Terminator Series Commits Suicide, McG to Blame

The new film Terminator Salvation is not just bad… it’s absurd, ridiculous, boneheaded and an absolute atrocity.  The producers of this film should be vastly ashamed for not just killing the series (Terminator III already started the slow death, this one just deals the final blow), but for making me lose all interest in any Terminator film or storyline ever again.

I had a hint that this film was in a sad state when it seemed that McG, the “visionary director” behind this enormous waste of time had forgotten that he showed the name of the film once in the opening credits.  It’s truly baffling.  It’s as if he was totally not paying attention or, as I said to my friend upon exit, he just wanted us to be really sure we wanted to sit through this disaster.  The opening credits have the typical summer blockbuster 3-D titles swirling about in the background… yeah, those letters that you know will eventually come together to spell TERMINATOR SALVATION.  But uhh, before that, a white font pops up on the screen to tell us that.  Then after a few more names, the letters finally do what you expect: they come together to form the title of the film again.  TERMINATOR SALVATION.  It reminded me of a flight attendant who starts every flight with an announcement of the final destination and advises that if this is not your final destination, you should deplane at this time.

Take my advice and deplane.

I didn’t, so I sat through the rest of this cinematic diarrhea with my expectations lowering with each passing frame until there just weren’t any left.  I’m not going to bother detailing the plot because A) I hate spoilers and B) there’s no plot to detail.  There is what seemed to be the germination of a half-baked good idea, but then when McG gets the budget from the studio and an A-list dramatic actor like Christian Bale he just goes to town in an effort to prove himself.  Someone please drag his punk ass back to Drew Barrymore‘s house and let them spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out Charlie’s Angels III.

I mentioned Christian Bale, so now I must deal with him.  I read once that Christian Bale almost deplaned from this trip and I wish he had.  I have lost so much respect for this guy that I could care less if I ever see him again.  Jonathan Nolan should probably take note and start looking for a new Bruce Wayne.  Christian Bale is so full of himself in this film that he makes that cheesy growling voice from The Dark Knight seem like Oscar material.

The action sequences in this film aren’t that bad but they feel very stitched together.  It’s as if the continuity person walked up to the director every couple of days and said, “Uhm, it’s only been 4 or 5 minutes of film time since we blew some shit up, so we should probably do something about that.”  The end result is action sequences when you least expect it and violence that goes on far longer than it probably should.

Kudos also to the cinematographers of this work who have taken great pains to come up with creative shots for just about every action scene.  Someone took some camera lessons from the Coen brothers here, perhaps.  Either that or they were trying to shoot a Terminator film in the vein of Raising Arizona to let film buffs know that they feel this movie is just as absurd as you do (in a subtle kind of way, of course).

There is one particularly exciting sequence involving a gas station, expendable humans and one seriously large, pissed off Terminator.  I highly enjoyed this scene and it stands out in my mind as a real hallmark of the film’s technical achievements.  However, after that scene, do yourself a favor and walk out.  The ending of this film is not only absurd, it questions whether or not anyone was thinking through this fertilizer at all.

To tell you the truth, even Danny Elfman‘s score was forgettable.  Usually I’m a fan of Danny Elfman’s work but this was clearly not his typical, fast-paced orchestral tour de force that I am used to.  I scarcely remember a note.  It could be because there was just too much shit blowing up all the time, but who knows.

Christian Bale is absolutely pathetic as the “oh woe is me” John Conner.  Helena Bonham Carter is dreadfully awful as… some weirdo doctor who wastes my time.  Sam Worthington plays a character who could have had a decent impact on the mythos of the Terminator canon but he blows it just like everyone else.  Moon Bloodgood is the female side of the film who doesn’t talk much… probably because she knows it’s better that she just phone this one in and pick up the check.

I cannot encourage you enough to withhold your money on this one, folks.  As a matter of fact, I’m so outraged by this film and how bad it is that I simply had to sit down and write a blog post about it before any more of you go out there and give these idiots one more cent of your hard earned cash.  Stay at home and write a nice letter to James Cameron instead.  He’ll need the positive thoughts after seeing what these people have done to his baby.

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Missed Opportunities in Star Trek

Star Trek fans Joe Latrell (L), in a Star Trek...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

FOREWARNING: SPOILERS.  IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN STAR TREK, STOP READING NOW.

While I’ve been on a trip for the day job this week in downtown Dallas, TX, some of us found time to check out of the action and head over to catch Star Trek a second time.  It’s purely logical that a few NASA geeks want to check it out again, yes?

We found an awesome theatre in downtown Dallas somewhere on Inwood St., I do believe.  What was so awesome about it is that all of the seating were mega-comfy couches and love seats.  We all tossed ourselves into a lounge seat and soaked up the movie for the second time.

This time around I was able to confirm some feelings that I walked away with when I saw the movie first.  While I absolutely love J.J. Abrams‘ work and I absolutely adore what he’s done for the Star Trek franchise, there were a few directorial errors that I felt were pretty glaring.  I hope he’s able to correct them in a director’s edition on DVD.  Just in case he happens to read this blog and care about my opinion (because it’s right), I’ll share it here with you.

  • There could have had some very crowd pleasing moments at the end.  Kirk’s vengeance against Nero could have been exploited to rousing applause.  Why wasn’t it?  Don’t want to show Kirk as a monster?  You could have gotten away with this due to the character’s maturity level, I believe.
  • Movie is far too short.  There should have been some exposition to explain the back story of a few subplots, but I feel like it was sacrificed either for A) pacing or B) to keep Kirk painted in a certain light.  For instance – I’ve heard that Kirk’s hack on the Kobeyashi Maru succeeded because he was seducing the green-skinned chick, who worked on the simulation.  That should have been left in.  Again, perhaps it wasn’t because it may show Kirk objectifying women… and again, due to the character’s age, I think that would have been acceptable and realistic.
  • Overall, the Kobeyashi Maru scene was disappointing.  It would have been much more interesting if Kirk had played the simulation better and acted his part even though he knew the final result.  Having the computers flicker was also a pretty sad call.  I believe viewers could have figured out what happened if the previous explanatory scene regarding the hack had been left in.

Let’s remember folks – Kirk was a kid in this film.  Everyone knows that Kirk’s “I don’t like to lose” mantra always comes first, which is partly why we liked him.  Let’s also remember that he objectified every single female alien in the Federation even when he was older, so why couldn’t we have dealt with that in this new version?

Overall, great film – but at least you know what my version would have looked like too 🙂

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Who Needs Doctors When the Insurance Company Knows Better?

There is a really disturbing trend developing in health care.  I can sum it up thusly: the insurance company will decide the fate of a patient’s treatment.

One company in particular seems to know better than any medical professional that has ever taken a medical class: Aetna.  You see, Aetna thinks that because the doctor didn’t do a sleep study on me and there is no “official” diagnosis, then he has no right to request that I obtain a prescription to fight the narcolepsy for a month while they line up some time in the clinic.  Therefore, there simply refuse to let me have it.

Oh sure, I could pay for the prescription myself – but if a doctor wrote the prescription, why must the insurance company outright deny the claim?  Better yet, my doctors have to spend time calling and justifying their work and prescription recommendation… which, they did… and… well, Aetna still just doesn’t care.  No narcolepsy drugs for me.

This isn’t the first time Aetna has known better than any of my doctors.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I’m going to try to get the doctor to work through the appeals process on this one since the study is still the better part of a month away, but it’s pretty unnerving that health insurance companies, in the interest of the Bottom Line, can screw their customers’ health like this.

Impressive, Aetna.  I can’t wait to get rid of you.  Perhaps I should start an Internet campaign against you.

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A Nod to the Super Tired

I think Adam might suffer from this.
Image by Fuschia Foot via Flickr

An old, old friend of mine runs the website Needcoffee.com.  It’s a fun website, full of twists, turns and cunning wit.  It also centers its existence around the thesis that humans do not need to sleep.

Two weeks ago I was in New Orleans, LA on a trip for work.  While we’re sitting at our chosen location pounding away on keyboards and debating serious elements of our system and the politics behind it, I found myself engaged in a conversation with one of my coworkers.  It was the chief engineer, of whom I highly respect.  When he speaks on all things NASA IT, I listen.

That is, until I passed out.

Yeah, that’s what I said.  You see, to me, it seemed like I only blinked.  Only when I blinked, the look on his face was wide-mouthed shock.  Sensing that something amazing had just happened, I looked at him quizzically.  “What?  What happened?”

“You just passed out.  Are you okie?”

I figured that maybe I was just a little tired and didn’t hide it well.  “I… I did what?  Sure I wasn’t resting my eyes?”

“No.  Your eyes rolled back and your head fell over.  You fell asleep while I was talking to you!”

Of course, everyone is going to take advantage of this and make the obvious jokes.  Oh, your conversation must be boring.  Haha!  You totally put him to sleep!  Amazing!

The sad thing here is that I actually did fall asleep.  This is a secret I’ve been hiding for the better part of a year now – I’ve not been able to keep myself fully awake during the day.  Sometime during the daylight hours, usually about 30 minutes after lunch, I suddenly begin to completely pass out over and over again.  My head rolls over and my eyelids feel like someone is pressing down upon them.  My legs and arms jerk around occasionally as I try to regain control, but it just doesn’t happen.

And yeah, I’ll just level with you.  It’s been happening while I was driving too.

When I was in middle and high school, I was the champion of the late night owl.  The nighttime belonged to me (well, at maybe Widgett at Needcoffee.com too, since… well, he was quite the pro as well).  It was when i was the most creative with anything and everything.  It was my peaceful time.  It was my time away from the world.

Turns out that lack of sleep has been slowly catching up with me.  Not only the lack of sleep, but now it seems my body has completely forgotten how to sleep.  I’ve developed this incredible snore.  It’s the kind that some sound artist would probably kill to record and use in the next Lord of the Rings film as an unholy creature’s growl.  The wife pointed out several years ago that I tend to just stop breathing while I’m snoring.  She used to kick me awake when that happened, fearing that I would just pass away from this existence in my sleep.  No such luck, however, as I have managed to hang on to my immortal soul for now.

The past six to nine months have been especially bad.  My creativity has suffered.  My mood has suffered (greatly – just ask anyone in my family).  My sarcasm has flourished.  My motivation has withered.  My temper has blossomed into a beast unto its own.  My blood pressure has gone borderline to high.  You name it, it’s happened.

So I finally decided that perhaps it was time to ask a doctor about it.  I did that last week and after talking with him, I’m practically elated with the news that just about every item I described could be traced to that poor, roaring sleep that I have every night.  Good news, but they cannot work me into a sleep study clinic until mid-June after I return from WWDC 2009.

The suck.

I was prescribed some Provigil.  This drug is something of a miracle in that it has kept me awake and alert for most of the day.  It turns out that if I drink too much coffee alongside this bastard that I tend to make myself more sleepy, which is something I need to report to Widgett one day.

Anyway, thanks to theater, writing and IT… and… well, just myself… I’ve now joined the ranks of the diagnosed narcoleptics and sleep apnea sufferers.  I was always wondering what health condition I would end up with.  Thankfully, this is treatable and you bet your bottom dollar I’m going to treat it.  I feel like I’m entering a battle to get my life back in many ways.  Not only do I hope to get my motivation and creativity back, I hope to be a better father to my kids and a better husband to my wife.  I don’t feel like I’ve been the role model of much of anything the past few years.

I hope I’ve started down the path to changing that.

One thing I’ve definitely learned, kids.  It’s uncool to skip out on your sleep.  Give yourself time to rest.  Put that damn game down and sleep.

Wow, look at the time… think I need to take some of my own advice.  Anyway, here’s to hoping that I also get an increase in blogging out of this as well.

Onward and upw… zzZzzzZ.

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A Mind Blowing Gift

Words cannot express the birthday present I was given today.

I have a dual trip to California coming up in June – first to CalConnect to represent NASA on the standards body board there in Redwood Shores, then WWDC 2009.  I combined both trips into one, which left me with an empty weekend.

My wife chose to fill it.

I suppose to she was tipped off by my exploration into the idea of driving out to Las Vegas for the weekend.  After I investigated it, it just didn’t seem like a very good idea.  The drive from Redwood Shores is about 4.5 hours and I would have had little time to play there in Vegas.  My primary objective was to see more Cirque du Soleil shows in their native habitat.

So, she must’ve gotten the idea from there.

She rallied the family together and consequently put together a package for me to fly out of SFO over to Vegas and spend the weekend in Hotel New York New York.  Not only that, but she hooked me up with tickets to “O” and “Ka” already.  She also contacted a friend of mine to see about landing a ticket to “Mystere.”  Absolutely incredible.

Oh yeah… and if you look up pictures for Hotel New York New York, it has a gigantic rollercoaster.  Anyone who knows me well will know what I plan on doing with that on that fine Saturday morning 🙂

I cannot thank you enough, taitai… nor my family… for a wonderful present to look forward to in June!

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A 37th Year

Today I turn 37 years of age.

I used to completely ignore the fact that I had a birthday and only acknowledge it to people who mentioned it, but today I’m openly declaring that I’m 37 years of age.

Why am I turning against my own tide and bringing this up?  I’m not sure.  It might have something to do with the fact that I need to openly declare that I’m in the final stretch to 40 and I need to GET OFF MY ASS and get healthier.

It may also have something to do with reminding me of my age so as to not forget the maturity level I am expected to maintain.

I’m not sure.  But for whatever reason, hey guess what Internet?  I’m 37 today!

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