November 2005

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If you’re trying to develop a script for a Hollywood movie, you’ll get a lot of “Does it have to be that way?” questions from the studio executives. For example, someone might ask about one of the characters, “Does he have to stutter?” because that might make the film harder to enjoy, which would reduce the amount of money it could earn.

That’s a little less likely if the story is about the stutterer, although you never know. It’s not quite the same thing, but supposedly someone asked if Steve Martin’s character in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels had to spend so much time in a wheelchair.

It’s almost a game to make these up, asking about King Kong, “Does the ape have to be big?” Or about Dirty Harry, “Does he have to be so unpleasant?” Or about Superman, “Does he have to fly?”

Actually, that last one turns out not to be made up.

At least not according to this long and angry rant about the development process for the upcoming Superman movie. (Hat tip, Antigravitas) I’m not sure of its accuracy, but apparently the producers weren’t fans of the comic book and thought the flying scenes would be silly.

Other ideas considered for the movie:

  • Superman has a see-through suit that shows his internal organs.
  • Josh Hartnet as Superman
  • Punch up the action by surrounding Superman’s Fortress of Solitude with guards (showing a lack of understanding not only of the Superman character, but also of the word solitude).
  • David Duchovny as Superman.
  • Krypton didn’t blow up (yet somehow there’s still kryptonite).
  • Jim Caviezel as Superman.
  • Superman gets his powers from his suit.
  • Sean Penn as Superman.
  • Superman fights a giant spider (later used in Wild Wild West).
  • Evan Marriott as Superman (yes, that’s Joe Millionaire)
  • Superman dies, but Lois Lane bears his son who quickly (three weeks) grows up to replace him.
  • Justin Timberlake as superman (to which Timberlake replied “Whatever it is you’re smoking, I don’t want any part of it.”).
  • Matrix-style Kung Fu action.
  • Ashton Kutcher as Superman
  • Superman has the power of teleportation.

There’s a lot more if you have the stomach to read the whole thing.

All the time I was reading it, I kept thinking it was too bad they didn’t just turn it all over to someone with a good comic book track record, like Bryan Singer, who who made the X-Men movies.

So I checked the IMDB site, and it turns out that’s exactly what they did for Superman Returns, so there’s hope yet.

Radley Balko points to an AP wire story about scary police-state tactics in Miami:

Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.

“This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It’s letting the terrorists know we are out there,” Fernandez said.

Balko sums this up nicely:

If the terrorists hate us for our freedom, then holy shit are we ever appeasing the terrorists.

Today is Black Friday in the United States, the start of the Christmas shopping season. It’s also Buy Nothing Day, a day of protest against consumerism promoted by Adbusters magazine. But if they’re against consumerism, I wish they’d explain what they want to replace it with. If obtaining and consuming goods and services is not the purpose of our participation in the national economy, then what is?

They never say. Then again, nobody listens to them anyway.

I’m taking the day off from being pissed off about stuff.

Well, not really. I’m sure I’ll still be getting pissed off. I just won’t be blogging about it.


Curse you Tim Cavanaugh! Curse you for your slurs against Chicago’s finest culinary product!

This preening dickless bastard dares to impugn the wondrous food of the gods that is Chicago Pizza! That he apparently does so based solely on the claims of East Coast and foreign restaurants that claim to serve Chicago-style pizza just shows you what a biased, empty-headed, lazy “journalist” Tim Cavanaugh really is!

Check out this block-headed quote:

A few more successes like this and the truth that pizza is a thin, fused pastry that can only be ruined by toppings may begin to penetrate this bastion of thick-crust darkness.

Did he really say pizza is ruined by toppings? How clueless can one man get? That’s like saying that pornography is ruined by all the fucking!

A curse on you Tim Cavanaugh! A curse on you and your family even until the seventh generation!

Ogre repeats an old Marine joke which I’m just a little too smart to enjoy anymore:

A Sailor is relieving himself in the head when a Marine walks in and steps up to the urinal beside him.

After a few seconds the Sailor finishes, shakes, zips and walks over to the sink to wash his hands. The Marine also finishes, zips-up, and walks to the door.

Just then the Sailor says, “Hey Marine! When I was in boot camp, they taught us to wash our hands when we finished!”

The Marine looks at the Sailor and says, “When I was in boot camp, they told me not to piss on my hands.”

That’s a good joke, but I wonder if I’m the only one who wants to yell at the Marine, “Good! But did you touch your dick?

That’s because somewhere along the way I’ve learned that you don’t wash your hands because pee is dirty. In fact, urine is normally sterile. The reason you should wash your hands is because your crotch is dirty.

So the Marine in the joke is acting under a false assumption and is, in fact, behaving in an unsanitary manner.

Does this bother anybody else? Or is it just me? Everybody else just laughs at the joke, don’t they? It’s just me, isn’t it? I hate when that happens.

A while back I was doing a product photo for something I was selling on eBay when Ripley wandered in to see what was happening.

Ripley on Stage
Larger ImageRipley on Stage

My current camera is a Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3. People ask me if it’s a good camera, and I’m not sure how to answer that.

Some people look at it and assume it’s a great camera because it’s larger than those tiny digital cameras that everyone seems to have in their pocket. But the truth is that it’s not much different from a pocket camera, especially in the way that counts the most: The sensor for capturing the photo is the same tiny size. (The size is designated as 1/2.5″, but don’t assume that means anything in the real world.) The main problem with a small sensor is that it has trouble picking out an image in low light. Either you need a long exposure and there’s a lot of motion blur, or you set the ISO speed up high and there’s a lot of noise in the photo.

There are three ways the Z3 improves on a pocket camera:

  1. It has a larger lens assembly, allowing for a 12-to-1 zoom instead of the usual 3-to-1 zoom in a pocket camera.
  2. It has room for 4 AA batteries, which last longer than the tiny batteries in some pocket cameras.
  3. It has a hot-shoe on top for an external flash.

That last one was the most important to me because I hate the way most pictures of people look with the on-camera flash: pale, fat, and flat. With an external flash I can bounce the light off the ceiling and get lighting that looks a little more natural. Also no red-eye.

So, is it a good camera?

I can’t answer that because it depends what you want to do with the camera and how much you’re willing to spend. A top-end digital camera like the Canon EOS-1Ds Mk II will take spectacular 16 Megapixel photographs at lightning speed in all kinds of conditions. It will also set you back $8000. Without a lens.

In a year of learning about photography, I’ve realized that all cameras can be used to take good pictures under the right conditions. The difference between cameras lies not in the quality of the pictures but in the range of conditions in which the pictures are good and the degree to which the camera makes it easy to take pictures under those conditions.

I’m not saying there are no well-accepted differences in quality. Of coure there are. But photographers have diverse quality needs. For example, a small art-photography cult has grown up around $20 Holga cameras, which one camera dealer describes like this: “Soft focusing, full double-exposure capability, intense vignetting, and unpredictable light leaks all contribute to the Holga’s incredible photo effects. Each Holga is unique and produces signature images and peculiarities of its own.”

I guess the only answer is that my camera is what it is and does what it’s intended to do. When I use it under the right conditions, my camera takes some pretty nice pictures.

According to DUIblogger Lawrence Taylor, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is essentially a fraud. This is the follow-the-pen eye test that cops use to test drivers for impairment, and it’s one of only three tests approved by the Department of Transportation.

Taylor quotes a recent study:

This summary critique demonstrates that it is scientifically meretricious and that the United States Department of Transportation indulged in deliberate fraud in order to mislead the law enforcement and legal communities into believing the test was scientifically meritorious and overvaluing its worth in the context of criminal evidence….

A series of NHTSA studies had examined the field sobriety tests in use around the country and determined that three of them were accurate, easy to do in the field, and easy to do the same way every time: Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus.

I’ve never been pulled over for suspected drunk driving, but I’ve thought a little about how to handle it. My plan has been to refuse to do the Walk and Turn or One Leg Stand tests because the NHTSA has only validated those tests for people in a limited weight range, and I’m well outside the bounds.

(Of course I wouldn’t say that to the cop: I don’t want him thinking about why I know so much about the tests. He’ll never believe that I was just curious and looked it up. My plan is to say something like “Stand on one leg? Oh, man, I haven’t had that kind of balance in decades!” Then if he decides to give me the breath test, I’ll just blow a straight 0.00% and be on my way—I never drink and drive. At least that’s what I’d like to do. In reality, I’ll probably just cave-in and meekly do whatever he tells me to do. I hate when that happens.)

Now it looks like I’d have to refuse the HGN test too.

You know, if Samuel Alito is confirmed as the next Justice of the Supreme Court, he will be making decisions about freedom of speech, the rights of the accused, the scope of government powers under the commerce clause, the elements of procedural due process, eminent domain, the war on drugs, guns, commerce clause issues affecting online trade, and a whole bunch of other things. It’s all pretty important stuff.

But none of that matters. All we’ll hear about during the confirmation is Abortion.

It’s an emotional issue for a lot of people (which makes for “Good Television”), you can count on both sides to show some really bad behavior (which makes for even better television), and it doesn’t take a lot of research to do a news report. So that’s all the media will talk about: Abortion, abortion, abortion.

And more abortion.