prog: (Muybridge)
Recently posted to Neil Gaiman's contact form, by Y.T.:

Howdy, Neil:

I have a short and hopefully amusing story for you.

A couple of years ago, the subway system here in Boston experimented with a new kind of advertising. It affixed a long sequence of images to a certain stretch of tunnel wall, and shone a strobe light on it. Commuters thus saw a charmingly atavistic moving-picture display as the train trundled past.

The experiment ended after a few months, and the subway stopped installing new advertisements. The last ad for it was for the film "Coraline", put into place 18 months or more ago. The MBTA apparently decided that it was cheaper to just leave the installation in-place rather than tear it down.

And so, Coraline and her friends have been peeping into the Red Line between Harvard and Central squares all this time, ending with the message "In theaters February 2009". The ad has grown increasingly dim with all the accumulated subway-dust, but it remains quite visible, and even attention-grabbing.

A friend [[livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope] suggested that Neil Gaiman might enjoy knowledge that the Boston Underground is haunted by a girl-ghost, dim and flickering but still animated and lively, to whom he is related. So, there you have it.

Nonthon

Feb. 14th, 2010 01:59 pm
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
This is my first year since 2002 when the lead-up to noon on President's Day Eve does not see me establishing my nest in the theater, waiting for the 24-hour Boston SF Film Festival to start. The Thon is exercise in endurance unbearable without friends, and while I have friends in attendance, this year all my past Starship Thon berthmates are otherwise occupied.

I am OK with this! I have a lot on my own plate as well, and honestly? I can't say I feel much regret in breaking tradition this year. I find that I don't even have to console myself with the guarantee that this way I won't be stuck sitting behind Constant Screen Talkback, Laughing At His Own Lame Joke, Then Looking Around To See If Anyone Else Is Laughing Guy. So, best wishes to all who are attending. Even that guy.

Next post: what the hell I've been up to, lately.
prog: (Default)
The 2010 MIT Mystery Hunt was as typical of IIFish glonous history and cultual as ever. I love all my teammates, from those I see al the time to those I see only annually. This year I especially loved being able to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] aspartaimee again, who I hadn't seen in way too long.

It was an up-n-down experience for me, with a high-energy Friday followed by a mostly frustrating Saturday, and general failure to meet my hopes that I'd be able to participate in metapuzzle solving at all, for once. (Have still never even touched the damn things.) I found the hunt structure itself among the most clever I've seen, though I saw so little of it live, and didn't feel like I contributed much to IIF's total solving.

I might take advantage of [livejournal.com profile] temvald's increasingly ingenious team web app, as well as our team's accumulated self-training in working with remote solvers, and just telecommute next year. Dunno yet - it's a whole year away now, and we're already talking about some fun team activities to do in the meantime that aren't nearly as draining.

[ If you believe this to be the second LJ post about the 2010 hunt by me that you've read, surely you are mistaken. This is the only post that I've written about it! The historical records all back me up... ]



"Sherlock Holmes", meanwhile, provided the perfect balm for massaging away the last of the Huntish brain-cramp. I found it an excellent and loving work of fanfiction. Goofy smile on face throughout. All bad reviewers are grouchy prescriptivists.
prog: (Muybridge)
Dear locals,

I require the immediate application of immersive passive escape, and as such will be seeing Sherlock Holmes at the Somerville, 7:30 this evening. Give shout if like to join, or just ambush us on-site, wev.

The best summary I've heard of this movie is (via someone's Twitter) "This would have been one of my favorite movies of the year, if only all of the names had been different," and that sounds good enough for me.
prog: (rotwang)
Saw and enjoyed A Serious Man today. It's a puzzling film that I recommend. Spoilery, thoughts below cut.

A dybbuk, a nebbish, and Shroedinger's Cat. )
prog: (rotwang)
I literally sat up in bed pre-dawn last Saturday morning with the idea to make this, and I found the time put it together last night. Enjoy.

prog: (khan)
This is nice:



Interesting pattern develops here, if this is a viral for the next J.J. Abrams Trek film (which it almost surely is, since it looks too polished, and its credit roll is too absent, to be a fan video). It follows the same precedent for superhero-story reboots set by the Nolans' Batman films: in the first installment, pit the hero against a canonical but somewhat lame villain. This keeps the focus on how you've revitalized the hero - or, in Trek's case, the heroic ensemble. If that goes over well, then you can sustain fan-glee by rolling out the arch-nemesis for part two.

[livejournal.com profile] rikchik points out to me that the latter-day Dr. Who TV series follows this pattern as well. The first Eccleson episode had him shining as he dealt with the obscure-but-canonical Autons, and they waited a few episodes before the ol' Daleks showed up to steal his spotlight away.

Edit Oh, the glyphs at the end are totally a URL passed through a simple latin1-to-klingon-character cipher. I am too lazy to figure it out though.

Edit 2 OK, fine: it goes here. (Ripped from an IO9 comment. whee...)
prog: (PKD)
Was awake in the wee hours, thinking about Inglorious Basterds. The word I finally choose for the film's climax is disturbing. It's a huge energy release after hours of buildup, and while that much is expected, it blasts in directions that feel completely wrong. And it's brilliant. The amazing visuals (not just the special effects, but their context and arrangement) make it all very watchable, letting it batter your brain directly with its very intentional wrongnesses.

Lots of spoilers. )
prog: (Muybridge)
I saw a girl movie, and then I saw a boy movie. I liked them both.

Julie and Julia A net win because the biopic parts are delicious. Meryl Streep is phenomenal in the (co-)title role, as is Paul Tucci as Mr. Child. It focuses on the time that Julia Child spent in postwar Paris, from arrival as the bored wife of a government agent through her transformation into an expert and then a published author on French cuisine. Her passion for the subject matter drives her through years of obstacle-laden effort, supported always by her friends and loved ones. I cannot not love stories like this.

The other half of the movie, set in 2002 New York, is a stock romantic comedy with boring and silly characters that I found tolerable, right up until the end titles. These informed me that what I just watched was based on an autobiographic account, after which I retroactively downgraded it to uncomfortably wanky. Oh well.

Inglorious Basterds I saw this only this past afternoon, and I'm still reeling from it. The film is much more tense than it is violent (and it's quite violent). I made a mistake in drinking a large cup of coffee prior beforehand, and so got to feel my heart trying to pound its way out of my chest as I watched one long, super-tense scene after another. At least a couple of times I had to close my eyes and control my breathing for moment lest I rupture something.

The film travels down paths so surprising and even bizarre that I don't wish to say much outside of a spoiler-cut, and I don't think I have that much to say about it yet. As always, Todd Alcott's thread on the picture is a fine place to read some (spoiler-filled!) intelligent discussion.

It gets a recommend from me, with a strong advisory to avoid spoilers if you do plan on seeing it.
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
I saw Star Trek and enjoyed it very much. If you like cool shit, you'll probably like this movie. Lilek's thoughts on it jibe with mine, more or less.

I had [livejournal.com profile] cortezopossum's summary of "they managed to screw up everything, and yet it worked" in mind as I watched, but I don't think any apologies for canon-drift are really necessary. The producers made room for it in-story by not only explicitly making Picard age backwards ), but also letting Richard Hatch reprise his role as 'Nomad' from the original series. )

I also went in with [livejournal.com profile] surrealestate's perception that the movie was cringingly sexist. There is sexism-by-omission, but I want to beg off that charge by the fact that, short of BSG-style gender-flips, the producers didn't have much to work with given the source material. (Now, as [livejournal.com profile] dougo sez, they totally could have made at least one of the crew a lady, and made it work. Aw, I am now envisioning a girlie-girl Chekov. So cute. Oh well.) I can grok the negative reading of Uhura, but it's not the one that seemed natural to me as I watched the film. So, the movie didn't really trip my personal feminist barf-o-meter, for whatever that's worth... though I wouldn't have objected to more effort.

(I preƫmptively dismiss the claim that any adaptation of Trek has to be sexist in order to stay true to its roots. As commenters to Ms. Estate's post note, the 1960s TV series did a lot to test social boundaries of the day, even though much of it seems pretty backwards to us now.)

BONUS REVIEW! Terminator: Salvation trailer: Boy, when the androids come for real, robophobic shit like this is gonna be unbearably igry. Just saying.
prog: (khan)
I had a great time. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] xartofnothingx, [livejournal.com profile] daerr and [livejournal.com profile] kyroraz for joining me this year, as well as the N hundred of you other crazy people.

Recap: I watch 13 movies in 24 hours, surrounded by SF film geeks, and tell you about it. )

Thon.

Feb. 14th, 2009 05:01 pm
prog: ("The Sixth Finger" guy)
The plan is to be in line with [livejournal.com profile] xartofnothingx at 10am.

Who-all else is-a gonna be there?

I'm super-psyched. I just hope I don't sit behind one of the people who sits by himself, making inane non-jokes and then laughing at them while looking around to see if anyone else is laughing. Like, once every two minutes. I have been stuck with two different instances of this class the past two years... bah. Maybe if I write about it here it won't happen...
prog: (khan)
Only two more weeks n change before the 2009 Boston Sci-Fi movie marathon, prezint's day weekend. This year's theme is Aliens Attack! The lineup's been announced, and [livejournal.com profile] derspatchel has written up a fine summary of it. (When's the last time they've announced the full line-up in January?)

Who-all's interested in joining me this time around? This'll be my eighth time in a row attending... whee!
prog: (Muybridge)
[livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie and I celebrated our two-year anniversary last night by watching the first two Godfather films at the Brattle. (We watched The Departed at the Somerville on our official first date.)

I had not seen either film before, if you can believe it. (The junkie has seen both many times, and this outing was at her suggestion.) The experience reminded me of studying Romeo & Juliet for the first time in high school, and being so amazed as how much content was in it, beyond the balcony scene and everybody-dies ending that every resident of Western popular culture knows about. What a pleasure it was to discover what the first movie held, beyond the horse-head scene and the one line everyone can quote. (I'm willing to bet that most people who have not seen The Godfather think that Marlin Brando's is the main character. I certainly did, before yesterday.)

Also, the opening measures of the theme song... for my whole life, hearing this has meant "You are about to watch a parody of some bit of The Godfather, maybe with Bill Clinton instead of Don Corleone or something". So hearing that in a dark theater and trying to convince myself no really it's the real thing this time was interesting.

It also brought to mind Brust's Vlad Taltos novels. I started reading these only last year, and they may be the first book-length gangster stories I've read, odd as that seems. (Trying to think back to see if I'm wrong... I liked Robert Aspirin's "Myth" series when I was a kid, and they have gangstery themes, but they're also very silly.) Anyway, the first books, written less than ten years after The Godfather completely redefined the crime-drama subgenre, clearly borrowed liberally from the films to build the structure of its underworld, never mind that it has elves instead of Italians. (Actually, I guess it would have humans instead of Italians. But anyway.) I learned all my (movie-)gangster lingo from reading these novels, so it was fun to watch them reappear in their original context.

As for Part II, I liked it OK, but it couldn't avoid feeling like a mere epilogue to the neat, perfect story told by the first. As such, the fact that it was significantly longer than the original work just made it feel uncomfortably unbalanced. It reminded me of how I felt after reading "Dune Messiah", except that that's not a very long book.
prog: (Default)
The launch of the "New Xbox Experience" last week still feels a little bizarre, in how it took a service that I had already subscribed to for a while and made it measurably better, in several ways, with no increase in price, loss of other features, or need to do anything on my part. This is so the opposite of the way things usually go, right? [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie and I quickly started to capitalize on the new Netflix-on-tap feature - to the point where we downgraded our Netflix account to one-disc-at-a-time, since we don't expect to use those things much any more, not when we can just whistle up movies in zero flat. I expect to be watching a lot more movies now. This is a good thing.

I just watched Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train". What an odd movie. Has so many beautiful bits, enough so that I was willing to overlook fundamental character stupidity. But the ending is spoiled by being so weird to the point of being flat-out stupid. The setup for the endboss fight depends on the police gunning down a completely random civilian by accident... and then completely ignoring that they did so (as do dozens of witnesses, apparently). How can you not watch that happen and not feel completely distracted for the rest of the scene? Was the time-budget so tight they they couldn't insert in a scene of the guy getting helped back up and muttering about his heart condition, and how loud noises make him faint, or something? Oh well.

Still a movie worth seeing sometime, if you haven't.
prog: (moonbat)
So, OK: Vladimir Putin is possibly plotting an air strike against the U.S.? Is there any other way to interpret what she said here? (Sorry for the pre-roll ad; I just parrot what Gruber links to, man.)

I look forward to my masochistic side making me feel oddly disappointed when these destructive, demented dead-enders lose. (If they win, I'm going to go, like, shitting-into-bell-jars crazy.)

Grumbling

Aug. 12th, 2008 06:13 pm
prog: (Default)
Is it weird that the Indiana Jones movies never struck me as particularly racist, but the Lego Indiana Jones video game sometimes makes me squirm a little?

Part of me suspects that neither is worse than the other in this respect, but the Lego game stands out more for being (a) brand-new and thus contextualized in 21st century cultural awareness, and (b) acted out by animated children's toys.

Also, except for watching Raiders a coupla years ago at a friend's house (which may have been the first time I ever saw it start-to-finish), I don't think I've watched the movies as an adult. My sense of heywaitasec was calibrated much looser when I was younger.

Glass Vader

Aug. 9th, 2008 09:52 pm
prog: (khan)
I love this story of a Stained Glass Darth Vader window designed by a 7-year-old in 1977 (and crafted by a grown-up friend). They've been proudly displaying it ever since.

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