Just my thoughts. I'm sure you have your own.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vacations... What are those again?

Next week I'll be on an 8-day cruise with my wife. Our truly official first vacation after being married for 4 years! We haven't gone anywhere (except to see friends in the mountains, but that wasn't really a 'getting-away-from-it-all' type of vacation) since our honeymoon, so I'm looking forward to it. Which means you won't see any updates for the next week and a half after tomorrow. Sorry, but I don't think anyone reads this anyhow--so I guess I'm the only one who will be missing the updates...

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Many Faces of the Sky

Something that just strikes me as weird is how versatile the sky is over a short period of time.

I left my house at around 6:45 AM this morning to a completely blackened darkness, mostly due to the fact that stratus clouds covered every direction as far as the horizon of my 'in-the-woods' house would allow me to see. Said cloud coverage continued up to about 7:10, as I passed my second 'checkpoint'* on my way to work. At this point, I encountered a number of sunrise phenomena.

[* I travel a two-lane highway for some 55 miles on my way to work, passing through no less than 4 'settlements' as I like to call them--small towns where the population can be counted on fingers and toes. I affectionately refer to these as checkpoints.]

First, there was that eerie sepia-tone tint that everything has as the sun crescends over the horizon at such an angle that the light is trapped under the clouds. See, the clouds were starting to dissipate in the direction of the sunrise (East, if my middle school-era education serves me), but the clouds directly overhead and in every other direction were still thick. So, I got to experience that 'I think I'm in the 1940's' feeling driving down the highway.

This is always a fun experience to behold. For one, you experience that invisible wall for seeing complete cloud coverage in one direction, while zero cloud coverage in another--without any gradual smoothing between the two, as if somebody put a giant glass bottle around the clouds and I was actually trapped inside with it. (Fears of crashing through proved unfounded.) Again, you get that cool tone of color as you drive.

Finally, once you get out from the range of under the doom cloud wall, you get that weird 'dystopia' effect--the one where, as you look ahead, things look like early spring: bright, cheery, full of hope; while as you look behind, all you see is the dark, forlorn clouds that you had just left, almost as the sky looks over a destroyed metropolis. (Is it just me, or is it weird that in sci-fi movies, dystopias are in a constant state of rain/heavy cloud coverage? As if to say after complete destruction of a city, they could never have a bright sunny day to take the kids to the park...)

Finally, I get to work, and it was like I woke from a dream. Absolutely no cloud that I could see, save a few whiter clouds to the south. This, of course, makes it all the more strange that I had encountered no rain on my entire drive, but got inside my work building just in time for the rain to come here.

Anyways, that was my adventure today with weather. In case anyone is interested, the computer still is dead and is not looking good for me. On the other hand, I came up with some interesting plot points for NaNoWriMo.

Oh, and yes, it's Final Fantasy Friday--week three in a row. Tackling soundtracks from FFX and FFXII mostly today.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Power of Music

In yesterday's post, I commented on how I had a rough start to the day based off of the fact that I was roused from sleep by one of the most dreckful songs the 80's had the gall to produce. This was sandwiched between other irks, such as an unworkable computer (looking all the more to be a dead computer now) and a dead stop to my NaNoWriMo story idea.

Neither of the two latter situations have remedied themselves; yet, I'm in a much better mood today? Why could this be the case? By an improvement in the third variable--music.

Yesterday, I couldn't get that blasted "Werewolves of London" song out of my head. Today, I woke to Elton John--granted, not a first-string choice of voices to come to consciousness over. Yet, it was one of his better songs ("Somebody save my life tonight") and I actually laid there to listen to it... until my wife reached over me and shut it off. I thought she was an Elton John fan...

Anyways, after this, I grabbed a mix MP3 CD of musicals and proceeded to listen to the Broadway recording of "West Side Story" on my way to work. Haven't heard it in forever, and I don't think I've really liked it more than I do right now (for some unknown reason). Needless to say, I'm all smiles today.

Amazing what a morning choice of music can do to a person, huh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Computers just make my day...

Can you pick up on the sarcasm? I hope so, cause I intended it to be that way...

This has not started off to be a good day. First, late last night, before I went to bed, I started to seriously question my plot for NaNoWriMo--coming up against some legitimate issues with central points to the plot. Not just plot holes or contradictions--Real, serious issues, such as 'Ok, what do we do now?' To wit: I don't have an answer.

So, that wasn't a good mood to be in. This morning, I wake up to the radio going off (as usual, nothing unusual there). However, one of the most annoying songs that was spawned from the 80's (and that's a VERY high bar to jump) was the song that had roused me from my sleep. "Werewolves of London". Specifically, it came on right at the chorus. My eyes weren't even open yet and already I was rolling them. Needless to say, my radio did not deserve the fierce slap it received at that juncture.

So, how can we cap off such a wonderful trifecta of bad-day-iness? How about a complete computer failure?

My wife openly admits to accidentally getting a virus the other day. Nothing I'll complain about, as I've done this no less than a dozen times throughout my life. However, of all of the viruses to be gotten out there, she got a doozy.

Turn on computer - BIOS loads - Windows splash screen - Instantaneous BSoD.

Won't allow safe mode. Won't even attempt to load Windows before the failure screen. This one's going to be fun to fix. I'm thinking a wipe is going to occur. It doesn't sadden me all too much, as I back everything up on media AND an external hard drive. My wife is quite upset, however, as she is an amazing artist (mostly with sketches) and has been in rare form as of late, scanning everything into the computer and coloring it--spending hours on hours. Very little of it is backed up. (In her case, saved online on an art website she frequents, where she can download them back.) I just know it's going to be quite a bit of work for me to get this thing fixed, and with my shortened 'at-home' time now that I'm working (65 minutes away, so the commute zaps even more time), I'm going to have a very busy week (+ -end)

Ah well, at least I have something to do. I hope the day doesn't worsen any...

EDIT: Spoiler--It didn't. Not a bad day... Onto fight the ongoing battle with technology!

Monday, October 12, 2009

NaNoWriMo, take 3.

For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, check this out. NaNoWriMo.org

The National Novel Writers' Month competition is one that I've attempted a number of years in the past, but really to not much avail. (One year, I got about 1/4 of the way through in one week, but then gave it up as Final Fantasy XII was being released. Priorities, man... Priorities.)

When my wife came up to me this year and expressed her interest in trying it this year, this only fueled my determination to give it the ol' college try one more time. I've gotten a good idea of what I want to write about (surprisingly, I was kicking around 5 ideas I had developed in the past, only to put them on the shelf once again for an idea I devised this morning on the way to work). I'll probably post some of my ideas and updates of its development on here as it takes place.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Final Fantasy Friday

(For those of you who are unfamiliar with what 'Final Fantasy' is, I unfortunately recommend you to check out my other postings or to check back on Monday, as there is far too much to explain in the time that I have today.)

I declare this day "Final Fantasy Friday"

I'm going to spend the day (while at work) listening to the soundtracks to Final Fantasy(ies) 4 - 9 (excl. 5). I listened to FF4 on the way to work this morning (long commute, some 65 minutes) and was brought back to some awesome memories in the process. My work computer is firing up FF6 as we speak, where I'll start. FF6 - FF9 should take all the time until I get home this evening around 6 PM, and anything that's left over, I'll work into FFX (of which I actually have the official soundtrack to, not just MIDI renditions as the predecessors.

Check back throughout the day, as I'll be keeping my blog window open and posting my thoughts and updates throughout the day, as listed below...

8:15 AM (Had to get set up with work): Final Fantasy VI begins--Crystal theme and Opening Scene. Crystal theme on this MIDI has a nice left-right panning effect; since I'm wearing headphones, it's like Uematsu's right here in the room, dancing around my head.

- I've listened to these soundtracks a hundred times each, but never with headphones. The surround effects are really good. I keep looking around for a hidden orchestra in this room.

- Listening to the world theme in the World of Balance. Just looked at the total time--almost two and a half hours for this whole soundtrack. I'll be listening until almost 11 AM! Good thing I love the music to this game, huh?

- You know, for being one of the most evil villians in a Final Fantasy, or any game really, Kefka has a very goofy theme... I think it's good that (on this compilation at least) the Empire's eerie music follows...

- The Mountains east of South Figaro, where you fight Vargas. Ugh, the first annoying stage of the game, because of all of the enemies that can poison you... lots of them 'Bats' talked about on the VG trope website. (I'm posting a lot I've noticed... Don't worry, about 30 seconds every 10 minutes should be alright.)

9 AM If you're coming across some sad/serious information during the course of your job, I highly recommend listening to Celes' theme while reading it... Very effective mood music.

- The intro to the Ghost Train music actually sounds like a 1940's cartoon--kinda like that one Popeye cartoon where he rescues his pappy from the island with the weird ogre looking guys. Actually, the whole song does... (I know it seems like I'm doing a lot of typing on here, but in actually, I'm getting a lot of work caught up today--it's been rather really productive.)

- Ugh... the ragtime 'Teach Me' screen... Just... ugh...
- - Saved by the next song - The Serpent Trench.

- Ah, the opera house. I've been listening to a track from 'Dear Friends' that plays the actual opera that gets interrupted during the course of the game. It's called "The Dream Oath" and just furthers the evidence in my case that Nobuo Uematsu is the greatest composer of any field of music for all times. Hearing the MIDI now, though, is more nostalgic than anything, but it makes me want to listen to the Dream Oath live. Perhaps on the way home from work...

- 2nd Ugh of the day - Magitech Factory. Full of some REALLY annoying enemies. At least my workmate ran to the store and brought back a Zero candy bar for me. Thanks, Becky.

10 AM - Relm's theme is such a favorite of mine. Can't listen to it enough... I think she's one of my favorite characters in the game, too. I mean, it's certainly not Umaro...

- Heh, 'The Seal is Broken'... escaping the Floating Continent... This is music (I've learned from experience) you do NOT want to listen to loudly in the dark. (I love playing video games late at night with no lights on except the TV, but this is freaky. Like 'Silent Hill' freaky)
- - But is immediately followed by Celes' theme (or a reasonable facsimile - 'Alone on the Island')
- The town music for the World of Ruin always makes me sad-faced. I know they're ficticious people, but that scene where the city gets ripped in half by Kefka's ray is pretty atrocious, even for a 16-bit graphics game.

- Hoo boy, another potential tear-jerker. Rachel's theme. I swear, I am a man among men, but every time I get Locke's flashback conerning Rachel (in the world of Balance), I just about lose it. The music... it's all the music's fault...

- Already to 'Dancing Mad'?! Wow, time sure flies by. I guess it has been almost 2 1/2 hours. (And yes, I'm still staying productive. I'm quite pleased with myself actually)
- - My, this song is long. Only half-way done after like 4:30. Then there's a 11-minute epilogue. Guess I'm not as close to being done with this as I thought.
- - Then again, the rock organ part just started. Black Mages do a great job with this song.

- Uematsu writes Ending/Epilogue music better than even John Williams. Yes, I said it.

10:40 AM - Wow. It's been awhile since I heard that whole soundtrack. Well, the memories will linger, but the heart and ears move on to Final Fantasy 7, starting now...

- I'll just take a few minutes here real briefly to explain my position on Final Fantasy 7--as the Prologue plays on in my ears... I used to hate it, mostly because I was upset about Sony picking up the rights to Final Fantasy. I refused to even acknowledge it as a game... until I actually played it. I still had a deep love for the SNES games and considered them the best, but the more I played 7, the more I liked it. Then I started to really listen to the music. FF7 is by far the best soundtrack to a Final Fantasy, and perhaps the best compilated album of songs ever recorded--and yes, even though it was written in MIDI format!!!!! You'll hear a lot of praise in this section of the blog...

- Getting distracted by work with this case, but Aeris' Church theme (with the tubular bells harmonizing) brought me right back to the music. Ahhhh....
- - Alright, back to 'automatic' mode, where I can do the work without a lot of deep research into what i'm doing, all to the tune of 'Underneath the Rotting Pizza'.

- And now to Tifa's theme. This is a character (and song) that has increasingly grown dear to me over the 10 years (since I played FF7 the first time... actually, 10 years ago last month was the first time I went through it.)

- (Music break, phone call to the Misses. Besides, I gotta get up and stretch)

- (And now on to lunch...)

12:35 PM I have just a little bit left of lunch, but i'm back to my station listening to music. Getting up the Shinra tower. Great music throughout the game.

- 'Ahead on our Way', leaving Midgar after the Motorcycle + boss. Ahhhhhhhh..........
- - Which of course is followed by the heavenly 'Main (World) Theme'. I could loop this for 10 straight hours and not be tired of it...

- And don't forget 'Farm Boy'... geez, all of these songs make me wanna play 'Chocobo's Dungeon' again...

1:00 PM Already getting to the Gold Saucer. Boy there are some memories and good tunes here. "Interrupted by Fireworks" is both.

- 'Sandy Badlands' - We learn a little bit about Barrett. This music kinda turns my heart, much like Rachel's Theme from FF6. Kind of a sad history with him, playing it out in my head how it goes in the game...

1:35 PM - It begins. The music for the 'Forgotten City'. Beneath the city... towards the altar. J-E-N-O-V-A, and the final piece of music to end Disk 1. It's perhaps the greatest 7 minutes of music I own..
- - And then to couple the beginning of Disk 2, wandering through the snow of the Northern Continent.
- - - (Edit: The music I'm listening to is not wandering around the snow, but prior to that, when still in the city. It's called 'Anxious Heart')

- Just looked at the time, a little over half-way done with this particular soundtrack, meaning I'll be starting FF8 shortly after 3, which will make 8 the last one I listen to today! (I'll only be able to get 4 soundtracks in... what a disappointment!)

- Ah yes, 'The Countdown Begins' - Weapon is first released. Fast bloodpumping strings, anybody?

2:00 PM - Hmm, the music where the team is captured by Shinra. (You know, right after the whole 'Cloud falls into the Lifestream' incident...)

- Oooooohhh... 'Who am I' and 'Who are you'. While Cloud has his 'freak-out' in-his-head event. Love the music here. Eerie...

- What? Already at the end? J-E-N-O-V-A's final form and One Winged Angel. As mentioned above, however, the Epilogue is some of Uematsu's best work, yet again.
- - A great ending to a great game.

2:45 PM - Starting our last soundtrack for the day, and I don't even believe I"m going to get all of it before I leave work. At least the best music of this game is within the first half of the soundtrack...

- Much like with FF7, I've been distracted with some research, but i'm back to paying attention. Missed 'Balamb Garden' and 'Blue Fields'--two great songs, but I was kinda listening. I can always hear them again later.

- FF8 does not use MIDIs in the game--however, I downloaded the MIDIs online to form my soundtrack. The composer of these MIDIs did a great job in compiling them; however, the bass note resonates a full 4 seconds passed the end of the song. It's weird and annoying, especially in tracks like this one: 'SeeD'.

- Although you do have to give it to FF8--catchiest battle music in the series. 'Force Your Way.'

- Squall meets Rinoa at the dance. Nice music.
- - Squall disses Quistis after the dance. Nice music.

- Julia/Eyes on me. Always makes me feel bad I don't play as much piano anymore.

- Familiar tune: 'Succession of Witches'. It's when FF8 starts to go off the deep end with "Huh?" moments....

- 'The stage is set': Preparations for the assasination of the Sorceress at the end of Disk 1. Kind of a cool 'hunting' theme of music for, like, playing a FPS.

- (You starting to notice my lack of enthusiams with my updates? Yeah, it's late on a Friday. They're going to be less... impacty.)

- Heh, but just as I say that... 'Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec'. The chant during the Squall-Edea encounter that ends Disk 1. Gotta love the drama that Sagaguchi builds in his games.

4:00 PM - This Final Fantasy Friday has sure made the day go by quicker. A lot of mood music, really uncertain where in the game it should be. Supposedly these tracks should be in chronological order that they're encountered in the game, but that's not always true. I got the actual track listing from the site as it reflects the OFFICIAL soundtrack listing. They could just be off on the listing (for instance, the ending 'Slide Show' songs are in the middle somewhere).

-Mmmm, 'Ami'. Pretty music... right up there with Julia earlier...

- Got 45 minutes of work left, but I'm going to wind down and just listen casually to the music--getting into a batch of cases with no info in them--lots of research. Thanks for reading.

Monday, September 28, 2009

History Never Lies about Network Servers

Friday, just before leaving work, there was a notification sent to all concerning our data entry application--there would be some server update work taking place on Monday (today) from 12:00 AM to 4:00 AM, well before anyone got to work--so that it would all be done and ready to go for the workers when they get in.

Now, from working in IT before, including a position where I was responible for monitoring (note--not integrating or applying) the updates. 10 out of 10 times, even though the updates would "take place during the night", nothing worked the next day. Oftentimes, it wouldn't be right until about 2 hours after everyone had got to work.

So, from my previous work experience, I took this notification to mean that there would be some downtime today. However, this was argued against by many over the fact that "I used to work for a rinky-dinky Credit Union--this is a State job, including a server for the entire State."

Well, it's 8:30 AM and the server's still down. Point for me?

(EDIT: 9:50 and no server. We're getting close to meeting the '2 hours' target average from the last job. Are we going for a new record? I seem to recall us being down for some 5 hours on one occasion.)

(EDIT 2: 10:35 and we're back up. 2.5 hours is by no means a record, but certainly a contender based off of the average I'm used to.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mathematical Theorum of Tire-Personality

I oftentimes complain about the people I am forced to be in close proximity to when driving. Many of the thoughts and words that come about are legitimate. Here is yet another observation--perhaps one a bit more scientific.

I call it the Tire-Personality Theorum. It goes as follows.

"The defensiveness of a driver (x) is inversely proportional to the distance past the frame of a vehicle their tires stick out (y). Conversely, the reckless, carefree attitude of the driver (a) is directly proportioned to y. Additionally, the distance that the driver allows before merging in front of you (b) (whether in a multi-lane road or in passing) is inversely proportional to y.

You start to see the relation of all of the 'bad habits' of drivers in relation to their tires' sticking out from the car. Not to say that only vehicles with these absurd tire proportions are bad--there are plenty of others. However, 99 out of 100 vehicles (mostly trucks) with sticking-out tires fall into this theorum.

Did we get all of that? y = a + b = 1/x. Trust me on this--there will be a study done on my theorum some day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Missing Appreciation

I think I finally realize why people don't seem to appreciate the wonders of nature as much anymore.

You drive to work early in the morning, groggy with only the mere substance of caffienated coffee stirring in your system to keep you from collapsing into a ball of human genetic materials in the floorboard of your car. You head down the two-lane highway that takes you from the small town that you live in to avoid the huge city life across the wilderness of countrysides. In the break of trees, though, perhaps on a two mile straightaway, you see the peeking of the first rays of purple light creeping up over the horizon. Though a site beheld a myriad times, it captivates, enthralls, hypnotizes. The same color scheme every day. The same hues that have been recreated by designers and artists throughout history. Yet, you just can't turn away. Perhaps on an overcast or partly cloudy day, the sky almost seems terraformed with continents of vapor, which in turn reflect the palatte of majesty.

And as you stare longingly, feeling alive for the first time in weeks, you turn forward just in time to steer your car back onto the road, seconds away from bullrushing a tree. At which point, all you can think about is how stupid nature is for distracting you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Church of Commercials

I don't like to touch on touchy subjects (in my blog, at least), but there's this one Church in my town that I just feel like going up to and... well... smacking some sense into whoever is doing their marquee sign outside.

You know the type, the kind of sign where they put up the individual letters that spell out words--they're quite common.

Anyways, most churches I've found have something incredibly corny that has nothing to do with the Bible (or in some cases, religion at all), but this one church, over the course of the last two months, have put up not only cheesy little sayings, but lawsuit-worthy phrases.

Without exaggerating, here are some of the things said:

'Geico saves you money, Jesus saves your soul'
'God is like Allstate--you're in good hands'
'Save money? Go to Wal-mart. Save your soul? Go to church'

I'll stop here... though I think there are a few others.

Now, I'm no lawyer. Still, I believe the term Trademark refers to something like Intellectual Property that is owned by a person or company. I even believe some companies have copywrited (copywritten?) actual phrases so that they can't be used commercially. Since when do churches feel they get an exemption from this? And it's not even like they're clever sayings. They basically just watched a commercial at 11 PM at night and thought, 'Hey, that sounds like a good thing to put on my sign.'

Not i'm not religion-bashing here. But I do believe that the signs have to go. Or at least put something worth reading on there, not just when Bingo is this week.

That's my opinion, at least.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On a serious note...

Oftentimes, I try to incorporate a little humor or sarcasm in my comments, but I just can't manage it today. I've been listening to some songs that really bring back some memories. It's really funny how music has the ability to attach itself to memories to make them seem more vivid or alive to you, where you weren't even thinking about them before the song. As if music has a direct attachment to the parts of the brain related to memory storage. Any scientists out there want to take this up as a study?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Signatures and News

And a hearty good morning to all.

I decided this past weekend to (once again) fire up this IMHO blog. This time, sincerely keeping them short--thus increasing the chances I can actually put something up most every day. ... Well, within reason, of course.

So, it's only 10:30 AM here. I've been at work for a little over 2 hours (Now on my 15-minute break, in case anyone from management is checking in). Yet, I've somehow come across two interesting thoughts that just have made me laugh.

Signature Lines on Emails

I received an email from a colleague earlier today necessary for research. This was the first time I emailed this person (and in all honesty, have never actually met this person), and thus, saw her email signature ever.

Now for those unfamiliar with an email Signature, business individuals who use a program to manage their email will oft-times personalize their email templates to already have their name and contact information at the bottom. Usually, this is nothing more than a name, title, address, phone number... that sort of thing.

However, this email I received today had a pithy saying at the end of it. (I really should call it a 'pity' saying, as you'll soon discover) Now, this in itself isn't really unusual--on the occasional online forum, I'll do the same. However, this particuar line actually had created a paradox in space and time. I'm surprised my computer has not imploded from receiving an email from her.

The message, for fear of crashing this blog server, is read below:

I actually spent about 5 minutes dissecting this sentence. Take a minute to gather your own thoughts about it before reading on. I'll wait...

Ok, back with me?

First of all, the line itself is a falsity. There are plenty of people who try and fail. Consider my high school career. I did fine in every class except Calculus, which I tried my best at, and still failed. Thus, the sentence itself is not true.

However, my biggest concern was the paradox in it. The grammar is incorrect. There is a comma where there should be no comma, and no period where there should be at the end. Thus... she failed. However, by the context of the information in the statement itself, she didn't fail, because she tried. Thus is born a paradox. It's one of those English Faux Pas that you learn about in College English I; like 'There is no error in this sentance.' I know this seems like nit-picking, but for a professional LEGAL businesswoman to have a paradox in their signature line... well, it scares me.

News Articles that make you think...

My workmate, Becky, on her 15-minute break, was reading news articles from the local paper's website reciting of the news. She brought to my attention that 'From the news desk', at the top of the page, told the story of a local woman who just today won $1,500 dollars in a contest that her local bank was holding. Talk about a slow news day, huh?

Well, our gripe comes in the form of the fact that this story is... well, how do I put this.... NOT NEWS. In fact, one would go so far as to say that many readers wouldn't really CARE about this particular story. In general then, the point is how newspapers, television reporters, and Web news sites, when choosing their 'top stories', always puts some article that nobody really cares about. For instance, when Yahoo puts on their top four links under 'News' a video of a 6-month old kitten batting around a ball of yarn. Cute? Of course. Sharable with friends? Absolutely. News? To my friend's 3 year old daughter, perhaps, but not to me.

To reinforce this point, referring back to the news article Becky was looking at, the stories that the money winner TRUMPED included a plane crash (in a town about 50 miles away), a child being killed in his driveway, as well as some seasonal medical advice that could help hundreds.

Do you see the problem here? Not that it doesn't matter some random lady won money from a bank--I think it's great... wish it was me. It just... isn't news.

In my honest opinion, I believe that Newspapers and TV News programs should have some sort of a section separate from the news... Actually, wait... they do. It's called Editorials, Opinions, or OTHER FLIPPIN' SHOWS OTHER THAN THE NEWS. At the very least, have a section called Not News to talk about it. Not 'Entertainment News' or 'Film Reviews'--just Not News. Is that so much to not muddy the definition of News for the people today?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

'Australia' the movie

My wife and I saw the movie Australia at the behest (and the allowance of borrowing the DVD) of friends of ours. I was a bit apprehensive from seeing it, as the movie really isn't my style of something to watch. (To further my fears, the back cover lists the movie as a 'romantic action adventure, with comedy, drama and spectacle. High bar, much?) I surprisingly endured the whole 165 minutes (That's almost 3 hours!) without any alcohol, usually a must for this sort of 'adventure'.

Long story short, I would give the movie a 5 out of 10. It wasn't bad. It was... well... it was a movie, and it was obvious they spent a lot of time on it. However, for me to be writing about it, there would have to be certain irks, right?

Oftentimes, when I'm playing a video game or watching a movie (etc.), I like to do a little roleplaying in my head as if I were the writers, director, actors and so forth. It helps me to look past what I'm actually looking at or listening to--to actually understand what is going on here. Often, this makes things good, because I can be pleasantly surprised when my expectations are shown to be wrong. A good twist on a prediction always is worth a few points in my book. (You'll note that those points were missing from Australia's 5 given above.) Thus, I would like to mention my thoughts while watching Australia for the first (and probably last) time.


Pre-movie: The writers (there were 4 of them) brainstorm.

Writer 1: Alright, guys. We've got a sure blockbuster ahead of us. What should we write about? Come on. What sort of things are you all into?

Writer 2: Well, I'm certainly a fan of westerns and those sort of adventures. Oh, and I love Chuck Norris. Gotta be something like that in there.

Writer 3: Maybe, the Chuck Norris thing works, but we definitely have to do a war piece. I mean, look how successful 'Pearl Harbor' was! In fact, it's gotta take place in the middle of World War II. People can't get enough of that!

Writer 4: This sounds kinda dark. We need something lighthearted. Something pure and innocent... What if we included some sort of running theme tied in with a classic movie. You know, 'The Wizard of Oz' is my favorite movie. That Judy Garland....

Writer 1: Ok, ok... lots of different ideas. They're all so good, too. Seems like they would clash, though.

Writer 2: Nah, not at all. I'm sure we can fit them all in.

Writer 4: Yeah. "Wizard of Oz" would have been out by World War II, so that fits.

Writer 1: Just because something 'fits' doesn't mean it'll work though.

Writer 3: Sure it will. People love genre mixing. Romantic Comedies, Epic Adventures, that sort of thing.

Writer 1: Well, let's just see. I'll write down all these ideas for now, but I think...

Writer 4: Oh, you know what? You liked Chuck Norris, right Bill? I was watching X-Men the other day, and that Hugh Jackman looks a lot like him.

Writer 1: I don't think he looks exactly...

Writer 2: You're absolutely right! We must get Hugh Jackman to play the lead. He'll be all like carrying a gun on a beach, storming Vietnam...

Writer 3: Except it's World War II.

Writer 2: Yeah, World War II. But he's got a gun and he's all like, rat-a-tat-a-tat-a...

Writer 1: Wait a minute... just wait. I get a say in this, too. I was kinda hoping to do a period piece, maybe about life in Aboriginal Australia...

Writer 3: ...And then the Japanese can drop bombs all around him, and he comes up from the smoke running, sweat pouring from his forehead.

Writer 1: Guys...

Writer 2: And he has to rescue a house full of children from all of these evil army men. Just him and his obedient sidekick.

Writer 1: Guys?

Writer 4: Now, come on... This is way too violent. There's no way we can fit songs into this movie as it is now. I want songs! "Somewhereeee over the rainbow..."

Writer 1: GUYS! Now, I'm head writer, and I say we're going to do my Aboriginal Australia idea.

Writer 2: ... With Chuck Norris.

Writer 3: And bombs and soldiers...

Writer 4: And Judy Garland every 10 minutes.

Writer 1: FINE! Whatever!


I'll take a little break here. But you get the idea. Honestly, I've covered most of the synopsis of the movie with that little pow-wow. However, this was just one conversation flowing through my head. During the course of the movie, I also was piecing together a brief overview of the movie. As if to say, 'How could I describe this movie in about a minute or two? After all, it's almost 3 hours long!'

If you've never been to Rinkworks.com, Rinkmaster Sam has a section called Movie-a-Minute wherein he makes a (comical) shortened form of the movie that truthfully tells the movie. I'd like to do my own version below.


Dan's Movie-a-Minute of 'Australia'

Extra 1: Crikey, I'm Australian. Hear my strong Australian accent? Blimey. People love accents.

Hugh Jackman: Crikey, that's true. Accents make a movie worth watching. See how much Australian lingo I know? There's a Shirley crossing the never-never...

Nicole Kidman: I'm an uptight British lass in Australia. Hugh Jackman, you are a man of the land, whom I could never warm to.

Fletcher: Crikey, I'm a lecherous Australian man, but so is everyone else here, because it's World War II era, and there's no such thing as equality.

Nicole Kidman: Hugh Jackman, save me from these close-minded people.

Hugh Jackman: Crikey, I can't do that, Shirley, I mean, Ms. Ashley. I'm a man of the land. I go as I please.

Nicole Kidman: Please?

Hugh Jackman: Fine, but we do things my way. We have to move cattle.

Aborigines: We're just going to chant Aboriginal things. That ok?

Nicole Kidman: I love Australia. I've become so attached that I'm going to become motherly to everyone. WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! DON'T LEAVE ME!!

Hugh Jackman: Bye.

Fletcher: Hey, babe... Er... G'day Ms. Ashley. Your ranch will be mine, and I will bug you about it every day until you sign it over.

Townspeople: We hate the Aborigines and Hugh Jackman, because he likes them.

Japan: Huzzah! Bombs away!

Townspeople: We still dislike the Aborigines, but less now.

Hugh Jackman: I found myself. Anyone seen Ms. Ashley?

General: She's dead. Please, Mr. Jackman, please turn into Chuck Norris and save the children.

Hugh Jackman: Shapeshift into Chuck Norris!

Townspeople: (Cheers)

Hugh Jackman: I'm back, after my loyal friend sacrificed his life, as per custom dictates.

Nicole Kidman: I'm alive!

Hugh Jackman: Wonderful! I'm going to the bar.

Fletcher: My life is ruined, which it pretty much has been this whole film. Die, main characters.

Aborigine Witch Doctor: No you don't.

Fletcher: Ack! I am dead.

Hugh Jackman: At least me, Ms. Ashley, and the aboriginal child can live happily ever after.



Really, this sums up the main points of the movie. Just stretch it out into 3 hours. I have more to say about this, but I'll save it for tomorrow. After all, we started the movie at 8:30 PM, and with me typing this all immediately after the movie, it's now Midnight on the dot.


8:00 AM, the next morning

Sorry, I was drifting asleep there last night. I still had a little more to go on about the movie. I did want to say real briefly that I thought the movie was okay. As mentioned at the outset, I would give it a 5, so there are some elements that really work for it. (Not to mention I keep expecting Hugh Jackman to grow claws and attacks the bad guys. The bar fight scene at the beginning doesn't help my impression.) However, there are 3 problems with the film that hinder it from being anything more than an 'ok' movie. I've listed those three problems below in increasing importance, along with a 4th 'It's just me' reason.

#4. It's just me... but it's not my type of movie. War movies are not my thing, and cattle driving isn't exactly a spectator sport for a reason. Of 3 hours, at least 1 solid hour of it involves watching them drive cattle, and about 35 minutes or so involves Chuck Norris-mode Hugh Jackman. In fact, now that I think about it, it was more like 30 minutes or even 25, which, comparitavely makes the cattle driving part seems not only much longer but the ending (where this is located) a bit rushed. All in all, just not my cup of tea.

#3. It's just too formulatic. I'm not a film critic. I only watch about 3 movies a year as they come out, and usually 2 of them are after the DVD is released. Yet, if I, the average joe, can predict everything that happens in a movie right before it happens, not enough thought was given the script. Granted, for a 90-minute movie, there's only so many 'twists' one can write in without seeming like a circus. Still, for a 3 HOUR MOVIE, this kinda becomes tedious. From the second Ms. Ashley arrives and 'proves that she's not as stuck up as the first 10 minutes of the film would lead you to believe' all the way to the 'if you kill the kid, we can't have a happy ending' last minute, most average movie watchers can predict what's going to happen. Nothing much exciting happening here, folks.

#2. There's no reason this should have been one movie. By now, you've picked up on these two points: The movie was tediously long and the movie encompassed two very differing genres involving cattle driving and war. Why couldn't this have been split into two separate movies? You had enough material, obviously. It even FEELS like a seperate movie once Drover leaves the ranch half way through. As soon as they even MENTION the war going on, flashbacks of 'Pearl Harbor' start flooding the minds of the watcher. I all but expect Cuba Gooding, Jr. to run across the beach of Darwin, Australia, looking to help Hugh Jackman out. This just feels like two movies glued together at the seam.

#1. 3 Hours of poor, poor cinematography. Oh man, this just stood out like a sore thumb the entire time, with the apex of goofiness during the moments that should have been tear-jerkers. I'll give you an example...

There's a scene where, while on the drive, Fletcher, the OBVIOUS bad guy* (See Below), is trying to sabotage the drive by running the cattle off of a cliff. Two of Drover's helpers try to steer them away from the cliff. One of the horses trips, sending the helper, Mr. Flynn, under the stampede. As he falls, the camera zooms in on his face (which looks cartoonish to begin with). However, there are jaw-droppingly bad blue/green screen effects going on that are so unrealistic, my pet cat, who watched the film with us, shook his head and laughed like Muttley from Hanna Barbara. I was supposed to be feeling for the man trampled to death, as well as the drovers who almost died stopping the stampede. Instead, I just sat there grinning, trying my best not to laugh.

I felt bad that I wanted to laugh, especially since my wife criticizes me for constantly making fun of movies. Still, this was just a taste of things to come. There were two reasons why the computer-imposed screens looked so fake. A) They ALWAYS were zooming in on the characters' faces during these moments, and the transition just didn't work well. B) They would always have a clearly live shot of, say, a canyon before moving to a computerized scene behind the people. The two just didn't match, and it was obvious. You just have to see the movie to understand what I'm talking about, but I guarantee you won't cry during the sad parts. None of them.

I do have an honorable mention to give, as footnoted above. This really isn't a 'bad' movie trait, as there are plenty of good movies that does this. However, those good movies usually get the last 4 points right. This movie really didn't justify bad guys or good guys as to why they did what they did. They just did. You know the whole drill. Good guys do good because they're good. Bad guys... well, they're Bad, right? They do bad things.

In most 'realistic' movies today, the writers give good reason why the bad guys do the things they do. Take the latest Batman movie with Heath Ledger. The Joker had a very sordid childhood, together with other elements that they explained well in the movie. He was believable as a villian, as was Two-Face (who I still believe is alive by the way--they just can't get rid of him THAT quickly!).

Australia, though... Fletcher is a bad guy because his father is a millionaire bigot. That's the only real reason they make him the way he is. Still, for three hours, he does all but try to push a boulder off of a cliff on the cattle drove. I'm surprised his horse doesn't say ACME on the side of it. All the way to the last minute of the film, he just comes across as a creep who gives no rational thought to anything except, "I'm evil, I must do evil." A little fleshing out of the characters would have been nice.

Ok, that's enough for me. Australia, it was good, but it needed some work...