Saturday, May 28, 2011

Theory vs Reality

Here's how today was supposed to go: Wake up at 3:45am to drive Mrs. Marius to work. Come home, crash for a bit, then go to the airport at 10:45. Drop off the car, hide the key inside, and text the location to the Mrs. (who works at the airport), then go pick up the rental car I'd reserved for this weekend's festivities. *Begin Flashback* My friend Sam is getting married this weekend, and I was planning to attend. The nuptials are taking place in South Florida, and we decided it would be worth the $60-70 to rent a car for two days rather than put that much extra wear and tear on my 15 year old Hyperion. *End Flashback* Then take the rental back home for a leisurely couple of hours to pack an overnight bag, give myself a haircut, shave, shower, and then drive 3.5 hours to party like it's 1999.

Here's what actually happened. My wife woke me up on time, and I drove her to work. So far so good. I got a bit more sleep on the couch before Starbuck started meowing in my face, and Artemis decided to play with my toes.(she is NOT declawed) So I got up, fed them, made coffee, and settled in to read email, chat with Australia, and wake up. Then, about 9:30, my wife calls. She's feeling like crap, due to the ever growing creature in her innards, and they're sending her home. So, I go get her, drive her home, and then turn around and go back to get my rental. Hertz, apparently oblivious to it being Memorial Day weekend, didn't have enough people cleaning cars to have anything resembling a quick turnaround, so it took nearly 90 minutes to get my car. No worries, I still had a comfortable 45 minutes to get ready. Tight, but doable. So I begin my ablutions, cut my hair, shower, shave, and as I step out of the shower I hear my wife downstairs cry out, "The toilet overflowed again!" Back in December we had a similar incident when doing laundry. The washer started draining, and it all come out of the downstairs toilet. We eventually had to call a plumber, and it turned out to be roots in the pipes. He used a root cutting tool to clear them out, and after a pricey call to our landpeople all was well. We have been putting root killer down the loo ever since, but I guess it wasn't working very well. Fortunately the water that was bubbling up out of the bog was my shower water, so it was not gross, but it was everywhere. We used every towel in the house, and got the flow under control. I manned the plunger, hoping it was just a normal toilet clog, but the gaping hole in my palm is a mute, if painful testimony to the vanity of that wish. So I called the plumbers who did the deed previous, and was told that as soon as they spoke with our landpersons they'd send someone out. Well, this is a big SCA weekend, and our dear friends/landpeople are out in the woods working their asses off making sure lots of medievally bedecked folks are having the time of their lives, and thus are very far from both cell phones, and reception. So I realized I wasn't going anywhere, and took the rental car back. Hertz, being true to their name and mascot (anyone remember OJ hawking Hertz?) charged me a full day for the honor of having their car for 2 hours. While I took the car back my wife called Roto Rooter, a company who's babies I want to have, and they were here in no time. The pipes were cleared, the plumber was friendly and quick, and we have running water again. But my weekend is well and truly fucked, and the bank account is a home for moths again.

Yeah, first world problems, but annoying nonetheless. I hope your Memorial Day weekend is going better.

Marius the Grumpy

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean IV: On Stranger Tides

I just saw this today. It wasn’t bad, and it certainly did not suck the will to live out of me like number III did, but neither did it engage me emotionally at all. The visuals are all beautiful, and the script was passable, but I didn’t feel that anyone in the film cared about what they were doing, so consequently neither did I. Admittedly I went in with very, very low expectations, and was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t a terrible movie, but when all was said and done I never once felt the slightest pang of concern for any of the characters, nor relief at any of the rescues, and I think I smirked two or three times, and chuckled quietly once.

Compare that to the first Pirates movie, which is still one of my favorite films, or the two sequels, which at least generated massive feelings of anger, rage, and WTFuckery, and I am forced to conclude that On Stranger Tides will be forgotten within a few weeks. And this is not a slight against the actors, either. Johnny Depp is hitting all the right notes as Capt. Jack Sparrow, but he seems to do it with all the feeling of an animatronic Disney robot. Geoffrey Rush’s Barbosa is as blustery and leering as ever, but it’s the bluster of a perfectly crafted waxwork. Penelope Cruz is beautiful, and puts me in mind of Valeria Galino or Catherine Zeta-Jones, but her breathy performance lacks any passion. Even Ian McShane’s Blackbeard is fun, and charismatic, yet when the time comes for his true evillness to manifest it just isn’t there But, that being said, the scenery is lush, the CGI flawless, and the mermaids stunning…if deadly. The technical aspects of this film are top notch, and though the ending is very derivative of a certain adventuresome archaeologist’s penultimate outing I wasn’t sorry I watched it. I only wish I was glad I did.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scholastic Milestone

September 1st of this year will mark a milestone for me. It will be the beginning of my fifth year at Eckerd College. I've never been at one job this long, and I don't see any signs that I'll be going anywhere else. I won't say ever, since always in motion is the future, but I will say that I have no desire to change jobs, and so long as the school and I agree on that, here is where I'll stay. Last night I went back through my blog entries as I was interviewing for, and then got this job, and everything that I said, and hoped about this gig has remained or been proven true. It's very groovy. :-)

Yesterday was also a milestone in that it was the first time I'd attended the commencement ceremonies. Every year since I started here I had intended to go to graduation, but the ceremony is held at 8am on a Sunday morning, and due to my wife's work schedule, the COA's lack of self control when left unattended, and the 'just five more minutes' syndrome when the alarm goes off at 4am on a Sunday, have all conspired to keep me away. This year, though, the students who were graduating all started when I did, so I've watched them go from somewhat scared and wide-eyed Freshmen to competent,capable, much less scared Seniors, and I felt it was both my duty, and my pleasure to be there on their special day. It is an understood reality for teachers that we must say goodbye to our students. Most of the time there is little emotion involved, other than a handshake a a wishing of luck in the future, but there are those rare occasions when a student becomes a friend, and the parting is particularly bittersweet. We are happy for, and proud of our students, but there is a sadness when those special few move on, and this was one such time. That is not to say that there haven't been students who's departure left a hole in my heart before this year, but I think this is the first time that so many of our graduates had made such an impact on me. So I hauled my ass out of bed at 4am, hit the road at 6, and was in my office by 6:30. The campus filled with parents, grandparents, friends, family, and assorted support staff very quickly. My colleagues donned their robes and mortar boards, and went to process in. I honestly don't know if I'm expected/allowed to join in the procession as I exist in a gray area between faculty and staff, so I just donned something denim-free and joined the audience. The ceremony was, as usual at such things, not the most exciting event, and being as it was staged in a huge tent outdoors the temperature rose quickly with the climbing sun. Speeches were spoke, awards were awarded (congrats, Lauren), and honorary degrees conferred. Then came the time I was there for. The seniors rose, and the names began to be read. Christina was first, then Lauren, then Casey, then Luke, then Christy. I felt a flutter in my chest as each of their names were read, sadness and joy wrestling for dominance there. There were about five-hundred other names to be read, so it was not a quick morning, but eventually the class of 2011 was completed, and a huge roar went up from the crowd. Afterward hugs were dispensed, along with promises of staying in touch. We always say that, and in this age of Facebook and twitter it may even happen, but I cannot help but feel a bit saddened at the reality that chances are that yesterday was the last time I'll ever seem most of them. But the proud smiles on their faces, and the gleaming, brand new futures ahead of them make it all worth while. As much as I'll miss them, I know that each of them has a grand adventure ahead, and I wish them all success, happiness, and fulfillment. It has been an honor to work with them, and I thank them for making my job successful, happy, and fulfilling.

Happy trails, my friends.


Saturday, May 21, 2011


What is faith? Don't worry, this is not going to be a screed against religion, nor am I going to dwell on this rapture nonesense, but the goings on of late have me wondering about faith. Believers tout it as the ultimate virtue, as if it were something you can acquire, but I don't have it, and I doubt, at this point, that I ever will. I have beliefs, to be sure. I believe in the physical laws of the universe. I believe in the properties of matter and energy that allowed life to form on this little ball of rock and gasses. I believe in the established behaviors of my friends and family, and I believe in my ability to predict, with a modicum of accuracy, most of my reactions to a given situation. But after nearly half a century of looking for evidence of the 'supernatural', and coming up empty, I find I don't have faith. I am a devotee of science, of fact, of provable, or at least plausible outcomes. I used to believe in the possibility of many things. I used to believe in the possibility of a large creature, hitherto unknown to modern science, that lived in a lake in Scotland. I cannot say it isn't there, but as the evidence has consistently remained absent, and as my understanding of the eco-system of Loch Ness has increased, I believe that the existence of a large, air-breathing creature of unknown taxonomy in the lake is highly unlikely. I cannot say that there is no Sasquatch, but again as the hard evidence has remained unattained, and the Bigfoot supporters put forth more and more impossible reasons for said lack of evidence, my belief in an undiscovered North American primate has dwindled. Likewise with ghosts, UFOs, ESP, and with anything religious. I have known many religious people who are filled with faith. I have known many 'religious' charlatans who claim to have faith, but use that claim as a tool for control, and not as a guide for righteousness. Sadly the latter have far outweighed the former in my experience. So, to me, faith seems more about blind obedience to authority rather than a virtuous belief in a benevolent deity. And while I can be as blinded by a charismatic leader as the next person, I like to think that eventually as the balance of evidence leans one way or the other, my opinion of said leader and his or her ideas will either wax or wane.
So where am I going with this? I'd like to say to those of you out there that have faith, good for you, but please understand that just because it comes naturally to you, it is not a universal constant. I have as much difficulty believing in an invisible entity that has provided no actual proof of its existence beyond the word of a few hundred zealots thousands of years ago as I do believing that aliens would travel billions of light years to this little backwater planet way out on the galactic rim just to buzz some rurals and steal some cow anuses. But, and here is the important bit, I won't ever say that your God does not exist, nor will I hold your faith against you so long as you understand my need for evidence and don't hold that against me.

Hope you're having a groovy rapture.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Suzie DidnWannaDoIt...But We're Glad She Did

A couple of years ago we at Starbase 66 had the incredible pleasure of interviewing Suzie Plakson who played several of our favorite characters on various Star Treks, as well as tons of movies and TV shows, and it was of our most popular shows. She is such a dynamic personality as well as a woman of many talents, including singing and songwriting. Well last week she contacted me to tell us about her new music video, and asked me if we'd mind telling everyone in the world about it. Well, of course we don't mind, and actually she ended up coming on the show again and we had another fabulous chat with her (which you'll be able to hear on Monday, should you be so inclined). But, without further ado, here's Suzie Plakson's wonderful video. And if you dig it, go to or iTunes where you can get the whole album.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hee Hee

I stole this from Camille Reads, who got it from the Girls Are Not Chicks coloring book.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Feline Dignity Revisited

Since it's been a while, I give you Starbuck in all his dignified glory:

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Yeah, I'm a TOS-er

Many of you know that, in addition to being a famous blogger, amazing stage technician, and a 00 agent with a license to kill, I am also a podcaster. My show, Starbase 66, has been part of the Simply Syndicated network for nearly two years now, and one of the stipulations for our joining the network was that we would put up a weekly blog post on the SimSyn web site. This was forgotten in the craziness of the early days, but our fearless leader has finally called upon us to live up to that mandate, which means I need to get my blogging muscles back in shape and stop ignoring you wonderful folks in the process. So, on with the show.

Due to my line of work I have had to become something of a jack of all trades. I know a little bit about a lot of things, and a lot about a few things, but the only thing I would consider myself an expert in is Star Trek. I have been watching Star Trek for as long as I can remember, and while all of the series have been worthy, my heart will always belong to The Original Series(TOS). This is the show that started a 40+ year saga that shows no sign of ever leaving the public consciousness, but is also the most maligned and trivialized of the series due to it being 'camp' and 'cheap'. Well, I can't say that such accusations are totally false, but I can say that TOS was not always the light, silly bit of fluff many younger Trek fans make it out to be. So, in an effort to raise awareness of TOS, and to help folks who might simply dismiss it as not worth the effort to watch, I am going to review the series in its entirety, in the order it was aired. I will be giving air dates, synopses, and my reasons why you should, or should not watch any given episode. I will state that these are strictly my opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of Simply Syndicated, Starbase 66, the US or Canadian governments, or any other human being, and I welcome your opinions, especially when you disagree with me. So, without further preamble, on with the shows.
Title: The Man Trap
Air Date: September 8, 1966
Written By: George Clayton Johnson
Directed By: Marc Daniels
Synopsis: The USS Enterprise, commanded by Capt. James T. Kirk, makes a routine stop at planet M-113 to check on an archeological team consisting of Dr. Robert Crater and his wife Nancy, who is an old flame of ship’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leonard McCoy. Things seem strange immediately as everyone sees Nancy Crater differently. To McCoy she looks the same as she did when he last saw her years ago. To Kirk she looks like a handsome, but aging woman, and to Crewman Darnell she looks like a young woman he knew from a less than honorable shore leave. Soon Darnell is dead , having had all the salt removed from his body, and the search for the killer begins on the planet, and later onboard the Enterprise.
Why you should watch: This was the fourth episode filmed, but NBC wanted ‘strange new worlds’ for the premier, so they chose The Man Trap to introduce Star Trek to the world. It had an alien planet, and a scary monster, as well as some good exposition about the ship and crew, including the first sparring match between Uhura and Spock.
Opinion: This is not my favorite episode, though I’ve always been impressed with the design of the salt vampire costume. As with any new series the actors were still figuring out who their characters were, and the special effects, especially the phasers, were a bit wonky, but overall this is well worth a watch, and a good introduction to the Star Trek universe.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

God of Thunder

We saw Thor yesterday. I enjoyed it very much. Don't worry, I won't spoiler it here, not that there is that much to spoil. I mean, this is A) A comic book movie, and B) A summer blockbuster, so we're not talking overly complicated plot lines and deep, meaningful subtext. What we are talking is incredibly hunky guys, lots of fiberglass armor, swords, spears, monsters, 'splosions, and a surprising lack of female titillation. The three main women in the movie, Natalie Portman, Jaime Alexander, and Renee Russo all spend the film wearing...gasp...clothes! Chris Hemsworth, on the other hand, spends at least one scene wearing only a pair of jeans that he probably had to endure some uncomfortable manscaping to avoid the R rating in, but he didn't seem to mind. Compared to Marvel's other offerings to date I'd say that Thor is not as well crafted as Iron Man 1, nor as mindless as The Incredible Hulk, but has plenty of action, a touch of (slightly) unmotivated romance, and CGI effects that, for once, look pretty damned good. My only quibble, and this may just be a result of my own unfamiliarity with the source material, is that a lot seems to go on that is not explained. But, then again, this is one part of the puzzle that Marvel is building, and maybe all will be tied up in a later film. But as fun, sometimes silly live action cartoon movies go, Thor gets one big hammer-of-the-gods up from me.

Let the summer games begin!


Friday, May 06, 2011


I'm learning parts of me for the first time. Having a baby on the way changes your priorities in all kinds of strange ways, but the main thing it does is focus your mind like a laser on what this impending little human will need. The needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many. To that end we realized that there just isn't room in our current place for another human, so very, very reluctantly we have started looking for a bigger place. Now every time we've had to move it has been a relatively easy endeavor. Mrs. Marius is a ninja at finding places within our means, but this time things aren't going so smoothly. It would appear that what we can afford, rental wise, is not considered to be very much in this area, and all we've been able to find are hovels in shitty neighborhoods, or nice places 50 miles away. We actually found a tolerable place this weekend, looked at it, endured both the real estate agent and the owner trying to push us to commit to moving sooner(which we won't do), put in an application, and have now been waiting for days while they don't get back to us. This is all very frustrating, and we have decided that no matter what happens we will be shifting into austerity mode, cutting out any and all non-essentials and putting every dime we can spare toward the down payment on our own place.

Dammit, this sucks!

Happy Friday, y'all.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge-Day 30 - My Favorite Film This Time Last Year

I have been scouring the lists of movies released between January of 2009 and May of 2010, and while there have been a few I really liked, and have even mentioned during this past month of posts, nothing really stands out as my fave. There were fun ones, like Star Trek, and Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. Great ones like Moon and District 9, and even the silly, yet surprisingly enjoyable How to Train Your Dragon. There were Kick Ass and Whip It, two films that I didn't really expect to like, yet was totally enthralled by, and there was Knight and Day, a film that will forever exist in my brain like a tumor as one of the worst films I've ever had to endure, but none of them even temporarily knocked 2010:The Year We Made Contact off the top of my cinematic mountain.

So, what else shall we talk about?


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Roll A D6

30 Day Film Challenge-Day 29 - My Favorite Film As a Kid

This is something of a moving target since the phrase 'as a kid' is a bit squishy. When I was very young I think my favorite film was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but as a teenager it was Star Wars. But then again there was a period when The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes was my fave, or maybe the Love Bug movies, or It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. King Kong would sometimes play on Sunday mornings, and I loved that, but so would Gunga Din or Robin Hood. The only thing I can say for sure is that I've never been overly fond of The Wizard of Oz or any movies about horses.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge-Day 28 - The Most Obscure Film I've Ever Seen

I'm not sure quite how to quantify 'obscure' here, but the film I've seen that the least amount of other people I know have would have to be Al Pacino's 1996 exploration of the creation of a production of Richard The Third. Part performance, part documentary, it is a fascination glimpse into the process that goes into the process of bringing Shakespeare to life. It's been years since I've seen it, but I remember being blown away by Pacino's ability to actually play a character, as opposed to his cookie-cutter thugs he usually does. If you have any interest in how a play is made, or how a character is created, give Looking for Richard a look.

Monday, May 02, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge-Day 27 - My Favorite Independent Film

Moon-2009-starring Sam Rockwell and, well, that's it, really. He plays a helium3 miner on the Moon, a solitary man operating a largely automated facility on a 3 year contract. His only company is the station's computer voiced by Kevin Spacey, and all seems to be going well until he makes a shocking discovery that threatens to destroy everything he believes is real.

Moon was made for $5 million and done with traditional SFX, and it looks beautiful. It feels like a Sci Fi short story brought to life on screen, and Rockwell's performance is nothing short of genius. If you missed Moon when it was in theatres, it is very worth a rental. Oh, Hell, just buy it. You won't regret it.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

30 Day Film Challenge-Day 26 - My Favorite Foreign Language Film

2008's creepy, surreal Swedish vampire flick Let The Right One In definitely takes the top spot for this category. It follows the story of Oscar, a 12 year old victim of bullying and ostracism, who meets Eli, a seemingly 12 year old girl who moves in next door. But she is not what she appears, and as people begin mysteriously dying, they form a very strange friendship. I like vampire movies, and this one is wonderful in its non-American way of telling a very disturbing tale. There is some blood, but no in-your-face, look at the guts vulgarity. There are scares, but they're mostly the 'crawl into your mind and poke around inside there' variety. It's very understated, almost calming, which makes the horror that much more effective. The DVD comes with an English dub, but I recommend you play the original Swedish soundtrack and read the subtitles as the performances are excellent...and the English dub is not. As for the US remake, Let Me In...didn't see it. Don't want to. I've already seen this story told in the best way possible...and you should too.