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King Kong is a Winner

December 27, 2005 at 7:37pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I stopped by Southpointe Cinema last night to check out King Kong, Peter Jackson’s latest three-hour epic. I went in open-minded, but skeptical. I left thinking “I have to own that movie”.

First, my skepticism. I’m wary of big-budget special effects flicks. Very few of them are done well enough to satisfy my picky eye. I have a hard time allowing myself to believe that computer-generated effects are real. My analytical brain goes into anal-retentive overdrive. My eye catches every little glitch, every green screen flaw, every shortcoming in the rendering software. I don’t want to see movies that way, but I do. It’s just how I’m wired. Thus, for me to really enjoy a special effects flick the director has to distract me so that I miss the flaws. Jurassic Park was the last movie to really succeed at distracting me. Until now.

Let me just come right out and say it: King Kong—the digital ape, that is—is incredible. Phenomenal. Outstanding. Peter Jackson clearly focused a ton of his team’s creative energy on making Kong as close to perfect as modern technology can achieve. He succeeded. In fact, part of what makes Kong so perfect is the fact that Kong isn’t perfect—he is old, scarred, and dirty. And Kong has a personality. He’s a big ol’ brute that has never had a friend, until Ann Darrow comes along. Peter Jackson makes all of that very believable.

Not all of the special effects are as believable as Kong, but by the time those flaws showed up, I didn’t care any more. Kong is the effect that matters. Still, the stampeding Apatasaurus scene had a definite green screen feel to it. The dinosaurs themselves were well done, and their movements were impressively rendered, but the actors and the digital effects just didn’t go together very well. The scene was thrown in for its action component, but I could have done without it (or with less of it).

One of the complaints I’ve heard and read about King Kong is that it is a story of woman-animal love in the, erm, sexual way. That is not true. There are two concurrent love stories in the movie, one among humans, one between a woman and an ape. But the latter is not a sexual love story. It’s a story about the love between friends, one of whom happens to be an ape. Many stories have been told of similar relationships between humans and dogs, horses, and other animals. This story just happens to feature a 25-foot gorilla. Peter Jackson wisely makes very clear that Ann Darrow loves the ape, but is in love with a man, in one of the final scenes.

King Kong isn’t a flawless movie. There are some loose ends left unresolved and some hiccups here and there. But overall it is a solid story told with solid acting among solid special effects, locations, and music. You can hardly ask for anything more than that.

And Now Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Program

December 27, 2005 at 5:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Whew! These past few days really flew by. I hope everybody had a jolly good Christmas, or a happy December 25th, if you’re not the Christmas type.

My niece had her second Christmas, but her first Christmas where she had any idea what was going on. She was a hoot. Christmas is much more fun with kids and toys around.

And dogs. There must also be dogs. Daisy loved helping to shred wrapping paper and boxes. We don’t let her do that sort of thing very often, so when she gets the chance, she goes to town.

I received some nice gifts from the family. Clothes dominated this year. My wardrobe hardly gets updated except at Christmas and on my birthday, so if Santa’s tailors don’t come to my rescue, my closet can start to look pretty sad. The only thing I didn’t receive that I had hoped for was a subscription to Reason Magazine. I think the ‘L’ word scared off any potential givers of that particular gift. No biggie; I’ll just pay my own way.

I get this whole week off work, so I’m putting in some hours on Lincolnite. I’ve already gotten a ton of work done, and I’m close to revealing some of it. An events calendar is my big project right now, but I’m also working on a classified ads section, data caching to improve the site’s performance, and other fun stuff. During my coding I’ve run across a couple bugs in Expression Engine 1.4, but I’m finally confident enough about my PHP skills that I’ve been able to either work around the bugs or to help the EE developers squash them. EE’s development team is awesome; they respond quickly and forcefully to squash any bugs that pop up. I’m pretty sure they don’t sleep, because I’ve received support at all hours.

Today’s plan is pretty simple: walk the dog (check), order a RAM upgrade for this computer (check), hang out with The Missus (check), head to Oso for lunch and then come back here for an afternoon of PHP coding. In my book that’s a pert-near perfect day around the house.

Selling Ourselves

December 23, 2005 at 12:02am By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I ventured up to Omaha today to meet with our adoption agency. Now we need to put together a portfolio. In essence, the portfolio is our way of saying “Ooh! Ooh! Pick us! Pick us!” to the birth mothers our portfolio is shown to.

The open adoption process is so strange. It’s basically a bizarre marketplace trafficking in…people. At this stage The Missus and I are both a product and a buyer. The Missus and I “shopped” for a good adoption agency; now we have to market ourselves to birth mothers “shopping” for parents for their children; and The Missus and I will soon “shop” for the “dealer”—err, mother—who can provide us with a quality “product”—err, child. It kind of makes me feel all oogie if I think about it too much, so I don’t.

I’m excited to put our portfolio together, but I’m also nervous. What if we don’t present ourselves well? What colors should we use? Should we make it super fancy, or will that alienate the mothers? How should we bind it? Which pieces of our family story should we include, and which should we leave out?

What if nobody likes us?

You know what’s really strange? The Missus and I are as little as a few short months away from welcoming to our home a new member of the family. I’m going to be a dad to a real live person, not just to this four-legged hairy thing staring at me pitifully and wondering why I won’t throw the ball she has set neatly by my chair. My niece will have a cousin, my parents another grandchild.

OK OK, enough daydreaming. I need to get to work on this portfolio.

Failure to Yield

December 21, 2005 at 11:33pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I’m glad to hear that nobody was severely injured in Tuesday’s crash between a small bus and a car near Zeman Elementary. The accident occurred at 52nd and Spruce Streets. The bus was traveling north on 52nd Street, while the car was traveling west on Spruce.

The last paragraph of the print version of the story (not included in the online version) has me confused:

Police issued no citations Tuesday. Because the intersection is open it’s hard to determine who is at fault, [Lincoln Police Captain David] Beggs said.

On the contrary, it’s quite easy to determine who is at fault. Lincoln’s traffic rules require drivers to yield to traffic coming from their right, barring the presence of traffic signals or signs indicating otherwise.

Right of way is determined by the “right hand rule” at low volume intersections which do not have a stop or yield sign. In these situations drivers are to approach intersections with caution and yield the right of way to the driver on their right.

In this crash, then, the bus driver was clearly at fault. He failed to yield to a vehicle on his right at an intersection with no signs or signals. Where is the ambiguity?

The “yield to the right” rule, common throughout the United States, exists precisely to address this sort of situation. If it does not apply to this scenario—or worse, if it applies but is not enforced, as seems to be the case here—then what good is the rule?

Granted, the intersection of 52nd and Spruce can be a bit deceptive. 52nd Street north of La Salle Street “feels” like it should have the right of way. Drivers on 52nd Street tend to think they have the right of way because that part of the street is a major entrance and exit point from the neighborhood, and the street is wider and more open than many of the other residential streets in the neighborhood. But that faulty perception is no excuse when it leads to an accident. Assuming the Journal Star is reporting all of the facts of the incident, the car unambiguously had the right of way, and the bus driver is unambiguously at fault, by virtue of the “yield to the right” rule.

Captain Beggs seems to be incorrect. It is quite simple to determine fault in this case. The bus driver should be ticketed.

Performancing for Firefox

December 20, 2005 at 7:09pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Hey there everybody, I’m just giving the new Performancing for Firefox plugin a whirl. Think it’ll work?

[Update: Well hot dog, it does work, unlike Flock, which I could never get to work properly. I’d be interested in hearing others’ opinions if you get a chance to install it.]

Red Shirtgate

December 20, 2005 at 1:21pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Breaking news! It was John Cook’s fault that Nebraska lost the National Championship volleyball match in San Antonio. How do I know? He wore a red shirt to the match and I’ve been told by folks in the know that Cook never wears a red shirt to matches.

Whew, I’m relieved. I thought for sure I had screwed up one of my superstitions. As it turns out, it was Coach Cook who offended the gods with his clothing faux pas. Tsk tsk. Remember Husker fans, if you see Coach Cook wearing a red shirt at the Qwest Center next year, it is your duty as a red-blooded Husker to get that evil thing off of him!

Dangerous Times

December 19, 2005 at 1:12pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I was out of town when the New York Times broke the story about the eavesdropping our government is doing, without warrants or judicial oversight, here in the United States. It’s probably just as well. The story pretty much speaks for itself, so it’s not like I would have had any earth-shattering insight to add to the discussion. But I simply must reiterate, as many others have done, how frightening it is that our President thinks that shredding civil liberties is the best way to protect civil liberties. In his own words:

The American people expect me to do everything in my power under our laws and Constitution to protect them and their civil liberties. And that is exactly what I will continue to do, so long as I’m the president of the United States. [Emphasis added]

And he actually believes that stuff! Bush honestly thinks that violating our country’s laws and Constitution is consistent with his “power under our laws and Constitution”, and he thinks that violating basic civil liberties is the best way “to protect [us] and [our] civil liberties.” The man lives in a twisted, bizarre little world.

If domestic spying really needs to be done to protect our lives and liberties, fine. But there is no reason—zero—to circumvent judicial oversight of the process. If the spying is really necessary, the courts will allow reasonable covert activities to take place. The courts are comprised of Americans, after all, and judges no more want to end up dead at the hands of terrorists than does Joe Public.

These are dangerous times we live in, and unfortunately some of the dangers originate right here in the U.S.A., including Washington, D.C.

Final Four Wrap-Up

December 18, 2005 at 5:24pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I have a lot to say about my trip to San Antonio to watch the NCAA Women’s Volleyball Final Four.


Don & Millie’s Rocks

December 14, 2005 at 6:09pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I grabbed a quick bite at Don & Millie’s last night, since I’ll be on the road during tonight’s Date Night. You know what? Don & Millie’s isn’t fancy, but I sure do like that place. I ordered my usual, a chili cheese dog. It’s a footlong dog covered in a tasty chili. Good stuff. The Missus went with a garden salad and a baked potato. Two guess which one of us is the healthy one.

I was still just a tiny bit hungry after my chili dog, so I did a bad thing: I ordered some cheese frenchees. You know what you should not follow a chili cheese dog with? Four pieces of battered and deep fried cheese sandwiches. The ol’ stomach was mighty full after all that, but boy was it good. I’m such a glutton.

The people were nice, the place was clean, it was nice and bright inside, and the food was tasty. Maybe it’s the rash of local fast food joints selling out lately, but Don & Millie’s seems to stand out from the crowd.

Road Trip

December 14, 2005 at 1:34pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I’m leaving for San Antonio this afternoon. We’ll drive to either Oklahoma City or Dallas, stay the night, and then continue on to San Antonio in the morning. Tomorrow night we’ll watch the Huskers play UCLA at the Alamodome, and we’ll probably watch the earlier game as well. Friday we’ll do touristy stuff. Friday night we’re going to the Capital of Texas Nebraskans’ Husker Huddle:

Friday, December 16, 2005
8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Steers & Beers Steakhouse
849 E. Commerce, #101
Rivercenter Mall (on the Riverwalk)
San Antonio, Texas

Stop by if you’ll be in the area. You should be able to find me pretty easily; I’ll be the one in red.

Assuming Thursday night brings good news, on Saturday we’ll probably hang around the downtown/Riverwalk area to get primed for that evening’s match. After the match—and the appropriate amount of celebration—we’ll hop in the car and drive through the night. We should be back Sunday afternoon.

I’m going to try to blog throughout the trip, so hopefully I’ll be posting photos and updates periodically. That assume’s my father’s laptop doesn’t crap out on me, though. One of these days I’ll get my own laptop…

Are any of you headed to San Antonio? If so, it’d be great to see you at the Husker Huddle. If not, I hope you plan to try to catch the matches on TV.


Nelson Sides with Bush?

December 12, 2005 at 1:28pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I may not be reading Senator Ben Nelson’s comments correctly, but doesn’t it sound like he pretty much agrees with President Bush’s Iraq strategy (err, “strategy”)?

The Bush administration needs to establish “measurable goals and standards” that guide gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops as Iraq increases its own military capability, Ben Nelson says.

“We can’t just pull up stakes and leave,” the Democratic senator said in a Lincoln interview.

“We shouldn’t cut and run,” he said. “But Iraq has to win the war.”

Odd that our Democratic senator echoes our Republican president’s remarks, while our Republican senator sounds more like a Democrat on this issue.

3287 Days

December 7, 2005 at 8:30pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

Today marks the three thousand two hundred eighty seventh day The Missus and I have been a couple. (That’s 9 years to those of you who don’t feel like dividing by 365.) Our first date was lunch at the Village Inn on Van Dorn Street. We had just finished marching in a very chilly Star City Holiday Parade with the LSE marching band. (Take THAT you ninnies!) Like a typical boy, I was way too nervous at the time to remember much of anything about the date. The Missus, on the other hand, like a typical woman, recalls every tiny detail: what we wore, what we ate, and so on.

It was a mere one month later that we first held hands. I know, I know, we were depraved. Holding hands after only one month? Horrors! Surely we shall wind up in heck.

The Missus and I are going to mark the start of our tenth year together with a quiet dinner at The Oven, probably followed by dessert at Ivanna Cone. Feel free to drop in at either place and pay our bill for us. (Kidding!)

Golden Spikes

December 5, 2005 at 8:50pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

The Missus and I will be among the thousands at the Qwest Center cheering on the Husker volleyball team this weekend. Do you have your tickets?

What a Way to Start the Week

December 5, 2005 at 4:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

I love being in a good mood. I like being that guy who doesn’t get grumpy, the guy you can count on for a humorous quip at just the right time. Getting mad or annoyed or frustrated just isn’t any fun. I try to keep a rosy outlook as much as possible.

But the day has barely started and I’m already annoyed.

First, it’s freezing in here. I can’t feel my toes.

Second, I’ve already received two phone calls from a very rude guy who wouldn’t be nearly so frustrated if he would just RTFM. I’ll take responsibility if I screw up, but if you’re rude to me because you’re too stupid or stubborn to read the instructions that I worked so hard to prepare for you, I will quickly take to disliking you. I just know he’s going to go whining to my boss. That’s not a problem for me because I know my boss is with me on this issue. But that means my boss will have to deal with this guy, thus putting a damper on his Monday morning.

I’m on the lookout for number three, since these things tend to come in trios. I suppose the good news is that once number three hits I’ll be done, because these things never come in fours or fives. Uhh, right?

I think I can actually see my breath…

Cordova Pork

December 2, 2005 at 3:23pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in 625 Elm Street

A quick question: Why is a gravel road leading to Cordova a project that deserves federal funding? Oughtn’t it be a state, county, or local matter? Granted, it’s not a project on the scale of Ted Stevens’ infamous bridge to nowhere. But pork is pork.

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