Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Wednesday, August 13, 2003
BloggerConned 2003

Honey, is this the blogger conference you asked me if I wanted to attend?

Make that no, again.

(Link seen on Fark.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Okay, I Get It

Last Man Standing = A Fistful of Dollars.

You see what cinematic sophistication I can achieve when left to my own devices, when "my own devices" means a Playstation 2 DVD player and a phone to call Pizza Hut?

Battle of the Voices: Tara Reid Versus Joey Lauren Adams

This month's Barron's asserts that the cover girl mutual fund Tara Reid has a sexy voice. I performed a bit of due dilligence so that I could properly compare her voice to another luminary of the field: Joey Lauren Adams.

Both have a whisper quality to them, which conveys an immediate intimacy. You have to pay attention (of course, it helps that both Tara and Joey rate highly on the *.that scale) to their words.

However, in head-to-head (or larynx-to-larynx) competition, Joey's voice is a little smokier, a little huskier, a little more babada-babada-boom (sorry to borrow your expression, Mrs. Griswold, but understand you are not up for consideration tonight). Advantage: Joey Lauren Adams!

Thankfully, though, both women have chosen to use their powers for good (acting) and not evil (telemarketing). If they had chosen the dark path, undoubtedly they could have wreaked havoc. Undoubtedly, men's households would have more Time-Life Books and the back windows of their vehicles would have more law enforcement association stickers on them.

Thought for the Day

"The future [is] dead; long live the aimless present."

If you're not reading Lileks every day, you should. Bird is the werd.

Can't Wait for the Holidays?

Get your LotR fix with the hand puppet show.

Charity Begins At, er, Home

Beer for the Homeless. Can't you help?

Monday, August 11, 2003
Movie Review: Donnie Darko

Based on recommendations from "Burning Eye" Cullina and Robert Prather, I borrowed Donnie Darko on DVD from Adam's House of Grilling and DVDs last weekend. I watched it tonight as part of the "Heather's Not Here Watch DVDs Until I Collapse Feature."

Well, I was very disappointed. I thought there'd be some barking and crawling around by a sexy chick, but then I realized this movie starred the wrong Gyllenhaal. Hey, cut me some slack, if you didn't know there was more than one, how many Gyllenhaals would you expect to find in show business? Granted, Maggie had a small role in this film, but it would have been so bad to..... well, never mind.

So I popped in the DVD and was treated to what amounted to 113 minutes of Gothic John Hughes meets American Beauty.

Actually, you want to know the movie to which I want to compare it most easily? Pump Up The Volume for the sheer quantity of red wine drunk by the authority figures when lounging at home. Do a double feature of the two and you'll agree.

Perhaps I am reflecting upon the movie too quickly after viewing it. Maybe this is, in fact, one of those movies that you need to think about and discuss. However, I have quite a bit of faith in my perceptions of storytelling (of which moviemaking is a subset), and when confronted with a movie that makes me think too much, I just assume the artiste with the bullhorn on the set was incompetent. Sorry, such is the case here.

I am being gracious and avoiding spoilers, friends, because I realize that you might enjoy the film otherwise (you simpleton). Still, the matter's open for debate over a couple of yummy Guinness Draughts, Adam or Robert, should you choose.

I Did It! Almost a Movie Review of The Long Goodbye

Well, friends, I am pleased to have made it through the entirety of The Long Goodbye, a Robert Ctrl-Alt-Deleteman travesty based on a novel by Saint Raymond Chandler. And by made it through, I admit it's not the first time I tried.

You see, here at Honormoor, tradition holds that when Heather leaves town, Brian J:
  1. Laments the home without the beautiful wife.
  2. Counts the hours until her return, and decides to soldier on.
  3. Pours a yummy Guinness Draught.
  4. Rearranges the den so that the recliner takes its deserved prominence before the television.
  5. Procures a folding table to hold the remote, the aforementioned yummy Guinness Draught, and the reading material (Barron's, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, and so on).
  6. Inserts The Long Goodbyeinto the PlayStation 2 DVD player.
  7. Tries to struggle through the lingering close-ups and extraneous emoting Altman demands.
This time, though, I made it through. Last time Heather was AFT (Away From Town), I only made it to the conversation between Wade and his wife describing the impotence of the writer with the innovative use of the reflection of Marlowe on the beach. When I passed that mark this time, though, I startled a cat with a loud "Huzzah!"

So what's good about the film?
  • Elliot Gould as Philip Marlowe. Of course, Gould's done a lot of the audiobook versions of Chandler's novels, so I am used to his narration.
  • Speaking of which, Marlowe does a lot of talking-to-himself asides (when wandering out of earshot of other characters), and these asides are properly in the voice I would expect from the Chandler detective.
  • As a viewer from 30 years in the future, I was interested in the contemporary settings into which Altman placed the (then) 30-year-old Marlowe. The depiction of L.A. in 1973 was interesting in itself.
What's bad?
  • Running a Chandler plot through an Altman prism? Double plus ungood.
  • Lingering about six beats too many on plot points or conversations that do not advance the script.
  • Marlowe never finds out about his cat.
  • The ending, in which Marlowe....well, it would never fly today as it flew then. Not in a blockbuster which appealed to the unwashed masses for whom Chandler was actually writing. It was too abrupt, as though Altman knew he'd expended two hours on irrelevant closeups and repeated renditions of the title song and had to cut something like "plot."
So if you're a Chandler fan, I'd recommend viewing it. It's not The Big Sleep or The Big Sleep, but Gould might make a better Marlowe than Bogart or Mitchum. Until The Blue Dahlia comes out on DVD, we Chandlerites have to choose our battles among those who would dare interpret his work on screen.

Tips for the First Date

MSN's running a list of five tips for an effective first date. It looks like a pretty good list, undoubtedly compiled by a trained therapist or whatnot (all right, I did not Google "Jim Sulski" to find out, dear reader; I leave the in-depth show prep to Rush Limbaugh).

Instead, dear reader, I offer my tips for a first date. I think I am qualified, since my last first date worked out okay. So here's the StLBrianJ tips:
  • When meeting your Internet pen pal for the first time in person, select a neutral, out of the way spot to meet.
    We met at a commuter lot off of Interstate 70. Somewhere out of sight will comfort your date, ensuring her that no one will see you and her together in case you're a dweeb.

  • Be patient while waiting for your date.
    When you're anticipating a single woman with auburn hair in a white Ford Tempo, do not peel out of your parking spot in reverse when a white sedan bearing a woman with auburn hair and THREE CHILDREN parks in the spot RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Instead, gallantly remain patient and think of all the ways you can end the date very early. That way, if it turns out that this family were really meeting some guy in a monster SUV, you have not sacrificed your chance to snare a hot conservative chick on a bicycle.

  • Dress appropriately.
    Remember, a black fedora is the way to say "creepy," and the added touch of a 1-inch stump of a ponytail says "but dorky."

  • Listen to what she has to say.
    By "Listen to what she has to say," I mean don't say a freaking word. She'll think you're interested in her, and you don't volunteer that you're a geek who thinks a good Saturday night involves sitting around playing Ataris, drinking beer, and passing around laddie magazines.

  • Show no emotion.
    Don't smile at all. Lead her to wonder why you're so mysterious, even though you're just really afraid you're going to blow it.

  • She doesn't drink coffee or like cigarette smoke? Take her to the Grind!
    Nothing shows your sophistication like a European-style coffeehouse where all the au pairs have nicotine breath and the coffee is expensive.

In other words, I had no idea what I was doing or why it went so swimmingly.

Raging Packs of Chihuahuas

The Chicago Tribune's John Kass has uncovered the story of a raging pack of Chihuahuas, over 150 strong, on the rampage in California.

Who's laughing about this horrible force of nature? Probably everyone not in California.

Memo to Chicago Tribune:

The venerable Chicago Tribune has a story about the dangers of Aspartme.

Of course, aside from the headlines and assertions, the story does indicate:
    But does it really cause headaches or, worse, seizures, lupus and multiple sclerosis?

    Most experts and studies say no.
Anyone who's been to Snopes knows that "Warnings about drinking too much diet soda have circulated on the Internet for years" but that the warnings are bogus.

So it's good to see the Chicago Tribune wasting column inches dignifying these assertions by exploring them (next week's e-mail undoubtedly will say As scene in the Chcago Tribune!!!).

I am looking forward to upcoming hard-hitting Tribune investigative exposés (what you don't know might hurt you):
  • The health benefits of blooding.
  • World is round, Earth not center of universe.
  • Disco rocks the house.
  • No aether in space.
  • They don't actually live, it was just a movie, learn and obey, citizen.

Compulsion...taking over....Cannot...stop...myself....

As part of the "engagement" curriculum in my Honors English I class in high school, the teacher roped us into a discussion of the short story "The Scarlet Ibis". However, instead of extensive discussions of the white patriarchal hegemony's oppression of the differently-abled which a true "college prep" curriculum would have enjoyed, we got to do a mock trial that prosecuted the narrator of the story in Doodle's death.

I got to play the defendant, which sucked because my public-defender quality lawyer didn't object enough. The prosecutor kept pulling out information from within the story that only the defendant would know. As a seasoned veteran of many Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, I knew how to expose "player knowledge" from "character knowledge" in other players while masking my own exploitation of this systemic flaw. So, to make a short story long, the defendant was convicted.

So what's my point? ( That although the Internet has made cheating easier, as early as seventeen years ago, public schools were formally teaching

Play Jurism


Sunday, August 10, 2003
Atari Partiers Gone Wild!

Ever wondered what goes on at an Atari Party? Here are the blackmail photos I will be using for my extra income this year.

Experiment Success: The Magazine Rack at APIV

It has been postulated, or it will be in the next clause of this sentence, that geeks who gather (GwG) to celebrate arcane electronic amusement systems also share certain aesthetic preferences and interests. As most (but not all) of the GwG share the male gender, it has been postulated that certain seemingly-stereotypical male-centric P&I might be anticipated. That is, that the GwG would prefer, in information sources, those sources which offered:
  • Information regarding mating rituals from the male point of view, including technique modification and standardized communication approaches to use during social events.

  • Aesthetically-pleasing but not norm-challenging visual depictions of anatomy one might uncover during a mating ritual.

  • Deliberative investigations into the technological or plumage accoutrements to enhance one's social standing and mating potential as well as increase revenue streams for the information sources' advertisers.

  • Dietary instructions and recommendations for brewed wheat products.
To prove this hypothesis, an experiment was devised wherein a GwG collection would be exposed to a number of information sources; individual members of the GwG herd could then select and inspect information sources. This collection was meticulously contrived to include a broad selection of information sources and to expose them adequately so that the GwG group members could conceivably select from among them.

The magazine rack used within the experiment looked like this:

The Magazine Rack Used in the Experiment

The visible magazines include:
  • FHM, the experimental information source whose properties are outlined above.

  • Barron's, a control information source. This information source contains information that a more mature and slightly older member of the GwG class might find interesting if his or her interests lie in increasing material holdings to provide for the product of successful, or inadequately protected, mating rituals.

  • Spin, a control information source that explores the aesthetics of contemporary aural art forms which some people call "music."

  • Skeptic, a control information source that investigates and often debunks paranormal phenomena and junk science.

  • Java Developer's Journal, a control information source that contains standard geek fare that feeds the 733t skillz that comprise the elaborate dance geeks do at the workplace to show dominance over coworkers.

  • Harper's, a control information source that higher social order GwG, and other humans in general, or those who aspire to higher social position as alphas in the herd utilize to determine what alphas should think about the nuanced social structure of humanity, those poor bastards.

This magazine rack was presented to the subjects as part of a domestic environment, albeit a GwG-friendly domestic environment that contained three television/Atari 2600 sets as distractive stimuli. The magazine rack was carefully designed to be unobtrusive, but arrayed as noted above with several titles visible. Thus, although the subjects were not informed of the nature of the study, it was assumed by the research staff that the subjects would observe the magazine rack and would select information sources suited to the subjects' natures.

The results of the experiment are as follows: as expected, during the course of the time period allotted for the experiment, a subject discovered the FHM information source and perused its contents and commented to other subjects. At this time, some the subjects passed the information source amongst themselves and reviewed it. In one exit interview, a subject claimed "the magazine was a hit!"

This experiment would seem to prove the hypothesis that GwG P&I, in a social environment, tend to information sources characterized popularly as "laddie magazines."

This experiment has not delved into actual cause of the P&I, nor has this experiment explored what might be termed the "irony" construct, which might indicate that the most vocal of the GwG members who perused the magazine might have actually performed an "ironic" social ritual of displaying mockery or good-humored contempt of the information source to establish social rank within the GwG sample. Further, it is unclear to what extent the subjects would have sought out the magazine, or what portion of the magazine could have been obscured from view with the same result of the subject accessing the information source.

Further research will be required, including other experiments, to uncover the answers to these questions. In the future, the following experiments might be conducted:
  • Presenting the experiment information source in other incongruous locations, such as medical offices, church lobbies, and EEOC cubicles.

  • Obscuring the cover of the experiment information source more completely, to determine whether the title of the information source and its reputation yield the expected behavior, or if the aesthetically-pleasing but not norm-challenging visual depictions of anatomy drive the behavior.

Additionally, comprehensive study of information sources of this class is warranted, including comparisons of British versions to their American counterparts and, if possible, personal interviews with the owners of the anesthetically-pleasing anatomies.

A grant from the National Institute of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, or Center for Disease Control would help in any case. Please make that check out to StLBrianJ Laboratories, care of this Web site.

Method Call

christmasList.add (videoGameSystemDevelopmentKit);

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To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."