Indiana Jones 4

Hello all. Just got home from watching the new Indiana Jones movie. First off, there WILL BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW! So be warned now. I will try to delay them as much as possible.

I think the attitude of the Producer and Director is really evident with the opening scene. The previous 3 movies do a nice job of incorporating the Paramount mountain. A nice statement, especially when a “real” mountain is used. But a gopher hill? Not exactly a bold statement. More like, “we couldn’t think of anything else and hey, we only did this cuz we’re tired of the fans bugging us for 20 years to make another one.”

The movie isn’t all bad. I mean it’s no Howard the Duck. Well, maybe. I dunno. I kind of like Howard the Duck actually. I think only one other person in the universe likes it besides me. The first half of the movie is pretty good. Some nice references to the other movies. Some subtle, others not so subtle. I’m sure I didn’t catch all of them, but I did watch all 3 this week. The last 2 last night.

At least the action takes place 20 years after “Temple of Doom” since Harrison Ford is 20 years older. So gone are the Nazis to be replaced with the Soviets. McCarthyism is in full effect. A nice nod to what some may feel is a similar attitude today. While Indy seemed to show his age at the beginning, and there are some nice one-liners about that, we quickly see Indy kicking some major ass.

And really up until about half way into the movie I’m playing along. It’s not as cool as the others. No evil Nazis, but the story behind the Crystal Skull is a little weak. So, I’m a bit on the fence at that point. Then things begin to fall apart for me.

I really think that the overall story needed to go in a different direction. Huge potential in the ideas, just not executed how I and 70% of the audience in my theater wanted.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<< WARNING! HERE BE SPOILERS!>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

OK, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, stop here. No. Seriously. Stop. Unless you have no plans on seeing it or don’t care if I reveal the “punch line.”

Here’s my two word review of the movie. Seriously? Aliens? Yeah, that about sums it up. I didn’t come to the theater at midnight to watch a sci-fi movie. No it’s not Star Wars meets Indiana Jones (though there is a nice quote associated with the movie). But, it takes on a sci-fi feel. Yes, it’s from the beginning of the movie, but my impression was that it was just a backstory that really wasn’t going to be the main story.

Once we understand that this skull is the skull of ET (OK, not literally, though I was expecting a glowing finger), I was already half-way down the slippery slope. This franchise is about adventure. Old school adventure. A rugged archaeologist that saves the girl and gets the prize – kind of. This isn’t sci-fi adventure. We aren’t on a far off planet trudging through the jungle brandishing laser blasters looking for treasure. Save that for the Saturday night Sci-Fi Channel movie.

I’m looking for what Lucas originally intended. The cool guy fighting the bad guys on Earth in a jungle looking for treasure that my parents’ generation watched on Saturday afternoon matinees in the movie theater. Errol Flynn style. Not a combination of Indy, ET, Close Encounters, X-Files, and Star Wars just to be funny. The History Channel was airing a program hyping the series. One of the quotes was something about how Indy inspired many people to get into archaeology. This movie won’t do that.

Again. Seriously? Aliens?

I went with a friend and also ran into a co-worker. Two different screens between the three of us. About the same reaction from both audiences. Lots of comments that weren’t too positive. And only about 30% of the audience in both theaters applauded. You can guess that we were part of the 70%. All three of us used the word “bad” to describe the movie.

That’s all I really have right now. It’s late, and I’m tired. Worked in the morning and stayed up straight through until the movie.



Seriously? Aliens?

I Like Cheese

Huh? First of all, two posts in one day. WTH? Yeah. This is a short and sweet one. TheFemGeek. Hope you’re not disappointed. So what’s up with this phrase. It’s one I’ve recently picked up on from my staff at work. It’s effectively a non-sequitur statement. Something you use to reply to someone that says something that you would normally give them a strange look, or a WTF moment.

It’s root is from an old Warner Bros. cartoon with Porky Pig and Sylvester called Kitty Kornered. At one point in the cartoon Sylvester and the other cats that live with Porky are outside the house. They got kicked out for the night and they are plotting to get back in. While they are plotting Sylvester says “Are we men or are we mice?”, the kitten yells, “I like cheese.” Here is a link to the cartoon:

Kitty Kornered

The “punch line” happens around the 4:50 point.

So if I tell you “I like cheese” at some point, you’ll get the point.




So I'm out tonite and twitter is down. WTF? Plus I have the cabbie
from hell. Another WTF. This all sux. Especially since I'd be
twittering Nour the nite and can't. Thats it.



Sent from my iPhone


So, I’m sitting at the local coffee shop. What was supposed to be a visit of a couple hours has turned into more. Initially I was gonna chill here for a little bit. Eat a scone, have a nice hot chocolate, upload the pics from the weekend, and head back home.

Well, the uploads are taking forever. I was successful with Flickr and Facebook. But MySpace is misbehaving. I got about 30% through the first attempt and it started producing errors. But I didn’t realize that at first. Also, the main window of my browser had some other tabs open. It took me awhile, but I figured out that if I went to a different tab, the pics stopped uploading. So now I’m on attempt #2. So far it’s working, but damn it’s slow. OK, it’s 137 pics, but it’s only about 15MB of photos. The other two services took less time combined.

I posted a new video (it’s below this posting on the blog). I mentioned that there is an Illinois State Senator proposing a law making it illegal for someone to be on a cell phone while in a crosswalk. And he may include music players. Are you kidding me? What an idiot.

So the past 3 decades with walkmans and the like that didn’t cause our lawmakers to ban this before? At least with cell phones, most people have another ear free. With music players, both ears are covered and most likely the person is blaring the music. No one sought to protect me from myself all this time; why now?

I call it “thinning the herd.” Man I hope I never run for office. I bet I’d get slammed for being insensitive for that comment. Seriously, if you’re that stupid to not pay attention to your surroundings, and if a bus hits you, then it was meant to happen.

Also, this almost exact law was proposed 14 months ago in New York by one of their state senators. All I can find are news stories talking about it being proposed. Nothing about it being passed. So that tells me this thing doesn’t have legs.

BRB…b-room break.

Did you miss me? 🙂

So I took this picture of myself a few weeks back. I used my iPhone and took the picture of me wearing my three WLTV ( wristbands. I kind of forgot about it till last week. That’s when I decided to use it as my profile pic EVERYWHERE. Originally I was going to take a picture of myself that had elements of my interests. Certain, shirt, hat, scarf, wristbands, background with diploma and pic of a piano, etc. Well, over the weekend I was gonna take that pic. I’m missing my Astros hat. Grrrr…. So I decided to us this one (if you haven’t figured out by now, it’s the pic to the right).

So I’ve seen this pic a lot over the past few days. OK, so it’s my wallpaper on my iPhone. But, anyway, I don’t consider myself a narcissist, but I think it’s a damn good picture. The quality isn’t the best. The iPhone does OK in good light, but if you’re not steady it blurs shots. There is a bit of a blur. It’s hard to take self portraits with it because of how you have to hold the thing and press a virtual button on the screen. Anyway…I think it looks like I did some kind of photo shoot.

iPhone. I’ve had this thing for about 3.5 months. I’m still amazed all the time. Yes it has it’s shortcomings, but overall it’s exactly what I’ve wanted for a while. What don’t I like about it? Here’s the list:

1. No 3G
2. No MMS
3. No Flash
4. Can’t tether it to my laptop and use as a modem
5. Can’t install apps
6. Can’t get push e-mail from work

Those are the big 6. In a couple months, most of that ends. The only thing from that list that my Razr couldn’t do at all was push e-mail. It did the rest. Not that it did all of it really great, but it did it. I think I miss having Flash the most. Web surfing does suffer without it. If we can believe Steve Jobs that mobile flash sucks and the full version can’t run, then please Apple or Adobe give us a version that is good AND runs.

Oh well, in June, most, if not all of that, will be changed. Can’t wait.

Guess that’s it for the random thought. MySpace almost done uploading.



Oh and during all this I’ve been having a great convo with my buddy Rolento on ICQ – can you say Old School IM? Yeah, that’s how I roll.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

So I went to watch 21 yesterday. It a movie loosely based on the book Bringing Down the House. That book describes the MIT 6 – a team of Blackjack players from MIT (and other schools) who would go to Vegas on weekends and play Blackjack. There was an episode of “Breaking Vegas” on the History Channel that also covered this same group. The movie basically takes the main aspects of the story, fills in the rest, and puts it in current times. It’s not a true and faithful accounting of the book.

In fact, the MIT 6 was just one team of many teams over the years that made the trek to Vegas to play Blackjack. At times there were as many as 80 members of the team in several states. This didn’t happen until there were different incarnations, and that many members was near the end of their run in the late 90s early 2000.

First off. [Disclaimer] I never read the book. I’ve only watch the History Channel episode, this movie, and I have done some research on the ‘net. So, while watching this movie, it brought me back to the days of being a Blackjack dealer at Dave & Buster’s. Huh? They had gambling there? No. It was a “Just for Fun” Casino where you “rented” chips to play the game. There was no cash value for the chips; you couldn’t exchange them for tickets or prizes.

The only thing we did was put you on the Top 10 Board if you had enough in chips that day. The board was a monthly top 10. Every three months we would invite those people (plus alternates that had dropped off the list to make up for any duplicates) back to play in a free tournament. We would also have a small buffet for them. The tournaments were on Sunday afternoons when we were normally closed.

Originally I started off as a player. D&B had stopped doing karaoke. The week before they did this, I had finished a Beer Tour and one of the things I got was a voucher for $10,000 in chips in the Casino. About a month after getting this voucher, I decided to check it out. I played for 5 straight days. That is, I went in 5 nights in a row to play. I was hooked. I played in the tourneys and the last one I played in I got 2nd (or was it 3rd – don’t remember). That was the year-end tourney.

The smallest chip they had was $100 and the largest in the chip tray was $10,000. Then there were the “lammers.” Special big value chips. See pic below:

Here are the “House Rules”:
House Rules

A few keepsakes from my time there. Anyway, after about a year or so of playing 3-5 days a week, I was offered a job to deal. I took it. This is how I got into the Restaurant business. So between playing and dealing I really learned all aspects of the game. I learned Basic Strategy and card counting. The exact method detailed in the movie 21 which is a simple plus/minus system where 2-6 are +1, 10-valued cards (10s and face cards) and Aces are -1, and 7-9 are 0.

I would say that I was at my peak between 1995 – 1999 (I started playing in 2004). I could easily count a 6-deck shoe and carry on a conversation (we used 5 decks at D&B, but the boats usually used 6). Of course that is without alcohol. Never drink and gamble when you are playing to win. I learned a lot of this from Ken Uston’s book Million Dollar Blackjack. Plus other regulars from Houston.

So watching the movie made me wish I had been part of this at some point. Yes, they had some issues with casino security, but they were fairly successful avoiding too much hassle. I know I “coulda been a contender.” Seriously, playing Blackjack at one point was mechanical. And it’s a skill that needs constant practice. Even now when I go play, I sometimes forget the subtle nuances of Basic Strategy. I’m not as sharp with counting. This is because I don’t live a breathe it every day.

I do miss the fun of it. Even though there was no real money involved. Before I moved to Cincinnati, I was very close to moving to Vegas. My Pit Boss was a former dealer and Pit Boss in Reno. He had connections (maybe even those kind) in Nevada. Not so much that I could walk into any casino and get a job, but I wouldn’t have to start at the small casinos.

So why didn’t I do it? Fear. Not fear of the unknown. Fear of the known. You see, I have an addictive personality. I find something I like, and I have to immerse myself in it. The latest is wine – and I don’t mean drinking it. I mean learning about it. Ok, so there’s also retail at work and video creation/editing. But games tend to really bring it out. During this period I also was hooked on BattleTech and Red Planet. Two video games that we had at D&B. And I got scary good at those too.

So, Blackjack is a game to me. Not something to make money on. I enjoy just playing it. When there’s no real money involved, I really get into it. There’s no stress. There’s also the opportunity to “play around.” Make stupid moves or try stuff with no consequence. Add being a dealer in Vegas and being able to walk to the casino next door to play after my shift could spell disaster. Or it could be profitable. However, not for long if I got too good.

You see, these guys on teams are going for big money most of the time. Not looking to just earn enough. Money has a way of doing that to people. Greed. Greed kills. And only the most disciplined player (notice I didn’t use gambler) can combat greed. Most of the time that player wins the battle against greed. However, even the best can succumb to it. And to me living in Vegas would be the ultimate challenge.

But the desire is still there. But the desire is more to play the game, not to gamble. I’m good. Real good. I mean scary good. Or at least I was about 8 years ago. You watch the movie and the main character, Ben, is me. Except I didn’t go to MIT. It’s simple math. Really. All it takes is concentration. Right now, I’m better than your average basic strategy player.

And don’t play against me as a dealer. OK, that seems obvious since the dealer already has an advantage. However, in a non-casino environment, I’m a bully as a dealer. I want to beat you. OK, if I’m trying to teach you I don’t want to beat you. However, if you’re a good player, I’ll try to get you to do things you shouldn’t do. Most casino dealers want you to win. The more you win, the more fun you have, means more tips for them. The best dealers still beat you, but they make that fun.

Remember I mentioned counting as a player. I could do it as a dealer. Told you I was scary good. Literally, I would sometimes actually count. It was so ingrained in me that at one point during this period, I knew I was subconsciously counting (playing or dealing). Now I couldn’t just rattle of the count, but my brain was able to just watch and determine if a shoe was hot or cold.

Not that the count could predict this, but at times I would call card and suit of the next card. Not all the time. I wouldn’t just guess at every card coming out. Anyone could do that and be right occasionally. No, I would do it on rare occasions and be right about the value more than 2/3 of the time, and be right about the suit almost 50%. If it wasn’t the next card, typically it was within 3 cards. That’s the brain working a deeper count. Now? I couldn’t do it.

Oh, and the dealers you see on “boats” and even in some land-based casinos. Their technique sucks. At least the movie either used real dealers or they trained people to deal with proper technique. That’s dealing cards, cutting “cheques” (what chips are called), calling out large amounts being brought in (color going out/coming in), and unusual play.

Unusual play is critical in that it can signal a card counter. As a card counter, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. Card counting is not illegal anywhere in the U.S. And it’s not illegal most anywhere else. What is illegal is using a device to assist you. The famous shoe computers and various other computers to give players an advantage. And sometimes some unpleasant burns when they got too hot – the equipment, not the player. It’s not illegal to think….yet.

However, a casino has the right to not let you play. They typically will tell you your game is “too strong” and give you the option to play any other game in the casino or leave. If you are stupid, you create a scene and then they ban you. Just like any business, they have the right to refuse service. Once you are banned there plan on having issues everywhere else. A company called Griffin Investigations keeps a book of known card counters. Once you get in that book, you’re screwed. So if the nice Pit Boss with those nice security guards come up to you and ask you to leave, then leave.

Ahhh, the casino life. It was fun. I’ve included a couple pictures from my final day as Pit Boss in Cincinnati. They are of the July tournament in 1998. One is of me as Pit Boss, and the other is me dealing the Final Table. And as always, if you want to bankroll me, the deal is I keep half of the winnings and am never responsible for the losses. Go see the movie too.

Mark the Pit Boss

Mark the Dealer