The Empty Balcony: Red Dawn

The year 1984 was an unforgettable year in geopolitics, and not for the reasons George Orwell thought. Overseas, the Soviet Union was dealing with a wheat harvest from the previous year that matched lows not seen since the 1920s. Even the scorched earth of western Russia during the Nazi invasion saw more plenty. Things were worse in Poland, a situation the Soviets took advantage of after food riots began and the Soviets occupied the country as peacekeepers. Continue reading “The Empty Balcony: Red Dawn”

“Well, Looks Like Yer Gonna Need a Complete Overhaul.”

Site version #004 launched today. Movable Type on the backend, along with much input from tcc and stg54 on the new skin. My neighbors must think I’m the most unpleasant sonofabitch on the face of the planet. I’ve been working from home now for almost three years, and often the silence of my apartment is bookended by occasional profane explosions directed at a perfectly fine piece of code that just refuses to work. Such is my life as a web developer. Code is among the most elegant and evil of humankind’s inventions, a series of devices designed to enlighten and to obfuscate. Any rookie programmer, no matter the language, has the same experience when they first begin, the horrifying realization that code operates on its own logic, just different enough from what a lifetime of experience with ethnic and national languages has taught us, that the very way a person thinks has to accommodate itself to the demands of the code. In the end, even after becoming comfortable with a new way of thinking, problems usually turn out to be simple syntax error. For those of you unfamiliar with programming, imagine you were stone drunk and had to write a ten page paper due in the morning, and every time you made a typo, your word processing program would call you an idiot and refuse to work. But you’ve got tunnel vision, you can’t see what the error is. Then, in order to get something, anything, done, you search on the web for someone who has written a paper on the same subject as you, and blatantly plagiarize them. And that’s okay! Don’t worry, though. You’ll get better, or you won’t be able to find any work. Welcome to the world of website development. Continue reading ““Well, Looks Like Yer Gonna Need a Complete Overhaul.””

October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High

Class of Nuke Em HighWhat a shitty movie. From Troma Entertainment, a production company well-versed in churning out b-movie fare (most famously the Toxic Avenger series of films and its spinoffs), Class of Nuke ‘Em High is self-aware schlock. From the opening scene to the end, the filmmakers never miss a chance to remind the viewer that what they are watching is not meant to be taken seriously. But the way they choose to draw attention to this fact, with overwrought characters and performances, only serves to make the film feel forced. It revels in cheapness, and this would be a good thing, if only they weren’t trying so hard. At every step of the film, Troma seeks to establish its brand, reveling in its ineptness at putting together something that is watchable.

The film has a strong beginning. After an opening shot purposefully evocative of Troma’s production logo, the scene shifts to the fictional town of Tromaville, New Jersey, where an accident at a nuclear power plant has leaked radioactive goo into the high school next door. A hapless student is exposed to the contaminant when he drinks from a water fountain before class, and his transformation from stereotypical 80s film nerd to smoking corpse is hilarious. But in that scene is a first glimpse of the film’s downfall. Most of the ensemble cast is present, and all exist, like the poor victim, as caricatures of the diverse collection of jocks, losers, horndogs, and punks that populate the banal visions of high school typical of so many films from the 50s to today. The problem is, there isn’t a straight man among the bunch to balance things out. Continue reading “October Horrorshow, Spring Edition: Class of Nuke ‘Em High”