Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
March 1, 2015
I know I’ve been away a while…
Category: Miscellany … Technical Stuff

...but long enough to have accumulated 1900 spam comments?! JC on a pogo stick.

Anyway, I wanted to post briefly about writing and common phrases/expressions. I was reading a story by a member of a writing group I recently joined, and she wrote that the character's knuckles had turned white from performing a particular repetitive action. And of course I knew what she meant, and the phrasing wouldn't at all have given me pause if I hadn't been in a mood to ponder such things (which I generally am when I'm reading a piece in order to critique it) -- and I got to wondering about "clichés" and how we can (sometimes) end up confusing the reader when we make an effort to avoid them. For instance, I knew what the author of this story was talking about because the expression is common enough. But I could step up to bat thirty thousand times and endure sixteen million close calls on the freeway and strangle a billion fat-necked babies and my knuckles wouldn't even remotely whiten unless my skin were really dry and I needed to put on some lotion. So if the author had tried to describe the character's knuckles becoming white in some novel, creative way -- without using the well worn phrase -- I might not have had any idea what she meant. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 11:24 pm | Comments (0)
February 27, 2015
RIP, Spock.
Category: Current Events … Serious

So the geeky interwebs are blowing up over the death of Leonard Nimoy. Sure, it's a sad thing -- all deaths are sad, I guess -- but I often feel like people shouldn't be so affected? I mean, yeah, people enjoyed and have been fans of Star Trek for decades, but it's not as if most fans knew Nimoy personally. And I get that fans really, really enjoyed his performance(s) as Spock over the years... but I don't think that comes close to matching the value of even minimal interpersonal contact. I love me some Lena Headey, but if/when she dies I will probably only manage to shed a single tear in mourning.

I remember how my sister shed a torrent of tears for Michael Jackson when he passed and I honestly found it annoying; I know for a fact she won't be the least bit sad (she might even crack a smile) when I finally kick the bucket. And yet, whatever my failings as a brother (and I'd passionately argue that her failings as a sister are far, far worse), I should be far more important to her than some pop singer who never even knew her name. (And, if we're talking about proximity, I got closer to Michael Jackson when we lived in Germany than any of my family members. Considering that I was a child at the time -- and considering what we later learned about Michael Jackson -- it's actually a little creepy.)

That said -- RIP, Spock. You lived long and prospered.

-posted by Wes | 8:08 pm | Comments (0)
August 1, 2014
Category: Miscellany

So today at work, during a lunch break of sorts, I was chatting with this woman from corporate. The conversation was pretty one-sided, but I got her talking about her life and professional history and whatnot -- she went on for several minutes about how she'd lived in Korea and Brazil before coming to the United States. Then she stopped ... and, after a meaningful pause, she smiled and said, "I like you, Wes." (more...)

-posted by Wes | 12:06 am | Comments (1)
May 28, 2014
The Isla Vista road not taken
Category: Current Events … Serious

So in addition to reading parts of Elliot Rodger's "manifesto," I've watched a handful of his YouTube videos and read a bunch of articles and editorials on the dude's background and the tragic events of last Friday (Mashable has a really thorough piece that includes a detailed look at Rodger's personality, a timeline of events, and numerous video links and manifesto excerpts)... and I can't help wishing that I'd had the opportunity to talk to him before he did what he did. Granted, it probably wouldn't have made a difference -- he probably would've called me weak (and stabbed me to death if I'd been one of his roommates) and, for my part, I probably would've found him weird and creepy as heck -- but still.

Someone needed to tell Rodger that not having a girlfriend doesn't diminish a guy's worth as a man or as a human being. Someone needed to tell him that everyone has problems, and that those dudes walking around with beautiful blond girls on their arms didn't necessarily have "better" lives than his because of that fact. Someone really needed to tell him that, at any age, there are way worse things than being a virgin (like being a murderer). Those ideas might seem obvious to many of us, but -- despite Rodger's apparent belief in the superiority of his own intellect -- they clearly failed to take root in his mind. Unfortunately, that's not terribly surprising: while those ideas might seem obvious to many of us, they're not terribly well represented in public discourse and popular media, either.

-posted by Wes | 1:49 am | Comments (0)
April 6, 2014
Thoughts on Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Category: Serious … TV, Film, & DVDs

So I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night. It was pretty enjoyable, though I think I agree with the reviewers who complain that it shines when it goes in for character moments but is mostly too focused on world-building and spectacle -- particularly the final action sequence, which is largely interchangeable with any of the explosive battles that superhero flicks tend to end with these days. (While I'm not the fan of The Dark Knight that everyone else is, I applaud that film for its comparatively quiet concluding confrontation.) In any case, those flaws aren't immediately apparent while one is caught up in the action onscreen -- they're the kinds of things that one ponders after one has left the theater. (They're also the kinds of things one ponders while reading negative reviews of a film, which I tend to do for most movies I see; I feel these reviews offer perhaps more balanced and interesting analyses than overzealous fanboy praise.)

What did occur to me while the movie was running was that holy heck is it long! It's 2 hours and 16 minutes, which is too long for my tastes (for a superhero flick, anyway) -- and it seemed even longer since I had to piss like a racehorse by the 80-minute mark. I sat there with my legs crossed and tried to hold it, since I figured the movie had been on long enough and would probably be over soon... and then it kept going, and going, and then there was an action sequence and then it still kept going... so finally I rushed off to the bathroom at what seemed like a quiet moment. (I'm informed that I picked probably the best time to go, since it sounds like I chose the longest stretch of nothing significant and/or amusing happening in the film.) It does seem like even action films these days are striving for "epic" lengths. Admittedly, these lengths do (artificially) imbue the films with a certain feeling of depth -- if only because 2+ hour runtimes used to be reserved for weightier material -- but I find myself missing the tighter, less ponderous, and more fun adventures of less recent years. (It's worth noting that, for a short while, Daredevil was actually my favorite superhero film. Sure, it's goofy as heck -- the titular hero's playground foreplay with Elektra never fails to send me into a fit of giggles -- but that is a movie that really keeps things moving.) Ah well. (more...)

-posted by Wes | 10:18 pm | Comments (2)
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