Archive for the ‘color commentary’ Category

What I Really Want for Christmas

30 December 2010

I received a lot of wonderful and thoughtful gifts for Christmas this year. Once again, however, no one got me what I really, really wanted.

The De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle was the Segway of the sky 50 years ahead of time. It could land on water. All I’m asking for is a personal omniphibious flying craft. Is that too much to hope for?


A Man of Small Ambitions

10 July 2010

One personality deficiency I have is that of low ambition. I had occasion today to remember a cute example of this from my early childhood.

It cannot be denied that as a small boy I had a deep and abiding love for anything that pulled a trailer. There were few things that could touch me as strongly as a truck pulling a trailer with another vehicle on top of the trailer. If that towed vehicle were of another medium, for example a boat or helicopter, it was nearly more than I could bear.

It goes without saying that I found semis impressive indeed. Knight Rider’s rolling lab and headquarters could be in any one of them. This I knew in my heart of hearts.

It happened one day that my childhood friend Tim suggested that when we grew up we could become semi truck drivers. It was a step too far. It seemed to me that such an honor was not to be pursued. The operation of such a wonder was surely bestowed upon a man by a high and incorruptible power.

I countered the suggestion with, “Maybe we could wash them.”

Maybe we could wash them.

That is how high my view of my future abilities went as a boy of 5 years. I supposed that maybe, if everything went very well, it would be possible that I could attain unto the washing of large trucks.

Maureen and Nausicaa

18 March 2010

I realize one must expect the unexpected occurrences in the course of married life. This world is strange.

A few days ago my wife walked into our home and announced that she had recently viewed “Spirited Away” and had developed an interest in the work of Hayao Miyazaki.


I own three DVDs. One of them was a gift. Of the two that I have purchased, and of the three in total, my favorite is “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.”

Last night we watched it together with mutually favorable results.

In the words of our commander in chief, “let me be clear.” “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” is a 116 minute sci-fi fantasy epicĀ cartoon from Japan. If I were a person of any aesthetic conviction, many people would have heard about this movie from me many years ago. But at the time that I discovered and fell in love with the work of Mr. Miyazaki, I recognized it for what it also was: a nerd badge of the highest caliber here in the midwest. I hoarded this treasure unto myself, as I am wont to do.

It is quite mind-boggling that my dear wife independently came to at least an appreciation of this art on her own.

What can be next? She will bring home a copy of “Akira” or “End of Evangelion?”

Avatar Review: Toby’s Battle Plan to Save Pandora (Spoilz)

29 December 2009

Spoiler Alert!

Yes, the 2009 film “Avatar”, directed by James Cameron is essentially “Dances With Wolves” in space. Yes, it did end with a climactic battle in which the military industrial complex of the future is defeated by an individual who is simultaneously noble savage and American whitey. Yes, I would still recommend that anyone with $10.50 go see it in 3D at their next convenience.

I struggled with the main plot dilemma in the film. The idea of a bulldozer the size of a cruise ship belies a deep misunderstanding of the level of development required to get to the nearest star. If we transcend interstellar travel and make genetics our plaything but still need certain kinds of rocks more than others so bad we will kill for them, I’m going to be pissed and confused.

Before I subject you to my improved battle plan to save Pandora I have to say that the method of warfare used by the humans on Pandora similarly belies misunderstanding of military technology not only in the future, but today. Manned military aircraft are not going to be a prominent feature in the near future. If there is a mining facility on another planet in our future it is unlikely that it will have more than a handful of human staff of any kind.

The part of the movie that really made me sad was the senseless loss of so many of the beautiful Omaticaya people and wildlife due to poor strategy. The heart of my review of the film is my improved battle plan. Super nerd mode GO!

At the outset, Jake Sully knows that a huge, waddling spacecraft is being flown in as a bomber to destroy the soul tree. He can assume, in the technological mishmash future in which he lives, that it will be escorted by many waddling aircraft piloted by real live human beings.

The Na’vi ground attack was senseless from the get go. They should have been committed to protecting the populace. The cavalry charge nature of their attack was not only inconsistent with their nature and environment, it was completely ill-advised for facing infantry with repeating rifles.

It is implied that Trudy has committed herself to betraying the humans before the battle by the paint on her futuristic helicopter. She has the only air-to-air explosives on the entire Na’vi side of the conflict. These should have been put to better use than her daring but senseless “up yours” attack on the command ship thing. With the inherent cloaking of the Flux Vortex aiding her she should have made a surprise run on the shuttle taking out one or more of its engines. If she was still going after that, she should have committed whatever she had to the engines of the command ship thing, and then left the scene. She would have been infinitely more effective with the tools at her disposal. With the loss of their main objective and their command, the remaining airborne and ground troops would be easy pickings.

It was a poor idea for the Omaticaya to attack the futuristic helicopters directly. We see several times during the battle that the loss of either of their very vulnerable ducted fans puts them down with extreme prejudice. I think the Omaticaya airborne would have been well served to encourage their flying mounts to drop large stones or even logs into these fans from above. If Trudy had failed to stop either of her targets, this tactic could be employed on them as well.

If Jake Sully could somehow have received my recommendations, I think Tsu’Tey, Trudy, and many Omaticaya would still be with us today.

Property Of

26 July 2008

I want to encourage us all to think twice about wearing shirts which espouse them to be property of some clothing company’s athletic department. Your Old Navy shirt is not Property of Old Navy Athletic Department. Old Navy does not have an athletic department–at least not the kind which claims property of the muted toned heavy sweatshirts with monochromatic labels they somehow convince adult Americans to purchase.

While I’m on the subject, why do these sweatshirts and T-shirts usually claim to be xxl on the front, when they often clearly are not that size? What am I missing?

And why does almost every purveyor of casual apparel in the USA offer this design from time to time? I can only see three scenarios that explain the phenomenon.
1. The graphic design department runs out of ideas, and after a long weekend they panic on Monday. They panic, that is, until they realize that they haven’t issued a run of “Property of ____ Athletic Department XXL” for the past six months. And heaven knows they saw at least seventeen of the last issue still being worn at Chili’s last Tuesday.
2. The CEOs of these companies like to look out the darkly tinted windows of their limosines from time to time to see people willfully wearing the phrase “Property of (insert company)” on their chests.
3. Somewhere in the corporate headquarters of each company that somehow manages to sell this kind of apparel, there is a room that only a cadre of the most powerful people in the corporation know about. In that room is a bank of computers. The purpose of those machines is to monitor surveillance footage from cameras across the world. Using image recognition techniques, they count the appearance of “property of…” clothing against the total count of people. This gives a rough but usable average of the intelligience quotient of their consumers.

Most strange of all to me, is that I never actually see these shirts on the rack. I know for certain I have never seen one actually purchased. And yet they make up a startling percentage of shirts that I see. Where are they coming from?

Toby – 07.20.08

Jesus owns this guy.

Jesus owns this guy.