Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Review: The Crazies

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Movies,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is late at night or 11:10 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw The Crazies Friday night.

I’m not normally a big fan of horror flicks, but, well, there weren’t a lot of really palatable options Friday night, so we decided to roll the dice on this one. My expectations were low, but it was actually a pretty good movie. Keep in mind, though, I tend to pick these movies apart for sport. I’ll try to warn you before there are any spoilers, but, still, this is sort of your first warning, okay?

So, the premise of the movie is simple; there’s something making the townsfolk of a little, rural Iowa town go, well, crazy. In fact, to be more specific, there’s something making people become homicidal maniacs. The first “crazy” we see is on the local high-school baseball diamond on opening day. He’s the town drunk, even though he’s cleaned up, with a shotgun. Obviously, this ends badly for him and, frankly, doesn’t do much for the sheriff who has to kill him. He’s married to the town doctor, just to keep the main stereotypes all in the family.
Obviously, the sheriff’s all broken up about having been forced to kill the town drunk, but, his doctor wife assures him that he had no choice. Sadly, that’s just the start of the crazy behavior in town. From there, well, more people start going nuts and before long that other mainstay of the modern horror film, the U.S. Army, shows up to “help out”.

Naturally, the Army’s idea of “helping” is to contain the problem and, basically, kill the town. The only problem is, the sheriff and his wife, and his deputy and her medical assistant, are going to try and make a break for freedom. So, yeah, without giving anything away, that’s the movie in a nutshell. Pretty basic. Something bad gets into the water and makes the town go crazy and our ragtag band of survivors has to, uh, survive, both the bad thing and the alleged good guys trying to save the rest of the world from whatever is killing the town.

Now, there are a short list of problems I had with the movie. Also? Here there be spoilers, matey!
First, the town is filled with crazies and the Army herds the town into holding pens, until they go crazy and try to get out. This results in mayhem, of course, and a bunch of dead bodies. No problem so far, right? Here’s the thing, though, the survivors have access to an unknown quantity of military-grade automatic weapons at this point, but they leave them all behind. They don’t even look to see if they can scavenge one and some ammunition to use! Not ONE! At this point, I pretty much think these people might not have the survival skills needed to make it through this.

Second, they cut cross-country to get to a farm where there’s a car they can use to escape. Why? Well avoiding the roads until they get the car will help them avoid roadblocks. Okay, sure, makes a kind of sense. But, aren’t they supposed to be in rural Iowa? They’re going to a farm, right? But, no one has horses? Really? No one thinks, hey, horses would let us cut cross-country all the way to a major town or city, avoiding roadblocks all the way? I’m pretty sure it was at this point that I decided for the long-term viability of mankind, these fools no longer deserved to survive.

Thirdly, after all this, every time these trained law-enforcement officers go into a building or even room, they never, ever check it. Not just for blind spots or crazies in the back hall, I mean they don’t check a damn thing. Nothing. Nunca nada. Seriously? I’m just a dude who’s seen too many cop shows on TV and I’d be checking every damn thing before I’d relax at all.

Fourthly, they started to have incredible luck and exhibit completely out of place skills. For instance, at one point the sheriff finds a Zippo in a display that’s fully loaded with lighter fluid and ready to go. Pretty sure, that’s not how those things ship because, you know, they might accidentally catch fire. But, it was an important prop that drove the plot later, so we’re supposed to overlook that.
Also, they finally find a semi that just happens to be fully fueled and ready to go in a garage. Why, it’s almost like it was waiting for them! And, naturally, the sheriff knows how to drive a big rig. Now, I’m sure it’s a pretty straightforward skill to learn, but, uh, don’t they advertise schools for that sort of thing on matchbooks? Seriously, I don’t think that a sheriff is likely to know how to drive a semi, not even in a small town. This guy is young, for one thing, and, frankly, more likely to have been former military, as a lot of guys like that are, which makes it even more likely that he would have picked up one of those handy automatic weapons! (Yeah, that one really bothers me, because, c’mon, that’s just basic stuff, man!)

So, yeah, the movie takes you on a merry chase away from the infected town and the nasty government men who are going to nuke the town to save the rest of us from this terrible thing which killed the town. There are the standard horror movie moments, though, I have to admit, the director did a better than average job of setting those up. Most of the movie really is believable, with a few, uh, notable exceptions. And, people do react mostly as you would expect, again with a few notable exceptions.
So, as horror movies go, it was pretty good. No, I wasn’t scared. At least once or twice I was startled but that was as much the crowd effect and the music as anything else. And, granted, my expectations were set pretty low, but they were met and greatly exceeded.

So, to sum up, if you’re a horror or slasher flick fan, then this movie is totally worth seeing in the theater. If you’re not into that sort of thing, then wait until it comes out on DVD.

Oh, and don’t forget, I’ll be at a wedding this Friday (no, not my own!), so I won’t have a movie review next week.  Maybe I’ll review the Warren Zevon biography I read recently instead.  We’ll see.


Ich Hab Keine Zeit!

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:04 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I have no time!

That’s what that German phrase means.  It’s also very true of me the past couple weeks.  I don’t have time.  Or, at least, not enough time.

First, I apologize, dear readers, for not posting more regularly.  As previously mentioned, I’ve been busy.  Two weeks ago, my parents were in town from Chicago, so I was all about spending quality time with them.  When I get a couple minutes to rub together, I’ll get the pictures processed from our trip to the San Jacinto Monument.  A very tourist thing to do, but cool, too, because the San Jacinto Monument was part of the symbol for my Dad’s military unit when he was in the Army back during the Korean War.  He was drafted and ended up in an activated reserve unit out of Houston.  Phone company guys, mostly, who were in a Combat Engineers unit.  So, it was sort of cool to take Mom and Dad to see this local icon which figured so prominently in his past.  He said he’d always meant to see it, but he never figured it would take 58 years to get here.  Maybe it’s never too late, eh?

Also, I’ve been trying to get ready to have people over the day after Thanksgiving.  Usually, I do something the day of Thanksgiving and had hoped to start a new tradition of hosting a Lost and Wandering Thanksgiving at my house.  (Gee that sort of sounds like the saddest Charlie Brown Speical ever, doesn’t it?)  But, due to unforseen circumstances, that’s been pushed back a day and been slightly transformed into a Black Friday Leftovers celebration.  It’ll be fun, though different.  And, yes, I am headed somewhere for Thanksgiving Day, which I’m very much looking forward to doing.  And, this year, I’ll send out invitations earlier.  Like January.

But, also, dear readers, I’ve hit another slump.
Yesterday, the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is an anniversary, of sorts, for me.  An anniversary that I wish I could forget.  It makes me question who I am and why I am.  How I got here both physically and metaphorically.  Some years it hits harder than others, and this year, much to my surprise, it hit harder than I was expecting.  Maybe it was seeing Mom and Dad and realizing that they may not be around too many more years.  Dad’s 80 and Mom’s not too far behind.  They act like people ten years younger, but, the fact is, time catches us all and is creeping up on some of us faster than others.
Some of it is just that my life doesn’t look like I thought it should at this point.  No wife, no kids, a stalled career that’s become just a job I’m good at doing.  I’m thankful, though, that I have the luxury of my existential pain.  I’m relatively healthy.  I’m losing weight and trimming down.  I have a hobby to obsess over and a surprising number of people who love me.  Outside of the lingering medical debt thanks to surviving cancer and wrestling with a little high blood pressure still, things are going better than I have any right to expect.  Still, I feel the lack.

And, all those things, along with a little dog who likes to bust out windows early in the morning, have left me with little time or inspiration to write.  Oh, make no mistake, dear readers, there’s plenty to write about, just a severe lack of motivation and focus to do so.

So, at least you’ve gotten an update.  Now you all know I’m not dead, or run off with the circus, or abducted by aliens.  Just busy and suffering from a bout of Weltschmerz, or, as John D. MacDonald had, I believe, Travis McGee say, “homesickness for a place I’ve never been”.
Maybe it’s just the melancholy German in me that longs for a kind of fantasy life that I never managed to realize.  Who knows?  All I know is that I feel empty, and lonely, and restless, like I do most years about this time, and it makes it hard to write well and honestly and true and not be depressing.  So I haven’t been.
Maybe I’ll go hide behind my camera for a bit longer after all.

More will come.

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A great deal of good can be done in the world if one is not too careful who gets the credit."
   --Jesuit Motto


Happy Birthday Boyscouts!

Filed under: Career Archive,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:38 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

Hey, I almost missed this!
It was on this day in 1910 that the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated as a youth organization in the United States. The idea for the Boy Scouts came from a British Army Officer named Robert Baden-Powell who returned from a war in South Africa to find that the young people in his country had grown soft and undisciplined in his absence. He created the Boy Scouts as an organization and wrote a book called Scouting for Boys that became the Boy Scout manual.
I was a Boyscout. In fact, I was an Eagle Scout. (That’s the top rank a boy can earn, in case you were wondering.) Oh, my, that was years and years ago, it seems. But, you know, I still use things I learned in Scouts every day. Things like the motto: Be prepared. That has led me to have an umbrella in every car I’ve owned and to always travel long distances with at least one roll of toilet paper in the glove box. Also, that motto has motivated me to carry a pocket knife most of my life, not to mention a lighter. And you should see the things I have in my carry-on bag when I fly!
I was a “boy leader” when I was in Scouts, too. Not only a Patrol Leader, but the Senior Patrol Leader, in fact. That experience, along with the skills I learned while managing my Eagle Service Project, has served me well in business. (Alas, none of it helped my spelling!) I’m told that Eagle Scouts get an automatic chevron when they enlist in the Army. Now, if it only gave me an edge meeting attractive, interesting, young women…. Ah, well, maybe that’s a little too much to ask!
Anyway, Happy Birthday Boyscouts! Many happy returns!


I am a Cream Puff

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Sheep which is in the early afternoon or 2:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

No, really. Stop laughing! I’m serious!
Yeah, okay, I put on a tough-guy act a lot of the time, but I’m not. Really, I’m just a big coward. The other day, I got so freaked out about being alone in the house that I loaded up my .357 and put it in the electronic gun safe. (It’s one that I can use a key-code to open in case of emergency.) It’s sitting next to my bed. Right next to the sword. And the knives. Hmmm, I see a theme here. Now, you’d think that a guy who has all those “weapons” is some kind of maniac, right? Nope. He’s a coward.
Why is he a coward? Well, why, in a nice neighborhood where there’s never, ever been any trouble would a brave man need any protection like that? Right, he doesn’t. I have all that stuff because it makes me feel more courageous. More noble, somehow, in spite of how odd that sounds even to me. But, it’s true. I haven’t been in a fight since the Fifth Grade, though I got a little roughed up in my Sophmore year in High School once for running my smart mouth. So, why have I spent so much time learning about self-defence? Why did I take a college course on karate, taught by two somewhat psycho ex-Green Beret ‘Nam vets, no less? Why have I read countless books on hand-to-hand combat and knife-fighting? For pity’s sake, why did I let another ‘Nam vet teach me how to throw knives in the basement garage of the Hyatt Regency Chicago?!?
Simple. I wanted to make my Dad proud of me. My Dad grew up on the South Side of Chicago before and during the Depression. Yeah, he’s that old. I grew up hearing phrases like “It’s not how much dog there is in the fight, it’s how much fight there is in the dog. Be the dog with the most fight.” And, “Being tough is mental, not physical. Be more mentally tough than the next guy and you’ll be okay.” And, I heard stories about my Dad’s time in the Army. Violent stories about bar fights and big guys named “Swede” and “Moose”. Somehow from all that, I got that my Dad wanted me to be tough, not sensitive. And, really, that’s what I am: a sensitive artist. Well, a wanna-be artist, at least.
So, all this time, I’ve been working to be something that I don’t even truly understand. Along the way, I developed some calluses on both my body and my heart. I did get a little tougher, but that happens to everyone. Though, I have to admit that I’m surprised I can go for five minutes on my heavy-bag bare-knuckle, even today. Until this week, I don’t think I’ve hardly touched a punching bag since before I moved down from Chicago. But, those calluses are still there. Sometimes, people don’t understand those calluses. They think that makes me a tough guy, or a dangerous guy, but it doesn’t really. Just a guy who got a little lost and confused while trying to make his Dad proud.

You know what the funny thing is? I never really had to do anything. I thought I had to do something to show my Dad that I was a man, but I didn’t. Dad was always proud of me, even if I am a cream puff.

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