Saturday, February 28, 2009

One Year Later

I'm feeling too good today, and that's not natural (but Oak Express is!), so let's blog about something that's been ticking me off... For over a year!

I don't talk about it much, but I follow some comics, and might be considered a geek or a nerd. (Which is cool!) I mainly follow Marvel's Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four.

At the end of 2007, Spider-Fans got a bomb with the One More Day story arc. After Spider-Man unmasks in Civil War, he becomes an easier target for any number of the villains he's faced. A sniper hired by the Kingpin tries to shoot Peter Parker and shoots Peter's Aunt May instead. She is in a critical condition and highly likely to die, no matter where they go for help.

The One More Day story arc climaxed with Mephisto (Marvel's version of Satan) offering Peter and his wife Mary Jane to let Aunt May live if he can erase their marriage from ever existing. After much thought, Peter and MJ agree.

I remember reading that and seriously saying, "Did they just do that? Did they just seriously do that? DID THEY DO THAT?"

Yeah, so Peter Parker is single again, Aunt May is well and working at a homeless shelter and unaware of Peter's superhero identity, Mary Jane is a model and actress, somehow, although nothing in Civil War was retconned, no one remembers who Spider-Man was when he unmasked, Peter is no longer a teacher, and all the effects of The Other story arc have been eliminated. (That story arc was a death/rebirth arc for Spider-Man, where he gets organic web-shooters and other powers.) In addition, we saw the return of Harry Osborn.

So, this leaves fans asking "WHAT THE...???"

Now, I know they had to do something about the unmasking, because there was no way they could do basic Spider-Man stories, but it raises the question, did the stakes have to be the marriage of Peter and MJ? And although Aunt May was a fixture of the Spider-Man stories from the beginning, couldn't we finally say good-bye? Ah, well...

Now, these changes brought about "Brand New Day," a bit of a continuity reboot for Spider-Man, the problem being that about 20 years of beloved comic book stories were either retconned or altered in ways unknown to the fans (right now).

The problem with "Brand New Day" is that their purpose behind it has faltered. They said they wanted stories that focused more on Peter Parker, but we haven't seen him out of costume recently, and I've forgotten if he ever managed to get employed. They only recently gave him a romantic story, which really focused on his friend, Betty Brandt, and was pretty thin, and was overwhelmed by the other story in the issue where Peter gets to photograph Barack Obama's inauguration, which is crashed by The Chameleon.

And some of these stories get cheesy, and I mean CHEESY. Like, we have Freak, a supervillain who was a junkie who got turned into a monster when he took what he thought was crystal meth. Yeah... Sounds like a rejected Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen plot. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're better off not knowing.)

And another story arc had a mysterious girl who is trying to hunt down Spider-Man, and catches his roommate, think he's her prey. If you're familiar with the Spider-Man rogues gallery, she brings to mind Kraven the Hunter. And I immediately thought, "She's his daughter." And in the last issue of the arc, it shows the girl returning to her mother, who comments she's Daddy's girl, revealing pictures of Sergei Kravinoff, the original Kraven. Now, this would be all right, if it just ended there, but no! There's a text box that reads some blurb like, "Wow! She's Sergei's daughter! You didn't see that coming!" Uh, actually, I did. Like a mile away.

Another thing that annoyed me was during a fight scene, Spider-Man suddenly had the angel on one shoulder, demon on the other complex. Cheese...

The only thing I'm really glad about "Brand New Day" is the return of Harry Osborn, who they revealed would have returned without "One More Day." In much the same way his father Norman Osborn died and then returned, so did Harry, and both have taken the mantle of the Green Goblin. Harry's a good character, and I appreciated his return.

The reason why I liked Mary Jane as Peter's wife is that she completed his character and offered leverage to his life from going out there and beating the villains. She just felt right.

I'm betting someday they'll either find a way to remove the retcon, or get Peter and MJ married again. It'd cause a big rage from the fans if they tried to marry him to someone else.

Whatever. It's their comics, let them screw it up how they want.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Seconds At ShenaniganZ

In late 2005, a co-worker told me about a movie called "Waiting..." It sounded interesting, so I found a copy and watched it. It was an indie movie that somehow had some big names in the cast, like Chi McBride, Luiz Guzman, Justin Long, Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, and Dane Cook. The movie was a "Day In The Life" film about the crew at ShenaniganZ, a fancy restaurant where the unspoken but enforced rule is "Don't f**k with the people who handle your food." In one scene, a female customer feels her right to complain about everything, and her food is shown being tampered with in a most disgusting manner. Her extra gravy is saliva, added garlic salt is actually dandruff, and the added alfalfa sprouts are really pubic hairs.

There's also the running joke of the Game, where the male crew find ways to make each other see their genitalia. (Turns out, this is a real game.)

The film's better feature was actually focusing on character development. There were some who were just funny, like the bipolar and foul-mouthed Naomi, and wannabe rappers Nick and T-Dog, but there were characters who developed. Ryan Reynold's character Monty is obsessed with sex and the hostess Natasha (who is a minor for just one more week), Justin Long's character Dean wants to break out of his rut as a waiter, and when he is offered the assistant manager position, he must decide what he's going to do. And then there's new hire Mitch, who can't seem to finish a sentence.

So, with a movie as clever and humorous and disgusting as that, that also made a large profit on it's release, what do you do next? S-E-Q-U-E-L.


And what do we know about movie sequels? They're very tricky to do CORRECTLY. There are countless sequels to movies that have been huge disappointments. Not all have been bad, but it's rare to find a really satisfying one.

We heard about "Still Waiting" in 2007, and that it would come out in 2008. 2008 came, 2008 went, and no sequel. I heard about test screenings, but that's it. We heard very few of the lead cast would return. Dane Cook, Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris, and the guy who played Mitch were not returning, and we'd also heard the restaurant they filmed the first one in had been changed into something else.

So, the sequel was released last week on DVD. Because I'm on Netflix, I decided to rent before I bought.

So, apparently, in between the two movies, the original restaurant was closed to health issues (heheh...), and only Nick, Natasha, and Naomi transferred to the new one. Calvin, T-Dog, and Raddimus now work at competing store Ta-Ta's. I guess we assume everyone else (unless I missed noticing some people) found work elsewhere.

So, the new movie starts off with the manager of this new store starting his day. The way it's done feels like a bad parody of parts of the first movie. In fact, a lot of the movie feels like a bad parody of the first movie. (I guess the preview for Disaster Movie on the DVD should have been a tip-off...) So, this ShenanaginZ is struggling to stay afloat with the competition from Ta-Ta's if they can't make $9,000 everyday, they will close.

Nick and T-Dog aren't really friends now, as T-Dog has "matured," and Nick hasn't. This feels weird, because these two were just throw-away characters in the first movie, and now we're psychoanalyzing them? It's a plot line that's not really worth it.

We've got the manager trying to become more popular with women, such a weird plot device. We've got Naomi plastering Ta-Ta's with dog feces because no other place will hire her. Shy Calvin from the first movie is now VERY popular with women. Bishop and Dean appear in extended cameos. Dean's is very disappointing.

We also have a variety of new characters in the crews of ShenanaginZ and Ta-Ta's, but honestly, I found myself not really caring about the new characters. They felt like pale shadows of what I'd already seen in the first movie.

I guess it was filmed well, nice music, well-edited. The acting was decent, but it just made the first movie feel like a classic. By the end, I just wanted it to be over. Not even the Scotsman who's at the end who gets ignored for the nerdy-sounding guy could keep my attention. (And Scots rock.)

I'm glad I rented this. Now I know that I shouldn't buy it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I love books!

Okay, so if you remember that blog sometime back about books I've read and books I wanted to read, here's an update...

  • I finally found a good deal on a copy of Picnic at Hanging Rock on, and it arrived today! Can't wait to read it! It's thinner than I expected it would be, and it's from the late '70s, so it's also a movie edition, not that I care, as that means the nice-looking Australian girls who grace the movie are also gracing this cover!
  • I ordered copies of Irvine Welsh's Filth and The Acid House on Amazon, so I might have a follow-up on reading his work soon.
And I also got a new headset in the mail today, which I'll use for making Skype calls. In fact, I used it to call my mother to wish her a belated happy birthday. I recorded the whole call with Call Graph, and listened to some of it. The sound quality was very good on my end, and all right from Mom's, since I was talking into a microphone, and she was talking into a regular phone. I'd upload a clip somewhere, but believe me, you have better things to do than listen to a phone conversation between me and my mother, one of the most boring things an un-related person could hear.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

One of the dumbest things I've ever seen...

Hey, just because it said I was a co-author, doesn't mean that I had anything to do with it!

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh... boy...

So, recently, there's been a lot of talk over celebrities making possibly career-ending mistakes. The one that's been the biggest for about a year now is Heath Ledger's death that really did end his career. It spurred publicity for his last movie The Dark Knight, but now that he's nominated for an Oscar (which I bet he will win), he's up for talk again.

Also, speaking of The Dark Knight, Christian Bale had a bit of a career hit when someone leaked an audio of him chewing out the DOP of the new Terminator movie when apparently, he was messing up the scene. I actually think that if the Director of Photography is messing up the scene, a profanity-ridden chewing out from the star is pretty tame... Messing up a scene means a re-shoot, and every second of film costs money and time.

Then we have Joaquin Phoenix doing a rap... Very badly... So what? Can't celebrities have fun, too?

Olympian Michael Phelps had a picture of him with a bong leaked, and now Kellogg's doesn't want him on their cereal boxes.

Then we have Miley Cyrus imitating Asian people... whatever! Forget her!

And then there's that whole Chris Brown hitting Rihanna debacle... Whatever! Chris Brown, you suck for striking a woman, and whatever career you had is now gone. Have a happy rest of your life...

But... really, this just proves how obsessed we are with celebrities. They slip up once and we say, "Oh, they suck!" Uh... Don't you have all of their CDs and DVDs? "Uh... Yeah..." Really!

Look, I have friends who screw up. What do I do when they do it? Do I say, "Well, you're a waste of time,"? No. If the offense isn't too great (trying to call me a liar in public is too great, for example), I'll forgive and go on with my life.

Now, these celebrities: I don't know any of them, and I don't really care to. I'm not even a fan of their works (though I did enjoy the new Batman movies and Walk the Line). If they do anything wrong, it's nothing to do with me, and who am I to hold it against them? After all, I screw up myself. (Ask my family, friends, and the people at the International Wizard of Oz Club Message Board.)

Bottom line: screw-ups happen, forgive, forget, move on with your life.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This is a little something I came up with. The scene is, it's the end of the world, families have gathered together for the clock to strike midnight, and Doomsday will begin. One little family happens to have their grandmother with them.

GRANDMA: Well, here we are at the end of the world, spending our last moments together. Now before we all die and are separated for all eternity, I want to tell you something: you all have been the biggest disappointments to me.

GRANDSON: That's okay, grandma. We don't like you, either.

GRANDMA: Oh, really? I'm so glad we can finally discuss how we really feel!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday The 13th - Review

All, right. I sat myself down and watched this thing.

First off, I don't like the plot. I mean, it's very much just a string of bloody murders strung together with a bit of story. I'm not one for gore, unless it's something that happens in the story.

Now, before I go further, let me clarify this, I'm reviewing the ORIGINAL version, not the new remake. (Made you look!)

So, here's the plot: Obsessed and embittered with her son Jason's death, Pamela Voorhees takes it in her own hands that Camp Crystal Lake stays closed, by murdering every camp counselor and worker that comes to work there.

Whoop! Well, I just spoiled the whole movie for you, didn't I? Heheh... Don't worry, if you're into seeing bloody murders, you'll like this. People get axed, knifed, stabbed in the throat, and decapitated. It's done convincingly, and this is before CGI, so it's impressive how real it looks.

And somehow, it turned into the juggernaut movie franchise it is today, from this cheesy little slash flick, to Freddy VS. Jason and the remake that came out yesterday.

Just proof that Hollywood has no creativity anymore... I mean, you could even take an element from this and make a completely different movie. Here we go:

When Jason dies, Pamela gets herself a good lawyer, and they take the negligent counselors to court until they get a death row sentence. Thinking they can prevent this from happening again, they start Parents Against Negligent Caretakers of Recreational, Educational, and Activities Services, or PANCREAS. They go very well, Pamela gets on shows like Oprah and The View, and gets internationally acclaimed for her efforts.

Then she decides she wants to make Jason's grave a landmark. Her lawyer tells her no, and she finds out he has been diverting funds they've been amassing for his own purposes. She works out a plan and murders him. Pretending to be a distressed friend, she visits his family and discovers he had a son, who would be about Jason's age, if he was still alive. Realizing that she took this boy's father away like Jason was taken from her, she can no longer live with the guilt. She closes PANCREAS and then commits suicide.

See? Completely different movie, based on one concept! And if Hollywood dare make this movie... I'm suing! COPYRIGHT JARED DAVIS!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Possibly the last blog...

...I'll make on this computer, as my new PC is arriving today. This old machine has given me and my family over seven years of service, although early on, it had to be serviced many times. (I believe the problem was bad wiring in our house. We must have moved it to a steady breaker, as it's been working fine for about five years now.)

I've been the only one who's bothered to upgrade this thing, except for some software. I first added a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive (it came with a CD-ROM drive), then later, after I bought it from my parents for $300 (which is more than it's worth), I added a DVD-RW drive, an 80GB hard drive, and most recently, I doubled the memory.

However, I decided to get a new one, because what I really needed was a better processor (Intel Celeron sucks), and that could mean a new motherboard, and that would be too much trouble. Also, the memory could only be upgraded to 512 MB, and it still wasn't enough for some applications I need to run. Also, we're looking at 1.10 GHz, making the fact that I've made so many YouTube videos on this an astounding accomplishment.

After I get my files moved and everything moved and set up, I'm giving this old computer back to my dad.

Here's a comparison of this old one to my new one:
Hard Drive Space
Old = 20GB, added a 80GB drive
New = 80GB (I will be adding my secondary 80GB drive from this one)
Old = 256MB, 512MB with upgrade
NEW = 1GB, 2GB with upgrade I have ordered
Gigahertz (GHz)
Old = 1.1 GHz
New = 2.8 GHz
Old = Intel Celeron Processor
New = Intel Pentium 4 Processor
USB Ports
Old = 4 1.0 USB ports
New = 6 2.0 USB ports
Operating System
Old = Windows XP Home
New = Windows XP Pro

I'm not interested in Vista...

Can you TELL I'm a little excited? The only thing I'll need to get a replacement for is the monitor, but dad says I can keep it until I can get one, and Shaun has offered to let me use one he has stored here. I'm also looking for a good deal on a new printer/scanner, as the one I bought back in 2005 has bit the dust.

The only other electronics I'm wanting to get is a camcorder, because I'd like to film better-quality videos (I can do it with my digital camera, but you don't get good video unless you have very good lighting, which means BRIGHT lights or natural light), and I do want to get an iPod so I can enjoy more of my music, such as I have.

I also have the nagging feeling that someday I'll have to get an HDTV and Blu-Ray player, because vinyl records vs. audio cassettes vs. CD vs. digital audio and VHS vs. DVD taught us that companies won't do dual formats forever, so eventually, in order to see new movies, I'll have to make the switch. Fortunately, I've noted you no longer need to spend thousands of dollars on a HDTV and Blu-Ray player (you can buy them for less than $1000), so by the time that happens, it should be less of a wallop on the pocket, but I'm holding out with DVD.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another Odd Dream...

I had a dream last night where I was going to some event out in the country. In the dream, I remember seeing Tim Armstrong and Robbie from the Youth Ministry I used to volunteer with.

And I needed to buy some pants.

I pass up thrift stores, because they're no longer sell clothes (actually, for some, at least, this is a fact, as there's a law that clothes must be tested before being sold to avoid some kind of poisoning, and most thrift stores can't afford to test them, a pretty dumb law to pass when we're in the middle of an economic crisis), and go to some retail outlets.

The store seemed to be Wal-Mart, but upon consideration, it could have been any generic retail store. They had all sorts of clothing, except men's pants, so I'm like, "Well, I'm screwed," and leave.

Then I woke up because I had to use the bathroom.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How To Wiggle Out Of The Grasp Of The Weasels

So, I get a phone call, and the person on the other end starts talking some spiel with very poor reception. I hear them say, "Mastercard," and I think it's the Mastercard company calling in regards to the several debit cards that have had to be replaced due to a security breach. (I got a letter from my bank earlier this week explaining it.

It turns out not to be Mastercard, but some health plan service trying to weasel me in by offering $100 of gas rebates. (Which is not a perk for me, as I never got to master driving, much less own a vehicle, though I did help my sister buy a car.) They eventually stop and ask me if I understand, and I say, "Excuse, but what is this for?"

"Do we need to go over all of this again?" they ask.

I then explain my Mastercard is being replaced and should not be used, and I do not have another card to bill it to.

They had to leave me alone.

So, if you're in a situation like this, just remember, tell them you don't have a card you can use or a way to pay, and it should all be good...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Got My W-2 Yesterday...

...and I don't know what to do with it. The place where I work has ADP handling the paychecks and W-2s.

Now, for anyone who doesn't know, the W-2 is a statement from your employer stating how much money you made the previous year with them, and how much taxes were removed. With this information, you file your tax declaration forms, seeing whether your employer overpaid or underpaid your taxes.

Now, the reason why I don't know what do to do with it, is because ADP also has a website where you can view and print your pay statements and W-2s online. My W-2 has been online since early last week, and when I found it was online, I filed my taxes. (Using TurboTax's free federal filing and another website's free state filing.) I'm getting a rather nice refund this year, as last year I had to pay $94.

Oh, and last night on Yahoo! News, I noticed this news article. I haven't seen the movie (though it sounds interesting) yet, nor have I read the story it's based on, and I certainly haven't read this Italian woman's story, as it was unpublished. I hope that judge who will review the movie and the unpublished story also reviews the story it's said to be based on. If he rules in her favor, you can bet the studio's lawyers will manage to wiggle out of it.

Last night I had a weird dream where I was at a grocery store, and there were book signings there. Yeah... And the really weird thing, in my dream I didn't know, but I managed to have my copies of one of the author's books with me. Weird.