Sunday, July 20, 2008

Maybe Not An Epic Fail, But A Fail Nonetheless

The notion that the advent of the Internet, and, more specifically, the World Wide Web, has dramatically altered the way we do, well, almost everything, has become something of a truism.
While the validity and accuracy of much of it is an open question, there is a vast wealth of information literally at our fingertips, and if you want to be successful in the 21st Century in a wide range of professions, having a basic understanding of how to sift through all of that information is essential.
I’ll get to my point in a minute, but before I do, I want to take this opportunity to share an anecdote that relates to my point.
While watching Heath Ledger’s mind-blowing performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, I noted some mannerisms and vocal tics in one scene that reminded me more than a little of Jimmy Stewart.
(That may seem like an odd thing to say, but trust me, it worked, and was entirely appropriate for the scene in question.)
However, at the time, while I recognized the similarity, I could not, for the life of me, think of Jimmy Stewart’s name.
I could picture him, imagine his voice and his delivery of lines, think of the titles of movies he was in, and even recall Jim Carrey’s impersonation of him in a Saturday Night Live sketch. But I just could not remember his name. One of those all-too common (and increasingly common) “brain fart” moments.
Because the theater effectively blocks cell phone signals, I couldn’t break out my phone and fire up IMDb to find his name. Unlike many people, I haven’t totally abandoned my pre-Internet methods for recalling information (taking my conscious mind off the task and letting my brain work at it in the background, asking someone), and was able to pull his name out of somewhere before we left the theater.
However, if I hadn’t remembered it on my own, I would have immediately looked it up on the Internet.
Which brings us that much closer to my point, but first, a couple of pieces of information.
Last week, I watched the 2007 movie No Country For Old Men, which was based on the 2005 novel by author Cormac McCarthy.
The character of Harvey Dent/Two-Face, portrayed by actor Aaron Eckhart in The Dark Knight (As Scott pointed out, he did a great job, but couldn’t help but be overshadowed by Ledger. Also, the Two-Face effects were mind-blowing, just like the rest of the movie.) was introduced in Detective Comics #66 in 1942. Two-Face had previously appeared on the big screen in the 1995 movie Batman Forever, portrayed (execrably) by actor Tommy Lee Jones (who also starred in No Country For Old Men, coincidentally enough).
(Bonus geeky trivia: When introduced, Harvey Dent’s name was actually Harvey Kent. It was later changed to avoid confusion with a more famous character appearing in comics published by DC.)
Now, I managed to find all of the above information (except the Harvey Kent thing, and Tommy Lee Jones being in Batman Forever; I already knew that) about publication dates in a matter of minutes through quick searches on the Internet.
Finally, we start to approach my point.
On Friday I read a review of The Dark Knight in which the reviewer, in desperate need of something negative to say, stated that one of his major complaints about the movie was Two-Face’s habit of leaving life or death decisions up to chance, in the form of a coin toss. This was, the reviewer stated, clearly derivative of a similar habit of a character in No Country For Old Men.
And here’s my point: Two-Face, along with his coin-tossing gimmick, was introduced in 1942. No Country For Old Men was published in 2005.
So, my question to the reviewer is, “Umm…WTF are you talking about?”
Okay, so not everyone is a comic book geek, but surely the reviewer – it’s his job to watch movies, after all, and one would assume that even before getting into that line of work he watched a lot of movies – saw Batman Forever, which, despite all its many flaws, did include the coin toss gimmick, back in 1995, or at least sometime before 2007.
But more to the point, one would assume that before making such an assertion, he would have made sure he was correct, which, as pointed out above, would have been astonishingly simple via a quick search of the Internet.
Obviously such a mistake seems trivial to the non-geek segments of the population, and honestly, it is, at least in the context of the review itself, but it does lead you to wonder just how widespread this lack of fact-checking extends, and to speculate as to the kind of lazy, sloppy work being done by people who should be adept at fact-checking and finding information even without the advantages offered by the Internet.
So, in closing, I have just one thing to say to the unnamed reviewer, using the parlance of the medium that he proved himself so inept at using: FAIL!

Back To Your Regularly-Scheduled Threshold Department:
Despite being exhausted by The Dark Knight, I found myself pretty wired when I got home Thursday night, and so I had a difficult time getting to sleep, so when I got home on Friday afternoon I decided to take a nap.
In addition to allowing me to get some rest, the nap also allowed me to improve my vision slightly; Thursday had been my night off for my gentle molding lenses, so on Friday my vision lacked some of the clarity. So I wore the lenses while I napped, and woke up to find myself seeing much more clearly, which was a must for 1. Night driving and 2. Movie watching.
I wore the lenses again that night when I went to bed, and woke up on Saturday to discover that my left eye was extremely irritated. This prevented me from going out and doing some of the things I’d intended to do, and interfered with my plans for doing any work on new images for the Heroic Portraits Gallery, though eventually the irritation eased up and I was able to do some of that.
Naturally I didn’t wear the lenses last night, but this morning I found that my left eye didn’t care; it was just as irritated as it had been yesterday morning.
Not sure what’s up with that. It seems to be fine now.
(As a total unrelated aside, as I write thins I’m listening to the song Sunspots by Nine Inch Nails, and it seems abundantly clear that Trent decided to use an electric hand mixer– as in the kitchen appliance – to provide some of the music.)
Apart from doing some work on Gallery pictures last night and today (they should be up in the Gallery soon, for the curious among you), I haven’t done much.
I watched the movie Renaissance last night, which is an animated French film – dubbed into English with current Bond Daniel Craig providing the voice of the main character – that was done almost entirely in high-contrast black and white, with a few bits of gray and even fewer bits of color.
The story was okay, but it was the stunning visuals that really made it worthwhile.
Even though I was evidently won over by the Watchmen trailer, I should note that I do have a few complaints. I’m not sure that I like the fact that Snyder is applying his slow-motion/fast motion technique from 300 to the action, as it’s not really a good fit, and seems sort of, inappropriate.
Also, I’m not thrilled about the costumes. They’re altogether too modern-looking, and in some cases stray way too far from the original designs. For example, while she does look very sexy, the Silk Spectre, as she appears in the movie, would more properly be referred to as the Latex Spectre.
Anyway, I think I’ll round out this entry with the latest installment in the series I call Why is Jon So Quiet?

Why is Jon So Quiet?
Because nobody cares.
Given my ramblings earlier in this entry, this one seems especially appropriate.
The other day when I was waiting for my lunch order over at the café, I sort of zoned out and stood there staring into space.
Someone I knew came up to me and said, “Good morning!” in an effort to steer my consciousness back onto this plane of existence. She then added, “Wake up!”
In response, I said that I was simply lost in thought.
She didn’t ask what I was thinking about.
(For the record, I was thinking about the acclaimed/controversial comic book series Preacher. Note: Wikipedia appears to be down; look it up your damn self.)
Years ago, a friend once said something to me that went something like, “Nobody is as interested in the things you’re interested in as you are.” I think he also added that if I’m not interested in something, it’s almost as though, for me, that something doesn’t exist. I’m not sure if he said that part or not, as I wasn’t particularly interested in what he was talking about...
In any case, if the person who had stirred me from my thoughts on Preacher had asked me what I had been thinking about – and the fact that she didn’t is something that will be discussed in a future installment – she would have been bored shitless if I started talking about my thoughts on Garth Ennis’ over-the-top caricature of the idea of the inbred, Southern redneck, or how the series was in large part an exploration and examination of the mythology of America, both in terms of the myths within our culture and the myths about our culture, and she would have quickly made a mental note: Never ask Jon what he’s thinking about.
So why am I so quiet? Because you aren’t interested in anything that I want to talk about.
Really, it’s a lack of common ground with the greater mass of humanity. When engaged, I’m perfectly willing to listen to things that other people have to say, even if I’m not particularly interested, but most people aren’t that willing to return the favor, or at the very least, they aren’t willing to do it well; it’s usually immediately apparent when I’m talking to people that they aren’t really listening.
So honestly, why bother? If I’m just going to bore you with what I’m talking about, it seems easier to just not bother talking at all.
Now if only I would take this same approach to Threshold entries…

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