Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What I'm doing

I've been chipping away at Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I picked up at the used book store for a couple bucks.  I didn't realize it was written in the form of recorded letters, journal entries, and newspaper clippings.  What's weird is that it reminds me in parts very heavily of Salem's Lot (which I read right before this) and I have to continually remind myself the chicken came before the egg in this case.

Overall it is very engaging so far considering it is a bit passively written.

In other news my work instituted an enterprise wide collaboration system with Blogs, Wiki-like capabilities, groups, and projects.  A lot of my creative juice has gone there instead of here in an effort to kick start the site and hopefully build a readership amongst my colleagues and maybe even some influence on real decisions.  It's been weird writing only expositions on work-centric themes but a good challenge.  I'm really thinking of taking the Intro to Non-fiction Continuing Studies course in the fall because of this.

Finally, I just wanted to take the time to thank Zaynab for giving me the guts to rename my blog, I really am happier with it this way even if I did lose all my comments! Woo, my comments are back!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Made the Move

At the risk of losing part of my readership I renamed to Human Fail Machine complete with a new address.  Unfortunatly, Blogspot/Blogger lost my entire historical comments in the process.  There is an official thread in the Blogger forums with 165+ people in a similiar situation.  Epic. Fail. Google.

If you want to read the comments you can actually find them at where I had experimentally imported this blog prior to the move in case I liked it better.  Getting there...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Route Eighty-Ate

"Hot town, summer in the city..." crooned out of the radio as Lenny bounced along a snowy route 88.  The little Volkswagon was buzzing through the shallow snow drifts up the valley at a pretty good clip but Lenny was worried that if he did stop he wasn't going to get started again.  Visibility in the failing sunlight was low, but it was still better than the blinding glare that he had expected before the snow began to fall in the late afternoon, obscuring the sky.

This job better be worth it, he thought to himself.  It didn't pay a lot and it was way over in Tankerville, a backwater upitty little place through the Deepfoot Valley along Route 88, but heck if it wasn't better than anything he'd found in Thornton.

A pair of dim headlights peaked out of the canvas of falling snow in the oncoming lane and Lenny tightened his grip on the wheel; you never quite expected the full force on the wheel from passing another vehicle in snow this deep.  He idly hoped this one wasn't bigger than an SUV but Lenny wasn't overly worried; he'd driven in bad weather before and he always made it where he was going because of his one simple rule: never, ever stop moving.

Coopertown, Population: Done.

Gary wished he hadn't wasted all that money on life insurance.  Grotesquely, this was the only thing he could think about as he ran across Central Ave in the dead of night carrying a shovel in both hands.  As he passed under the diffused spotlight of a street lamp he caught sight of the blood and brain matter on the blade of the spade.

I bet they had life insurance, thought Gary, fat lot of good it did them.

Just then he noticed he was running straight towards Coopertown Co-operators where their slogan was bannered across the window, "Insure now, for piece of mind!"  Man, had that guy made the most fitting and timely typo in what was proving to be the short history of human civilization.

Movie Review:: Ninja Assassin

Ninja Assassin - Legendary Pictures

A movie about ninjas produced by the Wachowski brothers and Legendary Pictures. Awesome. Or is it?

To be honest, I was dissapointed by this movie. It had a predictable storyline and the fight scenes were difficult to follow as they were very dark. I'll come back to these. The acting was adequate and the story and ending left it open to a sequel. The main weaknesses of the movie for me were the slightly silly feeling Europol agency and agents, they felt like they came right out of a Hong Kong Jackie Chan movie to me, and the lack of emotional investment in the main character's motive.

The latter shortcoming was a result of the way the backstory was shot. Often I could not tell which child was which and so there was a difficulty in attaching the emotions to the right person. Also the backstory scenes leaped ahead years at a time and with a limited building of the emotional connection between the characters that was, to me, a result of the brief nature of some of the clips. In the end I didn't really feel the lines the main protagonist were throwing around in the heat of his revenge were powerful enough to really motivate that revenge considering the desparate brashness of it. But that's just me. In reality, I didn't need any of this because the story arc was pretty predictable with maybe one or two slight novelties along the way, and at that some of them even seemed gimmicky or cheesy to me.

Visually, the movie had a lot to offer. Some original and cool effects and fight scenes that were unfortunately often hard to really make out. I will concede I watched this movie at Galleria which seems to have a poorer viewing experience than a Silver City (poorer sound too). The darkness, though, was for effect as the ninjas lurk in shadow and it is their magic. I'd like to see this again on a good TV to catch what I missed in the theatre. One thing that I could not miss was the blood and visceral death effects. The blood here isn't the bright, contrasting, almost comical Kill Bill blood but the deep ruddy blood of film noir but gushing in gouts that could sicken a horror afficionado.

In the end I had to ask myself, what was this movie trying to be? I think, it was trying to be a nostalgic ninja movie updated with some cool ninja effects and brutally hyper-realistic fight scenes (realistic if you take the premise that ninja are as supernatural as legends posit) that don't flinch at the question, what happens if someone with incredible strength hits you full swing in the head with a razor sharp katana. These things it excels at and so, this movie succeeds in the fashion of Ninja Scroll. In that regard, I think a well considered sequel could have a place and if they beef up the story (now that the stage is set) to incorporate the other 8 ninja clans we could have a very cool movie.

My recommendation: If you are not a steel-gutted fan of ninjas or a voracious consumer of the occasionally innovative action special effect, don't bother with this movie.