April 28, 2005

CNN: Neat "tamper [resistant] drinking glass"

from CNN

Hollow has double walls -- the inside wall is lower than the outer one and the gap between the two is so narrow, a special nozzle has to be used to drop anything inside it.

The nozzle, which can be attached to any optic used to pour nips of spirit measures, sits on top of the drinking glass, filtering liquid into the walls of the vessel.

Once the optic is removed, it is extremely difficult to pour anything into the sides because the center is hollow and bottomless.

"If you were to drop anything into the glass, it would go straight through the middle. If any drug did land inside the walls of the glass, it would be such a low percentage that it wouldn't have an effect," Martin said.

I love ideas that are the simple "why didn't I think of that" type. I'm not fooled into thinking that this is tamper proof. Anyone with a small sprayer similar to the pressurized breath fresheners and a decent aim with enough time could circumvent it, or, buy the glass as well and carry the attachment.

However, level of difficulty has been raised for those who do that sort of thing, which is good.

The downside, you've been relagated to walking around with an adult version of a "sippy cup".

Posted by Jeffrey at 7:39 AM | Comments (0)

April 25, 2005

Why I Blog

I had this idea for a blog entry for a while now, but held onto it for various reasons. George Orwell and a host of others have commented on what it is that gives them cause to write. A quick google search revealed that many bloggers have given thought to this as well, so I thought I'd try my hand at it. It's a good idea to play with since it's a good form of self-reflection and it's something that you can repeat with different results over time. Expect this to be a recurring blog entry.

My initial intention for keeping a blog was admittedly somewhat introspective and narcissistic. I never had the diligence or tidyness growing up to keep a journal, mostly just scrapbooks and a notebook or two that I scribbled fiction or thoughts into. A blog seemed to be just novel and accessible enough for me to try my hand at keeping a somewhat daily journal of my life on.

Over a relatively short period of time, I discovered that I didn't really want to make public everything I was feeling and going through. I re-drafted a bunch of my more personal or self-deprecating entries and put more thought about which ones to make public. The last thing I wanted to do was make this a wailing wall of personal woe or a shrine unto myself.

So why do I blog?

Well, I have no agenda for it. There's no one in jail I know personally that I think should be freed. I'm not the kind of guy who believes he can write bulletproof policies that can help resolve political discord, or help some kid not be afraid of the dark by selling it(the darkness, that is) on Ebay.

I think I blog today because through my seemingly random choice of topics to discuss, a pattern or method will soon develop. As I add more and more entries, the pattern and/or method grows. Quite possibly, the blog could assume some sort of life like Sherlock Holmes did for Doyle. I think I blog today so that I see where each new entry goes in terms of developing the blog as a whole.

But that can all change, and I think that is what is interesting about right now.

Posted by Jeffrey at 2:38 AM | Comments (0)

April 17, 2005

Sin City

Sin City
Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica Alba, Brittany Murphy, "kitchen sink"
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez, Tarintino pinch hitting.
Rating: 2.68/5.0

Where to begin, where to begin? When I first saw the trailer, I was very interested in seeing how this movie pans out. I read up on the story behind the movie, how Rodriguez gave up his director's guild membership to make Frank Miller a co-director, how Miller was very hands-on and the end result was going to be as direct a copy of the comic as it could. How Tarintino even came in to pinch hit for his first foray into digital film.

Notice I said copy, not translation. Remember that.

I saw the star-power being thrown behind it. A couple of heavy hitters(Willis, Owen, Wood, Del Toro), some smaller stars/starlets(Murphy(best performance), Alba(eye candy), Stahl(underrated), Clarke-Duncan(typecast), Dawson(Gilmore Girl gone wild), Hartnet("have you seen me lately?"), Madsen(career crushing)) and a couple of on-the-way-outers(Mickey Rourke("Yeesh"), and Rutger Hauer(That's Rutger Hauer?). Pretty impressive on the marquee there.

With such talent and a pretty decent story, you'd think that this would be a grand slam. But it's not. And may become famous in cinema textbooks of the most clear-cut example of why you don't allow the writer on the set.

I understand Miller's/Rodriguez's goal of making the movie as faithful to the text as possible, but cannot follow instructions to build a "boat", when you're making a "house"! I'm not an autuer or some famous writer of any medium, so what I say next could easily be refuted(and since this is a blog, I say go for it), but I'm going to say it anyway.

In writing, it is often required to crack open the head's of the characters and spill their thoughts out. Especially since it is not a medium where actions are as clearly received as in film. Comics work somewhere inbetween text and film, where extended thought can be conveyed without disruption of scene, character, or pacing.

That being said, having a comic book read to me during a movie is about as aggravating as having a comic book read to me during a movie. Tami had this to say.

"When I interviewed at the NSA, every room had a flashing red light to indicate an outsider in the midst. For 8 hours, they'd quiz you on material. I'd rather go through that and have bamboo shoved under my cuticles for a week than watch that movie again."

Sitting through all the mental dialogue is just excrutiating. I owe Tami 5 chic flicks because of that movie(actually, just 5 of whatever she wants, now), and I would gladly sit through them if it meant not seeing it again. And were it just the mental dialogue, we could let it go with that and get on to the good things. But like Basin city, no one has a happy ending.

In addition to the mind numbing voiceovers and semi-voiceovers, some of the lines(while revealing and choice for the characters on pulp) are just nails-on-chalkboard on the screen. I appreciate stylization as much as the next guy, but this wasn't even good stylized dialogue. It was stylized comic book dialogue, which just doesn't work coming out of flesh-and-blood mouths.

To their credit, some actors managed to pull it off. Brittany Murphy had her character spot-on and pulled-off any cheeseball line she had. She also seemed the least two-dimensional of the characters portrayed. Clive and Bruce come in second with theirs, although the fact that they had more screen time than most was probably a factor. Stahl was a close third only because he had such little time on screen compared to the second placers. Josh Hartnett, for once, actually impressed me with his performance enough to merit a high placing, kudos, Josh. The rest are as you might expect, but lets look at the bottom of the list, shall we?

Benicio Del Toro could very well be the victim of bad directing and/or editing, or maybe his character was just sadly underdeveloped. Let's take it Doonesbury-style. Replace Benicio's character with a floating, talking bottle of Aristocrat vodka. Not only is this funny when he's being drowned or when Dwight has his "cap" by the hair, but it pretty much sums up the character. "hello, I'm a drunk bad cop. Booga Booga!" The post-mordem scenes with him in the car are amusing, but not enough to gain my interest.

Mickey Rourke, my god. I don't know if it was the lines, the delivery, or the bad wire work all around him, but watching him(although devout to the comic) was like watching Paul Newman beat the tar out of Mike Tyson in bare-knuckles boxing. His makeup was awesome, he was built for a man of his age, but something about the way his environment responded around him, even for something stylized and exaggerated, just seemed off. When he was drowning the guy in the crapper for info, the wirework was holding up the guy higher than he was. There goes my suspension of disbelief...

Some of the action sequences, while mirroring the comic book faithfully, just looked wrong. Not stylized, overstylized, or hokey, just wrong. People flipping too slow for such an arc of travel. Stuff like that.

Marv's story is the only one I've read and, word-for-word is directly copied onto the screen. This is quite an accomplishment for a movie, granted, but so were the special effects for "Independence Day" and I don't hear anyone harping over that one these days. It takes more than faith to source for a movie to be good.

But let's ease up on it and go over what it did do right. First off, faith to source. With the writer as a co-director, I doubt you could more faithful to the source than this.

The cast is spot-on, each actor was well placed(perhaps too well in some cases) and very capable of handling the job at hand.

Robert Rodriguez? He's no Kurosawa, Hitchcock, or Demille by any drug-induced stretch of the imagination, but he also isn't bad either. I have some questions concerning organization and editing. Then again, with three directors(himself, Miller, and Tarintino) having fingers in the pot, I guess it's fortunate that they didn't end up with another AI.

The visual special effects (minus wirework and CGI animation(not rendering, mind you) on some action sequences)) were what made the movie. The shadowing, sihillouetting, and use and omission of color was just plain slick.

Overall, this movie had the potential to be the spring hit of the year, but I think part of the ideal they pursued also cursed them. As romantic and noble as it sounds to have the writer on the set giving input and direction on the film's look, feel, and behavior, they just seem out of place. It's like taking an exacto knife to a knife fight. Sure it'll do the job and in the right situations, do very very well, but you really want a machete. The constant barrage of thought dialogue was just too tedious to endure for such a period of time.

Truly sad that I got my hopes up about that film. I wonder how Star Wars will faire next month?

Posted by Jeffrey at 12:54 AM | Comments (0)

April 3, 2005

Trifecta of bad schtuff this weekend

Weekends must start on Friday, because that's when my bad one began.

I got a call early yesterday morning from my parents. My grandfather is in the hospital again. From my notes, he had the majority of his colon removed due to cancer. They also discovered that his liver was also "riddled with cancer as well". They had taken him to Sampson Regional Medical only because he couldn't make it to anywhere else. His kidneys are functioning at 43% capacity, he's strapped down and tubes are running in and out of nearly every place they could put one, they even made new places to put some. In short, he's in critical condition. Last night, doctors wouldn't give a prognosis past his surgery. Now, they won't venture past the next 48 hours.

The hospital is located in Clinton, NC. Close To Fayetteville. This is also the hospital where I was born.

My grandfather on my mother's side has not always lead the lifestyle of a health-conscious individual. He never dieted until the past couple of years and even then not faithfully. He smoked cigars for a long time, didn't exercise a lot, and his body paid for this in full. Even in sight of the damages his choices would render, he wouldn't change. For that, I felt angry at him for the longest time.

My cousin Jeremy and I(Jeremy being the funnier, more charasmatic of us) opted to visit him in the ICU since they only allowed two at the time. We were told that he was drugged for sleeping and that he wouldn't be awake, but at least we could see him. The last time I saw my grandfather in the hospital was in Raliegh, high on Percocet, and the nicest I've ever known him to be in my life. I knew that wouldn't be the case this time, but I was kind of hoping that the experience and what I've seen on NOVA and such would serve as a reference springboard for what I was about to encounter.

We passed through the security doors into the ICU and followed the doors in the room to his. He was awake, conscious enough to recognize who we were, and was very, very upset. I can't remember what either Jeremy or I said, but I remember that he did most of the talking. Everything I could think of saying didn't really apply. Tubes traced across his body like a map with different fluids moving in different directions, going in and out of his body at different places. He was awake, and wanting to move, and communicate, but his mouth was taped shut and his arms were strapped. His movements were jerky and forceful, and eventually triggered a red light behind his ear and some nauseantingly pleasant "alarms"(more like soothing door bells) to go off in the ICU. We left and got the nurse, who came and examined him and proceded to close the curtain.

I was not excited about how that went. It's kind of difficult to watch a relative move around like an amateur puppet, and when we left, we couldn't help but feel that we got him riled up and caused that to happen, although cooler logic would dispel such a notion.


I just received word that the Pope passed away tonight at around 9:30. While I'm not a catholic person, I know that he was one of the more revolutionary characters in their religion. While his views on certain subjects(sexuality and women) were less than compromising, some of his others(Judaism as an "Elder Brother" and the opposition and expulsion of communism) were more admirable. Definately someone you should read up on.


And third in this Trifecta: a "movie" review.

What the $*#@ do we know?
Marlee Matlin(Reasonable Doubt), Armin Shimmerman(Deep Space 9)
Directed by: Who cares?!(William Arntz, Betsy Chasse, Mark Vicente)
Rating: -0.025/4

This is not a "movie", I'm not sure what to call it, but it's not a movie. At first I thought it was a movie that had to be seen on the big IMAX screens with awesome surround sound in order to enjoy. About 30 seconds later, I was thinking that if we had vodka, 4 shots were required for the movie's full effect.

About 20 minutes later, Tami is conked-out and I'm wondering who in the hell recommended this brainfart of a loser movie. This is a cumulation of all the drunk hypothesizing you did in college, with the CGI from the eye candy movies you'd watch when you were drunk freshman year, and some crazy ass ex-trekkies who are suffering acid flashbacks on camera.

If anyone ever suggests this movie to you, treat it as if they're trying to sell Amway, and bitch-slap the taste out of their mouth. Unless you have a penchant for counting the number of absolutes a person uses, put this movie down, step far away from it, and keep going.

The only reason it didn't get a -1 was that there is one scene were a "downer" mood protein puts a bag on its head. That was funny enough for a quarter star. The other quarter comes from a post-op Matthew Lillard now known as Elaine Hendrix(just kidding!) in the best movie role of his life as the move-in sister of Marlee's.

What a weekend.

Posted by Jeffrey at 12:30 AM | Comments (0)