Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Boy, does this bring back memories

I loved Shazam! growing up. Never forgot when they showed the 'flying' effect on a special: they had Captain Marvel rigged on the front of a moving truck, his upper body hanging over the edge of a board. A little close crop, and Shazam! Instant low-level flying.

And who can forget the great Space : 1999?

See, effects were so bad that we still had to use our imaginations, even though we were watching TV.

I'll spare you the Buck Rogers, Land of the Lost, SpiderMan, and Flash intros.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Best. Cat. Ever.

Depending on who you ask, this is either Binks, Kitty, Thousand-Dollar Cat, Damn Cat, or Gray Cat. Most of the time to me he's Gray Cat, and he's the best cat ever.

Gray Cat is happy to spend his days alternating between pillow, suitcase, and shoulder attire for the kids. Well, perhaps not happy. Resigned might be a better term. He just goes limp and hangs there, bearing whatever indignity the kids have planned for him today (which has included, but is not limited to: trimmed whiskers, trimmed hair here and there, stuck in a box, a drawer, under the TV, a cupboard... the list goes on).

Gray Cat is deathly afraid of the vacuum. For reasons we don't know the cause of, he disappears in a hurry when someone turns it on. We've got one of those cyclonic things where you watch the dirt spin around, and he's never liked it.

So one day the kids decided that they were going to vacuum Gray Cat. Perhaps it was tough love, an attempt to cure him of his fears. They were pretty sly about it, and waited until only Grandma was watching them. Grandma tries but is no match.

Two of them held down Gray Cat while the third ran the vacuum. Gray Cat got so terrified that he crapped a pretty nice pile there on the carpet in the living room. At this point the kids knew they were in for it and let the cat go. Whoever was holding the vacuum (and I have my suspicions but no proof) took one look at the crap and one look at the implement in their hand, made a cognitive leap, and decided to get rid of the evidence. The vacuum worked faithfully and picked up the poo without a problem.

So when my wife got home there was only a beshitted vacuum (crap all over the see-through portion of the "Cyclonic Chamber") and three looks of blank denial. Fortunately I was not at home to witness the Vesuvian explosion that took place. I was, in fact, out of town. The cell call went something like this:

Me: "Hey dear, what's up?"

Her (very loud): "Kids... damn cat... vacuum... SHIT!"

Me: <hangs up quietly>

When I got home days later none of them would admit the deed, or having seen the cat that day, or that we even owned a cat. I did eventually extract what will likely be the only confession from our three-year old daughter : "I see the poop go 'roun and 'roun, daddy."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ah! GMail is down!

What to do? Who to turn to?

Gmail by GoogleGMail has been down for ten minutes or so. I'm not freaking out yet, but it causes me to think about how much I rely on GMail, Google Reader, Google Apps, and other things in the cloud.

These tasty treats are FREE, but the price is no support. No guarantees. Gmail could turn everything off tomorrow and there's not a thing I, or you, could do.

Not that they will. But still, the thought is there, lurking. What if I were waiting on a very important email, one that a consulting job or client depended on? Who to call?

No one.

For a time I thought it would be cool to find I client start-up, say a small law office, that I could put completely in the cloud. Use Salesforce.com or Google apps and have the only supported app locally be a browser and maybe Google Gears. Now I'm not so sure.

Still down.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Blog List Updatery

So as of right now my Google Reader list stands at 122, which I know is far too many. I check my reader at least daily, and at least skim over each new posts brief update view. That’s a lot of info to take in, but I enjoy being up to date.

Few blogs are going better right now than Bill Martel’s “Sex In A Submarine”, my favorite script writing blog. Not updated often enough, Bill’s posts are a fascinating window into the realm of an actual working script writer making it in the Hollywood movie biz.image

Lately he’s been doing a series of “Friday with Hitchcock” posts, where he takes one Hitchcock film per week and dissects it; where it works, where it doesn’t, what is groundbreaking, etc. Bill’s perspective on these films, how they relate to what he does, and how they relate to movies today, is a must for any movie fan and a definite must for Hitchcock fans.

His take on current movies is always interesting as well. His screenwriter’s perspective often gives a slant to a movie that I haven’t thought about before. And some of the insight he gives into film making is fascinating. Who knew that sometimes scripts are written around the availability of locations? Or that sometimes B-Movies come in behind other movies and use the same sets for a completely different movie, and that often these movies didn’t exist until the set became available? Or that producers and directors seem to exist mainly to ruin good scripts and insert stupid ideas – like a sex scene in a submarine war movie.

Bill Martel’s http:\\sex-in-a-sub.blogspot.com : recommended!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

From Bad to Worse

Given : The Economy Stinks.

How bad is it going to get?


From FireDogLake:

Reduced employment, reduced business investment, reduced consumer credit in all its forms.

These things have a cascading effect—they all reduce spending, whether business or individual spending. Each time spending is reduced, another business reaches the red line and goes out of business, or it has to lay off unproductive staff, or it orders less goods from its suppliers who do one of the two. As all those people are laid off they cause a reduction in tax revenues (payroll, property, income) and they start spending a lot less. That leads to businesses being under even more pressure and the logical thing for them to do is to... cut more staff. I'm sure you see where this is going.

It's a self-reinforcing vicious spiral. It is, actually, a huge part of what made the Great Depression as bad as it was. Now, the correct response to this is twofold—you clear the private books, and you maintain demand. As Keynes noted over 70 years ago, what that means is that when private actors can't spend, the government should.

This doesn't mean boondoggles, the Roosevelt administration had almost no fraud, literally magnitudes less than that which takes place routinely these days. It doesn't mean not slashing programs—in fact slashing programs which don't either provide relief or significant demand is very important so that money can be freed up to do other things. And it doesn't necessarily mean running huge deficits, in fact, at least at the Federal level, it is entirely possible to balance the budget with a series of cuts and tax raises on corporations and the rich (it certainly makes little sense to allow oil companies to reap all the benefits of oil prices increases, since they are not caused by management—unless of course, oil executives want to argue that they were responsible in front of Congress? Hmmmm?)

I don’t know about you all, but this scares the bejeebus out of me. You know things are in the tank when not even a government job is safe. Buy inflation-indexed bonds, and stuff your mattresses.


It's suddenly February and I have a cast. All of them are people I know or have seen onstage, none of them are the people I thought wou...