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Badbartopia Internet
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     Wednesday June 20, 2004
I've been putting off writing this thing for so long that I've forgotten half the things I wanted to mention...but I'll do my best to drone on in a monotone (you have to use your imagination) and put you all ("all" being a slight exaggeration for my "audience") to sleep. I have been jotting down a few thoughts here and there, so I'll delve right into them and regurgitate the old news that I have neglected to report on in a timely fashion...

The Duplex is one of the few comics in the newspaper that still inspires me to chuckle occassionaly. The March 30 strip was one of the funniest so far. Julie clipped it because she thought it sounded just like something I would do.

Memorial day was a couple of weeks ago and my family made the annual trek to visit my grandfather and uncle's graves (both died before I ever knew them). The usual suspects gathered, reminisced and put flowers on the graves. I took a few pictures of my beautiful angels, cousin Aubrey and the tombstones.

Mark Oakley had an interesting "editorial" in the front of the latest issue of Thieves and Kings. He was discussing the dearth of heroes/good role models these days. And more importantly, the danger of relying too much on role models for one's own behavior/thought patterns. It was a very interesting thought (much more interesting than I am making it sound here), but one point he was very clear on: pop culture is currently a very poor source of good "role models." The bad guy is far too often portrayed as the "good guy" in movies, television, etc. The sympathetic character of many of the celluloid tales being told are criminals with hearts of gold; misunderstood murderers; lying, scheming characters with little conscience for right or wrong. And kids are soaking it all up. It's a sad thing. The reason I am mentioning Mark's editiorial: I watched The Last Samurai on DVD a short while ago and was, once again, struck by the strength, integrity, serenity, honesty and tragic fatality of the character Katsumoto (the last samurai).

I, old hopeless loser that I am, found myself trying to emulate his fictional example for a few days. But I'm no samurai. My dreams of serenity and focus were quickly forgotten. It's a sad, sad thing to be old and apathetic.

We went to the San Diego Wild Animal park a couple of weeks ago and saw the big Dino-mountain exhibit that they are so heavily advertising. It was pretty cool, but I was surprised that a separate admission was required. It wasn't really very much, but I am a card carrying Zoological Society member, after all. The dinosaurs looked pretty good (although a few of them were showing signs of weather-wear). They were quite realistic. The kids had fun (especially when they got to the spitter). All the dinosaurs had some degree of animatronics: blinking, roaring, slight movement and, in once case, spitting. I applaud the realism of the exhibits: carnivores feeding, herbivores injured and dying and herbivores poised for flight.

Here is another bit of the odd that I have come in "contact" with lately: Rabidly devoted fans of television shows. I have often been a disgruntled viewer when a particularly favorite and short-lived television show is cancelled due to low ratings. A few shows come to mind: Freaks and Geeks, Roswell, Dweebs, and Wonderfalls. It's amazing how devoted some viewers out there are (mounting campaigns to "save" their shows, get the shows on DVD or both). I'm hoping the Wonderfalls campaign is successful. I thought it was a worthy waste of an hour a week.

Julie and I went to the San Diego/Del Mar fair Tuesday night and saw the B-52s perform.

Man, how far have 80s pop stars fallen when they have sunk to playing a county fair? As for the show itself, it was enjoyable. The opening act, Simply Complex, wasn't anything special. We left the arena until the B-52s came on, to avoid their less-than-special music. Fred Schneider was definitely the best part of the show. When not singing, he was running around like a lunatic and doing his best to keep the audience entertained. The music was..about what you would expect from this setting. The vocals were great. Fred was Fred, but the girls, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, sounded as good as ever. The volume levels were very poorly managed--I thought the volume of most of the instruments was okay, but the microphones for the vocals would often deafen everyone within earshot. I can only imagine how loud it must have been for the performers and the unfortunate people in the front section. It was funny to see so many old people (around my age) dancing to the songs and singing along. They played just about all their more well-known songs. The only real exception I noticed was Rock Lobster. I neglected to bring my camera, so no pictures from the concert. Sorry.

There really haven't been any signficant changes to the site. I uploaded the only 2004 portrait sitting we have had with the kids to the princess gallery and uploaded a couple of new sketches to My Drawings. I have also added some freeware to the Downloads page. The instant messenger thing is prretty much functional, but not yet ready for public use.


Day After Tomorrow
I wanted to go see this movie, despite the abounding bad reviews. I could, after watching the movie, understand much of the reviewers' dissatisfaction with the movie, but I thought, as far as disaster/action movies go, it was enjoyable. The only real flaw in the movie that disturbed me was the happy Disney ending with no explanation. At least Bruce Willis kamikaze'd the asteroid to save Earth in Armageddon. As a side note, Emmy Rossum was a fetching love interest.

Big Fish
I wasn't sure what to expect when I watched this film (on DVD), and was pleasantly surprised. The theme of the movie seemed to be that you never really know your parents. You only get to see what they choose to show you. Most of their lives happened before you were around, so it's almost impossible to know. It was an odd movie, but one that I really enjoyed. It even left me thinking, which is always a good thing. Oh yeah, Obi-Wan is in it, too. So how can you go wrong?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The thing about this movie that disturbed me the most: the young wizards were running all around Hogwarts wearing what has to be considered "Muggle" clothing. In the books (the Goblet of Fire, especially), the Weasley family is hard pressed to get into "Muggle" disguise when they have to mingle, yet there was Ron all decked out in Muggle attire. Not sure what that was all about. There were many omissions, from the book, to the story that would have seemed to be integral to the story: Harry's first encounter with the Firebolt broostick in Diagon alley, Hermione's acquisition of her new familar/cat, the explanation of the offensiveness of being called a "mudblood", and the headless party that the Harry, Hermione and Ron attended in the book for Nearly Headless Nick (who doesn't even make an appearance in this movie). And first homely Hermione is cast as a cutie and then Neville is cast as a thin kid. Didn't anyone else read this book? Quidditch, the focus for the most part of Harry's life, plays a tiny role in this movie as well. The ending is a bit abrupt (not getting to the books' ending).


I really enjoyed this book. I was a bit skeptical going in, I have to admit, when I learned that the author, Christopher Paolini, was a teenager. But it was well written and a had a nicely laid out story. There were numerous refrences to Tolkien-ish lore and what appeared to be Anne McCaffrey's fantasy universe (I am making an assumption here--I have never read one of her books, but the dragon rider stuff sounds like her cup of tea), but the the combination of the two made an interesting, unique story landscape. The kid must be a friggin' genius (he is currently only 19 and finished high school at 15).

A Hat Full of Sky
I received the email notification that this novel was out and immediately called up my favorite Sci-fi/fantasy book store (Mysterious Galaxy) to see if they had it and, more importantly, to see if Terry Pratchett was coming around to talk to us again. They had the book, but Terry Pratchett will not be coming for this book's release. Oh well, at least I have a new Terry Pratchett book. This is the sequel to Terry Pratchett's great "children's" story, The Wee Free Men. I have only read the first few chapters of this one, but the Nac Mac Feegles are already cracking me up again. Terry Pratchett's writing, while extremely humorous, is always insightful and hard to put down. Another plus to this story: the hard cover was only $16.99 (probably because it is considered a "children's book") rather than the usual $25 or more that a hardcover costs.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
The Harry Potter stories are, though I have no idea why, also hard to put down. This installment of the Harry Potter saga was a 435 page-turner. The story, as always, was well told, the characters thoroughly developed, the plot twists were veiled enough to keep an adult as well as a child in suspense. The introduction of Sirius Black to the Potter character family was a nice move. He is an interesting and multi-layered character. I was touched, more so in the movie than in the book, by the scene where Harry saves himself from the Dementors and thinks his faher is saving him. Weird, because I knew exactly what was going on--but it put a lump in my throat anyway. You have to read the books if you are a fan of the movies. There is so much that can not be included in the theatrical version of the story that really explains the characters, their motives and the events of the movies. And the best part: I just bought the first 4 Harry Potter books from the Science Fiction Book Club in hardcover for $35.99. Now how can you beat that? Granted, the dimensions of the books are slightly less than a book store hardcover, but other than that, it was indistinguishable.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Number four in the Harry Potter series--a 734 page monster of a novel. It took some perseverance to get through (with the constant distractions around here), but it was another great addition to my library. There were parts of this novel that made me think, "A-ha! Now how will they pull that off in the next Harry Potter movie!" For instance, Hermione is transformed from her stodgy, bucktoothed, frizzy haired persona into a cutie that finally attracts Ron and Harry's attentions. Easy enough to do the cutie part with Emma Watson cast as Hermione, but she has never exactly been (in the movies) homely. The party with Nearly Headless Ned was briefly mentioned, but they will easily enough excise that from the movie. I was surprised that one of the Hogwart's students was actually killed (a bit severe for a "children's story"). If the critics labeled Prisoner of Azkaban as "dark", then this one is really going to set them off (dementors, Voldermort and death eaters, oh my!)

© Brett Wilkes. All Rights Reserved.
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