March 15th, 2009

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Well Deserved Oscars

The Darling of Hollywood

At the Oscars the other week the surprise hit Slumdog Millionaire took a whole lot of honors, outside of the acting awards. Mrs. Dr. Phil had seen the movie in Holland MI when I was off to ConFusion in Troy MI back in January. Now this weekend Mrs. Dr. Phil is the one off at a conference/workshop and so on the way back from the airport, I swung by Celebration Cinema South at the M-6 freeway and Kalamazoo Avenue -- the one local Jack Loeks theatre we've never been to yet -- and caught up.

Actually, I hadn't made up my mind until the drive out to the airport. It was such a beautiful blue sky day, that spending a couple of hours inside a dark movie theatre seemed the perfect thing to do. (grin) Unfortunately, I'd misremembered the times at the various theatres, and so I was there at 1:30, but the movie wouldn't start for at least 45 minutes. Fortunately, I could just wander back to the Bravada and listen to the rest of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, the NPR news quiz show.

Slumdog Millionaire [R]
Celebration South #13, 2:15pm, $6.50

The mini review in the GRPress started off by describing this movie as "gritty." Oh yes, and more. And yet, it manages to be both a charming love story and triumphant, while honestly earning its R-rating, for all those things which are neither charming nor triumphant.

This is not a picture that could've been made in the U.S. While I'm sure that most Americans don't realize that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire had it origins "somewhere else", i.e. Britain, the real shock is not that this is the Indian version of the game show, or that the top prize is 20,000,000 rupees. It's that our characters come out of a childhood that can only, from my priviledged background, be described as a Third World nightmare. And coupled with an adult world of corruption and brutality which is also, I hope, not part of the American experience. And yet...

The story is told in flashbacks leading up to the top question of the game show, the comforting four-answer multiple choice interrogation of WWTBAM and the unexpected police interrogation. The performances of the children is outstanding and the diversity of locations and conditions, with many physical dangers, along with numerous plot twists, makes it a complicated woven tapestry. And since we want our main character to win, it is easy to buy into both the gritty realism and the fairy tale.

What makes the movie endearing is that two of the three children we're following manage to grow up relatively intact, educated -- and stay nice, despite all that happens to them. Mrs. Dr. Phil describes this as the fairy tale aspect of the movie. Sure, but I think it's important to the movie and its success that this is so. Because I could imagine a darker version where Jamal was raised as a con man, in which his sincere look and professed innocence is fake -- and the ending would be much like the ending to The Usual Suspects, where you cannot believe anything which has happened earlier.

In any event, Slumdog Millionaire isn't quite what you might've thought it would be. And that is a very good thing.

Do stay for the credits, because they do a lovely Bollywood production number on the train platforms.
Highly Recommended

Dr. Phil
dramatic-winslet

Two For Three In Software Upgrades

Never Rest, Never Surrender

If people weren't bastards, then one wouldn't have nearly as much pressure to upgrade software on computers. And one of the things which really annoys me is having to patch the OS, update anti-virus and upgrade firewalls -- none of which actually DO anything except run the computer and, hopefully, keep it safe. What a waste of time, all because a bunch of idiots have some misguided notion that they have a right to access my machines, mess with my data, steal my information, have demand rights on what little moneys that I have. Sonsofbitches.

ZoneAlarm

For the last several weeks, the Norton Anti-Virus on the Sony VAIO S270P laptop has wanted to give me a free copy of NAV 2009. Thing of it is, I installed NAV 2009 on the Fujitsu U810 and it was ugly. Basically the version on the install CD-ROM couldn't update itself and I had to download the updater from Symantec. Anyway, Symantec hates ZoneAlarm, so before I got around to do anything, I downloaded and installed the latest version of ZoneAlarm. Version 8 is leaner than Version 7, and claims to run faster. Hopefully it maintains itself as a decent firewall, because that's why I'm installing it.

NAV 2009 -- NOT

Pulled up the message saying they wanted to upgrade NAV to NAV 2009. Clicked on the link for More Information. Naturally it fired up my default browser, which of course is not Internet Explorer, and hung. I'd anticipated that, fired up IE, pasted in the URL and waited. And waited. Don't know what the problem was, maybe too many people were running the Symantec servers on a Sunday afternoon, but there's no way I'm going to do a huge download over the net if they cannot even load an informational web page.

Sorry Symantec. Fail today.

MathType 6.5

I've been using MathType 3.1, the full version of the Equation Editor used in Microsoft Word, for a long time. MathType 3.1, however, only runs for me on Windows 95, 98SE and NT4. I have a copy of MathType 5 for another machine, but I've been meaning to get a current version and hope that it works with my old MathType 3.1 equations in my Word 95 documents. I shouldn't have worried so much. Double-clicking on an equation in an existing file fired up the new MathType just fine. And now my Windows XP Pro machines will have proper equation editing, which makes my life a lot easier.

So... two out of three software upgrades went fine as they should. I suppose I should be grateful for 2-out-of-3. And to be honest, it was the FYI webpage at Symantec which failed to load -- I never got as far as upgrading NAV itself. Later on that one.

Dr. Phil
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Award Noms

Go Nikki!

Nichole Kimberling kimnik, fellow 2004 Clarion wayfarer, has her novel Turnskin on the short list for the Lambda Literary Awards. The Lambdas recognize excellence in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature. The awards will be announced on Thursday 28 May 2009.

Not only that, the independent press dedicated to publishing science-fiction and fantasy stories with gay and lesbian protagonists she runs with her partner, Blind Eye Books, ends up with two nominations for the current year. They had one last year as well.

Blind Eye Books publishes Tangle Girls, which includes the Dr. Phil short story "Under Suspicion".

LGBT SCI-FI/FANTASY/HORROR

* The Archer's Heart, Astrid Amara, Blind Eye Books
* The Magician and the Fool, Barth Anderson, Bantam Del Rey
* Wilde Stories 2008, Steve Berman, Lethe Press
* Sea, Swallow Me and Other Stories, Craig Gidney, Lethe Press
* Turnskin, Nicole Kimberling, Blind Eye Books

Anyway, congratulations!

Dr. Phil