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2013.01.09: "Ma-Ma is not the law... I am the law."

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Tuesday TV and Movie, a midweek and midday meal, and more.

I.

Lunch today with Ms.S.'s father, who had a book for her.

At the end of the meal, when we returned him to work, he handed us a bag of goodies, but the one thing missing from it was the book.

Such is life.

We don't go out much for meals. It's hard to plan ahead; most places don't put menus (or, especially, those with nutritional information) online. And here's a hint: if you're going to the kind of restaurant that provides nutritional information (online or elsewhere), it's probably not the kind of restaurant you should be frequenting. Mom and pop diners? No such information ... but they're quaint and you should stop by from time to time. That good, local BBQ joint? Worth a splurge now and a gain, but nothing online. Taco Bell, McDonald's, and more? Should avoid. Subway, Qdoba, and Moe's? Trendy hip choices, but still just fast food.

It's not dissimilar to the irony (sort of), not quite paradox that when it comes to food labels, the ones you can probably trust the most to be accurate -- highly processed, standardized, boxed items -- are the ones you should eat the least of. It's a kind of Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle for food: there's an inverse relationship between certainty/accuracy of nutritional knowledge and the how 'good for you' a food is.

We eat out only rarely. It's a control issue, it's a time issue, it's a mone issue. It's a matter of giving ourselves treats rather than making a habit of it.

II.

After "Nisei" ('The X-Files'), first of a two-parter, last night and "Epitaph One" (the unaired 13th episode of season 1 of 'Dollhouse') Ms. S. and I watched "Dredd" (2012), a humorless take on the Judge Dredd character.

Mulder wants to believe. And we get Japanese scientists experimenting on an alien on a train car, special soldiers sent in to kill said scientists, an Allentown, PA UFO enthusiast who pirated a satellite feed of the operation, and so on. Things spiral out of control from there, with the guy from PA killed execution-style in his dumpy house or apartment, Scully finding a whole network of abductees who swear they know her as a fellow abductee, and Mulder visiting a shipyard and jumping into the water to avoid the hit squad. Add to that Mr. X and Skinner and we have an action-packed hour of television. It's a couple stories going on here ... the conspiracy aspect of the Japenese Dr. Mengeles, the current day coverup of alien experimentation, and the revisiting of Scully's abduction during the Duane Barry case. The first two are smoke and mirrors; it's the third that has a lasting impact on the show and characters.

Over in 'Dollhouse' we get a flashforward to a post-apocalyptic future in which the imprinting technology has gotten out of hand. Joss Whedon regular F. Day shows up for this one, along with Z. Ward, whom I know mainly from his 'work' on crappy Uwe Boll projects. The first time you watch it it's a mind-blowing departure from the regular show and episodes, but in a sense it's also the perfect and logical continuation of the show, as it demonstrates not just a 'what if,' it also answers audience concerns and complaints. Isn't the Dollhouse just a high-tech brothel? You think your fantasy setup can be so well contained? Someone thought this was a good idea? And so on.

Then, since the night was still relatively young, we put in "Dredd." It was only a few weeks ago that we watched Stallone's 1995 venture, "Judge Dredd." That one has aged poorly and is unintentionally funny. It's a waste of Max von Sydow. And so on. But at least it's a hot mess. "Dredd," in contrast, is dry and humorless. Appropriately it never removes Dredd's helmet, but it also defeats the purpose of casting Karl Urban; it's similar in that regard to the recent Batman movies in that we enjoy Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne, but he's wasted as Batman ... it could be anybody growling back there. The plot mechanics in this movie are paint-by-number but they work relatively well. It's more like an extended, violent television episode. In contrast the 1995 film sought to be 'important' ... it escalated from the introduction of Dredd (and his future sidekick) to his 'fall' and banishment, the ascension of his adversary, and their great showdown. It sought to call the system into question, and so on, and in that regard it wasn't unlike another Stallone vehicle, "Demolition Man." "Dredd," though, has a single plot, no nuance, and is basically a comic book turned into a video game. Midway though as they broke out of the lockout/down, we sighed in relief; "I was worried," Ms. S. said, "that the whole movie would take place in that building." And then they went back inside and the movie did all take place there. It's not propulsive or engaging enough to support that level of minimalism.

A mess, yes. Hot? Not.

III.

Ms. S. will go to work in a bit and I'll work on her computer, a laptop installed with Windows Vista that causes almost nothing but trouble.

I can hear it already: Vista is the problem, and I agree. Ms. S. wisely prefers Chrome to other browsers, but no matter what she does, Shockwave (in Chrome) always causes problems. Cache clearing, plugin disabling, rebooting ... these are all the temporary measures that provide relief but not a solution. A 'solution' would probably be one of:

- Install XP with all the service packs and patches
- Install Windows 7
- Install a Linux distro (probably Ubuntu)

Here's the thing: part of me thinks that Ubuntu is probably the right choice. This is what Ms. S. uses her computer for: using a web browser, occasional document editing, and listening to music. The problem is that she probably has plenty of music files purchased through iTunes for which there is no satisfactory Linux solution.

XP is solid and tested, and probably runs well enough on her laptop, but it's old now and it's getting harder to get new versions of sofware that will run on it. That leaves 7, and in that case I need to see whether the laptop has the memory (or processor) for it. It would be slightly slower than Vista, I suspect, but probably much more stable.

But in the end it's not really my decision, as it's not my laptop.

And so I continue to install packages through MacPorts onto the old iBook. Most of the LaTeX packages are now installed. Compiling can be slow ... but it's relatively trouble-free.
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PRINCESSAMY 1/9/2013 3:48PM

    Sounds like a very productive day.

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