Monthly Archives: October 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth, 2.5/5


Rated PG. Click here to view the trailer

Journey to the Center of the Earth is a very, very mediocre throw-away excuse for a movie that is pulled back from the brink by Brendon Frasier and his inexplicable yet undeniable charm.

Hopefully you know the basic plot of Jules Verne‘s 1864 classic sci-fi novel of the same title. In this film, Frasier plays a modern-day geology professor who takes spelunking to new heights (depths) as he, his nephew treat Verne’s book not as science fiction, but as factual diary and field manual and try to retrace his steps.

Frasier the only reason why this movie doesn’t suck. I don’t know what it is about him, but he’s a likeable guy who can sell the ridiculous line. When he tries to lecture his students on the finer points of geological theory, you’re more likely to grin than you are to grimace. Every time he sets his jaw and tries to look intense, all I can think of is Encino Man. I think Frasier knows this and doesn’t care. That’s why it works.

The other actors are wholly forgettable. Josh Hutcherson plays the nephew whose iPhone is eaten by a giant sea monster (likely voiding the warranty) and Anita Briem is pretty bland as Hot Icelandic Mountain Guide (seriously, they call her that). An interesting bit of trivia via IMDB: Briem’s special interests include travelling, encountering different cultures, reading and spending time with family. What a dynamic woman!

Those who have read the book can be safe in assuming the movie will end pretty much the same way, but the movie telegraphs this even more by having Frasier’s explain the entire plot of the book half way in. There’s tipping your hand and then there’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. Since there can be no suspense as a result of the plot, the movie tries (if you can call it trying) to create tension by throwing in dinosaurs, glow-in-the-dark birds and a hanful of perilous falls. In one scene, our heroes fall for a good minute (“We’re still falling!”) , yet survive the fall without a scratch.

But hey, it’s a PG-rated action movie that’s being shown in 3D (though I only saw it in 2D) – what do you expect? I doubt Verne would be impressed, but a nine-year-old me probably would be.

IFOP


My fascination with the postal system and postcards is well-documented and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call me obsessed. My real concern while I was in St. Louis this week was not to cover my beat or even to see my buddy Luis. No, it was to make sure I made it to the International Bowling Hall of Fame to see if they had any fun postcards to add to my To Send To Kelly pile. Tragically, they were closed.

The Internet is the cause of a sharp decline in good old fashioned snail mail. Why send a postcard when you can blog? (The real question is why not do both?) However, the marriage of the Internet and the International Fraternity of Postcardiophiles (IFOP) has led to a marvelous new wrinkle in my addiction: Postcrossing.

You sign up and are given five addresses of fellow IFOPers across the globe along with a tracking number. You write that tracking number on the card and when they receive it, they register that number on the website and your address goes to a sender somewhere else on the planet.

Yes, it’s exactly like that pyramid-style “hairbow club*” Move-your-name-to-the-top-of-the-list scam my sister did when she was in 2nd Grade, and no, I don’t care. It IS a little bit different in that the emergence of the Internet allows for a much bigger community pool (there are 71,000 members) and a better/faster management system. Since it knows your location and the destinations, your “postcard mileage” is also tracked and mapped out via a Google Maps layer. Fun!

My first five were dropped in the mail today and are winging their way to Finland, Germany, Austria, Singapore and Australia.

Whereas my obsession is rather general scope, many “serious” IFOPers have chosen to specialize in certain genres. In your Postcrossing Profile you can specify the types of postcards you’d prefer to receive. Mr. Austria requested I send the card in unused mint condition in an envelope and Ms. Australia likes fine art postcards or those featuring churches/cathedrals. (I obliged Austria and stuck Australia with pick of the Capitol.)

But wait! Did Maija from Finland have any special requests? I’m glad you asked.

Hi! I’m Maija! I love travelling (I wanna go to interrail!) and all kind of cute things like small jars, cupcakes, black and white cards and old pictures. I like handmade cards and that’s why I try to make cards by myself for you (of course I can send you some normal card if you want!) I’ll be very happy if you send me a piece of milkcarton (if there is a picture about cow in the milkcarton I hope you send it to me) because of I collect them! :—)

Thank you! ♥

P.S. I hope u write something in your own language. It would be very cool 8) (and of course if u write the same in English and in your language, it’s perfect!)

P.P.S. I have got a cat, so if your cat/some other animal wants to send a card to him, send a card to Pekka!

Finlanders are nuts. Of course, it’s only by the narrowest of shreds of dignity that I am able to resist sending a disassembled milk carton to Helsinki. Feel free to e-mail me for Pekka’s address.

Dear Pekka – Your owner is nuts.

Sigh. So am I.

*Seriuosly. She was waaaaaaaaaaay into hairbows.

Daniel Stern was also awesome in "Rookie of the Year"


As previously mentioned, earlier this week I was heartbroken to be turned away by the locked doors and dimmed lights of the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum. Not to be denied, I called this morning to confirm their hours and casually let the receptionist know I peeved they’d closed early. According the nice recorded voice on the other end of the line, they’re only open Thursday through Sunday. Mind you, that’s just for the month of October. November through September their open six days a week. Bowling Fail.

(Honestly, I’m just in it for the postcards. I know. I’m sick.)

As I Googled around looking for the above photo (it’s not stealing if you provide a link… at least that’s what I tell myself), I came across the following entry by a fellow blogger.

The lobby used to house a large Bowling Ball, also, that patrons could roll around, but according to the first receptionist I talked with, it took up too much space. Located right across the street from Bush stadium, the Bowling Museum is housed in the same building as the Cardinals Hall of Fame, so you get two, two, two sports in one!

Thoughts:

  • Wow, and I thought I had a comma problem.
  • Who knew that “Bowling Ball” was a proper noun.
  • It’s Busch Stadium. Think beer, not president.
  • NO MORE GIANT BOWLING BALL?
  • It’s totally unrelated, but a random episode of The Wonder Years just popped into my head. It was one of the later episodes when Kevin stopped being a cute little boy. How cool is Daniel Stern?

The pins are all different sizes, suspended from the ceiling in the entrance atrium. From the balcony you get a great perspective on the prominant pins, cascading down into the gift area. In the depths of the museum you’ll also find a Bowling Pin car, made on the frame of a 1936 Studebaker.

  • I’m in no position to pick on any one’s spelling or aversion to spell check, so I’ll give “prominant” a pass.
  • You could get the same “perspective” on bowling pins at your local alley.

The largest leading pin is approximately 20′ long, fiberglass over a lightweight frame. The nice man at the counter during the early-morning waiting sessions described having to paint the monsters, filling in cracks and trying to reach up and over the monsterous swaying things to apply fresh paint… not a job for the timid.

  • I am so so mad I missed out on one of those “early-morning waiting sessions.” There’s nothing like the thrill you get when you get up before the sun rise for a good ol’ fashioned wait.

(______________)

Ooooooooh… I get it. It’s a play on “You’ve been punked.” It’s still not funny.

Confession: I rely way too heavily on parenthetical statements (I also misuse them). Can I help it if I think in clumsy parenthetical thoughts, subordinate clauses and asides? Clearly, I cannot. Shut up, grammar gestapo.

As if You Cared


Last year, I suggested a few options should my current institution of part-time higher learning decide to field an athletic team and poll me for mascot ideas. (They have yet to do so.)

My suggestions:

  • The Dippers
  • The Johns
  • The Saints
  • The Spires
  • The (Bible) Thumpers
  • The (Bible) Belters
  • The Holy Rollers
  • The Midwesterners (obvious, non-fun choice)

No one cares, but another idea popped into my head last night as I was drifting off to sleep. It turns out being among 2,000 other Baptists fighting for a few seats at local eateries was inspiring. I think it’s a winner: The Potluckers. It the perfect metaphor for what who we are. Namely, people who like to eat.

That’s not to be confused with pot lickers. Or pot stickers. Hmm… The Pot Stickers…

Meet Me In St. Louis

Not to pat myself on the back, but I’m kinda proud of this picture.

Things were a little slow at the convention this afternoon so I decided to be a tourist. I was a good 50 yards from the end of the line forming to go through the metal detectors when I was stopped by a burly National Park Ranger. She spoke loudly and was careful to enunciate, as if I was a deaf, bewildered tourist with limited English.

“SIR – YOU ARE ENTERING A NATIONAL MONUMENT – PLEASE REMOVE YOUR BELT!”

Sheesh, lady, at least offer to buy me dinner first.

Click here if you’d care to see my pictures. Everyone thinks their pictures of The Arch are artsy and it’s practically a law that everyone who takes a photo there take a low angle shot up the 630-foot-tall Arch (Sgt. Lose-the-belt enforces said law).

The “tram” ride up was bearable. Just. I’ve seen truck tires larger than this “pod” they tried to cram three Arch-goers and me into. (I know I’ve just ended a sentence in a preposition, but I can’t figure out how to reword it. “Into which they tried to cram…”? It’s a relatively quick four minutes up and three down. I’m glad I did it, and it was worth the $10 ticket. Just. The views are nice but wow, 630 feet high is REALLY high. Taller than the Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower. (Fun fact, it’s also exactly 630 feet wide. Who knew?)

Before I braved the ride to the top, I walked a few blocks across downtown to another world-famous tourist attraction. That’s right, ladies and germs, the International Bowling Hall of Fame and Museum! Much to my chagrin (seriously, I was muchly chagrined), they were closed! Their posted hours showed I was there at the right time, but alas, I was denied. I’m going to go back before I leave Wednesday (I’m going to call ahead first). I hope I can stay dressed for it.

Here’s a thought: Whether you’re on the banks on of the Mississippi under the shadow of The Arch or you’re standing in line waiting for your flight to Newark (seriously, who goes to Newark?), there’s a walk-through metal detector and grey, empty-your-pockets bin in your immediate future. Instead of causing delays by having everyone de-belt, why not let people stay dressed and just run a hand-held detector over every person? A half visual inspection of the buckle can insure the belt is kosher. BK, you’re asking, that would be horribly inefficient. Ahh, not so. If we went to the handheld wand exclusively, we could buy 10 AND hire 10 TSA screeners for the price of the walk-through detector. Don’t thank me – it’s my duty as a pants-wearing citizen.

(For the record, I know that’s a stupid idea. I just wanted an excuse to make a weak joke about Newark and things got a little out of hand.)

Good Job, Opie

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

If you’re going to do a “get out and vote for Obama” video, THIS is how it’s done.

This, is not.