Six things I like

It’s time for another list!

I am trying to accentuate the positive of late, so here’s a list of six things I like:

  • apple fritters
  • being able to post to the Internet from the comfort of my bed
  • the comfort of my bed
  • new tech toys
  • writing an especially good turn of phrase in a story
  • compliments on accomplishments I’m pleased with
  • the Jonathan Coulton song “Shop Vac”

(I included seven things since I mentioned my bed twice.)

Bad weather running: the list (updated)

If you have a look at this post from July 13th of last year you will see me list off my 14 least-favorite running conditions. I figure it’s time to update the list, so here we go. Changes are noted accordingly.

As before, the list is presented from least worst to just plain bad. The four options outside the top 10 aren’t really bad at all.

14. Overcast and light breeze. This is actually ideal conditions. It is usually never too cold or warm when the weather is like this.
13. Moderate wind. Moderate wind is fine. I have a cap that stays in place now.
12. Warm sun. Warm is no big thing. I’m talking about 20ºC or thereabouts.
11. Light rain. The only issue with light rain is that sometimes my iPod gets wet straight through my shorts’ pocket. If rain looks likely I put it in a plastic baggie.
10. Snow. I’ve only run once in light snow and it was fun. I’m thinking a foot of snow would probably be less so.
9. Cold rain. Cold rain means cold hands and if you wear gloves they need to be waterproof. Cold rain is never fun.
8. Hard rain. Getting soaked to the skin is kind of refreshing. Unfortunately if it’s raining hard, it’s almost always cold, too. Not so refreshing.
7. Extreme cold. I’ve run in sub-freezing conditions and been fine. I’m thinking Arctic tundra-type cold here.
6. Heavy wind. The resistance means you work a lot harder to achieve the same result and my cap has to be on tight enough to cut off circulation so it doesn’t fly away.
5. Hot sun. My body feels like a furnace and I’m left parched as all get-out. Dry mouth and lips are yucky. I’ve improved my stamina to where it has to be close to 30ºC to really affect me, though.
4. Hard rain and heavy wind. Likeliest weather to make me wonder to myself, ‘What was I thinking?’ when on the run.
3. Hot sun and heavy wind. Heat dries you out, the wind makes it harder to run and dries you out even more. Bleah. This combination is, however, very rare.
2. Hail. Getting pelted by little ice rocks is unpleasant! I’ve been caught in hail twice now and did not like it either time. Hail has moved from #7 to #2 on the list as a result.

And the worst weather to run in is:

1. Dogs. See here. I’ve had a dog knock me down while running. The weather has never done this.

Top grossing films of 2011

Yeah, I’m a bit late with this.

Here are the top-grossing movies domestically for 2011 (domestically refers to Canada and the U.S. As you’ll see, worldwide grosses paint a somewhat different picture):

1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 $381,011,219
2 Transformers: Dark of the Moon              $352,390,543
3 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1     $281,287,133
4 The Hangover Part II                        $254,464,305
5 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $241,071,802
6 Fast Five                                   $209,837,675
7 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol        $209,278,301
8 Cars 2                                      $191,452,396
9 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows          $186,842,737
10 Thor                                       $181,030,624

This list can be summed up thusly: YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT TOO MANY SEQUELS. EVER. Exactly one of the top 10 movies is not a sequel and it — Thor — is based on a licensed property and is in a genre (superhero films) that has had titles cranked out regularly over the past decade.

Let’s have a look at each film and figure out why they made buckets of money (apart from exorbitant ticket prices).

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. If you include ‘in 3D’ this becomes one of the longest movie titles ever but no one can keep an accurate count of how many Harry Potter movies there are (7? 8?) so it never got called Harry Potter 7 (or 8), typically being referred to as simply ‘the new Harry Potter’. The success of this is no surprise because it wraps up the saga and all of the HP movies have done well. Most of them have been looked kindly upon by critics, too, which never hurts.

2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Regarded as better than #2 (the very definition of damning with faint praise) the third installment proves the least popular of the trilogy (when taking into account ticket sales and not inflated ticket prices) — not a good sign for Michael “BLOW IT UP” Bay but $352 million even in 2011 dollars isn’t chump change, so this series seems safe for awhile or until it’s run into the ground (with Bay directing, this will probably literally happen).

3. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Another popular series, the sparkly vampires continue to draw in its loyal audience with the penultimate film (at least until Twilight: The New Generation or something comes along). Like Harry Potter, they are squeezing out a few more bucks by splitting the last book into a two-part movie. While I can see this for HP, given that the first book was about 300 pages long and the last was about 10,000, it seems more of a money grab for Twilight. But hey, I have not read the books nor seen the movies, so who am I to judge? As a bonus, even the critics seem to be warming up to this saga of pasty white teenage/werewolf/undead love.

4. The Hangover Part II. Hey, another sequel. Weird! This one seems to have coasted a bit on the success of the first movie. A third is all but inevitable and probably won’t do as well. This will not stop a fourth or fifth from being made. This is the only live action comedy to make the top 10, proving again that for whatever reason people do not like to go to movies to laugh. Maybe the ticket prices put filmgoers more in the mind frame for tragedies.

5. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. In North America the wind seems to no longer be in the sails much for this, although overseas it’s still incredibly popular (over $802 million), so Johnny Depp can probably continue to wear eye makeup (and get paid for it) into the foreseeable future.

6. Fast Five. I am surprised at the resiliency of this series. The April release would suggest it was viewed as not cut out to be a summer movie yet it did boffo box office. People really like Vin Diesel and fast cars, it seems. Don’t blame me if Diesel uses this to leverage a new Chronicles of Riddick movie, I never saw it!

7. Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. Another sequel, another surprise. After a tepid reaction to #3 people returned in greater numbers to watch Tom Cruise running again. He can probably crank out a few more before shifting into the inevitable character (‘I’m too old to be a leading man anymore’) parts.

8. Cars 2. The second worst-performing Pixar movie ever and after adjusting for inflation the worst. While you can’t really call a movie that makes close to $200 million a flop, it clearly underperformed. This is what happens when merchandising is a primary consideration and the audience can sense it. This won’t stop them from making Cars 3 before The Incredibles 2, though. There is no justice. This was the only animated film to crack the top 10, a bit unusual in itself.

9. Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. Exemplifying both ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and ‘more of the same’ the sequel to Sherlock Holmes managed to do almost as well as the first, which means it’s probably considered a failure of sorts. Expect more explosions or zombies or exploding zombies in the third one.

10. Thor. Wait, this isn’t a sequel. How did this get here? Thor is, of course, based on the Marvel comic character and under the direction of Kenneth Branagh (!) it proved a solid hit. But before they can stamp out Thor 2, Thor 3 and Thor 4: I Adore there’s The Avengers movie this summer. I find it hard to imagine a sequel to this but on the other hand, do we really want them to remake The Incredible Hulk again?

The top-grossing movies worldwide for 2011 -or- Sequel: The Sequel

As we near the end of the year I am indulging my penchant for lists. Here is Box Office Mojo’s 2011 Worldwide Grosses. It’s interesting to see how little North America played in the success of some of these films (eg. Kung Fu Panda 2 made over 75% of its take overseas). More interesting (or less interesting, perhaps) is how sequels have taken over:

  1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 No surprise on this one as all the HP movies have done well and this one wrapped things up. Spoiler: Everyone dies.
  2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon The third Transformers movie provides some evidence that there may be a deity as it did not finish #1.
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides Who knew Johnny Depp with eyeshadow could result in multiple billion dollar grosses?
  4. Kung Fu Panda 2 It was only a so-so hit in the U.S. but people everyone outside of North America love them some fat cartoon pandas.
  5. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Vampires, sparkling, teen melodrama and yes, a sequel.
  6. Fast Five The fifth Fast and Furious movie. This thing has legs. Or wheels. Or something. Will Vin Diesel use this as leverage to get another Riddick movie made? You know he wants to!
  7. The Hangover Part II A movie that didn’t need a sequel gets one, sequel is huge hit. This is why we can’t have nice things (or original movies).
  8. The Smurfs Wait a minute, this isn’t a sequel! But it is licensed, so it’s almost the same thing. It made over $500 million. Why? WHY?!
  9. Cars 2 Uninspired sequel to another movie that didn’t need one. This time Pixar got a pat on the bum for being naughty, as it was their lowest-grossing movie to date. A sequel to anything but Cars would have been nice.
  10. Rio This isn’t a sequel. How did it get here? It’s anthropomorphic cartoon animals so it’s almost like a sequel to one of the thousand or so movies that can be described thusly.

Extrapolating, I am predicting that by 2015 all movies will be sequels and no new stories will be told. I look forward to Cars 7: Out of Gas in 2022.

I am musically unhip

The current issue of The Georgia Straight has a story on the Top Albums of 2011. Almost without exception I am not only unfamiliar with the albums, I’ve never even heard of the performers. Looking through each critic’s selection (nine critics, ten albums each), here are the artists I actually recognize:

  • Tom Waits
  • Jay-Z and Kanye West
  • Paul Simon
  • Foo Fighters
  • George Thorogood & the Destroyers
  • The Jeff Healey Band
  • Wilco
  • Tori Amos
  • Björk
  • PJ Harvey

I have never owned an album from any of these people. Actually, looking over the list I’m surprised that there were that many names I recognized. Still, with 90 picks, I only recognize 10 artists, cementing my place as musically out of touch. Hey, I bought an Animal Collective album last year, that has to count for something, right?

My 2011 Game of the Year Awards

This is cribbed from a couple of posts I made in this Quarter to Three thread but I may expand my picks further here.

Best Game that Works With a Gamepad But They Actually Mean an Xbox 360 Controller and Good Luck with Emulation and All the Voodoo Required to Get It Working With Your Logitech RumblePad and Oh Yeah Even With no Gamepad Connected it Flashes ‘Press Start’ on the Main Screen: Renegade Ops. Bonus: the keyboard/mouse controls are awful, too.

Best Alpha Game Investment This Year: Minecraft

The Why Do I keep Playing This Stupid Game, Anyway? Award: Bejeweled 2, which I play nearly every night on my iPhone when I go to bed.

I Never Knew I Could Get so Sucked Into a Portable Game Award (not counting Bejeweled 2): Dungeon Raid

Best MMORPG I Downloaded the Trial for But Never Actually Played: RIFT

Favorite Class in a Beta Test of Diablo III Before They Wiped All of My Characters *Again*: Monk. Huge electric kick to the face!

Blandest MMO Test That Still Has me Slightly Interested:
Star Wars: The Old Republic

Lifetime Achievement Award for Worst-Looking Human Males in Any MMO or Possibly Any Game Ever: World of Warcraft

The You’re a Big Fat Liar Because You Promised Not to Add More Games to Your Backlog in 2011 and Did It Anyway Award: Me

Fuzziest Warm Feeling for Supporting An Indie Dev and the Game was Pretty Good, Too Award: Dungeons of Dredmor, made by the local Gaslamp Games.

Indie Game With the Name Most Likely to be Misspelled Award: Dungeons of Dredmor (not Dredmore/Dreadmore)

10 things people will always complain about

  1. Politics
  2. Taxes
  3. Their supervisor/co-worker/job
  4. The decline of manners/common courtesy/civilization
  5. The price of gas
  6. The other driver
  7. Ads before movies
  8. Ads before anything
  9. “Kids these days”
  10. The lack of a save mechanism before boss fights*

* okay, maybe not everyone will complain about this one, but everyone should