I'll be arriving on Friday night so that I can participate in World Wide Wing Night, then on Saturday I will be GMing an All Flesh Must Be Eaten game at the con. I've never run a game at a convention before. This should be fun.
I'll be covering the pre-con announcements here on the blog and will be blogging from St Charles during the event. So bookmark the 'Bastard for updates!
This week it was revealed to the world that in keeping with the Christmas tradition, a young, unwed girl was knocked up by someone much older. Rather than the Lord of Hosts though, Jamie Lynn Spears bumped uglies with 19 year-old boyfriend Casey Aldridge. Spears, star of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101, is 16.
Really, I could care less about this situation - but I do keep hearing the Spears girl quoted and her quote irritates the hell out of me.
Offering advice on pre-marital sex, Spears says:
"I definitely don't think it's something you should do; it's better to wait."
You know, for once I'd like a person in this situation to be honest and say something like:
"Sex totally rocks! We just completely go to town all hot and sweaty. I like to be tied up! And spanked! And wow, a little attention to my backside goes a long way. Really, ain't nothin' like gettin' your nut!
"...Probably should use a
There's a reason why teens have sex. It feels good. Many parents may have forgotten this.
I wish we could all be honest about that.
Hey, Jamie Lynn, you might be interested putting your newly discovered happy place to use in some social activism.
I was a busy boy on Thursday.
I started the day off by heading over to the Honda dealership to get my car its regular service. It'd been about three months since the last time I was at the dealership and in that time they have remodeled the customer waiting area to look a lot like a Starbucks complete with full service coffee bar and pastries and what all.
They also had massage chairs. Y'know the ones that work your shoulders, upper and lower back as well as your legs? I've never been so satisfied by a chair before! The gentleman watching Good Morning America several paces away seemed rather put off by my frequent exclaimations of "Yes!" and one particularly throaty "Oh God!"
I probably should have wiped the chair down once it was finished with me.It was rather awkward between the chair and I after that.
Each wall in the customer waiting area was kitted out with a flat screen television. How odd and futuristic the room would have appeared to us thirty years ago. I pondered this listening to Xmas music on my iPod and taking the occasional call on my flip-open cell phone. Like something out of Star Trek, man.
I drive a 12 year old Honda Accord and have absolutely no desire to replace ity. She's reliable as all get out, comfortable, and hauls ass. Today, I asked the hard question of our service manager. How much longer does she have?
"You're religious about service," He said. "Car's running great. I don't see any reason why you can't get another 100k or more out of her."
He then went on to tell me that they have a customer whose Honda has 600,000 miles and is still running like a champ. Exactly what I wanted to hear! Me happy.
They pulled the car up into the car port after the service was complete.
Now, I'm one of those guys who believes that before shifting your vehicle into drive, you should take care of the essentials such as seat belt, mirror placement, and music setting rather than doing it in motion. The car had been serviced and cleaned, so there were some things I needed to put right before driving off. I hadn't been in my car more than two minutes when the woman in the van behind me honks.
Stunned, I looked into the rear view mirror. She couldn't have been honking at me...
She did it again. This time she added a gesture of exasperation.
And I stepped out of my car.
Crossing to the van, I called out to her: "I'M SORRY. WERE YOU TRYING TO COMMUNICATE SOMETHING? DID YOU WANT ME TO HURRY? HOW'D THAT WORK FOR YOU?!?"
The service manager stared on in horror.
As did the woman.
Now, it wasn't my intention to frighten her and mindful of that, I never got closer to her than her front bumper. I just wanted her to understand how ridiculous she was. And perhaps in the process let her know how ridiculous I am.
I returned to my own ride and finished getting my crap together and drove on. I observed that she waited awhile before following me out.
Unlike my last road rage incident, I didn't leave with a cracked windshield. Remind me to tell you about that some time.
On another note, I think I may have finished my Christmas shopping. I just need to do a quick inventory before I call it done.
I have definitely made my last visit to the post office this holiday season. All my packages are mailed and the cards went out this evening. I didn't even have any weird meetings with people whose names I don't know because I've never met them.
As I write this I am listening to "Impressions of the Season" by the Raleigh Ringers (I'm also drinking a pumpkin ale). Just downloaded it from iTunes for Suzanne (the music, not the ale). They're a professional hanbell choir with mad skills. They have a special on PBS called The Raleigh Ringers: One Winter Evening at Meymandi. TIVO's grabbing it for us on Sunday morning, December 23rd. Check your local listings!
Coming in 2008, They Are The Living will be broadcast in weekly webisodes right here on the interweb. There's not much online about this other than the trailer posted to the website, though I did find this blurb over on Quiet Earth:
The remaining 2 percent of the city's population awake to find themselves alone and surrounded by death. This online serial will follow the lives of the survivors as they make their way through the decimated remains of the city. By the end of the first day they will be confronted with the true horror of their situation; they will have to run, hide, fight and kill in order to survive.
Ah, you had me at surrounded-by-death.
I was at the post office yesterday getting a number of parcels out into the mail. As I finished up and turned away from the counter, my eyes locked with a woman in line. She flashed a friendly smile. There was something familiar about that smile, about her.
Do I know her?
She maintained eye contact.
I think I know her...
I stepped over greeting the woman with a warm, "Hello!"
She brightened, "How are you?"
"I'm good," I nodded. Trying to buy some time for recognition to kick in, "What have you been up to?"
"Oh you know, working, shopping..."
"Yeah, that shopping's a killer."
She laughed politely.
"It's been a long time," I fished, "When was the last time...?"
"I don't know," She answered. "A while."
It went on like this for another minute or so, until finally I confessed: "I'm sorry, I can't recall you name."
She flushed with relief, "I can't remember yours either!"
"I don't think I know you," I continued.
"Well," I said turning to leave. "It was nice not meeting you."
I shared this story with The Wife last night.
"What did she look like," Suzanne asked.
"Blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skinned."
"Did you think you were talking to me?" She queried.
I pondered that for a moment, conceding: "That is entirely possible."
Major Spoilers Ahead. Read at your own peril.
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson's 1954 novel about the last man on Earth, is one of my favorite books. Like other perennial favorites such as Watership Down, Footfall and All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers, I Am Legend is a book I return to fairly often. I still have my original copy. tattered and worn, from more than 20 years of regular reading.
The novel has been adapted to the screen twice before and neither version was particularly good. Richard Matheson wrote the initial screenplay for THE LAST MAN ON EARTH, removing his name from the credits by the time it was all said and done. That oughta tell you something. And Charlton Heston's OMEGA MAN is just unwatchable.
It is then that I ventured to the theater with some concern.
The movie, as they often do, ventures wide from the book. Our protagonist is not just a random surviving Every Man as in the novel, but rather the military scientist charged with working the outbreak of a virus killing most it infects and rendering others as something akin to zombies who come out only at night. The movie creatures do not target Robert Neville, the main character, personally by name. In fact, they do not even know where he lives.
This is a big variance from the novel.
In the book, the creatures know him by name. And Neville knows one of them as his nextdoor neighbor. They taunt him. They beat and tear at his home - terrorizing him every night.
In the book, Neville hunts the night creatures by day while they hunt him at night. Whereas in the film, Neville maintains a strategy of avoidance except when he needs a fresh test subject as he seeks a cure for their condition.
This is not a criticism, merely a point of difference.
There are a number of missed opportunities in the movie. For instance, the creatures become more than the mindless monsters we are initially given to understand they are. Neville, a scientist, doesn't notice, doesn't care.
It seems clear to me that Neville captured one of the monster's mates. Yet that connection is never made, explained.
It is rare that I comment on something so technical as sound engineering, but I feel I have to in this instance. The sound was amazing in I AM LEGEND. I felt fully immersed in the world largely due to the brilliant audio work. Whether it be the clicking of deer hooves, or breaking glass, or the skittering of zombies - I was there!
Will Smith is perfectly cast in the role of Robert Neville. He is - as far as we know at the beginning of the film - the lone human survivor. Smith expertly portrays the character's isolation while also drawing us into a story challenged with very few options for expository dialogue.
Smith makes it looks easy - the same way Tom Hanks does. There is an organic nature to his performance. Some actors (and, Dustin Hoffman, I am talking to you) adopt an acting form where they are no longer becoming a character, they are ACTOR-AS-CHARACTER. Smith is so incredibly natural in his performance that you forget that he's not Robert Neville.
Bravo, Mr. Smith.
For companionship, Robert Neville has only his German Shepherd Sam (short for Samantha) played by the acting dog known as Abbey. Much has been made of the relationship on-set between Smith and Abbey and, man, it shows on screen. Smith and Abbey are perhaps the finest onscreen couple since Hepburn and Tracy!
Having read the book, I knew that things would not end well for Sam. And they didn't.
In Sam's death scene, Neville holds her in her last moments of life, singing to her, reassuring her.
I was at once taken back to Christmas time several years ago when our dog Akasha (a Malamute/Shepherd mix) was succumbing to cancer. Suzanne and I held her, talked to her, and gave her water by hand.
I sobbed in the theater, much as I had the day 'Kash died.
The woman sitting in the row in front of me was a basket case.
From out of nowhere, two other survivors appear and just as out of the blue as they are we have another issue presented. There is no God, Neville declares upon finding that his new house guest believes herself to be sent from the Most High. What kind of God allows everybody, everywhere to either die or become a monster?
Now, I think this a valid theme. I just question how it was presented. This is the type of question that needs deeper study. Asking the question in the last twenty minutes of the film is a disingenuous grab for gravitas.
The book ends with the death of Robert Neville, the last human dying away to a new race of intelligent beings. His name becomes legend among the new race of creatures because he had hunted them so viciously. One imagines that his name is evoked to their children much as the bogeyman's is.
Similarly, Neville dies in the film. Here he sacrifices himself to save the recently found cure for the monsters and to safeguard the escape of the two other survivors. Neville dies while the survivors make their way to the safety of Vermont where other survivors have gathered. Armed with the cure we are given to believe that thing end well, the zombies are cured, humanity is restored to its place of grandeur.
It is a Hollywood movie at Christmas time, I concede. I will forgive the relative happy ending.
Mostly, I like this movie. I rate the performances of Abbey and Smith an A+. Technical details such as sound and SFX, also an A+. But the way the story is managed - particularly in the last twenty minutes - I give this version of I AM LEGEND an overall B+.
Man, why don't we have something cool like a brand new Doctor Who episode on Christmas Day?!?! This looks so cool! It's got a space travelling ocean liner, cocktails, and assassin angels who use their halos as weapons (but really haven't they always?)!
I'm still on the fence in regards to Heath Ledger as the Joker.