Entry for July 17, 2007: Movies and more

Friends, I hope you've had a good week. After going to magazine size, we're still getting accustomed to different deadlines and workflows at CW. My latest article did make it into our first print edition in the new format. As usual, the D&D3.5 "Vanished Lands: the Broken Chains" and "Holy Steel" gamers have kept my weeknights busy.

On Saturday, 14 July 2007, I drove to used book shops in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in another attempt to sell the three boxes of science fiction and fantasy novels I had gotten from Robert A.S., who has moved to North Carolina. Speaking of moving, congratulations to college friend Corbin A.Y., who, like my brother Peter and Steve M.R., recently moved within Northern Virginia! Good luck also to David I.S., who'll be moving to Rochester, New York!

Later that afternoon, I met Brian W. & Beth S. and Thomas K.Y. at the AMC Framingham 16 for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." I thought that the movie version of J.K. Rowling's fifth novel in that fantasy series was well-done, trimming out many of the subplots and some of the lead character's adolescent angst. I'd give "Order of the Phoenix" a solid 8 out of 10 — I liked it almost as much as the Alfonso Cuaron-directed "Prisoner of Azkaban."

Of course, many people are looking forward to the seventh and final book, which I hope won't be too dark. In the meantime, there are other fantasy adaptations to look forward to, including "Stardust," "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian," and "His Dark Materials: the Golden Compass." After the "Harry Potter" film, we went to dinner at Cuban restaurant "The Naked Fish," where I've eaten with co-workers a few times. Janice was visiting her family in Upstate New York.

On Sunday, after playing "City of Heroes" with David I.S., Shari S., and Thomas K.Y., I picked up Ron J.K. at his brother's home in Brookline, Mass. We managed to catch an early matinee of "Live Free or Die Hard" at the AMC Chestnut Hill Cinemas. Bruce Willis' fourth flick in this series had decent action scenes, although the hacker-driven plot doesn't hold up too well under scrutiny. The "Hi, I'm a Mac" guy wasn't as annoying as I had feared he would be.

I wonder if former U.S. cybersecurity czar Howard Schmidt recognized himself in the Eurotrash villain. As with the PowerBook and the alien mother ship in "Independence Day," a mere laptop is capable of bringing down the nation's infrastructure. While the pyrotechnics and vehicular destruction were state of the art, the wary acknowledgement of our reliance on technology and government, and the post-9/11 fears of Armageddon were more interesting to me. I'd give "Live Free or Die Hard" about a 7 out of 10.

Ron and I stopped by my duplex in Needham Heights, Mass., to pick up some comic books. We grabbed a mini-burger dinner at the "Ground Round" before stopping by Newbury Comics and Borders Books & Music for to use coupons for music CDs (the new Amy Winehouse; see previous posting) and DVDs (the BBC/A&E's "Ivanhoe"). I then dropped off Ron back at his brother's place. Janice and I hope to see Steve A.L. and family this coming weekend.

In the coming week, I may screen the live-action (computer-assisted) "Transformers" with co-worker Brian F. After that, I should be done for a while with summer blockbusters. Of the previews I've seen, "The Bourne Ultimatum" looked decent, if not especially related to the Robert Ludlum espionage books I read back in high school. Another co-worker, Ken G., has marked the 25th anniversary of "Tron" and other influential genre movies at his blog at Showbits.net.

In addition to the BBC/SciFi Channel's revived "Doctor Who" and BBC America's "Robin Hood," I've been enjoying the remastered original "Star Trek," the crazy obstacle courses on G4's "Ninja Warrior," and VH1's "World Series of Pop Culture" trivia quiz show. Unfortunately, time limitations have forced me to miss "Psych" and "Eureka." In coming postings, I'll try to blog about politics (I can already hear some of my readers sigh in exasperation), gamer cohorts, and space!