Saturday, August 30, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Watching the trailers, this one looked a little too cutesy.  But then Rotten Tomatoes posted a 92% positive rating for it.  Reviewers declared one of the lead characters to be the new Hans Solo, and that genetically engineered raccoon seemed like an interesting character.  Retro music can be used to good effect (remember Steven Wright's DJ part in Reservoir Dogs?), that might work here too.  So what the hell, let's go see.

Too cutesy.  It wasn't actively bad mind you, it had a few laughs.  It also had more than its share of mawkish moments, those got tiring.  If you want more details, go dig around the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.  I can't give it more than 1.5 stars.

Got to say though, the crowd was having a good time, I actually saw people swaying to the 70's music soundtrack, and there was lots of laughter floating around.  I'm betting that there'll be a sequel, maybe even a five-part trilogy or some such.  Meh, I never really cared for Garfield the cat or E.T. either, but lots of other people did.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Here, have some soothing music.

Did you find that calming, relaxing?
Here, have some more:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Best of the Forgotten Coast poll's up

Be sure to vote early and vote often – just not more than once per day – here.  Runs through September 4th.

Government-Sponsored Piracy

OK, so it was radio piracy (as opposed to the "avast ye scurvy dawgs" or "Maersk Alabama" kind of piracy), it was us doing the piracy, it was for a good cause, and it was during the Cold War.  Here's the article and video clip about Voice of America doing offshore broadcasting.  Cool stuff!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bungee without the bounce?

Hard to tell exactly what's going on here, but it looks like bungee jumping with some kind of pulley system to damp the jumper's KE toward the end.

Presented as a courtesy to our readers, with only one editorial comment.  No, this doesn't rate an 'inner coyote' label.  It's too eurofratbro and not tech enough.  Does get a 'facepalm' rating though.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The First Radio Pirate

Introducing Captain Plugge, the driving force behind Radio Normandy, who went toe-to-toe with the BBC in the interwar years, encouraging them (in a commercial way) to actually broadcast stuff people wanted to hear.  Know your history, it frequently rhymes and in this case it is downright fun to study.  And for bonus, this history's presented in a half-hour show on the BBC's web site, including clips from several Radio Normandy broadcasts.  Download or listen in soon, it'll be pulled by this coming Thursday or Friday.
Is it just me, or did I hear a little bit of glee in the BBC presenter's voice when he covered the ending chapters of Radio Normandy?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

More Led

I see that Led Zeppelin is soon releasing remastered versions of LZIV and Houses of the Holy, on Oct 28th.  I'm all over it!
This is going to be especially telling, since I've got a recent CD of LZIV and can do A/B comparisons.  Expect an update in early November.

Finally I have to mention that listening to LZII & III's bonus disks last night was a real treat.  You know how when you've been hearing a song on a crappy radio for years and you finally get to hear it on a good stereo, how it sounds very different, how you can hear a lot of things you've never heard before in the music?  It's much the same experience listening to these demos and alternate cuts.  Recommended!

Friday, August 22, 2014

One of those small, cool things.

Driving in to work last week, listening to KLEB 1600 AM's Hot Sauce Express show – their daily 100% pure Cajun music show – not only were the songs in French, not only were the DJ's speaking in French, but some of the advertisements were too.  No, it didn't change my world, but it does add some spice and flavor to the morning commute.
Also, looking at the station's web page I see that their sister FM station KLRZ is now just another spoits twak clone.  Better listen in for the Cajun music on KLEB before it too is assimilated.

If you're inside the listening area:
1600's not hard to tune in on any old AM radio.  They've got the Mississippi coast covered, you might have a shot at it in Mobile or even Pensacola.  However if you're outside the listening area, all's not lost, because KLEB has a solidly functioning webcast.  So give it a listen, 6 to 10 weekday mornings.

Word of warning: much of the rest of the day they're playing swamp pop.  What is swamp pop?  It's a stunted branch of the tree of rock'n'roll that stagnated sometime in the late 50's, and not in a good way either.  I despise swamp pop in all of its foul manifestations.  So listen in the mornings and catch the good stuff!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Well, that would explain quite a bit.

From over at Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comes:
It also explains why TV hasn't been worth watching for several decades now.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

So... Mustang not enough zip for you?

Well, for not much more than the price of a new high-zoot Shelby you can now have...
Your very own MiG-21.  Twin-seater for, you know, date night.  Sticker price is $69,500.  Buy it now, here!  (and hat tip to Messy Nessy for pointing out the ad)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's YOUR worst hurricane?

As seen over at xkcd:
Funny, some of those names sound almost like old friends.  Ok, bad friends, the kind who come over at 3am with fritos, cheap beer, and a 12 gauge.  But still.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Movie Review: Lucy

Whatever can be said about this movie, the writer Luc Besson knows his sci-fi, but isn't above putting in some "this is over your head, so let your mind be blown" end-of-2001 (the movie, not the real year) style WTF effects.  And here, I have to give it to Besson, it works.  I mean, how else do you show what happens when someone becomes ten times (perhaps to some exponent) smarter?  Beyond that, Besson shows that he's read Heinlein's Friday, and seen The Matirx, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and (perhaps most pointedly) Limitless.  "Good artists copy, great artists steal" certainly fits here, though the theft is so light handed that it's more of artful pickpocketry.

Having said all that, what's the movie about?  A 20-someting party girl played by Scarlett Johannsen gets unwillingly pulled into a drug ring and made a mule.  A mule with a twist: the drugs are implanted into a pouch in her abdomen.  Not ordinary drugs, these are a synthetic version of a natural compound that normally switches on babies' brains as they develop.  When Lucy gets a swift kick to the ol' drug bag, it starts to leak into her system.  She gets a mega-dose, and what ensues is not so much enhanced intelligence as more like a state approaching godhood.  As you can imagine, subsequently very bad things happen to very bad people, Morgan Freeman's neuroscientist character gives her reassuring sage advice which she chooses to take, and all comes to a cosmically satisfactory conclusion.

OK, so at times there are the "we're effing with the ineffable" scenes of what this super-human is up to.  Profound?  Obscure crap?  Or just the best that can be done in a movie?  I'll pick doors #1 and #3, Monte.  The story worked.  Besson penned a sharp story then competently directed it, while Johanssen and Freeman and the rest of the cast pulled off some difficult acting to make it work, and the special effects team did their job in making it easy to suspend disbelief long enough to swallow the movie. 

Three and a bit more stars out of Four.  Worthwhile movie.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August Blues

Been working.  Garden's still producing, but all the plants are winding down in the August heat, many of them are already there.  Still biking, but it is pretty hot about mid-day.  Definitely the off season.  No new hop-ups for the Mustang in the near future (though I have been looking at a pair of shorty headers).  Going to see some movies this weekend and in the near future, so I'll have some blog material there.  But, in a nutshell, we're into the dog days and there's probably no relief until late September.

So here, have some appropriate music.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

King of the QSL Cards

I've got a pretty spiffy ham QSL card.  It's basic, but it does have a retro-action color glossy pic of me up to my ass in alligators trying to catch a mullet.  It's on the funkier end of the the run of the mill QSL cards.  Chat with me on HF, or just listen in on your shortwave and email me a signal report sometime and I'll be happy to send you one.
But this one discussed over at the SWLing post is in a whole 'nother league.  Color images, sure, but audio?  On a postcard?  With digital signals encoded in the audio?  Holy smokes!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review: Pickup on South Street

Sixty-plus years on, Pickup on South Street still packs a punch.  Having watched it for about the fourth time last night, I'm amazed at how much depth and detail emerges in subsequent viewings.

Without giving the story away, it begins with a young woman being robbed by a seasoned pickpocket on a crowded New York subway.  Unfortunately for her it's not just money that's in her purse, but what she thinks are industrial secrets she's hauling as a good-bye favor for her latest ex-boyfriend.  But the truth is much, much heavier: she's an unwitting bit player in the early stages of the Cold War.  So now everyone's after the pickpocket: the ex-boyfriend, communists agents, the NYPD, and of course the FBI.  With a plot this convoluted it could almost have been played as a screwball comedy, but in the capable hands of Sam Fuller it turns into noir at its finest.

The main characters are extremely flawed but yet still likable: Richard Widmark as the three time loser pickpocket who'll be locked up for life if he gets one more conviction; Jean Peters as the not-too-bright woman caught in the middle of all this; Thelma Ritter as the stoolie with a heart of gold; and of course the usual cast of cops and bad guys.  Every character has a past (even the good guys), everybody's got something driving them.  This movie's got character texture galore, you can almost chew it.  Perhaps the most striking part is how there are the good guys, the sorta-bad guys, and then the really bad guys, and how when push comes to shove the sorta-bads have a line in the sand they just won't cross.  Several lines, in fact.  It makes these characters even more fascinating.  Even minor one-scene characters like "Lighting Louie" (and his chopsticks) stand out.

This is some of Sam Fuller's best.  Recommended!  3.5 out of 4 stars.

Here, watch the trailer at youtube.

You can read more on it at Wikipedia, but be forewarned that there are spoilers in that write-up.  If this review has you wanting to see the movie, just go see the movie.  You can always pick at the details later.