Monthly Archives: June 2007
While cruising the Patent Office website, I came across the invention of the year, the Enertia® Home. As a house fanatic, I was intrigued. The uniqueness of the Enertia® home is in its passive temperature regulation system. A combination of an envelope around the home and the use of wood ensures a constant temperature inside the home during both summer and winter. In the summer, cooler air is circulated through the basement, heated in the envelope, and released out the attic. In the winter, air is circulated through the envelope where it is heated by the sun during the day and the basement during the night.
The most striking aspect of this ingenious design is its simplicity. The Enertia® system uses no moving parts and requires no power whatsoever. The inventor, Michael Sykes, initially based his design on the natural properties of wood. It may not be bamboo, but wood is a sustainable resource. The prototype failed to perform as he calculated. Rather than give up he changed the facts; he treated the wood so that its thermal properties would perform as he originally expected. That is the best kind of innovation.
Check out US. patent No. 6,933,016 for more details on this fantastic invention. Don't build it yourself and risk infringing this patent. Sykes is selling pre-cut kits for different home plans. All you need to supply are the foundation, electrical, plumbing, and labor. In a few months you can be relaxing in your uber-comfortable Enertia® Home and scoffing at your negligible utility bills.
Huzaa to Sykes and his amazing Enertia® home!
Some 2 star movies are really 3 stars movies. Some are really 1 star movies. Some are a travesty of lies.
On a lark, my wife and I decided to watch "Invincible". It was the kind of night when we really did not care what we watched so long as we both did not hate the concept of it. "Invincible" is one of those movies with an un-hate-able concept, the underdog surmounting all odds to succeed at sports. Neither of is a big fan of football, or as I like to think of it, "smear the ACL", but then again neither of us is a huge fan of interstellar wars and yet we both loved "Star Wars".
"Invicible" is a "true story" (more on that below) about football in the 1970s. I was only a wee boy in the 1970s, but from all accounts it was the worst decade ever. (Or at least the decade with the least hope for the future and the longest shirt collars.) Most of the actors in "Invinible" are your typical inner city working class types. They are supposed to sound Philadelphian but most sported the same accents when playing New Yorkers in NBC's short lived drama "The Black Donnelleys". The main character is Vince Papale, played by Mark Wahlberg. Movie Vince is a substitute teacher who played one year of football in high school but still regularly plays with this working class friends. Movie Vince is only the size of Mark Wahlberg and works as a substitute teacher. They goad him into trying out for the lowest ranked NFL team of 1976, the Philadelphia Eagles. Quite and soft spoken, Movie Vince relents and attends an open try-out.
My wife and I saw this movie in two parts. When little man screams, the 18 hour intermission begins. This led us to have time to reflect upon this movie. The movie, by the way, is also full of scenes reflection. Movie Vince only tries out for the Eagles after a time of quiet reflection. Then during training he reflects some more. He breaks a date with a super-hot football loving woman after reflection and then reflects upon his decision. He sits and reflects all over Philadelphia, in his car, outside the bar, and while walking down the street. During the interim I got to thinking that this guy sure does a lot of nothing.
At the end of the film, moving Vince makes a couple of plays and the restores the hope of an entire fanbase. My wife and reflected on the hour and half that led to one play. Post reflection, we felt a little disappointed.
I thought about all that quiet time. Was the real Vince Papale so trepadacious? Precious little internet research reveals "Invincible" to be, in fact, a lie. Vince Papale was actually a 6'2", 200 pound minor league football player. Vince earned an impressive minor league record and was invited to a training session by Eagles coach Dick Vermeil. When Vince retired from football, he became a TV broadcaster and then a marketing director. Vince was not an inexperienced player, he probably jumped at the opportunity to move from the minors to the majors, and he probably wasn't soft-spoken. The whole premise of this movie is pretty much crap.
So if you sorta' true stores filled with shots of Mark Wahlberg sitting quietly while looking at his feet, "Invincible" is a sure bet!
Continuing the series of 2 star movies, I am happy to report another film wrongly given the moniker of merely mediocre. Why did critics pan this war movie? Perhaps they just don't like peace films.
"Jarhead" is an anomalous war movie. It is about soldiers who want to shoot people but never do and a war that was necessary but doesn't seem to be about anything. The setting for "Jarhead" is the First Gulf War, formerly known as the "Gulf War" or "The Gulf War to End all Gulf Wars."
The last (and likely only other) movie set in the First Gulf War was "Three Kings". This movie was less about the Gulf War than it was about humanity. "Jarhead" is pretty much just about the First Gulf War and the experiences of one marine who "fought" in it.
The movie portrays the frustration of non-combat beautifully. For those needing a history lesson, only slightly more U.S. troops died outside of battle than in battle. We the audience get a glimpse of soldiers on an extended heightened state of alert and the woes that it brings. The morale of this movie is this: give war a chance because peace was figuratively killing these marines. Thankfully for the warmongers, we live in good times.
Not being a dope, I quickly questioned whether parts of the movie might were true. Boot camp seemed too harsh and the marines seemed too mentally disturbed during Operation Desert Shield, which is basically shown as operation drink, pee, and masturbate. I don't know if any of it was true, but I don't care. The controversial scenes were just likely enough to appease even my lawyerly, i.e. skeptical, mind and more importantly, they were fun to watch.
Kudos should be especially extended to the actors. Jake Gyllenhaal expands his range and shows us he can be an extroverted (though still sensitive) heterosexual. Jamie Foxx shows us that he can be in more than one decent movie. The other actors are also great at not being big stars. Give these guys a break and pin another star on "Jarhead".
Thus continues the long running series of reviews of two star movies. These movies all show up with two stars on my digital cable service. Who gives them the stars and the criteria for star giving is unknown. What is certain is that some movies are deserving of much better praise.
Have you heard about the new pirate movie? It was rated PG-13, er, it was rated aaarrrrrggghhh. Damn, I screwed that one up.
Last weekend I saw "Pirates of the Caribbean 3", days before I saw "Pirates of the Caribbean 2". This isn't the first time I have seen a sequel before the preceding sequel. I saw "Return of the Jedi" years before I saw "Empire Strikes Back". I had those moments like, "that's how Luke lost his hand!". Like "Star Wars", "Pirates" is one of those series of movies where so much is going on, "spoilers" do not mean much. I enjoyed "Pirates 2" knowing full well what was going to happen to all of the characters in "Pirates 3".
The "Pirates" movies have one great thing going for them, the pirates look all piratey. Most movies are full of beautiful people, and there are some lookers in the "Pirates" movies, but most of the pirates are scraggly, sunburned, dirty, wretches with rotting teeth and missing body parts. They look great! Other fine details abound: dirty ships, rich language, lots of sailing. There may be an anachronism or two, but the appearance of fish people indicates that these movies are not historical epics. Nevertheless, I feel an urge to visit a real sailing ship and learn more about pirating.
"Pirates 2" could be vexing because it is long and has no real ending. On the first point, the movie is 2.5 hours long, but every scene is entertaining and full of life. On the second point, I didn't care about the ending because I had already seen the sequel. I'd probably be pissed if I hadn't.
This movie is definitely above average in the fun to watch category. Only the criminally minded (a jealously star pirate perhaps) would give this movie a paltry two stars. The krakken deserves a star all on its own.
This movie is also notable in my mind for its level of violence and killing. It earns every bit of that PG-13 rating. Scores of pirates and innocent sailors are stabbed, eaten, drowned, blown up, and mercilessly cut down by the forces of evil. I would have loved it when I was 13.