movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] This post is both a movie review, and a review of a BBS I used to frequent. This is kind of a weird post.

HAIKU REVIEW: Where The Wild Things Are:
The BBS was better [*personal explanation at the bottom of the post]
than the dumb movie.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Doormat mom forces us all to sit through romp in brat’s imagination.

PEOPLE: Directed by Spike Jonze, writer of many Jackass episodes and movies, and director of Adaptation and Being John Malkovich. Starring an annoying kid, Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), and various voices used for the creatures – Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under redhead daughter, Psycho Beach Party), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)

QUIRKS: Based on a book. Which has like, no story. I got it around age 30 but have still never read it.

VISUALS: NOT the visual masterpiece you’d expect. I watched it in 1080p, but still.

The CGI faces were only because the puppets didn’t work right, but honestly, I’m having a hard problem imagining puppets looking as good. I saw hints of people in the characters — individual features that reminded me of actors, without me really knowing who. Kind of like the effect from the movie Beowulf. The goat really reminded me of Seth Green, too, for some reason. I’m not sure if puppets could really give the human realism to the expressions.

MORALS: 1) Hey brat: You should realize you’re a little brat. 2) Don’t have kids.

BAD STUFF: Watching a bratty kid for 2 hours. I was warned of this. I thought it was just the haters hatin’, as usual. But they were right.

Every adaptation of anything to a movie [including a previous movie] is hated on pretty badly. The haters would be much more persuasive if they only hated sometimes, instead of all of the time. Instead, I just kind of ignore it, unless a good reason or explanation is given. I didn’t listen to them, and for once, they were right and I agree with ’em. I *wanted* to like this so much more than I did. I really wanted to give it 3 stars, just for sating my curiosity on what a Where The Wild Things Are movie might look like. Even Carolyn could only barely give it 3 stars, but alas, I could not. I’m not even sure what my specific problem was with it: It was just kind of dull and pointless, even with the fantasy elements.

CONCLUSION: Disappointment. Such disappointment.

Clint: Netflix: 2/5 stars. IMDB: 5/10. Really wanted to rate it higher, but… Just couldn’t.
Carolyn: Netflix: 2.6/5 stars (lowest possible 3-star movie). IMDB: 6/10.

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.5/10, Netflix: 3.8/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was also 3.8/5 stars–how wrong).

RECOMMENDATION: I have no recommendation. This movie seems to be hard to predict whether people will like or not.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Bridge To Terabithia. But Carolyn says it was a much better movie than this one… And I think I agree with that.

MOVIE QUOTE: Judith: “Happiness isn’t always the best way to be happy.”

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian loved it. Glen didn’t like it. For once, I agree with his hatin’.


[*] I never heard of Where The Wild Things Are until I was online in the local BBS community in the late 1980s, and encountered a BBS of the same name, run by one Link The Triune. Carolyn was there the whole time, as was her sister, Jeremy Turner, and many other friends who I went on to know in person in college and afterward. It was definitely the best social BBS in Prince William County.

It was so popular that you would often have to auto-dial tons of times just to not get a busy signal. After all, it was one-at-a-time use back then. Imagine a webpage you can only go to if nobody else has it on their screen. And being restricted to connecting only to those pages in your county. [Unless you had ways around long distance fees. <sly grin>] The one good thing was that long distance rates meant you weren’t competing with everyone in the country; just those in your area code. Nonetheless, this BBS was a constant busy signal because of how good the messages and users were.

I eventually convinced everyone to adopt an offline reader so that less phone time was used per-user. Instead of being connected while you read and type all your messages, you simply connected for few minutes to upload the messages you wrote, and download new messages. Kinda analogous to POP email retrieval. This actually meant that 5 people could login in a row, download new messages, log off, and all be typing at once! Pretty soon, the BBS was getting messages at a faster rate than if someone was connected 100% of the time typing as fast as they could. It was tough to keep up!

I don’t really remember a lot of the specifics from back then; it was 20 years ago. I remember I’d have to catch up and reply to various things I wanted to reply to, so it basically meant that in every message section, I’d post about 3-10 times in a row each visit. Massively-deep quoting. Macros. QModem and then Telemate. Line noise. 16 colors of text. IBM extended ASCII characters. ANSI. So many things that just don’t come into play these days. Everything’s been normalized into this mundane interface. Facebook is like everyone having their own BBS, networked with everyone else’s BBS: But with no control, and absolute homogeny in interface. It’s a fascist dictator that gets things done efficiently. But BBSes were like cowboys in the wild west. Very good times.

I have set up a few of people’s “goodbye” messages that they wrote when the board shut down. They can be found at:
They include goodbyes from sysop Link The Triune (Jerry H), Magic Mist (Carolyn), Satan (me), Trailblazer (Dave Pi), Stiletto (John Sch), The Screaming Ogre (Mike P), Stray Toaster, Jam Jobe (Jeff N), Punkin, and Ditto.

There is also a subfolder called “ANSIs“, for some of the ANSI art that I converted to PNG files. I’ve included these in this post, but they are slightly shrunken down here.

As for the book? I never did read it. Eventually, we were gifted some stuffed animals from it, and one came with a tiny (2-inch?) version of the book. I still never bothered to read it.

Maybe now I will… Because it probably won’t be nearly as annoying as the movie.

I think this ANSI captures the twisted mindset some of us had at the time (and still do):


There was another BBS, run by a Dave Pi aka Trailblazer, named after the ALL (ex-Descendents) album, called The Paisley Underground:

It was one of the few 301 BBSes I called, since I couldn’t, technically, call 301 without incurring massive fees. [Special thanks to corporation-that-shall-not-be-named and Fenris Wolf, you know who you are.]

this ANSI has nothing to do with this

There was this user, Batman. He was a really immature kid. And considering most of us were in high school or college around then, it’s saying a lot if EVEN HIGHSCHOOLERS think you’re immature.

As a co-sysop with level 254 access, what did I do? I reduced his access from the standard level 20, to level 19. I created a message base that required level 20 access, where everyone could make fun of him. I then edited his account, to set all his colors to black on black. I then logged his keystrokes, and posted messages [in the message base he couldn’t access] showing him hitting keys and trying to figure out what the hell was going on.

This was one of the awesomest ways I ever fucked with someone in my life. Oh, he could see his login prompt. But once he logged in, it was all black on black. And this was the DOS days. It’s not like you could highlight the text and paste it into notepad to read it, like you can nowadays. I don’t even think we had cut and paste back then.

An ANSI was even created in my honor — the only time this ever happened:

Carolyn’s first words to me ever? “Are you Satan?”

Batlamer: “But…But… I’m Batman! Umm… Master of Darkness! er… I’m cool! Honest!”
Me (Satan): “Heh! I’ll change all your colors to black on black and watch the fun!”
Batlamer: “What the?”

This ANSI appears to be about someone, too, but I have no recollection of the story behind it:

Everyone was always obsesses with spam — even before emails and spam emails existed:

In general, the socializing online was much more quaint, stylized, and personable. Nowadays, the giant borg of Facebook has swallowed us all, normalizing our experiences into one common experience with no real separate personality for people. The 2012 way definitely brings more people together in a more technologically efficient way, but the 1988 way was like living as a pioneer in the wild wild west.

Those days shall never be reclaimed, and only those of us that were there will know exactly what it was like. If you haven’t called a Commodore 64 BBS running at 300bps, you haven’t had the full online experience — and never will. If you haven’t  wardialed thousands of numbers looking for hidden BBSes and strange modems, well… I’ve seen a command and control system for a sattelite that I shouldn’t have. You just don’t get to do things like this nowadays. Sigh.

I should probably write more, but I don’t know what to add. Maybe some old members of the BBS will find this post and write some memories. If you do find this, don’t forget to read the goodbye messages everyone left.

Mood: hungry
Music: Voivod – Thrashing Rage