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Jul. 6th, 2011 | 12:09 pm
mood: "I'm finished!"

I thought I would come back to LiveJournal and make posts, but aside from cross-postings from Warren Ellis and Jamie Zawinski this place is nigh desolate. Let this stand as an epitaph, then, to my mental dribblings from years past. Onward and upward - to fresh spaces and high places.

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(no subject)

Oct. 19th, 2010 | 07:26 am

There is a certain nameless dread that comes with the realization that your biggest crush in high school has turned into an obese Christian fundamentalist.

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Die, Blockbuster.

Jul. 7th, 2010 | 08:10 am
mood: contemplative

This seemed a timely entry to make, as Blockbuster is being delisted from NYSE with a stock price around $0.18 per share.

When the Super Walmart crawled out of hell to suck the last blood of Americana out of my podunk town, the best video store we had proudly announced that they were buying up a parcel of land at its periphery. Some excitement ensued - the favored son among our video stores was about to get bigger and better. The fact that it was to sit on the craggy rim overlooking a hellmouth was lost on my teenaged self.

Blockbuster Video made them an offer they couldn't refuse, bought them up, and an icon of my childhood liquidated its stock and got outta dodge in the space of a few short weeks. The new store itself seemed to go up in a matter of days, like a slow-motion video of a facehugger egg being shlorped out of the tenebrous ovipositor of a malevolent Queen. Inside of three years, all but two of the other video stores in town collapsed. One of those had a huge section of b-movies, and had more kung-fu flicks in one place than I've ever seen since. Another offered a huge selection of video games and had freakishly knowledgeable staff who recommended selections from a small but ambitious collection of foreign films. The others struggled to keep up but failed - among the longest-lasting was a small chain and "local institution" run by an asshole and his best friend. Those stores and their collections of b-movies and bizarre, ancient video game console rentals clung to life for a few more years before quietly dying off. Today, Midway Video is still alive and well opposite the Blockbuster... but its survival doesn't change the fact that Blockbuster was a stake through the heart of a thriving cluster of businesses in the town where I grew up.

On the other hand, Blockbuster's death is bad for the world of cinema, as the inimitably talented John O'Landis elucidated over on the Film Freak Central blog.

"Just as we should never allow ourselves to forgive the Blockbusters of this world--the arrogant, ignorant megachains that keep their feet on the windpipe of small business, always allowing just enough air through to keep the torture going--we also shouldn't assume that there is much of a difference between the assholes who run Blockbuster and the assholes who run anything else. If your goal is simply to congratulate yourself for identifying assholes, you get less credit for noticing the most obvious ones. (A lot of assholes are someone's mom or pop.) No, the really satisfying part of Blockbuster's fall is that every stupid thing it did--every evil practice and annoying habit--blew up spectacularly in its face.

"Mad that it crushed the competition and became ubiquitous? Well, it got so big that it couldn't become lean and efficient during a time in which that probably would have saved the company permanently.

"Mad about the cowardly selection? Well, the fantastic selection is what helped Netflix establish itself, especially among the people who tried to rent interesting stuff at Blockbuster.

"Mad about the prices? The low cost of DVDs allowed Blockbuster's competitors to swallow market share by lowering prices.

"So even though Blockbuster might yet survive, I understand the impulse to dance on its grave. If I haven't stated this clearly yet, I will now--Blockbuster is awful. But allow me to suggest an alternate possibility. I'm pretty sure that if Blockbuster dies, cinema (that is, the era of people going to just any old movie in a theater) dies with it.

"I'm going to start by strongly disagreeing with one criticism of Blockbuster--the supposed high price of rentals. You see, the high price of rentals guarantees something very important: that there will be a financial justification for distribution companies (especially the smaller ones) to release films in theaters. A rental price can't be considerably cheaper than a ticket price. That way, a person who might be convinced either to see a given film in a cinema or at home won't have a huge financial incentive to pick one option or the other. The rental market can swoop in and save a film that doesn't do well in theaters, but if the population starts to consider the price of a movie (not just a rental) to be $1 or $some small portion of my monthly subscription, cinema dies.

"Even if you don't give a shit about movie theaters--and if you don't, just call yourself a TVFreak and get on with it--it's never a good idea to devalue the product in order to achieve market share. As films (or for the anti-cinema 1080philes, DVDs and Blu-rays) become devalued, the people who make and distribute the product take fewer and fewer risks and cut costs in dumber and dumber ways. And then every movie in a theater is an event and every movie in your queue is an EDGY genre picture, shot in HD, that ends in a fucking marriage. I might dislike something like Keane, but if you want stuff like that still to be made AND FOUND, you can't also want to devalue the product. And no matter how many stupid things Blockbuster has done, it's never done that. Blockbuster is evil, but it's evil in a lumbering, obvious way.

"You want to yell Die Fuckers Die at an evil, monolithic company? How about Netflix? Sure, Redbox devalues the product too, but it has such a limited selection, it's really only targeting the idiots who just want some random new release. And yes, Family Video is too cheap, has lame porn, and also manages to devalue the language by offering rentals over various numbers of "nites," but their selection of independent and foreign films makes Blockbuster's look fascinating and worldly. No, the real evil is Netflix.

"With low monthly prices, streaming, and the lack of a tangible, quantifiable individual rental price, Netflix isn't just devaluing the product, it's torching the value of the product. All DVDs are the same price and that price is "$Netflix is all that I need." Why walk into a store and look at boxes on shelves, boxes that weren't put there just for me, when Netflix can tell me stuff that's just like the stuff I just liked? Hell, why even put movies in theaters anymore? Companies will make a movie, Netflix will buy it direct, tell me I might like it, then mail it to me. Or if I'm really impatient, they'll send it from my computer to my TV, which will probably mean the end of net neutrality, so with that, the death of cinema, a population never leaving the couch, horrible debt, and the soul-crushing number of really stupid people out there, we should manage to be around for the fall of the American Empire.

"OK, so I'm not exactly saying that if Blockbuster dies, America dies. Not exactly. Certainly anything bad that happens to Blockbuster will be well deserved. But if you don't think I'm even slightly on the right track about the future of cinema, isn't it weird that a dying company is getting exclusive rental windows while Netflix and Redbox are being forced to wait?"

It's not wrong to cheer at the death of evil, but if that sinister force helps to make the true cinematic experience possible then I'm a bit more reluctant to see it die outright. It's also important to bear in mind that Blockbuster's corporate death throes will put thousands of people out of work... and in this job market, that's never something to crow about.

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(no subject)

May. 18th, 2010 | 07:47 am



I'm back.

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(no subject)

Jan. 28th, 2009 | 08:46 am

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Experiences with the Windows 7 Beta download process.

Jan. 11th, 2009 | 09:43 pm

The Windows (tm) 7 (R) Beta (C) download is rather interestingly broken.

Within Firefox all is fine and properly functional until you get to the download page itself, as clicking the "Download Now" button simply results in the page reloading. No signs of error are notable, either from Microsoft's or the user's perspective.

Within 64-bit Internet Explorer, things go swimmingly until the Download Now button - the clicking of which results in the "Information Bar" asking if you want to install some form of download helper. Confirming that you do, in fact, wish to perform this action results in the page reloading... and then being asked the same question again, as nobody apparently bothered to check if the 64-bit version of IE can actually handle the blob of code in question.

The end result is that the software can only be obtained by using the 32-bit version of Internet Explorer, which is in no way suggested or intimated anywhere during the process, and is apparently to be inferred by the use of magic.

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Memo to ATI / AMD

Nov. 18th, 2008 | 12:00 am

I know you guys try hard - really I do. Your display drivers have gotten remarkably better in the last several years, and the Catalyst Control Center's a little bloated for my liking but unquestionably offers useful functionality. But integrating access to a video driver control panel into the top of the Windows Explorer File menu? That's just strange.

You're creepy, ATI. Consider yourself on notice.

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(no subject)

Nov. 16th, 2008 | 01:21 pm
mood: giggly

It has been a very long time since I felt the need to scar my friends with vile excerpts from alt.tasteless' storied past. We all knew that the dancing days would come to an end soon.

With that, I give you... a review, of all things. I remind you that this was not penned by me, and I can't seem to find the original author to credit him. Should he stumble upon this, he's welcome to message me, and all due credit will be given.

Not work safe. Not mind safe. Reading this could get you killed in numerous countries. You were warned.Collapse )

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Hooray for random small-scale earthquakes!

Oct. 31st, 2008 | 10:01 am
location: Grand Prairie and Irving, apparently...
mood: perplexed

Around 4:30 this morning I was awakened by the sounds made by cats furiously trying to get into our bedroom. This is not all that strange in and of itself - one of our cats in particular REALLY likes to remind us when it's time to feed her - but the timing was unusual, and they were both very eager to get in. Our normally docile first cat literally had to be bodily THROWN out of the room to keep her out. I didn't think much of it at the time, but upon waking this morning I found this:

Apparently stark terror makes cats behave unusually. Who knew?

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Fantastic Viral Videos.

Oct. 6th, 2008 | 06:18 pm
mood: chipper

This won't make a lot of sense unless you watch It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but this is clever - and a fantastic way to engage in schadenfreude.

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