The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Revisiting the Theater

May 31st, 2005

I’m going back to the Mark Cuban post that pointed me to the Ordinary Gentlemen film. The thing that brought me back was the comments. The sentiment is virtually universal — movie theaters suck donkey balls.

  • They cost too much for tickets
  • They cost too much for food and drinks
  • The food and drinks suck
  • The movies suck
  • The projection of the movies suck
  • The other people suck

So I’ll deal with these. The ticket cost? “Cost” is a concept of how much value you gain minus how much aggravation you have to put up with. This point depends really on all the rest of the points. If the movie was good, and it was projected well, you wouldn’t think that it cost so much. In fact, you might even think it was a value. If the food was good, and not the same thing that you could pick up at an A&W stand or Albertsons for half the price, you wouldn’t say that it cost too much.

The other points are harder to address. The food and drinks sucking comes from poor service. Poor service permeates the movie theater industry, but you get what you pay for. The only way to get better service is to get better employees, and better employees cost. How much would more would you pay to go to the “good” theater? (Personally, I would pay $18 a ticket for a quality theater to see a quality movie, but I think I am the exception.) The projection sucking is the same problem — a good projectionist is likely to be good at lots of other things that pay more money; can you keep him in that job? I would certainly pay more to go to a theater that I know will project the film right. I just can’t find one.

I think that there are places that have the right concept. Movie Tavern is a place here in DFW that would be fantastic if it wasn’t a hell of a drive for me. They have the waitresses and beer and all the other stuff that people want when they are watching a movie. The prices on the food are reasonable, compared to a restaurant. I go there pretty regularly to watch WWE PPVs. There is one thing that they are missing, and I think you can address another issue and this one at once…

Booths. Big, plush half circle booths, like they used to have in swank nightclubs. Art deco style booths. Think about it. You will have your table, to put your pizza and beer. You don’t have an arm between you and your sweetie. If it has a tall back, you have some degree of privacy from the people beside you, and the people behind you. (If some kid stands up in front of you to gawk at you, you can throw popcorn at him.) Not only will this give you visual privacy, but it will dampen out the talking too. That doesn’t mean that the theater should get lax — but it means that you don’t have to deal with the whisperers. This can also help the cost issue — you can put in some booths, in whatever mix you are willing to risk, and price them a booth at a time. Sure, you are going to get the family that wants to cram mom, dad, grandma and six kids into it — but would you get them there if you didn’t have that deal? More importantly, you are going to get people like me, who would buy a whole booth for two or three people at a premium, to subsidize those.

That’s my big idea. Booths. Movie Tavern already has the food and drink angle covered. There really isn’t anything that we can do about the movies sucking. Movies have become too expensive to make, and no studio is willing to take a chance on a movie that might not make a ton of money (like one that is good.) The only way to change that is to stop going to the major hyped releases, and make that a losing strategy… but it looks like we are already doing that. Face it — Hollywood suits are fucking stupid. Fact of life.

Sales Animals

May 31st, 2005

Daring Fireball has opined that The Fish Rots From the Head. (If you aren’t a graphic design person, I’m not sure if this will appeal to you or not.) I’ve never really followed the Adobe saga very closely, but it is interesting to me how I’ve still been in a way plugged into it:

Tough, and with a large dose of Brooklyn chutzpah, Mr Chizen in 1998 turned Adobe’s culture upside down, introducing hierarchies, performance reviews and the like. In 2000, he became chief executive, and the founders co-chairmen.

That allowed Mr Chizen to return to his main passion, salesmanship, and in particular to a software application called Acrobat, the one Adobe product that has always been targeted at the wider business (as opposed to the narrower graphics-and-design) market.

This intrigued me because I still haven’t upgraded from PS 5.5 (which was last current in… 1999.) I looked at the new features, and simply said, “not worth it.” Sure, a magnetic lasso would have been nice, but that was about all that was compelling me. They have since done some things with vector art that would be nice to have… but I am already using Macromedia Fireworks for that (since it came with Director.) It looks like my Fireworks days are numbered.

A malaise has settled over Adobe, and I think this is likely to be it. The sad part, to me, is that if this is the case, it isn’t going to simply kill Adobe as a kick ass company — it is going to drag Macromedia down with it. The best part about Photoshop has been that it is technically powerful because it is flexible. The framework for me to work with is there, and you can polish that up somewhat, but it is very difficult to incrementally improve it. The best that Adobe has been able to do so far is to simply roll into the program things that I was doing manually. Ho-hum.

I don’t do very much layout work at all, anymore. The last time I did was around early 2001, and I was still using Xpress then. I was ready to move to inDesign then, because it seemed like a superior program. Rather than the incremental improvements that Quark was (not) doing at the time, Adobe came out with a complete change in thinking that was superior to the Quark mindset. If Adobe is going to expand by acquisition, rather than having people who Don’t Suck making the programs and running the show, people like me (meaning, creative producers) are going to shove off as soon as all those people who Don’t Suck get together and make that complete change in thinking.

(And to all you GIMP goons out there, I’ve tried it. It sucks. Photoshop — even PS 5.5, a five year old program — rocks its skinny crackhead ass.)

Gentlemen

May 31st, 2005

This movie, titled A League of Ordinary Gentlemen looks really freaking cool. As soon as it comes to Dallas, I’m checking it out. I’m already a big Chris Barnes fan (he’s a hometown boy to boot) so I am really looking forward to this when it comes to Dallas.

As the Dude says, “I’ll be there, man.”

(Via Mark Cuban)

One for Mexi

May 23rd, 2005

This one is for Mexi:

Ozzy Osbourne remembers when he lost his patience with the midget Black Sabbath hired for a tour. “He showed up late, he drank….It got to me after awhile. So, one night, when he wanted to get on the tour bus, I threw him in the luggage compartment.

Somebody grabbed me and said: ‘What you’re doing is not only illegal but it’s inhumane.’

“I lost it. I yelled: ‘He’s my [bleeping] midget and I’ll [bleeping] do what I want with him.’ There was a silence and then a small voice emerged from the luggage compartment: ‘He’s right: I’m his midget and he can do what he wants with me.’”

I agree with Ozzy too. Given that it seems that some midgets know thier place, maybe I should reconsider my anti-midget bias. Maybe there are some good midgets. As long as they stay in the luggage compartment.

Just Like You and Me, Only Better

May 18th, 2005

Judge Lefkow is blasting law enforcement. She has truly suffered a tragedy — no one deserves to have her family murdered. Lefkow was the Chicago federal judge whose family was murdered by a litigant who didn’t like his outcome in court.

“An entire family has lost its ability to assume that when we walk through the door of our own homes, we will be safe there,” U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

I don’t want to be nasty, but I can’t think of any other way to approach this. Welcome to the real world, Lefkow. You aren’t any better than us. You don’t have the right to something that we don’t. You want men with guns to protect your family — how about if you extended that right to all citizens? The police have no legal duty to protect anyone. That is what the courts — your peers — have decided. Not only do the police have no duty, but people like Clinton (the guy who appointed you) also want to make sure that people can’t defend themselves, either. The city of Chicago (the one that you decided not to live in, choosing the suburbs instead) goes even further in making sure that people are defended by neither the police nor each other.

We aren’t safe in our homes, and you should be doing something about that.

Lefkow petitioned the lawmakers to continue to “make judicial protection a priority.” She pointed out ways to protect those that enforce the rule of law and keep society from becoming one based on “right being defined by might.”

Riddle me this, judge — when does might stop making right? When have you ever made a ruling that didn’t have the threat of rough men coming to do great violence upon those who choose to defy your rulings? You need to face facts, lady. You rule through violence, because that is the only way it works. Every time you make a ruling, there is a silent, “or I will send federal agents to your home to kill you,” attached to the end of it.

Her family shouldn’t have been killed. Had the cowardly son of a bitch not killed himself, I would be all for us killing him. But that doesn’t mean that she shouldn’t recognize where her power comes from.

My First Ad!

May 17th, 2005

If you guys hadn’t noticed, I’m now a J-List affiliate. (Ad on the right.) J-List is an importer. They import… uh… crap from Japan. I can’t think of any other way to describe it, but I buy a bunch of crap from them. Peter Payne, the guy who runs it, also has a mailing list (you can subscribe from from the main page) that is pretty cool. Adventures of a Gaijin in Nippon.

So what does that mean? If you click through my link and buy crap, I get a small store credit. That makes me a whore now! Yay! What might you buy? Well, I buy a lot of Black Black Gum. Jesus Christ this stuff is great. I’m hooked on it like it’s heroin. I think there may be heroin in it. They say it is just caffeine and no nicotine, but I’m not sure. I’m gobbling like 30 packs (two cases — I know) every couple of months.

I also buy lots of T-shirts from them. The T-shirts actually ship from San Diego, so they get here quicker and shipping doesn’t cost as much. I have the Bush-Do shirt (a domo-kun parody with George Bush) but they aren’t carrying that one anymore. I’m thinking of getting this Black Black parody one or this camo one.

I’ve bought other stuff, too. I’ve bought a couple of hachimakis from them. (Click through, and you’ll know what they are.) It’s kind of like a hat, and I love hats. I want to get one of these banks. I bought the guy I work with a Coca-Cola bento box like this one for his birthday. Just poke around. There’s lots of good stuff. Even stuff for all you Hentai fans out there (and there has to be at least one. I’m looking at you, HMT.) Phelps says check it out. And buy stuff to keep me in Black Black.

The Worst 10 Americans

May 12th, 2005

Kim du Toit links to Rodger Schultz’s 10 Worst Americans, describing them as people who’s death at infancy would have had a salutary effect on the nation’s health. I think I’ll join in, although my list is much more holistic. Take a look at his, and then mine.

  • 10. Jimmy Carter. Jimmy is living proof that a genuinely good person with shit for brains can cause a hell of a lot of problems. Jimmy never met a dictator that he didn’t think could be turned to God with a little fellatio. His accomplishments according to the Wikipedia are “the Panama Canal treaties, the Camp David Accords, and the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union.” Given that giving away the Panama Canal was a military blunder of Biblical scale, the Camp David Accords simply shifted the support for terrorism from Egypt to Jordan and Syria (for a few years) and the SALT II was never actually ratified because the Soviets never actually had any intention of adhering to it, this says a lot. It says Jimmy Carter’s accomplishment are when he managed to put off getting blamed for his fuck ups for a decade or two. He founded the Department of Education, which is why Johnny still can’t read, let inter-agency power struggles cause the Desert One fiasco and bought the hostages a nice stay in Tehran until Reagan said harsh words to the Iranians and got them released, and was so feckless that the Saudis thumbed their noses at him and shot oil prices through the roof for no other reason than that they could.

    After he was president, he went on violate the Logan Act on a regular basis by failing to negotiate peace in Bosnia (result: genocide), failing to negotiate peace with the PLO (result: terrorism), failing to negotiate with North Korea (result: likely nuclear power with poofy-haired madman holding the trigger), and failing to negotiate peace with Saddam (result: Saddam getting punched in mouth and dragged out of spider hole. Okay, I’ll give him that one.) He was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, which is only relevant in the sense that it had already been awarded to Kofi Annan (embezzling overseer of U.N. Rapists) and Yassir Arafat (bodyguard buggering murderer, terrorist, embezzler, and dictator) and Nelson Mandela (buddy of Castro and Ghadaffi and failed armed rebel who’s main accomplishment was getting thrown in jail.)

  • 9. Dr. Benjamin Spock. Dr. Spock was a major force in the pussyfication of America. He was responsible for the death of corporal punishment in America, which has bequeathed on us the specter of generations of depraved sociopathic criminals… that we have to get rid of through the ultimate in corporal punishment. He was also an ardent leftist and an anti-Vietnam shithead. He was mostly wrongheaded, veering from this path only when he was flat-out wrong. It is said that Dr. Spock had more to do with parenting than anyone in the 20th century, and I think that the miserable failure of parents in the late 20th century illustrates this better than anything.
  • 8. Neal Dow. Neal Dow was a prohibitionist who got the Dow Act passed in Maine. This eventually lead to National Prohibition, organized crime, the rise of the Treasury Department as jackbooted thugs and the BATF. Maybe if the miserable shit had been a little more personable, he could have gotten invited to a party, got drunk, caught Syphilis and died blind and demented.
  • 7. Henry Ford. Henry Ford was a Nazi, a fascist, and vicious anti-Semite. He loved Hitler, propagandized for him in America, sent him money, viciously attacked American Jews when he could get away with it, and founded the Ford Foundation. The Ford Foundation has given hundreds of millions to leftist and domestic terrorist groups like Tides, Greenpeace, PETA, the Rainforrest Alliance, Union of Concerned Scientists, International Forum on Globalization, etc. I supposed that means they are faithfully carrying on Ford’s legacy of anti-Americanism, fascism, and Nazism.
  • 6. Harry Anslinger. Harry Anslinger started the proud American tradition of lawmen lying to Congress about drugs to get funding and power. Anslinger was the first “Drug Czar” (an apt title if there ever was one) who was a crony of William Randolph Hurst and a proud peddler of anti-narcotic propaganda. He also was a peddler of the despicable “Cocaine Crazed Nigger” myth, along with the “Marijuana Crazed Nigger Rapist Looking for White Women” shit. He was a foul, jack-booted thug, and should have been shot in the fucking head in the 20s.
  • 5. William Randolph Hurst. Hurst was a propagandist, a war-monger, and a megalomaniac. He started the Spanish American War to make a buck and a laugh. He cheated on his wife for thirty some-odd years, is rumored to have murdered a man on a boat trip, was a Nazi, an anti-marijuana propagandist, and an all around shitheel with more money than God.
  • 4. Alfred Kinsey Kinsey made perversion acceptable. Kinsey was a pedophile, consorted with pedophiles, and aided and abetted pedophiles. Kinsey legitimized polygamy, homosexuality, sadomasochism, and pretty much any other perverted, depraved sexual act you can think of. He was a despicable pervert hiding in a white coat, and was the one that you could count on a lecher to point to when he got caught.

    And, he was a shitty scientist. See #2.

  • 3. Joe Kennedy Joe Kennedy was a criminal. Joe Kennedy was a prohibition bootlegger. Joe Kennedy was a mobster. Joe Kennedy was a Nazi. Joe Kennedy was an inside trader and stock fraud. Joe Kennedy parlayed his mob connections and ill-gotten fortune into political power, which he used to promote the now despicable Kennedy political clan, which bought us the womanizing John Kennedy (who also managed to get us into the Vietnam War), the vindictive AG Robert Kennedy, and the deplorable Ted Kennedy, along with a myriad of other Kennedy crooks and rapists. Like father, like sons.
  • 2. Carl Sagan. My beef with Carl Sagan is that he is a fucking fraud. I don’t mean that he didn’t come up with some useful theories in astronomy; I mean that he used those modest gains to swindle, defraud, bamboozle and lie to the American public for his own political gain. He betrayed America’s trust of science.

    Sagan was a proponent of the Drake Equation. I’ll grant that it is an interesting intellectual exercise, and even hold the logic to be sound. However, I wouldn’t present it as scientific evidence. Sagan did. Sagan was a proponent of the idea of Nuclear Winter. Nuclear Winter was, in scientific terms, “Bullshit”. It was a lie born of political belief, and that is something I cannot forgive in a scientist. Sagan was a proponent of Skepticism, which seeks to throw the scientific method (proof is proof) out and instead supports having a double-standard for things that he and his atheist buddies find distasteful. He coined the phrase, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof,” which is the most anti-scientific phrase I can conceive of.

  • 1. General William Sherman. GEN Sherman was the first war criminal in America. Sherman was, in my views, the first American to wage war on his own brothers. His crimes against humanity are on the order of the crime of slavery itself. I don’t hold the American institution of hereditary slavery lightly, but in this case, the cure is as bad as the disease.

    Sherman murdered, plundered, and burned out his own countrymen. The Civil War started a trend of treating Americans as subjects rather than citizens (leading directly, in my mind, to the modern atrocities like The Branch Davidian Massacre in Waco) that has grown all the way up to modern times.

The Everlasting Phelps

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.