November 2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Old dream from when my computer was dead…

I was playing some weird role-playing game. It was some D&D level that was part of BrettSpielWelt or something.

I could never do good — people were always playing more creatively than me.

So I did something different. I waited for this huge thunderstorm wave that only crashes up every long game cycle (weeks?), and when it crashed up, I quickly ran down to where the water briefly recessed after the wave was gone. I found some stuff that could only be found there at that moment, or something to that effect(?). I also destroyed a shovel (?).

Anyway, I finally found an admin and fished for compliments for my creativity, but instead he sanctioned me multiple times!

He wrote a 5-part response. Three parts complimented my creativity, but the other 2 parts basically said why I shoudln’t have been allowed to do that, and why I was sanctioned.

I lost the points I gained for that, they modified the wave so it wouldn’t work like that in the future, and they also docked me in such a way that I was worse off than when I started.

So yeah, fuck that game. Reminds me of why I quit MUD’ing in the first place. The admins ruin things.

''Dreams... They're the hurricanes that wash the soulfilth from the superdome of our nightminds.'' --Xavier:Renegade Angel

“Dreams… They’re the hurricanes that wash the soulfilth from the superdome of our nightminds.”
Xavier:Renegade Angel (more…)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Radiologist discovers she is special person in a secret world just beside our own.

PEOPLE: Starring Lena Headey (Sarah Connor in Terminator:The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Miss Dickinson in the 2007 St. Trinian’s, Queen Gorgo in 300, Angelika in The Brothers Grimm). Melvil Poupaud (Johnny ‘Goodboy’ Jones in the recent Speed Racer movie) as her creepy boyfriend. Richard Jenkins (the dead dad in Six Feet Under, How I Got Into College, Wolf, Me,Myself & Irene, Step Brothers) as the father.

QUIRKS: Slow-building, creepy, doppleganger suspense. And dopplegangers freak me out way more than most things.

VISUALS: It did win some Best Cinematography awards. It was indeed well-done, visually.

BAD STUFF: It did not quite fulfill its potential. The mirror situation could have been explored more. The main threat to humanity is placed on the sidelines while we deal solely with the experiences of the main character.

Also, [highlight for spoilers] the twist can be seen ahead of time.

CONCLUSION: Better than your average generic horror. Re-watching Prince Of Darkness did not make mirrors creepy again, but *this* movie made mirrors creepy again! Dopplegangers freak me out. This movie even made ME jump (in stereo with Carolyn, of course). Definitely a cut above most horrors.

RANDOMNESS: Afterward, Oranjello & Lemonjello seemed to just start staring off into a mirror… Carolyn noticed this and was ever-so-slightly unsettled.

Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10. Carolyn “saw it coming” at points Clint did not.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 5.6/10, Netflix: 2.7/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 2.9/5 stars).

RECOMMENDATION: Horror / psychological thriller fans and doppleganger foes should watch this.

Watch only in bluray [like we did], or in Euro-DVD. The American DVD is cropped such that 24 percent of the film is missing.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Has aspects of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. Others have said this was a good version of the movie Mirrors, which we are also planning to watch soon. “It’s what mirrors could have been if mainstream horror films were still well made”, says CosmicForces@IMDB.

MOVIE QUOTE: Dr. Robert Zachman: “It’s a rare disorder, in which a person holds a belief that an acquaintance, usually a close family member or a spouse, has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor. The condition is most cases is a direct result of brain lesion. With your permission, I would like to readmit you to hospital and get Dr. Kenric to do some further tests.”

COINCIDENCES: (The Broken, Family Guy S8E8/American Dad S5E7) 2 videos in the same night with a female with a bandaged wound on her forehead. Can’t remember if the 2nd one was Family Guy Or American Dad. (more…)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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

PLOT SUMMARY: Guy wakes up in Vegas married to Camera Diaz. That would be a pretty happy ending right there, but then he blows it by winning $3M on a slot machine. Good luck getting that marriage annulled NOW!

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Drunken legal contracts are unenforceable, except when a woman wants your money. OH!

PEOPLE: Ashton Kutcher & Cameron Diaz. Rob Corddry (Harold & Kumar 2, Blades Of Glory, Old School), Lake Bell, Jason Sudeikis (The Cleveland Show).
Smaller roles by Zach Galifianakis, who finds himself in a marriage-related Vegas haze just like in The Hangover .  Also: Queen Latifah.

QUIRKS: Las Vegas, intoxication, legal battles, awkwardness, purposeful annoyance, seeing who can piss off the other the most.

VISUALS: Cameron Diaz ;)

MORALS: Maybe it shouldn’t be legal to marry people when you’re drunk?

BAD STUFF: There was a moment where Cameron Diaz’s lip quivered a bit as she saw Ashton Kutcher deal with children for the first time. “This is the exact frame where the comedy stops!”, declared Carolyn. She later said she was impressed that it didn’t completely stop at that point. However, there definitely was a point where the comedy stopped, and the romance angle took over. This is pretty inevitable in formulaic romantic comedies.

CONCLUSION: Another formulaic romantic comedy about sham marriages, and thus similar to The Proposal. Not quite as funny, but it has more fun moments. Las Vegas. Trying to annoy each other. And a “closing credits reveal” that shows what was missed. The Hangover was a straight-comedy, this is, in a sense, the romantic-comedy version of the Hangover.

Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.6/5 stars (3.3/5 stars for people who rate like me), IMDB: 5.9/10. Rated 1.0/10 less than The Proposal, which we watched immediately before this.

RECOMMENDATION: If you like romantic comedies, this one is a bit edgier than most, and isn’t as sweet as some. The Vegas angle is nice, since we honeymooned there and thus have an affinity towards Vegas.

SIMILAR MOVIES: The Proposal, of course. (See coincidences, below.)


1) Tipper: If I could kill someone with my mind right now, it would be you.

2) Hater: I can have a vial of crabs here in 30 minutes.

COINCIDENCES: (The Proposal, What Happens In Vegas) 2 movies in the same night had sham marriages that the authorities were investigating, as well as a scene with people listening to headphones while taking a bath/shower, and not being able to hear what is going on.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Benj liked it.

Rebekah hated it. (She sure hates a lot of movies. I don’t understand how people manage to repeatedly watch movies they hate. If they suck so bad, why keep watching them? I don’t understand how people can’t predict what they will like with some amount of accuracy, to the extent of watching something they find zero redeeming value in. I’ve probably only watched a 1/5 star movie about 3 times out of the last 800 or so movies I’ve watched. It’s not that they aren’t out there. They are. I just know what to avoid.)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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

PLOT SUMMARY: Baby dies, mommy cries. And then everything gets much, much, much, much, much, much, much worse.

Fuck. Holy shit. Oh my god.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Wife’s nymphomania is too distracting for husband to notice she is a child-abusing, murderous, crazy bitch. Genital mutilation ensues.

PEOPLE: Directed by Lars von Trier. Remind me never to watch anything by him again.

Starring Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin in Spider-Man, The Aviator, Shadow Of The Vampire, American Psycho, The Boondock Saints, eXistenZ, Wild At Heart, Platoon) and Charlotte Gainsbourg with her weird mouth (21 Grams). And that’s it. It’s just the 2 of them for the entire movie.

QUIRKS: A drama that becomes a psychological thriller. Some say it edges on supernatural thriller while being ambivalent if that is the case — which is a bit how The Number 23 felt.

I never will think of acorns in the same way. Now they are like miscarriages, and will make me think of the Pixies song “Dead” every time they hit my roof. “Uriah hit the crapper… The crapper…”

VISUALS: This is a cerebral movie, not a visual movie. However, they used some interesting “lens effects” that made the woods quite trippy. It almost felt like analog lens distortion, but I heard this was shot on an HD digital camera. Either way, I might be wrong about the technical facts, and they don’t really matter. The effect was neat, and helped add some insanity-related tension to the movie.

MORALS: I’m not sure what moral can be taken out of this movie. The strongest moral might be “don’t watch this movie if you don’t want to squirm”. I think that’s a pretty important lesson that might be more important than any lesson the film has to offer. Seriously: This film will hurt you. This film will make watching the last season of Six Feet Under feel like watching Barney.

POLITICS: There are definitely a lot of gender politics in this movie, causing some to call it misogynistic. However, one must remember that DEPICTING something is not the same as CONDONING it. A Slayer song about a serial killer (Seasons In The Abyss) is not Slayer condemning serial killing. It is Slayer DEPICTING serial killing. In a similar method, the director is not necessarily condoning the violence towards women [AND men] depicted in this movie. So quit your whining, feminazis. This movie isn’t exactly pleasant for guys to watch. In fact, it’s about the least pleasant movie ever.

BAD STUFF: Horror. Sorry. Anguish. Emotional pain. Depression. Crying over a baby. And then there’s the REAL HORRORS that I don’t want to talk about, because I don’t want to spoil the movie. Amazingly, there were people who laughed through this movie. Wow. We actually aborted this the first time we watched it, because we realized it was far too heavy for our mood that night. This movie caused me to have to take some major deep breaths. Carolyn couldn’t even look at the screen for some of it. Some of the most painful, horrible, disturbing images ever.

But not a lot of them. This is no Saw or Hostel. The TRULY TRAUMATIZING, horrible moments maybe only add up to 1-2 minutes of on-screen violence. Most of the rest of the movie is an exercise in exploring sorrow and heartache.

The movie is definitely quite pretentious and “artsy”. That is the source for some people’s laughter. Apparently, a lot of people laughed at the whole “Chaos Reigns” thing. They thought it was so pretentious and hackneyed that they “burst into laughter for 15 minutes”. I knew this was a heavy “art film” going in, and did indeed feel the air of pretension permeating the whole movie. Especially the epilogue — which apparently was not the original ending to the movie. I found the epilogue to actually make the film worse.

Symbolism can only take you so far. When you obfuscate the true meaning of a film in the name of artsy symbolism, you actually obfuscate the meaning of your work and make it harder for people to understand. The contest of rising up to the challenge of understanding obfuscated symbolism is mostly a pissing contest among academics who want to flaunt their superior analytical skills, and doesn’t really have much to do with the enjoyment of a film. Unless you’re David Lynch, an overuse of symbolism can actually harm your work for a lot of observers. I think some of that happened with Antichrist. The talking fox? The epilogue? I think this might have been a more powerful film for most WITHOUT those parts.

And yes, I get that there are deeper meanings. But they have to be interesting and germane to the plot for most people to care. Seeing the variety of speculation in the IMDB forum helps prove the point that the director’s point wasn’t proven.

CONCLUSION: This is one of the most painful things I’ve ever watched in my life. As horrible as the experience was, this movie gets bonus points for invoking intense emotion — even if it’s unpleasant emotion. And this movie has about a minute of some of the most horrible things I’ve seen. Ever. In my life. I get adrenaline rushes and slight terror attacks just thinking about some of the events that transpired in this movie. As horribly painful of an experience as it was, I would recommend it to any serious movie watcher. TEST YOUR VIEWING MIGHT.

Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.

But if one were to rate the *intensity* of this film, it would be 5/5 stars, 9/10. The worst moments are some of the most intense things I have seen ever, period.

The native public rating for this movie is Netflix: 3.6/5 stars (3.1/5 stars for people who rate like me), IMDB: 6.9/10.

RECOMMENDATION: It’s definitely worth a trip to the IMDB forums after seeing this, if not to glimpse the myriad of reactions that people had to this film.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Hopefully, none ever. But why the FUCK are they making a video game based on this? WHAT THE FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK??????????? “According to the Danish newspaper Politiken, a video game called “Eden,” which is based on the film, is in the works. It will start where the film ends. “It will be a self-therapeutic journey into your own darkest fears, and will break the boundaries of what you can and can’t do in video games,” says video game director Morten Iversen.””

MOVIE QUOTE: She: A crying woman is a scheming woman.

COINCIDENCES: (South Park S3E08, Antichrist) In the same night, aborted 2 videos that both had the son walking in on his parents having sex right at the beginning. I don’t remember why we aborted South Park. I think we’d seen it already.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian didn’t like it. Glen hated it.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The “flat” sound that some people describe mp3s as having has nothing to do with them being mp3s. This is a misconception that I’ve seen repeated about as many times as people claiming that vinyl sounds better.

The “flat” mp3 sound (often attributed to ALL digital formats) is typically is due to the fact that when mp3s were first adapted, harddrive space cost a lot more, and they encoded them at low bitrates such as 128kbps, with most encoders cutting out 16kHz-20kHz range altogether. So yeah. That’s pretty bad. Unlike vinyl or cassette or CD, mp3s can be encoded in more than one way. And most of those ways were shitty when the format first came out. Unfortunatley, that’s when most people ripped their music, and music piracy helps keep such shitty encodes circling the globe.

This is why I’ve found myself buying a CD even though I’d already downloaded the mp3s of it. Because I wanted to make PROPER mp3s that actually SOUND GOOD.

The encoder itself matters, too. The same bitrate with different encoders that use different acoustic mathematical models will result in different sound quality. Such models have improved greatly over the years. I recommend LAME.exe. Many power users consider it the best encoder out there.

Let me play you a lossless recording and a LAME.exe, VBR-encoded mp3 over my 5.1 system compared to a WAV or FLAC of the same song. (But only after making sure they both come out at the same apparent volume; people often pick whichever one is the loudest one otherwise.) When you can correctly choose which is which 75% of the time, I might consider you an exception to the normal abilities of the human ear.

I hear a lot of people try to make up a silly claim that mp3s sound flat because they are in fact only discrete points of the audio, with math filling in the rest. And our “brain can tell the difference”.

Sorry, bub. That’s just not true. Your brain may be able to tell the difference between some files on your harddrive, but that is because they are bad files, not because they are digital. Reality is simply a matter of our brain being fed certain signals. There are most certainly upper limits in the resolution and processing power of what we can perceive — even if science may have the wrong limit stated (or not know them at all), and even if human beings exhibit a wide variance in perceptual talent. (There may be 1% that need double the bitrate to be fooled!) Yes, some people definitely hear at a higher resolution than others, just as some people have a greater tonal range. Eventually, however, technology will be advanced enough (and storage space ridiculously cheap enough) that it will be quite possible for everybody to carry a recording of something in such great resolution that no human being on the planet could ever distinguish it from the original analog production of those same sounds.

We’re not there yet, but how many of you have done a controlled study? Did you have someone play you back the 2 files? Did you make sure they both had the same volume? {mp3 encoding often mucks with the volume levels slightly}. Did they record the results? Were they randomized? What percentage of the time were you able to tell? So far, I know few people who have done a test like this. I did in 2000 — and years later decided that the results I had recorded for myself were wrong. I thought 160kbps was good enough. Then I thought 192kbps was good enough. I was wrong. I now encode at the highest bitrate with the highest quality. The point being — I’ve been willing to correct my own personal assumptions several times over the years.

Further complicating things is this:

They did surveys and found that people who grew up on inaccurately-encoded mp3s preferred the sound of that to lossless recordings!
In other words, they preferred something worse!

This explains all those vinyl people right off the bat. They like the “warmer” sound because it is what they are used to. And it’s hard to perform a double-blind test when comparying vinyl to other formats, because vinyl is such a broken format that it’s impossible to NOT tell it’s vinyl. I’ve never not been able to hear the needle, to hear pieces of dust. I’ll carve an exception for people who use laser-based vinyl record players (which do not use needles), but they are still subject to the RIAA equaliation curve which causes vinyl to actually represent the full tonality of sound IN AN INFERIOR WAY. But because they can always hear the hiss and crack, in a survey, vinyl will win. It doesn’t mean shit. It means as much as the college kids in the study above preferring shitty 128kbps mp3s over lossless FLAC. People are dumb and don’t even know what they want. I didn’t know what I want and changed my own mind a few times.

The conclusion of the study for me personally is that when a single human being claims to like one format better than another — it really doesn’t mean much in terms of the format being better. People like worse things if that’s what they are used to. Aggregate controlled surveys are what truly dictates which format is better.

I grew up on vinyl, but I know CD is an improvement on it, because I personally think the people who say they prefer the “warmer” sound of vinyl are as full of shit as the students in the slashdot article linked above. The same thing applies to those who think that digital music is automatically “flat”. No. It depends on far more than whether it is digital/mp3 or not.

[P.S. If you haven’t done a blind, controlled study with volume-normalized encodes at the highest possible bitrate — please do not leave a comment about your opinion. I’m only interested in the opinion of people who understand proper testing methodology, and have gone through a proper test.] (more…)

We watched 176 movies in 2010 (down 28% from 245 last year). 172 total unique movies (one was watched 2 times, another 3 times). About 8 were movies we’d already seen, though most of those were for the audiocommentary.

One movie was aborted: Break Up Club (Japan), which we gave 1.6/5 stars and 3/10 to.

Two were seen in the theatre, for the fake-IMAX 3-D (Avatar thoroughly trounced Alice In Wonderland).

Here are some graphs:

Genres: (comedy=63/31%, horror=29/14%, action/adventure/superhero=27/13%, fantasy=27/15%, drama=23/11%, scifi=19/9%, thriller/mystery=15/7%, romance=1/0%):

Ratings: (5-star=44/26%, 4-star=69/40%, 3-star=48/28%, 2-star=9/5%, 1-star=1/0%):

Animated (25/14%) Vs. Live (151/86%): Apparently we are watching more animated every year (10% last year, 7% the year before):

Quality: 79% in HD this year (up from 28%,19%,14% in previous years; the transition to HD video is nearing completion):

LANGUAGES: English, Japanese (8 or more), Korean (3), Swedish (1), Danish (1), French (0.5*), Hungarian (1, but it was dubbed in English).
[*The Science Of Sleep was half-French, half-English, thus French=0.5.]


FAVORITE MOVIES OF THE YEAR: upbeat: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,  downbeat: Deadgirl (2008).


COMEDY, BEST:  Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.   HONORABLE MENTION: ZombielandHot Tub Time MachineDrawn Together Movie: The Movie (2010) .
COMEDY, BEST HOLIDAY COMEDY: Hank And Mike (2008) – Does for Easter what Bad Santa did for Christmas
COMEDY, MOST PERVERSE/SEXUAL COMEDY: Control Alt Delete (2008) – never seen a guy fuck a computer before
COMEDY, BEST FOREIGNNight Of The Living Dorks (currently being remade by Michael Showalter of The State)
HORROR, MOST HUMAN SUFFERING: Human Centipede 1 (2009)
HORROR, TOUGHEST CHOICES: Saw 6 (2009) (Saw 7 wasn’t as good)
HORROR, BEST MIRROR-RELATED HORROR: Into The Mirror (2003) (Korea)
HORROR, POLITICAL: Zombies Of Mass Destruction (2009)
BEST BLACKLIGHT SCENE:  Enter The Void (2010) 
FANTASY, BEST: Inception (2010)
Avatar (2010). Honorable mention: Time Machine, The (1960)War Of The Worlds (2005) (surprised me).TIME TRAVEL, BEST: Triangle (2009)  (honorable mentinon to Hot Tub Time Machine)
VAMPIRE, BEST: Daybreakers (2009)
ACTION, BEST: Machete (2010)
SADDEST MOVIE: Mysterious Skin (2004)
TV ADAPTATION, BEST: The A-Team (2010)
DISAPPOINTMENT, BIGGEST:  Midnight Chronicles (2008) , Storytelling (2001) – my 2nd least favorite (?) Todd Solondz movieIn Bruges
Also… Very disappointed that Virtuality was never picked up as a series.

WORST MOVIE: Wish Upon A Star (1996), Midnight Chronicles (2008). Honorable mention to Camping (2009) (Danish), In Bruges.

Read past the jump for the lists of individual movies, separated by rating. (more…)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Out of the 176 movies we watched in 2010, 27 (15%) could be classified as action/adventure/superhero movies, and 15 could be (8.5%) classified as thriller/mystery.  About half of the ones we rated 5 stars were actually over-the-top unrealistic comedic action movies like Machete, Scott Pilgrim, Kick-Ass, Bitch Slap, and The A-Team.  Over-the-top ridiculous action is better — action movies were never really realistic to begin with, so why pretend?

We watched two adaptations (1996, 2009) of The Phantom. Guess which one was way better?

Read past the jump for the lists of individual movies, separated by rating. (more…)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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