September 29, 2009

Closing & Moving

So on Wednesday I close on my small house in Bristol, then Thursday I'll do the bulk of the moving myself by renting a U-Haul and filling it with all the boxes and brick-a-brack I can. Saturday will be the final move, but that will just be the few things that I can't move myself (Sofa, coffee table, TV, and the bottom of my tool box).

Then, my bedbug worries will be over.

What, didn't know that I had a bedbug problem? Not a surprise, I haven't told many people. It happened in June, just after I got back from attending my son's high school graduation up in Vermont. I took the trip with my mom, we stayed in a good hotel up north of St. Johnsbury. A few weeks later, to my horror, I discovered just what bedbugs were firsthand.

I immediately told the rental office, who acted like I was crazy or something, until they sent an exterminator out a week later to confirm my suspicions (he did). I also immediately warned my mom, saying that we both might have been infected in Vermont, but it turns out this fear was not realized. You see, the leasing office later told me that the neighbor sharing my bedroom wall had bedbugs before I did. He was getting treated, so they moved through the wall we share (which I learned in the apartment industry is referred to as 'the party wall'.)

So another two weeks go by before treatment begins, which consists of 3 visits, one every 2 weeks, where they spray the whole place.

Incidentally, to prep for treatment you've got to wash and seal up all of your linens...all of them. This means that every stitch of clothing, bedding, towels, you name it, it had to be washed then sealed up in an airtight container. Also, all furniture must be pulled away from the walls, and all wooden furniture must be turned upside down so the bottom can be treated. What does one with a library of books do? Pack as if to move.

Which is part of what got me started down this road. If I'm already packed to move, why not just finish the job (which mainly involved the kitchen, which is now done)? Also, why keep throwing my money away every month on an apartment, when I can throw the same money away towards something I'll eventually own? Most of us don't lease cars because we know how stupid that is, we've all heard the horror stories of those who've reached the end of the lease. Well, renting an apartment is a lease.

But the main motivation is I want to sleep peacefully at night, not worry about some tiny insect gnawing at my flesh, trying to get at the sweetmeat that is my blood. I mean, the stuff they sprayed is gonna wear off eventually, right? And it's not like the leasing office treated my place as a precaution, they only did so after the infestation spread from my neighbor. The bottom line is, this is a three story building, I'm sure the bedbugs have moved on to less lethal ground...for now. But someday them just might come back.

September 28, 2009


Yesterday (Sunday) I met my friend John for the movie Surrogates.

This was a nice refreshing change from the movie I watched the day before (Pandorum), it's smart science fiction with just enough action and a story that's tight enough to keep it all together. Bruce Willis is an FBI agent investigating the first homicide in years, as someone has found a way to murder the human operator of a surrogate human by attacking the machine.

I saw a review somewhere (don't remember the source) that noted the acting was wooden, or something to that effect. What is interesting about this film is that when the actors are playing the surrogate doubles, they do act wooden. But this fits in with the running theme of the movie; the surrogates are perfect human forms, but they are machines. All the surrogates are also extremely made up, as if they're all ready for their close-ups. When the actual humans are introduced, they're poorly dressed, have acne, gray hair or body fat...just like the rest of us.

What really elevates this film from just an action movie to true science fiction is the way it deals with this future. We get to see a near future where humans interact with the real world through a machine, plus what changes that brings to society. This is the mark of true science fiction, it not only entertains but it makes one think.

For instance, we get to see military combat (the army surrogates do not have any cosmetics on their faces, indeed their faces remind me of crash test dummies, but that fits a military role). These machines are handled as if the humans were playing a video game, most of them are just running out in the open despite a hail of gunfire (though I did spot two in the background of one shot using cover).

Another interesting scene was in the beauty parlor, because in this future it's all about upgrading the surrogate's looks. So gone are the scissors, instead we've got power tools (which, being a beauty salon, are all girly colored).

Of course, in this type of future, not everyone would want to live life through a machine. These people (called 'meatbags') are handled here as well, why they choose not to and how they're treated by the rest of society.

Today we live in a world that's increasingly more connected, many if not most of us go home every night and turn on the computer. Many people make their day to day living doing work entirely on a computer. And for fun there are thousands who play games online, some of the deathmatch variety, more and more of the massive multi-player such as World of Warcraft (I'm one of those). So it's interesting to watch a film where people are living artificial lives through an electronic connection to a machine, there's an interesting parallel there.

September 27, 2009


Yesterday I watched Pandorum, which looked to be a sci-fi horror film in the vein of Alien.

The film opens with a human colonial journey to a new planet as Earth gets overpopulated. The flight crew receives Earth's last transmission...then our hero wakes up from suspended animation, unable to remember who he is, where he is or what the ship's mission is.

The setup is great, but the film tries to be too tricky with the audience, forcing the viewer to play a guessing game as to what's real and what's just in a character's head. It doesn't help that some pieces of the movie are shot in what looks like test footage, grainy underproduced shots, which made me wonder if they were done intentionally (in retrospect, I don't think so).

For what should have been a great science fiction film, or at least a decent movie with a good story, what we get is an OK film with a confusing story. At the beginning of the final act everything that's wrong with the ship is finally explained, but even that is in a disjointed fashion (the scene jumps between two characters having a heated argument and another character giving a clear explaination in english that's a challenge to understand).

Even after this, as the film builds toward climax and resolution, it still gets muddled in characters having episodes of 'pandorum'. This is a side effect of extended hybernation concocted for this film, which includes tremors and hallucinations. But instead of being used as an interesting plot device, episodes of pandorum get in the way of the story moving forward.

In the end, when the hero's survival came into question, I honestly didn't care if he survived or not...either ending would have worked for this film. The worst reaction I had was, after everything was cleared up, I had a moment where I thought to myself 'Oh, is that all that was going on?"

September 14, 2009

Kanye West is a Douchebag

So at the MTV music video awards show, country singer Taylor Swift won the award for Best Female Video.

So she gets up on stage and starts her acceptance speech, when Kanye West walks on stage unannounced and takes the microphone from her.

"I'm really happy for you, I'll let you finish, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time."

So much for her glorious moment...her first award, by the way.

Kanye's known for his raging ego (whenever he posts on his blog it's ALWAYS ALL CAPITALIZED) as well as his constant and shameless self promotion. He did apologize on his blog...sort of. He did try to excuse himself on the grounds that he's a "fan of real pop culture". The post has since been removed (according to e!online).

I'm waiting for the day when some other horses' ass steals his thunder at an awards show. I bet he won't be able to LAUGH IT OFF THEN.