January 17, 2005

Rewriting Precinct 13

So I suppose in the nothing-creative-left-in-our-brains bowels of Hollywood (do you realize how many movies coming out in 2005 are remakes?), if we’re going to remake a film, we simply cannot cast bad guys as bad guys any more. In the original Assault on Precinct 13, the bad guys were a street gang sworn to revenge the deaths of some of their criminal brethren at the hands of police. They plan to do so by taking out the understaffed and soon-to-close Precinct 13.

In the new version, the understaffed and about-to-close precinct that falls under attack seems to be the only plot point making the transition. First, the action moves from Los Angeles to a more snowy clime, made out to be either New York or Chicago. Second, the bad guys bent on taking out those within Precinct 13 are corrupt cops. I guess Hollywood can’t get enough of corrupt cops and rogue military personnel.

Are there corrupt cops and rogue military personnel in real life? Undoubtedly. They are also an extreme minority, as most of those involved in the armed services and law enforcement are every day folks just wanting to serve, do their best, and make it home to their loved ones. You would think, though, from Hollywood’s perspective, that every other officer in blue was on the take and wouldn’t hesitate to erase from the face of the earth anyone who looked askance at him.

Laurence Fishburn’s character in the 2005 remake is a crime lord, temporarily being held in Precinct 13 while a winter storm blows through. The corrupt cops attacking the precinct are in business with the criminal mastermind, and cannot have him testifying against them. Would the action be much different if instead of corrupt cops afraid of being exposed, those attacking the precinct were the crime lord’s minions, bent on recovering their leader? That would certainly change the dynamic between Fishburn’s character and Ethan Hawke’s heroic cop figure. I’m sure there are even real-life examples of something similar, if one was to look hard enough. (Surely not an all-out attack on an entire police precinct, though there are examples of just that right now in Iraq.)

But when was the last time you heard about an entire SWAT team taking down one of their own department’s buildings?

I’m sure the film will be action-packed, but I can’t see it comparing to Training Day as far as corrupt-cop movies go. (And personally, Training Day doesn’t compare to the highly-underrated The Corrupter, which at least offers the hope of redemption.)

posted by retrophisch at 03:32 PM in movies , rant
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January 03, 2005

How Not To Get Foreign Aid

While it will in no way change the fact that the United States of America will outspend any other nation or combination of nations, in public and private dollars, with regard to the humanitarian relief for tsunami victims, is it not encouraging to see the support the U.S. and the rest of the West gets in this corner of SE Asia:

Bin Laden T-shirt in SE Asia

[With thanks and no apologies to Rich on World_SIG for ripping off his headline. ;-) ]

posted by retrophisch at 02:40 PM in rant
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December 19, 2004

Zero tolerance equals zero intelligence

James Taranto:

Zero-Tolerance Watch

Chloe Smith, a 14-year-old eighth-grader in Mustang, Okla., was “kicked out of school after drugs were found in her locker,” reports the Enid News:

Smith wasn’t in possession of marijuana or cocaine, but prescription hormones she takes for a chronic condition, polycystic ovarian disease.

During a routine sweep of the school, a drug dog “hit” on her locker. Administrators checked and found the prescription hormones in her purse.

Technically Chloe did violate the rules, which require that students taking prescription drugs surrender them to the school office, which supervises their administration. But the News says it was an honest mistake: “She forgot to take the pills out of her purse after a family outing the evening before.”

The paper reports that “the district has agreed to reduce Chloe’s suspension to 10 days if she agrees to eight hours of mandatory drug counseling and monthly urinalysis screening.” Her parents, quite understandably, say no dice.

I hope Chloe’s parents rip the school district to shreds for this stupidity. I suppose people aren’t allowed to make mistakes except when an intern happens to fall on their crotch.

posted by retrophisch at 09:18 PM in rant
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September 11, 2004

Waste of time

That seemed to be the theme for us today, waste of time. First we decided to go to the Technology & Lifestyles Expo, put on by our local NBC affiliate. This entailed a 20-minute, one-way drive from home to downtown Dallas. A 10-minute search for a parking space—which cost us the highway-robberish fee of $10—was then followed by a 10-minute trek from said parking space in to the expo hall.

We left 15 minutes later. Yes, it was really, really, really lame.

The coolest thing going was the participation of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, which had a kitchen-trash can-sized bot roaming the aisles with a sign noting the location of their booth. The booth had a nice little crowd, and most of the bots I saw were RC car-sized, with a few Aibo-like dog-bots thrown in for good measure. There was a Segway at another booth, but, of course, you couldn’t try it out.

Dell was a major sponsor of the event, but shockingly, did not have a booth, or really any presence whatsoever. Not that I’m a fan of the PC box mover, but you’d a-thunk that a technology company sponsoring a supposed-technology event would want to show up. Their absence only served to underscore how incredibly lame the entire thing was. The big highlight seemed to be the chance to meet a real-life soap opera star from Days of Our Lives at the NBC 5 booth, which NBC 5 touted relentlessly for the past month. All in all, there was very little technology-lifestyle exhibits, whereas you could find a couple of small colleges, a consumer credit counseling service, and the Dallas Fire Department’s “Smoke House” participation booth.

For shame, for shame, NBC 5. I wasted 40 minutes and 10 bucks just to get in to your crappy show. The show itself was free, and clearly underscored the maxim, “You get what you pay for.” If you are in the Dallas area, and are thinking of going this weekend or next year, please spare yourself the misery.

That being a complete bust, we headed up the Dallas North Tollway toward Frisco, and Stonebriar Mall. After a lunch stop at Blue Mesa, we headed to Stonebriar, when my wife saw they had a Sam Moon Trading Company in one of the out lots. Having heard raves from friends about the establishment, she insisted we check it out.

First, the parking lot for the store, which is actually in a small strip mall with four other businesses, is incredibly small. We eventually gave up trying to find a spot and parked in the mall parking lot, then walked across the mall’s circular drive. This particular Sam Moon location—and they could all be like this as far as I know—was actually divided in to two stores. We entered the smaller one first; it was mostly luggage and travel-related stuff. A goodly selection, but I was unimpressed based on the hype received from my spouse. And there was so much luggage littering the floor spaces, up to and including most of the aisles, that it was difficult to maneuver our son’s stroller around.

So we were quite surprised to then see, upon our exit, that there was a sign on the door which we missed, clearly stating “No strollers on Sat”. You will note from today’s date this is a Saturday.

When we tried to enter the larger Sam Moon establishment, we were turned away by the security guard at the door, because of our stroller. I replied, to no one in particular, and not very loudly, though a few around us heard, “Sam Moon sucks.” We departed, and I plan to never go back.

Sam Moon chooses to discriminate against working mothers—the stores are clearly targeted at women—by not allowing strollers on Saturdays. Moms who work during the week, then head home to take care of their families, and have only Saturday to go shopping, cannot take their infant or toddler children with them to the much-hyped Sam Moon.

Why not, you say, just take them with no stroller? Have you, dear reader who would suggest such a thing, tried to shop with a one-year-old in your arms, on your hip, for more than ten minutes? What you suggest, especially in light of the environs of the Sam Moon Trading Company, is utter foolishness, as many a mom will attest.

The obvious solution is to leave said infant or toddler home with their college football-watching dad, but this one doesn’t work for single working moms. It also doesn’t apply in our case, since the college football-watching dad was actually with working mom, attempting to go in to Sam Moon. Better to avoid it altogether; it’s all knock-offs anyway.

I should have called the Frisco fire marshal, because the luggage store was obviously a fire hazard…

posted by retrophisch at 05:08 PM in rant
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July 30, 2004

On used bookstores

So I took a full box of books in to Half Price Books today, and was offered a whopping $7.25 for them all. I think Half Price Books has reached its saturation point with incoming stock. They have to turn away most of what comes in, or they just take it and donate it to libraries, etc.

I would have been better off going to a local two-for-one paperback trader, and next time, I probably will.

posted by retrophisch at 10:41 PM in rant
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July 20, 2004

Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.

The ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S. I’m looking at you, Ivan Seidenberg.

posted by retrophisch at 11:03 PM in rant
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June 18, 2004

The crisper sleeve

Riddle me this: if it’s important to put your Lean Pocket in the crisper sleeve prior to microwaving it, so your crust gets, well, crusty, then why not ship the Lean Pocket already in the crisper sleeve?

posted by retrophisch at 01:36 PM in food and beverage , rant
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March 03, 2004

Disney to do Narnia


If there is one set of fantasy fiction that would rival The Lord of the Rings, it would be The Chronicles of Narnia, by Tolkien’s contemporary, C.S. Lewis. Both feature timeless examples of the battle between good and evil. Both authors were also Christians who explored elements of their own faith in their written works.

Disney acquiring the rights to the Narnia tales for film is not encouraging. I’m sure none of the faith lessons, so clearly evident in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, will be promoted. You can be sure to see an incredible marketing blitz, with toys and other products abounding, that is typical of Disney fare.

This is also further proof that Disney has run its course creatively. It has ridden the shoulders of Pixar for the past nine years, and will continue to do so for the next two, as the animation house finishes its contractual film commitments to Disney. One doesn’t have to wonder why Eisner and company have fought so hard against the loosening of copyright law in this country; without Mickey and the gang as corporate copyright figures and trademarks, Disney wouldn’t survive. I’m still not sure if that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

posted by retrophisch at 07:42 PM in rant
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