Archive for April, 2006

I’m Gettin’ Paid for Web Surfing at this Very Moment

Posted in internet, technology with tags , , on April 25, 2006 by Paxton


According to this article, a judge has told the New York City Council that they can’t fire someone simply for browsing the internet during the workday. The worker, Toquir Choudhri, had served the Department of Education for 14 years. The City Council tried to fire him when they discovered him looking at travel and news sites online. Nice loyalty, huh?

I absolutely agree with the judge’s ruling. The internet has become such a part of our lives now, that it is synonymous with reading the paper or watching CNN. Now, I’m not advocating going out and looking at porn sites or even trolling message forums and chat rooms. I’m just talking about general news searches and information gathering. Most of the time, for myself, when I browse the net, I am looking at news/info sites or I’m on Google looking at tech sites for an answer to a problem. I’ll also check and answer email, but, if you ask me, this has become such a common communication tool for so many people, it’s become analogous to talking on the phone. Instead of calling someone up and seeing how things are going, I’ll email them. The same is true for most people.

If you don’t want people using the internet, then block it with firewalls. I’ve been to several client sites that blocked certain domains from being accessed. Many of my clients blocked popular job searching sites Monster and CareerBuiler.com. Many others blocked sites suspected of inappropriate subject matter. It all depends. I think, though, that internet use has become so benign and widespread, that in downtime at work, when nothing is going on, you should be able to check a few websites as if you were thumbing through the morning’s paper.

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NBC Cancels Heist

Posted in reviews, TV, TV shows with tags , on April 24, 2006 by Paxton

Heist

NBC decides to cancel the struggling show after 5 episodes. I wrote a review of Heist’s pilot here. While I was initially put off by the ‘trying to hard to be clever’ dialogue, I gave the show a chance because it showed potential. In the last few episodes I had started warming up to the characters and wanted to see them succeed. You learn why Mickey wants to rob the jewelry stores, James’ troubles at home and you want to see Lola naked…wait, was that out loud?

Anyway, NBC apparently had no confidence in the show because they moved it opposite Lost and American Idol, pretty much killing any chance it had for survival. I am sad to see it go. I did TiVo the show and watched it on Sundays. The show was no Bones or 24, but it kept me coming back. I hope they dump the whole series to DVD and release it because it doesn’t sound like NBC will air anymore episodes at all. Very sad.

In memorium, let’s have one more longing look at Marika Dominczyk who played smokin’ hot Lola on the show:

Lola

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Movie Novelizations #2: Clue The Movie

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , on April 24, 2006 by Paxton


Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved the game Clue. My friend Steve and I used to play it in his basement. It was so much fun. For Christmas, I even got the Clue VCR Mystery Game. Even though that VCR game was insanely hard, I still loved seeing the characters come alive. So, in 1985, when I heard there was a movie coming out, I had to see it.

I have stated before that Clue: The Movie is one of my (and my wife’s) favorite movies. It told the story of our six hapless dinner guests holed up in mysterious Hill House. One by one people in the house start dying and they have to figure out who among them is the murderer. The script is very quick and clever, and the actors perform the script with utmost enthusiasm. It is easily one of the most enjoyable and funny films I’ve ever seen. My wife and I quote it all the time.

When it was released, the movie screened one of 3 endings randomly sent to the theater. I had kept the newspaper clipping advertising the endings, but have since lost it. The theater by my house in Birmingham, AL got the ending that included all three with title cards telling you when one ending ends and another begins. This is the incarnation that would later appear on VHS then on DVD.

For such a large ensemble movie, I don’t remember there being too much advertising prior to the movie release. In January of 2006, I was Googling around the internet and found the Cluedo Fan Site which is a large site celebrating the history of the board game Clue (or Cluedo in countries outside the USA). On this site’s Clue: The Movie Guide, I was “clue”d (haha) in to the existence of the Clue movie novelization and the fact that the novel included an as-yet-unseen fourth ending. I was floored. I had no idea up until this point that this book or the extra ending even existed. I had to own it.

Needless to say, the book was tough to track down. In the span of a few weeks, I had found only one eBay auction that was offering it…..at 85 bucks. I don’t think so. I did some digging and procured a copy from an anonymous source.

You can see the book above. This novelization was a fascinating read because you can see the improv work done by the actors throughout the movie. Martin Mull as Col Mustard had several good ones. Like this:

Mustard: “Are you trying to make me look stupid in front of the other guests ?”
Wadsworth: “You don’t need any help from me.”
Mustard: “That’s right!”

The last line was not in the novel. I guess during shooting Martin Mull ad-libbed this comeback. They must have liked it because Martin Mull does this same comeback later in the movie in the kitchen while yelling at Mrs. White, but this is also not in the book. Madeline Kahn had the classic line:

Mrs. White: Yes, I did it. I killed Yvette. I hated her so… much… it… it… the… it… the… fee… flames… flames… on the side of my face… heaving… breathless… heaving breaths…
[mumbles on]

This was also not in the book meaning it too was ad-libbed on the spot. Such classic lines and they were created on the spot. During other scenes, there are some interesting tidbits about Michael McKean’s Prof Plum, and how he’s scared of screaming. Just little things that didn’t make it into the movie that I found intriguing. Other than these small tidbits, I am surprised how much the movie sticks to the script and the novel. Until, that is, we get to the infamous fourth ending.

To be honest, it was a little disappointing, but I had built it up pretty big in my mind. The ending involved Wadsworth telling how all the murders were done by Peacock and Plum. Plum protests his innocence and realizes that the gun is missing. Whoever has it, must be the killer. It is revealed that Wadsworth did it and he also poisoned the brandy, so everyone is going to die in the next few hours. The cops bust in like every other ending and Wadsworth recounts the entire story again, mesmerizing everyone. When he opens the door describing how Col Mustard arrived, he steps outside, shuts and locks the door. He then speeds away in his car, satisfied that he got away with it, but hears a low growl in the back seat. Apparently one of the German Shepards stowed away in the back seat and attacks him. Fade to Black….THE END.

As you see, it is the least clever ending and one that I’m glad got cut. Nevertheless, it was good to finally read it. If you’ve seen and loved the movie, by all means, track this book down, but you won’t be missing anything. Seeing the performances by the on-screen actors is better than the book anyway.

Check out Review #1:
Back to the Future trilogy movie novelizations

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Steve Alten’s book, MEG, finally becoming a movie

Posted in books, movies with tags , on April 18, 2006 by Paxton

The above pic is pre-production art from an upcoming movie called Meg. Click here to read the original story on CHUD’s website. Meg, the movie, is based on the novel, Meg by Steve Alten. I ask you, how ridiculously bad-ass is the above pic? I’ll answer that it’s so bad ass I almost wouldn’t care what the name of the movie was, I’d go see it. Not only that, just take a look at the cover for the book. A giant pre-historic shark chomping down on a T-Rex?! Where do I sign up? Well, actually, I already did sign up. I read Meg several years ago along with the followup sequel, The Trench (with a not as exciting cover…or story). I really enjoyed Meg which is about a long thought extinct pre-historic shark, Megalodon, that is brought up from the Marianas Trench by accident. And, of course, it goes on a killing spree. It’s like Jaws on steroids. The sequel has a little less excitement and focuses on the original Meg’s offspring, but the first book is a thrilling read and I highly recommend it.

The movie Meg has been in development for a while. You can see it’s IMDB page here. I’ve been waiting for it to come out but there were several things deemed too expensive effects-wise that caused the delay. On the IMDB page you can see a pic of the Megalodon jumping out of the water to attack a helicopter. Definately one of the money shots of the book. This was one scene deemed too difficult or expensive to shoot. I guess the technology is now there to build the shark. I for one, can’t wait to see it.

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Movie Reviews: Lucky Number Slevin & Dog Day Afternoon

Posted in movies, reviews with tags , on April 13, 2006 by Paxton

FINALLY, after several weeks of a movie theater-less existence, Steph and I went to our local AMC last night. Still not much out that excites me, but Lucky Number Slevin looked pretty good. It looked like a clever, funny crime movie and it had plenty of good actors in it, so we took a chance.

First of all, lots of people die in this movie. In the first 15 minutes we were up to like 10 individual deaths you actually witness. Took me by surprise. But then you settle in for the quick and clever dialogue and the movie becomes fun. The movie is written well, and the dialogue is funny, but for a while it gets confusing. I was struggling to keep up with the fast pace halfway through, but then I caught up and it flowed perfectly right through to the end. All the characters are fun and interesting, and there are a lot of them.

Let me say first, that I am NOT a fan of Josh Hartnett. I can’t even think of a movie I liked him in. I liked the movie Sin City, but he was dead in the first 5 minutes of that movie. I hated him in The Faculty, Halloween H20, 40 Days 40 Nights, Pearl Harbor, Virgin Suicides……you get the idea. In all of these movies he acts like a wooden chair. He doesn’t show any emotion like his face is full of novacaine. He changed my mind in this movie. He showed emotion and was a generally likeable character throughout the movie. If he continues performing like this from here on out, I’ll start liking him.

As for the other actors, they were a joy. I used to not like Morgan Freeman. I know, I know, I’m in the minority, but it seemed to me he played the same riff on the same character forever. I have since changed my mind. His latest string of movies including Sum of all Fears, Bruce Almighty, Unleashed, Batman Begins and Million Dollar Baby have absolutely brought me into the “loving Morgan Freeman” crowd. Freeman delivers in this as well. He plays “The Boss”, the arch-rival of Ben Kingsley’s character. He plays it menacing and cool, but you still like him. Bruce Willis continues being a pretty cool customer. He plays cold-as-ice assassin Mr. Goodkat, which, truthfully, is a variation on his characters Jimmy “The Tulip” from Whole Nine Yards and Jackal from The Jackal. Despite the character being a slight retread for Willis, I still very much enjoyed him in this. Another very good actor and a surprise in this movie was Lucy Liu. I really like her. She’s had only a few roles but they’ve been good. I forget just how gorgeous she is. I look forward to her future roles.

This brings me to Sir Ben Kingsley. What the hell has happened to this guy? He used to be a phenomenal actor; Ghandi, Schindler’s List and Searching for Bobby Fisher. His latest run of movies is mind-boggingly bad; Thunderbirds, Suspect Zero and A Sound of Thunder?! Is he slumming? I don’t get it. Well, in Slevin, for me, he’s the weak link. Going for the Kevin Spacey/Lex Luthor look of shaved head and goatee, he portrays The Rabbi. A little cheesy and over the top, he really doesn’t have that much to do and seems to try to over-compensate. In his scenes he looks like a dying fish. His eyes are wide open and his mouth is moving. I don’t think he ever blinked. Weird.

Sir Ben’s fishy acting aside, it’s a small issue I have, the movie is, top to bottom, really very good. All the characters are fun and the dialogue is crisp. You get a lot of Tarantino-like camera pans and dissolves; things jump back and forth in time, but it’s fairly easy to keep up and the ending took me by surprise. I would recommend it. If you enjoyed Pulp Fiction or Usual Suspects, you’ll probably enjoy this movie.

I saw another crime based movie recently. Knowing my predilection for heist movies, you’d be surprised to know that I never saw Dog Day Afternoon with Al Pacino. I rectified that situation last week. The movie is based on a true story about two guys who try to rob a bank in Brooklyn. The two robbers are portrayed by Michael and Fredo Corleone; Al Pacino and John Cazale. Dog Day was filmed a year after Godfather Part II, which surprised me because I thought it was filmed before. The two try to rob the bank and everything goes wrong. Pretty soon they are holed up in the bank with a dozen or so hostages surrounded by the police. It’s a gritty and intense drama with really good acting by Al Pacino, Charles Durning and Chris Sarandon as Al Pacino’s male lover (yes, you read that right). It was a good movie, and I see why it’s a classic, but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting it anytime soon as it’s somewhat of a downer. Check it out if you enjoy watching classic cinema, but be prepared for it’s dark and gritty storyline.

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Ice Cream Cones flavored Kool-Aid!!

Posted in ice cream, Kool Aid, Photoshop, pop culture with tags , , on April 10, 2006 by Paxton

That’s right, my friends. Another creation from the PaxNet labs. Kool-Aid flavored like Ice Cream Cones cereal.

Don’t ever say that I can’t bring it.

Check out all my other creative, and completely made up, Kool-Aid creations here.

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Movie Novelizations #1: Back to the Future Trilogy

Posted in Back to the Future, books, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , on April 6, 2006 by Paxton

By the mid ’80s I was 10 years old and I loved to read. Now, I wasn’t reading Tolstoy or Shakespeare, but I was reading nonetheless. Movie novelizations were one thing that really got me interested in reading. I’m not talking about books that “inspired” a movie, or the novel a movie was based on. I’m talking about a novel written AFTER the movie script was written or based on the script of an in-development movie. In the ’80s and ’90s, movie novelizations were everywhere, yet today, they are rare if the movie isn’t based on a comic book. Every awesome genre movie got one. Demolition Man, War Games, the Back to the Future trilogy, the Batman movies, even more recent movies like the 1996 Mission Impossible remake had a movie novel based on its script. There was a WaldenBooks in the Riverchase Galleria many years ago (it’s a clothing store now) that had an entire section of movie novelizations. That’s where I spent most of my time at the mall (when I wasn’t in the mall arcade, Diamond Jim’s). Any movie that I enjoyed at the theater, I’d go pick up the movie novelization. For the most part, I still do it. One thing movie novelizations have going for them is that they are, for the most part, only released in paperback. This makes it extremely portable and easy to read anywhere.

In these books, the movie story was basically the same, but since the book was usually written on an earlier draft of the script, scenes that were cut out of the movie are still in the book. In some of the better novels, you also get inner monologue of the main characters. It gave an entirely new dimension to the story.

Being a pack rat, I still have most of these books. I thought it would be interesting to review some of these novels for you and let you know the good ones and the bad ones and how they compare to the movie they represent. Since I have so many of these books, I’ll only do a few at a time and make this an ongoing series. For a preview of some of the books, see the pic above. I have more, but I need to find them as they are hidden away in cardboard boxes after my move from Birmingham, AL to Jacksonville, FL. The first series of books today will be the books based on one of my favorite series of movies…the Back to the Future trilogy.

These were 3 of my favorite movies when I was a kid. When the first was released in 1985, I saw it in the theater at least 10 times. I was a freak for this movie. I almost died when it took 4 years to release the sequel, Back to the Future Part II. Part II was the first novel I bought of this series (at the aforementioned WaldenBooks). I had no idea the first movie had been released in novel form also. Many years later, after all the Back to the Future movies had been released on video, a “garage sale” store opened up about 20 minutes from my house. Now these places are called antique shops, but originally it was a garage sale store. This place was a goldmine for old books as it had an entire room dedicated to selling them. I can’t even tell you how many books I’ve found in this store. It was here that I stumbled across the paperback for the original Back to the Future. It even had the original sales receipt dated 1985. I was dumbstruck. I read it immediately. I began wondering if Part III had a movie novelization. I searched high and low. This was before the proliferation of the internet and Amazon.com or eBay. If it wasn’t at a local bookstore or at a garage sale or second hand store, you weren’t finding it, my friend.

After over a year of going back to the garage sale store, it finally appeared, like a great desert oasis, Back to the Future Part III: The Novel. It was my Holy Grail and I had found it. Giddy as a schoolgirl, I bought it and began reading it that night.

The books in this series are very true to the movies. You’ll find little tidbits here and there that weren’t in the movie. For instance, the original Back to the Future novel starts with Marty in school instead of in Doc’s lab. Some scenes are longer and some dialogue is slightly different, but overall it’s a really good adaptation of the movies.

Years later, before the garage sale store closed, I did find an alternate cover for Back to the Future Part II, it was white instead of blue, but I thought enough is enough. I believe you can find these on Amazon right now from third party sellers, but I’ll always cherish these books because it took me years to complete the set.

Coming up I’ll have looks at the novels for Clue: The Movie, The original Batman movies, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies and the X-men movies. If I find my old stash of books, maybe I’ll have some more suprises.

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