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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

"Mad About Me"

**Edit 5/28/05 - If you'd rather not read this whole post, check out Joel's excellent two sentence one.

Well, I'm still not convinced this is any sort of a quality review, but I'm not sure reading over it more times will help anything, either, so here is my review of Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. I welcome your thoughts on the film. Particularly if you can talk me out of some of mine.

I came into Star Wars geekery fairly late in life. I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater and remember thinking it was sort of cool but a little hard to follow. Certainly it wasn't the life-changing experience a first Star Wars viewing apparently is for most people. John tried through high school to get me into the movies but, again, I guess I just wasn't yet ready to handle that level of advanced coolness. I was conversant with them; I knew the plots and the major plot twists and could tell Jabba the Hut from Wicket the Ewok on sight, but that was it.

When I finally did enter into life as a Star Wars geek, though, I did so with a vengeance. Sometime during my sophomore year of college it clicked, and now I'm one of those uber-nerds who's no fun to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with (as are most of my friends - makes for very boring games. "Who wants to go first? Okay, you win."). I've watched the movies a couple of zillion times, read the novels, played the role-playing game, bought a couple thousand of the CCG cards, etc., etc. I'm one of those people who knows the "stats" for the various ships and debates how actual dogfights would go. The kind of person who agonized with friends over Luke's direct attack with the Force on the Gamorrean guards at Jabba's Palace ("but that's a Dark Side point!"). The kind of person who gets why the title of this post is a Star Wars reference. It's a proud, if often poorly-dressed, club and I'm honored to name myself among its nerdly ranks.

I mention this by way of building up to (and providing a reference frame for) my thoughts about Revenge of the Sith. I've seen it twice now (both times on Opening Day) and I'm torn. I want to love this movie - it's the film that ties the new trilogy and old trilogy together, a fan's chance to see the battle that created Darth Vader in all his black-caped COPD-ish glory, the last Star Wars movie there'll ever be (unless Lucas decides to make more, but I'd be surprised if he does) - and there is certainly a great deal there to like, but there are many things wrong with this movie, too. I've tried a couple of times now to put together my thoughts in a coherent review-y fashion and I find the challenge a bit much for me, so I'll use the time-honored blogger's cheat of making a list of my thoughts on the movie. These are the things which I found noteworthy; some good, some bad. There are quite a few spoilers, too, so if you're hoping to see the movie sans expectations better to hold off on reading this post (and I apologize for already ruining the surprise that Vader becomes the Vader we know from episodes 4-6).

So what do I think overall? I think that there are enough significant flaws in the film that if it wasn't a Star Wars flick I'd probably dislike it quite a bit. But the fact that it is a Star Wars film, and that it tells a bunch of very significant story bits about characters I'm quite invested in, brings it back up quite a bit for me. It's a bad movie, but it's a bad movie with the Force and with lightsaber battles and with Anakin becoming Vader and scored by John Williams and that makes it a much less bad movie. Of the six Star Wars films, I'd say it's second from the bottom - not nearly as much Jar Jar as Phantom Menace saves it from last place. But I'll still buy it when the six movies finally all come out on DVD, and I'll sit down with my friends and we'll watch all 13 hours of the movies and we'll try to get lost again in the galaxy long ago and far, far away.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hey, a movie (is there any way to stop it?) starring everybody - and me!

(The title of this post is an extra-credit sixteenth quote. And correctly identified as being from The Great Muppet Caper, sung by the entire cast (with "is there any way to stop it?" plaintively intoned by Sweetums))

Well, since the comic strip quotes game seemed to be well-received, let's play a little At The Movies with Meaningless Musings. Just like before, name where (which movie) the quote came from and who said it (actor or character or both). Also like before, these are all quoted from memory so they might be a word or two off, which on the upside might make them harder to Google. And speaking of Google, if you get the answer from a search engine I commend your resourcefulness but that's cheating so please refrain from posting those answers (there will, of course, be exactly no repercussions or investigations - those sorts of things solidly KFI at 1). Also also like before, feel free to post your answers as comments or e-mail 'em to me, as you prefer.

**Edit 5/20/05 - for the last four un-guessed quotes I've added a second quote from the same movie. Happy guessing!

**Edit 5/23/05 - #11 is apparently a bit too obscure (that or everyone's Googled the answer already). The quotes were from The Secret of My Success, one of my personal favorites back in high school but hardly a runaway blockbuster hit. There's a new #11 from a different movie for your guessing enjoyment.

And away we go --

1. Just fly casual. - Correctly identified as being said by Han Solo in Return of the Jedi. I love that line. "Keep your distance, Chewie... but don't look like you're keeping your distance."

2. There he goes to write the hit song, "Alone in My Principles." - Correctly identified as being said by Lenny Haise in That Thing You Do, perhaps the best movie no one's ever heard of. If you haven't seen it, make a point of doing so ASAP; classic stuff. I could easily have just used 15 quotes from this movie alone.

3. Well, I say it with a great deal of charm. OR There are 200 pairs of eyes on you and they're all wondering two things - who's that girl and why is she dancing with the President? - Correctly identified as being from An American President. The first quote's said by Lewis Rothschild (Micheal J. Fox) by way of explaining how he gets away with his system for dating - all plans are soft until confirmed 20 minutes beforehand. The second quote's said by Sydney Ellen Wade (Annette Bening) as she's dancing with the President.

4. And X never, ever marks the spot. - Correctly identified as being said by Indiana Jones (apparently Harrison Ford quotes are generally known) in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indy's face when X does indeed mark the spot later in the movie is absolutely priceless.

5. Is that a lot? - Correctly identified as being said by James Tiberius Kirk in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. The crew, having traveled back in time to nineteen eighty-something to find a humpback whale and thereby save the world (a plot device which somehow works very nicely) needs money, so Kirk goes to a pawn shop to sell a pair of glasses given to him by McCoy. The shopkeeper offers him $100, and Kirk - not knowing anything about money and certainly nothing about 20th century exchange rates - offers this bon mot.

6. He's a very clean man. - Correctly identified as being said by Paul McCartney (and many other people (primarily the manager guy whose name I can't remember - the Brian Epstein of the film (the one Lennon keeps calling a swine))) in A Hard Day's Night, which was the first movie to ever be released for sale in digital form.

7. Seize the fat one! - Correctly identified as being said by Prince John (Peter Ustinov) in Disney's Robin Hood. For my money, the funniest scene in all of cinematic history - when "On Wisconsin" kicks in and Lady Cluck charges across the field I can never keep from laughing hysterically.

8. Then him... then me. OR It will turn out well. (How will it?) I don't know. It's a mystery. - Correctly identified as being from Shakespeare in Love, perhaps my favorite movie ever. Certainly the film I've spent the most on theater tickets for. The first quote is said by Mr. Fennyman (Hugh was his first name, I think) over and over as he rehearses his role as the Apothecary in Romeo 'n' Juliet. "'Such mortal drugs have I, but Mantua's law is death to any he that utters them.' Then him, then me," if memory serves. The second quote is said several times by Philip Henslowe and once by Lady Viola.

9. If you were waiting for the opportune moment - that was it. - Correctly identified as being said by Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean.

10. You know the hot tip I told you about? Nobody told the horse. OR When the circulation bell starts ringing, will we hear it? - Correctly identified as being from Newsies. The first quote's said by Racetrack, one of the Newsie gang (played by the actor who played the sidekick on Doogie Howser, M.D.). The second quote's part of a musical number sung by Jack (aka Cowboy), played by Christian Bale (who'll soon be donning the Batman cape in theaters everywhere). And, I should note in case Emily reads this blog and decides to catch me on a technicality, later said by the chirpy little kid whose name I can't remember - Davy and Sarah's little brother.

** Edit - Ah, heck, this is fun. Five more -

11. I would offer up the proudest prayer a boy could think of: Lord, make me a great composer. - Correctly identified as being said by Antonio Salieri in Amadeus, one of the most intensely well-done movies I've ever seen. I've learned that I need to consciously and intentionally limit my viewing of this movie, even though I love the soundtrack and the storyline and the writing and acting are simply spectacular. The theme of looking up from a Purgatory of mediocrity, just close enough to truly know how far away you are, strikes just a little too close to home for me. Which is, of course, a different post for another day. Congratulations, and thanks for playing!

12. You're a Sikh Catholic Muslim, with Jewish in-laws? - Correctly identified as being said by Edward Norton (playing Father Brian Finn) in Keeping the Faith.

13. You will refer to me as "Idiot," not "You Captain!" - Correctly identified as being said by Lone Starr (two r's? Really? I didn't know that) in Spaceballs. I'd heard rumors once upon a time that Mel Brooks planned to get the new Spaceballs movie into theaters before Revenge of the Sith came out, but he's certainly running out of time.

14. Nonsense. I have not yet begun to defile myself. - Correctly identified as being said by Doc Holliday in Tombstone, after it's suggested to him that perhaps 30 consecutive hours of drinking and playing poker is a bit excessive.

15. Thank you for the cookies. I can't wait to toss them! - Correctly (if belatedly and, we assume, with Internet assistance) identified as being said by Julius (Governor Schwarzenegger) in Twins.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Before I go on with the actual post-y content of this post, let me first offer you this link for your surfing enjoyment. The store just went online yesterday; I can't decide whether I think it's absurd or wonderful. Most likely a healthy dose of both. Remember, though, nothing says, "I love you" on Memorial Day like a coffee mug!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled musing already in progress...

Four years ago, when I first started working at a hospital, I was excited to learn all sorts of fancy new medical terms and concepts. I did, but more than that I learned that true medical-speak involves never actually saying any of those fancy terms. I've never been part of a more abbreviation-intensive subculture; almost never are actual medical terms actually said. The medical world would like you to believe that's because we so often deal with situations where those extra fractions of seconds can be life-or-death, but that's nonsense. I'll bet even Chicago emergency rooms aren't nearly as excitement-packed as ER portrays - certainly 99% of the routine in a hospital is, well, pretty routine. My theory is that the abbreviations serve two purposes. They're much faster to write than the full words are - doctors and nurses do a tremendous amount of writing in charts and on flowsheets and on their hands and their scrubs and whatever other surfaces are handy; the sort of time savings one gets by replacing, say, "electroencephalograph" with "EEG" adds up quickly. They're also, unto themselves, meaningless. "Electroencephalograph" has all the sub-word-pieces in it you'd need to figure out more or less what it means - some sort of picture of electrical stuff in the head (or maybe Electric Head Picture, which would be, I think, an outstanding name for a band). "EEG" means nothing unless you already know what it is; if you're not in the know already it offers you no clues. Sometimes they make it harder yet by using abbreviations that use letters not in the original word - "EKG" for "electrocardiogram", for instance (the German word has a k (and probably a lot of ch's and some phlegm) in it; it's not completely random).

Whatever the reason, though, the use of abbreviations is absolutely ubiquitous and becoming comfortable with them is almost like learning a foreign language. Tonight at work, for instance, I wrote this on my clipboard about a particular patient: "CABG pod4 c ioCVA, JP, MT-s. RSW, Uc2, NPO - NGF." Another fellow was, "CADx4, MM, ¯INR, UAL, GD-NAS, GM ac&hs." In fact, looking over my whole clipboard - notes on 16 patients - I see only one word written out. Apparently I don't know the abbreviation for "pneumonia". Whatever I may think about the practice of expressing oneself without using any complete words, I certainly seem to have embraced it, which leads me to thinking about other abbreviations I've used in the past. I can think of three that I think you, Gentle Reader, might be able to productively incorporate into your vocabulary, and in the spirit of e-helpfulness I'll go ahead and tell you about them.

First up is "RSS". This has its own meaning now in the Internet world, but I have no idea what that meaning is (I'm quite sure at least two of you readers could enlighten me, if you were so inclined...). It seems to have something to do with tracing how someone found a particular website, or perhaps with tracking electronic paths back to someone's computer so their credit card information can be easily stolen. Fancier blogs all seem to have RSS feeds, so apparently an RSS is something you feed. It probably even stands for something cool, too, but again I've no idea.

I came up with my own "RSS" acronym back when I was a columnist for the Wartburg College student newspaper. I wanted to conclude my columns with some sort of actual worthwhile information and I thought doing a weekly poll might be fun, but I quickly learned that actually polling people is quite tedious. Plus you generally get a more or less 50-50 split unless your question is designed to create decisive results ("Is it okay to eat live kittens?" for instance). So I decided that instead of doing a regular poll every week I'd develop a whole new style of polling. Thus was born the Rod Simplified Survey, or RSS.

To conduct an RSS, find someone and ask them a question (or, in absence of anyone else, just ask yourself). Then project their response out to a demographic represented by your polling sample. For instance, if a professor expressed his opinion that the Wartburg tradition of Outfly was silly that could be reported as, "This week's RSS reveals that 100% of professors are in favor of doing away with Outfly." That's boring, though - better a result like, "100% of men ages 31-74 are firmly opposed to college students ever having days off," or "All people who live now or have ever lived in the state of Iowa..." or whatever Whatever the result, the key is that the results are 100% conclusive. The RSS allows polls to take a definite stand on something, and they're not, in the strictest sense of the word, inaccurate.

I know I didn't actually make up this system of polling, whatever I may have let myself believe. Professional polling companies have been making the data fit the results for years. It became a popular part of the column, though - people would occasionally stop me on campus and ask if they could be my polling sample for that week. I often think it would be sort of funny to have a little "RSS" link (like those fancy blogs do) on my website, but instead of having it link to whatever technical stuff a real "RSS" link links to, it would instead open up a page full of RSS results. That is to say, polls indicate that 100% of people who've ever used a computer think it would be funny.

Later, in my immediate-post-graduate years, I developed (in conjuction with some friends) the RTI and KFI, both scales for determining how desirable a particular action or event is. The RTI is the "Rod Tastiness Index," a 1-10 scale to determine how tasty ("tasty" in the holistic sense, not just basic food-and-drink yumminess) something is. A 10 would be the Cubs winning the World Series or holding your newborn child for the first time or Airwolf finally coming out on DVD - something of that sort. A 1 would be listening to the lead singer from Rascal Flatts singing opera or having to amputate your own leg or realizing that while you've spent an hour feeling around for the watch you dropped into an outhouse it was in fact just on your other wrist. The usage is to treat it as a verb - things RTI at some number, which can be any real number between 1 and 10. "How was your day at work?" "RTI'd at about a 5.4." Or you can just cite the number: "Didja check out this website?" "Yeah. Maybe a 3.2." Or, to revisit my earlier example, being able to buy CST stuff online RTI's at 8.6, at least.

The KFI is the "Kammerer Far Index," a boolean scale (expressed as either a 0 or a 1) to determine whether or not something's far. Again, this isn't "far" in the strict sense of distance but rather whether it's just too much work to contemplate. Things are either far or almost far, and since there isn't the range of possibilities that there are with an RTI, expressing something's KFI is usually just a matter of saying, "far," (or, in rare cases, "that's far," although the "that's" is generally considered too much extra work) or simply, "eh," (That's a short-e "eh" like in "then" or "den", not the Canadian long-a "eh") if something's KFI is 1 (if it's 0, then you just agree to do whatever task you've just rated). For instance - "Hey, can you help me move all my furniture into my new fourth-floor apartment?" "Sorry - far." Or, "Should we sit down and spend the evening talking about our feelings?" "Eh." Things that are ones on both the RTI and KFI scales are, obviously, about as undesirable as can be.

Movie trivia's coming soon; thanks to everyone who played the comic strip quote game. Now it's time to sleep the day away, which will be at least a 7.9.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Who wants to play a game?

Okay, boys and girls, let's play a game of "Name That Quote." I have assembled for you a list of 10 of my favorite comic strip quotes of all time - quotes that forced me to stop reading because I was laughing so hard. Your challenge is to identify the strip in which the quote was said and the character who said it. There are, therefore, 20 points possible.

You're welcome and encouraged to post your answers as comments in a spirit of convivial work-together-ness, or if you'd rather e-mail your answers to me that's certainly fine too.

These are all quotes from regular in-the-paper comic strips (nothing tricky), although five of the strips quoted are no longer being made. Also, all these quotes were entered from memory - I'm 99% sure they're accurate, but there might a slight wording difference.

Good luck!

1. Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia. - Correctly identified as being said by Howland Owl in Pogo. It's the punch line conclusion to a huge stretch of strips where the Okefenokee gang notices there's a Georgia in the USSR and freak out that somehow the Soviets have stolen it. With Christmas coming, they fret, what if Santa Claus goes to Georgia's new location and ends up getting lost and assuming that the rest of the Southeast is just gone? Pogo compilations are hard to find, but absolutely worth the effort and money, especially if you've never read the strip before; in my opinion the best comic strip ever in the paper.

2. Who the dickens is Dan Fogerburp?!? - Correctly identified as being said by Opus in Bloom County, a proud product of Iowa City. Opus is freaking out because his fiancee Lola tells him she has a tattoo of Dan Fogelberg.

3. You stupid darkness!! - Correctly identified as being said by Lucy in Peanuts. "I have heard it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness," says Linus to Charlie Brown. "That's true," replies Charlie Brown, "although there will always be those who will disagree with you." The third panel is Lucy standing out in the night yelling.

4. I just like to say "smock." Smock smock smock smock smock! - Correctly identified as being said by Hobbes in Calvin & Hobbes.

5. I am the master of all window treatments! - Correctly identified as being said by Bucky Katt in Get Fuzzy (while on a catnip binge).

6. If Jon's socks are in this drink... where is the ice? - Correctly identified as being said by Garfield in Garfield, which spent many years being only somewhat funny but has massively rebounded of late and is often the funniest strip in the paper on a given day these days. "My feet are cold." Classic stuff!

7. Clearly, J.R.R. Tolkien never played D&D. - Correctly identified as being said by Jason Fox in FoxTrot.

8. What if the Hokey-Pokey really is what it's all about? - Successfully evaded identification. Said by Jeremy Duncan in Zits. Jeremy's sitting around his room with his chum Hector and apparently thinking deep life thoughts.

9. They can make me do it, but they can't make me do it with dignity. - Correctly identified as being said by Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes. Calvin pitches an enormous fit about bathtime and then in the final panel grins merrily at the reader and says this line.

10. Car! - Correctly identified as being said by a random cow in The Far Side (no website for this one - here's why). I'll bet many of you have seen this one - a bunch of cows are standing around all bipedal-ish in a field and one of them yells, "Car!" In the next panel (sort of - The Far Side didn't really use panels) they're all standing around on all fours like regular cows. Then in the last panel they're standing upright again.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

"The problem with not knowing what you're talking about is that it's hard to know when to stop" - Tommy Smothers

Time for me to make use of that time-honored and generally-accepted blogger's technique of discoursing aimlessly about an assortment of things-on-my mind and arranging them as a list. To muse meaninglessly about various whatnot and suchforth, as it were.

And thus concludeth my thoughts (I'm impressed with myself for having even this many). Thanks, as ever, for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

If you multiply in base-13, 6x9 does indeed equal 42

If you'll pardon my unleashing my (never all that well-contained) inner geek for a post, it's time for At The Movies With Charlie. On Friday I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and immortalizing my thoughts on the experience seems like as good a way as any to continue plodding towards my post-a-week goal for 2005.

A disclaimer - this review contains a spoiler or two, so if you're planning to see the movie and hope to see it without pre-expectations, best to put off reading this post. Once you have seen it, though, I'd very much love to know what you thought.

I was first introduced to the Douglas Adams novels the movie is (sort of) based on back in junior high. My brother had a copy of the first one, I think, and I read the other three (at the time there were only four books in the trilogy (or at least I only knew of four)) courtesy of the Northwest Junior High library. I was (and still am) entranced by the way Adams played with language, his way of putting bits of sentences into other sentences, his absolutely wonderful gift for dialogue. I spent hours and hours and hours in junior high writing my own Douglas Adams-ish (I wish I could call them Douglas Adams-esque, but I don't think I can justify that) fiction, typing fiercely away on FREDwriter as my friend John typed away alongside me. Between the two of us we must have turned out hundreds of pages, much of it admittedly dreck but still a tribute to how influential the man was. John somehow taught himself to write well through those hours and hours of developing a voice and practicing transforming thought into text; I missed that part, but I think I got more of my dreck written than he did (quantity was key. Every day we'd check in as we were leaving the lab to see how many pages had been tacked on to our works). Someday I hope to find those old Apple II disks and figure out a way to transfer the text thereon to a word processor; that would be a delightful look back at who I was lo those many years ago.

All of which is quite off-topic; this is At The Movies, not In The Junior High Computer Lab. Last Friday I went with John, Mark, Carrie, and Jason to opening night. The reviews I'd read ranged from lukewarm to scalding, so I was a little nervous. The previews that ran before the movie included the new Herbie the Love Bug film and Chicken Little, which should have tipped me off to what sort of audience they'd made the film for, but I completely missed that red flag. The film itself... well, the film was "almost". Allow me to elucidate -

The film almost got Adams's universe. Hitchhiker's is set in a universe that doesn't share the standard science fiction assumption that for sentient life to reach the stars they must have solved the problems that humanity's struggling with. It's not completely ubiquitous but certainly present enough to acheive cliche status - the star-faring worlds have done away with racism, dictatorships, petty wars (what wars there are are usually either against some other society that's achieved star travel through oppression and despotism and allowing homosexual marriage and other obviously-society-destroying things or against an insurgent group inside the society that's led by a brilliant and charismatic but warped and evil madman), and often with the idea of money. The bit in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where Kirk has dinner with Hot Cetologist Lady (Gillian? Help me out here, Star Trek faithful; it's been a long time) and then can't pay because they don't have money when he comes from is a classic example. In Adams's world society has just expanded out into a larger setting but kept all of its basic weirdness. The universe is a parody of the real world - sometimes literally. The filmmakers didn't quite get that; rather than put us into basically a weirder Mos Eisley setting they hustled us around between basically exotic locales and settled for having the Vogons (the major bad guys in the movie, but not the book) be a running joke about bureaucracies.

They almost got the Adamsian style of dialogue. Douglas Adams is one of the greatest writers of funny dialogue (indeed, I can't think of a legitimate challenger) in the history of the English language. The wordplay back and forth betweeen his characters is wonderful, and a major part of his novels. I'm completely at a loss as to why a filmmaker would say to himself, "Well, we're making a movie based on this book with outstanding dialogue; we'd better be sure to change a bunch of it!" But change it they did. Not completely rewrite it, not always - usually just change it. For instance (and forgive me if I miss a word or two here, I'm doing this completely from memory):

From the Book:
Arthur: "Where are we?"
Ford: "We're safe."
Arthur: "Oh, good."
Ford: "We're on a [I forget the exact wording. "Vogon Ship" but more descriptive]."
Arthur: "Ah. This is obviously some new usage of the word 'safe' that I wasn't aware of."

From the Movie:
Arthur: "Where are we?"
Ford: "We're safe."
Arthur: "Oh, good."
Ford: "We're on a [again, I forget exactly]."
Arthur: "FOOOORRRRD!!!"

Apologies for the inexact quoting, but you get the idea. They would almost use an exchange straight from the book but then change the punch line into something lame-o. It was weird, and very puzzling to me. The only thing I can think of is that they were aiming the film at a younger audience and thought that Adams's humor might be inappropriate in a movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (read that sentence again if you missed the sarcasm).

They almost picked a target audience. I expected the film to either be aimed at the hard-core fans - sort of like the newer Star Wars movies or the second and third Lord of the Rings films: if you don't understand the world you're watching the film certainly isn't going to bother to explain it to you - or at people basically unfamiliar with the . Instead it was a very weird combination of the worst of both. There were jokes aimed at the in crowd that were probably just confusing and annoying to those who haven't read the book - simple ones to fix, too. Explain why they're carrying towels! There was also a staggering disregard of the book's plot that indicated to me that the filmmakers themselves might not have read the book - certainly not aimed at HHGG devotees. I've never seen a movie adaptation that changed the plot more than this one - the characters' goals, the routes they took to reach those goals, and the exciting conclusion were all very different. Plus they of course had to add a love story.

They almost got the characters right. Arthur I liked quite well, Trillian was fine, Ford was okay. Zaphod was a disaster - they took an interesting character and made him an annoying idiot. I've heard that he was supposed to be a parody of Dubya, which is all well and good (certainly it defends some of the characterization choices), but certainly doesn't help make the film timeless. Marvin drove me nuts; they played him as the funniest part of the books, and while he was certainly entertaining the movie shouldn't have been about him any more than the books were.

The special effects were breathtaking (although, strangely, they opted to avoid dealing with Zaphod's extra head and arm by having his heads arranged vertically and his arm always under a cloak (until they're just taken away)), but they seemed to be the focus of the movie. I have trouble understanding why moviemakers these days are willing to spend millions and millions on special effects but not to spend money on a top-notch scriptwriter. The film was partially Adams's work (I'm not sure to exactly what degree) but somewhere along the line it lost his vision. Worth seeing for the sake of watching a HHGG movie, but really only almost worth the ticket price even then.

* Endnote - I found the frequent necessity of using the possessive of "Douglas Adams" bothersome. Strunk & White tell me, though, that when a non-plural word ends with an s the "'s" ending is correct, and far be it from me to argue with the Charlotte's Web dude himself.

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