Category Archives: Humor

Back to Jurassic Park

A few weeks ago, one of my buddies had mentioned that he’d read Jurassic Park for the first time recently, and he was surprised at the number of differences between the book and the movie. I haven’t read the book since 1993 (around the time the movie came out), so it was a bit fuzzy. At this point I’ve seen the movie quite a few times, so it has kind of become “canon” in my memory. 

Last week, I was going through a slow purge of my existing books and stumbled across my paperback copies of both Jurassic Park and the Lost World. Inspired by my discussion with my friend, I decided to re-read both books. 

Here are some of the differences that I thought were interesting and/or was disappointed they left out of the movie. 

(Needless to say – uh, spoilers – for both the book and the movie. C’mon people you’ve had at least 20+ years to see the movie and/or read the book) 

1. The movie flips the ages and a couple of the personality traits of the kids. Lex is the older and the computer nerd, and Tim is the younger one and the dinosaur expert. In the book, Tim is still the dinosaur expert, but he’s the computer nerd and the oldest. Lex is the youngest and really doesn’t do much in the book (outside of petting and naming the dinosaurs they encounter. I prefer the movie switch, since it gives both kids something to do (Although I still cringe every time I hear “It’s a Unix system.” from that scene in the movie). The book also mentions the kids’ parents are divorcing, but it’s left out of the movie.

2. My favorite – and I chuckled at this as I read it – was that Alan Grant “loves kids” in the book. I didn’t mind that they made him uncomfortable around kids in the movie because it gave his character a chance to grow through the film, but it was a funny thing to read that line in the book.

3. The T-Rex is a much bigger antagonist in the book. All of the content about Grant and the kids taking a raft into the lagoon / river in the book are not in the movie. I’d completely forgotten about this, so I was disappointed (again) that they weren’t in the film. A couple of them – the scene where they learn the T-Rex can swim, and the waterfall scene where the raft is about to go over the falls to where the T-Rex is waiting below – would have been amazing on film.

4. I was happily surprised that a lot of the great lines from the movie came directly from the book.

5. The aviary and the opening scenes are left out of the book, but they are used in the other films. The opening scene of Jurassic Park becomes the opening scene for the Lost World movie. The aviary shows up in Jurassic Park III (you know, the one where you root for the dinosaurs to eat Tea Leoni’s character)

6. The main subplot of the book that’s completely left out of the movie is the concern about the dinosaurs getting off (and possibly already have gotten off) the island. It’s another point about “life finds a way” that the movie picks up when they discover that the dinosaurs are breeding, but the other, much greater concern, of dinosaurs getting off the island is left out. In fact, while the book describes the island being bombed to eradicate all life, the movie leaves the island intact, In fact, the end of the movies shows pterodactyls flying along side the helicopter as the survivors leave the island, and nobody is the least bit concerned. 

7. Speaking of survivors, the book makes it pretty clear that both Hammond and Malcolm die on the island. Both survive in the movie. The Lost World book has to quickly explain how Malcolm is now alive since he’s the main character in the story (turns out he was only “mostly” dead). 

Both the movie and the book are excellent, and it’d be worth your time to go and enjoy both again. Read the book first, then re-watch the movie.

For me, I’m moving on to reading the Lost World. 

Han Shot First (aka The Madness of King George)

Last week, there was a great disturbance in the geek world. Millions of voices suddenly cried out in anguish, and were silenced.

George Lucas had done it again.

Continuing his revisionist history of his own films, Lucas announced last week that he had always intended that Greedo shot first in that pivotal scene between Han Solo and the bounty hunter in the original Star Wars.

Star Wars fans everywhere, of course, went ballistic. I saw a number of stories that came out over the next couple of days showing “proof” that no, no, Lucas was wrong. Han shot first.

Honestly, though, this has been brewing since the “Special Edition” came out in the late 90s. It’s even spawned a couple of “Han Shot First” t-shirts.

Most Star Wars fans have seen the clips. The original version of the movie clearly shows Han shooting first. Lucas, not happy with this, tried to tweak it in the “Special Edition” of Star Wars in the 90s. The updated version shows Greedo shooting first, with a badly edited image of Solo jerking his head to the side, then returning fire.

But in the end, why does it matter?

Yes, it takes away some of the initial “unscrupulous” tones that defines Han Solo in those first scenes. Those of us who have seen and/or own the original movies can enjoy the movie the way we remember it. At least, we can enjoy it until Lucas seeks and destroys every last copy of the original movie.

But, in the end, Han Solo is still a smuggler, and he’s still a mercenary. Even with the scene altered in the Special Editions, the story of Han Solo over the course of the three movies is unchanged. He’s still a scoundrel in the beginning. He’s still a hero in the end. He still gets the girl in the end.

Give the man credit. The original Star Wars movies created a universe that captured and continues to capture the imagination of millions over the last 30 plus years. The universe spawned six movies, numerous video games (including the current big MMORPG – The Old Republic), a cartoon series, and dozens of books.

I have no idea why Lucas continues to tweak the original movies and is now content to sit back and lash out at his fans over the universe that he created.  It sucks that he seems to feel the need to change what’s already been done. It makes me think of Michelangelo taking a look at his statue of David and deciding the statue “really need some pants.”

As we all have seen, the second trilogy of movies were simply not the same. Lucas had full control over these movies, and there was simply no one there to provide any opposing viewpoints to any aspect of the story.

I could go into detail, but I think there’s a set of videos that cover it very well.

You have to get over the serial killer “it puts the lotion in the basket” voice of the narrator, but the epic Phantom Menace review along with his equally long reviews of the sequels by RedLetterMedia are worth watching. He picks apart the movies in great detail.

Red Letter Media – The Phantom Menace Review – Part 1

Warning: There are seven parts to this review, roughly 70 minutes total.

Even better, if Lucas tampering with Star Was wasn’t bad enough, Red Letter Media has an equally great review about the last Indiana Jones film.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Review

Even if you have to sit down and watch these videos one part at a time, they’re great to watch. If you’ve ever wanted to learn something about writing a story, these videos go into great detail about what’s wrong with the story in all of these movies.

The best news about Lucas that Star Wars fans can find solace in is that he’s talking about retiring from making movies altogether. Since fans continue to bash the last three movies (Episodes 1-3), he’s not going to bother to make the last trilogy (Episodes 7-9).

I think most Star Wars fans can live with that.

 

Happy 30th MTV!!!

Now that’s a scary thought…

MTV is older than the last girl I dated… :  )

It’s hard to imagine the 80s without Music Television – you know, back in the days when the station played music videos.

We had heard about MTV, but growing up in West Texas meant we were at least a year or so late to the game. We had to beg our parents to add the channel to our cable subscription (and probably had to beg our parents to even get cable).

But, once we had it, especially during the summer, when we were home and anywhere in the proximity of the living room television, MTV was on. That was assuming, of course, Dad wasn’t watching anything else.

Instead fo just heairng the bands, we could see them. Before long, everyone was trying to do something different with their videos. Some would just be weird, some were artistic. Others would wisk us off to exotic locals or simply push the limits of sexuality on television. A few would push the limits of technology (remember Money For Nothing?)

I was trying to think of a list of things that were so cool about MTV:

1) The videos, obviously. How many 80s bands kicked off their careers or were propelled to superstardom through MTV? Duran Duran, Madonna, U2, Howard Jones, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Dire Straits, The Fixx, Billy Idol, Men at Work, etc etc. How big would Michael Jackson be without his videos on MTV?

2) The original VJs. They all had distinct personalities, and every guy had a crush on Martha Quinn.

3) The crazy contests where if you were lucky you might appear in a video or have your favorite band play at your house.

4) World premiere videos. Depending on the artist, you had to be there to catch the “premiere” of the latest and greatest video. Of course, if you missed it, chances were pretty good you could catch it again in a couple of hours. How many people remember catching the 20 minute premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”?

5) The impact of adding pop/rock songs to movie soundtracks. I think “Footloose” had a major impact on this as well, but think about how many 80s movies had a pop/rock soundrack (and of course, related music videos) to go with it? Imagine “Top Gun” without the corresponding “Highway to the Dangerzone,” or “Ghostbusters” without its themesong. Hell, imagine any John Hughes movie without the soundrack. How many proms in the 80s just had to play “If You Leave” by OMD? Would Prince have made “Purple Rain”? Would Madonna be an actress?

(ok, forget about that last one)

It wasn’t all good – after all, MTV helped advocate the concept that “image is everything” where the music/talent eventually didn’t matter as much so long as the video worked (see – Brittney Spears)

Plus, MTV somewhat pioneered “reallity television” that now dominates most of the channels today.

Of course, these days, with the internet and access to video software, it’s easy for just about anyone, not just the bands, to come up with their own interpretations of videos for their favorite songs. It’s not MTV, it’s YouTube.

One of the other cool things is that XM satellite radio has brought the original MTV VJ’s back, and they can be heard on the 80s channel (and a couple of others).

So, MTV may not be what it used to be, but there are still ways to get a taste of MTV back in the “good ol’ days”

“I want my, I want my, I want my M… T… V…”

The Curse of NaNoWriMo

Yes, it’s already November, again. And, you know what that means…

NaNoWriMo is upon us again.

Every year, I think about starting a novel, and most of the time, I give up before I ever get started. Most of it has to do with the fact that I have a whole hodgepodge of ideas scattered around notebooks, note-collecting apps, post-it-notes, etc, that I can never get myself focused to just one story.

This year, I’m even less prepared than ever, but I’m focused on a single idea. I would prefer to be more prepared, but this year, I’m taking the chance regardless.

The timing has just been bad for me. I had the idea, but I have been working a lot over the last month or so. I’ve never had the time to let the idea gel properly (at least, for me).

And that’s the biggest danger for me. Without a focused outline or some structure, it’s easy for my mind to stray off to other more fantastical ideas.

Now that I’m trying, I can easily find other distractions, ilke this blog, to keep me away from my task.

Fortunately, I’m taking a lot of vacation time on the last half of the month, so I am hoping to catch up then.

Progress so far?

Eight days in: only 1300 words

But, I also have some back story going and a better idea of who my main characters are and how they relate.

Still a long ways to go…

Too Fat to Fly (Southwest)

In one of the crazier things that have happened this week, Kevin Smith was kicked off a Southwest flight last weekend because he was determined to be a “person of size.” He stated that he complied with their guidelines, and was still asked to leave the plane.

Here’s his take Smodcast Final Words, and it’s definitely worth watching. You may also want to listen to SMODCast 107, where Mr. Smith talks to Natali, a young woman who was on his return flight that had an incident with Southwest over this policy.

If you look on Southwest’s website, buried under the customer service section is a single link that describes their person of size policy.

According to their Customer of Size FAQ, it’s not “just about weight.” Of course, I’m not sure if this document has been recently updated after everything that went on with Mr. Smith this week, but it seems like it’s a recent update since it goes to great lengths to cover their policy.

The problem, though, is that the policy says that the definitive guide is whether or not the person can fit between the armrests of the seat. Mr. Smith states that he had no trouble putting down the armrests, and that in spite of that, he was asked to deplane.

Neither the policy NOR the FAQ state anything that outside of the “definitive guide” that any Southwest employee can make a judgement call on who is a “customer of size.”

Continue Reading →

McCain Wants a “Do Over”

Today, John McCain announced that he was suspending his campaign temporarily so he could return to Washington to help deal with the financial crisis. He wanted to postpone Friday’s debate and pull all ads and asked Obama to do the same.

Part of that suspension included putting off a scheduled appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman makes fun of the situation, but he really makes some good points.

Letterman Rips McCain for Taking a Time Out

Sure, he could participate in the discussions in Washington, but he could also still continue the campaign as well. Would it be that hard to have his people keep him briefed on what’s going on, and then go to Washington only when it’s time to vote on the program?

Can he not do two things at once? Why isn’t he, as Letterman suggested, sending in his second string quarterback to campaign in his absence?

After all, if Palin is a pit-bull with lipstick and, as the McCain campaign continually assures us, is ready to step into the Presidency at a moment’s notice, surely she can handle campaigning on her own for a couple of days.

Or can she?

McCain also wants to postpone the VP debates as well. And that’s after getting Obama to agree to a very specific set of rules and regulations around the VP debates.

Why quit now? The man whose painting himself as a war hero and a maverick shouldn’t even be flinching at having to run a campaign and do what he can to help out when the country is in need.

They need time out to figure out how to turn this mess to their advantage. Sure this hit at a bad time, but McCain hasn’t helped his situation any better.

First, he said the economy was “fundamentally sound.” Then, McCain reverses himself and makes a speech blaming the Wall Street “fat cats.” The press reminds him that oh, by the way, those “fat cats” are major contributors to your campaign.

He gives another interview defending Rick Davis, his campaign manager, stating that his firm’s ties to Freddie Mac were suspended at the end of 2005, and he boldly states that he’d be glad to have someone look at the records to back up that statement.

The press though, did their own digging and learned that yes, the initial deal did end with Freddie Mac in 2005. But, they also learned that Davis himself went back to Freddie Mac and negotiated a new arrangement that paid his firm until last month when the government bailed Freddie Mac out.

Oops.

The crisis has dumped Bush’s ratings down to 19%, which isn’t helping the Republican cause, regardless of how much they try to distance themselves from him. Obama’s numbers are jumping in key states already.

So, yeah, someone thought it was a brilliant idea for McCain to put everything on hold, go to Washington and use it to show people that he cares about the situation.

The problem, though, is that most people, like Letterman, aren’t buying it. Instead of looking like a great idea, McCain is going to get in the middle of things and turn it in to more of a circus than it already is. He’ll be a distraction instead of a help, and he’ll be more than happy to take credit for doing absolutely nothing.

In addition, he’s showing us that he can’t handle more than one major situation at a time. Well, let’s see: we have a presidential election, an economic crisis, a foreign policy nightmare, and oh yeah, we’re fighting two wars, and terrorism hasn’t gone away.

So, if things get bad as president, is he going to ask Al Qaeda for a time-out too?

And what about Palin? Well, since they’re still keeping her under wraps, the Republicans are showing us they’re petty sure she’s not ready for anything that doesn’t involve a well-rehearsed script.

What next? After this crisis is resolved, is McCain going to want a “do over” and just roll things back to right after the Republican convention?

Tempted by the Fruit of Another (iPhone)

Yeah, I’ll admit it. I was going to buy an iPhone 3G today.

I was going to buy one at first. But, then, when it turned out AT&T decided to up the rates to compensate for the cheaper phone, I had second thoughts. Plus, what I really wanted was a phone with 32GB of storage like the largest iPod Touch.

So, I’ve gone back and forth for a few weeks now about whether or not to buy one. I was leaning towards not getting one, and had just about decided not to after spending yesterday playing with the 2.0 software and downloading/buying my first iPhone apps.

But, then, this morning, I thought, “what the hell.” I can offset the new AT&T rates with my corporate discount. If the lines aren’t too bad, maybe I’ll stop by and pick one up.

How bad could the lines be, after all? Many of the naysayers have been saying the new iPHone won’t sell. Don’t buy one. It’s missing the same lame features that only a few pundits are desperate to have (which they bitched about last year). Everyone that wanted an iPhone in the US already has one. No one will upgrade. It’s still to expensive. And so on…

So, I thought, I’ll drive by the local AT&T store and see how bad the line is. If it’s not too bad, maybe I’ll stop and pick one up.

Heh…

There were at least 50-100 people standing outside the local AT&T store in McKinney at just after 8 am. On the way to downtown Dallas, I could see at least 100 folks outside another AT&T store in Allen.

So, okay, maybe some people wanted the phone after all. But, Apple & AT&T have their act together, so it should be smooth sailing for everyone to buy a phone. Maybe I’ll just swing by an Apple store on the way home from work and pick one up then.

Right?

During the day at work, I saw the initial reports of people having major problems with getting their phones activated. In fact, if you were unlucky enough to try to update your original iPhone to 2.0, you were now equally screwed. The Apple/AT&T system that iTunes used to activate phones couldn’t handle the load.

But, by mid-afternoon, things were looking up. One of my co-workers who bricked his phone before lunch was back in business, and another who spent the morning in line was able to activate hers. So, I thought, I’ll hit an Apple store on the way home and pick one up.

I walk into Willow Bend and saw people walking out the door with their new iPhones, and didn’t think anything of it. Once I got closer, I was not surprised to see a line in front of the Apple store. But, the line didn’t stop there. It wound around the elevator/stairwell couch area like it did last year. So, now there are several hundred people in line just like last years launch. The problem was, this line wasn’t moving.

So, I thought, let’s see how long the line takes to move…

Thirty minutes later, I had moved less than ten feet from where I started. An Apple store guy finally made an appearance, so I asked him how long the wait was. He said to order some pizza and get comfortable. I pressed him, and his best guess was that it would take at least two hours to get into the store from my place in line.

Thanks, but no thanks, I said. I stood in the lines last year, and although it might be nice to have the 3G and the GPS goodness of the new phone, I was not about to spend the night standing in line for it.

So, now I’m home a little disappointed that I came home empty handed without a nice shiny new toy to play with.

I don’t really “need” the phone. My iPhone has all of the 2.0 goodness of the new one. The GPS and 3G are “nice to haves,” I told myself. And, there are a lot of other things I would probably be better off using the money on instead of another new gadget.

Does that mean I won’t be in line first thing tomorrow? Maybe…

One MMORPG To Rule Them All…

Yes, for those of you who didn’t know it, I play World of Warcraft from time to time.

MMOGchart.com from time to time attempts to chart the number of subscribers for the various MMORPG’s (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) out there. It’s kinda cool to check out.

Here’s the one with WoW on it: MMOChart

Why Cats Are Better Than Dogs…

Apparently, a new study has shown that cat owners are less likely have heart attacks.

Cats Help Prevent Heart Attacks

This probably isn’t helpful for the Garfield minus Garfield guy.

What If? There was no Garfield?

So, what happens if you take a bunch of Garfield strips and, well, take out Garfield?

That’s exactly what happens here.

A World without Garfield

They are interesting to look at, if not a bit… odd.

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