movies comments edit

After discussing my thoughts on The Matrix Reloaded at length with friends/coworkers of mine yesterday, I figured I should probably post them up here so folks could see what the goings-on were all about.

For those living in a cave or sans pop culture influence, The Matrix Reloaded is the highly anticipated sequel to the ever popular 1999 film, The Matrix. To understand what The Matrix Reloaded is about, you really need to have seen The Matrix. But I understand that not everyone has, so let me give you the quick and dirty on The Matrix:

Keanu Reeves plays a computer geek, Neo, who starts waxing philosophic and questioning the concept of reality. Suddenly weird things start to happen - he gets odd messages mysteriously appearing on his monitor, he gets arrested by the police… and eventually you see that he gets taken in by some apparent superbeings who are somehow notorious in the computer hacker world named Trinity (played by Carrie-Anne Moss) and Morpheus (played by Laurence Fishburne).

As it turns out, Neo’s questioning was correct - the world we live in is actually a computer simulation called “The Matrix;” the real world is a place where machines have taken over and use humans as a power source (the heat, right?). Morpheus and Trinity want to free all the humans from The Matrix and take the world back from the machines. There’s a city of people (Zion) who have already been freed and are working on this effort as well.

Not only that, but Neo is “The Chosen One” and has the ability to manipulate the physical laws of The Matrix to suit his own needs. The other freed individuals can do some tremendous stuff this way (which is why they appear superhuman), but Neo’s a whole other story.

Okay, so while these characters are trying to free other humans, The Matrix itself has got these “defense mechanisms” - sort of like anti-virus software - called “agents” (picture the men in black that you see on X-Files or some such) that hunt down and kill freed humans running around in The Matrix. Hugo Weaving (“Agent Smith”) has a final showdown with Neo and Neo gains control of his newfound power at the last moment, defeating Agent Smith and realizing that he is the one who’s going to have to free all the humans.

There’s a lot more in the way of plot details and whatnot, but that’s the long and the short of it. I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t.

Now, that’s the plot of the original Matrix, but what made it so spectacular?

First, the cinematography was brilliance. The whole thing was filmed like a comic book - very dramatic lighting, color filtering, and camera angles. You could hold storyboards up next to the finished product and every scene matches up perfectly. Put the storyboards in a book and you’ve got yourself a graphic novel.

Second, the philosophy. The whole thing was a discussion about the concept of reality - which is a whole other book (actually, a bunch of books). What makes something real? Is it something you hear, see, or feel? But that’s just electrical brain impulses - is that what real is? It also touched on a bit of religion with the Neo thing - they imply that there was “another man” who could shape The Matrix the way he saw fit. Jesus maybe? They never say. Regardless, they discussed the whole thing without getting too “preachy” or annoying with it. Good stuff.

So, now that we’ve talked about the first Matrix, how was Reloaded?

I wish I could say it was as good as the first one, but it really wasn’t. The story continues in this one with Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity returning to Zion (which is good, since we haven’t really seen that aspect of things yet) to find out that the machines are tunneling toward the underground city and will be there to destroy the human resistance very soon. It’s Neo’s job to figure out how to stop it. Basically.

I won’t go too much into the whole plot because frankly, I didn’t see much of one there. It was a light, fluffy, sci-fi/action film with two utterly superfluous love stories attached to it. Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity have to figure out how to stop the machines from destroying the humans. Obstacles get in the way. Panic ensues. Stuff happens. Roll credits.

Oh, and of course, this is a cliffhanger because the next Matrix film is coming in November.

So what did they do right, and where did they go wrong?

First, what they did right:

Continuing in the vein of philosophy, this movie was a discussion about free will versus destiny. Do we actually make our own choices, or does it only seem that way? If there’s a such thing as destiny, then it doesn’t matter what “choices” we make because in the end, everything’s already preordained to happen. But if it’s all destiny, then what about our own free will? That was the aim of this one, and I think they did a good job of getting that together again without being too preachy about it.

They also throw in a bit of feeling on the human “tribal mind.” People all getting together for a common purpose, feeling raw emotion together and harnessing that power. That was good.

But that’s about it. The rest was all wrong:

They didn’t maintain the same cinematography. The first Matrix was comic-book-on-film, and that was good. This one was a standard action movie. The innovation of the dramatic camera angles and whatnot just didn’t exist in this one.

The love stories were ridiculous. One (Neo and Trinity, established in the first film) was necessary but seemed a little more… animal… than it needed to be. The other, which I won’t go into, didn’t even really have a place in the story. If you had left it out, it wouldn’t have made a difference to the plot.

That’s actually how a lot of the characters were - if you left them out, it wouldn’t make a difference to the plot. Sort of like they were “placeholders” or something. There were some very interesting characters, but they just didn’t play any role. For example, the Monica Bellucci character

  • beautiful lady, but really didn’t serve any purpose. There was a German guy, Monica Bellucci’s husband, who was so extraneous that not only do I not remember his name, but the only thing I can classify him as is “an obstacle.” That’s all he was - something like a wall, just standing in the way. In the way of Neo… and in the way of the plot.

Finally, the fight choreography. All the fights in the first movie seemed fast and furious, yet still controlled. In this one… all the fights felt like they were in slow motion. There was no challenge for any character in any fight because everyone seemed to anticipate everyone else’s moves, making it less like a fight and more like a dance. Now, I thought about the fact that the moral of this movie was free will versus destiny and that the fights, with everyone anticipating the - dare I say it - destined move of their opponents, was just a way to further that idea… but then, I may be giving them too much credit, and the fights may just have been kind of bad.

All in all, I didn’t think it was as bad as people have told me it was. I’d heard enough bad reviews that my hopes had been lowered sufficiently to enjoy it for what it was. I do hope they pick it up for the third movie in the fall. What I am disappointed about is something that my friend Tim at work brought up when I was talking with him about this - that this is now a great idea that’s been done, and it was wasted on a poor execution. Very unfortunate.

sql comments edit

I’ll post about the weekend shortly, but I thought I’d get the entries from my class last Wednesday and Thursday posted up here since people might be interested.

This is, of course, the typical way-too-long play-by-play entry, so if you want the whole skinny… Wednesday, May 28


Okay… so I’m in course “MS-2071B: Querying Microsoft SQL Server 2000 With Transact-SQL.” So far, so good. Instructor’s nice. This being a smaller, two-day course, I’m expecting a fairly easy time. Here we go…


I’m realizing I didn’t brush my teeth this morning. Icky. On top of that, I’m wearing my last pair of clean underwear. I’ll have to go digging in the clean laundry bin to see if I’ve got some that are floating in there.


Just got back from my first break. Standing up, I realized these chairs suck donkey balls. They’re TOTALLY not adjustable - not height, not tilt… nothing. My back’s starting to kill me because they were obviously made for a midget office. I think the chairs in Barbie’s Dream House are bigger than this.


The first lab was… how to read the online help file. A lab on RTFM. That’s too funny.


Not being at work and drinking altogether too much Vanilla Coke so far today has put me in a good mood. One of my rarer moments to be sure, but not entirely disagreeable. Maybe I should try out this good mood thing more often. If only there weren’t so many people out there to piss me off…


Time for lunch. So far this hasn’t been too much of a stretch for me, but I have learned a couple of new tricks for editing and re-using SQL scripts. So - easy, but still worthwhile. I like that.


Back from lunch… but the class is empty. Huh. Good thing I’ve got my book.

Went to Fred Meyer for some deli food for lunch. Cheap and tasty. Love it. While I was there I found the legs that go to these little modular cabinet things I bought the other day (on sale, of course).

Talked for a little while to the admin and one of the instructors, just hanging out. That’s cool. I like them both, and it doesn’t hurt that the admin’s a little hottie.


Starting class again. Woohoo!


My morning buzz is wearing off. I’ve hit that post-lunch-naptime phase of my day. Eyes… closing… losing… consciousness…


Found this salary survey from Visual Studio Magazine (sitting in the lunch room) that confirms that I’m getting underpaid. Not that I didn’t already know that, but it’s nice to see the statistics confirm it.


Lab time!


Lab’s done. Still pretty well cruising through this class, but it is definitely serving to reinforce existing knowledge and fill in the gaps to round the whole thing out. Very cool.


…and back to work…

My afternoon drag is still here. Not sure what to do about it. Maybe not getting up so damn early.


Finished another lab. This one was really good and talked about a LOAD of stuff I didn’t know. Stuff like aggregate functions (getting totals and averages of information) and how to interpret the results and get exactly the results you’re looking for. SQL Server can do a lot of the computational work for you so you don’t have to write a program to do it later. Lots of things that are really helpful.

I guess the instructor’s gung-ho, since we’re at the end of a chapter and he’s wanting to start the next one already. We’ll end up in the middle of a chapter, which isn’t the greatest, but I suppose to keep on schedule one does what one must do.

I’ve moved from Vanilla Coke to Sprite because the Coke was making me just crave more Coke… but the Sprite is giving me heartburn, so I guess I can’t win for losing on this drink thing.


Joining a table to ITSELF?! My head hurts…


And that’s that. Time to go home!

Thursday, May 29


Well, I finished the lab that we didn’t do yesterday and I’m ready for action. While waiting for the other guy in the class to finish, I’ll fill you in on last night.

Got home about my usual time because we stayed pretty late in the class (we were supposed to be out by 4:30p and usually you get out by around 4:00p, but not this time). Jenn wanted to go to the mall to get her nails done (little pleasures - besides, they were looking pretty bad), so I went to the mall, too, just to get out of the house.

While she was in the salon, I went to almost every cool shop in the mall. That’s not to say she took a long time; it was more a case of nothing really interesting me. I almost felt guilty going to the mall and not seeing anything I wanted, but I don’t know if that was a subconscious budgetary restriction or if nothing really did catch my attention.

I did notice that American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy, Abercrombie & Fitch, and, well, pretty much every other “trendy” clothing store all sell approximately the same thing. “Screen print tees” and unkempt looking pants and drawstring-oriented shit… It makes me wonder where fashion ever went. Even The Gap, which is more of a Nazi uniform sales store than a clothing shop, is starting to sell this “shabby chic” shit. And here I thought I could count on good old Gap to remain the cookie cutter style it is known for. So much for that.

Watched the new Fame show on TV and thought the competition was way stiffer than for American Idol. The singers were generally better and these folks could dance. It got kind of irritating when they repeated the phrase “triple-threat” over and over and over. I think that’s their big slogan or trademark or something. Don’t be surprised if you see triple-threatTM somewhere in the media soon.

This probably crosses the TMI boundary but tough noogies:

Yesterday I mentioned I was wearing my last pair of clean underwear. Well, normally I wear lo-rise briefs because they just seem to fit better (and I can’t stand that “going Commando” feeling that boxers provide - there’s no control there and I just can’t abide by it). The last pair of underwear in my drawer was a full-rise brief that I had bought because the package was mismarked. Anyway, I always wear them last since they don’t fit as well as my other underwear.

So I’m standing in my underwear, brushing my teeth before going to bed, and I’m looking at myself in the mirror realizing that I look like a two-year-old on a Huggies commercial for “big boy pants.” It was really pathetic. Not to mention that my other briefs are reasonably form fitting - you can see that I do have an ass, and the, uh, unit up front is doing okay, too. These briefs… no ass, baggy everything, and the front looked like I had taken a marble and dropped it into a hanky. Really fucking lame. Well, just one more reason not to wear those sons-of-bitches. I should probably pitch them out so I don’t catch myself in them again.

Luckily there was clean underwear in the clean laundry bin so I pulled some out and wore those today. Everything down under is back to normal. Crisis averted.


Well, we HAD started class again, but then the video projector went all wonky so we’re working on that now.

Oh, here we go. We’re going to skip the projector and use paper. Whatever.


Break and lab time!


Well, I’m officially slightly behind. The lab just now on subqueries is a tough one. I even had to cheat a bit and look at the answers because I got slightly stumped - I got the right answer for the question, but I got the answer a different way than they did.

It’s a good thing there’s more than one way to do things. I’m screwed otherwise.


Lunch! Plus, I have to poop, so good times.


Back from lunch, and I think we have about 15 minutes until we resume. I’m hoping to get out of here by 3:00p or so because I have a haircut scheduled at 6:00p that I can go and get done early, then I can be ready for The Italian Job at 7:00p (I’ll need to be to the theater an hour early or thereabouts because I really want into this one.)


Still haven’t started class. I’m reeeeeeeeeeaaaaadddyyyyyyyyy…..


Class is underway. Apparently we’re going to do the next (last) two modules back to back, then the last is labs. Cool. It’s looking like I’ll get out of here early, which matches my evil plans perfectly. It’s all coming together.


Last module…


I’m outta here! Time for my haircut!

movies, personal comments edit

I had a long weekend - training Wednesday and Thursday, then I had Friday off because I worked Monday. It was nice and restful, and I wish every week (and weekend) could be as nice and stress-free as all that.

Thursday night Jenn and I went to see The Italian Job on free sneak preview. It was much better than I expected it to be - I expected a “pretty good” action movie, but I got a really cool action movie - so that was a big plus. Maybe if I get motivated I’ll write up a review on it.

Friday I went by myself to see The Matrix Reloaded because Jenn wasn’t interested in it and, frankly, I had nothing else to do. I had heard from several friends that this one wasn’t very good, especially considering the success of the original, and that I would be disappointed.

I didn’t have particularly high hopes going in anyway, and I think my hopes were lowered by my friends’ comments, so when I did end up seeing it, I was reasonably satisfied. I can see where folks would be disappointed - it was pretty “fluffy” as far as plot and whatnot, but I think in the telling of the story, everything said was necessary. I also think that they might be erring a bit on the philosophical side of things, now trying to involve the concepts of free will and destiny, whereas the first lingered primarily on the general concept of reality and what makes something real.

Anyway, again, if I get to it, I’ll review it.

Also on Friday I went to Blockbuster and rented Cube 2: Hypercube and National Security. Cube 2 (the sequel to the B-movie - you guessed it - Cube) was actually pretty good considering the whole thing essentially takes place in a single room. I recommend seeing the first one first, though, as the second one kind of builds on the ideas that the first one puts forth. National Security… I thought would be funnier. Instead it was a lot of Martin Lawrence comedic complaints about racism and I thought some of the jokes just got a little old and redundant. It was okay, but I’m glad I didn’t see it in the theater.

Then Friday night Jenn and I went to a “Casino Night” that her Job’s Daughters group was putting on. It was disorganized as all hell - we were still cutting out the fake money when people started showing up - but it was pretty fun. I ended up being a dealer at a blackjack table for most of the evening.

Now, keep in mind that the crowd attending the event was in the 12 to 20 year old range. There were a few parents, but by-and-large, we’ve got the teenage crowd, average age of 16, and the dress code was casual. Let me further add that, frankly, I don’t remember girls looking like that when I was in high school. So I have to say that it didn’t hurt that most of the time I was at this blackjack table dealing there was this 16-year-old girl with altogether too much cleavage pouring out of her shirt sitting across from me, leaning over her cards. (Before you psychos sic the police on me, it’s not like anything was happening - it’s just that the view really wasn’t killing me or anything.)

Oh, and Jenn noticed it, too, and said something about it to me before I said anything. So it wasn’t just me.

Saturday was an easy day. Jenn was at another Job’s Daughters event, so my dad came over and we rented the movie Below to watch and both of us enjoyed it thoroughly.

That evening, still before Jenn got home (she was gone all day!) my dad called and took me and my brother-in-law out to see X-Men 2. I have to say that the sequel here was vastly better than the first. The first X-Men left me kind of… “eh.” This second one made me want to see it again. Good stuff, and I’m glad I saw it.

Sunday I didn’t really do anything. Sat on my ass and watched DVDs all day long, worked on my beaded hat project, and generally just chilled out. Very relaxing.

All in all, the whole time was very stress-free and I wish I could continue that theme throughout the rest of my days but, alas, I must work so I can pay the bills. Perhaps retirement will offer me the peace I so desperately desire, but I’m thinking that it may just be a different type of stress entirely.

music comments edit

I was sitting, bored, waiting to get into The Italian Job, when I thought of some names for bands that I haven’t heard yet (but anticipate hearing about soon, I’m sure):

  • Metalfinger
  • Swagger
  • Big Boy Pants
  • Drama Queen
  • Slackinator

Plus, I’ve always thought that if I were to have a band, it would probably be called “The Industrial Consortium.” Any other good band names out there?

personal comments edit

It’s hot outside, the first day it’s been really hot this year. I’ve got my shorts on, I’ve got my t-shirt on, and I’m really not wanting to be at work. Good thing I’m in training tomorrow and Thursday, then off Friday.

I got a free sneak-preview pass to go see The Italian Job on Thursday. It’s been a while since I saw a movie in the theater, so it’ll be good. And free, so it meets my budgetary requirements.

I forgot to mention that my sister was up from school in Utah this weekend. She was picking up my parents’ old car (since they got a new one recently) and driving back to Utah with her friend. Of course, while she was here she had an ear infection bad enough to rupture her eardrum, so it wasn’t the most pleasant of trips. Good to see her, though, and I’m hoping she made it back safely.

Work is keeping me well over busy with the amount of stuff I’m working on. It’ll be nice to get some of these larger projects done so I can feel like I’ve accomplished something.

I’m thinking about it, and I haven’t heard from my friends Liz or Douglas lately. I should probably email them.