Lizette&, an excellent band from Sweden whom I’ve mentioned in the past, has finally finished their debut album! The release party is scheduled for December 2nd. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend — a small matter of me being in Seattle, and the party being in Stockholm, Sweden — but I’ve been looking forward to this album for a while, and will be snagging a copy as soon as it’s available to be ordered.

They’re an alternative/industrial band that I discovered a few years back via the Internet, somewhere along the lines of the Kidney Thieves (who opened for KMFDM on their last tour). Well worth checking out, I’d say, and you can get a few samples of their sound from their MP3.com page.

Since getting Slashdotted, my bandwidth has been going through the roof. On an account rated for 5Gb/month of data transfer, that on a normal month would use roughly half that amount, I hit about 90Gb of data in the last five days of October, and over the first four days of November have already hit about 40Gb of traffic. Crazy.

After realizing this, I did a bit of investigating, and realized that each of the posts that have been getting the most traffic (Even Microsoft wants G5s and Of Blogging and Unemployment) have picked up so many comments that they were up to ~300kb each! At that rate, each page would only need to be loaded three times to produce 1Mb of data transfer — and with the amount of traffic I’ve been getting, that number grows quickly.

In an attempt to try to slow things down a bit, then, I’ve had to both disable any new comments on those posts, and disable the display of the comments I’ve already received, which brought each of the two pages down to around 60k. Turning TrackBack pings off brought the page size down even more, to around 6k each — far better. If things die down, I hope to be able to re-enable at least the display of the TrackBack pings, if not the comments (some of them are pretty entertaining, if not rational) next month sometime. Until then, though (and quite possibly permanently), they’ll have to stay ping- and comment-free.

While I’m not hugely into anime, I have over the years found a few that I enjoy a lot. Right at the top of that list is Ghost in the Shell, notable both on an artistic level and as one of the better science-fiction films I’ve seen come out recently.

It appears that there is a new Ghost in the Shell movie coming out in 2004: Innocence. In addition to the promotional website, they’ve also released a short teaser trailer (13.3Mb Quicktime .mov). Since everything’s in Japanese, I don’t have much of a clue what anyone is saying, but my lord does it ever look pretty!

Even better news about this, too: someone in the Slashdot thread about this posted a press release that states that Dreamworks will be distributing GitS:I domestically in the first half of 2004!

While Go Fish will undoubtedly release its share of indie films, the second film announced by Dreamworks was Ghost In The Shell II: Innocence, the follow-up to the extremely successful science fiction anime feature, Ghost In The Shell, which was directed by Mamoru Oshii and based on the manga series by Masamune Shirow (published in the U.S by Dark Horse).

Early fall, 1997.

James, Richard and I had just gotten out of a late showing of that year’s Sci-Fi/Horror film, “Event Horizon“. None of us had known quite what we were in for when we decided to go, aside from the most basic premise of “something creepy happens in space,” but it looked fun, so off we were.

We had a blast. The movie itself, if you haven’t seen it, is either really good or really horrible, depending on how you look at it. As a horror movie, it’s pretty good — as a science-fiction movie, it’s horrendous. That night, though, we just had a lot of fun with the horror movie part, sitting in the dark in a huge theater, jumping at all the cheap thrills and loud noises, and thoroughly enjoying it.

Leaving the theater sometime after midnight, we were so jazzed on adrenaline that we were bouncing off the walls, so we stopped off at the local grocery store for some snacks.

“I like it here,” commented James as we walked down the aisles. “It’s warm…the lights are on…there’s air…. Can we stay?”

We got to the checkout counter, and I started skimming the tabloid headlines as James and Richard paid for their goodies. “Hey guys,” I said, and held up the latest Weekly World News. “Alien’s Last Words!”

James just looked at me and deadpanned, “Ack. Ack ack. Ack ack ack ack. Ack.”

Eventually we headed back to my apartment. Once we got there, James decided that he was still too amped from the movie to have any chance of going to sleep. In order to relax and calm down, he decided the best thing to do would be to watch a nice, calm, relaxing movie.

Like Aliens.

True to form, he was asleep before the movie ended.

…but not close enough. My temp agency and I spent the morning getting me set up with an assignment with a software company’s call center. Everything was looking good (including running me through some quick tests that verified my typing speed at 80 WPM, and a combination listening/data entry test that I apparently scored around double the average score on), they handed me the address of the call center, and I headed back home to wait for the confirmation call.

Once I got home, I hit the Seattle Metro Online Trip Planner to figure out how to get to the call center — and realized that it was about a two-hour commute that involved a one mile walk. Wow. Much as I need to find another job, that’s a bit much, so I had to call back and let them know that, much to my chagrin, I had to turn down the assignment. Bummer.

Back to square one…

My friend D has just gone live with her newest project: LISTBlog.

The objective here is simple – compose lists based on the topic chosen by the post’s author. Feel free to leave your list in the comments or on your own blog with a link and/or TrackBack to the particular list you’re participating in.

List #1 — Songs you hate to love.

I am so going to lose what credibility I have for my taste in music with this list. The majority of the time, my musical tastes focus on the goth/industrial/alternative side of things, though I listen to a wide range of different styles, and I’m not sure there’s a genre out there that I don’t enjoy something from.

I do, however, have a weakness for well-crafted “pop” music. What used to be a perfectly acceptable genre — “pop”, or “bubblegum pop” — has of late become the realm of such quality acts as Britney Spears and her ilk, and overall isn’t nearly as listenable as it has been in years past. However, occasionally, a song will come along that, even when voiced by an artist that will cause most sane, rational people to run screaming from the stereo, I find myself liking. It rarely, if ever, has anything to do with whatever flavor of the week is providing the voice for the song. Instead, what will catch me is the hook, the production values, and the writing. Even if it’s a hideously dumb song, if it’s assembled well, it’ll often work its way into my brain.

Here, then, are five songs destined to cause me to hang my head in shame and forever regret publicly admitting that I actually enjoy them. ;)

  1. Spice Girls: “Wannabe” (And, incidentally — as long as I’m damning myself — the Spice World movie was far more entertaining than I expected it to be, and is solidly in my “guilty pleasure” movie list. Pick it up sometime, try to ignore the fact that it’s “THE SPICE GIRLS”, and just watch it for the zany British humor.)
  2. Britney Spears: “Oops! I Did It Again…” (I can’t explain it. I really can’t. But this song makes me laugh every time I hear it.)
  3. Los Del Rio: “The Macarena” (Back when I was DJ’ing and the Macarena was at the height of its popularity, it got played about weekly, and [since I have no shame] I’d get up onto a stage area by the DJ booth and do the dance. It didn’t take long before I’d end up with a group of girls watching me — apparently, in their words, I “do good things for the Macarena.” I’m still occasionally tempted to break into it in the middle of a Sisters of Mercy tune at The Vogue, though I haven’t been that crazy/tipsy yet….)
  4. Ricky Martin: “Cup of Life” (I actually think Ricky gets short shrift much of the time. While the more “American” pop-oriented tracks I’ve heard from him generally fail to impress me, the songs with a stronger Latin feel aren’t bad at all.)
  5. Kid Rock: “Wasting Time” (Actually, any Kid Rock song off of Devil Without a Cause. I was just berating myself for this the other day. I know I generally have decent taste in music. I know I shouldn’t like Kid Rock in the least. But for some reason, every so often, his blatantly ridiculous pot-smokin’, 40oz-drinkin’, wife-beater wearin’ white trash attitude is just what I need. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go kill myself.)

I just got back from seeing the Director’s Cut of Alien — one of my all-time favorite Sci-Fi/Horror films — at the Seattle Cinerama.

The movie, of course, was excellent. The Director’s Cut isn’t that much of a change (I immediately noticed three differences between it and the original version, one of which was footage that’s been known of and previously seen as a “deleted scene” on the original Alien DVD), for me most of the fun was just being able to see Alien on the big screen, as I was far too young to do so when it was first released.

While I enjoyed the movie a lot, this was my first experience with digital projection — and I have to say, I’m somewhat less than impressed. I’m not really sure if this might be a side effect of the size of the Cinerama screen, and whether it might be less visible on smaller theater screens, but I could very easily see a vertical “banding”/pixillation/scan line effect. In shots with a lot of movement it wasn’t very noticeable, but in still shots with strong vertical lines (walls, fixtures, table legs, etc.) it was definitely apparent, and made the image much less crisp than I had expected it to be.

I also don’t know what medium the movies are read from, but I’m guessing it must be some form of optical disc, similar to a DVD (though I’m assuming with much higher resolution for theater projection). AT one point early in the film, there was a slight glitch, and it produced the same “blocking” artifact that can be seen on DVDs if they have fingerprints on them. It was only there for a brief moment, less than a second, but on a screen the size of the Cinerama, it’s extremely distracting.

Even with the slight technical oddities, though, it was a lot of fun.

The rest of this post discusses the various additions and changes in the Director’s Cut from the original theatrical release version. If you want to stay spoiler-free, stop here — otherwise, press on!

The additions I noticed:

  1. After Kane is brought back onto the Nostromo and is in the infirmary, there is a little more business among Ripley, Lambert, Parker, and Brett. Where in the original version we cut to the four of them in the observation area, the new version cuts to just Lambert, Parker, and Brett. Ripley descends from a ladder and enters the shot, and Lambert slaps her and they have a quick scuffle before Parker and Brett pull them apart. Lambert slumps against the back wall, and Ripley crosses in front of her, at which point we pick up where the original version cut in.
  2. When Brett walks into the machine room with the chains hanging from the ceiling, there is a quick shot of Brett from above. It’s subtle, but towards the left of the shot, you can see the silhouette of the alien as it hangs from the chains above Brett. Interestingly, this shot is not included in the original DVD’s special features.
  3. The last addition is the infamous “Dallas cocooned” scene that was present in the extra features of the previously released Alien DVD. To be honest, I’m torn on this addition. The accepted life cycle of the alien has been egg > facehugger > host > chestburster > adult alien, with most adult aliens being soldiers, while one will become a queen and lay more eggs. In Aliens, we saw cocoons being used as a way to store captured prey, either as food or as convenient hosts for future facehuggers, and it could be argued that that is what has happened here — Dallas and Parker have been cocooned for future use. However, when we see Parker, he appears to be becoming an egg — as if he were somehow transforming into a facehugger. I’ve never been totally happy with this (in addition to breaking previous canon, it’s less scientifically plausible), so while it’s definitely cool to see the sequence in the film, I’m torn as to whether or not I really like the addition.

I’m double-checking against the Deleted Scenes section on the Alien DVD I have, and it appears that more of the Deleted Scenes have been added in — I just didn’t realize it as I was watching the film, probably because I’d seen them before on the DVD. These include:

  1. Added: The crew listening to the alien transmission on the bridge of the Nostromo. Interestingly, the audio effects for the transmission are different in the new cut of the film than in the deleted scene.
  2. Partially added: The deleted scene version of the confrontation between Ripley and Lambert is longer than what was added to the Director’s Cut — Lambert’s dialogue describing them pulling Kane up from the egg chamber has been removed.
  3. Left out: A scene I was hoping would be put back in — a conversation in the infirmary after the facehugger’s blood eats through a few levels of the deck plating where Ripley notices a stain on Kane’s lung (the gestating chestburster) — was not added back in. Probably a good idea, as it could hurt the pacing of the film, but it’s still a nice bit of foreshadowing that I’ve always felt was a pity to lose from the finished film.
  4. Left out: An intercom conversation between Ripley and Parker as they harass each other.
  5. Left out: A raucous argument among the crew in the mess hall after Kane’s death, brainstorming on how to capture and kill the chestburster.
  6. Left out: The bloodier version of Brett’s death, where we watch the alien crush his skull as he screams for Parker before it pulls him up into the air shaft.
  7. Left out: Lambert and Ripley’s uneasy reconciliation, where Ripley apparently starts to explore her suspicions about Ash when she asks whether Lambert had ever slept with him.
  8. Left out (for obvious reasons): The only partially-shot action sequence where the crew almost traps the alien in the airlock, only to have it escape, wounding it and spilling more acid blood in the process. As only the bridge “reaction” shots were filmed, I didn’t expect this sequence to be put back in.
  9. Mostly added: There have been a few slight edits to the cocoon sequence. In the deleted scene version, Ripley has a few lines saying that she’ll get Dallas out and onto the shuttle before he pleads with her to kill him. Aside from losing those, the rest of the sequence has been added in its entirety.

Earlier this week, I discovered that my site design had been appropriated without acknowledgment or credit by a third party. Upset about this, I posted about it. Some of my readers were able to provide me with an e-mail for the likely party, and I e-mailed them. I also cc:’d an administrator at the school.

While this action resulted in the site being first removed and then redesigned, it has been pointed out to me in the comment thread to that post that I managed to do this person essentially just what had just been done to me — a mistake that could have easily been taken care of quickly and quietly became more public than had ever been expected or desired.

What can I say — they’re right. I shouldn’t have been so quick to take the actions that I did. Already overstressed and overwhelmed from the attention my site has been getting of late, I reacted too quickly and without enough thought.

The following is the latest in a series of e-mail messages I have been trading with the person in question, expressing my apologies to him.

Thank you very much for accepting my mistake, please notify me of the appropriate amount of money I should paypal to you in order to repay you for bandwidth my site took by using an image served from your server.

Don’t worry about that — chances are it wasn’t terribly much, and as I’ve been getting an insane amount of traffic lately due to my recent experiences with Microsoft, my bandwidth limits are so ridiculously shot at this point that any traffic you might have added would be just a drop in the bucket.

It has been pointed out in the comment thread for my post that I may have jumped the gun in cc:’ing your academy superiors in my initial e-mail without first seeing if you would remove the site on your own. In retrospect, I should have given you the chance to remove it on your own — the only defense that I can give is that as there was no current e-mail address listed when I found your site, I was not certain I was contacting the right person, and at the time I found your site, I was somewhat overwhelmed from the attention my site had been getting and was somewhat touchier than I usually strive to be.

In my experiences with Microsoft (detailed earlier on my website, though it’s entirely possible that that is how you found my site in the first place), I made a mistake, and was immediately given the most extreme punishment possible. I then turned around and essentially did the same to you. For that, I most certainly owe you an apology as well.

I do hope that this hasn’t caused any major problems for you at the Academy (and as such, will also be cc:’ing this apology to the same contact person at the Academy that I did my initial e-mail). We’ve each recently made mistakes that have become more public than we expected or would have wanted them to. Hopefully each of us can learn from this in the future.

Again, good luck to you, and best wishes.

Everybody makes mistakes. Of late, I’ve been making my mistakes loudly and publicly — not something I’d really recommend to anyone. ;) Hopefully I can stop this trend before it gets any worse!

After far too much controversy — which is, unfortunately, far from finished — Gene Robinson was consecrated as Bishop on Sunday. It sounds like, while there were objections raised and protests held near the site of the consecration, overall it went pleasantly and without any undue problems.

After the objections were raised, [Presiding Bishop Frank T.] Griswold thanked attendees “for bringing their concerns before us.” But he also seemed to make a case for unity when he related a story of a primate who told him that “the Holy Spirit can do different things in different places,” adding, “That is precisely what we are doing here.”

Robinson received a more effusive endorsement from the Rev. Douglas Theuner, who he is replacing. Concluding a humorous and wide-ranging address that lightened the mood in the arena, Theuner told Robinson that his consecration is not the defining battle in the history of the church that some have made it out to be.

“When a young man unsure of his sexual orientation reads ‘The Episcopal Church Welcomes You’ on a sign outside the church and enters that church, that’s a defining moment in Christian life,” he said.

Many congratulations and best wishes go out to Bishop Robinson.