May 26, 2004

"A Terrible Loss"

Actor Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin on Babylon 5) died Saturday, he was 44.

J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5) posted on the Babylon 5 newsgroup that he died "either an aneurysm or a massive stroke." JMS added "What seems to have happened, happened quickly. He woke up, got up out of bed...and went down."

"Richard was a consummate professional, but more than that, he was an honorable, stand-up guy,"

Biggs played Dr. Stephen Franklin for the entire 5 year run of Babylon 5, also in three of the spin off TV movies. Prior to that he enjoyed a long run on Days Of Our Lives, winning a Best Supporting Actor award from Soap Opera Digest. Recently he's had recurring roles on Guiding Light.

(data from news article by Joal Ryan)

May 23, 2004

An Adventurer Is You!

One of my recent favorite websites is the Kingdom of Loathing. This is an online Role Playing Game (RPG), but not in the style of Neverwinter Nights or Everquest. Some key differences:

- this runs in your browser
- all artwork is crudly drawn (stick figures)
- the currency in the Kingdom of Loathing is meat
- everything from the character classes, item names, even combat descriptions, is funny.

I highly recommend you waste some time here. Tell 'em Thugno sent you:

May 20, 2004

It's The Terrorists, Stupid!

I've been reading and watching the 9/11 Commission, am I the only one getting really pissed off about this? The whole things smacks of finger pointing and grandstanding in an attempt to blame the NYC Fire Chief, Chief of Police, or former Mayor Giuliani.

The worst has been Sally Regenhard, who lost her son (a probationary fireman). When the Fire and Police Chiefs answered questions two days ago, she held up a prepared sign that said LIES. "My son was murdered because of your incompetence!" she shouted at Giuliani, pointing and holding up another prepared sign that said FICTION.

It's interesting to note that Sally Regenhard is also the founder and chairperson of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign. The four goals of this campaign are:

1. To have a Federal Comprehensive Investigation, with subpoena power, into the collapse of the WTC, including design, construction, evacuation procedures and fire fighting techniques.

2. To encourage better compliance with building and fire codes in NYC and nationwide, thereby safeguarding Firefighters, as well as persons who must live and work in skyscrapers.

3. To educate "codes groups" to allow the Fire Service to have more input into writing
Building Codes. We call for at least 50% of all codes groups to be composed of representatives of the Fire Service and the academic field of Fire Science Engineering.
(Existing groups are composed of builders, developers, financiers and bureaucrats who know little about Fire and Life Safety.)

4. To ensure that all future WTC development by the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey will be characterized by quality, safety and security, and will be under the legal
jurisdiction of the NYC Building & Fire Department.

This all sounds very intelligent and well thought out. So why did this woman have a melt down in the commission? Is she looking for someone to blame? Is she angry at the system? Does she want to avenge her son's death by making public officials "pay"?

Were there problems with the WTC being not up to current code? Of course. Were there communication problems between Fire, Medical and Police? Yes. But who is going to spend the billions or trillions it would take to bring every building in NYC (and every other city, for that matter) up to current code? I'm willing to bet good money that the Empire State Building is not up to current code, but is instead "grandfathered" because of its age. And I'll also guarantee that the emergency organizations can now communicate with each other and have procedures in place for a catastrophic event...but these types of safeguards were inconceivable before 9/11. With the exception for Pearl Harbor, our cities had never been bombed, burned, or attacked by a foreign enemy in living memory.

The enemy is not the Fire Chief, the Police Chief, Mayor Giuliani, or anyone else who was involved that day. They all responded as best they could with what they had. Not one of those people flew a plane into a building, or intentionally and willingly caused the death of any of the civilian victims.

The enemy is of course the terrorists. Direct your anger at them, not at the heroes who prevented greater loss of life.

Sally Regenhard did not want a neutral inquiry into the events of that day, she wanted an opportunity to lash out at the people in authority that she blames for her sons death. She went in with her mind already made up, pre-printed signs in hand. Well congratulations Sally, you've got your pound of flesh. I hope the taste is as sweet as you imagined, because this was your one and only chance.

May 16, 2004

When Good Directors Go Bad

Yesterday I was talking with one of my friends about Quentin Tarantino, how every one of his movies rocks: Resevoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, and Kill Bill. Not only are his characters interesting, but they have interesting conversations and talk like real people. Not to mention QT has never sold out.

Which brought to mind a couple of directors who started off great, then devolved into suckiness: George Lucas and the Wachowski brothers. Star Wars and The Matrix are classic films, vitually untouchable unless one wants to nitpick. The immediate sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and The Matrix Reloaded, are really cool but miss just a little bit of that timeless quality.

Then you see any film after that and think to yourself, "What the fuck happened?" A classic, timeless tale gets muddled right at the end. Did these guys lose their talent, sell out to toy companies and video game manufacturers, or simply focus their sights on money instead of crafting a deep, compelling story worthy of the franchise? If Peter Jackson can keep Lord Of The Rings consistent, to the point where the last film is hands down the best, then why the hell did these guys drop the ball?

Which brought to mind a joke that perhaps I'm carrying to the extreme:

What if George Lucas directed the Matrix sequals?
- Agent Smith reveals he is Mr. Anderson's father. Morpheus later agrees that he lied to Neo about his father.
- Neo discovers that Trinity is his twin sister
- The Architect reveals his evil plan in plain detail (ala "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design"), none of that "Vis-a-vis" bullshit.
- When Neo won't become an Agent of the system, the Architect gets up and shoots lightning bolts out of his hands. Then the Architect gets thrown into a pit and explodes for no reason.
- A group of small children (lead by the little Indian girl from the third film) throw rocks at Agent Smith and his clones, causing them to explode.
- Then the little children all sing a song.

What if the Wachowski brothers directed the Star Wars sequals?
- Luke Skywalker gets blinded instead of losing a hand. He uses The Force to see, which involves lots of glowy special effects.
- Luke meets the Emperor, who makes no sense at all and doesn't even get up out of his chair or fight.
- Luke and Vader have a flying fist fight over the Death Star. This ends with Luke's lame death.
- Light comes out of Darth Vader's helmet and he blows up for no reason the audience can comprehend.
- Morpheus and the humans in Zion almost die fighting off Stormtroopers, who suddenly receive new orders and just walk away.


I saw the film Troy yesterday

First of all, like Titanic it's a story set in a historical setting. So don't expect to see The Illiad: the gods don't show up and some parts of the story are changed.

With that said, Wolfgang Peterson has crafted a really good movie. It is very long however, and there are many breaks from the siege. Matter of fact, there are actually two (perhaps three)love stories in the film...but we're not talking about Anakin and Padme rolling around in the grass here with nothing to do. Even the characters in love grow, change and have conflict.

May 12, 2004

Astronomy - ISS Eclipses Jupiter on May 13th

For those of you who are interested, tomorrow night at just after 9:30 the International Space Station will pass in front or very near Jupiter.

It'll be an easy event to spot, just go outside at 9:30 and look straight up; Jupiter will be the brightest "star" directly overhead.

Sometime between 9:30 & 9:38, the ISS will pass near or directly in front of Jupiter. It will also appear to be a point of light, but moving about as fast as a passenger jet (crossing the sky in about 5 minutes).

The actual path of the eclipse is only 50 meters wide, I personally will only see a close pass.

For more info, check out this link:

May 10, 2004

My First Web Page

I've thought about doing this for a long, long time, but just never took the time to learn HTML. Now it looks like I have my very own web page, where I can say whatever I want.

I'll have to come back when I can think of something to say...