Tuesday, May 31, 2005

And yet again...

You the perceptive reader, (Not that miserable worm, the vapid and gadfly-esque reader who skims through these blogs with nary a moment to stop and smell the blogs) might have noticed that the name has changed yet again.

What would a blog smell like if a blog in fact did have a smell?

Endless repeats of Frasier and Friends have numbing effect on the brain. The laugh tracks seem to merge into one another, the jokes good, bad and mediocre all seem funny. A stream of endless one liners and comebacks. High humor and low emotion. Low humor and low emotion. Slapstick and farce. Throw an episode of Raymond in there and what we are left with is a comedic goulash.

I have never eaten goulash. I doubt I ever will. The word goulash scares me. I does not promise one a satisfying gustatory experience. It's bad PR is what it is. Goulash needs to find itself an agent and get a new brand name, something for the new millenium.

Well I suppose that this post made less sense than most of my other posts and that's saying something. I'm too sleepy to proofread this tonight, I'll do that tomorrow.

R-chivist out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Redemption of the Sith...?

Edit: I suppose this post should contain a spoiler warning, so consider yourself warned gentle reader.

Yup. I did enjoy the movie and it was far superior to those travesties, episodes one and two.

Corny dialog? By the bucketful.

Bad acting? Painfully large amounts.

I like Natalie Portman. She is a very, very attractive brunette and I have a weakness for brunettes. However she was fucking bad in the movie. Really, really fucking bad. Her main purpose seemed to be decorative and to engage in a competition for worst performer with Hayden Christensen. He was excruciatingly bad in those scenes where he had to appear with the aforementioned brunette. They weren’t helped by the lousy dialog in the scenes involving the two of them.

Doesn’t quite sound like redemption, does it? Well it was.

Christensen did a reasonably good job of portraying Anakin’s slide to the Darth side. Perversely the more evil Anakin became the better was Christensen’s performance (He went from rip-out-your finger-nails-and-shove-lit-matches-up-your-arse painful to a mild throat pain painful. And that is a good thing. ). However he did redeem himself. The scene where Vader lies burning, crippled by Kenobi, screaming out his hatred of the friend and the order he betrayed was perfect.

The others did a bang-up job. McGregor/Kenobi was just right. A mentor and a truly noble person betrayed utterly by his best friend. Forced to stop Vader and beating him in spite of Vader’s superiority. The fight with the android General Grievous was decent. I did seriously object to the mutant oversized chameleon/iguana that he rode for a good part of the movie.

Yoda’s “performance” was pretty good too (If a CGI rendering can be called a performance.). Who doesn’t like a hyperkinetic green furball whose lightsaber antics look like a tube-light in a violent mating ritual. Ian McDiarmid as Palaptine was perfect. Gleefully oozing evil and subtle corruption. Tugging ever so gently on a mildly moronic Skywalker, pulling him inch by inch to the dark side. Masterfully orchestrating the betrayal of the Jedi. A scene that was heart breaking for someone as immersed in the lore as I am.

The movie was not just enjoyable. It was a relief. Having my memory of the original three irrevocably tainted by the Phantom Menace and the Attack of the Clones, I was prepared for crap of gargantuan proportions. I was very pleasantly proven wrong. While not as good as the original three this more than made up for the disappointment of the last two. I should state here that the original three were seen by a different person. And the impressions I made then have been set in stone. I could not change them even if I wished to do so. It is possible that this movie is superior to some or all of the movies in the original trilogy, but for me the original trilogy will remain superior. In spite of the fact that storm trooper armor offers no defense against anything harder than cotton candy, or that the storm troopers who are the Empire’s elite couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn, or the fact that Luke and Leia made out, or that…well you get my point. The original trilogy is not something that I can logically dissect. I see its flaws and they just do not matter to me.

End note: "If you're not with me, you're my enemy," Anakin Skywalker, tells Obi-Wan Kenobi. Does that sound familiar? Well apparently conservative groups like Pabaah thought so, and called for a boycott of the movie. I have a sneaking suspicion that the boycott failed. And um…if your groups name is Pabaah, it is a wee bit tough to take you seriously.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Huge earth shattering changes.

...Not really.

I'm going to try to come up with a new name for this blog, inspite of the fact that googling Zappotron will lead you to this corner of the universe.

Suggestions welcome.

Suggestions that piss me off will be deleted with gleeful alacrity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spam, wireless networks and cheesecake

So I've been getting spammed.

On a typical day, this is what I find in my inbox:
"Hidedn book on how to seduce a girl" from "Thickly J. Mitford"
"Save hundreds every month on low rates" from "Archie Garcia"
"Popular stfoware at low low prices" from "Stamps Q. Debasing"
"Unique manuscript on wnemos pleasure map" from "Ballooning F. Caterpillar"
"Cheapset Viagra delivreed to your door" from "Thoth G. Fated"

(Typos preserved from the original text)

The spammers have decided that I am a computer geek with a wide streak of sexual perversion and an unfortunate erectile dysfunction (Remarkably accurate except for the last part). Fortunately, I'll be losing this email address fairly soon and shouldn't have to worry about this...Until the next pack of Viagra wielding, Kamasutra peddling businessmen catch up with me.

I particularly like the names of these intrepid businessmen. You know a person is trustworthy when their parents decided to name them “Ballooning”. An unfortunate choice, even if your last name isn’t “Caterpillar”. A “Ballooning” by itself may not cause a comment, but when that “Ballooning” is followed by a “Caterpillar”, people are sure to notice and remark, “By Jove, was that a Ballooning Caterpillar?”. Incidentally, the people who saw the “Balloon Caterpillar” were stereotypical Englishmen… you know, the kind you find in that putrid piece of overrated crap, “The Da Vinci Code”.
(Props to those of you who can figure out the source that inspired this paragraph)

Change of subject.

After two years of successfully avoiding going to conferences, or displaying posters or giving presentations, I was finally trapped into going to one such “event”. It all started on Thursday afternoon, when I received a call on the devil's instrument (my cell phone). On the other end of the phone was this lady with whom I’ve been working on and off, for a diabetes research project. The conversation went something like this.

Devil’s Instrument: Thrrr…rhrrrr…rrrrr…(pause)…(now a tad frantically)…RRRRRthrrr
(The phone was, if you haven’t figured out already, on vibrate mode).

Our Intrepid Hero (Me): Sigh(I do not like answering the phone).

Devil’s Instrument: RRRRRRRgthRRRR.

OIH: Sigh…Hello.


OIH: Sigh…(Hit answer buton)…Hello.

Agent of Evil (The research lady): Hello…. Tomorrow, Research retreat, Dr. Big boss expects you to be there with the posters.

OIH: Huh?

AOE: Tomorrow, Research retreat, Dr. Big boss expects you to be there with the posters.

OIH: Huh?

AOE: Tomorrow, Research retreat, Dr. Big boss expects you to be there with the posters.

OIH: Um…my boss told me nothing about this.

AOE: Doesn’t matter. You have to be there. My boss said so.

OIH: Did your boss talk to my boss?

AOE: Doesn’t matter. You have to be there. My boss said so.

OIH: Fine. I’ll be there.

AOE: Good. We need to be there at seven AM, I’ll pick you up at a quarter to seven.

OIH: Oh Crap!

AOE: And you need to be dressed in business casuals.

OIH: I need to wear a shirt, and tuck it in?

AOE: (With malignant glee) Yup.

OIH: Oh Crap!

End of conversation.

(I have taken some artistic liberties. It is quite possible that I said "Oh Fuck" and not "Oh Crap" or that I said "Oh Shoot" instead of the afore mentioned "Oh Crap")

So there I was the next day, dragging myself out of bed at a quarter to six, looking like something out of a Cubist nightmare, hoping desperately that this was a nightmare and that I did not really have to get out off my comfortable bed. Alas, that was not to be. Reality imposed its control upon me and drove me off to the bathroom to make myself vaguely presentable. Having poured myself into a pant and a shirt, both of which had last seen service during an IIM interview, I proceeded to wait for my ride.

If it isn’t clear from the paragraph above, I really am not a morning person. As a matter of fact, before that dark day, I had never woken up before seven in this country. I have occasionally gone to bed at six but never have I had to wake up that early.

My ride arrived, looking all bright and chirpy, which further darkened my mood. As a small gesture of rebellion, I hadn’t shaved. My reasoning is that shaving daily impedes me from getting that stubbled look that I am striving for.

So off we went, zipping through the deserted streets of state college to Innovation Park. Innovation Park is this modern complex a couple of miles away from campus proper. It consists of “The Penn Stater”, the official hotel for conferences held at University Park and a number of other buildings, whose function I have never quite been able to figure out. They do have one thing in common. They are all remarkably ugly examples of modern architecture. Well…That might be a bit harsh. They aren’t as ugly as much as they are bland and characterless. Excellent examples of office blocks but not what I’d like to see on campus.

I was dropped off with the posters at the front desk as my ride left to find a parking spot. I lugged the posters off to the conference hall, registered at front desk and then discovered that when they meant posters they did not mean hard backed posters but meant posters that you would stick up on a wall. Thumb tacks can be painful when you have to force them through a backing board into the notice board.

I then snagged a muffin and a roll and through some adroit maneuvering, managed to get myself locked out of the lecture hall. This mean that I was all alone in the conference hall. I was crushed…disappointed. I cried softly into my handkerchief for a few minutes and reflected upon the humanity of it all. However, with admirable foresight, I had carried my power-book with me to the retreat, and since they had a wireless network running, I managed to get in a couple of hour of WoW. Now, do not get me wrong. I’d have much rather been inside that room listening to people talk about important and weighty research matters. But hey, what’s a guy to do?

There was a break in between, when people came out and I explained my posters to them and what do you know, after the break I got locked out again. Man was I pissed at myself. Had nothing else to do but go back to WoW and level up my warrior. Oh the humanity!

Lunch was good. Any meal is good if it involves free cheesecake and chocolate mousse. And right after lunch I managed to make my escape.

The moral of this story is that wireless networks are good and that carrying a laptop with you is the wise thing to do.