Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Mummy (1959) Review

The final Halloween movie review for 2012 limps online swathed in dirty bandages with Hammer Studios’ version of The Mummy. When an ancient Egyptian tomb is unearthed by English archeologists the consequences turn out to be very grave for the trespassers. Good writing, excellent acting, beautiful sets, and the full use of Technicolor are all present in this intelligent story of forbidden love lasting beyond death.

The Mummy Title

Having struck cinema gold with their new and full color takes on Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer Studios decided to revamp another of Universal Pictures monsters. The same team that made the previous hits was kept together for a third outing. Seeing Terence Fisher directing with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee headlining the cast, movie goers knew they would be in for a treat.

The Mummy Banning FamilyThe Mummy Mehemet

The year is 1895 and the location is a remote valley in Egypt. Of course it is actually a well appointed soundstage since Hammer didn’t have the kind of budget for filming on location. Still it manages to give a good impression of back breaking labor in the desert heat. There is only one reason to show this and that is to foreshadow something valuable being found. In this case, a blue scarab seal elicits a great deal of excitement from an Englishman who promptly runs it into a tent to show it off.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

There are so many rumors flying around that it will probably be days before it is all sorted out, but Sandy has done a number on Lower Manhattan and parts of New Jersey. Reports of people trapped in a subway station haven’t been verified and a false rumor about the Stock Exchange being flooded out has been debunked.

I’m keeping up through Yahoo’s live blog, which is constantly updating. Blizzard conditions in West Virginia have been reported, showing just what a monster the storm has turned out to be. 4.8 million people without power in 15 states and Washington, D.C. was reported by Weather Underground, but I have to raise an eyebrow at the number of states – it could be possible though.

A hospital has been reported on fire and another one’s backup generator failed. Tisch Hospital, I believe. Water is rising still and making rescues difficult, if not impossible, in areas.

I’ll be praying more for the people in the path of Sandy. What a mess.

UPDATED 10-30

The morning has brought more news and it looks like at least 15 people died in the storm. Bridges in NYC are open for the most part and people are assessing the damage. As bad as this was, it could have been far worse. Right now it sounds like most of Long Island is without power and cell phone service is down in Manhattan. Communications with relatives are going to be difficult for people.

What worries me is that we haven’t seen the true flooding yet in the states affected. The coastal surge did a lot of damage, but all the rain dropped into rivers, creeks, and streams will cause flooding outside the coast communities in time. Having seen what large amounts of localized rainfall can do this concerns me greatly. Three towns in New Jersey are underwater after a possible levy break and that is an example of how this storm will continue to do damage.

Of course, Mayor Cuomo is already using the storm for political purposes to push for new building codes due to AGW, what a shocker. Not even 24 hours have gone by since the storm hit.

It looks like Halloween is pretty much done for the kids of the Northeast and possibly into parts of the Midwest. Between widespread power outages, snow storms, flooding, and assorted damage there is no point in even trying.

You know, it has been a strange month in my life and I expected it to be. I did not expect other people to get hammered this hard though. While I’m used to hardship, most people in the U.S.A. are not so this is going to be extremely difficult for those affected by Sandy. Prayers and aid for them are needed right now

Paul Ryan will be in La Crosse, WI at the GOP campaign HQ on Copeland Avenue to pick up donated supplies for the relief effort. 1:15 PM is the time I’ve been given, so if by chance anyone in the area reads this before, bring emergency supplies there if you can. That’s assuming anyone reads this in the first place!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Legend of Hell House (1973) Review

In the history of cinema haunted house movies are a dime a dozen, but this one stands out due to its sober tone and character development. While written by an American, it maintains a very stiff upper lip while following a four person research team looking into the possibility of life after death. To do that, they must visit a mansion that killed most of a previous attempt twenty years before. Welcome to Hell House, where death, mystery, and eerie events take back seat to something far more frightening – sex.

The Legend of Hell House Title

The 1970s were a period of transition in films with a lot of experimentation taking place. In some ways, the decade in filmmaking was a hangover from the changes that took place in the late ‘60s. That was when the old studio model fell apart and directors began to push the bounds of what had been considered acceptable in the name of art. Horror films were not immune to this and the genre started to go toward shock and gore, but not quite to the extremes that culminated in the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street movies of the ‘80s. So there was yet room for thoughtfully creepy movies and The Legend of Hell House is one of the better examples of that approach.

I have to say, haunted house movies are near the bottom of my list of films to watch. They have never appealed to me, perhaps because I have lived in old farm houses most of my life. Odd sounds and creaks are part of the personality of aged wooden structures, so you get very used to them. So it was with some surprise that this movie gave me the creeps when I was a teenager. In fact, it is the only one that ever has since I hit double digits in age. Puzzled by this and feeling nostalgic, I purchased the DVD last month to figure out why.

The Legend of Hell House Tom Corbett Quote

The opening is a throwback to bygone years, featuring a statement by a Tom Corbett claiming to be a psychic consultant to royals in Europe. A little research revealed that he was a co-author of a book called The Dreamer’s Dictionary, so he really existed. It helps to remember that the 1970s pop culture saw the birth of the New Age movement as people turned away from organized religion and naval gazing began to dominate Western thought.

So this little placard instantly added bona fides to the movie and was a clever move by the filmmakers to set the mood. Cold and stark, it suggests what you were about to see might be real. Back in the early days of the Web, I found info that it was based on a real incident and there really was a “Hell House.” Of course that was not true and you shouldn’t trust what you read on the Internet, but it is a fact that it was adapted from a Richard Matheson novel by that name.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Big Trouble in Gangnam Style

Too perfect and it even has James Hong in it!

A Night of Silliness or RiffTrax Live: Birdemic

After trying to get friends to go for a couple of months, I ended up going alone to see the RiffTrax crew ridicule the second worst movie I’ve ever seen. The showing was broadcast live to theaters around the country and luckily enough, the Marcus Cinema on Ward Ave in La Crosse had it.

There had to be over thirty and closer to fifty people attending, though I did not do a head count. We were in the theater dedicated to Frankenweenie showings, so you can make your own jokes there. Amusing bird references and jokes were shown on screen before the show, like the incredibly boring trivia and ads you normally see before the trailers.

Mike, Kevin, and Bill were in fine form and the occasional flub only made it more fun. The movie was amazingly bad and deserved every awful thing done to it. It was indescribably bad, but let me just say that I will never look at parking and pulling out into traffic scenes the same way again. Also, if the filmmakers and stars are representative of the green movement, they will Darwin themselves out in no time flat.

Hopefully they will put this out on DVD like some of their other live shows, it would make a great memento.

The Media Used to Love Presidential Scandals

Until Obama was elected, that is. One of the uglier cover ups in U.S. history has been playing out since September 11 of this year. The 9/11 anniversary attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya gets more upsetting with every new bit of information that comes out. Ostensibly caused by an anti-Muhammad film on YouTube, that story has been torn to shreds and now looks like it was put in place to protect the failure of the administration to protect our ambassador.

But it is worse than that, we now know. The attack was known to be a terrorist attack and we had special forces who could have intervened and saved Ambassador Stevens. They were ordered to stand down even when they had the enemy in their sights. Repeated requests for support and help were turned down.

In the past, this would be enough for the mainstream media to raise hell until heads rolled. Now they are actively participating in the cover up, with Candy Crowley in the second presidential debate being a prime example.

We have a government that can’t be trusted. We also have a news media that can’t be trusted. That’s a bleak place to be in and doesn’t bode well for the country.

Yet what sticks in my head is the realization that this administration has no desire to protect its citizens or soldiers. Assassination lists are fine with them, but actually protecting the people? I thought they could at least be relied on for that. Sadly, I don’t think they care one whit and only care about their political careers.

This should be bigger than Watergate, bigger than Iran-Contra, and bigger than Monica Lewinsky. I guess American lives don’t have any value anymore.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Health 10-25-2012

What has been a lousy year in regards to health continues to stay the course with today’s dental exam revealing multiple cavities needing filling and a molar requiring extraction. The latter will be a pain to have done due to how few oral surgeons accept the coverage I have. A call to a hotline is necessary and if they can’t set me up, it will have to be out of pocket somewhere. The fillings are scheduled to begin next week and I plan on getting those done first.

Somewhere in the mess a filling went missing too. The drought has caused more allergy problems according to the hygienist which has caused more problems for those of us who are mouth breathers. Oh the joys of a deviated septum!

I have been running ragged of late due to more activity than usual and higher pain levels thanks to erratic weather conditions. The rain has been needed, but it has come in with cold temperatures to create a high pain index situation. Which is all a fancy way to say the joints hurt.

Aside from all this fun, things have been relatively stress free to my surprise. Normally this is a tense time during an election year, but it simply isn’t there. Very strange, if you ask me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

Third and Last 2012 Presidential Debate

Foreign policy is the subject of the last and probably least watched debate. On the anecdotal side, multiple people I know will not be watching this one who did watch the preceding debates. Make of that what you will.

Both candidates seemed a bit off at the very beginning. Lots of verbal stumbling and stuttering going on shows how the debates have worn them down.

President Obama was a jerk early and made things personal during the Libya question. Hitting Romney on saying Russia was the biggest geopolitical threat was predictable. Mitt was prepared for that and gave a very strong response. Obama said “clear” which is always a telltale he is about to fib big time. Seriously, he always does that.

It looks like his gambit will be to try to put words in Romney’s mouth, just like the previous debates and entire campaign. It must gall him that Mitt stands up for himself.

Germany Removing Gold From the Fed

German courts want an auditing all its gold holdings and has begun moving 50 tons a year from the Fed to Germany. This is very interesting because it indicates a lack of trust in the security of the banks. It also shows the German government does not trust the current economic conditions to get better – or stay the same. Fascinating times.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Odds and Ends 10-19-2012

Lots of little things have happened here and there the last couple of weeks so it is time to have another rambling post filled with disconnected subjects.

I’ll start off with this week being unspeakable for the most part, so mostly I will not speak of it. Today went well, which shocked me. I wasn’t prepared for it, so I don’t know how to handle it. There was some solace in watching entertainment that brought back memories, caused me to laugh, or was simply intriguing.

At long last, I own Evil Roy Slade, a 1973 TV movie stitched together from two failed pilots. This is a cult film and a special one in the family, so it was with great nostalgia that I watched the DVD. Starring John Astin (Adams Family, Night Court, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.) as the orneriest desperado to ever rob a bank, stage coach, or baby buggy, it is like a clean Blazing Saddles. My favorite scene is when Slade is in psychotherapy and tries to walk without his guns. Yes, it is that kind of warped humor.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spam, Spam, Spam, Lovely Spam…

After the temporary stats outage at Blogger last Sunday, I had vague hope against hope that something was being done about the referral spam. Of course I knew better, but it was a nice dream. So a couple more referral spam links have shown up since then and racked up 37 hits between them.

itpaystoday . TextCashNetwork . com has been the most prevalent, not to mention most obvious. There must be a sucker born every other minute (birth rates are down, you know) in order for these operations to keep going. It boggles my mind that people fall for it. It is out of Russia like so many of the others.

The other spammer has trickip . net for an address. There is a faint possibility this is not referral spam, but there is no way I am clicking on anything that has a name like that. Not even sandboxing the browser is enough to convince me to do it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Review

AKA Gigantis the Fire Monster (1959)

Released a mere six months after the unexpected smash hit, Gojira, this movie is a great example of how not to do a sequel. Too much human melodrama mixed with rushed special effects work marred the project and nearly ended the series. Yet it did serve to introduce the idea there were more giant monsters out there to be found which set the stage for many Toho kaiju movies to come. Also reviewed is the much inferior American edit that bafflingly renamed the famous monster!

Godzilla Raids Again Title

What do you do when you have an unexpected hit that packed theaters? Why you rush a sequel into production, of course. The golden age of film making was very much about rushing product out while a property or actor was hot. In this case, it cost them the director of Gojira, Ishiro Honda, due to scheduling so Toho assigned Motoyoshi Oda the job of cranking it out. While it tried to be serious, it failed to be anywhere near the quality of its predecessor despite having a cast filled with actors that appeared in many an Akira Kurosawa movie.

Godzilla Raids Again Shoichi TsukiokaGodzilla Raids Again Hidemi Yamiji

The show begins with Godzilla’s now famous roar over the title superimposed on clouds. A different roar is heard near the end of the credits in a brief moment of cheap foreshadowing. So why clouds instead of the ocean the mutant lizard is associated with? Because our main character is a pilot, that’s why!

Shoichi Tsukioka, played by Hiroshi Koizumi in the first of many appearances in the series, makes a living as a spotter pilot for a large fishing company. Tasked with finding tuna and other fish from the sky, he spends part of his radio time flirting with the operator at headquarters. Not only is Hidemi Yamiji (Setsuko Wakayama) his girlfriend, but she is also the daughter of his boss.

Yes, the romance part of the movie has been joined already in progress. Don’t expect much more progress, though. Unlike the first movie, it is incidental to the plot, not part of it. Perhaps if it had been, the characters would have been more interesting.

2012 Presidential Debate #2

UPDATED:

It looks like the prepared statement and actual address were different, though I’m not sure if this can be definitively interpreted as calling the attack terror or if it was a reference to 9/11. I’ll put it up for comparison:

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 12, 2012

Remarks by the President on the Deaths of U.S. Embassy Staff in Libya

Rose Garden

10:43 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  Every day, all across the world, American diplomats and civilians work tirelessly to advance the interests and values of our nation.  Often, they are away from their families.  Sometimes, they brave great danger.

Yesterday, four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  Among those killed was our Ambassador, Chris Stevens, as well as Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith.  We are still notifying the families of the others who were killed.  And today, the American people stand united in holding the families of the four Americans in our thoughts and in our prayers.

The United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.

Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.

Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens’s body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.

It's especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save.  At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi.  With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya.  When the Qaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.  He was a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.

Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.

Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of this attack in Benghazi. 

As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.

But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.

We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.

Thank you.  May God bless the memory of those we lost and may God bless the United States of America.

END
10:48 A.M. EDT

I’m not sure this makes him look better, since he still went to fund raising in Las Vegas the next day. That would be more forgivable if he thought it was a riot, but if he knew it was a terrorist attack it really rankles.

ORIGINAL POST:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Health 10-15-2012

This date was easier to type.

Burned out today and having to rest after the family visit and church duties yesterday. On the more positive side, I was able to finish out a game DLC I stalled out on a month ago. This time I was able to survive the scenarios fairly easily, so I’m just tired.

The colder weather has brought increased pain, but I’ll adjust eventually. Now to wake up enough to finish that movie review that has been delayed!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blogger Stats Vanish and Life Goes On

It was interesting to log into Blogger’s Dashboard tonight and see all the stats had vanished. This messes up two widgets I used, so it is inconvenient to say the least. I am not alone in this with the support boards lighting up with hordes of unhappy bloggers complaining.

While I do use the stats for auto arranging the top posts for the past week and all time, I had been thinking of embedding a tracker besides Google Analytics, which is still working. I will have to dig into those services and see if there is any widgets that perform a similar task available, but it isn’t a priority. With Noscript and Firefox being popular, it isn’t like we can get a perfect record of traffic anyway.

This outage certainly won’t stop my posting and I have much to do besides.

UPDATE: 10-15-2012

I see the stats are back. Life does indeed go on.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Health 10-12-2012

Okay, that date was confusing to type. It isn’t taking much to confuse me today, though. This is either a big allergy attack or I’ve come down with something. Right now the sneezing comes in fits if I do too much physically. The whole thing would like to move down into my chest and I have too much to do this weekend with my sister’s family visiting.

I tried playing Torchlight II twice today, because getting repeatedly killed while spacing out wasn’t enough for me the first time. So that was a test failed. Hoping slowing down will make tomorrow a better day.

More Movie Reviews in the Pipeline

Since it is October, it is time to do more scary movie and creature feature reviews. Due to September and now October becoming unexpectedly hectic, my initial plans to do more Universal monster movie reviews simply became impossible. But since I believe in back up plans to back up plans to back up plans, there will be some reviews coming out before Halloween arrives.

In the pipeline are:

  • Godzilla Raids Again/Gigantis the Fire Monster
  • The Mummy (Hammer Films version)
  • The Legend of Hell House
  • Gorgo

If time permits, there will be more, but I suspect time will not permit. Already up is the rewrite of Disney’s The Watcher in the Woods. That took more time than expected, which seems to be par for the course these days.

In the meantime, last year’s Halloween lineup can be perused:

Plus the original Gojira and its American version Godzilla King of Monsters.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Vice Presidential Debate

I knew this would be an ugly one simply because of Joe Biden being there. I also expected the moderator to assist him in attacking Paul Ryan. So no surprises there.

What I did not expect was Biden to be arrogant enough to attack the moderator a couple of times. Despite that, Raddatz continued to help him out like an abused wife who won’t give up on the marriage.

Biden is a pathological and smooth liar who came into the debate with a clear agenda – rally the base with red meat. He succeeded very well, in my opinion. His facial expressions and nastiness will not play well outside that group. It tells me the campaign strategy is purely base rallying now.

Ryan did not do as well as many on the right thought he would. But he scored some serious blows that caused Biden to meltdown a couple of times. It is pretty clear that the campaign goal here is to be steady and appeal to a broader spectrum of voters.

I am not sure if this debate made a difference one way or another. Part of me thinks Biden breathed new life into demoralized Democrats. Part of me thinks Ryan may have won over more undecided moderates and independents.

And part of me has always wondered what difference VP debates make to anyone other than political wonks.

Ryan finished strong, but what a messy debate in total. Biden will not have done well with devout Catholics with the theological gymnastics at the end.

The only clear loser I see was Raddatz, who did an abysmal job. Anybody who complained about Jim Lehrer should take a second look at how he handled things. Man the questions at the end were puff piece interviewer pieces rather than needed debate topics.

We’ll see if this debate makes any difference with the voters.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Walz vs. Quist University of Minnesota, Mankato Debate

Time to see how the third debate goes between the Minnesota Congressional District 1 candidates Allen Quist (R) and Tim Walz (D) goes. I missed the second one, but I will say as unimpressive as they both were in the first, they were both miles better than President Obama. By the way, typing the party next to each resulted in ® and Martini glass , which you may interpret as you will.

Standing room only, it looks like they exceeded the seating for 350 by quite a bit. I’m watching the streaming video at Mankato Free Press.

Coin flip went to Walz, so he gets to go first. Oh great, confusion by the moderators on what happens first. I hope that doesn’t mean we’ll get a repeat of the first where confusion on turns reigned supreme. Both opening statements were inconsequential, which they normally are in a debate.

October Already?

Nine days into the month too? Gah, time is going by too fast.

Fall Colors 01Fall Colors 02

The leaves have already turned and the high winds have removed many in the Yucatan area. I took these photos last week when I realized Fall had snuck up on me. The colors by Dresbach Lock and Dam were more spectacular, but I did not have my camera with me. Time to get back into the habit of having it along.

Fall Colors 03

The younger maple started turning then stopped, but what intrigues me is that some leaves turned orange for the first time. It is supposed to be a red maple, but has always turned yellow. Maybe there is hope yet.

Looking Much Better

Subaru Outback Restored 01

The Subaru Outback is completely green again! A big thank you has to go to Dan who managed to wedge this in between other jobs and keep the price low. He did an outstanding job matching the faded finish when painting the replacement hood and fender. It was nine months since the deer collision when it was finished.

Subaru Outback Restored 02

We also got the long MIA spoiler replaced. The original vanished one day without a trace a couple of years ago, so it is strange to see the glow of the brake light filling the rear window again. I originally meant to take pictures while the car was still clean, but that did not work out and the car quickly dirtied in the dusty area we live in.

Subaru Outback Restored 03

Waiting to take pictures did pay off in that I can show the repair A-1 Glass out of La Crosse did. Unfortunately, I did not take a before shot. There was a dollar coin sized fracture that looked like someone had shot the windshield. A gravel truck from all the road work going on around here kicked a piece of gravel right in front of the rearview mirror while my father was driving. He didn’t know it was damaged until I asked him about it, since the mirror hid it from inside.

I am very impressed with how it filled and it sounds like we were lucky that way.

Now to get mechanical work needed on the old warhorse underway.

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Watcher in the Woods (1980) Review

One of Disney’s biggest failures, this spooky thriller was aimed at teenagers and was supposed to herald a new era at the venerable movie studio. All the ingredients were there: a popular novel to adapt, the director of the Witch Mountain movies, a starlet coming off a huge hit, and Bette Davis to add gravitas. Ultimately, it failed to jell due to an uneven match of old Disney style and gothic horror. UPDATED October 2012 with new screen captures and massively rewritten text.

The Watcher in the Woods Title
In 1980, Disney released an adaptation of Florence Randall’s popular teen novel, The Watcher in the Woods.  This movie was supposed their first PG film, but bad screenings led to protracted reshoots and eventually recuts of the ending. As a result, it came out in a limited release April of 1980, after the Autumn 1979 debut of The Black Hole. Even then, the studio decided to recut it.  While not a great movie, it has some redeeming points to it, mainly found in the alternate endings on the DVD releases.

The Watcher in the Woods Family ArrivesThe Watcher in the Woods Mansion

I vaguely recall seeing the movie in the old Spring Grove Theater and being very disappointed in it.  In fact, this may have been the film that taught me to distrust movie adaptations of novels.  Having been weaned on old Hammer horror movies, there was nothing there to scare me.  However, viewing it as an adult, I can see plenty to creep out and scare kids (or sheltered adults) throughout the movie.  The director, John Hough, also directed one of my favorite scary movies, The Legend of Hell House, and I have to wonder what the movie would have been like made by another studio than Disney.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

October 2012 General Conference Semi-Live Blog Final Edition

Time to see things through, though I am very sure this format does not work for me or the material covered. But that is what experiments are for, to find out if a theory works or does not. The General Conference has been good even if my blogging it has not.

Video streaming can be found here. I forgot that on the last post! If I only had a brain…

Sunday Afternoon Session

Robert D. Hales kicked things off with a talk about what it means to be a Christian and then explained what the doctrines of the Church are. It was a direct address to those who do not believe we are Christians. He gave the example of Peter and John leaving their nets to follow Christ to point out what we should be doing. Conversion can only come through the Savior and we are made new in Christ.

Again the story of Jesus speaking to Peter on the shore was repeated, but this time emphasizing “Feed my sheep.” Since topics are not assigned to speakers and left to inspiration from the Spirit, any time a specific part of a scripture is addressed more than once in a conference, I pay attention.

October 2012 General Conference Semi-Live Blog #2

After the fiasco last afternoon and evening, I am attempting things again. A brief nap of fifteen minutes turned into hours yesterday, so I missed all but the last talk of the afternoon session. A birthday party for the daughters of a friend meant I could not make it to the priesthood session too. Maybe I should have chosen next April’s general conference for this experiment.

So here goes again on a chilly, but sunny Sabbath morning.

Sunday Morning Session

President Henry B. Eyring opened with a quote from Joseph Smith wondering where God was while he was suffering in jail. Our feelings of separation from God will fade if we are more obedient and childlike. He explained that Jesus Christ always watches over us, even if we do not see Him or open ourselves to Him. There is a need to listen for direction from the Holy Ghost and try not to let our personal desires cloud our judgment. “The Lord’s delays often seem long…” A challenge was made to go to someone you have wronged and apologize, or did I mishear that?

Trying to type and listen does not work too well, I am finding.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

2012 October General Conference Semi-Live Blog

It is hard to believe six months have gone by since the April General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they have. I will be putting up comments on the talks as they are given, or more likely right after them. It is an experiment and I’ll see how I do at it! Warning, it will be scattershot rather than organized thoughts.

The video stream can be found here.

Saturday Morning Session

President Thomas S. Monson just announced a lowering of age restrictions on full time missionaries. Now 18 year old young men and high school (or equivalent) degree holders from all countries will be allowed to serve. The age for young women serving has been lowered from 21 to 19. This is fairly big news. Also announce were two new temples, one in Tucson, AZ and the other in Akiba, Peru.


Quentin L. Cook began his talk with a reminiscence about being a missionary in the field the last time the age was lowered, from 20 to 19. Elder Holland was the first 19 year old in his mission! The bulk of his talk was about repentance and has made an emphasis on how men are accountable for how they treat their wives, children, and others. The culture you were raised in does not excuse or permit abuse.

Friday, October 05, 2012

And Now It Is Time for a Phone Scam

What an interesting day I am having. After just finishing the most recent post on blog referral spam, I answered my father’s phone line. At first there was no sound, then the sound of a ring in, so the call was placed from an autodialer. On the other end was a clearly VOIP using man with a thick Indian accent, who acted like he was taking a survey at first. Often hard to understand, he implied he was with Microsoft and that there was “something bad” that had been downloaded to the computer there.

I was suspicious from the moment the call began, but became utterly incredulous at this point. Instantly, I was in hunter mode stalking prey – yes it was that exact feeling. When he said that he needed to take control of the computer, I knew I had found a scammer. I said that he would not be doing that and that I was a very experienced user with multiple firewalls and virus scanners. True, if you count the multiple computers we have, but I could not keep the glee out of my voice.

If he had half a brain, he would have disconnected at this point. Fortunately for my entertainment purposes, he did not. I pressed him repeatedly for his name and phone number. Instead, he gave a web address for onlinepc . com and eventually a phone number of 1-646-502-6605. Clearly flustered, he repeated the number angrily when I asked for the name again and only gave one after another request, Lazer is what it sounded like. Then I said goodbye and hung up on him.

Well, the website is documented as being a scam at Microsoft and the States are not the only ones getting these cold calls. I found this thread about the calls received in Australia. Looking up the phone number turned up a more recent series of calls with many recipients being on the national Do Not Call list like my father (and me). The phone number originates in New York, but with VOIP hacking making it easy to falsify phone numbers it could have been made from anywhere.

If anyone calls you and uses this routine on you, DO NOT COOPERATE WITH HIM! It is all a con job to access your PC for whatever nefarious purpose.

UPDATED October 5, 2012

Great news! The ring behind this scam has been busted in an international effort by law enforcement in the United States, Canada, and Australia. India may get involved as well, since most of the criminals called from there. It looks like Microsoft got directly involved and that is why things happened.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

2012 Presidential Debate #1

Not much to say after watching the whole thing, other than that was the most one sided drubbing I have ever witnessed in a debate or forum at any political level. Romney utterly destroyed Obama who was reduced to a rambling, stuttering, and dissembling mess. It reminds me of the Hulk vs. Loki, it was that extreme.

Now I understand why the White House was downplaying expectations. Wow.

UPDATED: Had to correct the mistyped title, I was actually getting hits from other people fumble fingering searches – so at least I’m not alone!

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

RIP Flying Squirrel

I made a short trip out to get some things in a local town and came back to see Jazz, my part Siamese cat, carrying something with a suspiciously familiar tail dangling. He brought in the flying squirrel that surprised me on Saturday night to show off. So I took the corpse away from him and tossed it outside where he won’t find it again. It had the softest fur, sigh.

So much for the wonders of nature.

Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth: Complete Collection(2011)

An utterly charming anime about a Japanese girl in Paris circa the late 1800s provides laughs, drama, and a severe case of the warm fuzzies. It has a gentle heart while still facing the hardships of life, for there are many challenges for little Yune to face while dealing with culture shock . Not the least of them is the proud young Frenchman she lives with.

Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth Title

This 2011 anime series was expected to be a breakout hit by a lot of people in Japan and other countries, so it was a huge shock when it bombed at home. Culture clashes and the most moe of main characters should have guaranteed success, but the otakus in Japan were not impressed. Thanks to Sentai Filmworks, Croisée in a Foreign Labyrinth is now available to own in the United States. With the preordered set finally in my hands, I can review how Sentai did.

Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth YuneCroisee in a Foreign Labyrinth Department Store

The main character is Yune, a very young looking girl brought to Paris by Oscar Claudel as part of the effort made by the Japanese to increase knowledge of the West after the Meiji Restoration. From her first entrance on screen, she is a delightful character, a bright, intelligent soul fascinated by everything. Sweet, but stubborn in her own way, she is destined to shake things up for the Claudels.

Monday, October 01, 2012

More Russian Referral Spam

The latest round of spam showing up as blogger hits come from fr.netlog . com and appears to be actually a link from t . co instead. So far I have gotten sixteen “referrals” from there this week. While they show up on the Blogger dashboard’s stats, Google Analytics does not list the hits. Why Google does not filter them out for Blogger’s built in stats puzzles me.

So anyone getting hits from there, please do not clink on the links to investigate, that is what they want you to do. I would not be surprised if this is being done by the same people responsible for the aptratings spam.

UPDATED October 1, 2012

Yet another round of referral spam from Russia has been hitting my blog heavily. In this case adsresultpages . com links to a viagra ad. Out of curiosity, I looked up the website through whois and found out it gets about the same amount of visits I do a day. Not exactly a successful campaign, is it?

Funny thing is that referral spam has been around since at least 2002 when blogs started getting going in earnest and nobody can figure out how it can be profitable.

Technology Can Make You Feel Old

I was reading that the first CD came out thirty years ago today. Three decades ago. I remember hearing my first one circa 1987 since cassette tapes took awhile to be displaced.  In fact, I did not have a CD player until around ten years after the first ones were released.

Now the Compact Disc is on its way out with sales having collapsed. Downloadable digital files have been the bulk of music sales for some time now and supposedly streaming subscriptions are the wave of the future. That I will believe when I see it.

Attempts to replace the CD with another hard medium all failed. SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc), DAT (Digital Audio Tape), and DVD-A (Digital Versatile Disc – Audio) never caught on with only DAT surviving in the studio environment.