greyduck.net

Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Media (page 2 of 29)

Love, Death & Robots

Right off the bat, a nitpick: Why no Oxford comma, Netflix?

Anyway.

During my young-adult years I frequented Cinema 21, the best-known at the time of the arthouse theaters in Portland Oregon. Among their regular attractions were the various animation festivals, such as Spike & Mike’s (who are apparently still at it, go figure). You’d get all sorts of weird, wonderful, and occasionally dark fare. Not all of it worked for everybody but there was usually something for everybody.

I also discovered the Japanese animated anthology film (technically an OVA but I didn’t know that at the time), Robot Carnival, during this period. It had robots, it had weird artsy ideas, it had funny bits, what more could I want?

Time passed.

Netflix recently announced their anthology series, Love, Death & Robots. The advertisement was intense. The buzz was… loud, I guess. Sci-Fi! Action! Humor! Wacky hijinx! Naked (albeit CGI) boobies! It seemed like something the arthouse animation-festival-going side of me would enjoy immensely, not to mention the appeal to the guy who nearly wore out a VHS copy of Robot Carnival.

So, why didn’t I enjoy it immensely?

Maybe I just got too old for this stuff. For all the high-end cutting-edge technology on display, several of the creators involved got too carried away with the fact that they were going to get to show grotesque horrors, naked women, or both in the same short film. Sometimes simultaneously. Which could have been fine in and of itself, but out of 18 short films fully one third were off-puttingly violent and gory (not to mention, in several cases, spectacularly brutal to the female characters).

And then there’s “The Dump” where we see a gangly old man with his pants down around his ankles, among other things. Deep sigh.

We’re also living in an age where everything’s 3D-animated already. It’s not like in my arthouse movie days when computer-generated animation was super primitive. (Go watch The Mind’s Eye videos if you don’t believe me.) Among other things, this means that you can’t really get a “wow” out of the audience with technology alone. It’s all in how you use it. Apparently, “how you use it” boils down for some folks to “super maximum-resolution gore, plus high-polygon boobies.” Hmm.

On the upside, one sixth of the anthology’s film count is made up of adaptations of John Scalzi short stories. No bonus points for guessing that these (“Three Robots,” “When the Yogurt Took Over,” and “Alternate Histories”) provide a sizeable percentage of the fun to be had in the entire run time of the series.

I got a kick out of “Suits” as well, featuring farmers with home-built mechs defending their homes against alien invasion.

Of the military sci-fi available, my favorite was definitely “Lucky 13.” My least favorite was “Shape-shifters,” which… was adapted from work by the same author as “Lucky 13.” Huh. Well, one of the two short films told a story, the other just kind of… showed us things happening. Maybe it just wasn’t for me.

The arty-est of the art films on offer here are the vivid and poignant “Zima Blue,” and the weird, beautiful, and disturbing “Fish Night.” And on the improbably weird but still rather adorable side, there’s “Ice Age,” about a tiny civilization living in an ancient icebox. I’ll also give points to “Good Hunting,” which I would kind of like to see expanded into a feature or short series or something. Vigilante shape-shifting robot-bodied mythological creature in a steampunk China? Yes, more of that.

Right near the end, a quibble: Shouldn’t there have been more robots in an anthology with the word “robots” right there in the name? Mind you, should’ve been more love, too. “Death, Robots & Love” might not have sold as well, I suppose.

Should you watch this anthology series? Eh. If you don’t find the gore and violence of a lot of the entries off-putting, then yes. There’s some good fun to be had here and some clever spectacle along the way. There’s some serious nightmare fuel as well (“Beyond the Aquila Rift,” especially) so… be warned.

As for me, I’m going to go spin up my DVD copy of Robot Carnival

Alita: Battle Angel

Last week, at the tail end of my birthday vacation, I took in the Alita: Battle Angel film before it disappeared from theaters entirely. So how was it?

Continue reading

New phone + Nature park excursion

It began when Kyla’s previous phone (an aging Moto X Pure) started going kaput in a big way. After some research, she went to Best Buy on Friday and picked up a Nokia 6.1 as a replacement. That phone’s just a smidgen more powerful than my Moto G5 Plus, which makes it a huge upgrade for her. Huzzah!

Well. My phone had some issues as well and is nearing the end of active support. Plus, being a Lenovorola, it has some… quirks. So I figured, fine, let’s just get out ahead of the problem and use some of that sweet, sweet tax refund money to upgrade my own device. Saturday, while out on our grocery run, we swung by Best Buy and I nabbed a Nokia 7.1 (in blue, not that it matters because once the protective case goes on nobody’s going to see its natural color again).

How am I liking it so far? Quite a bit, albeit with some getting-used-to involved because it’s a longer, narrower device than my previous two phones. Text is smaller as a consequence. There’s also that weird “notch” display element at the top, and the fingerprint sensor is on the back with almost no physical guide to tell you where to tap your finger. (Once the case I ordered arrives, finding the sensor should cease to be a problem.) The phone is definitely peppier, and with the SD card I took out of the tablet (it wasn’t being used for anything since I haven’t made any time-lapse videos in ages) I’m able to put a whole lot of music on there instead of just a few hours’ worth.

Within 24 hours we went from being a fully Motorola household to a fully Nokia household, and we’re both quite pleased about that.

Today, because it’s absolutely gorgeous outside, we hiked around at one of our favorite places: The Tualatin Hills Nature Park. I played stevedore, carrying around our water bottles and battery packs and the “big” camera in my backpack. The trees lack leaves as of yet so it was up to the moss and ferns and some grasses to provide greenery. We didn’t see many birds but wow, were there ever gartner snakes all over the place! They all slithered under cover as soon as we could see them, which is a shame because I really wanted a picture. I had to settle for using the Go Snapshot feature of Pok√©mon Go for my “wildlife” photos.

Taillow reading about his distant cousins.

“You shall not pass!”

We also crossed the world’s smallest bridge.

Step on, or step over? You decide.

All in all, a lovely day out. We’ll have to do this again once the trees are somewhat leafier…

Mobile testing

Before I go looking around for an app with which to post content from my phone, I figure I should try using the built-in mobile web interface as a test. Let’s see how it works.

Here we see a dapper older gentleman, karate-chopping a city for its money.

And I’m using the new WordPress “block editor” because what the heck.

I guess this is doable. I’m not sure if I actually like it though. Ideally I should be in front of a proper computer to do any useful, long-form writing. But in a pinch? I guess it’ll do.

I expect to be haunted by Enzo Ferrari’s ghost now.

I’m not sure how to feel about assembling LEGO doodads as a creative outlet. All I’m doing is following instructions. On the other hand, if I take a lot of photos and write a snarky blog post about it… yeah, here we go then.

Continue reading

The Pi Writ Moody

A couple weeks ago our household network storage device, QBAY, bit the dust. It shuffled off this mortal coil. It ceased to be (functional). Bereft of life, it rests in pieces. It joined the choir invisible. It… well, enough quoting Monty Python, you get the idea. To replace most of its functionality I signed up for Google One so I now have a two terabyte bundle of online storage for most of the miscellaneous data that I stored on the NAS previously.

To replace the rest of its functionality, that of a networked music library device, I decided to take the plunge into building a system centered on a Raspberry Pi kit. The plan is to utilize Pi MusicBox with a side order of Samba to allow sharing and updating the music library over the network. One big upside of this plan is that no individual piece of the puzzle costs more than $40. Considering I just wasted $100 replacing a hard drive only to have the entire storage device go kaput, cost-effective solutions are rather appealing right now.

After consulting with an expert known to the household I put in an order for a bunch of stuff. This week, the stuff arrived!

This evening I set about performing the physical assembly, with plans to load the operating system and see if it boots & runs afterward. One of our excellent Ikea-sourced tray tables served as a workspace with nice safe borders to prevent losing teeny tiny screws in the carpet.

For a few minutes I panicked because I thought I’d bought the wrong case for the specific model of Raspberry Pi board, but, no, I was just mistaken about how it all was going to fit together. Hooray for that! On the downside, the power adapter is absolutely perfect… for an arrangement other than the one I’m assembling. (Basically the Pi will get its power from the X820 SSD add-on board, which takes an entirely different plug. Sigh.)

I guess I have a spare power adapter if I ever get another Raspberry Pi or disassemble this kit later on. Silver linings, something something.

After mis-reading the instructions the first time, I finally got to the point where it vaguely resembled the correct configuration.

I should describe what you’re seeing: On top is the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ model, attached to the X820 board from Geekworm whose job is to connect and power the 120 gigabyte Crucial solid-state drive (hidden underneath).

It was right about here during the assembly that, going through the instructions to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, I learned about the power supply problem. The correct one is on order and next week I should be able to complete the build.

Soon this thing will be blasting tunes for the benefit of the household. (I hope.)

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2019 greyduck.net

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑