Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Odds & Ends

As I prepare for a refocusing of this blog, let me clear out my inbox.

1. Clerks 2 has a trailer of sorts here. Either you love Kevin Smith's work or you don't, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground with his movies. I don't think I've disliked any movie he's made, though I found his Degrassi: The Next Generation not to be my cup of tea.

I really liked Jersey Girl. There is nothing funnier than watching Ollie (Ben Affleck) and his seven-year-old daughter, Gertie (Raquel Castro), reenact the opening number of the second act of Sweeny Todd and George Carlin has never been better as an actor and not just playing "George Carlin." While I am happy that Smith is returning to his View Askew-verse, it is a shame that he let the "poor" box office of Jersey Girl keep him from moving into other movies. That the movie didn't meet expectations was more an artifact of (a) the Affleck and Jennifer Lopez coupling and (b) Gigli. (Smith supposedly told Sony to hold Gigli back until after Jersey Girl was released. They didn't, so both movies suffered, even though Jersey Girl is the superior film.

Anyway, the Clerks 2 trailer is there. I hope the movie does well; I want to see the animated Clerks movie we were promised during the commentary on the DVD for Clerks: The Animated Series. Besides, Rosario Dawson deserves to be in as many popular movies as possible, not just because she's nice to look at, but she was the only Pussycat in the Josie and the Pussycats movie who understood what the movie was and what it shold have been. Just for that alone, she deserves to be in more Sin Citys and less Alexanders.

2. I found this great time waster over Christmas. I can't even describe what it is, but once you start playing with it, I think you'll understand why it is indescribable. I think there is something calming about it (though I wish there were more options) as you try to create something out of what you are given. Just so you know, if you scroll down to the bottom of the page there are variables that you can control; my one complaint is where the controls are located. In a perfect world, everything would fit nicely on the screen, but "game" is free, so who am I to complain. By the way. one suggestion: You'll be much calmer if you click on "NAMEKUJI" to make the bouncing thing stop or disappear. While I understand that destruction/entropy follows creation, it is unpleasant to have it happen in the moment.

3. I'm not big on the Sudoku like everyone else appears to be even after someone finally explained in simple terms how the puzzle works. After that explanation my first statement was that it should be possible to write a program that solves every possible Sudoku since there are only a finite number of ways the numbers can be ordered in the grid. Well, someone did and here's a link to a free Sudoku solver. I've tried it a few times and it works, plus you can't beat the price. The even freakier original version, complete with zombies, may be found here. That version reminds me more of a circle of hell, but watching the zombies bounce and bob like those giant air-filled pseudo-balloon men is rather entrancing.

4. In the sixties and seventies, one of the best things about being home from school sick (apart from being home from school) was getting to watch interesting daytime television, i.e. game shows. Those days are long gone, but this site will tell you more than you ever want to know about The Price is Right. Some interesting things I found was this page showing clips from the first five episodes. Watch the opening of the first one to see how strangely quiet the audience is compared to the show today. On the front page, be sure to click "Check out this priceless moment from 1982!" to see cast openly and honestly tipsy. (Windows Media Player required.) After that, be sure to scroll down the page to see how skeletal Bab Barker has become in the twenty-three or so years since that clip.

5. Some incredibly beautiful images taken by the Hubble telescope are posted here. Don't be surprised at the amount of time you'll lose gazing at these pictures.

6. If you have a blog, through alogrithms I don't care to learn about or understand, you can go here to find out how much it is worth. On the Internet as in real life, I am a hundred-aire.

7. One of the greatest cartoons ever made is Chuck Jones's and Michael Maltese's One Froggy Night. This site gives you all the background you'd ever want to know about the songs Michigan J. Frog performs for his solitary audience of one.

8. I can't even find the words for these quizzes. Suffice to say, forget anything about science, which God gave us the ability to divine, at the frint page.

9. A site that doesn't seem to get enough recognition is The Internet Archive. As the project describes itself:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an ‘Internet library,’ with the purpose of offering permanent access for researchers, historians, and scholars to historical collections that exist in digital format.

In other words, whenever you see a dollar DVD of Bugs Bunny cartoons, you can find them at The Internet Archive for free. Explore to your hearts content.

10. If you were born after 1970, you probably never listened to a children's story record and if you did the were probably hand me downs. This site has taken it upon itself to perserve just a fraction of these recordings, one a week during 2005 and 2006. Browse through the listings for a memory or two or to hear what was a very common recreational activity for kids not so long ago, but is now being relegated to hoop rolling and mumbleypeg.

11. Admit it. Like me, you've probably thought about disappearing and starting over with no baggage. This site tells you how to do, though I don't think it provides an explanation on how to find the courage to follow through with cutting off all ties and starting over.

12. To help keep viewers from changing channels when a show is finished and allow more time for commercials, the networks have been decreasing introductory titles and theme music. If you are like me and enjoy cartoon themes. Toon Tracker provides a whole slew of them from the forties to the eighties. I don't know about you, but I can never hear the Rocket Robin Hood, Mighty Hercules, or The Mighty Heroes enough. Where are those DVD collections?

13. Finally, we, my wife and I are at a time in ouut lives when out thoughts turn to having children. Beyond the normal things one thinks about that lead up to that moment, other things make themselves known, such as what to name the baby. Your tax dollars at work, the Social Security Administration provides this site, which provides statistical data regarding the most popular names for babies. This site provides the same information, but in a much more fun and dynamic way.

14. Hopefully this week will see more posts on my most favorite topic of all. To get you ready for the future, here is a site where the owner has taken it upon himself to discuss and post the Jack Kirby-drawn monster stories from the pre-Marvel Atlas Comics. Once you've had your fill of such delightful creations (written by Stan Lee) as Monstro,

the Insect Man,


and Fin Fang Foom,

you can ponder when comics took the ugly left turn that made such creations less palatable.