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Badbartopia Internet
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     January 7, 2004

There have been no deep thoughts that have evaded recording in the last week. No brilliant observations on the wide world around. No astute insights into the human condition. Instead, I have been anxious to blather on about the movies I have seen, books I have read, and other goofy stuff on my mind. WARNING: there's a lot I want to say, so hold on to your hats and glasses...

Call you own shots.
Be fearless.
Keep moving.
Love your job.
Speak softly.
Don't be predictable.
Find a good woman.
Learn to play the piano.
You are what you drive.
Avoid extreme makeovers.
-- Clint Eastwood's Ten Rules a Man Should Live By

I have watched a few new movies: X-Men 2, Freaky Friday, Holes, The Return of the King and Pirates of the Carribean (again) over the past few weeks...

Pirates of the Carribean! This was a movie that I eagerly awaited in the theatre and also anxiously awaited on DVD. Johnny Depp makes as awesome pirate. And Keira Knightly is a fetching damsel in distress that is quite capable of handling matter on her own, thank-you. The DVD has some really cool extras: deleted scenes (that weren't really critical to the story, but were fun to see), a gag reel that has some funny moments, a Disney-documentary about the Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disneyland (from the earliest imaginings of Walt Disney, and a Pirate documentary with information about various pirate-related topics: famous pirates, type of ships, treasure, etc. I have also been inspired to add another "interest" to my interests page: Pirates. It may or may not happen, but the inspiration was there.

Holes. It was better than I thought, but there weren't any actors that stood out particularly in my memory. The music wasn't anything all that special, either. But the story was more interesting than I had expected. It was good family-faire. The DVD extras weren't really anything to write home about. The deleted scenes could have been in the movie and not really made it any better or worse. The gag reel was pretty funny, but nothing special.

I got LOTR: The Two Towers on DVD (extended edition), but haven't had a chance to see what was added in the "extended" scenes. I also bought the Two Towers game for Playstaion 2. The blending of video from the film and game graphics is really cool. I haven't had much time to play with it, but the parts I have seen have been very impressive. Back to the movies...I, sadly, have not even made it all the way through extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring. Also LOTR related...I received the Lord of the Rings version of Trivial Pursuit today. It has some very interesting game play variations based on the movie. I look forward to playing someday. Unfortunately, there is no one who can compete with my vast repository of useless LOTR knowledge. (Dan Denney--you would be dominated!!)

I have managed to see Return of the King twice, though. It was good. If this wasn't a movie based on a book that I have read numerous times, it would have been a great movie, but I have a hard time seeing this as anything more than a "good" movie. I was disappointed by all the changes to the stroyline. I can understand some of the changes that were made due to time constrainst, but I thing Peter Jackson overstepped his bounds in other places... At the top of the disappointment list is the exclusion of Saruman's decimation of the Shire and the hobbits' battle to take it back. I have heard runors that this will be in the extended edition, so my forgiveness may yet be earned. There were many other changes to the story that were strinking, but only one other was especially disappointing: why would the story be changed to allow Gollum to drive a rift between Sam and Frodo? This never happened in the book. What did it add to the movie to tweak the story thus? I don't get it.

My girls really liked Freaky Friday, surprisingly (they are only three and six, after all). They watched it a few times on the ride home and while we were traped in Idaho over Christmas. I thought Jamie Lee Curtis and the Lindsay Lohan, actress who played her daughter, did a good job. They were very convincing as a mother-trapped-in-her-daughter's body and a daughter-trapped-in-her-mother's body. I liked the soundtrack a lot, too. I thought that one of the songs was sung by Juliana Hatfield, but it was apparently not. The bass player in the daughter's band looks quite a bit like a younger Winona Ryder. I didn't notice if the DVD had any "extras," so I can't comment about that.

X-Men 2 was pretty good. I thought it was better that the first. The battle between Wolverine and the she-Wolverine was pretty cool. The Mystique shape morphing was cool, as before. It was funny how every time Mystique was in the scene, the camera was centered on...well, on the center of her anatomy. The deleted scenes were pretty unimpressive, which explains why they were deleted--although the Wolverine vs. she-wolverine battle had some deleted pieces (I couldn't tell what they were when watching it combined with the un-deleted scene).

I have added a few drawings to the cartoons section (under "cartoons 2") of my Downloads area. They are some quick sketches I did for the Keli's friends (3 boys and 3 girls). The six drawings took about 3-4 hours to complete and are very rough, but since I draw so seldomly these days, I wanted to scan them for posterity.

I started a new book (right after finishing Don't Panic): Thieves' World, Turning Points. It follows the same formula of the first series of Thieves' World novels--various authors create characters in a more or less fixed setting (a fantastic world that mirrors a medevial Earth--magic and other supernatural effects, notwithstanding). The original novels were edited (refereed) by Robert Aspirin, the author of the Myth books I have mentioned previously. This latest round of books is being editied by his ex-wife, Lynn Abbey, who was and is also a contributor to the stories within. She also wrote an introductory novel, Thieves World, Sanctuary, all by herself. It sets up the current landscape for the various authors to play with: 30-50 fifty years have passed, new conquerers have come to Sanctuary, most of the characters of the previous novels are dead and gone or moved on (with a few notable exceptions). I was very pleased to see that Andrew Offutt was a contributing author. His Shadowspawn character has always been my favorite. Imagine my surprise at finding him still a citizen of Sanctuary, though a much older and wiser citizen. So far, the stories have been well written and entertaining. The worst thing about these novels is the time between. But then again, I feel that way about all my favorite authors.

I had an epiphany when working on the Highlander page. I now understand why commerical sites, that I have scorned so frequently in the past, avoid using frames on their sites. It's simple. Search engines crawl pages, not sites. So if you search for something in a search engine and are then sent to a page that is only the contents of a single frame, this may exclude much crucial information and the site may lose your business. Not that I'm worried about "business," but I have been playing with the non-frame approach for my Interests pages just to see how I can make it work.

I picked up a few cool toys while on my Christmas vacation. PlaySkool makes some really neato Star Wars toys:

And here's proof that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

And now, the only real reason for this newsletter: news about Badbartopia! The basic structure of the site has undergone a few major changes: namely, breaking the Interests into a different section of the site (with no frames, possibly). The Douglas Adams page is very far from completion (2 of the 3 sections of this page are currently inaccessible). The Highlander section has not changed much in a week or more. It is still very far from completion. The other various Interests pages have not even been started. The ideas are there, but the time, sadly, to make the ideas a reality, is not. As stated above, there have been some drawings added to the Downloads area. I have added a few shareware/freeware downoads (stuff programmed by oher people, not me) to the software downloads area, too.

If you made it this far, my compliments on your perseverance.

Happy New Year!

© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
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© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
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