Netflix: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

>> 29 March 2009

Those of you who subscribe to Netflix, are probably aware of the "Instant Watch" feature. Basically, the way this works is that netflix subscribers are able to stream movies from the netflix website and watch them directly on their computer (or TV if you're high-tech).
The Good: You can watch a movie need to add it to your queue.
The Bad: Unless you have the right kind of blue-ray player, you have to watch on your computer.
The Ugly: The selection of movies available for instant watch is -- shall we say -- limited.

Which brings me to my next point. Have you ever watched a bad movie just because it happened to be on TV? Of course you have. And so have I. The problem with Netflix instant watch is that it is like having bad movies on TV ALL THE TIME. So here are some of the movies I've watched:
The Good: Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid -- A parody of the 1940s detective movies and the tough-guy film noir tradition that uses footage of film icons Burt Lancaster, Cary Grant, Lana Turner, Ingrid Bergman (to name a few), intercut with new footage. Steve Martin plays a private investigator investigating a series of connected murders. Along the way, he has to deal with repeated gunshot wounds to the arm, cross-dressing escapades, and an assistant (played by Humphrey Bogart) who refuses to wear a tie to work. Funny.
The Bad: Gone in 60 Seconds -- Irritating Nicholas Cage character finds himself in a mind-bogglingly implausible dilemma: steal fifty cars in one night or his brother will be killed. Not only is the plot an offense to common sense, it isn't even very suspenseful. Don't bother.
The Ugly: The New Guy -- You know when someone says, "Wow, this garbage can stinks. Smell it," so you lean over and smell it, only to find that it really does stink? That is this movie. I watched it because I heard it was terrible -- like it was a dare or something. This movie isn't just bad -- it's almost surreal how bad it is. From the opening sequence you think, who decided that this would make a good movie? Train-wreck.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Duh!

Seen any of these movies? Leave your thoughts.


Grad School Updates

>> 16 March 2009

I've been applying to graduate programs in creative writing during the past few months. Unfortunately, these programs have tremendously low acceptance rates (2%-6%), and so, anyone applying to them runs a statistically significant risk of rejection. I will now flaunt my failure on this e-blog:

Vanderbilt: rejected
U of Texas: rejected
U of Washington: rejected
UC Irvine: awaiting decision
U of Virginia: awaiting decision
NC State: awaiting decision

The good news is that they are very friendly in their rejection letters. The bad news is, that I want to go to graduate school!

Considering the heavy odds against me, I am now beginning to consider the "life-experience" P.h.d. route, wherein I write to a website and tell them what degree I want, then describe my relevant life experience, pay a hefty fee, and receive my P.h.d. in the mail.

Interesting thought: If you could have a graduate degree in any subject (real or imagined) what would it be? I think some good ones would be: marshmallows, DVDs, karate, and baseball trivia. Just imagine the possibilities:

Them: Is the new season of LOST out on DVD yet?
You: Not yet.
Them: Are you sure?
You: Yes.
Them: Positive?
You: I have a P.h.d. in DVDs, so...I think I would know.

What phony degree would you choose?


Wrong URL

>> 12 March 2009

Today, while trying to sign onto this e-blog in order to update my book-progress counter, I accidentally typed in the wrong URL. This e-blog is at, I typed in, All I did was switch two letters, blogSPot versus blogPSot!

What's the difference? My e-blog is basically pointless. This other website is FOR REAL! It seems to be a website/call-to-action about the end of the world and Biblical prophecy. It contains subject headings such as:

The Soon Coming Climax
Proof The Bible Is True





While I didn't read the entire website (actually, I just looked at the pictures and scrolled to find the most exciting headings), it seems to have been a rather serious undertaking. There is a good amount of writing and scriptural citations, etc. on the site.

The odd thing is, why did they pick my e-blog to cybersquat? In case you're not familiar with cybersquatting, or typosquatting, it is essentially the practice of creating a website that relies on typos for traffic. Thinks like "" or "" are examples of cybersquatting. There aren't that many people reading my e-blog. It doesn't seem worth the effort. Maybe it's some sort of bot that makes this website for all misspelled e-blogs.

Myth confirmed. For most blogspot URLs if you type in blogpsot instead of blogspot. I should not feel flattered that they squatted me.


The Night in Question

>> 05 March 2009

The Night in Question: Stories The Night in Question: Stories by Tobias Wolff

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
The good stories (The Other Miller, Two Boys and a Girl, Bullet in the Brain) in this collection can hold their own with the works of short story masters like Hemingway and O'Connor. The weaker ones (Migraine, Lady's Dream) are still enjoyable. And the best stories (Powder, The Life of the Body, Casualty) are stunning.

Wolff's principle strength is the economy of his writing and his precise use of detail. His best short stories cover nearly as much thematic ground as a novel, in five percent of the space.

Heartily recommended.

View all my reviews.


Spring Break

>> 01 March 2009

So, tomorrow marks the first day of my spring break. NC State has pushed the notion of "spring" about as far as it can go. Any earlier and it would have been February! Here is the weather forecast for the first days of spring break:

That's right - the first day of spring break is supposed to have snow/freezing rain. Does that really sound like spring break?

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing - I wasn't planning on breaking out the old speedo and going to the beach or anything. And Tuesday and Wednesday look like they might be pretty nice.

Anyway, here's my question: what should I do? Rochelle has to be at the lab this week, so that sort of rules out any out-of-town trips. If the weather's bad, that limits the scope of possible activities. So, my question is: what would you do with a week with nothing to do, but nowhere to go?


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