Today’s Beef: So, What is a bad movie, Flixster?

I’ve been knocking around Flixster for a several months now, and I’ve noticed something that probably rates up there as today’s beef (and a few other todays as well…)

I’m running through a few quick rates, just trying to see how many films I have seen and still haven’t rated, how many films I want to see (but probably won’t have time for) and what kind of schlock might be listed that I should avoid seeing; and up comes this gem.

Now, I don’t want to pick too much on any one film, but I just gotta ask, what qualifies as a bad movie, Flixster? (after all, the slogan “Stop watching bad movies” appears after the Flixster logo on virtually every page) A routine search reveals that Rottentomatoes, IMDB and Metacritic all agree that Serving Sara is most likely a bad film. But the rating on Flixster is 3 stars, which equates to a generally positive watchable film. Even the (highly biased, negative) review on Flixster’s page paints a pretty grim picture of the film, and yet the people who have rated it seem loathe to give it the panning it seems to deserve.

[The generic unwillingness to truly pan bad films is only one beef I have with Flixster. Duplication, like this one, is another annoyance. I’m not interested in rating collections which are nothing more than boxed sets of movies I’ve already rated elsewhere. They should be roundfiled as duplicates]

The problem that I’m running into is that films that I can state unequivocally were garbage, based on a reasonably objective standard of measurement, do not get a low rating from others. Films that I hated, like Sin City or Four Brothers, for example. I guess they just aren’t bad enough.

However, with a little bit of perusing of the bottom 100 over at IMDB I stumbled across this little nugget of hell; Lawnmowerman 2, which I crowned the “king of the unnecessary sequels”. IMDB gives it 2 of 10 stars; rottentomatoes.com gives it 11% on the tomato meter. Flixster’s rating? 2 1/2 out of 5 stars. 50%!? Seriously Flixster, what’s the deal here?

Perhaps they should establish a bottom 100 list similar to the list at IMDB. Maybe that will encourage people to pan films that deserve to be ridiculed. Or perhaps the ratio of Interested to Not Interested should weight the overall star rating of a film (as an example that ratio on Lawnmower Man 2 is 297/3744; Serving Sarah ‘s ratio is 1083/5962) and reduce (or increase) a films rating based on who actually wants to see any particular film. Whatever the solution is, this problem needs to be addressed. Please guys, I’m begging you.

Ron Paul Unplugged

Two of my favorite people, one interviewing the other. John Stossel did a series of web interviews with Ron Paul, all of them quite interesting. Here’s an excerpt of the intro:

Despite relatively low poll numbers, Paul has had a big influence on the presidential campaign. That’s in part because he’s raised a ton of money, and in part because of the passionate following he has on the Web. It’s one reason we’re posting my interview with Paul only on the Internet, where the debate about Paul is very active. In fact, he’s the most Googled presidential candidate.

read more | digg story

You can go on to read Stossel’s notes on the interviews, or watch them on the site. You can also watch them here.

Economists Say Movie Violence Might Temper the Real Thing

Heard about this one from Jeff Ward on Our Little Show. I love the irony present in a theory like this:

Instead of fueling up at bars and then roaming around looking for trouble, potential criminals pass the prime hours for mayhem eating popcorn and watching celluloid villains slay in their stead.

Crime is not merely delayed until after the credits run, they say. On the Monday and Tuesday after packed weekend showings of violent films, no spike in violent crime emerges to compensate for the peaceful hours at the movies. Even a few weeks later, there is no evidence of a compensating resurgence, they say.

read more | digg story

Look for those mother hens (ran across them before) who are just convinced that violence in film creates real violence to poo-poo this study and claim that economists can’t really study individual behavior.

Oh, wait. I think the comments at digg already reflect this.

Ron Paul takes 29% of Independent Republicans in Iowa Caucus

Gotta love these numbers:

Ron Paul took over 10% in yesterday’s Iowa caucus, handily beating Rudy Giuliani and finishing right behind both Fred Thompson and John McCain. This despite that Rudy Giuliani made more visits to Iowa than Ron Paul. And, entrance polls showed that Ron Paul took first place (29%) among independent Republicans!

read more | digg story

FFrF Radio: Litigants & African American Freethought

Podcast Link.

This week’s interviews are with current litigants in state/church lawsuits. This is a recurring show topic on the radio program; not that I’m complaining mind you. It’s just that they seem to blend together after awhile.

The quote this week that sticks out?

Concerning the lawsuit asking for the records of visitors to the White House (just another document made secret under the presidency of GWB) and why Ted Haggard was not on the list of people visiting the White House.

Dan Barker: “Ted Haggard was probably visiting Larry Craig’s office”

I’m sure Larry Craig was choking on that one…


2007 Archive episode.

January 6, 2007 – African American Freethought and Atheism

Marion the Barbarian (Pat Robertson) and his latest round of (completely erroneous) predictions for what will happen at the end of the year (that year has passed, and guess what? No Boom)

This weeks guest was Norm Allen, editor of the anthology, African-American Humanism. What can I say? I keep listening to the show because the interviews are generally quite engaging. This one is yet another example. I hope they have him on again.

The Porgy and Bess song “It Ain’t Necessarily So” sung by Sammy Davis Junior as Sportin’ Life is also featured.

I want to live in a surveillance society

The title might give you pause, but if you read far enough into the article, you stumble across this comment:

Shouldn’t recording your own police interrogation be a constitutionally protected right, like the right to an attorney? If not, why not?

read more | digg story

The subtitle did it for me. “Big Brother is always watching you. But who’s watching Big Brother?” You can always get me with a 1984 reference; and truthfully, why shouldn’t you be able to produce your own record of a police encounter, or an interrogation, etc?

Television Midseason Debuts

Got my SciFi update from About the other day, giving me the low-down on all the new shows coming out midseason. There seem to be a lot of them. I hope this trend continues, because I’m truly tired of the rerun hell that usually abounds on television after about February.

Top of the list is one I’m going to make a point to miss. The ads for Sarah Connor Chronicles have looked so lame that not even the appearance of Summer Glau in the series will be enough to get this Firefly fan to tune in. Not even for one episode. I actually don’t need to write anything else on the subject, because the new editor over at About SciFi pretty well sums it up with this:

Is there anything left to say about Sarah and John Connor? Apparently. Not only is a fourth movie coming, but now Sarah Connor, inserted after T2, with Sarah (British actress Lena Headey) and 15-year-old John (Thomas Dekker, from Heroes) on the run from both contemporary authorities and cyborgs from the future. Watch creator Josh Friedman try to create jeopardy for characters whose complete past and future we already know! Watch the urbane Headey evoke unslakable yearning for Linda Hamilton’s angry growl and big biceps! Watch a series designed to revive a moribund franchise turn out to be completely inessential!

Don’ t believe me about the ads? Here’s one. Wish I could find the one that set me off; it was full of action and explosions, just like this one, and ended with a comment about mom fixing dinner. Sorry, just can’t suspend disbelief that far; I don’t want to risk brain damage by hitting myself in the head that hard.

There’s a reason why none of the dystopia stories seems to translate well to series television (and even seems to break down in sequel films) and it has to do with maintaining tension in the story on a week to week basis, and keeping it believable at the same time. I predict that this series will be every bit as lame as the Planet of the Apes television series was, and just as short lived.

On the other hand, I see that Jericho is up for a second season, and now I’m kicking myself for not having taken the time to watch the first. Several friends (whose opinions I trust) told me I needed to check it out when it first aired. Now I’m on the fence about coming in mid-story. I might take the time.

I doubt it, though. What with Torchwood (which I watch just for the fun of it) Battlestar Galactica and Doctor Who all coming out with new shows (not to mention Ghost Hunters, Ghost Whisperer and other shows that I follow with The Wife. The fact that we watch Ghost Whisperer, Moonlight and Numb3rs has us tuned in to CBS pretty much all night Friday. Thank goodness for the PVR or I wouldn’t get to watch Stargate Atlantis and 20/20 as well) There was so much to watch last year, that I started watching both Bionic Woman and Journeyman, and had to drop them for lack of time (not to mention I just couldn’t seem to get into the shows. That goes double for Chuck. I’m sorry Adam, I just can’t go there) I’m quite glad that Heroes seems to be done for the season; I was getting near to letting that one drop off my radar as well.

The About SciFi guide left LOST off the list (I guess it’s just not SciFi enough for them) That and Stargate Atlantis are the two shows I’m really looking forward to. I have no idea how they will maintain tension on LOST (which is sort of dystopic) either. After loosing their way in the second season, and going somewhere completely unexpected in the third, I don’t even want to hazard a guess about the rest of the series. I’m just hoping it ends as well as it began.

Hardcore History: James Burke & the K-Web

I have listened to all of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (wish I could say the same for Common Sense. I’m still missing the first 40 or so of those) and they’ve all been good. I would have had a hard time picking the best episode…

…Until now. I know, I know, this episode was rough, it didn’t have the polished edges of the rest of the episodes.

But
It’s
James Burke!

C’mon.

I’ve been a fan of this guy since I saw Connections 1 several years ago. I just recently caught Connections 3, and I guess I’m going to have to track down Connections 2 on my own because no one seems to be airing them.

I’m apparently not the same caliber of fan that Dan Carlin is, though. I’ve never even heard of American Connections before, and I put The Day the Universe Changed on my wishlist based on Carlin’s glowing praise alone.

While all of the interview was worth listening to, I was intrigued by Mr. Burke’s latest project The Knowledge Web. While not really up and running yet, the concept sounds a lot like Connections; which was intriguing to me at first glance because it reminded me of the way I used to read the encyclopedia; not from front to back, but from reference to reference.

Can’t wait to see it finished.

Happy birthday TCP/IP

So today marks the anniversary of the adoption of TCP/IP. 24 years ago today, the internet as we navigate it today was formed.

The only reason I know this is because it’s linked to the google logo on my home page (digg it if you must) I don’t know about the rest of you, but when I click on a link telling me about a revolutionary process that was adopted sometime in the distant past (distant for some of you; I distinctly remember 1983. I graduated technical school and was dumped by my high school sweetheart. It was a great year) I want to know what the mystical acronym means. I had to go to look it up on Wikipedia just to find a description that passed for layman’s terms:

The Internet protocol suite is the set of communications protocols that implement the protocol stack on which the Internet and most commercial networks run. It has also been referred to as the TCP/IP protocol suite, which is named after two of the most important protocols in it: the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and the Internet Protocol (IP), which were also the first two networking protocols defined. Today’s IP networking represents a synthesis of two developments that began in the 1970s, namely LANs (Local Area Networks) and the Internet, both of which have revolutionized computing.

…and no, I didn’t know what TCP/IP meant until I looked it up. Yes, I know, a self-respecting geek should know these things. That’s what happens when you get to geekiness through scifi and gaming, rather than through rich parents who can afford to pay for the latest hardware as it rolls off the assembly line (do you know how much an Altair cost when it was new? As much as my first car. I’d rather have had the car) I never needed to know what it meant to make the household LAN work, or to make the browser go where I wanted it. So sue me.

Don’t mind the attitude. It’s the tail-end of mean champagne buzz. Time for some coffee and breakfast burritos. Happy New Year.