July 2009

yard sale Started late during this day of yardsaling… Not really getting out the door until after 11AM, when most of the good stuff is already gone.

Had a surreal conversation with an ~80-year-old man who had worked most his career at the DEA. He told me about being a thief in Chicago before working at the DEA; he told me about using marked cards to steal his friends’ money.

He talked about how he was going to open up a bar, but anti-smoking laws meant that the government would be telling him how to run his own establishment, so screw that. He talked about old ladies at the beach coughing because they saw him smoking 30 feet away, even though he was downwind from the ocean current. (I, too, have experienced people who I’ve seen not cough, then cough immediately as soon as they make visual contact with a cigarette — Melanie S’s snobby little friend who’d never drunken a glass of wine or alcohol in her whole life because she was “not interested”.) He talked about how he only has 6 or so years to go to beat how long his dad smoked — some 75 years.

He talked about how the old DEA head banned smoking, so they had to go down 2 elevators to a sub-basement parking garage and smoke in a 10×10 ft painted square… Meanwhile disel engines of cars and trucks parking there caused them to cough on some *real* pollution.

He talked how he’s been giving body parts back one at a time, listing everything he doesn’t have. And how during surgery, he wishes they could have given him 2 puffs off of a joint instead of the crazy anesthesia drugs they give him — because he knows that puts him right to sleep.

I’m not sure, but I think he was drinking Jack Daniels & Coke. I wasn’t gonna ask. He was selling a bunch of belly-dancer vinyl records that belonged to his wife or sister or something, and went on about how the covers were nice to look at. All in all a pleasant conversation — Though like most conversations with the elderly, one is quite ready to leave by the time one has left.

Anyway, it’s really hard to estimate the value of picture frames and action figures… I’m just going to estimate $5 for most of this stuff. The best item was a foldable mini tripod that fits into our camera case — $4 new on Amazon, but 5 cents at a yardsale! Almost a 99% savings :)

  • $1.00 Cranium (board/party game): booster box 1 – On Ebay for $12 & $20, but $45 wrapped, and it’s selling at Amazon for a whopping $96, as it is out of print. Will call this an estimated value of $15.
  • $1.00 double hinged picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.75 wooden picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.50 picture frame – new in packaging (EV:$2.50)
  • $0.50 optical mouse ($4)
  • $0.50 two large candles with holder @ $.25 ea (EV:$6)
  • $0.50 5 votive candles @ $.10 ea (EV:$3.75)
  • $0.50 action figure: Batman: Batgirl (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: He-Man: Man-At-Arms (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Batman: Harley Quinn (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Spider-Man Venom (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Star Wars: Chewbacca (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 action figure: Star Wars: Han Solo (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 alcohol bottle pourers (3: 1 metal, 2 plastic) (EV:$12)
  • $0.25 picture frame, large wooden (EV:$7)
  • $0.25 picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.25 picture frame (EV:$5)
  • $0.10 flask, plastic (EV:$5)
  • $0.10 2 extension cords, 2-pron non-polarized only @ $.05 ea (EV:$2)
  • $0.05 mini tripod ($4)
  • $FREE small blacklight-respondent stapler – cause Carolyn likes shiny things, and old DEA guy likes Carolyn, and it’s really worthless anyway :)

Total money spent was $7.75, counting an estimated $6 of gas (~30 miles). We didn’t *need* ANY of this stuff, but it was nice to get.

Estimated value of our take is $111.25. In total, we netted $111.25 for $7.75, a profit of $103.5, for about 2 hours work. That’s $25.87/hr per person, or $51.75/hr as a couple. Of course, a job that paid us in stuff we don’t really need probably woudn’t put food on the table. Still, we did better than 2 weeks ago. Remember: To take $111.25 (our profit) home from a job, you would have to earn about $159 before taxes. Things are so much nicer without the government stealing 1/3rd!

Click here for other Yard Sale-related postings.

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Another Resident Evil movie? This time, animated? Sounds like an afterthought, but after watching all 4 Resident Evil movies (including Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which I recently reviewed), of course we’re going to watch this!

PEOPLE: Alison Court is the main voice — people might remember her as Jubilie from Fox’s X-Men:TAS (1990s) series. Crispin Freeman was another voice, and currently plays Electro in the now-airing Spectacular Spider-Man series (by Greg Weisman, creator of Gargoyles). Mostly, these are minor voice actors. One of them was in one episode of Lost. One of them plays BoBoBo’s dad in BoBoBo-Bo Bo-BoBo, the “Japanese Family Guy” (that’s really nothing like Family Guy). But for the most part, all these people are nobodies — even director Makoto Kamiya.

QUIRKS: First Resident Evil movie based on an actual game.

And technically — this is anime, but you’d never know. In one scene, a female laughs and covers her mouth inexplicably (this is a Japanese custom — showing your teeth is bad, probably because customs are based on ancient times when dentistry was very poor). That’s when we both said, “Ohhhhh.. This is from Japan. They just tipped their hand there.” (Of course we were right.) Otherwise, it doesn’t look or feel like anime.

VISUALS: It’s CGI, but there’s not a lot of different settings. So it is actually slightly disappointing, visual-wise.

MORALS: Politicians are assholes, but corporations are even bigger assholes.

BAD STUFF: This simply wasn’t as exciting as ANY of the last 5 or 10 zombie movies I’ve seen. It was comparable to Night Of The Living Dead (the 3-D 2006-ish remake). Yup, not that good.

CONCLUSION: Meh. It entertained and got a generic pass, but I would probably rate this 5.5 on IMDB and only begrudgingly give it 3 stars on Netflix.

RECOMMENDATION: If you watched the first 4 movies, played the video games, or love CGI-based zombie movies: see this. Otherwise: Skip it.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Obviously this is somewhat similar to the other Resident Evil movies, and to any zombie movie.

NEXT: Next up we’re going to watch a Highlander animated movie. It seems a lot of the dying franchises that have made 4+ movies can’t get funding for more real movies, but can still get funding for an animated movie. This is part of the power of animation: It allows storytellers (and moneymakers) to continue their stories/profit-schemes for a cheaper price. Often times a franchise’s “last gasp” will be an animated movie or series. (more…)

Since my new Onkyo stereo has on-screen menus, I thought it would be handy to hook it up to my TV. So I took the s-video out and attached it to my Sharp Aquos 52-inch TV’s s-video in, which I only used as a redundant connection from my computer that I could switch back and forth on to laugh at the difference between s-video and DVI/HDMI.

So guess what? The menus don’t output on s-video; only on HDMI. Nice of them not to include that!

So I order an HDMI cable and hook it up to my TV. Yay, I can see the menus now. They don’t really allow any changes that you can’t make without the screen, but it’s MUCH easier to navigate that way. Though — you can set the menu to be in 1080i, but no matter what, it’s always in 480i. Annoying, because that means waiting for everything to switch. I was hoping it would just appear on the screen instantly.

So I tried running my computer’s HDMI to the stereo, just for the hell of it. Perhaps when watching a movie, it could more correctly carry the audio to my receiver? Granted, the receiver has correctly been receiving 5.1 discrete sound; but maybe with DTS and other “weird” modes, they would work better through HDMI. Maybe, maybe not.

So I plug it in, and my computer warns me: The ATI x1950 graphics card I have only outputs video onto its HDMI. I would have had to go to the next-up graphic card at the time, which was $400 when I built my computer (I paid $215). Of course, the next-up graphic card is only $30 nowadays, and even their highest up is still only $200. So I *could* upgrade, but is there really a point? Most likely not, for 99% of the time.

Optical digital audio’s been good to me. I knew HDMI switching was not really important to me. My TV has 2 HDMI ports. One gets it directly from my computer Hades, and the other gets the output from the stereo. Carolyn’s computer also runs to the stereo — so technically I am using HDMI switching to switch between Carolyn’s computer and the stereo’s output. Of course, her computer can only output 640×480 to the HDTV, not 1920×1080 like mine. She has an even older ATI card, before they went to their “x-series” (which I got the last of, before they went to their “HD” series).

So … At least my initial suspicions about HDMI switching not being super-important to me are confirmed, even if it meant tinkering around for 30 minutes.

Now the OTHER feature not mentioned: This stereo has multi-room out. But I don’t want to send powered speaker wire to the other room; I want to send unpowered RCA cables to the other room, and amp it there. If you send powered out, you can only do 5.1 sound, not 7.1 sound. And I prefer to have an amp in each location, so I can control the volume from wherever I am. So I hook up the RCA-out, run it to the room… Nothing. Open up the manual for my stereo… OHHH, digital inputs wont be converted to analog output. Real frickin’ nice.

So Onkyo has burned me on two different outputs: Their s-video output that doesn’t output their menu, and their “zone 2” RCA outputs, that don’t output my (digital) audio. So I did what I previously did: Ran the audio from my computer. It’s what I always use anyway. But it would have been nice to have used the output to the Onkyo — because then its switching would have allowed me to switch to the other room.

I could have, for example, run *Carolyn’s computer’s* audio to the bedroom, in the event that my computer died. (Her computer also has a complete copy of our music collection, so the music can never die!) But now, I’m stuck just sending my computer there.

Time to update my internal document of what to look for in a receiver. But if they don’t advertise things they don’t do very well, I wonder how I can avoid something like this happening with my next purchase? (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE/QUIRKS: Everyone knows who Cheech & Chong are, and what they do in their movies…

BAD STUFF: …Well, they don’t really do any of it in this movie. I don’t even remember anyone smoking pot. And it takes place during the French revolution. Say goodbye to anything topical. If you thought 1970s Cheech & Chong movies were dated, you ain’t seen nothing yet.


RECOMMENDATION: Watch ANY OTHER Cheech & Chong movie. They are great. It’s only due to their greatness that a piece of shit like this could ever be squeezed out between the 2 cheeks of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

MOVIE QUOTE: Corsican Brother #1: “I’m so hungry I could eat a bowl of lard with a hair in it!” — Given that IMDB quotes for this movie only list 3 quotes, and this is one of them — that really says something about the quality of dialog here. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] We watched this at Evan‘s parent’s cabin in December.

PEOPLE: Directed by John Landis (The Kentucky Fried Movie, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In London, Thriller, Coming To America), and staring John Belushi. John Belushi! John Belushi! We don’t need to go any farther than this, tho I will say this was Kevin Bacon’s film premiere. He spent the money in a week.

QUIRKS: A total college party movie. Girls, beer, and douchey authority figures. And of course a good deal of physical comedy too. Also, the IMDB trivia for this movie is more interesting than usual. It was originally going to be called “Laser Orgy Girls”?!?!?! And yes, they got in a real fight with real frat boys (after being INVITED to party with them so that they could study their parts for the movie). Wow.

VISUALS: Yes, in the form of nudity. :) But this is mostly a party movie, not a sex movie.

MORALS: I’m not really sure there was a moral to the story, other than it is possible to triumph over douchebags.

BAD STUFF: Well, the movie is from 1978, so it looks a bit dated at times. But not nearly as much as I would have imagined. At first I tried to convince Evan not to watch it, because I felt it would be dated. But no. The subject matters covered are pretty timeless. So it’s a stretch to even call this “bad stuff”.

CONCLUSION: This is a classic 5-star comedy movie that everyone should see. I was wrong to underestimate it. It turns out my appreciation for this movie — which I’ve seen several times before, but didn’t remember — has grown considerably over the past decade.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like college party movies, this is a MUST SEE. Also, don’t forget to watch the DVD extras. They have all the actors from the movie, in character, discussing what they are doing these days. Evan & I were both pleasantly surprised at just how entertaining that was. DVD Extras are improving; they’re doing more “mockumentary” type stuff these days — straight interviews can be kind of boring.

SIMILAR MOVIES: I’d actually say that Revenge Of The Nerds 1 shares a lot of traits with this film.

MOVIE QUOTE: Dean Vernon Wormer: “The time has come for someone to put his foot down. And that foot is me.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Evan, Glen, Wayne, and Christian D loved it. Ian and Benj liked it. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Watched 1 (right around when I watched The Hills have Eyes remake).

PEOPLE: Henry Rollins. This is the coolest thing he’s ever done, and the only thing I’ve ever been able to tolerate. I once bought a Black Flag cassette around 1991 that I hated so much that I physically ingested the entire cassette cover, and strung the tape down my entire street (10 houses or so?). He’s only been allowed on my screen when Beavis & Butt-head watch the video of him.

QUIRKS: Henry Rollins becomes “Rollambo” in this movie; a military guy who goes on a killing spree.

VISUALS: Special effects? Not so realistic (not enough blood), but disturbing nonetheless.

MORALS: Stay out of West Virginia.

POLITICS: Pollution is bad. The government should not ignore the detrimental effects of birth defects on people who want to not be eaten.

BAD STUFF: The framework for the movie is the filming of a reality TV show (with Henry Rollins as the host). I hate reality TV.

CONCLUSION: Despite the bad things, the killings start FAST, and it doesn’t let up. While only a generic pass of a horror movie, there’s certainly not as many dull or boring moments as their could have been.

RECOMMENDATION: I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this, unless you enjoyed the 1st and want to see more.

MOVIE QUOTE: Nina Papas: Birth defects? No shit.
[looking at a barrel of toxic waste that reads may cause birth defects]

COINCIDENCES: (House Of 1000 Corpses, Wrong Turn 2) Two movies in a row with fucked up rednecks who kill, and who wore a mask of the skin of one of the victims while engaging in sex-related activities.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian didn’t like it [same as Wrong Turn 1]; thanks for trying, Ian :) (more…)

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