More Wiring
Posted in Hobbies
First dog watch, 3 bells (5:56 pm)

I just called it quits from wiring my downstairs today. I worked almost eight hours pulling wire up and down walls and through ceilings. I've wired several switches and ran completely new wire for a 3-way switch.

Unfortunately, when I turned everything on to check to see if it works, it lit up once then blew the breaker. Now I can't even turn the breaker on. I must have a short somewhere, but I can't figure out where. I was so careful with my work, too, I just don't know where the problem could be. Instead of getting more frustrated, it's time to call it a day. Plus, my feet are killing me. Up and down ladders really does a number on my feet.

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Stranded in Space
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:02 am)

Last night I watched Stranded in Space, another in a long line of MST3K episodes I haven't seen yet. In case you can't tell, I'm trying to see the whole series from beginning to end.

The alternate title, The Stranger is much more appropriate, as this movie was a whole bunch of Stranded and about 4 minutes of Space.

The basic story is that three astronauts are on a deep space mission, returning to Earth. Their navigation equipment is having trouble, and on their way back their capsule is hit by something and spins out of control. The main astronaut wakes up in a hospital with the doctor dude from Buck Rogers trying to convince him he's returned to Earth. It turns out he's really on Terra, a planet in the same orbit as Earth, but on the opposite side of the Sun. Supposedly this explains why they have telephones, Pontiacs, etc and all speak English.

The astronaut breaks out of the hospital when he realizes they're drugging him and milking him for his knowledge of Earth. He runs into a lady doctor on his way out who immediately turns him in when he lets her go unharmed. He still escapes, and slowly begins to realize he really is on another planet. A planet where everyone is left handed, which seems to be one of the only real differences between Terrans and us Earthlings. Anyway, he holes up in a bookstore when the aged proprietor tells him he can rest there when he nearly collapses while looking for history books.

The Terrans have deleted all history before about 35 years previously, since the New Order took over and made everyone's lives "better." The book peddler calls for a doctor without consulting Mr. Astronaut, and lo and behold, the same lady from the hospital shows up to help him. He kidnaps her and makes her drive him around the countryside. She flips on her two-way radio so the authorities know she's been kidnapped. Then Astronaut helps her realize the New Order isn't good, and they kidnapped and possibly killed her brother. She throws in her lot with astroboy, and takes him to an old teacher of hers who, despite having been under previous suspicion, is now a high-up dude in the Terran space program. They (without the doctor) cook up a plan for Astronaut to take the place of a Terran astronaut and slip aboard the next rocket, which happens to be launching tomorrow morning.

The lady doctor follows them to the launch facility because she "must see him one more time", but we know that she's previously been captured by the bad guys and is really helping them find the Astronaut. After they drilled holes in her head and buggered up her brain. He almost makes it to the rocket, but ends up having a gun fight with the bad guys and shoots a tank of liquid oxygen, blowing everything up. As he does this, Astronaut jumps into the ocean and is saved. He swims back to shore, where he is found by some campers. He tells them his ship sank and they offer him a ride up the coast. The movie ends there. He never gets home, or gets the girl. Or anything.

I could still hear this moving sucking after I had put it back in my DVD case and went to bed. I rate this movie two empty seats, for the two additional astronauts that were in the capsule with astroboy but never had any additional part in the movie after the first five minutes.

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Gamera vs. Barugon
Posted in Reviews
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:28 pm)

I also watched Gamera vs. Barugon. Despite being made the year after Gamera, this movie was in color. Gamera was black and white.

This movie should have been titled "Barugon with a little Gamera at the end." Gamera returns from his one-way trip to Mars when his rocket is hit by a meteor and he is released. Gamera spins his way back to Earth. Meanwhile, a greedy ex-soldier tells his buddies about a giant opal he hid in a cave on an island around New Guinea. His buddies all pony up money to sail down there and retrieve the gemstone. The natives tell them that the cave is dangerous, but they would have had to cut the vs. Barugon out of the title if they listened to them.

The opal is actually an egg. After being accidentally exposed to radiation from a lamp that is used to kill athlete's foot (seriously, I'm not making this up!), the egg hatches and Barugon is born. He grows fast, too. When the ship gets back to Japan, sans most of the greedy opal party (killed by one of the even more greedy fellows in the group), Barugon destroys the ship and begins rampaging about the land.

A native girl comes back to Japan with one of the party members that was rescued from the cave-in caused by the super greedy dude to retrieve the egg, but is too late. Fortunately, she brought the giant diamond that Barugon-type creatures can't resist. She then reveals Barugon's weakness—water. Barugon hates water, and is paralyzed when it rains. They try to use the irresistible diamond to lure Barugon into a lake, but it doesn't work. Then the scientists realize that they needed to irradiate the diamond just like what happened to Barugon's egg. Then it seems to work, but the greedy guy returns, steals the diamond (he has a thing for gemstones I guess), and is eaten by Barugon.

Having completely failed to destroy Barugon, Gamera shows up and kicks Barugon's lizard-y hide. Gamera did have an earlier appearance, but Barugon's shoots ice out of his tongue, which froze Gamera until this point.

I rate this movie 1 empty seat: Gamera's. Even though he had top billing, his part in the movie was quite small.

Ooh, I can't believe I forgot to mention Barugon's super special power. No, not the ice shooting from his tongue, this is even better! Barugon shoots rainbows from his back, and they blow up whatever they hit. How cool is that?

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The Pod Peple
Posted in Reviews
First dog watch, 2 bells (5:15 pm)

This one's a right stinker. If you don't watch carefully, you can't even tell it's been dubbed. The movie is actually from Spain. The Pod People somehow is one of the "classic" MST3K episodes. Perhaps because it's one of the commercially available ones. I don't know.

Whatever the reason, this movie suffers from poor dialog, extreme continuity problems, bad acting, and generally lacks the cohesiveness that any normal movie might have. First, it's a story about three poachers in the woods, and one of them runs across a glowing red cave full of alien eggs. He dutifully busts up most of them, and is then murdered by what I must assume is the mommy alien. Then it's about a "rock" band recording a song you can't ever understand despite the fact that it's in English. They go on a weekend camping trip. Then we cut over to a boy and his family that live out in the woods. The boy steals one of the good eggs and it hatches in his room. He names the alien Trumpy because of his long snout. Trumpy is telekinetic and understands the boy Tommy within the first few hours of being born, somehow.

Robbed of its egg, what I must assume is the mother alien goes on a rampage killing people she finds in the forest. Everyone assumes it's Trumpy when they discover Tommy's been hiding him in the house. Tommy takes Trumpy out in the woods to leave him like an unwanted pet, the mother attacks, gets killed, and they leave Trumpy to fend for himself without any help. The end.

I rate this movie 7 empty seats, one for each star in the constellation-type thing that appeared on the forehead of each victim killed by Trumpy's mommy.

It stinks!

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Posted in Reviews
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:56 pm)

I went on a MST3K spree yesterday and saw several episodes. The second of which was the 1965 Japanese classic Gamera. This was the MST3K-edited version of the US-edited version, so I can't imagine how much was left out, but it doesn't really matter. None of these movies are that great.

While in the arctic, a Japanese ship with an expedition are talking to Eskimos about a legendary turtle when strange jets fly overhead. The US launches fighters to run them off, but they fire on them. The US fighters return fire, one of the strange jets crashes and explodes, detonating its on-board atomic arsenal. This atomic blast creates Gamera, who is a giant mutant turtle. He flies by shooting fire out his leg-holes, and spins like a top. It's really quite amusing.

Obviously, since this is a Japanese monster movie, Gamera heads to Japan to destroy its cities. Gamera saves a little boy (who was only endangered because of Gamera, but that's moot), who champions Gamera's cause. Since the military and scientists can't figure out how to kill Gamera (everything seems to just make him stronger), they get him into a rocket and shoot him at Mars.

I rate this movie at about 53 empty seats, one for each crewman on the ship that Gamera immediately destroyed when he was freed/born/whatever from the ice by the atomic blast.

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Cave Dwellers
Posted in Reviews
Afternoon watch, 3 bells (1:31 pm)

Since I'm taking the day off today, I decided to sit back and watch another Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode. Today's vile serving: one giant dose of terrible moving pictures.

Cave Dwellers is a cross between a very tiny amount of cavemen, a lot of medieval fantasy with swords and a little magic, and someone's limited film-making experience. It's full of poorly staged sword fights, way too much pausing between words of nearly-inaudible dialog, and even has a samurai mime. But wait, that's not all. Included free with this film are a genuine 18th century castle, an extremely long hang-gliding scene, and something called the nucleus that is much bigger than a real nucleus and is somehow related to the plot.

Speaking of the plot, here's a run-down. Father tells daughter of the power of the nucleus. It's not clear whether he created it or found it. Bad guy comes to steal it and tortures father. Daughter runs off to "the ends of the Earth" to find the hero, who happened to live in a cave not far from the castle she lived in. She takes an arrow to the chest and limps into the cave to be saved by the hero. Why the arrow causes her to limp is unexplained. Hero heals her, goes back with her to save her father and prevent bad guy from taking the nucleus. Lots of dull fighting ensues. Hero's party is jumped by a gang of samurai in the woods, one of which happens to also be a mime. They get to the castle, and the hero decides to send the girl and his friend in through the not-so-secret entrance while he distracts the guards with his hang glider. Hero kills the bad guy, destroys the nucleus, and leaves the girl at home because his life is "too dangerous" for her to be a part of.

Personally, I think he was gay. Likewise, so was this movie. If it wasn't for Joel and the robots making fun of it, I'd have strangled myself before I got to the end. I rate this movie about 278 empty seats, roughly the number of odd pauses in the dialog by the terrible actors.

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Toe Update
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:26 am)

Remember how I hurt my toe? Here's day two's picture.
My poor toe

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WAY Too Busy
First dog watch, 1 bell (4:31 pm)

Today has been one of those days—my phone has been ringing off the hook, people come into my office all day long, or hunt me down in other parts of the building when I'm fixing some other problem. I need a clone of myself.

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Cinematic Titanic Two
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:42 am)

Joel and the gang at Cinematic Titanic finished recording several new "episodes" recently, and have put a limited release out on their new trailer for Doomsday Machine. If you're a member of their mailing list you'd have gotten a link and a super secret password to get in and view it.

Best part, the stinger: Gumball machine head on a robot? I'm sorry, that is lame. The new episode will be available in June.

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Electrical Work
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:24 am)

This past weekend was spent spring cleaning and doing some work on my unfinished downstairs. I've mentioned before, it's not a basement really, because it's fully above ground.

I ran a bunch of 12/2 wires for lights and outlets, put in several new outlets where there weren't any because of the new walls, and put in receptacles for two ceiling fans and four new lights.

Injury Scorecard:
Blood blisters: 1
Smashed toes: 1
Electrocutions: 0 (let's hope it stays that way)

My left big toe is pretty purple. Ignore the flaking-off toenail polish. Lorien gave me a pedicure about two months ago and painted my toenails while she was at it.

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Happy Birthday WordPress!
Posted in General
Forenoon watch, 4 bells (10:19 am)

WordPress, the software I use for blogging here, turned 5 today. Not too coincidentally, this August will be my 5th year blogging anniversary.

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Phoenix Landing
Posted in General
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:00 am)

Well it looks like the Phoenix lander made a perfect landing on Mars' Northern pole yesterday .

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Indiana Jones
Posted in Reviews
Forenoon watch, 6 bells (11:16 am)

Last night Lorien and I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie. Her parents went to an earlier showing, but we had them pick up tickets for us to see the 9:45 show. There were still a lot of people there, but it wasn't elbow-to-elbow packed or anything. The movie was good, but Lorien and I both agreed that we liked number three better than this one.

Don't get me wrong—it's still full of action and humor, it just didn't seem to hold up to the last movie.

I think the funniest part of the night was the previews, though. There was one full of cowboys and horses and stuff, and I was thinking to myself, "There is nothing about this that makes me want to see this movie.". When the preview ended, my wife said something to the effect of "That looks really good!"

So go out and see the movie: you saw Temple of Doom and it was way worse, you might as well finish the series.

25 Books
Posted in Books
First watch, 1 bell (8:30 pm)

I just finished my 25th book for 2008. I enjoy reading, and mostly this year it's been science fiction. At least if you look at page count. Book-wise, it's pretty split between scifi and fantasy. By page count, I think scifi is in the lead with twice as many actual pages read.

You can always view my books on LibraryThing. Choosing Style B will display acquisition, start, and finish dates, which can be sorted so you can see what I've been reading. This will continue to work until my wife uses the feature, which she may or may not do, so YMMV.

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Fixed My Air Conditioner
Posted in General
First dog watch, 3 bells (5:59 pm)

To clarify things, I don't know much about air conditioning. I know that when I turn it on, it makes the place colder. But mine didn't do that anymore. It was annoying. Last Saturday the house got up to 88°F, a wholly unsatisfying temperature to be in.

Since it was Saturday, I wasn't about to call a repairman in and pay higher rates, and I just suffered through it. On Monday I called our regular guy, Dave. Well, to be specific, I tried to call Dave. Dave isn't someone you just call, even if you have his cell phone number. So I left him a voicemail message. Later that day I get a call back. He told me to save time (and a service call) check to see if the fuses are blown. He then explained to me where the fuses are.

So I found them, and hooked up my trusty digital multimeter to test continuity through the fuses, since they're big and aren't transparent like the fuses normal people like you and me are used to seeing. Anyway, sure enough, one of the two was blown out, and needed replacing.

On my way to work yesterday, I stopped by Lowe's to pick up a spare. I figured a big place like that would have a fuse. I figured wrong. Apparently that's too specialized for them. I ended up going to this hole-in-the-wall appliance repair shop on Best Avenue to get it. I bought two.

When I got home last night, I plugged in the replacement fuse, flipped the breaker on back at the main panel in my garage and voila, nothing happened. That's because since Saturday it's been cold and the A/C won't come on. So I tried fooling it and telling it I like room temperature to be 62°F. After a few minutes it kicked on, the outside unit's fan came on, and I was basking in the arctic blast coming from the vents that were until so recently heating up the place.

So the good that comes out of this is that a) I can fix a simple fuse blown on my air conditioner; b) I have a spare fuse for when the next one goes; and c) I can now cool the house off again.

I suspected the fuse burned out last summer, but it was at the tail end of the hot season. It seemed to me that the A/C wasn't working as well as it should be, but I brushed it off. With summer coming up soon (maybe) it'll be nice to be able to cool the house off once again and not suffer through unholy temperatures.