August 05, 2007

Can't Stop the Beat

It's no secret I love musicals. From Rent to Wicked to Moulin Rouge, I enjoy the stories, the music, and the meshing of the two. This love stays strong despite the fact my attempts at singing would cause ears to start bleeding.

However, I was not sure what to expect from Hairspray. The movie's primary selling point seemed to be John Travolta in a fat suit, and I just didn't find that image appealing. In the end, my Broadway fan-boyishness led me to the theater, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Although this film is set in the 1960s and looks at racial segregation, the obvious point of the production is to have fun. While Rent takes itself very seriously, Hairspray does not. For example, lead character Tracy Turnblad misses her school bus and is late for class because she is too busy singing and dancing for the first musical number. She is even pelted in the face with a dodgeball because of another number. Sight-gags and one-liners about the culture of the '60s can be seen and heard throughout the film. I'd share a few of them, but I think they are much funnier if you don't see them coming.

Because it also deals with race and racism, the film obviously has a few serious moments. And while racial integration might have been controversial in the 1960s theater, I doubt there are many people today who would disagree with this movie politically.

Even through the brief serious moments, the unabashed goal of the movie is to entertain. It wants to make people smile and laugh, and it succeeds. It has a strong cast with (for the most part) excellent vocal ability. The choreography is a bit weird, but so were the 1960s.

If you enjoy musicals, I'd highly recommend Hairspray. If I can't remember the last time I saw a PG-rated movie that I actually enjoyed and would recommend to others.

Posted by Randy at 01:04 PM | TrackBack

April 09, 2006


While I was in Washington, D.C., this past summer, one of my co-workers told me that her favorite play/musical was Rent. This was the first I had ever heard of it. When a group of us went to her apartment to study for an exam, she played part of its soundtrack to me. At the time, I was not all that impressed, but I promised her that I would not judge the musical until I saw a version of it.

When I arrived home on Friday, I saw that my mother had bought the movie adaptation of Rent. After setting up my computer, I started watching the movie in my room.

That was yesterday night. Since the first viewing, I have watched a two-hour documentary that came with the movie, and I have watched the movie itself two more times. I can hear its soundtrack from the living room as my mother is finally watching it, and I plan to watch it again once she finishes.

When the play originally hit Broadway, it became a smash hit. It was one of the largest hits on Broadway in some time. The play received Tony awards, and it has been performed all over the world. The author, who tragically died the night of the play's dress rehearsal, has been awarded a Pulitzer prize.

The story deals with a number of controversial issues, including homosexuality, AIDS, drug abuse, and poverty. It is set in the east side of New York in 1989. The main characters, all in their 20s, consist of a documentary filmmaker, a musician, a gay philosophy professor, a drag queen, a stripper, a bisexual performance artist, a lesbian lawyer, and a yuppie landlord. Obviously, this is not a story for the faint-hearted.

Professional reviews of the movie all seem to argue that the film is a weak rendition (although faithful to the original) of a story that has become obsolete since its debut. More than one has argued that no one unfamiliar with the play should see the movie because it would turn them away from ever seeing a live version.

As someone who watched this movie without knowing anything about its story or its characters, I respectfully disagree. I really want to see this performed live.

Posted by Randy at 12:00 AM | TrackBack

February 04, 2006


"Congratulations. You are still alive. Most people are so ungrateful to be alive. But not you. Not anymore."

When I first saw advertisements for Saw, I was intrigued. The concept of the movie looked fascinating from a psychological horror point of view. Two men wake up chained to opposite walls of what seems to be a run-down public restroom, and a dead body is between them holding a gun. They discover that one of them must kill the other or they will both die.

For some reason, I never bothered to watch this movie before tonight. It was on some movie channel, and I decided to watch it to kill time before another movie began. The movie started, and I couldn't stop watching it.

It was much more intelligent of a movie than I expected, though it definitely had its flaws. The serial killer, "Jigsaw," chooses his victims because they (supposedly) are wasting their lives. "Serial killer" may be a misnomer, though, as Jigsaw has never actually killed any of his victims himself. He puts them in situations where most of them kill themselves trying to survive.

While the movie begins with the two men waking up in their strange prison, the viewer learns about them and about Jigsaw's previous exploits through flashbacks. The viewer learns that both of the men have their secrets and that Jigsaw is incredibly sadistic in his creativity.

Saw is definitely gory, but it isn't quite as grisly as I had expected it to be. Considering the concept of both the movie and the serial killer, it would have been very easy to overdo it. However, it stops well before the queasiness would begin.

I'd kind of like to watch the sequel.

Posted by Randy at 11:34 PM | TrackBack

August 08, 2005

Six Feet Under

I can not stand most sitcoms and dramas on network television. Sitcoms generally use the same tired jokes over and over while resolving the occasional problem with cheesy moments designed to make the viewer feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Dramas are generally sanitized, avoiding most serious issues that may arise in life and carefully treading around the few they dare to confront.

I think that is why I have completely fallen for the series on channels such as Showtime and HBO. Dead Like Me, the unfortunately ill-fated dark comedy from Showtime, is one of the best series I have ever seen. Most of my friends would at least agree that I feel that way, and many probably hold the same opinion. It is not a conventional comedy; therefore, it must be at least partially original in its humor.

Six Feet Under, HBO's successful drama about a family and its funeral home business, is similarly appealing to me. It feels real. It embodies the opposite of network programming, showing the viewer the dirty, the gritty, and the ugly parts of both death and life.

The old cliche "emotional rollercoaster" does not even begin to describe this show. It has its happy peaks and rock bottoms as well as its quiet desperations and furious outbursts. The characters experience and face teenage angst, parental misgivings, rocky relationships, and family turmoil.

This is the only television drama I've seen where I connect with and care about all of the characters. This is the only drama I've wanted to cry over or to scream at when an episode ends. This is the only drama of which I want to watch episode after episode after episode, watching characters grow and/or fall apart.

If you know me at LETU, you will probably catch at least some portion of some episode during the upcoming semester. Of course, some will probably watch a few seasons with me. Unfortunately, some will see some of the characters, situations, or circumstances of the show and turn away from it. I see that as their loss.

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August 03, 2005


I have just read quite possible the most deranged, disturbed, and disgusting novel I have ever known. Intrigued yet?

Haunted, a novel by Chuck Palahniuk, tells the story of a writer's retreat that goes horribly wrong. The story is told through the individual stories of the writers at the retreat. It is kind of a Canterbury Tales for a much more cynical generation.

The writers were promised safe and complete seclusion from the world for three full months. They were told that all of their needs would be met, and they were told to bring only one suitcase each. Away from the distractions of the real world, they were promised the inner masterpiece within each of them could be written.

However, the heat and power at the retreat (an old theater) soon stop working. The food supply begins to dwindle suspiciously fast. The only way out of the theater is locked, and the retreat planner refuses to open the door.

To pass the time and to entertain themselves, the writers tell each other stories, mainly drawing from their individual pasts. The stories told range from disturbing to outright sickening. Supposedly, the stories become more extreme, reflecting the situation in which the writers find themselves.

While fighting to survive and listening to the dark pasts of their "roommates," each individual develops a dark motive to remain at the "retreat." Each begins to believe that they are experiencing something that will make them famous, and each seeks out a "plot point" to increase their own future fame and fortune.

Keep reading for my opinion of the book.

The inside flap describes this book as "a satire of reality television--The Real World meets Alive." In a sense, this is quite true. Every character is more than willing to suffer (and add to the suffering) that he or she will experience while trapped in the theater in order to increase the payoff he or she imagines at the end. Does this not describe the vast majority of reality television precisely?

The characters do not even refer to one another by their real names. Instead, each is given a "nickname." The nicknames reflect the dark secrets of each characters past. "Saint Gut-Free," "Reverend Godless," "Earl of Slander," "Miss America," and so on. The only time a character's real name is used is in his or her own stories.

I said earlier that this was the most disturbing and disgusting novel I have ever read. This feeling comes from both some of the stories that are told and some of the actions between the stories at the retreat. In my opinion, the most disturbing story is the first one told. It is told by Saint Gut-Free, and it essentially explains why he was given that name. The most disturbing part of the retreat is spread out as the characters seek to add to their suffering and make themselves appear more desperate.

This book reminds me quite a bit of Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters, in a way. Like that previous book, the content of Haunted is abominable, and I would recommend it only to a select few people that I know. The first story alone made me put the book down and stop reading it for a short while. I did pick it back up, obviously, and I am now glad that I did.

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August 11, 2004

The Butterfly Effect

Sorry for the post-trip, pre-trip review movie review (that does make sense), but I just finished this movie and I have to say something before I explode with glee.

The Butterfly Effect was simply amazing. I have never seen the concept of time travel handled so smoothly in a movie. I have also never gasped in surprise, shock, or horror as I did with this movie. In other words, I loved it.

Ashton Kutcher did a surprisingly good job as Evan. I was very impressed after only seeing him in a few horrendous comedies before. Amy Smart did an incredible job as the many different Kayleys (Kaylies?). The younger actors also did an incredible job.

The movie does contain some...disturbing scenes in it. Do not begin to watch this one expecting a comedy. The movie does earn its R rating, but it does not earn it through sex or violence. Be prepared.

I will be buying this movie.

Posted by Randy at 09:17 AM | TrackBack

April 30, 2004

The Dumber Side: Generations of Horrific Writing

I completed The Darker Side: Generations of Horror earlier today. I had high hopes for the collection of "27 Original Stories From The Most Terrifying Voices Of Modern Horror." I was sorely disappointed.

Out of the twenty-seven stories in the book, I would say that maybe seven are worth reading. The rest were a complete waste of time.

My favorite story was "The Origin" by David B. Silva. It tells the story of a kid who we are told eventually kills nine people before he is caught. The story begins with his first killing and ends with "the origin" of his dark tendencies. The rest of the story was filling in the gaps between those two points in time by telling what happens in reverse chronological order.

"Hell Came Down" by Time Lebbon and "Armies of Night" by John Pelan were also two well done stories. The former is about a land where severe droughts have caused a sorcerer to attempt to conjure rain, but much more sinister things fall from the skies. The latter is about miniatures of army battles, the man who loved them, and the woman who killed him.

I would consider those the top three in the collection.

Overall, the stories weren't very good. The endings sucked for the majority of the stories, the plots were usually thin, and most of the characters were shallow and atrocious.

While I might recommend those three stories, I most definitely wouldn't recommend this collection.

Now I move on to Dante's Divine Comedy.

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April 21, 2004


by Chuck Palahniuk

You can find one review of this book by Eliot here.

I have to disagree with Eliot on a few points, though.

For one thing, I greatly enjoy Palahniuk's writing style. I have read Fight Club, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and now Lullaby and I am still not tired of it. I like how he goes into areas where a good number of people shy away from for one reason or another. I like his satire on our modern culture. I love how he jumps back and forth chronologically in his writing.

I also thought that the book had an extremely interesting premise. The guy finds a poem that can focus a person's thoughts enough to kill someone. It would be a lie to say that I have never wondered what I would do if I had that power. My own experiences with my anger have been enough for me to be terrified at having the ability to kill with my thoughts. Seeing how someone else deals with it, however, made the book quite intriguing in my eyes. And I must say that I found the methods of coping with this deadly ability rather...interesting.

Even with that defense in mind, though, I must admit that the plot is thin. Other than people mysteriously dying and a road trip around the US not much really happens in the book. The reader is not told much information about any of the characters other than that they are mostly power-hungry in some way. I also found the ending rather disappointing.

Despite the thin plot and lack of character development, I enjoyed the novel. Lullaby is definitely not Palahniuk's best work, but it is cleaner than the majority of his books I have read. I'm hoping there is not a connection in that. If there is a connection between lewdness and quality, I may find I like Choke the best of all of Palahniuk's books. I've heard it's rather sexually intensive. I guess I'll find out when I eventually read it. Currently, I have six other books to read before I get to it. At my current rate, however, it probably won't take me too long.

Posted by Randy at 01:43 AM | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

The Space Trilogy

Last night at around two in the morning I completed the final novel in C. S. Lewis' Space Trilogy. For those of you who do not know, that trilogy consists of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

I want to try to compare the three novels to each other, but I'm finding that I can't really do that. I'm having difficulty even choosing which one I enjoyed the most. Each of the three seemed to have a completely different purpose in mind. It was almost as if the novels shared common characters just for the sake of simplicity. By that, I mean each idea being presented could have been made in an entirely separate novel just as easily; however, Lewis tied all of the ideas together by writing them as a series.

Out of the Silent Planet is an introduction to Ransom, to space travel, and to the eldils. It is full of beautiful imagery, but not the best imagery of the trilogy. It was full of thoughts concerning equality and cooperation. The point of the book seemed to be that mankind is truly wretched and has fallen far beyond what it could have become.

Perelandra by far has the greatest amount of imagery. It seems at least a third of the book is spent describing the strange planet. Ransom is sent to battle an evil temptation that presses against the Queen of the planet. A large amount of intellectual sparring is in this novel. I think this was probably my favorite of the three books.

That Hideous Strength was quite interesting. This novel didn't need as much imagery simply because it was set on Earth. The plot is more concentrated and, in my opinion, the plot moves much more slowly. I think it was the best written book of the trilogy.

I don't want to go into more detail because I'm not sure how many people have read these books. I am also fairly certain that if I tried to give a few details I would give away too many.

I really enjoyed this series and I would recommend it to everyone.

Posted by Randy at 02:41 PM | TrackBack

April 17, 2004

Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of (accidentally) skipping a class and attending the four o'clock showing of Kill Bill: Vol. 2. I have mixed feelings about it.

For those of you who haven't seen Kill Bill: Vol. 1, you should know that it was basically a fight movie centered around the revenge of a nameless bride. She is seeking revenge because Bill, her former boss, and four assassins attack her at a chapel, shoot her in the head, and leave her for dead. The intentional cheesiness of the effects, however, seem to turn many people away from liking the movie.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 was done in a completely different style. This movie is much more plot-intense while the first was much more action-packed. The movie reveals a great deal about the characters and gives some more background information. Naturally, there was still a good number of fights. The fights were much better choreographed in this one as well. There were still a good number of parody-like scenes concerning kung-fu movies in general. Like the first one, Vol. 2 also has great cinematography.

I have been trying to figure out why I liked Vol. 1 more than Vol. 2. I think it is because Vol. 2 seems to be more serious. It still has a good deal of humor in it, but I simply found Vol. 1 much funnier. I think part of that might be because I thought the cheesy effects were hilarious.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is a good movie that ends the story of the Bride's revenge in a great way. The fight scenes are still superb. Daryl Hannah plays one of the best female villains I have seen in a movie. Humor is still in the movie even if it felt a bit lacking in my opinion.

I would recommend this movie if you have seen Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and want to know how the story ends. Naturally, you would miss quite a bit if you haven't seen the first one.

Posted by Randy at 04:51 PM | TrackBack

April 10, 2004

Memnoch the Devil

by Anne Rice

Memnoch the Devil, book five in Rice's Vampire Chronicles, is the most powerful novel of hers I have read so far.

The novel gives the tale of Memnoch, who is more commonly known as Satan, as he gives it to Lestat, the star of the Vampire Chronicles. This version of the story of the fallen angel is quite...nontraditional. Between the story of Memnoch, Lestat is given a short tour, so to speak, of both Heaven and Hell by Memnoch himself. The reader learns rather early in the story that Memnoch wants Lestat to become a lieutenant of his in order to help Memnoch's battle with God.

Through the story the reader learns that Memnoch's major problem with God is suffering. He feels a great pity for mankind. This pity for man and anger towards God developed as he watched the evolutionary progress of the Earth. Once Memnoch learns that humans have developed souls, a series of events take place resulting in his explusion from Heaven and in his crowning as ruler of Hell.

There are a great deal of theological issues present in this novel. Suffering and salvation are the two most present, however, and seem to be the major focus of Memnoch's tale. While reading this, I couldn't help but respond rather negatively to the theology being presented. According to Memnoch, there is no Hell, only a Purgatory that God calls Hell. Memnoch tells how God did not allow humans into Heaven until Memnoch intervened on our behalf. Memnoch explains how God only allowed those who died with a pure soul into Heaven until Memnoch convinced God to let him lead the other souls in Hell until they were ready to enter Heaven. Memnoch portrays God as basically not knowing what He is doing. All things considered, this is all remarkably different from what I believe.

And then I had the revelation that should have been present from the beginning. This is the story of Memnoch as told by Memnoch. Satan himself telling his version of his story. Of course it is going to be quite a perverted version of the truth. Did the author believe any of what she wrote? By the end, I think the answer is no. Lestat himself is not convinced everything he saw was the truth.

All in all, I'm sure most of you already know whether or not you will read this book. If you have liked Rice's work, I would say read this novel. If you hate Rice, this story probably won't change your mind about her work. If you have never read Anne Rice before, I would not recommend starting with book five in the Vampire Chronicles unless the story sounds interesting to you.

(An observant reader may have noticed that I skipped a review of book four, The Tale of the Body Thief. Rest assured, I have read it. I simply felt it was not worthy of my time to review it. It wasn't a horrible story. I don't regret that I read it. I just simply didn't enjoy it the way I had Rice's other tales.)

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April 05, 2004

Runaway Jury

Based on a novel by John Grisham

Starring John Cusack, Dusting Hoffman, and Gene Hackman

I guess I'll start my critique with the movie style. I am not a fan of the camera techniques used in the film. There is a large amount of shaky scenes. There are a few scenes about a third of the way into the movie that might leave a casual watcher scratching his head. However, if you are going to sit down and watch a movie and don't pay attention you deserve to be lost.

The actual plot of the film is excellent. It was able to keep my attention throughout the entire film. Supposedly, they changed the "big industry" from tobacco to gun. Naturally, since the gun industry was involved gun control was implied. I would expound more upon that issue in relation to the plot of the movie, but I would rather let the reader watch it for himself/herself and infer his/her own opinions. As the title may imply, it deals mainly with a lawsuit and juror manipulation. If I say much more I may reveal more than I would like, so I think I'll just stop here.

The movie was quite good overall. I would recommend it.

Posted by Randy at 01:24 AM | TrackBack

March 22, 2004

Invisible Monsters, by Chuck Palahniuk

I just finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's Invisible Monsters. I prefer the cover on the book I have to the cover at the link.

The book has left me speechless. I have no idea where to even begin. Therefore, if this seems a bit erratic it is because the book hijacked my mind, molested it, and then dumped it back in my head backwards for me to try to sort out.

What was the book about? That is a question that does not have a simple answer. The plot is a bit screwed up, for lack of a better description. The reader should suspect this just from the opening chapter. By the time you meet the narrarator's parents, it is confirmed. The book deals with a fashion model who is shot in the lower half of her face. That tragic event destroys her career. Afterwards, she becomes involved with Brandy Alexander. She travels with Brandy and a man across the US and Canada stealing drugs from houses for sale. This, of course, only scratches the surface of the plot. There are so many plot twists and surprises that the reader is left with his mouth hanging open in shock by the end of the story and asking himself what the hell just happened.

Like all of Palahniuk's books that I have read, this one starts near the end. You start out fairly certain what the ending will be like and read to find out what the crap had to happen for that situation to come about in the first place.

Stylistically, the book is flawless. It reads a bit like a Tarentino movie would if it was forced into a novel. It constantly jumps back and forth on a timeline. It often returns to the same scenes revealing a bit more every time about the characters. However, the amount of time spent at any one scene can be anywhere from a paragraph to a chapter. Palahniuk uses this technique masterfully.

Content-wise, the book is...interesting. There are graphic details concerning plastic surgery and, ummm, other surgeries. The book makes references to and sometimes explains sexual acts of extreme natures. I want to give a bit more detail here, but I'm afraid of what kind of searches might lead here if I did. Palahniuk doesn't pull any punches. All of this helps to show just how messed up the majority of the characters in this story reall are, but I think he put in too much graphic stuff overall.

This is a book I would recommend to even fewer people than Survivor. I'm not sure that most people I know could read this book, and I'm fairly certain a good number of those who could would start reading and stop a few chapters into it. If you really want to know why that is the case, feel free to ask me.

Posted by Randy at 01:51 AM | TrackBack

March 20, 2004

Dawn of the Dead (New)

Anyone who knows me happens to know that I love horror movies. Naturally, I would eventually have to see the new version of Dawn of the Dead. I saw the original version a very long time ago and, unfortunately, I remember very little of it. Therefore, I will not be comparing the two.

The movie was everything you would expect from a zombie thriller.

It was quite gory. There is sniping, kicking, and biting. There are headshots, impalements, and chainsaws. There are jerks, morons, and breasts. This is a movie interested only in entertaining an audience. There might be some kind of satiric commentary somewhere inside it, but if it does exist it is pushed far to the back.

The basic plot is rather simple. Survivors of some kind of virus that turns its victims into zombies take refuge in a mall. Thrills and action scenes follow. In my opinion, the scenes before the opening credits are the best in the movie. However, if you enjoy zombie movies, the rest is not a let-down. The zombies in this version are similar to the ones in 28 Days Later--meaning they can actually move quickly.

The characters in the movie aren't too stupid. They only wander off alone a few times near the beginning. The movie is done in such a way that you might care about the main characters without knowing all that much about them. The audience is given practically no background on the characters. A small bit of information can be gleaned from the dialogue, but not really enough to make the characters seem all that important. The character who actually struck me most emotionally never even speaks on camera. There were two characters who seemed to have, collectively, only one real be involved with a chainsaw.

If you enjoy zombie movies, I would recommend this one. It has zombies, gore, and a good bit of humor packed in between the "action" scenes. If you don't like horror/thriller movies, you probably won't enjoy this movie.

I was entertained, and I will probably buy a copy of the movie. After all, you can never own too many horror movies.

Posted by Randy at 12:34 AM | TrackBack

March 18, 2004

The Sun Dog

I have just finished the first story I have ever read that has truly scared me. I believe this is quite important for me because of the amount of horror stories I read.

The story that accomplished this feat is the novella "The Sun Dog" featured in Four Past Midnight by Stephen King. It is the last novella in the book.

The novella is about a teenage boy who is given a Polaroid camera (a "Sun" model) for his birthday. The camera is a bit odd. Instead of taking photos of the things it sees it takes photos of a strange dog standing in front of a white picket fence. As more pictures are taken, the boy discovers that the dog is moving and appears to be violent in nature. Why did this story terrify me? I'm still not entirely sure, but I do have a few ideas.

In order to truly explain these out I have to reveal more of the plot. If you feel that you probably won't be reading the story I would suggest continuing reading.

Now, in order to describe the effect this story had on me I need to give away more details about the plot. The following paragraph pretty much tells the entire plot.

Before the boy realizes that the pictures the camera takes are all slightly different from one another, he takes the camera to be examined by a...what is the right, opportunist of a repairman who has had some slight experience with supernatural things. This man discovers that the photos are each slightly different and gives the boy a schedule of times to take more photos. They discover that the movements are much more noticeable after more time passes. They also discover that the dog is becoming much more menacing. The boy decides to destroy the camera because he believes the dog is coming to kill him. The man appears to agree. However, before the boy can destroy it the man switches it with a different camera so that he can attempt to sell the odd one. After many failed attempts to sell the camera it begins to affect him in strange ways. He begins to take photos without even realizing it. He awakes one night to discover he is taking photos in his sleep. At this point, the dog is about to leap towards the camera. The man decides to destroy the camera. That morning, he subconsciously deceives himself into thinking he does destroy it. He in fact destroys a cuckoo clock. The boy is at this point having dreams where he is trapped in a two-dimensional world where the dog is chasing him. He realizes from these dreams that his camera was not destroyed. He tries to go see the repairman only to discover that the man has bought more film and is taking more pictures. By the time the boy gets to the man, the man has taken the final photo needed for the dog to come to the "real" world. The dog begins to break through the photo (or be "born" according to the story) and is stopped by the boy thanks something he realized from his dream.

Why did this story scare me?

1. I have always enjoyed photography. Personally, I think I am horrible at taking pictures. I prefer to let others do it. However, I love looking at great photos. Hookah (as he calls himself when he comments) has taken some absolutely gorgeous photos. I think I still have some of them on my computer. The fact that the story deals mainly with an art I enjoy, though I know little about it, might be the foundation for this fear.

2. The story deals with the downfall of a character that starts because of his greed. Unfortunately, I am a greedy person. This happens to be one of my most hated aspects about my personality. I don't like loaning money. I hate giving things away. I can be a horrible miser at times. I don't think this part factored in all that much, though. After all, I huge number of horror stories include the demise of greedy characters.

3. The final ending (by which I mean the final few paragraphs) show that, despite the best efforts of all involved, the "Sun dog" is not destroyed. Not only is he still "alive" but he has also somehow been transferred into a computer. The villain of the story is an evil that can not be vanquished. While this does contribute to the horror of the story, I can not see it adding to my horror caused by the story. Lovecraft happened to use unconquerable evils in several of his stories and none of them have affected me to this magnitude.

4. I believe this is the biggest factor. The story deals with the self-deception of the mind and the subconscious desire of a person to walk into an unpredictable and frightening situation. The man unwillingly leads himself to his own painful death. I have always closely guarded my mind. "Brainy" things are some of the few things that I happen to both think I am good at and enjoy doing. Anything that deals with a person's mind deceiving and leading him down a path to self-destruction is frightening to me. It is a terrifying concept as far as I am concerned.

That is really all I can think of at the moment. I'm sure there might be more hiding in there somewhere. In fact, I'm sure it could all be traced back to my mother if I looked far enough. However, I do not feel I'm particularly well-suited to attempt that task at this incredibly late/early hour. I think I will try to sleep now.

Posted by Randy at 03:20 AM | TrackBack

March 14, 2004

Secret Window

(Edited to add an extended entry)

Well, what have we here? Is it another Hollywood movie based on a story by Stephen King?


Secret Window is based off of Stephen King's novella "Secret Window, Secret Garden" from the book Four Past Midnight. It stars Johnny Depp and several other known actors. I have never heard of the directer, David Koepp, before now. It appears that he has helped write several movies.

Ok, I have tried three times now to be objective in the rest of my review and I am failing miserably. Time to just give my opinions.

I absolutely loved this movie. I left the theater smiling and a grin still comes to my face when I think about the movie. Unlike most movies based on a work by King, this was done very well. The director stayed extremely close to the story. He only seemed to veer off when it was needed for the transition from paper to film. The ending was quite different from the original, but it still stayed within the story (which is something you probably won't understand unless you have read it). The pace felt a bit slow at times, but the pace of the story was also slow.

Johnny Depp gave an excellent performance in his role of Mort Rainey. John Turturro played John Shooter a bit more "hick-ish" than I would have liked. Half of the audience in the theater laughed almost continuously at the accent. Of course, this was the same half that talked throughout the entire damn movie (I wonder if that is why I liked it so much...the ending shut them all up). Maria Bello fit the role of Amy Rainey absolutely perfectly.

If you enjoy suspense movies I recommend this one. If you are worried about it being based on a Stephen King story, don't worry about it. This story isn't the typical King. By that I mean there is not so much a focus on "horror" as there is on other things.

Go see it.

WARNING: If you choose to continue reading (by clicking on the link), you will read spoilers about the movie. Consider yourself warned.

Once again, if you are still reading this you will read spoilers about the movie.

Thinking more about the movie, I have realized that there are some areas that might remain unclear in the minds of those who haven't read the novella. Now, those holes were filled in by my brain quite quickly during the movie and I didn't think twice about the confusion it might cause in others. I'm hoping to clarify a few of those things here.

1. Tom Greenleaf's "I-went-that-way-and-saw-you-no-wait-no-I-didn't" claims

Tom Greenleaf is an old man who is terrified of Alzheimer's. In the book he is mortified if he even forgets where he lays down a paintbrush. He did drive and pass Mort and John on that road. When he drove by, he only saw Mort. As he looked in his rearview mirror, however, he saw a transparent John. He had been trying to convince himself that he did not see John at all.

2. Massive amounts of corn being eaten

The story Mort wrote which John claims was stolen from him ends with the lead character eating ear after ear of corn in an attempt to get rid of his murdered wife. The corn is growing directly over her body. This is why I said that the ending was changed but it was kept within the story. If the sheriff had been familiar with Mort's writings he would know exactly how to connect Mort to the disappearances.

3. That thing that only happened once

Mort did steal someone's story before. It happened shortly after he got out of college. In the movie, he was apparently caught and sorted through the matter with his victim. In the novella, he is never caught and his guilt over it helps produce Shooter.

I remember thinking that there were some other things that could need clarifying, but nothing else is coming to mind. If you have seen the movie and had questions, I hope this might clear up some of them.

Posted by Randy at 01:00 AM | TrackBack

March 07, 2004

The Vampire Chronicles, Vol. 1

This weekend I completed The Vampire Chronicles: Vol. I. For those of you too lazy to look at that link, it included Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned and it was all written by Anne Rice.

I have always loved vampire stories. I am not sure why but something about vampires fascinates me. The novels that make up The Vampire Chronicles tell a series of stories involving the same vampires from the viewpoint of the vampires. I think it might be this fact more than anything else which causes people to object to Anne Rice's novels. In the eyes of a "normal" vampire, taking the life of a human is an everynight occurrence. This causes it to be discussed oftenly in a rather dismissive tone. It can be quite disturbing at first.

Many people seem to believe that these novels are specifically anti-Christian. Although Interview with the Vampire seemed to be like that at times, I have to disagree with that statement. By the end of The Queen of the Damned, it becomes extremely obvious that they are anti-religion in general if they are anything.

Putting theological issues aside, I enjoy Anne Rice's writing style. It is quite involving and by the end of The Queen of the Damned I cared about what was happening with every single character. The depth of information involved in the creation of each novel is remarkable.

Another problem that many people have is the amount of "love" scenes between the vampires. People who have problems with these things have forgotten two things, in my opinion. First, the vampires are no longer human. They have a human body, but it is basically kept alive by a "spirit" that enters them through the blood of another vampire. Second, the "love" discussed is not physical love. Other than an occasional kiss or hug, the love is purely emotional attachment.

I enjoyed these novels and will probably continue with The Vampire Chronicles. I hope that volume two is released soon.

Posted by Randy at 05:42 PM | TrackBack

March 06, 2004

"The Passion of C"

That is what the title of The Passion of the Christ is shortend to on my movie ticket stub. I explained to those who asked about it that the theater had to choose between that and "The P of Christ." I think they made a wise decision.

I would like to make it clear that when I see a movie for the first time I try to watch it as objectively as possible. I often fail, but I do try.

People have called the movie grotesquely violent. The truth is that it is extremely violent. There were scenes during which I could not look at the screen. I strongly believe that no child should see the movie. Had I seen this movie when I was around ten years old or younger I would have been extremely terrified of Christianity. This is a movie for adults.

The violence may be grotesque but, unlike other films with high amounts of violence, The Passion of the Christ has a point. This point is often lost on those who know little about Christianity. The power of this movie can drive a believer to tears and should have non-believers asking questions at the very least.

Stepping back from the violence, there are many things about this movie I enjoyed. I loved that it was filmed in Aramaic, Latin, and Hebrew. That added more to the movie than I could describe. They worked the subtitles in so well that I often forgot the movie wasn't in English. I would be reminded when someone would say something not important enough to be translated.

The performances of James Caviezel and Maia Morgenstern as Jesus and Mary were amazing. I believe that Mary had the most emotionally intense moments in the movie, and this makes perfect sense when you think about the situation. Everyone cast in the movie seemed to be perfect for the role they played.

I loved the portrayal of both Satan and Judas. Satan is portrayed in a manner that I find much more believable for his character. Judas' character was given much more depth in the movie. Naturally, a few creative liberties were taken with everyone in the movie, but the ones concerning the characterization of these two were done particularly well in my eyes.

This isn't really a movie I feel capable of describing to people. It is a very emotional movie and I am not the greatest at describing emotion. The best advice I can give is to go see it. It is worth seeing at least once. However, consider yourself warned that there is an explicit amount of violence. You can also check out The Limey Brit's review for more information about the movie.

Posted by Randy at 12:39 PM | TrackBack

March 04, 2004

"Survivor" by Chuck Palahniuk

I'm sure that name has jogged a few memories out there. If it doesn't, Chuck Palahniuk is the man who wrote the book Fight Club. Since the movie version of Fight Club is one of my favorite movies, I had to read the book. I did and thoroughly enjoyed it. So, out of curiousity, I decided to try out another book by Palahniuk.

I finally bought a copy of Survivor. I believe that this is his second novel. All I can really say

The book gives its summary much better than I ever could:

"Tender Branson--last surviving member of the so-called Creedish Death Cult--is dictating his life story into the flight recorder of Flight 2039, cruising on autopilot at 39,000 feet somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, he will unfold the tale of his journey from an obediant Creedish child and humble domestic servant to an ultra-buffed, steroid- and collagen-packed media messiah. He'll reveal the truth of his tortured romance with the elusive and prescient Fertility Hollis, share his insight that "the only difference between suicide and martyrdom is press coverage," and deny responisibility for the Tender Branson Sensitive Materials Sanitary Landfill, a 20,000-acre repository for the nation's outdated pornography--amoung other matters bizarre and trenchant."

Naturally, I would never recommend this book to everybody. The book has a bunch of very controversial things in it. "Assisted" suicides, cults, abuse, scams, various items of extreme sexual nature, and Bible verses are littered throughout the book. Fight Club is almost pure in comparison.

However, I believe that Survivor is a great deal better than Fight Club. The book is satiric from page 289 all the way to page 1. Yes, I did say that in the right order. The chapters count down to one as well. It's a wonderful technique that emphasizes you are reading someone's last words. I enjoyed the book and had a hard time putting it down. I will be extremely shocked if anyone ever tried to make a movie out of this novel. There are far too many sensitive areas to bring it to a visual format.

I would recommend this novel only to people who enjoy controversial books. If you are offended by casual dialogue about suicide, objects involved with pornography and sex, or satire concerning religion, stay away from this novel. It can be quite lewd in some areas. It is a very dark novel. If you enjoy Chuck Palahniuk's writing, you will probably love the book.

Personally, I can't wait to get my hands on another of his novels.

Posted by Randy at 02:43 PM | TrackBack

December 31, 2003

Desperation and The Regulators

From Stephen King's Desperation:

"...Sane men and women don't believe in God. That was all, that was flat. You can't say it from the pulpit, because the congregation'd run you out of town, but it's the truth. God isn't about reason; God is about faith and belief. God says, 'Sure take away the safety net. And when that's gone, take away the tightrope, too.'"
--Reverend Martin, a slightly alcoholic preacher

Desperation and The Regulators, both by King, are two very interesting books. The easiest way to explain how the two books work together is by calling them parallel dimensions. They involve the same characters, but the characters have different fates in the story. The characters themselves might have changed some as well (i.e. age changes, children become parents and parents become children, someone mentioned in passing in one story becomes a major character in the other). The storylines, while slightly similar, are also dramatically different.

The books themselves are obviously two very individual pieces of literature. Desperation is much more of a spiritual book than The Regulators,while the focus in The Regulators is apparently the story-telling (think almost Quentin Tarantino-like).

All in all, the two books combine to create a unique literary experience that I would recommend to less squeamish readers.

Posted by Randy at 03:21 AM

December 24, 2003

Bright Light

There is something wrong with The Return of the King. I knew it when I saw it the first time. Now that I've seen it for a third time (all three times I didn't have to pay! Yay!), I am positive that the movie could have been better had they changed this one aspect about it.

The movie is too bright.

Yes, Frodo makes references to the days "growing darker," say thats "it's always dark here," and claims to be lying "naked in the dark," but in all these instances it is very obvious that a bright light is shining down on them. I understand that if it had been as dark as described in the book I would have been looking at a black screen for good chunks of the movie. However, they could have at least dimmed the lights so that it would have appeared that they weren't filming in the middle of the day or underneath studio lighting. Does anyone agree with me on this?

The movie is still the best movie I've seen in quite some time.

Posted by Randy at 01:33 AM

December 19, 2003

Painkillers and Movies

So, guess what I did today. Go on, guess. I am not going to continue the story until someone guesses. Don't look at the screen like that, I can keep this up all night.

Thank you. About time.

Well, you are wrong. I had all four of my wisdom teeth cut out. My mouth still aches a bit (they were cut out at 11:15 this morning) but I have pain medicine if that gets out of hand. Also, if this post seems a little weird to you at any point, blame the painkillers.

Last night at 11:45 I saw The Return of the King. I got home around 4:30 in the morning and crawled in bed. The movie was incredible. I think they were closer to the book in this movie than in either of the other two. The last scene of the movie was absolutely perfect.

The one major thing I was worried about for this movie was Shelob. They did the fight with Shelob masterfully. I seriously hate spiders (I'm not arachnaphobic, I just really don't like them...something about them terrifies me), so I knew that if Shelob didn't strike fear into my heart it would be a failure. It was a success.

I agree with Jared about one thing, though (which is strange since he hasn't seen it yet). I will not have closure until I own and watch the Extended Edition. I recognized a few things that will have to be in it.

Posted by Randy at 12:02 AM

November 10, 2003


Ok, I'm probably going to be harassed for this, but I don't care. I'm giving my opinion.

Revolutions was better than Reloaded.

The movie had plenty of stuff that was wrong with it. It could have been better. There were inconsistencies. That's all true.

But it was still miles ahead of Reloaded. There weren't any ten minute fight scenes that ended with Neo running away. There wasn't a five minute dance/love scene. The ending tied up all of the loose ends. I would go into more, but I need to see it again before I start making claims I might not be able to back up with facts.

However, after my first viewing, I think Revolutions was much better than Reloaded.

Posted by Randy at 01:35 AM

November 04, 2003

Final Destination 1 & 2

I believe that my muse is on vacation. If anyone sees her, please send her back.

I watched both Final Destination movies this last weekend. The movies were very entertaining, but they were also very cheesy. "What are we going to do? Death is trying to kill us!" The movies' only saving point for entertainment value was the creative ways people were killed.

Here's an example from Final Destination 2:
A van with all the important characters is involved in an accident in the middle of nowhere. The driver is trapped in her seat by something that was shoved through the driver side door. A pipe with a sharp point is also shoved through the van and almost impales her head. A news van rushes to the car accident, and, when it parks, it ruptures its gas tank. Gas begins to leak from the tank and starts to run down an open pipe. The gas eventually pools underneath the van from the crash. Some people try to use a chainsaw to free the driver from the van. Hitting the van with the chainsaw causes the airbag to go off. This causes the driver's head to get impaled on the pointed pipe. The driver drops the cigarette she had been smoking. This lights the gas, and the flames creep all the way back to the gas tank. The van explodes and causes a barbed wire fence to fly through the air. The fence slices another character into several pieces.

These movies also make you realize how close all of us are to death every single day. When you think about it, practically anything could cause you to die. One character from the first movie is found to be hiding from death in a mental institution. The character was voluntarily admitted, but eventually leaves to help the people from the second movie. The character didn't realize how close death could be even in a padded room with no sharp objects nearby. The building could collapse, explode, or burn without a chance for the person to escape.

Of course, I'm pretty sure that if people started using that kind of logic with these movies their supposed popularity would quickly collapse. That wouldn't be a bad thing.

Posted by Randy at 06:59 PM

October 11, 2003

Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Today, I am updating my blog via my home computer. I'm currently eating two succulent pieces of chicken fried steak and I will eventually eat at least two bowls of Blue Bell's Hot Fudge Sundae ice cream. All of this food is accompanied by a nice cold can of Dr. Pepper, of course.

Now that I have got that out of the way, allow me to give you my opinion of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1. This isn't nearly as easy as it sounds because it is, after all, a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is like a martial arts parody which takes itself way too seriously and still manages to be a brilliant work of art. The plot is rather simple. Uma Thurman, the un-named "blood-stained bride," is seeking vengeance for the murders of her husband, her unborn child, a reverend, the reverend's wife, a organ player, and four other people who aren't important enough to describe (Relatives? Friends? We aren't told.). She gets this vengeance by working her way up a list of five people who were her former "co-workers."

We aren't told much about any of the characters, however. The most background info in this movie was supplied through a long animation sequence which told the story of Lucy Liu's character. The music in the movie was weird, but it fit perfectly with the style of the movie. The acting is superb and is part of the reason I compare it to a "serious" parody. There is a large amount of blood, but there is not that much gore. Naturally, the "Vol. 1" ends with a cliffhanger.

A lot of people will hate this movie. The reasons will be obvious once you see it. (Yes, you will see this movie. Stop wasting your breath arguing. You will see this movie.) I loved the movie and would like to see it again.

Posted by Randy at 10:59 PM

August 13, 2003

Cube and Cube 2

I recently saw the movie Cube 2: Hypercube. I was disappointed with it. Before I go into details why, let me explain a few things about the original Cube.

I loved Cube. I loved everything about it. The premise, the ending, the characters, the cube itself. Everything. If I ever see it on DVD I will buy it in a heartbeat. For those of you unfortunate enough to not have seen this movie, this basically sums it up the plot: several strangers awake inside cube-shaped rooms with no memory of how or why they are there, discover that some rooms have lethal traps in them, and try to escape from the giant cube. The traps include razor-sharp wire that can cut them to pieces, acid that can be sprayed on their faces, spikes that can shoot out of the walls, and fire-shooting devices. To see more about why I like the original Cube, please continue to read by clicking the link below. This contains details about the plot revealed (inferred) from the movie.

Now, the concept behind Cube 2: Hypercube was equally promising. Now not only could they have death traps but also they could (and rather or not they could they did) have time shifts, gravity shifts (which was very cool and slightly disorienting even for the viewer), location warps, and alternate realities. A new set of characters in a more stressful psychological setting trying to survive. Why was I disappointed with the result? To see why I was disappointed, please continue reading, but be warned that it goes into large plot details and does reveal information about the plot explained later in the movie.

So, if you were interested in seeing these movies and didn't read the spoilers, let me just say that I loved the first movie and can tolerate the second. Once again, the original is still the best.

About the original Cube:

I loved that the movie gave no information whatsoever about the origin of the Cube or any purpose behind it at all. The ambiguity behind this and no common thread between any of the characters (that I remember, it has been quite some time since I have seen it) made the Cube seem to be a device whose purpose had been forgotten about and its use only continued out of habit. For all we know the Cube could be a twisted experiment, a mass execution chamber, or a horrible prison where only those who can escape are set free.

About Cube 2:

To begin with, the took away most of the death-traps. There was a sliding wall of death, a hypercube (I think) of death, transparent sliding rectangles of death, and in one scene there sprung what I can only assume was a time trap. I could forgive the lack of traps because of how the rooms themselves acted. They seemed to warp around at random causing confusion and irritation.

Another problem was the characters themselves. They were almost entirely stereotypes. The "angry-mean-male-with-a-secret" character, the "old-and-senile" woman who I think had Alzheimer's, the "conspiracy-theorist" programming geek, and the list goes on and on.

Then there was a plot problem I couldn't get around. Ok, so the person who built either the Cube or Hypercube (I didn't catch all of that explanation because the DVD was slightly scratched) went into the Hypercube to try to avoid being caught by the people the person designed it for? Then why did that person try to escape the Hypercube at all? I'm hoping I just missed that explanation because of the bad DVD. I was also extremely irritated that they named the builder of the Cube and Hypercube. I liked the ambiguity surrounding the whole concept.

The ending was still good, however, because it doesn't really explain anything and most of the stuff about the Cube and Hypercube remains a mystery.

Posted by Randy at 01:46 AM

August 10, 2003


I can't believe it. They made a movie of Michael Crichton's Timeline.

I loved the premise. An archeology scholar is sent back through time, then something happens which causes the people who sent him to start to worry, then they send several of his students back through time to find him. That is absolutely fine with me. I think that can make a good book or movie if done correctly. I think that Michael Crichton, for the most part, wrote the plot of the book excellently.

There was one thing about the book that bothered me. I am going to try to keep it short, but it involves the explanation of time travel in the book. This may include some minor spoilers, but I honestly don't know because I am talking about the book and I haven't seen the movie. So if you plan on seeing the movie and haven't read the book, read on at your own risk.

"The ITC technology has nothing to do with time travel, at least not directly. What we have developed is a form of space travel. To be precise, we use quantum technology to manipulate an orthogonal multiverse coordinate change....It means...that we travel to another place in the multiverse." (Multiverse = infinite number of universes)

"Actually, since there are infinite in number, the universes exist at all earlier times."

Alright, I can buy these two explanations for a fictional novel. I don't believe it, but I can accept it for the book and not have a problem with it.

"We'll register them starting as early as two hours before an event. And in fact, these started about two hours ago. It means a machine is returning [to the present]."
"What machine?"
"Sue's machine."
"But she hasn't [gone back through time] yet."
"I doesn't seem to make sense. Quantum events are all counterintuitive."
"You're saying you get an indicator that she is returning before she has left?"

That makes perfect sense to me. My mind works that way, I guess. This was actually the simplest concept in the explanation to me. This next part is the problem.

"Are you saying that when you transmit, the person is being reconstituted by another universe?"
"In effect, yes. I mean, it has to be. We can't very well reconstitute them, because we're not there. We're in this universe."
"The person [who arrived in the other universe] didn't come from our universe."
"Then where?"
"They came from a universe that is almost identical to ours--identical in every respect--except that they know how to reconstitute it at the other end."
"You're joking."
"The Kate who lands there isn't the Kate who left here? She's a Kate from another universe?"

Ok, so you have an infinite number of universes. Naturally, that means there are also an infinite number of universes identical to the one you exist in. So, that would mean there are an infinite number of any person. That all makes sense to me. But, you don't know how to recreate the person after they are transmitted in the way you do it. So, everytime you send someone you are in fact destroying them and getting a different, but identical, version of the same person back? What happens to the person that is sent? Are they killed? Or are they just transmitted through the multiverse forever being unable to reform themselves? This needs to be addressed in greater detail because this doesn't make sense at all to me.

Posted by Randy at 02:21 PM

July 28, 2003

Eastman, Financial Aid, and 28 Days Later

Today was a busy day.

I had to get up around 8:30 and go back to Longview to meet with the Eastman Community Advisory Board. I got to eat some decent Mexican food and listen to pro-Eastman propaganda concerning their safety procedures. Boring. For some reason, they had a Longview Transit bus come and take us two blocks into the factory to look at the computer they had been talking about in the meeting. It then took us back to the company entrance and left. I wonder how much they had to pay to get that bus out to Eastman just to carry twelve people a total of four blocks.

Then I had to deal with LU's infamous Financial Aid staff. Somehow they had it in their computer system that I chose to reject a student loan. How they got that information I do now know because I accepted all financial aid both in the email they sent to me and in a letter sent to my parents. My mother and I just got finished with the Sallie Mae people and finally got pre-approved for their loan.

After that, I finally got to watch 28 Days Later. I had been wanting to watch this movie for a while, but no theaters in Nacogdoches or Henderson were playing the movie. I was pleased with the movie, although I do believe that it was not nearly as scary as people made it sound. The movie did need better (or any) music to set the tone in several scenes. I would recommend this movie to anyone who likes horror/sci-fi movies. I will be getting it when it is released on DVD.

I think that this movie needed more character development. Yes, we learn that Selena is a ruthless woman who is deadly with a machete and willing to do anything to survive, but is this different from how she was before the tragedy happened? Yes, we learn that Jim is a fast-learner and good at adapting, but what was he like before he woke up in this nightmare?

Also, if you go see it, make sure to stay to watch the alternate ending after the credits. I think that the alternate ending fits better with the rest of the movie than the one they decided to end it with.

I think I will leave you with these opinions:

If you bring any kind of kid to any kind of movie, I don't care how you are related to them, make him SIT DOWN and SHUT HIS DAMN MOUTH! I think that it should be legal to shoot anyone who walks into a movie theater and asks loudly "Is it scary?" during a scene where you are trying to listen to what the characters are saying. It should also be legal to bound and gag anyone who will not keep his damn mouth shut so that someone can beat the crap out of him after the movie is over.

Posted by Randy at 07:51 PM

July 18, 2003

The Drawing of the Three

I just completed the second novel in the Dark Tower series, The Drawing of the Three. I am confident that if you ask anyone who has read the first two books you would be told that the second in the series is much better than the first. I believe that Stephen King himself has said that if you are willing to "struggle through" the first one the second one is much more entertaining.

The second book of this series introduces three new "main" characters. Well, actually, since one of the characters is schizophrenic, I guess it introduces five new characters. Instead of naming them, I will identify them as Roland, the real center of the series, first knows them: The Prisoner, The Lady of Shadows, and The Pusher. Now that I think about, the "lobstrosities" are probably important enough to the story to be mentioned. However, you couldn't really call them characters.

On a completely non-literary note, the monitor on this POS computer at my house is starting to act all screwy. The screen has started flickering constantly and anything near the middle of the screen is blurry enough to cause headaches if stared at for too long. However, since I am practically the only person who uses this computer, I doubt anything will change soon unless the monitor finally just stops working.

Posted by Randy at 02:21 AM

July 12, 2003

Dark Tower

The works of Stephen King are just full of great quotes. Who else would write, in the foreword of a book no less, that "most of what writers write about their work is ill-informed bullshit"?

The book I got that little gem from is the revised and expanded edition of The Gunslinger, the first book of the Dark Tower series. The book is revised and expanded because King has finally completed the entire series (book 5 of 7 will be released soon!) and has gone through the all of the books in it in order to revise the series as a whole.

Needless to say, I will now have to read the first four of the series again.

However, I am slightly disturbed by the fact that King finished the series so quickly because, after he was hit by a van, he did not want it to be included with The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer and The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. For those of you who don't know, neither of those works were completed by the author because the author died.

Posted by Randy at 09:48 PM

July 03, 2003


I have just completed a book titled The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and Macabre. This book is a collection of stories written by the person Stephen King calls "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale."

Most of the people who read this blog probably wouldn't care for most of the book. It holds sixteen stories which, as one would naturally assume from the title, are considered his best works. The majority of them, in my opinion, are very good.

Possibly his most famous story, "The Call of Cthulhu" did live up to what I had heard of it. It was a very good story and, from what I have seen at the bookstore, is the "first story in the Cthulhu mythos." If you haven't read this story I am going to insist that you borrow this book from me and read it just so you will understand any reference to Cthulhu.

However, my personal favorites in this book are "The Rats in the Walls", "The Colour Out of Space," and "The Thing on the Doorstep." I would highly recommend any of those three tales to anyone seeking out a good horror story.

This collection of tales impressed me so much that I have also purchased two other collections of his works: The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft: Dreams of Terror and Death and The Transition of H.P. Lovecraft: The Road to Madness.

I will update on these two collections when I have finished with them.

One other thing. All three books have, for lack of better words, uniquely macabre/morbid illustrations which wrap around the cover. From observations made by carrying the first collection around with me, these illustrations are disturbing enough that I am cautious about who I let see them. I know some people who would be rather upset by them. You can see about half of the illustration by clicking on the links on the books.

Posted by Randy at 01:46 AM

June 29, 2003

Charlie's Angels 2

I am currently sitting in my house and as I type this my seven year-old cousin is playing on my Nintendo 64 behind me. My mother volunteered that I would watch him tonight. Don't you just love when that happens.

Anyway, I am ashamed to admit I went to see the Charlie's Angels sequel. What did I think of it? I remember reading somewhere a statement sort of like this about this first movie: "Someone has finally discovered the perfect formula for summer blockbuster success: sexy women in tight clothes kicking ass." That was what the movie was basically. There were a large number of sexual innuendos, but then again so do all movies nowadays. I really couldn't tell if in some parts the movie was being funny intentionally.

Other than that, it has just been the same old stuff happening every day. What an exciting life I lead.

Posted by Randy at 12:30 AM

June 15, 2003

Hitchhiker's Guide

Today was a long day. I had to wake up way too early, go to my aunt's house to celebrate her 50th birthday, give gifts to my grandfather, go to Nacogdoches to pick up a few things for my car, vacuum my car's floor, handwash my car, and do loads of laundry. Even though I enjoyed doing a large amount of that stuff, today still seemed to crawl by slowly. Later tonight I'm going to try to continue typing up information concerning a project I'm working on with a few floormates.

Because none of the above stuff is really that interesting, I will instead talk about an incredible series of books I have read. Considering some of the people that I know read this blog, I am sure a review is totally unnecessary. However, you are getting it anyway. The series started with a little book called The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Absolutely incredible. I enjoyed all five books in the series and would highly recommend this series to anyone who asks me about it. For any of you who have not been fortunate enough to read this series, you should know that it is a science fiction series. I have generally not been a fan of science fiction novels so you should give the books a shot even if you don't like sci fi. The books are very funny and have several good quotations. My favorite is given by Mr. Ford Prefect in the third book of the series, Life, the Universe, and Everything:

"My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fiber," he muttered to himself, "and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes."

Anyway, if you haven't read the books and think that you might, I highly suggest reading them. You won't be disappointed.

Posted by Randy at 09:33 PM

May 16, 2003

The Matrix: Reloaded

Well, today I saw The Matrix: Reloaded and now I am going to do my own review of the movie. I've read a "thumbs up" review from the Cynic and a "thumbs down" review from one of my favorite web comics. I think that I am somewhere in the middle of these two.

What did I like about the movie? The action scenes were, for the most part, well done. The freeway scene was awesome. The twins were incredible (arguably the "coolest" bad guys I've ever seen in a movie). The plot was interesting. However, I usually don't judge a movie based on what I like about it.

What did I not like about the movie?

To begin with, the rave scene in Zion/love scene between Neo and Trinity felt like it was thirty minutes long. Some of the dialogue was bland and felt almost forced. In a few of the fights, the characters seemed to be just going through the motions. This may have been meant to show how little effort they had to put forth in order to win, but to me it made those fights look very fake. They used slow motion movement and computer animation too much. The scene with Morpheus speaking to Zion made me laugh out loud. The movie plot also seemed to take a huge leap away from the first movie.

Overall, I think I liked the movie, but I can also see why some people wouldn't. This one was so much different from the first one.

Posted by Randy at 07:42 PM

April 27, 2003

Identity, True Lies, and Previews

I feel like I should say something, so I will just ramble on for a while. If anything meaningful comes out, it was by accident.

I saw two movies today. The first was Identity. I know that there have been several movies that are like it in one way or another, but it was an interesting movie that I really enjoyed. I would highly recommend going to see it if you don't mind actually paying for your entertainment. The second movie was the new spy "classic," True Lies. I still enjoy that movie. Comedy, action, pseudo-drama, it has got all the ingredients a successful movie needs.

Before watching the first one, I saw several previews. Not all of them because we arrived after the reel was started (Thank you, Mark!), but a few did stand out.

Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle. I only have one comment and I am stealing it from a movie review of the original, "They have finally discovered a successful formula for summer movie blockbusters: sexy women in tight clothing kicking ass." The movie will most likely do much better than it should, but I lost all respect for the average movie-goer back when XXX was so popular. Although, A Man Apart did raise my amount of respect for Vin Diesel. He was in a movie with a plot that consisted of slightly more substance than a "Look, there's a bad guy, let's kick his ass and make lots of explosions" plot. The acting still wasn't great, but he's getting better.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Somthing I Don't Remember. It looks interesting. I didn't say it looked good, I said it looked interestng Don't really know anything about it except that Orlando Bloom (who will forever be known as Legolas) is in it and his chick gets stolen by ghost pirates, or something like that. Anyway, Legolas, along with this other guy and the chick, hurt a lot of ghost pirates in the trailer. Legolas killing ghost pirates? Sounds like a fan-fiction writer's dream.

Malibu's Most Wanted. DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE! IF YOU SUPPORT THIS MOVIE, THEY WILL CONTINUE TO MAKE THEM! I say we organize a nation-wide boycott so this P.O.S. will die an agonizing and slow death and painfully descend into the fiery depths of Hell in which it was spawned. Then we should assassinate everyone involved with it in order to remove whatever horrid, sickening genes they may pass on to another generation. I normally don't like (real) acts of violence, but if I know anyone who reads this personally, and I find out that you paid to see this movie, I will hurt you. Please don't make me hurt you.

And on a completely different note, I also went and got my nut and bolt back. Somehow, I made an 83 on it. I find that absolutely amazing, but I am very happy about it. Who knows, maybe somehow that will get me an A in Manufacturing Processes Lab instead of the B I am expecting.

Posted by Randy at 02:35 AM

April 07, 2003

Books and Other Updates

Well, not much has really happened since the last time I updated this. I went to Hootenanny, the annual event at LU where students produce and compete in skits for cash prizes, on Friday. Supposedly, this has been one of the best Hootenanny's in a long time. The dance skit entitled Phantom of the Opera won. It was a short dance based on the Phantom of the Opera and was danced to a techno version of the famous theme song to it. I think that it was definitely the most skill-intensive of all the skits and deserved to win.

I got through book five of the Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and found an incredible passage in it which seems to summarize C.S. Lewis' intent when writing these books:

"'It isn't Narnia, you know,' sobbed Lucy. 'It's you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?'
'But you shall meet me, dear one,' said Aslan.
'Are--are you there too, Sir?' said Edmund.
'I am,' said Aslan. 'But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.'"

This passage is incredible when one remembers that Aslan is strikingly similar to Jesus. I can't help but wonder how many children went searching for someone that resembled the great lion Aslan after reading, or after being read, this book. Anyway, I'm through five of the seven books now.

On a completely different literary note, I have finally found a hardback copy of The Stand by Stephen King. I have been looking for one for quite some time now. It is a rather nice copy of the book, too. It even has a few illustrations in it. And I mean a few. After flipping through the book, I have found three full-page illustrations. I am sure that there are more, but they are few and far between. I'll probably start reading it after I finish with Narnia.

I also made a B on my Calc II test. I need to finish writing my part of the research paper. I've got about four pages of it written so far, with at least one more page to go. Hopefully I can finish it rather quickly. I have a Themelios meeting at 5:30. Themelios is the student-volunteer organization which provides to help with incoming freshman during the fall semester, and we are hoping to do more than just help in the fall this upcoming year. At 9:30, I'm going to some ice cream place with some of the other people on my floor to discuss the direction that we want to try to lead our floor next year. Almost all of the upper-classmen are leaving our floor to go to the honors apartments. I've got the GPA needed to move over there, but I would much rather stay where the majority of my friends are at.

Posted by Randy at 03:00 PM

March 29, 2003

Chicago and Dreamcatcher

Well, after playing around with the settings for a while, I have come to the conclusion that I will probably need to get someone to help me with all of HTML stuff. So, instead of doing what I wanted to do right now, I'll just talk about two different movies that I have seen recently.

Movie 1: Chicago

I saw this movie last night, and I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by it. I usually don't really care for the movies that sweep all of the awards. What I found with Chicago was an entertaining musical, quite possibly the best musical that I have ever seen. Most of the songs are awesome. I would love to see it performed on stage. I liked the plot of the movie and absolutely loved its ending. I also like how it portrayed defense lawyers. I would highly recommend it if you like musicals.

Movie 2: Dreamcatcher

I did know what to expect with this movie because I have read the Stephen King book it was based on. The movie has a great plot, even if it is a bit crude more than a few times. I think, however, that I am happy with the movie because I am not a "book-to-movie" purist. If you are a Stephen King fan and want to see exactly what was written, prepare to be a little upset. This was a well-done horror movie based upon a novel written by the modern king of horror novels. Prepare to be scared. If you like horror movies, I highly recommend watching this movie.

Posted by Randy at 02:55 PM