Mark Atwood (fallenpegasus) wrote,
Mark Atwood

Idle Musings. New blog. Movies. Least favorite nightmare.

It was over 43°C in Melbourne yesterday. I had come down under to avoid the cold and the dark of post-holiday winter, and boy am I avoiding it. The workday yesterday was spend the lounge room in Stewart's home, with most of the house closed off, and that one area being serviced by an in-wall AC unit. Said unit gave up the ghost sometime last night, and as the indoor temperature approached 40, it got too hot to think. So now we're in another house, another lounge room, and another AC.

For the past decade plus, I've lead a rather public internet existence. Especially with respect to this LJ. I've posted here political rants, random musings, exercise progress, memes of the day, lazyweb requests, geeky stuff, personal blog posts, minutia of my day, and real actual heart exposing journal entries here. But I'm thinking that I should change that. I realized that one thing stopping me from writing is that I was using the excuse that various different audiences would not be interested in any given post. So I will move the professional, technical, and more public serious stuff to some other blog, attach that one to the various planet aggegators. Then take this LJ to a more private and friends only mode.

I watched a pile of movies on the flight between San Francisco and Auckland. "Surrogate", "Aliens vs Monsters", "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs", "Case 39", "District 9", and "Inglorious Bastards".

"Surrogate" was disappointing, from a critical SF point of view. Like most pop culture SF stories, it summons up one change, then tries to talk about the implications of that change, while utterly screwing it up. There is a scene where there is a room full of specialized human-form surrogates each watching a bank of monitors that are attached to public safety cameras. The surrogate operators are geographically spread out, working from home. Think for a moment, how dumb that is. There is an IT infrastructure linking all these cameras to centralized viewing areas, filled with telepresence terminals linked to human observers over a remote telecomms infrastructure and then a direct neural interface. Why not just have the operator be able to interface to a software representation of the security camera system itself? The idea just navigating a pure information space from the DNI terminals never is even alluded to. Likewise, the surrogate terminals exhibit superhuman ability only when it would look awesome on screen, not when it would actually be all that useful. Or that the US govt would tolerate a distributed soverinity insurrection in the heart of its major metro areas, an insurrection of people who refuse to use technology more advanced than a shotgun and horse drawn carts. Or that physically destroying the existing telepresence remotes would actually cause any lasting social change. The system will just be rebuilt, and more robustly. All in all, a disappointment, both as a action adventure, a police procedural, a predictive, or as a cautionary tale.

"Aliens v Monsters" was fun. I don't hold it to the realistic standards to which Surrogate fails, because it is instead a set of fun twist on B movie monster tropes. Watching Susan Murphy aka "Ginormica" discovering her new physical strength was a thrilling joy, and watching her discover her strength in herself wasn't entirely ham-handed.

"District 9" was... ugh. Yeah, humans are bastards. This movie takes that, and explores the uglyness of that in entirely too much filthy detail. I read that the portrayal of Johannesburg and of it's racial slums is remarkably realistic.

"Inglorious Bastards" I kept trying to watch, and just kept losing interest. I could tell this was a well writing well directed movie with good performances by good actors, but I just kept not having any want-to-watch.

The in-seat entertainment system provided by ANZ was how I watched these movies. It was ok, except that the skip/pause/ff/rw functions were horribly buggy. From my time working at Digeo, I could even tell what the problem was. You can't just push the bitstream into into the MPEG decoder chip faster, to get FF, nor can you hand it frames backwards to get reverse playback. It doesnt work that way. The decoder chip will keep crashing and resetting, causing horrible artifacts, and the device driver will keep blocking the application. Whoever wrote that entertainment system for ANZ needs to hire some people who actaully understand this (like some of my old coworkers from Digeo), and completely rewrite their low level handling.

I was telling a friend of mine yesterday that I had experienced one of my least favorite nightmares on the flight from Auckland to Melbourne, and she responded with wondering what my most favorite nightmare may be.

Last night Stew & I went over to a friend of his's place, and we watched Ringu. I had expected it to be more scary than it was. But on reading, it is apparently more shocking to fans of thriller horror films, because it subverts many of the standard tropes. Stick together instead of split up? Won't save you. Get out of the house? Won't save you. Unravel the mystery, and give closure to the dead? Still won't save you. It was kind of fun to "date" the movie, by the characters having to search physical paper archives, and handle VHS tapes, and watch video on huge fat CRT displays.

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