movie picks?

My Movie Challenge, by Deven Science

I'm putting my movie challenge up here to make it official.

The goal. This new year, 2018, I'm going to try and watch one new release movie every week. One year, 52 new releases. Wanna join me? The point is not just to see 52 movies you've never seen before. This year, I watched 50 movies I'd never seen, but most of them were older flicks. The point is to see more new movies. Of those 50, 24 of them were in theater or otherwise newly released.

The rules. Most of these films will be seen in the theater. If it's a new movie that you haven't seen before, it counts. Additionally, there are many films, independent, low budget, etc., that aren't given a full theatrical release. So, if it's a new release on VOD, Netflix, or other format, it also counts. It must be a movie (not Stranger Things or other show), and it must be a new release. Movies like Bright falls into this category. That's a 2017 movie, released on Netflix. This will be a bigger factor later in the year, such as when I watched Get Out at home, but it is a 2017 film.

The point. There are many independent, foreign, or outside-my-comfort-zone movies that are sent out into the world every year that go by without my notice. I tend to only go to the theater to see the blockbusters. And every award season, I've always only seen one movie in every award category. By seeing a new movie in theater every week, it will force me to see movies I normally wouldn't. Some I might not like much, but others might be a great discovery for me. This will be tough for me. By the numbers, in 2017 I watched 94 films, the most in one year since I started logging my film watching on Letterboxd. But of those, 50 were first-time watches, and only 24 of them were 2017 and/or first theatrical runs (the only reason I can't just say 2017 releases, or 2018 for this year is that in the first month, the movies seen in theater were released the previous year, technically). So, I'm looking to more than double the number of new releases seen for the year. There are only so many tent-pole movies, so I will have to turn to smaller films to see something new in theater every week.

Anyone want to play?

Top 10 Science Fiction Novels, by Deven Science

I guess the naming of your Top 10 Science Fiction Novels is going around. Well, of all the lists going around, this is one I'd like to participate in. Some were found on an old top 10 list of my favorite novels from some years ago on my old LiveJournal blog. Some were taken from my favorite novels list on my page. And a couple were taken from browsing my actual book shelves.

10) Old Man's War, by John Scalzi A great read. Very quick, with lots of character development. The idea of recruiting the aged for military service, so as to capitalize on their life experience is a good one, and the author executes it well. I've enjoyed the sequels as well, but this one is great.

9) Jed the Dead, by Alan Dean Foster A strange, fun little novel. A good old boy finds a dead alien in a spacesuit, puts him in his truck, and takes him along, starting a very Weekend at Bernie's kind of adventure.

8) Golden Son, by Pierce Brown This is the second novel in a trilogy. The first one is a great novel. I think I rated it a four and a half. But this one... it makes you cheer, it makes you laugh, it gets you excited, and then it rips your goddamn heart out. It is the very definition of an emotional roller coaster. The series takes place in a future where the Solar System has been settled, and humanity has been separated into castes based on color. Reds, with rust colored hair and eyes, are miners, and lowly laborers. Whites are doctors and scientists. Pinks are bred to pleasure others. And Golds, with bronze skin, golden hair and eyes, and the looks of Adonises, rule the rest by birthright. But some on the bottom think that all should be equal, and use surgery to pass off a Red as a Gold to infiltrate the elite. Oh, it's fucking good.

7) The Martian, by Andy Weir This book really scratched the itch I have for real-ish science minutia. It's science fiction of the old fashioned variety. Love it, and really liked the movie, as well.

6) Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan This is part 1 of a trilogy, and man, it's a good one, but this first is the best. It sets up a world where artificial bodies are expensive, but plentiful, so that only the poor don't live forever. Planetary travel is now possible once one is not married to one's body. Digitize your consciousness, send it as a message to another planet, and download it into another body. The main character is a sort of P.I. muscle for hire type, and as noir mystery begins.

5) Armor, by John Steakley Armor is in the sub-genre of military science fiction. This book is somewhat similar in theme to Starship Troopers, a war of man vs. giant insectoid. The difference is that John Steakley masterfully focuses on one man, Felix. Felix is a soldier who is so successful at killing bugs that he comes back as a sole survivor on more than one occasion. His number gets lost in the bureaucracy, and unknowingly they send him to fight over, and over, and over. The moment when the army doctors realize he has done 20+ "jumps"(missions), when more than about 5 is unheard of, is so good you see it as clear as a scene in a movie.

4) Time Enough For Love, by Robert Heinlein I love Heinlein, and his Lazarus Long novels are when he was at his best.

3) The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov I'm cheating a bit by including a series as an entry, but this won't be the last time. This is the original three books, not the continuation he wrote 30 years later. There is no action, no character development, no romance, and not many books better. It is pure plot. When the Nebula Awards gave out a one time "best science fiction trilogy ever" award, The Foundation series won, even over Tolkien's Lord of the Ring series.

2) A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess The fact that the book is written in a slang language that you figure out as you go, only serves to immerse you deeper into its futuristic world where teenagers rule the night, so lock your doors. I fucking hated the movie, having read the book first.

1) The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, by Douglas Adams My absolute favorites, in particular the first three. "The Vogon ships hung in the air in much the same way that a brick doesn't". You don't get better than that. "Then the shooting stopped, and for a minute, nothing happened. After a minute, nothing continued to happen." No one could ever write like Douglas Adams. I also adored his Dirk Gently books, and was sad that he never finished the promised third one.

New Year's Resolutions, by Deven Science

I haven't thought a lot of resolutions for the new year. Mine seldom vary from year to year, instead, acting more like constant goals to keep striving for. The usuals are there. To become more at piece with my job. To not let my bike collecting turn into hoarding. And always on the list, be a better husband. Yearly disclaimer: I feel that I already am a good husband, but there's always room for improvement, eh?

I thought of a couple of more specific goals for this year today while on the Rolling Relics ride. I want to try to make it to more rides this year. Last year I missed a lot of rides, and while building bikes is pleasurable, what's the point of having several of them if I'm not riding them? Also, I want to put together something along the lines of an emergency ride kit, and start being more helpful to those that break down. Tools, a tire tube or two, maybe a small pump, etc.

We won't be going to the big show in Vegas this year, opting to go with more of an every-other-year approach, which is the way it's worked out so far unintentionally. Still, there are many rides each month in nearby cities.

There are some other goals, like a little less TV, and a little more reading, but that's small stuff. I've got much to be thankful for, and I am. Got a great wife, great life, good job, my kids and grandkid are healthy. But hey, life could always be better, right? That's what New Year's resolutions are all about.

How To Build a Time Machine, a Movie Review by Deven Science

Director Jay Cheel's first movie Beauty Day taught people that documentaries could look cinematic and beautiful while still conveying their message. I have eagerly awaited his next film, and got the chance to see it at the San Francisco DocFest. It was very out of the way for me, and shown in a room the size of a large living room. However, I can unequivocally say that I was not disappointed.

The opening scene to an ancient wonder in Ireland was lovely, though seemed to me disconnected from the rest of the film. But soon enough, we meet our two subjects, and the movie gets going. Overall, it was a great film, and well worth the effort it might take to see it, at least until it comes out on DVD or Bluray, when all will be able to watch and appreciate it. Rob Niosi is very aware of how his obsession with building a perfect replica of the titular time machine from the 1960 film by George Pal can seem crazy, and he sprinkles self-depreciating humor throughout when he speaks. He's actually quite funny.

Physicist Ron Mallett's story is a bit more somber and serious, but just as affecting. The time machine that he seeks to build is a literal one, as he remained driven throughout his life in the desire to change a moment that altered his life to a different course at a young age.

The mixing of these two stories was very well orchestrated by Cheel, often having the speaking of one subject over the actions of the other, showing how in many ways they are similar. It is almost a perfect film.

I only had two problems with the movie. One was some of the music choices, which seemed jarring at a couple of moments. The other had to do with Mallett. Without going into spoilers, he speaks of a breakthrough in his work, a conclusion reached, that was how he was going to make his mark. His special insight into space-time. But we as viewers only had his word that is was a breakthrough, or that it even had any merit at all. Right then, I thought that another physicist, maybe one the audience already knows and trusts such as Michio Kaku, should have come in to say that yes, this idea needs to be explored. He could have spoken of how Mallett is a great physicist, or a good one, or an outlier with kooky ideas. An outside view would have been great so that we could get more of an idea as to if his peers think of him as a loon, or if he's done great work. We only have Dr. Mallett's word himself to go on. I just felt at that one moment that I could have used another opinion, even if that meant taking a brief side step to the momentum of the film.

Overall, a great documentary, and a damn good movie, and I would recommend it to all, check this thing out, when you get the chance.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

SodaGeeks, by Deven Science

Not sure I've mentioned here, but my son Connor and I do a weekly soda podcast, called SodaGeeks, and post it to Youtube. It is mostly an audio podcast, posted to Youtube simply because I would need a website, RSS feed, hosting, etc., to post it on iTunes, where it should probably be. But, I thought I would link here the one video episode we've done so far, just because. This is probably the way we'll do them from now on. Here's what we look like:

movie picks?

Top 5 Film/Novels of 2015, by Deven Science

In 2015, I watched 128 movies, and read 31 books, most of which were released before that year. But, rather than come up with top ten lists for them, I want to just focus on a few of the very best. How to decide? How about, books and films that came out in 2015, which I gave five stars to? Well, that list is short, with only four movies, and one novel. So, here's my list of five things that came out in 2015 that I gave five stars to!

5. Tig - Tig is a documentary about Tig Notaro, stand up comedian. In a period of about three months, she was hospitalized with a horrible intestinal disease that almost killed her, went through an awful break up, her mom died, and then she was diagnosed with breast cancer. What did she do? She stood on stage, and talked about how her life had gone to shit in a now famous night of stand up. The doc is on Netflix, and her stand up set, "live" (as in "I want to live," not "this stand up is live on stage") can be purchased, or found on YouTube.

4. Kingsman: The Secret Service - I watched this movie three times last year. I'm sorry, but it is just goddamn fun. It's what Bond movies were in the 80s, over the top, sexy, and exciting. And I do mean over the top, which I think turns some people off.

3. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Not much to say about this one, other than that I initially rated it a four and a half out of five, but I saw it a second time in theater, which bumped it up to a full five stars. My second favorite film of the year.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road - This movie is so straight up bad ass, that the characters jump out of the screen, punch your mother in the face, piss on your cat, then jump back in for the next action scene. And you're all like, "sorry mom, sorry cat, I'll help you later. This movie is too fucking amazing to stop watching it to help you!"

1. Golden Son, by Pierce Brown - This is the second novel in a trilogy, the last one of which comes out in a couple of months. The first one is a great novel. I think I rated it a four and a half. But this one... it makes you cheer, it makes you laugh, it gets you excited, and then it rips your goddamn heart out. It is the very definition of an emotional roller coaster. I cannot wait for the third, and I pray that the ending goes the way I want it to, with... oh, I don't want to spoil it. The series takes place in a future where the Solar System has been settled, and humanity has been separated into castes based on color. Reds, with rust colored hair and eyes, are miners, and lowly laborers. Whites are doctors and scientists. Pinks are bred to pleasure others. And Golds, with bronze skin, golden hair and eyes, and the looks of Adonises, rule the rest by birthright. But some on the bottom think that all should be equal, and use surgery to pass off a Red as a Gold to infiltrate the elite. Oh, it's fucking good. Start with Red Rising, and then chomp your way through Golden Son.

Thoughts on New Year's Eve, by Deven Science

This year was good for me personally. My older son took some giant leaps into manhood, I became a grandfather (those two are somewhat related), my younger son continues to grow into an awesome person, and some cool stuff is happening with the bike hobby. Also, got a new luxury car, and Kristine and I are as solid as ever.

Professionally though, the year was not so good. I had to travel for work several times, missing a handful of months away from my family. And while there are upsides to traveling for work - the money, new places, new experiences - the downside is pretty big. I guess if I'm thinking about the bads of the year, I had to continue to live with some bad investments of several years past that will hurt me financially for years to come, which didn't help things when combined with the lack of income.

Still, none of that threatens our house, or lifestyle. I'm a good saver, and can make money earned stretch.

All in all, it's been a good year. My simple hope is that this coming year sees me working more than the previous one.

That Gleam in My Eye? That's Fire, by Deven Science

A week or so ago, while working on a customer's bike, I gave myself the worst case of flash burn I've ever had. My eyes killed me all night. Hurt when they were closed because of the sand-in-the-eye feeling common for that injury. Hurt worse when they were open. I was basically blind the next morning, so kristal_science gave me some pain relief eye drops, and I went back to bed.

By the end of the second day, I could see, but my eyes were squinted, and everything was hazy. In fact, it looked exactly like the Vaseline fuzzy lens used in the 50s and 60s to shoot the young starlets in movies and TV.

One offshoot of the Vaseline-lensed look is that everything, this computer, the furniture, my breakfast, all looked very soft and sexy.

It took about three full days for my eyes to get back to 90%, and here a week and a half later they are now back to 100%. But let me say, I've been welding for 25 years, and I'd never gotten flash burn like that. I need to be a little more careful in the shop.
angry alex

This was written on April 21st, but it occurred to me to post it here for possible conversation.

About two weeks ago, we received a new young man on our crew. He was hired on as a welder helper, which is a low paid job below an apprentice. He was found to be slow, physically and possibly mentally, and was tossed off the crew he was on. Not knowing what to do do with him, they put him on our crew, and told him to just sit on the bus. After a day, the foreman gave him a job that a monkey could do... and he messed it up. Back to the bus. They couldn't just fire him, it's a union thing up here, but he probably won't be rehired next year, or accepted into the apprenticeship. The Navy Chief in me felt like that couldn't be the end. Someone needed to mentor this kid. Someone needed to be patient with him. I asked the foreman to give him to me, and I would work with him. He agreed.

I gave him a few little things to do. He didn't do them well, but after a few days, he got better. Painfully, he thought he was doing a great job. He just couldn't see how very little he was given, and how accomplishing these little tasks was not really something to celebrate.

I also got to know him. I was constantly listening to his story, and offering life and work advice. I even had delusions of turning this kid around. Of inspiring this 23 year old to properly kickstart his life, and career.

In the last week, he has blossomed, and now I'm finally seeing his personality come through... and he's an ignorant, crude, homophobic waste of life. He's also a bro. The broiest bro that's ever broed. He wants to bump fists for every task accomplished, no matter its size. 20, 30 times a day. He talks about nothing but "honeys," and "fucking hot bitches." his only hobby seems to be working out, admitting that he used to use steroids regularly, even to the detriment of past relationships due to 'roid rage. He's been fired from three jobs for harassment, and has made jokes about rape. I'm willing to take bets that this dude is in prison for date rape in three years.

In short, as I told my foreman tonight, "I mentored him, encouraged him, watched him open up like a flower, and I completely regret it."

Is there a lesson to be learned here? I'm not sure there is, as I was trained to mentor. In the Navy, I was often given the lazies, the assholes, the whiners, the delinquents, and I was forced to train them, parent them, care for them, and even arm them. I was trained to work with what I had, and not to give up on them, as they weren't going away, or being replaced. I felt sorry for this dumb, seemingly helpless kid. He seemed pathetic, and I wanted to ensure that he left this job better than he was when we got him. That might end up being true in some very small measure, but now our relationship has changed. I'm constantly pointing out that not every girl's ass is there as "temptation." I'm setting a strict 10 fist bumps a day limit. I'm telling him that working on himself, getting a career and a house of his own, and working on bettering himself inside, will help send away the "sexy dirty hoes," and start attracting the intelligent sexy women. but this kid thinks that his way is humorous, and he's probably too slow to take in all I'm saying, and so, I find myself hoping that he doesn't resort to actually "taking" anyone that doesn't want to be taken. What a weird turn offering to take this kid on has developed into.
coke addict

Pseudo-Podcasting, by Deven Science

Connor and I have been recording episodes of a soda "podcast" for a couple of years now. We have 33 episodes. They average 5 minutes apiece, and they're just a thing to do. I find an unusual soda (my main focus is colas), we turn on the voice memo on the iPhone, taste the soda, react to it, and rate it out of five stars.

I've never done anything with these things. I've been looking into submitting them to iTunes for actual publication, but that takes web hosting, RSS feeds, and a whole bunch of other stuff that costs money, and which I don't understand anyway. I could post them to Youtube easily, I suppose. Just pair the audio with a picture that suits it, and post it. Still, it's an audio thing, and youtube is for videos.

I'd like to do something with them, I think, but I just don't know what. In the whole world, I suspect that we'd get an audience of a dozen people, but hey, those dozen may enjoy it. I think we're occasionally really funny. There's been a few great episodes, particularly when the soda is nasty. I don't necessarily want to go spending a couple hundred bucks (and yearly website and hosting fees) for this goofy thing we do every couple of weeks, either.

Long story short, anyone got any ideas on what I can do with these things? Cheaply.