Let me say publicly that DonBoy’s answer exudes a combination of intuitive genius and confidence that make me think DonBoy is going to do big things in his life. -- Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics blog)
Monday, May 30, 2005
Things I Did Not Know About Star Wars, The Lord Of The Rings, and The Matrix

George Lucas' epic is based on the Akira Kurosawa film The Seven Samurai, a 1954 Japanese masterpiece wherein a team of 19th Century Samurai free a princess by attacking a space station.

Lucas improves on this original work of genius in every way, and scored a remarkable 9.6 on the Swayze Adaptation Analysis (1994 Revision).

The Lord of the Rings films are based on a 1978 Ralph Bakshi cartoon which used the method of rotoscoping (wherein actors are forced to wear thick, colorful paint on their skin in order to give a cartoonish pen-and-ink appearance). The most memorable fact about that production is that four actors were killed in the process, all succumbing to paint poisoning and/or neck injuries due to their ponderous wigs and fake beards which were made from a dense industrial-grade plaster, some weighing more than 120 pounds.

Unfortunately the spirit of the original tale is undone by the superfluous sequels (the original ended with the One Ring unbroken and Mordor still in power, conveying Bakshi's lone passionate lifelong belief that midgets are not to be trusted with important tasks).

The Matrix is based on the 1968 East German play Wirklichkeit ist eine Illusion, also lassen Sie uns sprechen Rätsel, Eintragfaden-Polizei und Tanzkampf ("Reality is an Illusion, so Let Us Speak Riddles, Shoot Police and Dancefight"). The original live production ended with a stunning dance sequence (set to Wagner's Nightsong of the Gun Mechs) which the Wachowski brothers have set side in favor of a silly RoboCopesque sky-shooting fireworks display that resembles an inner-city New Year's Eve celebration from the year 2214.
-- all facts from Pointless Waste of Time.
Monday, May 23, 2005
E*TRADE Is Run By Morons

E*TRADE has "automatically upgraded" my account. (Yes, I have an E*TRADE account, because this is 1999 and we're all going to get rich day trading.) Apparently as a result of this, they've sent me a credit card -- or maybe a debit card -- in the normal US mail, completely unsolicited. They must not have read the 5 billion news stories in the past several years about how this is a perfect opportunity for identity theft, because the card could get stolen from the mail and I would never notice, since I'm not expecting any card. (Supposedly the card must be activated by a phone call from my home phone. I bet someone could get around that somehow.)
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Twenty Years of Cajun Seasoning

On the right, you see a container that used to hold 19 ounces of "Cajun Seasoning". That's a lot of spice; most supermarket packages of spices hold between one and two ounces. I bought this spice sometime in the 1980s. I used it in eggs and on broiled fish. Last month I finally finished it. It outlived two cars and five computers. Rest In Peace, 19-ounce container of Cajun Seasoning; truly you served me well.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Read Books? I Have People for That

Seen on a Google-placed ad on Kevin Drum's blog:

In today's age of information overload, it's extremely difficult to find the time and energy to read the important political books published each week. Yet, how can you truly stay politically informed if you aren't reading the latest releases?

With a subscription to Capitol Reader, you'll receive the top political books summarized down to eight concise pages. These book summaries allow you to read the key points and arguments being made by political leaders, satirists, pundits and journalists without spending the time it takes to read their entire books. This service will help you find the books that really interest you and deserve more of your attention.

Not only will you drastically slash your reading time with our summaries, but this service is especially helpful if you like to keep up with what the other side is saying. Capitol Reader is a nonpartisan service and each week, summaries are alternated by party affiliation. The summaries do not offer judgment or opinion on the content in each book. Instead, the ideas, viewpoints and arguments are presented just as the author has intended.
At the site, you can read the sample free summary (PDF) of Chris Matthews' Hardball:
How Politics Is Played Told By One Who Knows The Game
, including a bold-type misuse of "principal" for "principle" that I suspect wasn't in the original.

Sunday, May 01, 2005
Things That Don't Go Together

The license plate EDGY, on one of those very boxy Volvo sedans that say "My car is boring, but I feel very safe indeed."

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