Saturday, May 23

The Hunt for Gollum

My buddy, Mark, linked this a while ago. It's a 35 minute fan movie, pretty well done. They're not doing it for money, so here's hoping they don't get sued (though you have to figure they will use it for their resume :-). Here's the trailer:

Watch the whole movie here.

My thoughts (mild spoilers):

This is the kind of thing we need more of. Let the fans use the big shots, the music. They love your work. Don't punish them with your money-grubbing.

Thanks goodness Aragorn captured his fellow. No more of this Arwen catching Aragorn unawares!

Aragorn's tracking skills are a little too superhuman for my taste.

And to take down an orc without a sound with the other one standing right there... No.

The CGI is really impressive, including the distant shots of Gollum.

Couldn't Gollum get out of that sack? Chew through it?

And then how many orcs does Aragorn kill by himself? Too many...

Really impressive orc effects.

Swordfight with a Nazgul? I don't think so.

Still, some really nice moments. About as true to the books as Jackson's movies.

Worth your time? You have to decide. It was worth mine.

See Mark's comments for more profound thoughts about mass amateurization.

Thursday, May 14

A few links I've been saving for you

+ Something I find strangely fascinating: Catfish noodling, a technique in Oklahoma whereby guys catch giant catfish with their bare hands by reaching in through the mouth and grabbing the fish by the gills. kottke's got a post on it with links to the PBS documentary and a video I'm going to re-embed here.

+ Old, but still funny: 'It's about time. The swine flu gives a terrorism-weary America another infinitesimal risk to wildly over-react to.' - Greg Knauss

+ Disney Star Wars Weekend Posters: pretty funny.

+ Ok, I linked Bjorn Lomborg on Facebook recently and had some friends really put him down (and, I felt, my views, by extension). But I still think he's right, though he transgresses the 'scientific' orthodoxy. So here's the latest I've seen from him: Don’t Waste Time Cutting Emissions.

Monday, May 4


If you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter you might not know that I've been suffering with a blocked salivary gland for the last 3 days. The painful part, as it was explained today, was when my salivary gland would try to work (like when trying to eat), and there was nowhere for the saliva to go. So I'd get this big, hard swollen spot under my tongue that was really painful. The best treatment at that point was sucking on ice until I got the swelling down.

Here's what I explained yesterday on Facebook:
i actually had my teeth cleaned on thursday and they referred me to the Oral Surgeon. i have had this swelling/blockage since december. the hygenist said sometimes they can be popped, so i tried that, squeezing the swollen really hard twice and caused this further complication :-(

something about my tongue makes me prone to cramping (how it attaches to the jaw? TMJ? a dentist told me once, but...) and i'm getting a lot of associated cramping with this flare up. thought i was going to cry this morning!

i read that sometimes these problems are caused by calcium formations. certainly what it felt like when i tried to squeeze it. about bb sized...
My friend, Kaveh, who is a dentist, wrote the following yesterday and looks like he was exactly right:
From what you're describing it may be a Sialolithiasis (salivary gland stone) much like a kidney stone, your calcium buildup through the gland clogs them up and despite the inaccurate suggestion by the hygienist (NO, it can not be popped) doing so further clogs the ducts(especially if there is a larger stone) and as you produce more saliva it gets backup behind the clog (avoid citrus) and yes it can be absolutely painful much like a anyone who has ever had a kidney stone would tell you! Get to the O.S. and you will be in good hands, drink plenty of water and again avoid high calcium diet and citrus/or flavored drinks and fruits. I hope this helps! You will be well taken care of! :)
To be fair, I don't think my sialolithiasis was as painful as it sounds like kidney stones are :-)

Well, my dentist referred me to a local oral surgeon and they were SO AWESOME to get me in today! The practice is Associates in Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery PA and I would recommend them to anyone! I saw Dr Scott Wietecha and he was so nice and had great bedside manner. I'll tell you what: by the end of the day, I was ready to propose to him ;-)

Anyway, he wanted to get a very good picture so he sent me to a dental imaging office that does sort of like a CT Scan of your head. We came home (Christine started out driving me in case I needed anesthesia. Thanks, P!) and I waited awhile to hear back.

Dr W called at 240 and said he'd squeeze me in today and I got right over there. Turns out, the image showed 3 stones along that duct, the big one and two smaller ones.

After that, everything was pretty simple. Dr W gave me a lot of local anesthetic, starting at the back of the mouth and waiting to move forward until I was somewhat numb. I sure was glad, because I was a little anxious about it being painful if he started shooting me up right where I was all swollen. I haven't had a lot of dental work in my life, so it's kinda funny to watch someone cut with a knife in your mouth and not feel anything. He made a few little incisions and removed 2 pieces of stone (we're not sure, yet, if it was 2 different stones or two pieces of the big one).

Afterwards, I went straight to Target to get prescriptions filled for an antibiotic, a pain reliever and a rinsing solution. It got to be time to take the gauze out of my mouth and it wouldn't come out at first. Then I realized I was pulling on my tongue! It was so dead, I couldn't feel it at all :-)

Soft food tomorrow and Dr W is going to look at me again to make sure everything's ok. I expect some pain or discomfort in the next 24 hours as things heal up, and I'll keep you posted.

But for now, I am so relieved!

Friday, May 1

The art of the cover

I said:
Heard Seether 'Careless Whisper' cover for the first time. Absolutely horrible! []
Then Lisa asked me if I like the Ataris' 'Boys of Summer'. I replied:
i hate it, but probably because of my issues:

1. i hate Don Henley. not sure why. LOVE the Mojo Nixon song 'Don Henley must die!'

2. i find this young, 'edgy' bands kinetically covering adult contemporary easy listening songs totally distasteful.

ok. i'm a total spaz, i admit. i will post today about what i regard as good cover songs.
So, here's my attempt to at least say what I DO like :-)

Let's start here: THEY'VE GOT IT COVERED: THE 100 BEST COVER SONGS OF ALL TIME. Ones I like (I'm disregarding their rankings):

24. "All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix (Bob Dylan)
26. "Louie Louie," the Kingsmen (Richard Berry)
30. "Walk This Way," Run DMC (Aerosmith)
38. "You're No Good," Linda Ronstadt (Betty Everett)
52. "Respect," Aretha Franklin (Otis Redding)
73. "Venus," Bananarama (Shocking Blue)
81. "Twist and Shout," The Beatles

Honestly, I think most of my preference in these cases is which one I heard first. In some cases I've never heard the original. So some of this is just covers I like.

Another grist list: They did it their way (again, disregarding the rankings)

27 Summertime Blues - The Who, 1968
23 Caravan of Love - Housemartins, 1986
6 Tainted Love - Soft Cell, 1981

Same as above.

A few I thought of that aren't on these lists:

Please Please Please - The Dream Academy
You Really Got Me - Van Halen
Smells Like Teen Spirit - Tori Amos
Can't help falling in love - Lickin' the Tins
Baby one more time - Fountains of Wayne

And a couple many people would name, but, while the cover's ok, I prefer the original:

Such Great Heights - Iron & Wine
There She Goes - Sixpence None the Richer

Relatedly, there are a lot of mashups I love, too!

What about you? What are your favorite covers? What would you add? Did I get any wrong?