31 March 2006

New Jersey Governor's School Program Defunded

For those not in the know (i.e. most of my readers), I attended the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences (NJGSS) 16 years ago. Technically that made me one of the top 100 science students in the state of New Jersey, but it's entirely possible that 1990 just had a weak draft class. Regardless, the New Jersey Governor's School was founded by Gov. Tom Kean back in 1983 as a program for the best and brightest of the Garden State. We attend a state university (Drew U. for NJGSS) for three weeks during the summer between our junior and senior years. At the NJGSS, I took classes in Optics, Forensics, and Quantum Mechanics and did a lab class in High Speed Photography where I took this picture:

It suffices to say that while the whole thing was a bit dorky, we were all dorky, so it was fun. Easily one of the best summer experiences I ever had. I even went to college with the lovely, talented, and now Dr. Jenn Best, whom I am still in infrequent touch with.

Can you find me in these pictures?

I can still probably name at least a third of those people. NJGSS was the last thing I did in Jersey before we moved to Baltimore, and it's always held a special place in my heart.

So imagine my surprise when I got the following email 2 days ago:
Dear 1990 NJGSS Alums,
You may have heard that the Gov School program is not included in the NJ budget. If funding is not received, the NJGSS program will be cancelled. We are asking for your help to rally the NJ legistators. Attached is a list of suggestions from the director of all of the Governor's Schools. We'd appreciate any help you can give us!

Needless to say, I'm very disappointed in Gov. Corzine. So I've fired off the following letter to him:

Dear Gov. Corzine,

While I am no longer a New Jersey resident, I grew up in Morris County and will always consider myself a New Jerseyan. One of the greatest experiences I was fortunate enough to participate in during my youth was the three weeks I spent at the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences in Drew University in 1990.

When I heard that the Governor's School program was on the budget chopping block this year, I could hardly believe it. The concentrated New Jersey brainpower at any of the Governor's Schools should be treasured, fostered, and held up on a pedestal as something that New Jersey does really, really right.

I'd hate to have to start referring to NJGSS as a program in the past tense. Your name is already on the school, Governor. Please don't take it off.


Stewart Bushman (Formerly of Flanders, NJ)

I also sent a letter to Tom Kean, Jr., a NJ State Senator and son of the founder which replaced the last two sentences with, "Your father started that school, Senator. Please don't be the one who stopped it."

Maybe a bit melodramatic, but let's see what happens.

A little HTML help here?

Okay, in the post below the form is supposed to query http://thepixiepit.co.uk/cgi-bin/scrab/WordWizard.pl with


Which it does. TESTERS can be of varying lengths, but is normally 7 or 8 letters. However, if you click on it, you'll notice that the perl script redirects you to http://www.thepixiepit.co.uk/scrabble/. The kicker, though, is that if you were to save the html file and run it locally on your machine, it works fine. I can't see how these two things are different, but clearly the perl script is smarter than I am right now.

Anyone know how to resolve this?

This is a test

Of the PixiePit Scrabble Bingo Finder.

New Bingo Search:

30 March 2006

More SoaP

From my dear friend, the lovely flaming redhead Niki, I recieved news of the new Snakes on a Plane FAQ from Cracked, which is much dirtier than it used to be.

The best thing about this film will be when this movie cracks $100M, and the studios have no idea why. They'll think they can reproduce this sort of buzz with similar films:

Spiders on a Submarine with Laurence Fishburne
Lions on a Cruise Ship with Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Wild Boars on a Star Cruiser with Wesley Snipes

Coming soon to a theater near you.

Actually, I'd pay to see Wild Boars on a Star Cruiser.

28 March 2006


To my wife's chagrin, I'm adding "Snakes on a Plane" to my standard conversational repertoire.

27 March 2006

A new joint...

Inside Man: 3.75 Stars. Color me impressed. I've always been ambivalent to Spike Lee's work. I really enjoyed Do The Right Thing way back when, but I guess I'm not really the target audience for the lion's share of his films. I do, however, enjoy a good caper flick -- especially a cerebral one, and this is a very good caper flick. The movie unfolds alot like an episode of Hu$tle, the excellent British con artist drama, in that a whole lot of seemingly unrelated events take place. Then the threads start to intertwine, some subtlely and some not exactly time-linear, as the centerpiece bank robbery unfolds. Really everything about this film is pitch-perfect, from the plots to the dialogue to the sets to the exceptional and sometimes jarring camera work to the truly excellent acting. I've been a fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor ever since Dirty Pretty Things, and I imagine this film will set him up to be the next Laurence Fishburne. Spike Lee also plays with the race card a bit, but it's so deftly woven into the film that it doesn't come off as preachy in the slightest. (Really, who's got it worse than the Sikhs these days?) The only negative I can ascribe to this excellent film is that it starts to drag a bit at times, but I bet come Oscar time, Spike won't be forgotten.

23 March 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Since they decided to add some more gore, nudity, profanity, and general death to this forthcoming cinematic masterpiece, I figured I'd mention it here. Wired had a nice piece on it in January. It features master thespian Samuel L. Jackson, so you know it'll be good.

An imagined scene:

Sheer brilliance. Good luck getting the wife to attend opening night, though.

21 March 2006

Bruce Campbell Marathon

Well I finally finished watching the entire Bruce Campbell movie marathon that led up to the premiere of The Man with the Screaming Brain last summer on the SciFi Network (thank goodness for DVRs). Here's the lowdown:

Tornado: As you might imagine, a bad copy of Twister (and that's saying something). It follows the basic Bruce movie pattern: disaster (Tornadoes), hot chick Bruce gets (Shannon Sturges), and Bruce. Bruce is a washed-out meteorology student turned stormchaser. Saves the day, gets the girl. Not his worst work, but pretty terrible. Nice to see former Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson is still working.

Terminal Invasion: Disaster: Aliens. HCBG: Chase Masterson. Bruce: convicted murderer en route to prison. Tried to be like a very low-budget, present-day Alien or Pitch Black, and failed. Cheesy effects aplenty. Again, watchable, but pretty lousy. Look for a pre-Daily Show Jason Jones.

Alien Apocalypse: Disaster: Bug-Like Aliens. HCBG: Renee O'Connor. The worst of the bunch. Awful effects (watch for the same two-by-four pile falling on like 10 people). Everyone associated should be embarrassed, except Rosi Chernogorova, who is really, really hot. And naked in Shark Attack III: Megalodon.

Boogeymen II: Masters of Horror: Bruce was just the host of this interview show featuring the best horror film directors and effects folks. Pretty interesting stuff, if sort of dry. I miss that horror movies used to have lots of gratuitous nudity. It was, truly, half the fun. Watch Re-Animator if you disagree.

The Man with the Screaming Brain: Disaster: Death/Brain Patch-up. HCBG: Tamara Gorski. This is sort of a SciFi-flavored mash-up of two Steve Martin films: The Man with Two Brains and All of Me. Bruce also wrote the script and directed it from the original comic book material, which he also wrote. For wearing all those hats, things worked out remarkably well. It was easily the best movie of the bunch (although some would call that faint praise), and was both entertaining and worth my two hours minus commercials (again, thank you DVR). Ted Raimi was also fun to watch as always.

Bruce maintains his mastery of the B-Movie genre, and I think he's got no intention whatsoever of attempting to take over the world. In exchange for this concession, I'll watch all of his movies (and episodes of Xena and Hercules) and buy all of his books.

The continuing saga...

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Just finished the eleventh tome in the Wheel of Time series, and I can say that, overall, it was a pretty good read. Or listen, actually, since I chose the 34-odd-hour audiobook route. It makes for a more interesting commute. RJ hasn't lost his touch, and he's finally sped things up a bit, although not too much time passes in the course of this novel. Fortunately, when RJ gets detail-oriented, it's still a fairly brisk read (unlike Dr. Tolkien), so I was able to handle the not-very-intertwined fates of (primarily) Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve (who gets the best scene in the book), and Elayne (as well as several hundred minor characters) as they went about prepping for the Last Battle by fighting a few skirmishes of their own. Precious few plotlines were wrapped up in this novel, but at least things are moving forward towards the finish in his next book, tentatively titled A Memory of Light.

I think it's a requirement of high fantasy that the supporting cast is more interesting than the main character...Bilbo, Frodo, Belgarion, Rand, etc...none of them are as engaging as their buttkickin', swashbucklin', spell castin', wisecrackin' associates. I suppose that's because an entire novel about Mat or Prince Kheldar could get tiresome.

Just an observation.

20 March 2006

Best argument for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray

Out of idle curiosity and a passing interest in the show, I was curious as to how many discs the entire Xena Collection was on DVD. There are 50 discs. That's five oh, fifty. Including the pilot, there are 136 episodes, averaging 44 minutes each, assuming standard length plus commercials. That works out to 120 minutes a disc if the pilot was two hours long. That means they must only use single-sided, single-layer discs, which is bloody insane. Those SSSL discs can hold 133 minutes of video. They make dual-layered discs which can hold 240 minutes of video, cutting us down to 25 discs. They also make double-sided, dual-layer discs which hold about 8 hours each. Now we're down to 13 discs with current technology. So why is it 50? So they can justify the price, which isn't really all that exorbitant. I'd certainly rather have a season on 2 discs (or one HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc). I won't be buying any full seasons of shows until the companies start using the real capacity technology or the transition to the new formats take hold.

Then, Xena.

19 March 2006

An inauspicious defeat

I knew the Illini would lose as soon as they took the 3-point shot when the game was tied with a minute left. I hate the 3-point shot. I especially hate treys in college ball, where the kids are too dumb to realize that the highest bang for your buck comes from driving to the hoop and drawing the foul. Threes are glamorous, like the home run, but rarely do they help you win games. For every Bryce Drew, there are a hundred idiots who try to drain two three-pointers instead of three two-pointers. More than a hundred.

The game was TIED. Drive, draw, drain. Then make the free throw. Three points: the high-percentage way. Ban the NCAA 3-point line, or at least make these kids run laps in practice when they do stupid crap like that. Maybe that'll learn 'em.

V for Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

V for Vendetta: 3.5 Stars. I always loved the book this movie was based on, and when I heard the Wachowski brothers were bringing it to the big screen, let's just say that I was more than a little excited. Not that I'm a fan of their work, mind you, save Bound, but it's one hell of a story to put up on the big screen. As it turns out, they did a pretty respectable job of it. The story was adapted quite well, with most of the major highlights still there. I would've liked them to have included the remarkable subplot involving Creedy's wife, but you can't have everything. All of the casting was spot-on, especially Stephen Rea as Finch, and it's always nice to see Coupling's Ben Miles getting work. I think the only thing they did wrong was using the Guy Fawkes mask as it appeared in the comic. A still face in the comics is to be expected, but it doesn't work well in live-action. They should've left the lips open, like the original Shadowman mask. I'm sure Hugo Weaving would've appreciated it. Still, great film...likely to be one of the year's best. Go see it.

An apology, for now.

I castigated Battlestar Galactica a few weeks ago for killing off one of their best characters. I accused them of running out of ideas and jumping the shark. Then I caught the Season 2 finale. Too awesome for words. Perhaps I gave up on the show too soon. Let's see what you can put together next year...

16 March 2006

Common misconception...

It always strikes me as odd how few people seem to realize that the United States is not a Democracy, but a Republic. I realize that it matters very little in our day-to-day lives, and further I realize that many of the folks appreciate the difference between a pure democracy and a representative republic, but still it's semantically incorrect.

I suppose it's hard to really differentiate the two in a 10-second sound bite, though.

That's all. Discuss amongst yourselves.

15 March 2006

Takin' on the scammers...

Holy crap this is funny: http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com/soki.htm

I recommend scanning it after the first few exchanges...the pictures are, in the local parlance, off the hook.

14 March 2006


Ultraviolet: Zero Stars. I'm not sure I've ever given out zero stars in a review before, but this one truly earned it. It's putrid. It's awful. It's stupid, insulting, and otherwise indicative of why people (including yours truly) don't go to the movies nearly as much as they used to. When I can Netflix Season 1 of Deadwood and get 12 hours of quality television on an 80-inch 16x9 screen with surround sound, why on earth would I want to pay $10 a head to sit in a sticky-floored, cold, uncomfortable room being shown something as awful as Ultraviolet? Milla Jovovich has made a career of playing the hot buttkicker in the pretty good Resident Evil series as well as the not-so-good Fifth Element and Messenger. She knows better than to be associated with this rotting filth. The distributor should be embarrassed. The director should be flayed. Everyone associated should be embarrassed. Except Bill Fichtner, who can do no wrong.

Live, Free, NCAA Love

Looks like CBS has realized that they can sell advertising around a little streaming basketball game just as well as on the ol' TV. As such, any old fellow can sign up at http://www.ncaasports.com/mmod and watch pretty much any game this weekend (barring local blackout, but if you're local, you can probably catch the game on regular TV).

Sign up now and you can get priority when waiting in the 200,000-person line on Thursday.

Of course, I don't advocate doing this at work, but I'm not saying not to, either...

03 March 2006

NFL, NFLPA, CBA, LTBE, and ther acronyms no one cares about.

With all of the hullaballoo going on in the NFL regarding the future of the salary cap, I naturally wanted to know how my Philadelphia Eagles were fairing, especially with all of the choice free agents being dumped onto the open market.

As it turns out, they're doing pretty well.