Sunday, October 31, 2004

Happy Halloween!!!

To inifinity... and then some!
Some career crossovers don't work.
The Order

Okay, so I thought I'd rent a creepy movie for Halloween. And I heard that "The Order" was filmed in Rome, partly in the Vatican, and it has Mark Addy in it so how could one go wrong. I thought it might be too scary, since it's rated "R", but it turns out it's only rated "R" for general dumbness.

The movie starts out pretty good: Heath Ledger and Mark Addy are the last two members of an order whose primary vocation is to get rid of demons, ghosts, the undead, etc. They're on the trail of a Sin Eater (everyone knows what those are, right? Right?!) and the first 30 minutes or so they see some creepy things (nothing too unsettling, though, if you've watched seven season of Buffy and five of Angel) which are pretty consistent with the legitimate accounts of demonic activity and you think, this might be a good movie: these two guys track down the sin eater, and there's a big fight, probably one of the heroes dies, but it's cool, because that's what heroes do.

But, no. (SPOILER ALERT!). This movie believes in putting the interesting stuff first and then making the rest of the movie really boring. Eventually, Heath Ledger's character runs into the Sin Eater who, in about five minutes, convinces him to have sex with the crazy art chick (who he exorcised in the past), not be a priest anymore, and (it's debateable whether or not he was tricked into this, because it was pretty obvious) become a Sin Eater himself.

Sins, when eaten, by the way, look like a cross between the robot squids from the Matrix and the jellyfish from the Spongebob Squarepants cartoon.

There are some nice thematic elements in there (Heath Ledger, when researching the occult practices at an old bookstore is advised to stay on the path -- literally: the basement of the bookstore has a path etched into it and wandering off of it brings one uncomfortably close to a very hungry hound) but overall we probably should've rented Exorcist III: Legion, if we wanted a good creepy movie. At least Mark Addy's character survives, but we never get to see him make good on his promise to free Heath Ledger from his curse (which he seems pretty cool with by the end, anyway).

Until someone goes back and makes this the movie it should've been, I say give this one a pass.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Another really good episode of Lost tonight. It's amazing how they can weave four or five plots together, and yet somehow show you in a handfull of flashbacks a really amazing story about a person, and then tie that all back in with the four or five plots that are running.

If you're not watching this show now -- don't bother. You'd be hopelessly, how do you say... "Lost". Actually, I take that back, start watching it now and let the episode guides on the show's homepage or the encore rebroadcasts on Saturday night fill you in.

Monday, October 25, 2004

We taped last night's episode of "Boston Legal" mainly because in the preivew we caught a glimpse of René Auberjonois who played "Odo" (one of my favorite characters) on "Deep Space Nine" (my favorite show of all time). Kevin Miller was also in last night's episode. It was pretty good. Good acting and a butt-load of the moral ambiguity which big-3 Network viewers are just discovering. We don't generally care for courtroom dramas (they're usually preachy and boring) but we may watch this one again. Because Rene is in it, and he's awesome to watch.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

This is the moment that every back-up band lives for: when the pre-recorded track fails and the star walks off-stage, there is nothing left to do but ROCK. Watch the video and judge for yourself.

What I can't understand is why fans would be so upset by stars lip-synching. Where do they do they think music comes from these days?
The other movie we rented, which I watched by myself just now, was Aero-Troopers, a computer-animated sci-fi tale which was made by like 12 people, pretty much all multi-tasking (Mark Hamill is credited as both the voice of the narrator and the Voice Director) and a single person did the character models, as opposed to Pixar's (or even Big Idea's) legion of modellers. So you have to expect the DIY element, right there.

I disagree with the IMDB reviewer that it's not worth a rental. I think it is worth a rental, if only for the really cool air-ship and robot designs. The animation quality is just about at the sub-Capcom videogame cutscene quality, though, so don't expect "Monsters, Inc." or anything. But there are some cool elements (the airships, the whole sky-world setting) and I think anyone around the age of ten (there is some computer-animated blood which may disturb younger viewers) will get a big kick out of it.

Actually, the movie's official page, or as official a page I can find for either it or production company "NueArt", says it was released in 2001, not 2003. If that's the case, I can cut the animation a little more slack. Creative Light, the distributor, also produced Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie which I want to see sometime.
Fr. Bryce likes it, and it it is pretty good: The New Atlantis, A Journal of Technology and Society.
Patrick Madred addreses the question Is it a sin to vote for a pro-abortion candidate? in a nine-minute video.

Link via New Advent which has a rather illuminative ASCII chart on their front page.
Some music for me to check out from this month's Keyboard magazine, when I have a few minutes:

Joe Deveau - Classic songwriting and very good keyboard chops. Also a great website in terms of design (and a swanky Flash audio player).

Spiraling - their new EP is called "Challenging Stage" and they use old videogame sound effects and classic synths in an alternative rock setting. Sounds a bit (okay, more than a bit) like Jellyfish. I'll have to get their CD when I have the $$.

And apparently Bernie Worrell is involved in a new project. It's with Buckethead, though, and those albums with Buckethead in the 1990s did nothing for me. Actually, though, the audio samples sound pretty cool (mainly the title track, "The Big Eyeball in the Sky". I'll probably pick it up -- after I get the Bernie Worrell bobblehead doll .. or wait for the Wooples animation to download.

Dzihan-Kamien. Electronic-type music with an orchestra.

And The Neville Brothers have a new album out. I'll have to get it because it's a Neville Brothers album that's funky.

And they played two tracks of Joanna Newsom on the U of M college radio station as I was driving through Ann Arbor on Friday. It's awful, but it's so compelling, that I may have to add that to my wish list.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

So tonight we watched Aladdin (Special Edition) and Spartan which we rented from our local Powderkeg Video store (obscure Parker Lewis reference there). "Aladdin" was much better than I remember it being when I saw it in the theaters, and the new Disney Home Theater Enhanced 5.1 Surround mix they're putting on these DVDs now sounded awesome (basically, they completely remix the audio, optimising it for home theaters, and it sounded great). Lots of funny stuff in that movie (though it's no "Emperor's New Groove"). And yeah, I admit the songs really are good.

After 'Xander went to bed, we watched "Spartan", which is a little less plot-twisty than most of Mamet's stuff (for good or for bad) and with a lot more of the people getting shot. For those of you who admire women with the Clarabelle Cow physique, Alexandra Kerry has a small role in the movie. Mamet gets extra points this time around for not trying to get away with casting his wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, in the 18-year-old president's daughter role. There are some funny lines in this movie, but because it's a Mamet film, you're not really sure what they mean.

Friday, October 22, 2004

There is just something so.... heroic about this.
Child's Play

About two weeks ago we received from Amazon, Vtech's V.Smile (yeah, I don't know how they got away with naming it that, either) educational videogame system. The system came with one "Smartridge" ("Alphabet Park Adventure") and we also ordered "Winnie The Pooh: Honey Hunt". The reason we did this was because 'Xander had been getting into our games quite a bit (he loves anything with Mario or Pac-Man) and we figured he might as well learn something while he's playing (also, with the V.Smile, he can start it up himself, and doesn't have problems getting through the menus, etc.).

Anyway, technologically, the V.Smile is like one step above a Sega Genesis. No 3-D, the games are sprite-based, but a lot of space on the Smartridges is allocated for digital audio so the charater animations are usually two or four-frame jobbies. The software seems to have been developed in the UK (where the V.Smile is pretty popular, I gather) so the characters have British accents.

The controller is pretty awesome (the colored buttons light up!) but doesn't take having a cup of water dumped on it very well (it took three days for it to try out to the point where it functioned again -- fortunately, that time frame was also the one in which the extra controllers shipped to Toys R' Us, so now we have two controllers -- and some of the games are two-player simultaneous).

Anyway, 'Xander really enjoys the games. Both games are platformers, with educational bits thrown in, and each includes a "Learning Zone" which is four mini-games. You can make it so you can't lose, too, which is good because when 'Xander first got it he thought it was hilarious to make the Alphabet kids fall into the water ("Whoa-whoa-whaaaaaa!!! SPLASH!") or have Pooh fall in the thorns and go "Ouch!" and rub his bottom. Which, admittedly, is kind of fun.

So for $50 for the system, one controller, and one game (you supply either an AC adapter or 3 C-cells, which seem to last five or six days of 1 to 2 hours of play a day), if you have kids who are 2 or 3 or 4 and they're taking up too much computer time or not letting you play your Gamecube, this is a good deal.
"There's a lot of people saying, 'What?'"

Stranger takes over Ga. woman's house

One too many episodes of "Trading Spaces" I would suspect.
Where have I been?

This article was the first I'd heard of Big Idea's bankruptcy, sale, downsizing, and move to Tennessee.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I apologize to anyone who was hypnotocized by staring at the cat animation two posts down. LostMarble released Moho v5 this week and I was trying some of the .swf exportation enhancements they made (the full version of the test animation with the techno music soundtrack in Real and Windows media player formats can be found on the page).

Anyway, now that Moho v5 is out (and I could afford the $19 upgrade fee), maybe I'll do another cartoon. Or maybe I'll make another game. Or maybe I'll actually do some work around the house instead. No one can know for certain....

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

"Lost" again

Another interesting episode, but nowhere near as well-written as last week's Fury episode (which they might be showing again on Saturday). I have to keep changing the channels between commercials, though, because the other shows they're advertising are just so awful. I think the AFA is on to something (they usually are). I signed up for (putting pinky to chin) One Million Dads. I think if I'm any of the dads on that page, I'm the De-Niro-esque "Fed up with the trash on television?" dad.

Seriously -- putting Unrestrained Domestisluts right after one of the best shows on TV? Whassup widdat?

ALSO -- if you emailed us today, our email provider was down, so we probably didn't get it (grr.). Try emailing us again. Though I'm still not getting email... maybe later it'll work.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Mac users:

Could you try the game and let me know if the "Start" button on the intro screen works (i.e. brings you into the game)?


Sunday, October 17, 2004

Once again Extreme Makeover: Home Edition has turned me into a big girl. Tonight's family was an obviously Catholic family, which made it cooler for us (I know it shouldn't matter...). I must say, though, that the coolest moment for me was when they unveiled, in the garage and driveway, the brand new 2005 250 Superduty (for dad) and Mustang GT (which probably wasn't even on sale when they filmed the show) for the sick little girl's sister. Those are both awesome cars.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

I'm pretty much finished with the Mugg game for now. You can now score higher (thanks to higher-scoring drops) and there's some other neat touches as well, including a ranking at the end, depending on your score. How high can you get?

The Trenchant Professor Mugg vs. Doctor Doughnut in "The Coffee Reign"

Friday, October 15, 2004

Star Trek: Enterprise has officially become a good show. I stopped watching it after the pilot, and only started up again this third season in repeats. Tonight's episode had a number of really neat payoffs: the temporal cold war (which I guess was what the first two seasons, and the third, were about) is over, we got to see the Enterprise bomb 1940s-era Manhattan (while being fired upon by Stukas outfitted with plasma cannons), and the Enterprise finally came home (and was welcomed by a very friendly armada). I almost cried (and would have except the show still has that goofy themesong which -- I loathe to admit -- is starting to grow on me even though "it took a long time... getting from there to here").

Next week's episode looks pretty silly, but the week after that Brent Spiner shows up (I wonder if he'll sing? I don't care about that, but it would be really cool if his character's last name was "Sung" -- and if you get that reference, please leave a comment below so I'll know you're cool) so that's pretty neat. has a very amusing and smartly animated Flash cartoon about our choice this November. However amusing, the cartoon bizarrely overlooks the entire notion of "proportionality" (which would say one ought to weigh the 9,000,000 babies which would be killed during the average presidency if a pro-abort pol is elected against the handful of murderers, terrorists, and rapists who would be executed if a pro-death-penalty -- and pro-life -- politician was elected).

David Alexander, as per usual, is right on track.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I tweaked the jumping formula in the Professor Mug game. Not only do you start off jumping a bit faster, but as you get more coffee your speed increases (as it did in the first alpha version) but now the height of your jump increases too (the effect of more caffeine). This causes a negative feedback loop: you're faster, but the higher jumps mean more chance you won't catch certain drops (just like in real life, drops have to fall into the top of the mug to be caught) and it also increases the liklihood that Dr. Doughnut will snag a drop or two of your coffee (you're more exposed up there in the air).

All in all, I think now higher scores are possible, and the game is faster-paced and more exciting. Let me know if I'm wrong. I'm going to work on this over the weekend, when I feel up to it (i.e. not in a robotussin-induced haze).
Oh, and by the way, John Kerry is a total slime, too. I can just imagine him employing his own unique brand of statescraft.

"Now, you better withdraw from Chechnya, Vladimir. I wouldn't want to have to remind the world how wonderful it is that you are so loving and supportive of your necrophile son."
Way to go, Meredith! Photo and comments in the New York Times New York Post New York Daily News!!

Who's this Michael Malice guy, though? He seems about as informed as a club foot.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Okay, Victor, so NOW what do you think of "Lost"?

Since I saw just the second episode, I've watched the first, third, and -- tonight -- the fourth episode (written by David "He got the mustard out" Fury!!). And it's now probably my favoritist show on television. I really like how they tell the story of each character through the flashbacks: what got them on the plane, and what the island they're stranded on (though haunted/infested with monsters/cursed/etc.) can actually offer them (usually redemption in some form or another). Pretty nifty show, for a major network. Tonight's episode was the best so far. Since it was written by David Fury it was funny, scary, witty, and poignant (remember when the Fury could do poignant?) all at once. So I (along with like 550,000,000 Americans apparently) like the show now.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Victor makes a Flash GAME?!?!

One thing I've wanted to do for quite a few months now is to make my own Flash Game. Finally, I got a book or two on it and this weekend decided to make a game in Flash. What you're about to see is no where near finished (a lot of graphic flourishes need to be added, including a real title screen and instruction screen instead of something I threw together in five minutes, and the soundtrack and soundeffects are only placeholders -- though I kind of like the background music I threw together in Acid in about 3 minutes, it's growing on me -- and I need to tweak the collision detection, and maybe add a play mechanic or two, and add a better game over screen) but you might have fun for a few minutes playing it. If you manage to score above 100, let me know (my best so far is 71)!. I'll be adding on to this over the next couple of weeks, so check back often.

The Trenchant Professor Mugg vs. Doctor Doughnut in "Coffee Rain" (very early beta version).

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

I'm a pretty good judge of character and John Edwards is a total slime.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we need to teach our son how to throw up all the post-nasal drip that's in his tummy or we'll never get to sleep.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Brian Regan was on Dennis Miller's show tonight (rebroadcast?). He seems to be a very funny guy. We'll have to check out his DVDs. Also on was the guy from Mulsims for Bush (and Bush and Bush and Bush and Bush).
Note to Dan Ackroyd:

If you're not going to make a third movie, then, this sort of thing is going to be pretty much inevitable.

Pretty nifty little film-school project.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Okay, this is cool:

Vic Tracker 2.0

Here's an audio example (with multiple overdubs and vocals by SAM, of course). The main Vic Tracker webpage also has some untreated examples. I didn't know the Vic had this much funk in it.

That rocks.
It's WordSpud! Hard to say if the game is any good because there aren't any other players online. But it's worth it just for the themesong. Every game should have an adorable themesong.
Sent this to our Pastor and Pastoral Associate (but not Associate Pastor, because we don't have one of those) after Mass (where they played "The Rainbow Connection") today...


Out the outset of this letter I must state that I am already predisposed against the sort of piano tinkling which accompanies now every "quiet time" during the Liturgies at St. Kenneth. Because the Mass is also called "The Lord's Supper" I suppose the feeling is that a little dinner-time lounge music is appropriate for the consecration and other times during the Mass when, perhaps, in the past we would not have been distracted from some quiet reflection by such tinkling.

But as disposed as I am, personally, against this Liturgical Lounge piano (if I wanted random piano noodling with my Supper, I'd go to the Holiday Inn), I recognize that for some a little Bach ("Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" being one of my favorite interludes) can put them in the right frame of mind to receive Christ, and so it is at least tolerable. But when the tune is "The Rainbow Connection" -- as was the case this Sunday at the 11:30am Mass, identified by myself not only by my own intimate knowledge of the piece (growing up as I did in the late 1970s and early '80s) but also by those Parishoners standing around me -- something must be said.

"The Rainbow Connection", written by Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams is featured at the climax of Jim Henson's "The Muppet Movie" at a point in the movie when all of the traditional structures and mores of society have come crashing down around the rainbow children who are (judging from the lyrics of the piece, found here: "under the spell" of the "Rainbow Connection" (whatever that might be). In short, "The Rainbow Connection" is a song which celebrates atheistical humanism and is therefore inappropriate for playing at any time in a Roman Catholic Church -- but particularly most inappropriate during the Eucharist, when our thoughts should be on our Lord, and not on "the lovers, the dreamers, and me."

Ideally, we'd be working towards a renewal of our Catholic Christian heritage in music, discovering anew the great composers of our long history and the hymns which celebrate our Catholic Christian faith and worldview (not limited to Catholic composers, of course). I'm encouraged that myself and the other members of Generations X and Y (who are not the future of the Church, incdentally, but who ARE the Church) are "going back to their roots" as it were, both musically and in terms of the fundamentals of our faith (an acquaintance of mine, Pete Vere, has recently written a book to this affect). It seems inevitable, therefore, that one day the tunes by Marty Haugen and Dan Schutte which celebrate above all else congregational navel-gazing and which have for the last 40 years defined a generation of Churchgoers unable to articulate the basic tenets of their faith will ultimately come to represent nothing but a passing fad (albeit one, again, running now some 40 years).

Thank you for your time in considering this matter. Please pass this note along to our current musical liturgist at your own discretion, as I'm not sure who that is at the moment. I recognize that whomever it is, they are probably woefully underpaid (if they're paid at all), and underappreciated. Still, playing music from "The Muppet Movie" during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, just seemed like something which shouldn't be let go without a letter or e-mail of some sort.

Warm Regards,

- Victor Lams

Friday, October 01, 2004

The University of Blogging

Presents to

An Honorary
Bachelor of
Deranged Genius

Majoring in
Infrequent Updates


Blogging Degree