Friday, April 16, 2021

Doctor Sleep and all, without spoilers

Movie sequels often fail in many aspects.  Sequels that come many years after the original often fail for even more reasons.  The filming style of the original movie is often clearly a product of the time within which the movie is made. If a sequel comes much later, there's very little chance of successfully capturing the same style and general feel of the original movie.  This is especially true of Kubrick movies and their sequels.  But the sequels don't have to be failures, even when they fail to recreate the original.

Two Kubrick movies now have cinematic sequels (not including TV series).  2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984) continued the story of 2001: A Space OdysseyDoctor Sleep continued the story of The Shining.

2010, briefly

2010 was a good movie.  To its credit, it doesn't appear to even attempt to recreate 2001's style and feel.  Much like 2001 was a movie of its time (1960's), 2010 was very much a 1980's movie.  However, unlike 2001, 2010 hasn't aged well, though it is still enjoyable to rewatch (if you can overlook some of the inferior special effects and filming techniques).  If you wish to see full reviews, please see 2010: The Forgotten Odyssey - A Video Essay and 2010: The Year We Make Contact Review.

Doctor Sleep

Although Doctor Sleep (2019) borrows heavily from The Shining (1980) in terms of certain imagery and plot points, it is its own movie in other ways.  Mainly, Doctor Sleep is very rewatchable.  It pulls the curtain back on some of the supernatural elements of The Shining (trying to explain them), but does so in a way that works well for the story.  Doctor Sleep actually does a much better job of character development and arc.  

In The Shining, Shelley Duvall and Jack Nicholson never feel like a couple.  Also, the viewer never really gets the sense that it's the hotel itself that drives Jack's character mad; characters being very one-dimensional.  Despite the praise Kubrick often gets for his movies, and the fandom of The Shining, it's not a true masterpiece in my mind.  In fact, if you compare Rotten Tomatoes (RT) scores of Kubrick's films, The Shining is actually near the bottom of the list.  Even though Eyes Wide Shut has a lower RT score, I actually think it's a superior movie to The Shining.

Table featuring the critical reception of films directed by Stanley Kubrick
YearFilmRotten Tomatoes[62]Metacritic[63]
1964Dr. Strangelove98% (91 reviews)97 (32 reviews)
1956The Killing98% (41 reviews)91 (15 reviews)
1957Paths of Glory95% (60 reviews)90 (18 reviews)
1960Spartacus93% (61 reviews)87 (17 reviews)
19682001: A Space Odyssey92% (113 reviews)84 (25 reviews)
1987Full Metal Jacket92% (83 reviews)76 (19 reviews)
1975Barry Lyndon91% (74 reviews)89 (21 reviews)
1962Lolita91% (43 reviews)79 (14 reviews)
1971A Clockwork Orange86% (71 reviews)77 (21 reviews)
1955Killer's Kiss86% (21 reviews)N/A
1980The Shining84% (95 reviews)66 (26 reviews)
1999Eyes Wide Shut75% (158 reviews)68 (34 reviews)
1953Fear and Desire75% (16 reviews)N/A

Character of Danny in Doctor Sleep is the adult version of Danny as a child in The Shining.  However, in Doctor Sleep, Danny is fully-fleshed-out character with purpose and solid reasons for doing certain things.  As with 2010, Doctor Sleep is more conventionally filmed than Kubrick movies.  But with Doctor Sleep, there is a unique style that makes it uniquely enjoyable, particularly when it explores supernatural interactions.  

The Shining has a few iconic scenes for which the movie is loved by many.  There's no question that The Shining has influenced our culture far more than Doctor Sleep can.  However, for me, I'd rather rewatch Doctor Sleep rather than The Shining.  That said, due to some of the choices made by the writer and director of Doctor Sleep, the movie cannot stand on its own in other way.  It still needs The Shining as its foundation, due to all the callbacks and fan-service.  Even still, I wouldn't watch The Shining and Doctor Sleep back-to-back since the movies are so stylistically different; there isn't a good flow between them (even though they share some imagery).  Watch both, but watch them at different times.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Fun and Important Words - Fussbudget

Fussbudget is a word with a strange composition, and no one is really sure as to why.  A fussbudget is a hard-to-satisfy person who is excessively anxious, bothered or concerned about many little details; that is to say, a fussy person.[1][2](1

The word "fussbudget" is presumably a compound of the words "fuss" and "budget". 

The "fuss" portion of "fussbudget" is kinda obvious, if one takes it to mean "fussy" rather than just "fuss".  "Fuss" is simply to show unnecessary excitement about something.  Whereas "fussy" is being worried about details or not easy to satisfy. 

The "budget" part of "fussbudget" is much harder to identify.  Many sources take it to mean a leather bag.  So, it might be said that the term comes from the idea of someone having a bag full of concerns.  This kinda makes sense, since we also have the word "fusspot" (fuss+pot) which carries similar meaning, but referencing a pot instead of a bag.[3][4](4)  
I use this word from time to time.  I'm not going into details as to where and why since the word can carry negative connotations.  However, it's a fun word to use.

In American English, there seems to be a marginal preference for "fussbudget" over "fusspot" according the ngram.  However, British English shows a strong preference for "fusspot".

Monday, April 12, 2021

Fun and Important Words - Whopperjawed

Whopperjawed is a awesome word that really does roll of the tongue.  It's not a common word (yet).  You won't find it listed in any printed dictionaries.  However, there are some great entries for whopperjawed on Urban Dictionary.

Whopperjawed describes something that is disheveled, askew, crooked, stuck in an awkward position, or any combination thereof.[1][2][3](1)(3)   

One of the difficulties with establishing a common usage of the word is that it has many regional variations, such as lopper-jawed, wapper-jawed, whomper-jawed and others (with a hyphen or not).  Of these, "wapper-jawed" seems to be the most historic, with a recording as early as 1825.  "Whopperjawed" appears in a letter by Mark Twain in 1863.[4](4)
Although I don't use this word everyday, I do use it regularly, as situations arise.  It's is a fun word to say.  It's also fun introducing "whopperjawed" to others who haven't heard it before.

Sometimes, but not always, the word may appear with the intensifier "all", as in "all whopperjawed".[5](5)

Based on an ngram chart, "whopper-jawed" variant seems to be the most common.  "Whopperjawed" without the hyphen is the second most common.  Arguably these are the same thing since compound words often start out with a hyphen that is eventually dropped.  Whomperjawed/Whomper-jawed is the next most common variant.  

Photographic example: Whopperjawed house

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Fun and Important Words - Gobbledygook

Gobbledygook is a great sounding word that almost rolls of the tongue (for English speakers).  According to Oxford, it's a word used to describe words, phrases and speech that are "unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms".  In simpler language, it's hard to understand or nonsensical jargon.[1][2][3] (backup links 1, 2, 3)  It's ironic that the Oxford definition for gobbledegook sounds like gobbledygook itself. 

The word is derived from an onomatopoeia of a turkey sound, though the use of gobbledygook is technically not the turkey noise itself.
Typically I do not have the need nor opportunity to use this word in every day language, but it does come up once in a while.  As far as I remember, my first exposure to the word is from normal family conversations while growing up (1970s/80s).  For me personally, that says a lot about the commonality of this young word.  Despite it's recent entry into the English Language (1944), the word has found its way deep into our common lexicon, often in politics or government-related rants.[4](4)  
Weirdly, there's a blip on the ngram usage graph for gobbledygook from 1921.  Without any way to see the source referenced by Google, it's hard to tell if this is an earlier coining or if it's a false-positive.
Gobbledygook is sometimes mentioned along with gibberish when discussing lexicon.  However, gibberish is a more general term used to describe nonsense speech, regardless to reason.  Gobbledygook is more specific, referring to technical language that is nonsensical. 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Trail 3 - Hike, Hiking and then something else

I recently purchased a book called 60 Hikes within 60 Miles for Denver and Boulder.  The book includes 60 parks and paths for hiking, including various skill levels from Easy to Moderately Hard.  It's not a comprehensive book of every hiking or walking trail in the Denver region.  What I like about the book, though, is that many of the trails are full loops, with little to no backtracking.  I prefer loops.

Sixty is an achievable number.  I could conceivably hike every trail in the book with a reasonable effort.  I'm not going to try to hike 60 trails in 60 days.  Instead, the attempt will be to hike all 60 trails over the next few years.  I've already hiked some of the trails before.  For those, I'll only count them if I hike them again.  All hikes will be journalled here, on my blog (at least the first attempt for each), with the assigned label of 6060Denver.

Today was the first day of this journey.  Allie and I hiked the trail at Bluff Lake Nature Center.  It's a very easy trail, listed as trail #3 (not a ranking), within the Denver (Including Foothills and Plains) section.  Though we are in Spring, the area is still a bit bare.  There are no leaves on the trees; and the grass and shrubbery are still brown.  The day was partly cloudy, with plenty of sun.

We did see a few prairie dogs, including one critter that vocalized very clearly that we should leave him alone.  We obliged, though we did take a couple of photos from a distance.  

There were also some geese, including this watchman on the side of the trail.

Afterwards, we explored Stanley Marketplace, about a mile West in Aurora, CO.  For lunch, we tried the restaurant Annette for brunch.   Though the food was good, there were some distracting quirks, such as very small portions for beverages (like, smaller than what one might expect for "child size"), and no refills for iced tea.  Main course prices were about right for the quantity and quality of each dish.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Avoided disaster - active shooter in Boulder

Though Monday's mass shooting in Boulder, CO was 15 to 20 miles from our home, our vet is located in that same shopping center.  Joie had an appointment for a checkup at 5PM.  Sometime before 4:30PM, Allie received a call from our vet.  They had to cancel our appointment because of an active shooter in the shopping center.  Everyone was ordered to shelter-in-place.  Even under such stress, our vet rescheduled Joie's appointment for another day.

This isn't how we found out about the unfolding crisis.  At first, we didn't think too much of it.  Active shooter alerts happened before.  Sometimes, it's a mistaken report, or just someone wielding a weapon in public, or targeting a specific person, such as a love quarrel gone bad.  

We quickly found out that this was so much worse.  There's really nothing I can say to sum things up or even make the story more personal.  The worse we had was a rescheduling of an appointment, avoiding the situation ourselves by a couple of hours.  Allie and I are OK and unaffected by the crisis.

Of course, Allie had a couple of family members contact her within minutes of the incident making international news.  Several coworkers also checked with me the next day during meetings that I attended.  

Thankfully, we avoid the whole situation.  Others were not lucky.  Their families are suffering, such as one Erika Mononey, who gave a tribute to her father on Twitter (backup link).

Here's the link to the Wikipedia article for sourced information about the horrific event.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Elite Dangerous: Rescuing inhabitants of Lave Station after the Nine Martyr's Attack


Full walkthrough of one mission to rescue inhabitants Lave Station after the Nine Martyr's Attack. Runs from launch at the rescue ship all the way through collection of rewards for successful mission completion. Includes some pointers a long the way for an easier journey.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Up and up building, or that's no murder!


Up and up; new building under construction in North Cherry Creek

It's not a murder of crows, but it's a gang of some menacing avian creepers keeping eyes on this intersection.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Pay it to Payphones or don't

So, I went down a short rabbit hole when I saw a payphone in a movie review for Secret Obsession.  The movie is really bad, in my opinion.  I tried to watch, but had to stop.  This movie review does a good job at explaining why:

The movie shows the protagonist stopping to use a payphone to call 911.  Unfortunately, she didn't have change (coins) or phone card.   There's a problem with this scene.  I tweeted this, thinking that was all I was going to do:

That wasn't the end of it, though.  I remembered that there's still some payphones in service, so I looked it up.  That's when I ran into the fact that there's still over 100K payphones in the US, and that each payphone can still earn a profit with as few as three 50¢ calls per day.

Was that the end?  No.  I remembered that I somehow ended up at the movie theater to see Phone Booth back in 2003.  It's about this guy of questionable morals who is trapped in a phone booth by a sniper out to prove a point.  The guy is played by Colin Farrell.  The movie was made near the end of the payphone era.  Had this movie come out just a few years later, it would've already been too dated for people to relate to it.

So, that brings me back to start.  Secret Obsession was released in 2019.  The entire plot is built upon the conflict that starts with the main character who gets out of her car while being chased to run to a payphone in a phone booth to call 911 (emergency services in the US).  She doesn't have change, so the phone doesn't work.  It's 2019.  Why doesn't she have a cellphone?  Even if that option was somehow not available, all payphones in the US allow 911 calls without payment, as noted in my tweet (and the movie review shown above).  For who was this movie made? 2019?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Recent news tour of our Solar System from Mercury to FarFarOut

Some recent news tour of our Solar System:

Friday, January 29, 2021

How to find your US representatives and tweet them

Twitter is a fact of life in politics these days in USA.  Fortunately, that gives us an opportunity to contact our representatives on an open platform in a manner that is sorta like an open letter, with a limit of 240 characters.  Contacting your representatives at both the state and federal level is fairly easy, and can even be grouped together into one tweet.  The information below is meant for both experienced users (who can skip over comments on how to tweet) and new users.

All you need is a Twitter account and the Twitter handles of your representatives.

Once you have a Twitter account, get the names of your representatives.  

  • For your representative in the US House of Representatives, goto the Find Your Representative website. 
  • For your representatives in the US Senate, goto the Senate state map and click on your state.
  • For your representatives within your state, do a Google search for "find my legislator [your state here]", without the quotes and replacing "[you state here]" with the state in which you live.  One of the first two links in the search results should get you to the websites to find both your local state Representative and Senator.  Although this step is optional, it is still important to let the political parties know at all levels where the people stand.
Once you have the names of your representatives, do a Google search for each person's Twitter account using the search phrase "official twitter account [representative's first and last name] [your state, if applicable]", again without the quotes and replace "[representative's first and last name]" with your representative's first and last name.  If the representative is at the state level, be sure to add your state to the end.  You'll have to do this once for each person.  

Typically, the first item in the search results will give you the link to the person's Twitter account profile page.  Look for the @ tag.  This is their Twitter handle.  In my case, one of my US Senators Twitter handle is @Hickenlooper.  

Don't worry if one or more of your representatives are not members of your political party.  That doesn't matter for this activity.

Create your tweet within the Twitter App or website.  Keep the statement simple, clear and to-the-point.  Brevity is important since your tweet is limited to 240 characters, and a portion of that limit will be consumed by your representatives' Twitter handles.

Here's an example:

The message is simple, short but contains enough information to get the point across.  In your tweet, you can add more detail until you reach 240 character limit.  Once you post your tweet, you cannot edit it.  If you find a typo or wish to change it, you'll need to delete your tweet and create a new tweet.

If you already have a well established Twitter account with a number of followers, then receiving likes and retweets by your followers will help bring attention to your tweet.

Happy grassrooting

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Bitcoin (cryptocurrency) Mining in Iran causes blackouts and smog?

2021, things will get better, right?  Well...  

In a strange dystopian twist last week, a story has been developing in Iran.  Massive power disruptions have been sweeping across Iran.  Apparently this has been an issue since January 13.  At the time, the cause was unclear, as reported by GardWorld.  

The dystopia is worse.  Due to the demand on power over the past month, power plants in Iran have been forced to switch over to burning low-grade fuels oil, causing massive "toxic" smog around the capital city, as reported by Bloomberg.  Other reports about increased smog go back to January 3.

Here's what makes the whole thing even more surreal.  According to Iranian officials, a major contributing factor (in addition to the unusually cold winter) is apparently illegal cryptocurrency mining operations, as reported by the Washington Post.  However, this is may not be a major cause, as cryptocurrency miners state their operations have nothing to do with the current power crisis.

Iran reportedly cracked down on cryptocurrency mining operations on Sunday by confiscating 45K machines.  Supposedly, these machines were consuming 95 megawatts per hour, while paying a reduced rate on the electricity.   However, the crackdown may not be about power consumption, as other reports suggest power consumed in cryptocurrency mining has only a minor role in Iran's current power crisis, as reported by coindesk.  In July 2020, "Iran penned a registration directive forcing [cryptocurrency] miners to disclose their identities" and "the size of their mining farms".