Monthly Archives: February, 2007

Review: Ghost Rider

Mark’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Johnny Blaze a motorcycle stunt rider with a carnival sells his soul to Mephistopheles in a bargain to cure his father’s cancer. The next day Blaze Sr. dies in motorcycle accident. Johnny blames Mephistopheles for his father’s death, but is still bound by his contract. Years later, Mephistopheles calls on Johnny Blaze to become the Ghost Rider and prevent Blackheart from stealing the contract of San Venganzas.

Fans of the original 70’s comic book may find themselves enjoying this movie, as will lovers of chessy flicks1. Which is to say this movie is no great work of cinematography, but it is an enjoyable film. And one I have no hesitation in recommending for anybody to enjoy at a matinee or a cheap seats theater.

1 E.g. Army of Darkness

Bloody Weather

We got hit with a blizzard warning for the weekend and last night things were not looking pretty out the windows. Then about 6:30 PM, the power went out. Fortunately, our house has a fireplace so we were able to stay warm until the power came back on around 1:00 AM this morning. We trooped up to bed, got a few hours rest and then went outside to shovel the sidewalks. *blech* Days like today make me hate having a corner lot (twice the sidewalks to shovel). The sidewalks had 4 layers on them: snow, slush, ice and water. It made shovelling the walk even more hellish than usual. Fortunately we have kind neighbors who lent us their snowblower which got rid of the snow and some of the slush. But that left us with plenty of ice and water. A few hours of backbreaking labor later, we had the sidewalks as clean we were going to get them and came back inside. Gack. You have to love living here; otherwise you go insane. I have the pleasant advantage of not loving it, but keeping my sanity locked in a box so I never lose it. :p

Interesting Couple of Days

Sunday night both Ariesna and I were feeling a little run down. Monday we both woke up sick. Not sure what her symptoms were, but I had a sinus pressure so bad I was dizzy. I slept through almost all of Monday, but around dinner time got up enough energy to head downstairs. And that night we had an unexpected visitor.

I was watching some videos on my computer when all of a sudden Ariesna was shouting. I looked over and saw something flying around. Turned out a bat had somehow worked it’s way into the house but then was scared and flying around freaking out Ariesna. We locked our cat in the bathroom. Closed as many interior doors as we could and opened the door to our porch. Then after much cursing and effort we were able to drive the bat out onto the porch. All the time we’re doing this, our cat is wailing and crying most pitifully from the bathroom. Though as soon as we let him out, all was well. *shrug* Go figure.

Then Tuesday we’re both still feeling under the weather. I work from home liberally dosed with cold & sinus meds and feeling a bit tired, but closer to being back in the land of the living. Later that night, I mute the TV during some commercials to talk to Ariesna and we hear some rather pitiful wailing from our porch. I look out through the windows to investigate and find one of our neighbors’ cat (was wearing a collar) is sitting out there. Since it was a warm night, I just left him alone but I felt kind of bad about it. I did check the neighborhood email list but there wasn’t any reports of a missing cat. Plus several of the people in the area feel it’s ok to let their pets run free1 so I figured it would just go home soon afterwords. I did keep looking out and after a couple of hours it eventually left but I still feel kind of bad about leaving it out in the cold2. Mind you, I’m not going to let a strange cat into my house with our current cat. But I suppose I could have let it into the screened portion of our porch.

Today I made it into the office, still slightly down but significantly improved. Ariesna stayed home sick again. Then she went to the doctor and found out she’s got pneumonia. *wheee* She gets to stay home the rest of the week as she can’t risk transmitting that bit of plague to the kids at her preschool. It also blows our plans for Friday and the weekend. Ain’t life grand? *sigh*3

1 No, I do not share that opinion. It’s dangerous for the pet (could be katnapped, run over, hurt, lost, etc..).
2 The weather recently warmed up, so it wasn’t all that cold but still…
3 Yes, this post is mostly a pity party for us. :p

Review: Pan’s Labrynth

Pan's Labyrinth Movie Poster

Mark’s Rating: 4 out of 5

A dark, brutal and depressing movie that touches the heart. Pan’s Labyrinth was imported form Spanish (original title: El laberinto del fauno) and is a modern fairy tale. Don’t let that fairy tale description fool you, this is no film for young children. The setting is somewhere in the countryside of Spain, 1944. Ofelia is a young child who dreams of fairies as she goes with her pregnant mother to meet her new stepfather. Her stepfather is a ruthless captain in the Spanish army who works to put some a rebellion in the region.

Convert from AMM to Now Reading

As part of my upgrading to the latest/greatest version of WordPress, I switched over to using the Now Reading plugin from AMM. I switched because development on AMM seems to have come to a complete halt and it was acting somewhat flaky prior to the upgrade. One of the big problems with switching over was I didn’t want to have to manually enter in all books I’d already read and rated. As Now Reading supports storing so much more data, I had to write a bit of custom SQL to import my existing info. It’s not a great solution, mostly because AMM didn’t store all of the same info (e.g. date entered, started and finished).
INSERT INTO wp_now_reading(b_added, b_started, b_finished, b_title, b_nice_title, b_author, b_nice_author, b_image, b_asin, b_status, b_rating, b_review)
SELECT amm_dateadded, amm_dateadded, amm_dateadded, amm_title,
REPLACE(REPLACE(LCASE(amm_title), ',', '' ), ')', '' ), '(', '' )
, ' ', '-' ), '...', '-' ), ':', '-' )
, '!', '-' ), '?', '-' ), '&', '-' )
, '\'', '' ), '--', '-' ), amm_author, REPLACE(REPLACE(REPLACE( LCASE( amm_author ) , '.', '' ) , '&', 'and' ) , ' ', '-' ), amm_smallImageURL, amm_asin, 'read', amm_rating *2, amm_userComments
FROM wp_amm amm
WHERE amm_ProductGroup = 'Book' AND amm_asin NOT IN (SELECT b_asin FROM wp_now_reading);

This short script copied over all my books for me and got everything setup as well as could be expected given the differences in the data. Below is a list of the assumptions I made in writing this script to convert to Now Reading:

  • AMM only stores one date, so I used that for all dates on the books I copied over.
  • The above script limit itself to books and skips any already in your wp_now_reading table.
  • Now Reading has additional fields the title & author. I’m not sure what the “b_nice_author” field is used for, but the “b_nice_title” is used when you go to edit a specific book. The format of the “b_nice_” fields seems to be to replace anything other than a letter or a number with a hyphen and to have all the letters be lower case. I tried to make sure I did the same with my script, however you may need to double-check your data before running this to make sure I didn’t miss a symbol you used.
  • I marked all the books I was copying over as “read”.
  • AMM only allowed ratings of 1 – 5; while Now Reading allows 1 – 10. So when I copied the ratings over, I doubled them.

NOTE: If you have questions about this script, post them in the comments here. Keep in mind that I’m not providing full fledged support for the script and if you don’t know how to run this without asking, then you probably shouldn’t be messing with it. Also, if you’re really going to try running this script, then for god’s sake backup your database FIRST!

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