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Archive for June, 2006

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Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

At this point, everybody basically knows what this movie is about, how it came from a best-selling novel, and all of the associated controversy, etc. So I’ll just get right to the point: I liked it. A lot.

Which is not to say I disagree with the vast majority of reviews out there – it’s very detailed, very hard to follow, and very slow moving at times. I just don’t see why this makes it a bad movie. In fact, having read the book, these are the very things about the book I enjoyed most. So the fact that the same traits exist in the movie doesn’t put me off, it meets my expectations.

At the end of the day, this is not a summer/popcorn movie. It’s a murder mystery wrapped in an Indiana Jones film, served on a bed of James Bond. It makes you think. If you’re the kind of person who has to go back in the book and re-read chapters to understand the backstory, the movie might be frustrating for you. If that’s the case, I suggest seeing it twice (Note to Ron Howard: please send the check to my home address), or renting the DVD when it comes out so you can pause and rewind to your heart’s content.

Ironically, the movie does a very clever job of bypassing some of the most tedious scenes in the book. [Don't worry, I'll avoid spoilers here, I promise.] The one that jumps out in my mind is a long scene in the book where the main characters go to a public library to research one of the story’s many riddles, running various queries through the library’s super-computer to eventually discover the answer. In the movie, they borrow a cell phone from a stranger, and use the phone’s web browser to find the answer on the first try.

The other thing about the movie that surprised me was the degree to which the main character, Dr. Randall Langdon (Tom Hanks) disputes the theories that have caused all the controversy in the real-life press. Other characters (most notably Ian McKellan’s Lee Teabing) advance the theories of Mary Magdalene as the wife of Jesus, etc., and Langdon rushes to point out that all of this is unproven theory. Teabing eventually wins the argument, of course, but Langdon is always in the background, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Even when educating the overwhelmed and naive Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), Langdon couches his explanations in phrases like “Some people claim…” and “The story goes that…” At one point, Neveu asks Langdon, “Do you really believe all of this?” and Langdon responds, “We’ve been sucked into a world where people do believe it . . . enough to resort to murder.” Some of this exists in the book, but it seemed much more prominent on screen. I would call it a nod of respect to the Catholic Church by director Ron Howard, but the Church has been so vocal about the movie before seeing it that I can’t imagine they’d acknowledge it at this point.

If I had to offer any criticism of the movie, it would be the lack of chemistry between the two main characters. These folks go through hell and back together (no pun intended), so one would naturally expect them to grow close to each other, worry for each other’s safety, rejoice in escaping a close call, etc. In the book, there’s even an undercurrent of sexual tension, with Langdon noting his attraction but putting it on hold while the actions swirls around him. In the movie, the two seem to be all business, all the time. At the very end, when the excitement is over, there’s a touching scene, but it comes across as the blossoming of a romantic interest, rather than the satisfying opportunity for the couple to stop, take a breath, and acknowledge their feelings for each other. After reading the book, I assumed the two would begin dating the very next day. After seeing the movie, I think he might wait a few months and then decide to ask her out for a casual cup of coffee. Opportunity lost, if you ask me.

To sum up: if you liked the book, I think you’ll like the movie. If you haven’t read the book, I think you’ll like the movie even more (my wife loved it), but only if you’re willing to put your thinking cap on and pay close attention.

Also, I heard that if you re-arrange the words in the closing credits, they form a quote from the New Testament.

(Just kidding).

Categories: ISBS Reviews, Movie Talk | No Comments »

Smacking Around Your Mac…

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

There have been lots of stories floating around the web about that guy that made his Macbook change desktops by smacking it on its side. CNET just published video instructions on how to do it, including links to all the relevant sites.

Question 1: How long you think until Apple puts out the press release asking people to stop this, because their support lines are being overrun with people who’s hard drives have crashed from excessive smacking around?

Question 2: How long until Apple puts out laptops that switch desktops this way as part of the OS, using a separate sensor, rather than relying on the hard drive protection sensor that folks are using now?

Question 3: How long until people start making the Mac do other things when you smack it (like play a sound file telling you to cut it out)?

Categories: Tech Talk | 5 Comments »

My First (and Likely Only) Hanson Update

Saturday, June 3rd, 2006

Remember Hanson? Those three kids that had a pop hit with a song called MMMBop?

Well, the keyboard player/lead singer has been married for five years, and has two kids. Wait, it gets worse: that little kid who played drums? He’s getting married tomorrow. And here’s the worst of it: their latest album (now two years old) is called The Best of Hanson: Live and Electric.

Categories: Words about Music | No Comments »

Welcome to the Year 2176…

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

Quick – when was America born? 1776, right? They made a really big deal about her 200th birthday in 1976, after all. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a link to this site: www.americas400thanniversary.com.

Turns out it’s not some Star Trek inspired wormhole into the year 2176, but rather a celebration of the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, VA, the first permanent setttlement in the New World (well, OK, the first permanent settlement by Europeans in the New World – the Indians were already here if I remember correctly).

Now, I’m all for anniversary parties, especially when the anniversary number has two whole zeroes in it and all, but the 400th Anniversary of America? Isn’t that just a bit disingenuous?

I wish people would just call things what they are. So Happy 400th Anniversary to the town of Jamestown, VA. Join us a month from now for America’s 230th. I hear they’re having fireworks this year…

Categories: Random Acts of Blogging | 1 Comment »

Depth of Activist Group’s Anger Revealed…

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

BWAH HA HA HA HA!!! BWAH HA HA HA HA HA HA!
(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Before President Bush touched down in Pennsylvania Wednesday to promote his nuclear energy policy, the environmental group Greenpeace was mobilizing.

‘This volatile and dangerous source of energy’ is no answer to the country’s energy needs, shouted a Greenpeace fact sheet decrying the ‘threat’ posed by the Limerick reactors Bush visited.

But a factoid or two later, the Greenpeace authors were stumped while searching for the ideal menacing metaphor.

We present it here exactly as it was written, capital letters and all: ‘In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world’s worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE].’

[...]

The aghast Greenpeace spokesman who issued the memo, Steve Smith, said a colleague was making a joke by inserting the language in a draft that was then mistakenly released.

‘Given the seriousness of the issue at hand, I don’t even think it’s funny,’ Smith said.

The final version did not mention Armageddon. It just warned of plane crashes and reactor meltdowns.”

Categories: Political Rantings | 2 Comments »

A Democrat to Defend…

Thursday, June 1st, 2006

This one goes out to Jeff Porten, who’s been accusing me of leaning too far to the right lately:

The Canadian Free Press has uncovered the shocking news that Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center of Atlanta has accepted over $1 million in donations from Bakr Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden’s brother.

“An investigation by the Censure Carter Committee into the financing for The Carter Center of Atlanta, Georgia founded by President Carter and his wife to advance his “Blame America First” policies reveals that over $1,000,000 has been funneled from Bakr M. Bin Laden for the Saudi Bin Laden Group to the Carter Center,” says Censure Carter.Com in a mainstream media-ignored recent media release.

“In fact, an online report accuses former President Carter of meeting with 10 of Osama Bin Laden’s brothers early in 2000, Carter and his wife, Rosalyn followed up their meeting with a breakfast with Bakr Bin Laden in September 2000 and secured the first $200,000 towards the more than $1 million that has been received by the Carter Center.”

OK, let’s assume for a minute that all of this is true. Here’s the thing:

Big Deal.

Osama Bin Laden has more than fifty brothers and sisters. Many of them are on friendly terms with the United States. Several of them cooperated fully with our intelligence agencies just after 9/11, and several others have shown up in American pop culture – writing books or appearing on reality TV programs. There is no evidence of any sort that any of them are terrorists, or have any ties to terrorists (including their estranged brother Osama). The Bin Laden Group that these folks refer to is the largest construction company in the Middle East and, from what I read, a perfectly respectable company.

Michael Moore criticized President Bush and his family for having ties with the Bin Ladens in his movie, Fahrenheit 911 for the same misleading reasons. It was stupid then, and it’s stupid now.

Categories: Political Rantings | 4 Comments »

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