October 1st, 2005


Obligatory Serenity Review -- no spoilers

This is gonna be short. I caught the 7:50 pm show - rode my bike the mile or so from work, which avoided a lot of traffic foo, got in line an hour before showtime, and there were only about a dozen people in line ahead of me. By the time the doors opened, there were about 50. Argh. Saving places for people on that scale is Just Plain Wrong.

But I got a super seat, anyway. Also, the show was not sold out when I arrived, so that Fandango service fee was wasted.

I'd seen the trailers, heard the hype, seen the entire Firefly series, so I guess I'm a fan. I had high expectations, and most of them were met. I expected to not be able to understand half of what Mal (Nathan Fillion) said, and I was not disappointed. He mumbles a lot, and his lines in this script often sounded forced. The writer was going for Space Rustic, and it didn't quite fit in his mouth. I expected to see more of River (Summer Glau) and saying I was not disappointed is like saying it rained some in New Orleans recently. If this movie doesn't make Summer's agent one of the busiest people in Hollywood, then there's something very wrong with Hollywood. Ditto her stunt doubles.

Joss Whedon has shown he can take a small screen production and scale it to big screen, and lose very little in the translation - and gain a lot. What was lost were some of the special effects. There were a couple of times when models were obviously models and atmosphere was bits of cotton or stucco spray. But mostly, they rocked. There were some images which were sheer poetry - watch for River's "Moment™" near the end. Jewel Staite out-Kayleed herself, she was wonderful. Zoe (Gina Torres) took her acting up a notch too. Sean Maher as Simon confused me. In the opening scenes, he looks fit, handsome, mature and what I would have expected him to grow into after some time onboard. But in many scenes he looks pale, thin, juvenile. I wonder if he had been ill during some of the shoot. Time has definitely not been kind to Ron Glass or his character Shephard Book. I was disappointed in his very small role, and in his acting. He was only good, not his usual superb. Adam Balwin continues to be Jayne. I sure hope the casting directors notice that besides his flair for being the ultimate dumb jock, he has incredible comic timing. And of course I'm still in love with Inara (Morena Baccarin), and wish we saw more of her, but the nature of her character just doesn't allow this. Alan Tudyk was Wash. Ho hum. None of the new minor characters were anything to write home about.

The Bad Guy is played by a fellow with the unusual name of Chiwetel Ejiofor. He just didn't do it for me. His script was great, but he just was not convincing. There was a guy in one of the Firefly episodes who sneaks aboard, ties up Kaylee, and almost grabs River, and he's the one I wanted to see in this role. I don't remember the episode or the character name - someone know who I'm talking about? Anyway that guy had the grace, charm, class and utter ruthlessness which this part called for.

Two more negative comments, then I'm done with bad news. I was shaken by the level of violence, especially towards the end. And the rest of the audience joined me in being very let down that there were no out-takes or other snippets during the closing credits.

Summary - I liked this movie very much. I'll get it on Netflix so I can turn on the subtitles, rewind and replay the bits I missed the first time, and pause on some of those beautifully framed images.
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Happy October Fool's Day.

I meant to post this first thing this morning, but got distracted. A mostly wasted day, this one. Woke up way late, by the time I felt ready for breakfast it was lunch time.

Went to Home Depot and picked up a couple more things for my home lighting system. Came home and started installing the lamp dimmer, and clumsy me made the light bulb fly across the room, smashing to bits on the file cabinet. So, back to the car, stopped at the nearest hardware store for replacement bulbs, also found clear spray paint which I use on my biz cards so the inkjet ink doesn't run. Then to Office Depot and Fry's. looking for thermal paper for my blood pressure monitor's printer. They don't make this monitor anymore, which probably means it's time to get a new one - one that's probably more accurate. Great case of going into the store to spend $1 and coming out knowing you're going to have to spend $100. Also looked at MP3 players at Fry's thinking if they had one which used removable flash memory, that would be cool to have on my vacation. Something smaller and less power-hungry than a full-sized CD player. But the ones I liked cost way too much. $300+! Which is when I remembered I have Just The Thing in the bottom storage tub in my computer room closet - a Sony MD player which I bought at the company store when I worked there. I'd meant to give it as a present, but after giving one to my nephew, I ran out of people who would want one.

So back at the apartment, after finishing the bulb replacement and lighting hookup, I installed the Mini Disk software and it is now happily slurping up MP3s from my hard drive and putting them into playlists. I tried uploading to the player at the same time, but it blue-screened the PC. I know better - I reported this bug almost 2 years ago, after the last update patch came out. When I bought the player, I also got an 8-pack of discs, which will hold more than enough music. The thing runs on a single AA battery, too. Uploading won't take too long - it transfers at about 30x.

What else did I do today? Changed the litterbox, watched an episode of Dead Like Me Season 2. Opened up a couple of packages from the mail - one was the latest Learning Perl which I got cheap because it's a used textbook, with some highlighting. And The Madness Season, which will probably be coming to Thailand with me. Speaking of Thailand, I also went online at B of A and ordered 20,000 Baht for my trip. It's a lot of moolah -- more than $500. Back when I lived there, nobody I knew had ever seen than many Baht in one place - it used to be worth 10x that much, and the standard of living was such that $1 bought a really good dinner. Anyhow, that'll stay in my safe deposit box till it's time to leave. I was going to also get traveler's checks at AAA, but their web site says the exchange rate bites, and it's better to use the ATM. I can find a couple of no-fee ones for B of A over there. And I'll bring a few greenbacks too, which should get me a good rate too.

Enough already. Off to starbucks.
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    Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw?