Monthly Archives: June 2009

Random Michael Jackson Flash Vids

What the hey!? Michael Jackson died today (yesterday)! Well that’s kind of a bummer. I mostly spent most of the evening listening to his music (I went to the library and grabbed History) and watching music videos on YouTube.

Also, I just remembered about the random Super Mario Bros. sprite animations that some Japanese person (sikamako) made using graphics from the old Genesis game, Moonwalker! I had only previously linked to one. So I thought that in tribute of MJ, I’d link to all of them. They’re all really weird:

Super Michael Bros.


I think this is the original one. I don’t remember where I got it. Seems sort of normal enough. Just MJ running through a few Mario stages.

Michael Quest


Michael Quest is a little weirder. Basically he comes in and pwns a bunch of video games. Then some red ninjas come in? Then MJ is revived by Luigi? And he turns into the metal thing from Moonwalker. Yeah, this really makes no sense. Just watch it.

Michael Fantasy


It actually gets weirder. There’s a flashback to Michael Quest (of course). Then the princess rides a gigantic Zangief from SFII to destroy the earth. This is foreshadowed before it actually happens, so then a bunch of random video game characters try and stop it. And of course, Michael Jackson saves the day again.

Michael Forever


I believe this is the last one. I think Michael finds some Dragon Balls, revives some characters, then has to stop Princess Peach again, this time riding a giant E. Honda… There’s a lot of Japanese pop cultural references (like Doraemon, Dragon Ball, etc) and I probably don’t understand all of them. Suffice it to say that MJ is still a badass in this one. Crisis averted.

Blockbuster Blu-Ray Quiz

Blockbuster Blu Ray

I understand that Blockbuster must get a lot of complaints from users about Blu-Ray discs not working in their DVD players and whatnot, but that’s no excuse for them to treat me like a complete idiot…

I had to check all three boxes to continue. Jerks.

Blade Runner – Blu Ray Edition Review

Blade Runner

I haven’t ever watched Blade Runner, and since I saw it on Blu-Ray at the library I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to catch up and earn some geek cred. The movie seems to have all the ingredients necessary for sci-fi cult success: Harrison Ford, matte painting backgrounds, robots, Harrison Ford. But something kinda went wrong. Spoiler alert from here on out!

Blade Runner takes place in a future where androids are kind of indistinguishable from normal humans. But they rebelled against us and now we want to kill them all. This makes them want to kill us. Man, things get complicated quickly. People who hunt down androids are called “Blade Runners.” Harrison Ford is a blade runner. There are some androids (actually they’re called replicants) that Harrison Ford needs to kill. This movie has a really simple plot.

Blade Runner is apparently supposed to be really good. The Blu-Ray version has like, five versions of the movie. Either this means that the movie was so good that it was worthy of having five versions, or it sucked so bad that they needed to fix it multiple times! I am thinking the latter.

The issue is that Harrison Ford’s character is supposed to be a badass blade runner who retired to get out of the game. But really, he’s just lousy cop with incredible luck. Blade Runner is like an exercise in how to perform Deus Ex Machina bailouts, one after another.

Example 1: Harrison Ford (his movie name is “Decker” but let’s just call him HF) is trying to trick one of the replicants in her dressing room. She figures out he’s a cop and starts choking him. She obviously has the upper hand. But then some girls walk into the dressing room so she splits and then somehow Harrison catches up to her and guns her down. Very sporting.

Example 2: One of the replicants sees Harrison killing replicant 1. He obviously has an advantage. He sneaks up on Harrison and starts kicking his ass. He’s also about to deliver a final blow and the other “good” replicant saves his life by shooting the bad guy in the head.

Example 3: Harrison lets the replicant catch him by surprise and she jumps on his head, twists it 180 degrees backwards. For some reason she lets him go so she can do some kind of backflip finishing move. She really should’ve just snapped his neck or something. Harrison has a chance to get up and shoots her in mid backflip. This also seems unsportsmanlike.

Example 4: The replicant boss guy kind of plays around with Harrison, breaking his fingers and chasing him around. But eventually gives up since he’s (the replicant) gonna die anyway. Harrison lives to see another day.

So really, Decker just lucked out every single time. It makes sense; how is a human supposed to beat a super-strong replicant? Decker’s only real skill is that he’s incredibly lucky. This sort of puts him in the same league as other HF characters like Han Solo (remember when he chases that stormtrooper into a room with a billion stormtroopers?) or Indiana Jones. But the movie portrays him as some kind of a Dirty Harry or Rambo-esque killing machine. He’s more like Mister Magoo or Maxwell Smart. But somehow I don’t think that connection was intended by the filmmaker.

Besides the whole plot thing, some critics apparently had problems with the pacing. I thought it was okay, except there are long stretches of Decker stuff, then long stretches of replicant team stuff. As if there were two separate plots and movies going on. I mean, it seemed like they showed two days’ worth of Decker action then two days’ worth of the other guys, but they happened around the same time span. So there’s some weirdness in continuity.

The plot also seems to only lightly address the heavy plot points. For example, the moral implications of giving life to these replicants and then limiting their lifespan. That’s in addition to basically making them illegal and then killing them. Instead the movie tends to antagonize them even though they’re really the victims in this story. It turns into a simple cat and mouse hunt rather than anything particularly meaningful.

One thing the filmmaker got right: The future sure has a lot of Asians in it! Japanese, Chinese, etc. I sure am glad we’re represented (though also sort of tokenized) in the future!

I really have no idea why this movie is considered a classic. Maybe I’m being too hard on it. It was, after all, released in ’82, before I was born. But plenty of sci-fi movies made before then stand the test of time. I feel as though Blade Runner is just a bit overrated. Just to give Philip K. Dick a chance, I grabbed “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” from the library. I think it may end up being a more thoughtful exercise.

Recipe: Potato Broccoli Tofu Stir Fry! (PoBroccoFu Delight)

I cook sometimes. It’s pretty fun and my food actually turns out pretty delicious sometimes. Today I made a new dish which I will call “PoBroccoFu Delight.” It’s the second time I used potatoes in a stir fry environment and the first time I successfully did so.

I figured I’d write down the recipe so I can remember what the heck I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized potato
  • 1 pack of broccoli (there were three stalks in it)
  • 1 tofu carton, firm
  • some random onions
  • a little bit of garlic salt
  • some chopped garlic (from a thing of garlic lover’s hummus that was too garlicky)
  • some “flavoring” that my mom gave me
  • some “vegetarian stir-fry” sauce

The first thing I did was cut the tofu into ~1cm thick slices and fry it. While this was happening I also washed the potato and then chopped it into bite-sized pieces. It’s good to parallelize your cooking because it makes the process go much faster. Just don’t forget to start the rice cooking like I did or else you’ll have to wait on it to finish before eating. I didn’t peel the potato because the skin tastes kinda good and it has a nice texture. The reason I wanted to use potato is because I had it previously at No Thai! (which is unfortunately not vegetarian) and I like the potato in stir fry motif.

After the tofu was done frying, I set it aside and threw some more oil and the chopped potatoes in. The oil kinda flew around a lot, which I do not like. It got the kitchen floor all oily and slippery. Anyway, I left the potatoes in there to fry a bit and turned them occasionally. Then I got to work cutting the broccoli into just the head parts (florets?). The potatoes need more time to get cooked, so it’s a good idea to cook them first. I didn’t realize this the last time I used potatoes and got fairly uncooked potatoes in my stir fry. Gross. The time it took to cut the broccoli was just about enough to let the potatoes cook. I also chopped some of the tofu (about half of it; I kept the other slices for maybe fried rice later or a quesadilla) as well.

I put some garlic salt on the potatoes and then remembered that I had a bunch of garlic from a package of Garlic Lover’s Hummus that I spooned out of the hummus. Too much garlic is gross. I had it set aside and I figured I’d just throw it in (garlic is good). Then I threw the broccoli and tofu in. I also added some of the random flavoring seasoning stuff my mom gave me a while back (I always joke that it’s MSG, but I think it’s really some kind of mushroom-based flavoring). I also used the rest of the “Vegetarian Stir Fry Sauce” that I got from the Asian grocery. I just realized this post is really unscientific. Oh well; it still turned out well.

I added some onions (because really, why not?) and then added some sesame oil in addition to the other olive oil that I always use for cooking. I stirred the contents around for a while (hence, stir fry). I was a bit worried it would be too “dry” but it turned out fine. I would’ve probably added some water or more of that stir fry sauce but I ran out. I figured it’d be okay.

The broccoli has a really nice natural flavor when it’s cooked, and the potatoes add a nice texture when they’re fried. They also absorb a lot of flavor. The tofu also absorbs lots of flavor and works as the protein of the dish. I think that’s about it. Despite the fact that I didn’t put a whole lot of effort or thought into the meal, it tasted really good! Hopefully I can make it again and reproduce the results:

PoBroccoFu-Aerial

PoBroccoFu-Closeup

blink – Malcolm Gladwell: Book Report!

blink

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction books lately. A lot has been written about Malcolm Gladwell’s books so I figured I’d grab a bunch from the library. I just finished reading “blink.” I haven’t read The Tipping Point or Outliers just yet. Anyway, I thought I’d write a quick review.

Blink tells the story of our subconscious (Gladwell uses “unconscious” which kinda bugs me) brain’s ability to make split-second decisions. Basically, he argues that we’ve evolved to “thin-slice” certain experiences (recognizing when a fake statue just doesn’t look right or hearing a singer who turns out to be a natural). That ability can be used in other contexts if we could just determine the important variables and block out everything else.

Gladwell is a really good writer; his stories are interesting and they flow well. Unfortunately, the actual substance feels like it lacks the scientific rigor that I’m used to. For example, he has a chapter on the aforementioned thin-slicing – only taking in the important elements of a situation and deciding based on those. Later, he discounts thin-slicing because it leads to us stereotyping entire ethnicities and cultures. He gives an example where music executives hear a singer who they know is a natural hit (and cites Fred Durst as an expert, which makes me throw up in my mouth a little). Unfortunately the executives fail when it turns out that actual listeners don’t like the artist. Another story is about a wargame that the army set up where the advanced system succumbed to paralysis by analysis. It was a really weak example of thin-slicing and had very little to do with the theory he described earlier. I think he just wrote that chapter to fill up the book.

The book is full of inconsistencies and it seems like Gladwell is trying to tie everything into a cohesive theory. The thing is he fails at it pretty horribly. What we end up with is a bunch of nice stories and no overarching theory of anything. They’re just stories. Are they interesting? Yeah, but they contradict each other and end up making the book weaker in its narrative.

As a counter-example, Duncan Watts has a way of writing interesting stories and linking them all together in Six Degress (how appropriate). Also fun to note is that I believe there’s some kind of nerd feud going on between Watts and Gladwell. I tend to believe Duncan Watts because he’s a super badass and has numbers to back up his theories.

I dunno if I’ll read any additional Gladwell books at this point. I’ll probably try some other authors first and go back if I run out of other stuff to read.