Archive for May, 2008

 Indiana Jones 4

A while back, I wrote about how movie franchises rarely make it to the fourth installment, and that there’s a reason for that. The latest offering in the Indiana Jones series is a painful reminder of why this is usually true. It would be easy to blame George Lucas, and, in reality, he is mostly to blame. He really tried to do too much in this movie. Like a quantum physicist struggling to find the Theory of Everything, this movie attempts to weave every crackpot conspiracy theory on the Internet, from alien autopsies at Roswell to the Nazca lines, into a coherent story that features the crystal skulls as its centerpiece.

As an audience member, I am willing to suspend my disbelief at some implausible hokum if it furthers the plot in some way. But what exactly was the point of showing Indiana surviving a nuclear weapons test in the Nevada desert, apart from offering yet another showcase for the CG talents of Lucas’s crew at ILM? And this was in the first fifteen minutes of the movie, so it was all downhill from there. This movie is a cross between National Treasure and The X-Files. And not in a good way.

Like his Star Wars prequels before it, Lucas forgot everything that made the original Raiders of the Lost Ark such a classic, and went off in some entirely new direction, and buried the characters we know and love in a CG-laden reality that is anything but real. I can’t believe Spielberg agreed to direct this mess. Do yourself a favor, and forget this movie was made. Go rent Raiders and Last Crusade (skip Temple of Doom) instead. It won’t cost you as much, and you’ll enjoy it much more.

 The End Is Nigh

It has only taken seven months, but end of the sewer project in our backyard is in sight. We finally had three or four days in a row without rain so they could come out and lay our new sod. Our backyard is almost back to normal now. We are still waiting for them to come and replace our fence (which they damaged during the project), and then we will see if Steve Welnick (at MSD) is a man of his word or not. He promised, although only verbally, to replace one of the trees on our property that the subcontractor destroyed. I’m not holding my breath.

 Asus Eee PC

My new mini-laptop arrived a couple of days ago, and I must say that I am not disappointed. I have the 4GB Linux version. Configuring it to connect to my wireless network was a breeze (in fact, I’m typing this review on it), and it comes with Firefox (of course, I would prefer Opera) and the OpenOffice suite already installed, which is going to cover about 90% of what I need to do with it. My only complaint would be the size of a few of keys on the keyboard — they aren’t all the same — specifically the colon and quote keys are slightly narrower than the rest, so I find myself hitting Enter a lot when I’m trying to hit the quote. I think this is something I may get used to, but for now it is mildly annoying.

It also comes with some other cool software pre-installed, including KStars (a kind of virtual planetarium), an 85,000 word dictionary, and Skype for internet telephony. Overall I am very pleased with this unit and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a ultra-portable machine for blogging or emailing.

 Nintendo Wii

With our little girl in the hospital for two weeks, we are trying to make the best of our time there. So we went out and bought a Nintendo Wii console and hooked it up to the TV in Josie’s room. We also got a game we knew Noah would enjoy watching (if not actually playing yet) — Cars – Mater National. It’s a racing game based on the Pixar movie Cars.

So far, I have to say that I’m impressed with the Wii. We got the Sports version of the console that includes trial versions of tennis, baseball, bowling, boxing, and golf. It is really something to see how the console tracks the movement of the controllers in your hands and translates it into very realistic movements of your character in the game. I can also see why, after just a short time playing it, that so many people comment on the aerobic benefits of playing the Wii. It really gets your blood pumping.

It remains to be seen if we will outgrow this game platform, but right now I can see us using it as a family for a long time to come. Thanks Nintendo for making an otherwise unpleasant hospital stay a little more enjoyable!