atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#101: Food and Miscellany

Maruchan makes this "Hot and Spicy Chicken" flavored ramen cup (their "Instant Lunch" label). It's GOOD. The noodles have a kind of curry flavor--mostly Thai-like with just a dash of cayenne. The leftover broth is kind of hard on the tongue, though, and the last thing you want to do is drink the dregs, because that gritty stuff is HOT.

For $0.50 per serving, it can't be beat. But make sure you like spicy stuff before you try it.

* * *

I've started to number the blog entries. Since I've just passed #100 I think it's a good idea. I keep thinking that I should go back and number all of them, but that would be too much work.

* * *

The summer solstice has now passed, and it's almost July. Before much longer it'll be "back to school" time, and then it'll be Halloween season again, and I'll come to my one-year anniversary at my current job. It's not that far off! Where has the year gone?

* * *

The Cars movie appears to have disappeared without much of a splash. I'm just as glad. At work I was exposed to too much of the merchandise and I hated the entire concept from the moment I learned of it. Computer-generated movies have lost their "gee-whiz" factor almost entirely now; it's going to take more than fancy graphics to get people to watch them.

I'm not expecting to go see any movies in the theater this year. Superman Returns does not interest me. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is similarly uninteresting to me. I didn't go see DaVinci Code after seeing the reviews. And nothing on the horizon seems particularly worthwhile, either.

I can't remember the last time I saw a movie which was different. The same year that the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie came out, Disney released another movie based on an amusement park ride! which vanished without a splash: Haunted Mansion, starring Eddie Murphy.

The first Pirates movie at least had the advantage of being fertile ground for an interesting story or two. But the notion behind Haunted Mansion--normal family moves into a haunted house--has already been done several times. (Amityville Horror, anyone?) I think Haunted Mansion made the mistake of being trying to be a funny movie when it should have tried to be a creepy--not necessarily scary--movie.

Hollywood has fallen into a slump wherein it cranks out derivative works. Considering how the financing works, it's not surprising that studios want to produce movies which will definitely generate some kind of decent return. No one wants to risk money on a dud, and these days even mid-budget films can end up costing tens of millions to make.

As I recall, Casablanca cost on the order of $40,000 to make, in the 1940s--even then, it was a low-budget movie. The same movie, made today, would be lucky to cost only $40,000,000. Instead of being filmed entirely on a soundstage and/or movie lot, there would be a huge number of location shots (in a foreign country, not necessarily Morocco) and we'd see more than a handful of Nazis--probably hundreds, with correct cars and trucks and such. The airport scene would be filmed at a real airport, with real airplanes. Nick's bar would be built from scratch and if necessary an entire bazaar would be constructed for the one daytime scene in the entire movie.

And it would suck utterly.

Hollywood can't write a good movie anymore. The movies which consistently get high marks from critics are depressing, gritty, and make you feel horrible. You don't leave the theater feeling good; you leave feeling drained. The movies which entertain don't get good reviews, but neither do they have much beyond their entertainment value. Fortunately, since movies are an entertainment medium first that's really not a problem.

For seven years I have been dreading the release of the remake of Forbidden Planet. I heard some rumors about a remake, and read some things on-line, and--thankfully!--never heard anything else about it.

The original movie is a science fiction classic. It was made in 1956 and its background "music" comes from a theremin, but it's still counted among some of the finest of cinematic science fiction. (It also features Leslie Neilsen in a rare dramatic, rather than comedic, role.)

(A Wikipedia article on the movie.)

These days, rather than rely on writing, setting, and cinemetography, Hollywood would show all the violence and gore; it would probably have gratuitous nudity; it would utterly ignore science (rather than merely depart from it in spots--there is a difference) and the end result would suck utterly.

Recall what happened when Heinlein's Starship Troopers was given to Paul Verhoeven to film? It would easily be that bad unless someone with a brain directed the film. I'm thinking James Cameron, but he doesn't do entertainment movies any more. Aliens and Terminator (and the sequel to it, Terminator 2: Judgement Day) were shining examples of cinematic science fiction done right; but Hollywood doesn't make movies like that any more.

* * *

When I first signed up for college in 1990 and bought my books, I was bemused to receive a copy of Borland's Turbo Pascal 5.5. At the time I didn't have a DOS computer (ie a PC compatible), but the school had an entire computer lab full of them. I just had to have my own license of the software in order to use it legally, is all, and since one of my classes was a programming class, it even made sense. But still, I had not expected to come home that day with a programming language. Books, yes, but not that.

The box still sits on my bookshelf, to this day. I have no idea where the disks and the manuals are--they're around somewhere--but since it came on 5.25" floppy the point's kind of moot, anyway...and needless to say, Borland Turbo Pascal 5.5 does not have any libraries or extensions for dealing with any flavor of Windows.

It's been at least 8 years since I last wrote any kind of program, anyway. The last time I used Pascal was in 1996, when I was trying to pass my last few classes. The Borland product made things relatively easy to program, though, and if I had any discernable reason to write my own programs, I'd probably use Pascal to do it. I liked it a lot better than I liked C++.

But I just don't have any interest in learning to write programs that will work with Windows and all the other guff. I learned a long time ago that I am not cut out for programming; the code I generate is, shall we say, "less than optimum" even under the best of circumstances. In order to be a programmer you have to have a gift for it; and that, I do not.

Oh well.

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