Songs That Suck: “The Greatest Love Of All” (Whitney Houston)

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“The Greatest Love Of All” (Whitney Houston)

Okay, I realize that this particular song was written by a cancer victim in the 1970s – for a Mohamed Ali biopic, nonetheless – who succumbed to the disease in 1986, about the time when Ms. Houston’s recording of the song was beginning to become a hit. I start off with this in case anyone who’s reading this somehow makes the incredible leap of logic that my dislike of this song somehow equates with taking pleasure at mocking someone who tragically lost the struggle with one of the worst diseases to ravage mankind. Farthest thing from, I assure you. But, if you must insist on thinking this, I must then point out that you’re an idiot, and should perchance gargle with concrete. There, now that we have that out of the way…

Released in March of 1986, from her self-titled album, “The Greatest Love Of All” is perhaps the best representation of everything I despise about the whole “happy thoughts” attitudes of the 1980s. The song is bile-inspiring saccharine that manages to make me violently ill on every level. An unholy merging of empty philosophical pap with the sappiest Adult Contemporary balladeer-ing ever manufactured, everything about “The Greatest Love Of All” – from the pretentious title to Ms. Houston’s vocals to the lyrics – makes me wish to do evil things to puppies, just to counterbalance this overdose of manufactured feels.

And if that was the secretly intended purpose of the creation of this song, then bravo. Well played.

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Movie Review: SILENT HILL Revelation

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Silent-Hill-Revelation-3D-motion-poster-300x512Universal Pictures

2012

R

 

“Never build on an ancient Indian burial ground! I thought everybody knew that.”

Silent Hill: Revelation was a sequel I was surprised saw the light of day. I knew they were planning one, but I wasn’t exactly clamoring for a follow-up to the 20__ original movie based on the uber-creepy survival horror game. Matter of fact, I wasn’t even aware it was even released until I happened to see the title on the marquee of the second-run theater in Omaha one afternoon. Still, it wasn’t until almost a year later, when it popped up on Netflix Streaming, when I finally watched the sequel that so far has received rather negative reviews, and I had low expectations for to begin with.

I have to admit that Silent Hill: Revelation was a pretty decent horror movie on an atmospheric level – the visuals and effects lent a very palpable Lovecraftian tone to everything, along with the music cues and photography. The story, I guess is based on the third Silent Hill game, but since I’ve only played the first game a long time ago, I couldn’t really tell you how that went. There are some callbacks to the first movie, the more glaring one being the attempt to explain how Sharron made it back from being trapped in the foggy alternate dimension at the end of the first movie. At least we only suffered through one scene with a bad child actor, there. Speaking of the acting, it’s about as what you would expect – wooden, melodramatic and rather boring. Everyone’s either mopey, brooding, or – in the case of the religious wackos that populate Silent Hill – over-the-top melodramatic. There’s a scene early on where Sharron explains to a class full of your typical catty high school classmates that she’s just a loner and emo chick (not in those exact words, mind you), don’t remember my name, typical angsty drama from your typical stereotypical world of modern teenage whatever, that made me groan out loud and shake my head in fear of the acting that was to come.

So, basically Silent Hill: Revelation has some really good effects and atmosphere, hampered with mediocre-at-best acting and a ham-fisted script. In other words, more of the same from the first movie. Good for a rental, glad I didn’t spend the money for the movie theater on this one.

Book Review: DOCTOR WHO – Shada (Gareth Roberts)

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shada book coverGareth Roberts (based on the scripts by Douglas Adams)

Ace Books

2012

The Doctor sagged, gasping for air. He’d given everything he had, and it had not been enough. After all these years, after so many battles facing down Daleks, Cybermen, even the Black Guardian, he was going to die on a Sunday afternoon. With a really stupid hat on.

The Doctor’s old friend and fellow Time Lord, Professor Chronotis, has retired to Cambridge University, where among the other doddering old professors nobody will notice if he lives for centuries. He took with him a few little souvenirs – harmless things really. But among them, carelessly, he took The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey. Even more carelessly, he has loaned this immensely powerful book to clueless graduate student Chris Parsons, who intends to use it to impress girls. The Worshipful and Ancient Law is among the most dangerous artifacts in the universe: it cannot be allowed to fall into the wrong hands. The hands of the sinister Time Lord Skagra are unquestionably the wrongest ones possible. Skagra is a sadist and an egomaniac bent on universal domination. Having mis-guessed the state of fashion on Earth, he also wears terrible platform shoes. He is on his way to Cambridge. He wants the book. And he wants the Doctor…

To many sci-fi geeks, the name Douglas Adams needs no introduction, qualifications, or justification. “Brilliant”, “genius” and various other adjectives have been used to describe the late author, all of which – as I slowly but surely work my way through his books and other media – are well deserved.

One of the afore-mentioned “other media” happens to be his work as writer and editor on another one of my geek obsessions, the television show Doctor Who. “The Pirate Planet” and “City Of Death” serials bear his name in the bi-line, and are considered highlights in the show’s classic run. But there was a third Doctor Who story that got lost in the rather convoluted shuffle that is television broadcast politics: “Shada”.

Without going too detailed in the background history of “Shada” (it is rather fascinating, and I would encourage you to research this further), it’s become something of a legend among Doctor Who fans over the decades. Even the eventual VHS release that had the filmed bits of the serial with bridging narration provided by Tom Baker didn’t satisfy the curious (or please Adams), but for twenty years since then it was the only glimpse at the overall idea Adams had for the story, albeit a rather corrupted one. Sure, many of the plot points and concepts found its way into Adam’s novel Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, but what of Shada?

Well, in 2012 came the publication of Shada, novelized by Gareth Roberts, based on the scripts and notes for the serial. And since this is a review of this novelization, and not in fact a poorly written Wikipedia article, I shall heretofore do my best to treat this blog post as such.

Incidentally, I got my copy of Shada from my usual supplier of my gross literary addiction, namely Half Price Books. Nifty place, that. And I must say, this particular novelization of Shada was quite the fantastic read for yours truly. Gareth Roberts, who is himself a veteran writer of the Doctor Who series in its various media versions, as well as other sci-fi genre ventures, manages to capture the tone and style of Douglas Adams’ writing style, giving the story a much needed shot of whimsical absurdity when compared to the video version. And yes, I have seen the video of Shada, narration by Tom Baker and all. I am a massive fanboy nerd, after all. But, quite frankly, having read the novel, I can say that I do prefer this form over that.

Shada by Gareth Roberts is not just a mere Target Book-like adaptation. It’s a ripping good Doctor Who yarn that had me chuckling more than once throughout the piece. Highly recommended for fans of both Doctor Who and Douglas Adams alike.

 

See You At The Pole

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See_you_at_the_poleSo, this morning is the yearly See You At The Pole event.  The morning when students at various high schools gather voluntarily outside of their schools, around the flagpole, before school officially starts for the day, and takes some time to pray around said flagpole.  An unassuming action, but a powerful stand for Jesus nonetheless.

I never was able to get involved with See You At The Pole while I was in High School.  While I did come out of the closet as a Christian my senior year, the whole SYATP thing wasn’t instituted with the local Bible Study until after I graduated in 1992.  I’ve attended a couple of them, but never in the student capacity.

Two decades of being involved in one form or another with the local teen Bible study here, and it still warms me to see that there are kids willing to take a public stand for their faith.  It’s hard, believe me I remember all too well.  But, my thoughts and prayers go out to them as they gather this morning.  Cheers.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Book Review: DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY (Douglas Adams)

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dirk gently's holistic detective agencyDouglas Adams
Pocket Books
1987

This time there was just the dead earth, a rumble of thunder, and the onset of that interminable light drizzle from the northeast by which so many of the world’s most momentous events seem to be accompanied.

There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it.  But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time-traveller, and the devastating secret of humankind!

To the casual reader of the sci-fi genre, the name of Douglas Adams is understandably tied to the much-loved (and deservedly so) Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy series.  Beyond that, Adams did write other stores and for other media, including television and radio.  One of other series of books – two of ’em, sadly – involve the inspired madness that was the Dirk Gently character.

From what I understand, the primary impetus for the first novel in the two Dirk Gently books – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – came about from two scripts Adams wrote for the television show Doctor Who, and a few incidence that happened to Adams while attending University.  Described by Adams himself as a “thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic” on the cover…yeah, that would be exactly what I would expect to hear the author himself say.  In that dry pithy British way of his.

As far as the book goes, well…let’s see.  We have a (loosest sense of the word, here) “protagonist” that is a wishy-washy, pompous jerk that really can’t be bothered to do much of anything, let alone ply his trade and more or less bumbled into his cases by accident, and won’t pay his secretary.  Then there’s that professor in the University whose apartment is a time machine, where a horse appears in his bathroom out of nowhere, a couch that is impossibly stuck in a hallway, a time traveling antagonist who wishes to prevent life from developing on Earth, and somehow “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” factors in there somehow.

Dirk Gentley’s Holistic Detective Agency is an absurd, spastic, and irreverent novel that took me a bit longer than most to make through, mostly due to the sheer insanity of the prose.  In other words, it’s a book only Douglas Adams could write.  And if his style of (for lack of a better example, I guess) gonozo absurdism is something you fancy, then you shall enjoy this little trick into wackiness.

Insert coding pun here

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linux penguinLater tonight, I’m going to be changing my computer’s desktop to a Linux platform.  Again.  Well, this is the first time I’m going to do so for the Netbook that I’ve been using for the year and a half since my PC gave up the ghost.  I’ve previously had on Ubuntu (an operating system based on Linux), and found it to be a nice fit for me, going beyond just another Windows user.

There’s no real important reason that I’m going about doing this now.  I would have actually put on Ubuntu back when I first got this machine, if not for the fact that I got a bit hooked on the concept of Netflix streaming; and as anyone who uses that service knows, Netflix streaming isn’t compatible with Linux.  But, now that I can safely say that I have that obsession out of my system (it’s not without its quirks, there), I’ve decided I was ready to see if I can stick Ubuntu on here without compromising my wifi capabilities.

So, I spent the last couple of days moving everything on this hard drive to the external hard drive, making notes and such of which websites I will have to rebookmark and what programs I would have to check to see if there’s an OS equivalent of (I do admit, I have grown rather fond of a audio/video converter that I got from one of my fellow Whovians in Lincoln).

So, it’s back to being a novice code nerd.  It’ll be nice to fall back into my little side hobby here.  Cheers.

::END TRANSMISSION::

SONGS THAT SUCK: “Hangin’ Tough” (New Kids On The Block)

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songs that suck heading“Hangin’ Tough” (New Kids On The Block)

There’s no other kind of pop music concept I despise more – or get more amusement with – than the Boy Band. And in my four decades of life here on earth, spanning significant parts of two centuries, I’ve been subjected to a goodly share of them. They’re like herpes – every time they seem to go away, in time another one will flair right up out of nowhere, unprovoked.

Case in point: New Kids On The Block. To all of you Junior High girls that may have accidentally stumbled upon this blog while doing whatever it is your species do (I wouldn’t know), New Kids On The Block was kind of like the One Direction of your Mom’s generation. Assuming your mom was in Junior High in the later part of the 1980s.

Anyway, New Kids On The Block were uber-popular in the later part of the 1980s, into the first couple of years of the 1990s, presumably when their fans collectively realized that they haven’t been “new” or “kids” for quite some time. And sure, I could pretty much pick any one of their numerous chart-topping hits they churned out to make a blog post about, but I happened to pick the title track from their breakthrough sophomore album, “Hangin’ Tough”.

Why? Because there’s nothing that’s equally sad and embarrassingly amusing as a bunch of pretty boy pop balladeers singing about how tough they are. Seriously, watch that embedded video if you haven’t done so already and try not to chuckle. I dare you.

“Hangin’ Tough” is one of those songs that I still can’t bring myself to listen to, even with the buffer of years since they were still relevant. It’s too embarrassing.

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