be a true blue friend in the end as well.

Blake Clarke takes over from the late Jim Varney as Slinky Dog and does a good job, Wallace Shawn returns as Rex, Don Rickles as Potato Head, Estelle Harris as Mrs. Potato Head, John Ratzenberger as Hamm.

Again, highly recommended!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Greatest American Hero Marathon on SciFi right now

Or SyFi as they seem to prefer to call themselves. It's probably a more appropriate name for the channel, since they seem to focus more on horror than science fiction and have done for many years.

I can remember watching - and being disappointed by - The Greatest American Hero when it first came out. I was a fan of Robert Culp, and so watched the pilot episode with expectation, but William Katt's Ralph Hinkley character was sooooo inept...and I don't think he ever became ept throughout the three seasons. (Granted he lost the instruction manual...well, if you're a hero you go out and practice flying for a couple of weeks til you get the hang of it, you don't spend three years flying crooked or upside down because you don't know what you're doing!)

As a matter of fact, I didn't even realize it had run for 3 seasons. I thought at most it could have lasted for 1.

I also hadn't realized the series has been available on DVD since 2006.

In any event, it's a bit of nostalgia for the early 1980s (1980-1983) and I'm glad the SciFi channel is showing it and introducing it to a new audience. Just wish they'd show some other classic SF series, like Roddy McDowall's The Fantastic Journey (which unfortunately only lasted for 8 episodes), or some classic Irwin Allen like Land of the Giants or The Time Tunnel. (I've got The Time Tunnel on DVD, but Land of the Giants is not available and that annoys me!)