As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

April 30, 2005

Hitchhiker's Guide

I saw The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy last night. Marvin the Paranoid Android (2005 version) Overall, I wasn't very impressed. On the one hand, I laughed a lot, but on the other, I was bored to tears. It was instantaneously funny, but taken in its totality, it was very dull. I couldn't wait for it to be over, which is such an odd feeling when you're laughing at a hilarious conceit.

Still, there were some bright points. Alan Rickman, as the voice of Marvin, was predictably wonderful. I think Mos Def was a great choice to play Ford Prefect, although I was a little disappointed with Sam Rockwell's Zaphod Beeblebrox -- internally, I've always thought of the mini-series version of the character, so I had a hard time adjusting to Rockwell's disco-freak/George W. Bush approach. The travel through the world-building scene was just as fantastic as I'd ever imagined it (worth the price of admission, really).

I spent a lot of time in the Hitchhiker's Universe in the late eighties and early nineties. I wasn't a fanatic, but I was surrounded by people who were. I wonder if maybe the movie is much more fun to people who don't already know the plot and the main jokes. Still, it had been years since I'd really thought about the Hitchhker's Guide; it was great to rediscover the ridiculous absurdity of it all.

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April 29, 2005

The Wrongness

The wrongness.

Donald Rumsfeld with Spidermand and Captain America

It's come to this, has it?

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So I'm stuck at home because the road into town is so icy you'll slide off the edge on the steep parts unless you have chains. Grrr. Driving down to class I was stopped at the top of Matress Corner by a line of idling SUVs trying to decide whether to risk it. Apparently one had already driven off the side of the road. Six or seven years ago on a similarly icy day some dipshit (he went to my high school, actually, although I can't remember his name) passed me and my sister on the straight-away and roared down the hill. When we crested it thirty seconds later, we saw his truck flipped in the ditch at the same spot.

Today I decided not to risk it, even though it's the last day of classes. I've already missed Fourier Analysis but had thought that the fog might clear enough to melt the road in time for me to make it to Set Theory. No such luck. The sun peeked through for a little bit, but the fog has descended again.

So here I am writing blog entries instead of going to class. Grrr. Finals are next week.

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April 14, 2005

White, Christian, . . . Terrorist?

I've been surprised by the epithets used to describe Eric Rudolph, the man behind the Atlanta Olympics bombing, as well as the bombings of abortion clinics and a lesbian nightclub, who has recently avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty and helping the police find his caches of explosives.

NPR calls him a "serial bomber," the New York Times doesn't use any epithets, Fox News calls him a "confessed murderer." I don't understand why the press doesn't label him as a terrorist. He did, after all, admit to wanting to scare people. This is a textbook case of domestic terrorism.

CJR thinks misusing the label of "terrorist" doesn't matter much, beyond reducing the utility of the adjective, but I disagree. I think it is very important that we recognize that terrorism is an American phenomenon, too, that you don't need brown skin and a funny accent to be a terrorist, that Islam doesn't cause terrorism — extremism, of any kind, does.

All to often the "terrorist" label becomes a rhetorical device, used to associate negative imagery with whoever the speaker disagrees with. Witness Bush Education Secretary calling the National Education Association a "terrorist organization," or the standard practice of calling the Earth Liberation Front eco-terrorists. ELF isn't interested in causing terror, or even killing people; they want to cause property damage. They're criminals, to be sure, but not terrorists.

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April 10, 2005

Veronica Mars Renewed

Yay! In a sign of the impending apocalypse, UPN has renewed Veronica Mars! The show is an odd duck, hard to classify; it is both witty and noire, at times heartfelt, and at others, gothic. In short, it is the kind of show critics like and people don't watch (ratings-wise it draws fewer viewers than Enterprise, although it also probably costs a third as much to produce). It is nice to see UPN invest in good, albeit cheap, shows with bad ratings.

The show has hinged on several related year-long arcs — it will be interesting to see what happens when they have to come up with new conflicts. A large part of the characterization so far has been accomplished through revelation, rather than through growth. That's clearly not sustainable; I can't wait to see what happens next.

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Via TrekToday comes the hilarious news that Brannon Braga's new TV show, named Threshold, is about humans evolving because their junk DNA is activated.

Unfortunately, this is surprisingly similar to what is almost certainly the worst episode of Star Trek, ever, an infamous Voyager episode, written by Braga, coincidentally also called "Threshold."

In "Threshold," we are told that Tom Paris, along with B'Elanna Torres and Harry Kim, has developed a way to break the "Warp 10 barrier" and achieve infinite speed, whatever that means. After a test run in a modified shuttle, Paris returns to the ship and starts "evolving," gets a forked tongue, kidnaps Captain Janeway and runs away with her in the shuttle. When Voyager finds them, three days later, they've both evolved into giant amphibian thingies and they've had sex and produced mutant amphibian babies.

Needless to say, the Doctor uses some technobabble voodoo to turn Paris and Janeway back, and we never heard about the incident again.

So, not a particularly auspicious beginning for Threshold.

This all raises the question of what the hell happened to Brannon Braga? He was once the golden child of The Next Generation, penning, among others, the innovative TNG episodes "Reunion", "The Game", "Cause and Effect", "Parallels", and "All Good Things". He also wrote my favorite Voyager episode (and one of my all-time favorite episodes in the Star Trek canon), "Living Witness".

But his work on Voyager and especially on Enterprise has been mediocre, cliche-ridden, and really quite awful. It seems that he was much better as a staff writer on TNG than as a showrunner for Voyager and Enterprise.

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DeLay is Toast

Yesterday, as I was driving down the mountain, the DJ on KBCO (a Clear Channel station, no less) played a song from the the Nirvana album Nevermind and then wondered if maybe Tom Delay puts on head phones and listens to the album in the Library of Congress. I kid you not.

Somehow a DJ who clearly has only a passing understanding of the organization of the Congress and the federal government has heard of Tom DeLay's troubles and cares enough to poke fun at him on the air.

I kind of wish DeLay would stick around, so Democrats could have someone to kick in the midterms.

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April 1, 2005

Thanks, Y'All

I went to see an Indigo Girls concert tonight in Denver, with Jonah and my mom. They played in the lecture hall at the Convention Center, which was weird. It was oddly sterile and corporate. The concert was good, although it was a lot more laid-back than when I saw them at Red Rocks with Scott. They kept on apologizing for the high ticket price. My mom's new house is five and half blocks from the venue, so at least we didn't have to deal with parking. As you would expect, there were lots of lesbians and families in attendance. It's nice to have queer-positive entertainment that's family friendly too.

When I got home, I found Picabo had eaten an entire bag of Jolly Ranchers and a box of Celestial Seasonings tea bags. The mind boggles.

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So I'm participating in a group blog that Ben has set up at

Ben has more or less turned his old blog into this new one and a bunch of us are posting on it. Every good group blog I know of has some kind of theme or topic — and the posters on the blog are extremely knowledgeable about that topic. This allows the blog to form a coherent identity.

We don't have a topic, and none of us is particularly knowledgeable about anything of importance (except for maybe Anwar), so it should be an interesting experiment, to say the least.

We've structured it so that comments (by us) on posts are also on the front page. We'd like it to be less a blog than a public conversation among friends. Of course Ben seems to be using it as his main blog, so you can look forward to lots of poems from poets you've never heard of, quotations from books you read in high school, and, of course, Juliet Binoche. You can also look forward to the rest of us piling on when Ben writes something stupid. Nonplatonic is an odd name for a blog by seven friends — to the best of my knowledge none of us has nonplatonic feelings for any of the others — it is a vestige from Ben's earlier days.

I'll still be posting here, but I'll be posting things I'd like to have a conversation with them about at We'll see how it goes.

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