Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Movie time!

I was having an email conversation about the most quotable movies out there.  The ones where you can say a line and most everybody knows what you're referring to.  I found a list labelled The Top 10 Most Quotable Geek Films…Ever! which is as follows:

Anyway, spend fifteen minutes with geeks and you'll realize we brandish movie quotes like a samurai wields a katana. If you want a true geek movie list, you need a Top 10 of source material for all the best one-liners. Here's mine, The Top 10 Most Quotable Geek Flicks…Ever!:

  1. The Empire Strikes Back - If we're only going to pick one entry in the Star Wars lexicon, here's your moneymaker. Yoda alone is worth his muppet-weight in quotable gold, and the dialogue in this SW Episode is the snappiest and most memorable of them all. "No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try."
  2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - The Tech Blog guy had this right, just under-ranked. Holy Grail is pretty much a motherlode of geek quotations. I know at least a dozen people who could recite the film on demand. If you don't know why witches weigh the same as ducks, Lancelot's favorite color, or the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow, you're not really a geek.
  3. The Princess Bride - This movie singlehandedly turned the word "inconceivable" into a comedic catchphrase, and that's but one of about two-dozen must-know quotes and tropes that Rob Reiner's masterpiece delivered unto us.
  4. Superman II - "Kneel before Zod!" Any questions?
  5. Office Space - Occasionally dull, filled with only marginally likeable characters, with only the slightest hints of theme or meaning–yeah Office Space is pretty much the perfect example of the average geek's career life. And the nightmare-boss character of Bill Lumbergh is the painfully quotable scumbag we've all done professional time with at some point. "Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler…"
  6. Pulp Fiction - This movie was designed to be a quote-fest, and for once Tarantino wasn't so busy riffing off other peoples' work that he delivered. Most of the quotes aren't repeatable in polite company (which is part of the fun), but let's just say that, short of Snakes on a Plane, Samuel L. Jackson's entire list of personal catchphrases comes from this film. And I dare you to tell me that ain't worth the price of admission.
  7. Army of Darkness - Bruce Campbell is like unto a god–an insane trickster god–amongst geeky film nuts, and this movie is pretty much why. Absurd in the extreme, so campy it's painful, and the ultimate proof that you must fear the boomstick!
  8. Die Hard - Every single gamer who has ever appropriated an automatic weapon in any game setting under any circumstances has marked the occasion with this film's signature quote: "Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho." There are other jewels to be found here, but our profanity filter prevents their citation.
  9. Aliens - If this movie taught us anything–and it taught us a great deal, believe me–it was this most important lession: "I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."
  10. Tombstone - An underrated entry on most lists, but anyone who has seen this film knows the bounteous quotability of which we speak. How inexorably great is the dialogue here? It made the phrase "I'm your huckleberry" downright terrifying.
A pretty good start, but I disagree on a few choices.  Superman II?  Come on, you're kidding right?  Aliens, Die Hard and Tombstone are all movies I like, but do I quote from them?  Not so much.  So, given that here is my list:
1.  The Princess Bride - easily the most quotable.  No rational argument can be had.
2.  The Big Lebowski - A modern classic which could give The Princess Bride a run for it's money, if only it didn't use so many curse words.
3.  Ghostbusters - Probably lost on the younger generation, but the combination of Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Rick Moranis means great one liners from all corners.
4.  The Blues Brothers - It's 106 miles to Chicago, you know the rest.
5.  Office Space - If you work in a cube, you know this movie well.  Or you should.
6.  All of the Star Wars movies, not just Empire - These are not the droids you're looking for easily trumps anything Yoda said, no matter how backwards he says it.
7.  Clerks - Another movie hampered by excessive cursing.  Not a wise choice in polite company.  "I think I can see her kidneys!"
8.  Strange Brew - A personal favorite.
9.  Pulp Fiction - "I'll have the $5 milkshake."  More curse words.  I'm starting to see a pattern here.
10. Some sort of amalgam of Monty Python, including the movies and the TV show.  They all sort of run together in my head and I have a hard time separating them.
So, agree, disagree?  Did I leave something obvious off?  Leave a comment, let me know what you think.
Date:  July 18
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Suburban
Month to Date Miles:  253
Year to Date Miles:  2208
Date:  July 21
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  277
Year to Date Miles:  2232

Monday, July 21, 2008

George the Cyclist

Last year we made the switch and jumped ship from Comcast cable and internet to DirecTV and DSL through Qwest.  This July has made me aware that we may have chosen poorly, or at the very least didn't do our homework.  DirecTV, or at least our package, doesn't get Versus which means no Tour de France coverage for me this year.  I'm also terribly disappointed with the performance of DSL.  Maybe if I'd gone straight from dial-up to DSL it wouldn't be that big of a deal, but cable is clearly superior.  The one bright spot of the switch has been our conversion to a DV-R.  Being able to watch what we want, when we want, and the ability to forward through the commercials is fantastic.  Anything less would be uncivilized.
Anyhoo, The Tour.  I've been halfheartedly following it online but the exitement just isn't there when reading stage summaries and other print type info.  My one shining discovery has been that of George the Cyclist. George is a gentleman who is following the Tour by bicycle.  It's really quite an impressive feat, considering the distances.  He is not required to follow the entire course, and therefore can take shortcuts when they are available.  But he's still covering a lot of ground, as he wrote on Saturday:  "And today is a much anticipated rest day. I'll till do 50 or more miles on the way to Foix, the Stage 11 finish. I've done at least 100 miles four of the last five days, so half that will be a relieve [sic]." 
One of the most fascinating things I have found is George's attitude toward touring.  A credit card tourer he is not.  His daily food budget is running something along the lines of $10.  And considering the dollar's weakness that's damn cheap.  Shopping at the local supermarkets, freebie handouts from the Tour Caravan and dumpster diving seem to cover the main portion of George's dietary needs.  From another post:
I was able, however, to supplement my supplies with some Sunday dumpster-diving. It has been chilly enough in the foothills of the Pyrenees that four liter-sized bottles of citrus-flavored water were still perspiring, not having cooled to air temperature. Four deli sandwiches in sealed wedge-shaped plastic containers with an expiration date of the day before were also refrigertor temperautre. A bag of croissants and a day-old "L'Equipe," perhaps the prize of the dive, rounded out my harvest. They help the budget. It has taken a hit of late having to cough up three to five dollars for a drink to watch The Tour in a bar when I'm not watching it at the Finish Line. So far I've been in bars for the conclusion of six of the ten stages. When I usually don't even spend ten dollars a day on food, five dollars for a drink is an extravagance...

A very different take on the Tour.  And while I may not always know who is winning by reading George, I certainly feel like I know mour about the Tour.

Friday, July 18, 2008

In which I contemplate mortality

In reviewing my mileage for the year (a worthy activity for a Friday afternoon in the office) I come to the realization that I haven't been on a Hiawatha ride since April 19th.  Nearly a full calendar quarter.  Egad.  I won't be going tomorrow either.  I'm going to attend a memorial service for a high school friend's father.  I find myself somewhat conflicted about how I'm to feel.  Even though he was one of the teachers at our high school I never took a class from him and didn't know him well.  He was just one of many incarnations of The Enemy, parental authority, from the perspective of a 17 year old.  Somebody who would spoil our good time if our plans were discovered.  Not that our plans were ever all that nefarious.  We were basically a good bunch of kids with our fair share of ill conceived ideas.  I remember he had a lot of remote control cars and planes in the basement and took his son, my friend Steve, hunting.  Then, and now, he seemed like a good father and a decent guy. 
In high school I had a solid core group of 6 friends, including myself.  There were others who were at various places on the friend/acquaintance scale but these 6 were The Core Group.  Steve was the oldest of us and the first to get his drivers license.  First to be able to legally buy beer.  Also the first to be able to illegally buy beer, due to his ability to grow a bitchin' beard at age 18.  And now, unless I've missed one, he will be the first to lose a parent.  I also found out this week that another friend from the group's father has been diagnosed with cancer and has about 6 months to live.  So this may mark the transition from seeing friends only at weddings to seeing friends only at funerals.
Funerals are for the living, not the dead is what they always say.  So even though I was not emotionally attached to the deceased I will attend the funeral for my friend, and feel for his loss.

Date:  June 20
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  282
Year to Date Miles:  1849
Date:  June 23
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  306
Year to Date Miles:  1873
Date:  June 24
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  330
Year to Date Miles:  1897
Date:  June 25
Distance:  34
Ride Type/Bike:  Sail Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  364
Year to Date Miles:  1931
Date:  June 26
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  388
Year to Date Miles:  1955
Date:  June 27
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  412
Year to Date Miles:  1979
Date:  July 1
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  24
Year to Date Miles:  2003
Date:  July 2
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  48
Year to Date Miles:  2027
Date:  July 7
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  72
Year to Date Miles:  2051
Date:  July 8
Distance:  31
Ride Type/Bike:  Sail Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  103
Year to Date Miles:  2082
Date:  July 9
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  127
Year to Date Miles:  2086
Date:  July 9
Distance:  4
Ride Type/Bike:  Family/Suburban
Month to Date Miles:  131
Year to Date Miles:  2086
Date:  July 10
Distance:  29
Ride Type/Bike:  Sail Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  160
Year to Date Miles: 2115
Date:  July 14
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  184
Year to Date Miles:  2139
Date:  July 15
Distance:  21
Ride Type/Bike:  Sail Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  205
Year to Date Miles: 2160
Date:  July 16
Distance:  24
Ride Type/Bike:  Commute/Kuwahara
Month to Date Miles:  229
Year to Date Miles: 2184

Friday, July 11, 2008


I was surprised to find that I've ridden nearly 1000 miles on the Kuwahara this year and hadn't posted about it. Consider that situation rectified (rectified him? damn near killed him!). I picked this bike up for a fair price on eBay last fall with the intent of making it into a rock solid commuter. When I got the frame it included a Sugino crankset, Suntour AR front and rear derailleurs, a Kuwahara brand headset, a no name black quill stem and no name drop bars. Oh yeah, and a seatpost.
There's not much info out there on the web about Kuwahara bikes. The biggest claim to fame for the brand is that all the bikes used in the movie E.T. were Kuwaharas. They were a pretty big player in the BMX market in the 80s, but there's not much info out there about their adult bikes. From what I've read Kuwahara was a Japanese company who built frames both under their own name and for many others. Some of the brands they built for were Schwinn, Takara, Puch, Concord, Apollo, Azuki, Nishiki, Centurion and possibly Diamond Back. There seems to be a lot of Kuwahara tandems on the secondary market.
Some of the models of adult bikes were the Caravan, Supertour, Gran Sport and Gran Tour. The script lettering showing the model on this bike is all but illegible. According to a stamp on the frame, this bike was built in 1984. There's nothing on the frame to indicate what type of tubing it's made of, but the interweb says it's most likely something by Ishiwata.
I pulled the stem and bars off and replaced them with a Nashbar 1" quill to threadless adaptor and a cheapie Nashbar 10cm stem. I then bought a set of Albatross bars from Rivendell to make this a more upright commuter/townie setup. I was in Erik's bike shop one Sunday afternoon buying a new cone for my Premis' rear axle and got to talking to the guy about brakes. I picked up a set of Tektro brakes while I was there, and rounded out the cockpit with a set of black leather grips with red trim courtesy of Hiawatha.
I removed the original Suntour downtube shifters and added a set of barcons that I bought at Hiawatha. Mark actually pulled them out of the bars on a bike he was building up, as they were out of stock at the time. What service! I had an old Suntour downtube stop in the parts bin. I also picked up all new cables and housing at Hiawatha.
I found a pretty good deal on a rear wheel on craigslist, a Sun CR-18 rim laced to a Sora hub. I retrued the wheel and added an 8 speed SRAM cassette from Nashbar. For the front wheel I'm currently running the front from an older set of Campanolo wheels I bought at the bike swap a few years ago. At some point I plan to get a better wheelset, but these are getting the job done for now. Because this bike originally had 27" tires/rims and I switched to 700c I needed to get longer reach brakes. I found a pair of used brakes via the iBob list that are working out just dandy. At some point I plan to replace the pads with Kool-Stop Salmon pads, but no rush on that either. I'm currently running Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, which give the bike a great ride.
I added a set of Planet Bike Cascadia fenders I found via craigslist. If you ask me, the silver of these fenders looks great with the silver and black paint scheme.
I splurged and bought a new Brooks B66 from Hiawatha, with the nifty springs. They're squeaky when I go over bumps, so at some point I'll probably grease up the contact points. You can see my Brooks un-approved rain cover tucked under the saddle, an old Byerly's bag.
As you can tell, I sort of threw this thing together with a wish and a prayer. I've blended Shimano, SRAM and Suntour components in the drivetrain. And the only issue I've run into is that the rear Suntour AR derailleur doesn't have enough reach to get into the lowest or highest gear on the 8 speed cassette. I'll upgrade this at some time, but so far it hasn't been a huge issue. I'm sure if I tried to switch to indexed shifting I would run into trouble. But friction is treating me just fine. I'm incredibly pleased with how everything meshed together and I'm loving the overall ride of the bike. Now I just need to figure out some racks so I can stop hauling my messenger bag on my back.