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Saturday, May 09, 2009

One more thing...

The only thing I didn't like in Star Trek was the transporter effect. I still think the original "glitter" effect was best:

Star Trek Transporter Effect : BFX : Build - A funny movie is a click away


Also- I really prefer the space battles from the previous films. While impressive, there's just too damn much going on in "modern" battle scenes. Maybe I'm getting old, but there's so much junk flying around that it's impossible to know where to focus. Give me a classic Trek battle every time:


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Warp speed

The new Star Trek film is a delight, even for an ancient Trekkie like me who watched the first episode of the original series when it aired on September 8, 1966. (I would turn 12 three days later.)

Seeing its IMAX reincarnation 43 years later was an even bigger thrill than the original. Which, frankly, isn't saying too much. The first episode aired was the hokey The Man Trap, better known among fans as The Great Salt Vampire.

The experience is similar to being thoroughly familiar with a small, low-budget community theater production of, say, The Music Man, using the original 1950s staging, and then seeing the newest revival in New York on Broadway. It's technically far superior, the new kids are talented, they pay proper homage to the original book, but skillfully update it for modern sensibilities.

All of the characters are immediately recognizable. The new cast doesn't mimic the old, but rather offer sterling interpretations of the originals' character traits.

Let me put it this way; if it had been possible to get the 60s versions of Shatner et al to perform in the film, all of the dialogue and interaction would have felt right.

The two hours raced by. The only negative was the fact the air conditioning at the Lowe's Waterfront IMAX theater wasn't working. But the film was actually so riveting that I didn't notice the fact the audience was sweating like marathon runners until the end credits.

This film will join the last two Batman films as definitive examples of the correct way to reboot a franchise.

The highest compliment I can pay?

I can't wait for the next one.

(They've toned the Treknobabble down a notch or two for this film, but what remains is delightful. Watch for the pipes carrying "inert reactant." Gotta love Trekkie oxymorons...)

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Friday, May 08, 2009

It's hard to work the seat belts when you lack opposable thumbs...

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Remembering Totie

Totie Fields, one of the first successful female standup comedians, is remembered today only by those 50 and older who watched the old Ed Sullivan and Mike Douglas shows. Born on this day in 1930, she died at the age of 48 following a series of illnesses. Click on the link for a short bio of this talented- but mostly forgotten- comedy pioneer.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I don't think they're taking it seriously...

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It's Cinco de Mayo or, as we say here in Fayette City, Wednesday.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Classic movie clip of the day

Still the best film ever shot in Pittsburgh. You won't see realism like this in Flashdance.

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Sign of the day

There isn't a male on the planet who could deny the need and utility of this sign, but very few have the cojones to actually purchase it and hang it in his home. A hat tip of admiration Eric Stark. You rule, dude. And you will be missed.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Speed of confusion

One thing that appears to be unique to Pennsylvania is the "End Speed Limit" sign.

These signs have always irritated me. "End Speed Limit 25." Well, ok. Now what? Why not just put up a sign stating what the new speed limit is supposed to be?

As best as I can figure, it's related to the way in which Pennsylvania's traffic laws are written. Assume all the speed limit signs in the Commonwealth have disappeared. How would you know how fast you're allowed to drive?

The "default" speed limits in PA are: 35 miles per hour in any urban district, 25 miles per hour in a residence district if the highway is not a numbered traffic route (like Route 88) unless it has been classified as a residence district by the state, and 55 miles per hour everywhere else.

Now, municipalities can impose their own speed limits with PennDOT's approval, covering specific lengths of highway. Where their jurisdiction ends, they post an end speed limit sign. Unless there are state-posted speed limit signs immediately after the end speed limit sign, the legal speed is either 25, 35, or 55 miles per hour, depending upon whether you're in a residence district, an urban district, or anywhere else.

Consider the 2.5 mile stretch of Route 906 between the junction with I-70 in Belle Vernon and the junction with Route 201 in Fayette City. 906 is called Main Street in Belle Vernon, and the posted speed limit is 25 within the city limits. This jumps up to 40 outside of the city, where Main Street becomes Fayette City Road. It's interesting to note the sign at the south end of Belle Vernon doesn't say "End Speed Limit 25," but "Speed Limit 25." That's because about 500 feet further down the road, there's a "Speed Limit 40" sign.

This is where it gets strange. After a short distance, you encounter an "End Speed Limit 40" sign, with a caution that the speed limit drops to 35, which it does when Fayette City Road turns into Naomi Road as it goes through the Village of Naomi.

But between the "end 40" and Naomi's "begin 35," there's a half-mile stretch with no speed limit signs- just "use caution when passing." In this tiny stretch, the speed limit is 55. While you dither between 35 and 40, the locals- aware of the vagaries of PennDOT speed regulations- blow past you on the narrow road, only to apply their brakes (sometimes) to decelerate to 35 when entering the teeming metropolis of Naomi and its two speed limit signs.

This became of interest to me when returning home from Maryland via Route 40, which has literally dozens of end speed limit signs between the Pennsylvania border and Uniontown.

I'm sure I knew the speed rules at some time in the past, but years of living in semi-urban areas and an aversion to driving had made me forget the end speed limit business.

Now if someone can explain why I was threatened with a ticket when the sign clearly said, "Fine for Speeding..."

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pete

Pete Seeger is 90 today, and there are "For Pete's Sake: Sing!" events scheduled around the world.

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So there.  
The e-mail address is now something other than saga. used to be until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up and adopting created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the domain name in 1993, and had since that time used as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that was no longer but rather which is longer than and more letters to type than and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than but actually just as functional as I sent e-mails from the address to just about everybody I knew who had used in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that no longer is the they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...


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