Deadlier Than the Male (8/10)

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Besides maybe Danger Diabolik, I haven’t seen many “Eurospy” movies—cheap, Bond knock-offs produced in Europe in the sixties. Surprising, this movie was rather good. It’s funny, exciting and looks great. This is not just a spoof of Bond, but takes itself rather seriously despite the lighthearted tone. How can you complain about a movie in which the main baddie is a cigar-based assassination happy Elke Sommer.

Drupal, Pathologic and Corrupted URLs

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I’ve been having some technincal issues with this site lately. Strange links to content within the site have been appearing at random. I would insert a hyperlink to an archived post and then, days later, I would come back to see that the URL has been rewritten with a random sub-domain prefix. My domain would appear as or similar.

I am not entirely sure what was going on but I think bots and the Drupal Pathologic module are to blame. Pathologic is a great module that will convert any internal site link into a standardized absolute URL. In my code I would create a link with an href of “node/1098” and Pathologic would convert that href to “”. However, I suspect that when various bots crawled my site they used weird sub-domain prefixes in hopes of doing… I don’t know what?! Occasionally, one of these bots must have triggered a cron job, and my links were rewritten with the phony sub-domain. Seems feasible, right? If there is a real reason why this was happening, let me know in the comments.

The bad links could be fixed by opening a node and re-saving them. I used the Resave Nodes module to bulk save everything again. However, by the next morning the bad links had returned. The phony sub-domains were still being crawled. The next step was to use a rewrite rule in my .htaccess file that would force all subdomain traffic to a non “www” prefixed URL of the site. I then re-resaved everything, an so far thing are back to normal. Again, if you know what’s going on, shoot me a comment.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (9/10)

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The final film in of The Hobbit trilogy is an improvement over the second movie. While it is still a bit heavy-handed with the CGI, there are fewer eye-rolling, physics-defying action sequences. It may have also helped that I watched this one in 3-D. The 3-D really gives the digital characters an added bit of weight and presence when sharing the screen with flesh-and-prosthetic actors. The first third of the movie is really just tying up plot lines from Smaug (the whole Gandalf vs. the wraiths thing could have been cut out completely IMHO) and the rest is the titular battle without much deep plotting. However, the spectacle of it all is worth it and they really ratchet up the stakes in the climax. Again, it pales in comparison with The Lord of the Rings but holds its own for the most part.

Gemini Rue on PC (8/10)

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Gemini Rue is another enjoyable point-and-click adventure from Wadjet Eye that has a sci-fi noir theme. Having gotten used to the click for any action mechanism of other Wadjet games, I was a little thrown off by the strange “actions” pop-up interface. You click on a hot-spot and then have to chose whether to use your eyes, hands, mouth or foot. I eventually got used to it, but the few times I was stuck in the game, it was because I forgot I had a “foot” action that I could use.

The story is split between Azriel (your typical noir anti-hero on a quest to find his brother) and Delta-6 (a captive in a prison colony where memories can be erased and the prisoners are being trained for some unknown purpose). Both halves of the story are interesting and much of the motivation to continue on is in finding out how these two worlds connect. The big twist is not terribly hard to predict, but I still was satisfied by the ending.

My only complaints about the game are with its somewhat tedious room-traversal in the name of solving some relatively simple puzzles. There is also a shooting mini-game mechanic throughout the game that is okay, but doesn’t really add much. Other than those points, the game is worth trying out. The graphics are nice and pixelated and the music is excellent (buying it on includes the soundtrack).

Cold Sweat (6/10)

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This is an hour and a half of Charles Bronson being an unflinching tough guy. Seems Charles’ old war-prison buddies caught up with him as he was trying to make a new life for himself as a boat captain in the South of France. Besides a long car chase near the end, this isn’t the most action-packed action movie. I think it is most noteworthy for James Mason’s horrible American accent. Still, I do love watching Bronson do his thing. (Watch it online)

The Three Languages of Politics by Arnold Kling (9/10)

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Essential reading for understanding that people who might disagree with politically are not evil or stupid, they are just speaking a different political language. This is the guidebook for engaging in civil political discourse without the silly hyperbole and hatred that permeates political discourse within new media. In the book, Kling separates political ideology into three different axes: “oppressors vs. oppressed” progressives, “barbarians vs. civilization” conservatives, and “coercion vs. freedom” libertarians. The point isn’t that any one of these ideologies is correct, it’s that understanding the three languages will help you better understand your own political biases as well as be able to discuss issues without assuming that your opponent is being irrational or dumb.

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons (9/10)

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This is a Stephen Chow kung-fu film through and through. There’s the standard wire-fu action and stunts, lots of humor, a couple of song and dance numbers and lots of terrible CGI. Although it’s not quite as good as Kung-Fu Hustle or Shaolin Soccer, I’m rating it pretty high for its amazing opening set piece. If you can ignore the fake-looking digital effects, it’s an unrivaled heart-stopping twenty minutes of excitement and energy.

Something in the Shadows by Vin Packer (8/10)

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I really do like Vin Packer’s pulp thrillers. This book continues her knack for creating conflicted and dark characters who never seem to be able to catch a break. A brainy writer seeks revenge after his cat is killed by a motorist. The suspected motorist is the new doctor in town who has a past he wants to forget. These stories always are are a little lacking in terms of plotting and resolution but they do a great job in showing the depths to which people will sink.

Send by Wire - CD (9/10)

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Send compiles seven of its eleven tracks from the first two Read & Burn EPs. Of the remaining four new songs, only “Mr. Marx’s Table” stands out. While I really liked these first few 2000s releases when they came out, I think they have been eclipsed by later recordings as the band began to rediscover themselves.