Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Prisoner text game

I found it! Play The Prisoner text game from Adventure Software online with only a simple JAVA plug-in. http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseek.cgi
Cool if you are a Prisoner fan!

Dollar DVDs

I have a very short spring break this year. I thought it was a joke at first when I saw it on the school calendar. Midland's spring break is only Friday through Tuesday. I go back to work tomorrow. It's the first time ever, in my whole history of going to school, that I haven't had an entire calendar week off. I can't complain though because our last day of the year will be May 20th (unless they add in for a snow day--not sure if they have yet). No one can complain for getting out of school by May 20th.

So I have been watching my sizeable Dollar DVD collection the past couple of days. These are movies that I have been putting off watching but with only Morgan in the house, I have the time. No Madison to chase after or "put a show on" for her.

These DVDs all cost $1.00. Only one American dollar. I will try just about any movie for a buck. Some of them have been gems. Some have been bad, but most have been well worth the time. I especially love bad action movies and bad science fiction. One of my favorite movies growing up was Reptilicus with its horrible special effects. I loved Saturday afternoon bad movie matinees on the TV.
The Wasp Woman directed by Roger Corman, no less! In this movie, a scientist has figured out a way of reversing age with wasp enzymes. The only problem is the woman he experiments on over-injects herself and she turns into a Wasp Woman. Great stuff.
Killers from Space starring Peter Graves, directed by W. Lee Wilder (yes, brother to that other famous director). Cool movie that has Peter Graves abducted by eye-popping aliens going to take over the Earth and he is the only one to stop them.
This is Not a Test is another on the four-pack sci-fi movie DVD. That's right, I got a one dollar DVD that had four science fiction movies on it, so they were actually only 25 cents apiece. This was actually a cool psychological thriller that had a cop stop passing motorists preparing to "duck and cover" in a semi trailer to avoid a nuclear war. While that was extremely laughable--hiding in a semi to avoid nuclear war--the actual premise about how these strangers get along and get scared was kind of interesting, especially in a 1950s environment.
This is the four pack. I have two of these with different movies.
She Gods of Shark Reef is also directed by Roger Corman. This was one of two movies on a Dollar DVD double feature. Really bad. Really bad, although the Hawaiian 1950s scene is cool atmosphere.

Monday, March 24, 2008

More New Books

More new books that I have been voraciously reading lately. I keep picking them up.Star Trek: A Flag Full of Stars by Brad Ferguson. This is the second book in The Lost Years saga between the end of the five-year mission and the start of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. This one wasn't anywhere near as good as the first in the series but it was worth reading. Another really really slow start but the climax was good. Kind of makes me timid to start the third and last book in the series, but all three are by different authors. No Spock or Bones, but I guess that really does play into how ST:TMP starts. Also, did you know Kirk was married before the movies? Makes a good argument on how he became an admiral, something Spock said later being "a waste of material" and "a mistake to accept promotion." That's the one thing I really like about some of these Star Trek novels, finding more itty bitty character development things and how the rest of Trekkies interpret it.
MechWarrior: Roar of Honor by Blaine Lee Pardoe. I like picking up these BattleTech books from the library, as they are apparently out of print now. Plus, I would hate to pay $8 for one. Free at the library is the perfect price (which is probably why they don't make them anymore, another strange problem between the price of paperbacks that I have talked about before when I mentioned the John Constantine: Hellblazer novel a while ago). Anyway, this one was a simplistic story about a regiment of the Mechwarriors having to hold their own on a remote world. I just like the concept about these science fiction robotic machines piloted by people and fighting. I love Robotech and Voltron and this is up the same alley, sort of. I especially like these novels because you can pick them up and put them down anytime an each is completely self-sufficient.
The Invaders Plan by L. Ron Hubbard. All right, I hate myself for this one, but I don't care. There's a long story behind this one. The summer before I was a freshman in high school, they had this ten book series at the Somonauk Public Library. I remember picking up the first one because it looked like a cool science fiction book and the fact that they barely had anything in that library, one small room that was still in the police station building. I tried reading it then but I never finished it and I never picked up any of the others in the series. Looking back, I always, for some reason, wanted to read them, just because they're science fiction and looked cool. I attributed not finishing it to the fact that it was about 550 pages, which was huge to me back then (even though later that same year I read It by Stephen King, clocking in at well over 1,000 pages, so it couldn't have been the length). Now I just know that it is a horrible book. I picked it up again, this time at the Normal Public Library, thinking I could do the ten-book series now. No. It is absolute garbage. I only read 490 pages--that close to being done and I just could not read anymore of it. It was one of those books that I picked up and literally fell asleep five pages later. I literally read myself to sleep every single time I picked it up. I would pick up another book inbetween and I would not fall asleep. It was this book. The story is so slow, about an alien culture wanting to infiltrate and conquer Earth. However, the characters are cliched and trite and the situations boring beyond belief. Horrible. Terrible. Sucks, actually. I can't believe I wasted time reading it but I guess I had to prove it to myself before I just completing abandoned the idea.
A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning and A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket. My daughter Morgan has read this entire series and, as I was looking for a series after the horrible Hubbard catastrophe, I wanted something simple and good, plus I need to read more Young Adult literature to connect with my students. The first one was excellent. These are books that you can read fast and easily and have really good climaxes. I can see that as being one of the biggest draws to these books, the good climax. The Reptile Room wasn't as good as the first one but still a good read. I have picked up the next few from the library and will try to get through the entire series. I like reading these for some insights into Young Adult literature and what kids like to read. They are just fun books.

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

SFWA Grand Master Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008

One of the most famous writers of science fiction, Arthur C. Clarke, has died in Sri Lanka, where he had lived for many years. Cause of death has not been announced, but it is reported that he had suffered breathing problems.

You can read more about Clarke's life and career here.

(above courtesy of the CBG Newsletter)

Clarke has always been a bit influential to me. His quartet of novels in the 2001: A Space Odyssey realm were absolutely fantastic. Some of his short stories really got me thinking.

My dad would always talk about his creating the concepts behind the satellite belt. I can't conceve any science fiction author influencing the world more than that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'm Back

It's official. My teaching contract was renewed by the board last night for the 2008-2009 school year. I will remain a Midland Timberwolf. Hopefully always. I love it there.

It is just such a relief and load off my mind now. I usually get so worried and gun-shy around spring break time, ever since South Kitsap didn't hire me back after a one-year leave replacement contract (and that summer I went to Arizona on the district's dime to grade WASL tests) and after two years at Bremerton when I was subjected to that RIF.
It is so nice to have a job to look forward to next year. 'Twill make for a great summer vacation!!

McCain 2008 Basketball Brackets


Comments from Matt:

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Things in Common

This past weekend, I discovered that Morgan really likes horror movies. She apparently really wants to watch 30 Days of Night. I finally found something that my thirteen-year-old and I can share together.

Friday night, we watched the Hitchcock classic The Birds. I gave her an extra good jump at the point where Mr. Fossett had his eyes pecked out. She was genuinely scared. "I knew it was coming and I was still scared!" she said. She thought the ending was a bit of a letdown but I explained to her how Hitchcock left us at the top of the roller coaster. What else could have happened in the movie? She got it.

Saturday night, we watched a couple of the free On-Demand horror movies on the FEARNET button on our Comcast cable. We watched Fright Night, which I thought would be a good and non-gory introduction to vampires. She said she wasn't scared at all and liked The Birds better. Then we watched Bela Lugosi in The Return of the Vampire. It was from 1944 and thus a little slow. It is definitely a precursor to modern vampire movies, but when you are used to flashy 21st century movies, can these compare? (My answer: yes, they can, but tell that to a 13-year-old.)

I added a few more easy horror flicks into my Netflix queue. Poltergeist, for one. I will share Alien with her too. Now I really have to root through some movies to find age-appropriate ones. Can't throw American Psycho at her. I have some research to do.

But it is very nice to have something for the two of us to do.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Great Lance Mackey

Lance Mackey won the Iditarod this morning.

Win #2 in a row. He pulled into Nome, only an hour or so ahead of Jeff King, at 2:46 am Alaska time.

I missed it this year. We followed it online (I still have my teacher password for Iditarod's website--shhhhhhh!). I will always remember feeling a part of it for 2006 and 2007. I was there.

I've shaken Lance Mackey's hand two years in a row and got to speak with him while obtaining his autographs.

I will still follow Iditarod in the years to come. I will preorder the 2008 Iditarod DVD soon.

Congrats, Lance. I wish I could be there on Saturday at the Nome Convention Center Meet & Greet to shake your hand once more.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Al Gore has opposition.

Weather Channel founder wants to sue Al Gore for fraud in misrepresenting global warming.

Heh heh heh.

Lately ain't all that interesting

I have to stay home today because Madison is running a fever. Amy took her home yesterday at about noon from daycare. She just wasn't herself. She still is running a fever and a cough. She is still energetic though.

Let's see, what exactly have we been up to lately?

I just don't feel the sense of chronicling my adventures lately when we have been so...ordinary. It's kind of appropriate we live in Normal, Illinois, right now.

Two Sundays ago, we went with my mother and my sister's family to see the Field Museum in Chicago. It was the first time Amy or Madison had ever been into the city proper. That was a fun day.

Oh yeah, last Friday we had to run all the way to Indianapolis. Seems we had a bit of trouble with our car. A payment got lost in the mail and they still had us listed as living in Nome, Alaska. They had never updated our information. So they took the car one fine morning. We have it back now, just had to jump through hoops.

I've just been reading a lot lately, nothing little pulp fiction books. Amy has been studying for her Series 7 test next month. Morgan and Madison are growing up into wonderful little girls.

Life is boring, but that's actually a very good thing.