Last night I found a 20Q game at Wal-Mart for just under $10. It asks you 20 vague questions and then guesses what you're thinking of. It's very accurate.
You can also play on their website: 20Q. It's fun. Try it.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Well, it's official. King Kong is not quite the blockbuster movie studio executives had been hoping for. Ticket sales have been slumping all year, and any hopes that this movie would help offset the trend have been dashed. As it stands, Star Wars Episode III is the only $300 million dollar blockbuster of the year (there were 3 movies last year).
I have some theories why people haven't been going to the movies.
First, the summer action movies have been getting dumber and dumber over the years. I won't go see a movie if it insults my intelligence in the trailer. Let's take the movie Stealth. Lightning strikes a new military jet and it becomes smarter than the actors in the movie and goes into self-preservation mode. Gimme a break. You can't have a whole movie about that.
Second, special effects have lost their ability to wow. Every movie put out this summer seemed to overflow with special effects. Special effects should not be a substitute for a storyline. The Chronicles of Narnia is an excellent example of special effects done right because they didn't get in the way of the story. Again, let's take Stealth. This movie is obviously about a computer-generated jet and nothing else.
Third, you don't have to put with audience distractions. I can't tell you how many movies I've had to listen to some teenage brat talking to her boyfriend on the phone the entire movie. A initiative to block cell phone reception in movie theaters in gaining momentum. I hope it succeeds.
Fourth, picture quality. DVDs are spoiling movie-goers. It's arguable that movies on DVD look better than they do on the big screen. DLP projection looks brilliant, or so I've heard. When are we gonna start seeing more theaters with DLP projectors?
Fifth, concession stand prices. It now costs about the same for a bucket of popcorn and a coke than it does to eat at a nice restaurant.
Sixth, there are just too many movies out at one time right now. To some extent, that makes sense. Put a out a bigger dragnet and you're gonna catch more fish. But a lot of times there is more than one movie I want to see so I have to pick which one. Plus, when there are so many movies, the quality seems to suffer, I think.
Posted by Michael at 2:05 PM
Yesterday the Senate voted to block oil drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge.
I have mixed feelings on this. Opening ANWR is not going to alleviate our dependence on foreign oil. Some estimate it could lower our dependence by about 2%. Still, 2% is nothing to scoff at.
Although I don't think drilling in ANWR is going to have much impact on the environment, I'd rather see more legislation and incentives enacted to help lower our energy usage. People in the United State use more energy than any other nation by a significant margin, and it cannot continue forever.
Let's focus on reducing our oil consumption rate. Our automakers could make our cars more fuel efficient, but they don't because they aren't forced to. The government could place extra luxury taxes on SUVs. These are nothing but status symbols anyway. Also, the government could give tax breaks to people who drive manual transmissions, which have better fuel economy--people who drive hybrid cars already get a similar break. Probably the best thing the government could do is start educating the public about our energy problems.
Posted by Michael at 8:49 AM
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Norma Rae is one of my favorite movies. In that movie, Norma Rae has a job in a factory with atrocious working conditions, and she organizes a union to get a more inhabitable work environment. It's a great movie. The idea of one person taking on an industry and winning is as old as David and Goliath. It's easy to root for the little guy, or gal, as the case may be.
Now, I've seen on the news where the Transportation Workers Union in New York City walked off the job, forcing thousands, even millions, of people to find alternative means of transportation. This has a potentially expensive impact on New York's economy--maybe the economy of the United States. Does the union have a genuine reason for doing this or is the reason nothing more than greed?
I have mixed feelings about unions. On one hand, they can make a difference. On the other, once they are organized, they tend to use strong-arm tactics to get what they want, and it typically doesn't benefit the members of the unions so much as the leaders of the union.
Posted by Michael at 6:25 PM
I love Egg McMuffins. I've been seeing the commercials on TV for the Back to Basics Egg & Muffin toaster. I could not resist. At just under $40 at Wal-Mart, I figured it was worth it.
I love it. It takes about 4 minutes to make the perfect Egg McMuffin at home now. You should get one.
Posted by Michael at 8:37 AM
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I just watched the final episode of HBO's Six Feet Under, and now I'm certain that it is the most brilliant television series ever made. Six Feet Under was never afraid to take you to places that were uncomfortable and sad. Yet the show was extremely funny and uplifting at times. If you haven't seen the ending, you should stop reading now.
At the beginning of nearly every episode, someone dies. This has been one of the most fascinating parts of the show. About 4 or 5 episodes from the end, however, Nate dies. And after spending the next few episodes watching everyone learn to cope, Six Feet Under doesn't let up. Instead, it takes it one step further. Rather than leave you wondering what happens to all of the main characters, it uses the same methodology from the opening scene to show you how Ruth, Keith, Rico, David, Brenda, and Claire all meet their demise. After having been with these characters for 5 years, it's like watching all of your family die within the span of 2 minutes. It's truly devastating. But the show could not have ended any other way.
Originally, I thought the show was about the Fisher family learning to cope without it's father, but ultimately, it's about something much more important. It's about using your time to live as much as you can before you die.
Posted by Michael at 1:40 PM
Friday, December 16, 2005
Six Flags has a new person at the helm, and he thinks he can turn the troubled company around. One of his first edicts is to send Mr. Six packing. Now, I'm all for returning Six Flags to it former glory, but I love Mr. Six. He's such a clever marketing gimmick. I don't understand why you would want to get rid of him. When that music starts playing and he does all that age-defying dancing, it brings a smile to my face.
There is an online petition to keep Mr. Six as the mascot for the theme park chain. You can sign the petition here. It only takes a few seconds.
Posted by Michael at 9:42 PM
I just got back from Tulsa's newest movie theater, Riverwalk Movies. Actually, it isn't in Tulsa...it's just across the river in Jenks. Overall, it's a nice theater. It doesn't look very big on the outside, but on the inside, it's cavernous. The seats were comfortable for the most part, and they're rockers, which is a bonus in my book. They don't have automated ticket dispensers yet, but maybe they'll put some in. The Riverwalk Crossing will now be a great place to go have dinner and see a movie.
So what movie did I see? King Kong. I thought it was excellent. It's a little over three hours long, but it didn't have any real slow parts. The middle part of the movie has some really ingenious action sequences in it. Oh, let me warn you, it has a lot of insects and creepy crawlies, not just gorillas and dinosaurs. I could have done without the scenes with all those critters. I defy you to watch the movie and not squirm during those segments.
The special effects in the movie, though generally great, were a mixed bag. When you are watching Kong, it is so well done that you believe you're watching a real gorilla. Some of the other effects, like the scene where a bunch of people are running with a herd of dinosaurs, look a little fake. But it still believable and fun.
The ending of the movie is really sad. Think "Passion of the Christ", only with a gorilla and biplanes. That part was hard to watch, but it had to be in there, or it wouldn't be King Kong, right?
Now back to the movie theater. When the movie was over, the projector turned off just when the credits were about to roll. It was kinda like they were saying get out, we have another group of people waiting in line to get in. I thought that seemed kinda rude, but it was their opening day and they were having some technical difficulties, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Posted by Michael at 8:58 PM
Monday, December 12, 2005
Tuesday is an important election in Tulsa. There is a vote on 4 propositions to "fix the county". From what I've read, this is largely a waste of tax payers' money.
A local website called Do the River First makes a great argument for voting no on all the propositions, except for proposition 1, which they say you should vote yes on. Check it out.
Posted by Michael at 9:04 AM
I've been reading about this guy on death row in California named Stanley Tookie Williams. For those of you who don't know, "Tookie" is credited with founding the Crips, a gang that has been associated with thousands of murders in Los Angeles. Even so, I'm not really a proponent of the death penalty. Our justice system is run by people, and people have flaws--they make mistakes. People also have agendas. I don't believe you can make an argument that our legal system is blind because of this.
Since "Tookie" has been in prison, he's apparently turned his life around. He's actually being beneficial to society now. He's trying to keep kids out of gangs now. The society we live in is largely Christian. In Christianity, there is a big emphasis on redemption, and yet a lot of people want to see this guy pay for what he did. I find it all a bit hypocritical.
The other thing that bothers me about executing Tookie is that it will make him a martyr. If you thought gang violence was bad before, just wait to you kill their leader. And we know Los Angeles is prone to rioting. I wouldn't be surprised if we see one this week. It could be costly.
Supposedly Schwartzeneggar is considering pardoning him. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Posted by Michael at 8:36 AM
Friday, December 09, 2005
Within the last few weeks Tivo has been making several improvements to its service for those people with broadband.
First, there is the Netflix partnership. While the official launch of the service has yet to occur, they did do a test the week of Thanksgiving where you could download a movie of their choosing to your Tivo. I opted to help them with their test, and the next time I checked, the movie had downloaded to my Tivo flawlessly. Now, I'm sure the movies will have DRM in them to prevent copying, but I didn't really check.
Second, there is the Yahoo! partnership. I have yet to receive this update, but some friends are telling me they got it, and it's cool. You get access to your Yahoo! Photos account. There are also local movie listings with showtimes and free streaming music. I'm anxiously awaiting this update.
Third, there is the ability to download content from Tivo into portable devices such as Sony PSP and iPod video. I don't have either of these devices, the iPod video sure sounds sweet. I'm kinda wondering if there are any plans to let you download iTunes video into the Tivo. I kinda doubt it. Rumor has it that Apple is cooking up a DVR of their own, using the Mac Mini as the platform. I have mixed feelings about this. I'd love to see Apple branch out into new markets, but I don't want to see the Tivo company suffer because of it, as it is one of the few companies I'm fiercely loyal to right now. I'll betcha the Apple DVR will let you download video to it exclusively.
Posted by Michael at 6:45 AM
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I heard a program on the radio yesterday talking about "holiday trees". Now, I did see a video on Yahoo yesterday where this one company had a Jewish display in it's store. It had some other religious displays. But there was no Christian display. There was a snow flake tree, instead. Now, that is obviously unfair.
Then, this guy came on and started talking about how Christians are being persecuted in this country. This is when I started to get offended. I'd like to plop this guy down in Iraq for a few weeks, and then we'll see if he still feels persecuted in American. The last time I looked, the U.S. isn't sending Christians to gas chambers, like they did in Nazi-controlled Germany last-century. Or we could send this guy to Bosnia or Africa for a few weeks to see if he feels like missing holiday displays is anything like ethnic cleansing.
Discriminated against? Maybe. But certainly not persecuted.
Posted by Michael at 8:28 AM
Friday, December 02, 2005
On December 22, the TSA will allow passengers to bring scissors and small screwdrivers onboard airplanes in the U.S. The TSA says these as low-risk items. They are going to concentrate more on finding explosives.
Hmn. I don't remember the September 11th hijackers having any bombs on them. They effectively used very low-tech items similar to scissors and screwdrivers.
I'm glad I'm not flying anytime soon.
Posted by Michael at 12:00 PM
Thursday, December 01, 2005
What is with this country? Are we really so irresponsible?
Channel 8 had a survey on their website tonight. The survey asks "Should parents be held accountable for students who cuss at school?". When I submitted my answer (no), I got a statistical graph saying two-thirds of those who responded said yes. I have a problem with that.
I remember when I was in school. My parents told me over and over not to cuss in school. I knew they would not have approved of my potty mouth. But I had one, and I knew how to use it. There is nothing my parents could have done differently that would have changed that. Anyone who presume's otherwise is only fooling himself.
Our country really has a problem with facing reality. There is this pathological need to blame someone else for any wrongdoing, and it frequently involves blaming by association. It really needs to stop. I sometimes wonder if I'm really a liberal or if I'm just a radical thinker. I'm sure the parents of those kids involved in the Columbine shootings were probably good parents. I don't think people who make guns have anything to do with drive-by shootings. I don't think that people involved in drunken auto accidents have any right to blame the bartender who served the driver liquor. I believe that most people know what they are doing when they do something wrong, and they are soley responsible for their own actions. Sometimes bad things just happen, and no one is at fault. Deal with it.
Posted by Michael at 10:14 PM