Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This is just "teh" awesome

Yes, I'm engaging in bad internet lingo, but I can't help it. This is just the coolest music video I've seen in a while:

Mute Math's "Typical." I'm thinking I need to check me out some more of this stuff.

Monday, May 28, 2007

On the Lot

You know, I was actually looking forward to the summer so I wouldn't watch so much TV.

But, wouldn't you know it, I had to take a peek at a reality show and now I'm hooked. What am I talking about? Why, On the Lot, of course.

I know it's been done before, but I'm curious to see who the "next great American filmmaker" will turn out to be. So last week, even though we were on vacation, Jill and I watched the premiere episode and we even got to watch the second one as well. We missed one episode in there somewhere (the minute-long scenes they had to film in an hour. Didn't see it).

So tonight we got to watch short comedies by the contestants. Here are my favorites:
  • Andrew Hunt's barfing aliens -- I voted for this one numerous times. Call me a sci-fi junkie if you will, but I thought this was perfect.
  • Zach Lipovsky's accident -- I voted a few times for this as well. Zach should just drop out of the contest now. I mean, the guy has proven he has what it takes and I'd be willing to bet that there's a line of studio executives lining up to snatch this guy up now.
  • Shira-Lee's strip-tease -- Loved this short film. I thought she might have crossed a line but then, when I realized what she was doing, beautiful!
  • Sam's farting cavemen -- I mean, do I need to say anything more than that?

I also loved Adam's dancing man, Mateen's "soft" thief, and although the judges were horrified (and I can see why), I chuckled at Jason's "Getta Rhoom." Sue me. Oh, and Will's lucky penny was great too.

So who do I want to see gone? Easy: Kenny, Hilary, and Claudia. But the greatest of these is Kenny.

I'm sorry, what the heck was that? Off color buildings, over-the-top acting, a shirtless fat man getting whacked in the chest with a pizza? This is comedy? Not only that, but you can tell that Kenny has a big "indie chip" on his shoulder. He may have talent (that's debatable), but he knows he has talent (or, at least, he thinks he does). Not a good combo.

Hilary's pee bus? Not funny. Claudia's blind date? Puh-leeze.

Oh well. Can't wait to see what my boys Andrew and Zach have in store for us next week.


So just a moment ago, I finished Betrayal by Aaron Allston.
I've been waiting to read this book for a while. This kicks off a new Star Wars series of novels. The last one, The New Jedi Order, was such a rip-roaring, holy cow, gasp fest that I was holding out high hopes for this one. I eagerly watched as more and more books from this series were released in paperback, but I wanted to wait until this, the first book in the series, came out in paperback as well (as they sometimes do, Bantam released this book as a hardcover first).
I'm not sure it was worth the wait and that disappoints me.
For starters, I accidentally learned what happened at the end of the book. So what should have been a big surprise ... well, it wasn't.
Second, we have Allston's writing. I love Aaron Allston's other Star Wars novels. Allston has a wit and sense of humor that shines through no matter what he's writing. For example, his Wraith Squadron books were golden (especially the running joke about the Ewok pilot; trust me, you have to read it to believe it). Even in the midst of the Vong invasion, Allston's wit shone through.
But not so much in this book. There were glimmers of it, sure, but they fell kind of flat.
Third, we have what I suspect was supposed to be a "holy cow" revelation but fizzled for me. The reason? I had no idea what Allston was talking about. I had to look up the information on Wikipedia and even after I learned what I had to, I wasn't that impressed.
I'll keep reading the other books in the series; I mean, given what's happened, I'm curious to see how things shake out. If you've read the book, you know what I mean. If not, well, you can take a look for yourself. Just don't expect tremendous things.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Sparrow

Wow. Just .... wow.

Late last night, I finished reading The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I think I'm still in shock from the ending. This was simply a phenomenal book.
In short, The Sparrow is the story of a Jesuit mission to an alien planet in orbit of Alpha Centauri. The longer version is this: a technician at a radio telescope in Puerto Rico discovers snatches of alien music. Father Emilio Sandoz immediately wants to go and meet the alien Singers. The Jesuits finance the mission quietly and, without telling anyone, send a small crew to the planet of Rakhat to meet the natives and learn as much as they can.
But something goes wrong. When the book picks up, we learn that only Father Sandoz has survived the Jesuit mission and nobody knows what happened. No one except him. And so the Jesuits do their best to reconstruct what happened, not only to the ill-fated Rakhat mission, but to Father Sandoz as well.
I had a hard time putting this book down. Mary Doria Russell crafted it perfectly. She jumps between two different stories seamlessly, telling us what happened to Sandoz after he returned to Earth, and then back to the mission itself. The beauty of this book is that even though you know the basics of what happened to the Jesuit mission (they all die) and what happened to Father Sandoz (... I won't go into that here), there are still big question marks that hover over the story and keep you reading. You know that the crew dies, but she doesn't reveal the how or the why. That's enough to keep you going through the book to its explosive conclusion.
I do have one complaint: it's obvious that Mary Doria Russell isn't Christian. I'm sorry, but her Jesuits didn't totally ring true for me. They kept turning to Jewish mythology for comfort. If I remember correctly, they only quoted from the New Testament once (Matthew 10:29, where Russell got her title). I don't think that true Christians would approach things quite as these did, especially not the Father General of the Jesuits and the way he looks at the whole mess at the end of the book.
That aside, this was a great read and well worth it. Just make sure you brace yourself. You're in for one heck of a ride.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not Weepy At All

So Gilmore Girls just ended. I'm not weepy. And I should be.
This is one of those dirty little secrets I probably shouldn't post on the web, but I can get really emotional, especially at the end of things. I thought for sure that when Gilmore Girls wrapped, I would be bawling my eyes out.
Nope. Didn't happen. And I'm not surprised at all.
This season ... no, wait, series finale just is the perfect death rattle for a show that slowly petered out and lost steam over this last year. The writing staff who took over after Amy Sherman-Palladino left should be ashamed of themselves. They took a witty, great show and let it die a slow death.
Now there were some genuinely touching moments. The scene between Rory and Lane felt right. The scene at the party where Richard made his peace with Lorelai was good too. But this just wasn't right.
And I know what they were trying to accomplish by "framing" the whole series with the final shot. Look! It's reminiscent of the first episode! We haven't forgotten! But I highly doubt that the final lines conceived by Sherman-Palladino were, "I guess they'll have to read your stuff." "I guess they will." How hard would it have been to call Amy up and just pay her a couple thousand bucks to find out what the real final lines should have been so it could end right?
Well, farewell, Lorelai and Rory. You deserved a lot better than this.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Gilmore Girls redux

This sums up my thoughts pretty well. I particularly appreciated the comment that this last season has been Gilmore Ghosts. Just not worthy of the previous six seasons.

This is just cooler than cool

That is just so cool, I can't put it into words.
I've actually wanted to go looking for it for some time now as well. After all, we know from Josephus that Herod was buried in the vicinity of the Herodium, and we've known where that was for a while now. I could never understand why nobody ever went looking for the tomb itself.
Now I know that someone has been looking for this tomb for over twenty years. And now, his hard work has paid off and we may have the fragments of Herod's sarcophagus.
I mean, this is just awesome. Really, really cool.

Friday, May 11, 2007


It would appear that my attempts at the blog tag game were a little late. Maybe I should just stick to doing book reviews and the odd rant about whatever's on my mind.

In that vein, let's talk Eldest.

I know I was a little harsh on the movie adaptation of Eragon. I wonder if maybe that cinematic train wreck soured me on the whole Inheritance trilogy. Hard to say. I can say this, though: I wasn't as impressed this time around with Paolini.

For starters, Paolini's archaic grammar and writing really bugged me. I realize that he was trying to set a tone, and maybe it's just I'm a more laid-back kind of guy, but it was a little too clear to me that Paolini was trying to give his story an "epic" feeling. But the kind of writing he did isn't really necessary to achieve "epicness." Sure, J.R.R. Tolkein did it, but Tolkein did it better.

Second, I wonder what Paolini's personal beliefs are, specifically his religious beliefs. There were times when it seemed that Paolini was on a soap box, preaching through his characters. I know it's a little ironic that a pastor who yearns to publish Christian fiction would be bugged by preachy characters, but part of the problem is that I disagreed with the position I think Paolini was espousing. And maybe I was just reading into things a bit too much.

Now I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy the book. The climactic battle between the Varden and the Empire was a good read, especially the surprise twist that occurred toward the end. I did not see it coming, and that's a good thing; I hate it when I can figure out an ending a hundred pages before it happens. It's also obvious that Paolini has put a lot of thought into his fictional world; it comes to life in a very nice way.

So will I read the third Inheritance book? More than likely; I'm the kind of guy who likes to finish stuff like this. But I probably won't buy a copy. The library will be good enough.

Next on my pile of books to read is The Sparrow, which Sharon Hinck recently recommended to me. I don't know. That pile of books just keeps getting larger; I recently ordered two more books from Amazon: The Apocalypse Code and The Restorer. So I guess that means I'll be busy with book reviews for a while.

Not that that's a bad thing.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I guess I've been tagged....

So I found out last week that I was tagged for a blog game. Thanks Becky.

I guess I need to post the rules first:

  • Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
  • People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
  • At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
  • Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So eight random facts or habits about myself?

1) I was once involved in a race riot started by the Ku Klux Klan in Memphis, TN. No, I wasn't wearing a sheet at the time. Some friends and I were in town on Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend and wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

2) I don't drink alcohol of any kind (except for communion wine), but not because I believe that drinking alcohol is sinful. I have some sort of weird allergic reaction to every kind of booze I've tried and for that reason, I haven't touched the stuff.

3) I am deathly afraid of heights, but only if I think there's a possibility I will fall. In other words, I can handle skyscrapers just fine ... unless I'm balancing on the edge of them. My only other phobia is that of needles. I can't stand them. When we took Isaiah in for his third round of immunizations, I couldn't watch.

4) I majored in theatre in college. I actually considered going to theatre grad school instead of the Seminary.

5) I'd like to teach in a Lutheran high school someday.

6) I've considered going back to grad school and getting either a masters degree in homiletics (sermon writing and preaching) or even my PhD in liturgical drama, but I don't see the point in taking out all the loans for a degree that I probably would never use.

7) I've actually put thought into how I would have written the Star Wars prequels and, in my not so humble opinion, I could have come up with a story that didn't suck as hard as the one George came up with.

8) I once published two very bad poems in a Christian youth magazine. Thankfully I did so under a pen name. At the time, I thought a pen name would be cool. Now I'm glad that I used it so no one can connect me to the poems.

So now I need to pick people to tag, I guess. I'm going to do this in two different groups. One group will be people whose blogs I frequent. Those people would be: Mir, Shannon, Jamison, and Sharon (although it looks like Sharon already got tagged).

The other group I'll tap will be my friends from Red vs. Blue. I love the Politics & Currents Events Forum and I've met some very interesting people here. So I'm tagging the following and daring them to do this in their journals: Swooper, the incomparable Jengaship, Batmantis (who was asking for something like this in his last journal entry), and Satarus.

Okay. There we go. I feel better now.

Second-to-last Gilmore Girls Musing

Like I said a week ago, the plug has been pulled on Gilmore Girls. And, as I said last week, I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

But enough of my vacilating opinion. Let's talk about the second-to-last episode which aired this past Tuesday.

First of all, we have the big proposal. Logan pops the question to Rory only to have her turn him down. I was a little surprised, but also very relieved, when Rory turned him down. Even though we don't know what's going to happen to Rory in the future, I prefer her to face the future untethered. Not only that, but part of me dreaded even a hint of a double-wedding ending for the show (you know, Rory is engaged to Logan, Luke and Lorelai get back together, hinting that at some point, both couples would wind up getting married). Now I don't need to worry about that anymore. It stinks that Logan made it an "all or nothing" deal, but Rory is better without him.

Second, and while this is small, we have Kirk-in-a-box. It was short, it was weird, but it was perfect. It was a step in the right direction and helped me realize why I wasn't as satisfied with the show this season. The townsfolk were largely missing. Perhaps Amy Sherman-Palladino was able to juggle the competing storylines better than the current crop of writers, but we didn't see much of the other denizens of Stars Hollow this year and it made the rest of the show lacking. Seeing Kirk in a box helped me realize this. We should have caught even momentary glimpses of his other bizarre schemes. We should have had more town meetings. We should have seen more of Taylor. We should have definitely seen more of the Troubador than just him wandering through Taylor's maze.

There is one other issue that's bothering me about the way this is playing out, and that's the fact that next week's episode isn't a true series finale. Instead it's a season finale that's been promoted. Rather than work up to a true ending to the series, we have the show working up to what would have been the end of a season. There's a big difference. With a true series finale, we could have put a more definitive cap on some of the issues.

For example, I would have loved to see some sort of final reconciliation between Lorelai and her parents, even if it was in the form of a permanent cease fire. I would have loved to see Hep Alien strike it big. I would have loved to see Kirk declare his undying love for Taylor. Well .... maybe not that last one. But you get the idea. Instead of getting the final resolution, we're instead getting a half-hearted resolution that will just have to be good enough.

But what really has me cheesed off about this is the fact that they weren't able to bring Amy Sherman-Palladino back for the ending. If they had planned this better, made it a true series finale and not a rush job, they could have brought Amy back and let her write the ending she always envisioned.

I don't remember where I saw this (probably in one of the interviews on the DVDs), but Amy once said that she knew what the last words of the show would be and that she's always known. I would have loved to see the final episode that Amy would have written. I want to know what those final lines would have been. But even if she reveals them in an interview now, it won't be the same. I would have wanted to have heard the words coming from Lorelai and Rory (because that's obviously who would have said it), not read about it in the pages of Entertainment Weekly or on some blog somewhere.

Oh well. You can expect one more post like this sometime after next Tuesday.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I'm not sure how I feel about this...

Jill's brother is on the phone right now and told her the news. I immediately hopped on the web to look for confirmation...

Gilmore Girls has come to an end.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. In some ways, I'm relieved. The writing has really, really gone downhill and in some ways, they've been circling the drain all season. It's good for them to end before they really hit rock bottom.

At the same time, I'm not sure I'm happy about this at all. It's too quick. I doubt that they will be able to wrap up all the issues (such as the most recent, Rory's lack of a job) satisfactorily. I'm afraid that they'll rush to the ending and leave a sour taste in everyone's mouth.

Oh well. What's done is done. At least we have the good seasons in DVD.