Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Top Ten Superman Moments

If you’ve never heard of Wayback, you're missing out on one of the greatest innovations of the internet, ranking right up there on my personal favorites list with Google, Wikipedia, Amazon and YouTube. Oh, and Pandora, but that’s also relatively unknown, and thus a topic for another day. But I’m not here to talk about Wayback, that internet archive founded as a nonprofit organization in 1996 and located in the Presidio of San Francisco. Go there to access broken links and deleted pages.

*Ahem.* No, what I want to talk about is some video from their free online movie archives.

Yes, Superman as it existed in 1941 pre-movie shorts. I had originally planned to do a summary of this particular episode, but I think instead I’ll just dwell on some of the memorable, must-see moments. Here’s a top ten for you, in chronological order.

# 1:
Krypton Goes Boom

“There came a day when giant quakes threatened to destroy Krypton forever. One of the planets leading scientists, sensing the approach of doom, placed his infant son in a small rocket ship and sent it hurtling in the direction of earth just as Krypton exploded!”

You know, completely leaving aside the planet-exploding earthquakes that managed to take this ‘race of supermen’ so entirely off guard, the last time I checked Superman could fly in space. Fly away, people! Fly away!

The Evil Plot:

“Beware—you fools! My electrothanasia-Ray strikes tonight at 12. Total destruction will come to those who laughed at me and failed to heed my warnings. Beware—I strike at midnight!”

I just love how the mad scientist feels it necessary to recap the first three sentences. Key concepts: Beware. Midnight. Bwahaha.

‘Electrothanasia’ would be a cool name for a band.

Lois Flies the Plane:

Lois will go to any lengths to get a scoop, even if it means stealing planes and flying without a pilot's license. Now there's a liberated woman.

The Mad Scientist Bebop:

A still image really can’t do his unique stair-descending method justice. I think I watched him go down those stairs about fifteen times. Skitter, skitter, skitter.

Damsel in Distress in Three Steps or Less:

“I’m a reporter for the—“ **KIDNAPPED**

1. Fly to isolated island
2. Introduce self to mad scientist
3. Get kidnapped.

Honestly, Lois, you can pilot a small fighter plane but you can’t come up with a better plan for confronting the mad scientist than to knock on the door?

This Looks Like A Job For Superman:

“On the stroke of midnight the deadly impact of his mysterious ray smashed the famous tower bridge, hurling cars and pedestrians into the river below.”

I guess Superman missed the line in the memo where it said 'I strike at midnight.' He was thinking noon. Oops.

No Telephone Booths For Superman:
(or Superman’s Striptease)

Another scene that still images can’t do justice to. Gotta love his little peek to see if the coast is clear. X-ray vision aside, the door has a window.

Watching the man of steel tiptoe across a room is entertaining too.


You know, structurally, if your building is flopping from side to side you should probably just take it down.

Superman VS Electrothanasia Ray:

Superman can punch lasers. Because he is just that super.

And Stay in There!:

The question was posed on Superdickery: does Superman actually have any authority to arrest people? I can’t say for sure, but clearly he is allowed to incarcerate people by literally throwing them into a jail cell. Unless he keeps his own private prison in the basement.

"That's for all those people I forgot to save!"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Your Attention, Please

Rather than pay attention to the professor my brain is following random tangents. For instance there are a lot of ways to respond to a question asked by the professor, and they all indicate something different. For example:

Entire arm extended and impression of rigor mortis (flagpole position): I would like to answer the question.

Mad waving accompanied by excited vocalizations: I am a second grader who has infiltrated this university level course because I would really like to answer the question.

Hand shot into the air with a force sufficient to launch arm into orbit: I know the answer and I would like everyone to be aware of that

Hand up, elbow propped on desk (half-mast position): I am waiting to be called on, and it is a long wait.

Arm draped across top of head, hand stubbornly raised: You can pretend you don’t see me as long as you want but I will outwait you.

Arm flat on desk, hand or fingers raised: I know the answer but I have no vested interest in providing it.

Arm close to body, hand by face: I timidly proffer an answer or I am telling secrets.

Arm up, one finger raised: I would like to insert a comment or I inform you that you are ‘number one.’

Elbow propped on desk, hand loose and in front of face (stealth postion): I am attempting not to attract attention by blending with the herd. If I remain motionless you can’t see me.

Hands folded under chin: I am attempting to look thoughtful because I do not know the answer and I am praying that you will pick someone else.

Hand up at diagonal angle, wrist rotated: Sorry, I was just stretching.

Hand open, fingers flexed: I am confident.

Hand open, fingers curled: I am unconfident.

Hand closed, fingers curled: I am preparing to punch you.

Eye contact, no hand: I am prepared to answer the question.

Eyes on notes and/or desktop: I am pretending to study because I am not prepared to answer the question.

Eyes closed: I am not prepared to answer the question because I am asleep.

Abrupt departure from room: I would not like to answer the question.

Adware, Round 2

I can't seem to shake this dratted adware virus. Drastic measures must be taken. However, seeing as I have a spanish ensayo due in about an hour now is probably not the time. ...Fear the six-legged spiders!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Protection Racket

My computer is infected with malware again. This as distinguished from all the other ‘wares’ such as hardware, software, goodware, and eveningware. These infections happen from time to time, and generally necessitate me devoting a substantial chunk of my life to running various cleaner programs and scans, tracking down patches, and generally spending hours deleting file after file of self-replicating computer-slowing adware, worms and trojans while hunting their evil hive mother.

A while back I got concerned that I hadn’t renewed my subscription with McAfee, and finally unpocketed the money to keep my computer safe again. It came as no surprise that an initial scan found more than 50 infected files. The surprise came later, when after repeated scans and cleanings my computer was inching along like molasses, slower than ever. A painstakingly tedious crawl through a Google search fingered the most likely culprit. McAfee Antivuirus was hogging all the system resources. Yes, I paid $50 for a program which apparently planned to keep my computer safe by not allowing it to do anything.

Now I use Avast Antivirus, which I like not just because it’s free and it allows my computer to function at a reasonable speed, but also because it has a little voice that keeps me informed of my computer’s status. Virus detection is accompanied by a siren and calm but urgent computer voice: ‘Caution--a virus has been detected. Caution--a virus has been detected.” It’s just like being a starship captain!

Avast is great about alerting me to problems and taking out the head-on attacks, but the more subtle Trojan style malware downloaders occasionally take additional legwork on my part. In my current situation, Avast has taken out a baker’s dozen of adware programs, but the source lives on, as evidenced by the pop-up windows that spawn everytime I load a new page. The variety of advertisements that have infiltrated my computer is as fascinating as it is bewildering. I can understand why sleazy sounding sites promoting things like online poker, discount tropical vacations and 'the playphone' would consider drastic measures to get my attention, but what about ‘The World’s Most Popular Intelligence Test’ by Tickle? Is this really the sort of thing that necessitates aggressive, no holds barred marketing?

The big names that pop-up also disturb me. ‘Yahoo! HotJobs.’ ‘AccountNow Prepaid Visa.’ Do these companies not know they are being advertised by people who are downloading trojans onto my computer? Is this some sort of free service provided by the adware people? How is this even legal?

My favorites, of course, are the variety of ‘Malware Protection’ sites that flash their advertisements onto my screen (through the employ of malware) accompanied by ingenuous little queries like ‘Is your computer running slower than usual?’ They warn about potential malware being downloaded to your computer, privacy violations, or (I love the wording): ‘dangerous adult content.’ It’s so sweet of them to offer protection from the many reprehensible types on the internet such as themselves. Very old-school mafia.

These malware protection racketeers also number among the sneakiest of the ads, making liberal use of fake system notifications, windows alert style pop-ups, and supposed system scans which return a list of infected files on my system with scary sounding names like TrojanWorm.SoBig and EvilAdware(Downloader).bug. I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I think my current virus protection software is more than capable of detecting malware which openly announces its nefarious intentions right in its file name.

Of course, any attempts to halt the automatic download of their program prompts a barrage of warning windows: ‘Download is not complete!’ ‘Your system is still infected!’ ‘Click any button below to continue download!’ They’ve even managed to inveigle themselves into the places of the ad banners of the sites I’m visiting. Now five seconds after page load the same banner flashes warnings at me from at least three different locations on the page. My favorite has spiders all over it. Because adware, like spiders, is very scary.

But nothing can rival the baffling error box prompted by my refusal to seek my secret local crush:

Yes. Click ‘Cancel’ to accept. It’s all so clear.

I’m scheduling boot-time scan.