Wednesday 29 May 2013

Movie Review: Mud

Meat and potatoes. No big budget special effects. No eye candy. An excellent story with well thought-out characters. No empty calories here; just meat and potatoes. You push yourself away from the dinner table and you feel satiated. It's been a good meal.

According to Wikipedia, the budget for this film was $10 million. Compare that to Fast and Furious 6 with a budget of $160 million or Star Trek Into Darkness pegged at $190 million or the $200 million spent on Iron Man 3. Is that comparison stunning or what? Just what the heck does ten million dollars get you? Well, humorously enough, it gets you 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, a near perfect score with critics everywhere lauding this as a masterpiece. Take that, Tony Stark.

But before anybody goes running off to the movie theatre, let me remind you that "masterpiece" in air quotes doesn't always translate into "popular". If you got a hankerin' for a car chase, this ain't the movie; Vin Diesel is probably what you're looking for. But as much as Domini Toretto (Vin Diesel's character in Fast & Furious) is a cartoon character in a special effects extravaganza, Matthew McConaughey's Mud and the rest of the cast are a fascinating cross-section of real America. This may not be the America we personally want to be a part of, but it is certainly a significant part of the population. These people are the 47%; these people are the uninsured. (Some references to the politics of the past year or so.) The great American dream is that any one of us can become a success. Work hard enough and you're going to make it. The problem, as I always point out, is that for every millionaire lottery winner out there, there are nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine losers. Mud is working at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Not everybody achieves success.

With a nod of thanks to the film critic Jim Emerson writing for the web site Roger Ebert, I quote the American literary critic Leslie Fielder:

"To be an American (unlike being English or French or whatever) is precisely to imagine a destiny rather than to inherit one; since we have always been, insofar as we are Americans at all, inhabitants of myth rather than history."

The central character, Mud, is a fugitive hoping to re-unite with his old girlfriend and escape to happily ever after. By mere chance, he manages to enlist the aid of two teenage boys who help refurbish an abandoned motorboat in which Mud and love will sail off into the sunset. Along the way, we are introduced to a number of side plots about the boys, their families, the girlfriend, and the reason why Mud is a fugitive. These aren't science fiction special effects; these are vignettes of life which could very well be a part of any of our lives.

Jeff Nichols did double duty as director and writer. He credits Mark Twain and the book Tom Sawyer as inspiration for the story. From The Hollywood Reporter:

"Tom Sawyer did something very specific. It captured a sense of being a child in a particular time in life," he says, then, at the risk of “hyperbole” adds, "Twain is the greatest American writer to have lived."

Final Word
I enjoyed it but admit this falls more into the category of an "art film". In other words, you have to be in a certain mood. Psychological dramas can be riveting if you're "into it" or boring as hell if you're not. Nevertheless, there should be enough action here, sometimes quirky action, to keep anybody keen to see what's coming up next. I recommend it and am once again reminded that good doesn't necessarily mean big budgets and special effects. Ten million dollars? Geesh, that's peanuts in the world of film making.


Rotten Tomatoes: Mud: 99%
Bolstered by a strong performance from Matthew McConaughey in the title role, Mud offers an engaging Southern drama that manages to stay sweet and heartwarming without being sappy.

Wikipedia: Mud (2012 film)
Mud is a 2012 American coming-of-age film written and directed by Jeff Nichols. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Sam Shepard, and Reese Witherspoon. The film competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, and had a limited release in select theaters on April 26, 2013.

official web site: Mud


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Sunday 26 May 2013

Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

Abominable, abysmal, amiss, atrocious, awful, bad news, beastly, blah, bottom out, bummer, careless, cheap, cheesy, crappy, cruddy, crummy, defective, deficient, deplorable, diddly, dissatisfactory, downer, dreadful, erroneous, fallacious, faulty, garbage, godawful, grody, gross, grungy, icky, imperfect, inadequate, incorrect, inferior, junky, lame, lousy, not good, off, paltry, poor, raunchy, rough, sad, slipshod, stinking, subpar, substandard, synthetic, the pits, unacceptable, unsatisfactory, wanting, wretched, wrong, sucky, terrible, unspeakable, defective, faulty, flawed, egregious, flagrant, gross, bum, cheesy, coarse, common, crappy, cut-rate, junky, lesser, low-grade, low-rent, mediocre, miserable, reprehensible, rotten, rubbishy, second-rate, shoddy, sleazy, trashy, abominable, odious, vile, useless, valueless, worthless, insufficient, lacking, meagre, mean, miserly, scanty, shabby, short, skimp, skimpy, spare, stingy, miscreant, scurrilous, villainous, counterfeit, fake, phony, sham.

Years ago, I walked out of the second film of the series, 2 Fast 2 Furious, after thirty minutes. It was just about the dumbest thing I had ever seen. Obviously, I haven't learned my lesson, so how dumb does that make me?

I wasn't expecting Christopher Nolan, but I had been given to understand the action sequences were good. Good? I need a four letter word for ludicrous. Maybe if I'm fifteen years old with no life experiences, I might find these over-the-top testosterone fueled physically impossible car chases entertaining. But while fiction is arguably "not real" in air quotes, I like my fiction to have a degree of plausibility. If it's not plausible, it's not believable. If it's not believable, I can't buy into the premise. And if I can't buy into the premise, the entire film is just plain stupid.

By the numbers
Here's a run-down of the franchise and while I shake my head at the ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, these movies do turn a profit. Obviously I am in the minority when it comes to not liking these films.

The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Budget: $38 million
Gross: $207 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Budget: $76 million
Gross: $236 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 36%

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Budget: $85 million
Gross: $158 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%

Fast & Furious (2009)
Budget: $85 million
Gross: $363 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 27%

Fast Five (2011)
Budget: $125 million
Gross: $626 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)
Budget: $160 million
Gross: $275 million (worldwide) (as of May 26, 2013)
Rotten Tomatoes: 72%

Final Word
Why did I go see this movie? Because I am stupid, idiotic, dumb, dopey, foolish, boneheaded, thick, doltish, dull, dim, obtuse, slow, unthinking, nitwitted, and unintelligent. Like the second film of the series, it crossed my mind that I should walk out but I had slapped down my credit card and was determined to grit my teeth and see it through to the bitter end. And, at the bitter end, we got a tidbit of the next film in the series, Fast & Furious 7, by showing a scene with Jason Stratham who, I'm guessing, is going to be the next baddie. Enjoy if you will. I'm planning on being busy that day shampooing my hair.


Rotten Tomatoes: Fast & Furious 6: 78%
With high-octane humor and terrific action scenes, Fast & Furious 6 builds upon the winning blockbuster formula that made Fast 5 a critical and commercial success.

Wikipedia: Fast & Furious 6
Fast & Furious 6 (alternatively known as Fast Six or Furious Six) is a 2013 action film written by Chris Morgan and directed by Justin Lin. It is the sixth installment in the Fast and the Furious film series.

Wikipedia: The Fast and the Furious (series)
The Fast and the Furious is a series of action films which centers on illegal street racing and heists. Produced by Universal Studios, the series was established in 2001 with the eponymous first installment, which has since been followed by five sequels, and two short films that tie into the series.

my blog: Fast Five
I'm surprised. Number five was the first film of the series which hit the mark by getting a decent rating from Rotten Tomatoes. In re-reading my review, I seemed to have found it not bad. Not great, but not bad. Unfortunately, number six didn't hit the mark with me.


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Saturday 25 May 2013

The Rolling Stones: Dandelion

Prince or pauper, beggar man or thing
Play the game with ev'ry flow'r you bring
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion

One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, four o'clock chimes
Dandelions don't care about the time
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion

Tho' you're older now its just the same
You can play this dandelion game
When you're finished with your childlike prayers
Well, you know you should wear it

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailors lives
Rich man, poor man, beautiful, daughters wives
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion

Little girls, and boys come out to play
Bring your dandelions to blow away
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion


Published on Aug 28, 2018 by Steven Dunetz

Wikipedia: Dandelion (song)
"Dandelion" is a song by the English rock 'n roll band The Rolling Stones, written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and first released as a B-side to "We Love You" in August, 1967. An apparently lighthearted song (with references to the English children's game of using the seedheads of dandelions as clocks) albeit with an undertow of wistfulness, it reached #14 in the United States, and effectively became the A-side there (as the edgier "We Love You" disappointed at #50 on US charts). This is reflected in "Dandelion" appearing on both the US and United Kingdom versions of Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) in 1969, while "We Love You" appeared only on the UK version.

Wikipedia: The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones are a British rock band formed in London in 1962... Rolling Stone magazine ranked them fourth on the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" list... In 2008, Billboard magazine ranked the Rolling Stones at number ten on "The Billboard Top All-Time Artists" and as the second most successful group in the Billboard Hot 100 chart.


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Friday 24 May 2013

3D Printing: more videos, info

In a previous posting 3D Printing: The Star Trek replicator is here?, I discovered 3D Printing, comparing it the replicator of Star Trek. I was so blown away by this technology and potentially how it could change our everyday lives, I have been scouring the Net for videos and other articles detailing the process. While the creation of an object is in itself startling, my research showed me examples of 3D Printing involving complex objects made up of components. Instead of creating a series of parts then putting the final product together, I could create, for instance, a mechanism consisting of a number of gears which all mesh correctly and interact when turned. At the moment, 3D Printing should probably be considered in its infancy but what it currently is capable of doing shows a lot of potential.

Uploaded on Jan 15, 2012 by Garen Phillips
How A 3D Printer Works (15:01)

Uploaded on Jan 17, 2012 by Garen Phillips
How A 3D Printer Extruder Works (10:22)

Liberator 3D printed Gun
Cody Wilson of Defence Distributed published the specifications of this 3D gun. (Wikipedia) Named after a WWII gun, the FP-45 Liberator, the 3D files were apparently downloaded over a hundred thousand times before the U.S. government stepped in to investigate a violation of the gun laws and had Wilson remove the files from his web site.

The following picture shows the various pieces making up the gun; all created using a 3D printer except a household nail used as the firing pin. And the bullet, of course.

Is this dangerous? Cody Wilson himself in a television interview admitted there is always the potential of somebody using new technology to harm other people. But in the end, other analysts have pointed out the potential of good with 3D Printing far outweighs the bad. Whether it's 3D printing or just buying a gun on the street, somebody who wants to do harm is going to do harm. Will the ability to create a gun mean in the long run that statistically the number of shootings rises? Can it get any worse than it already is?

Final Word
Wow, wow, and more wow. My mind is going a mile a minute mulling this one over. Some prognosticators have talked about 3D Printing turning the manufacturing world on its head. Instead of me going out to the store and buying, let's say a wrench, I could go to the Internet, download a specifications file, and then make one right in my own home.


Google image search: 3D Printing

Google video search: 3D Printing

Wikipedia: 3D printing
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).

Published on Aug 9, 2012 by Technion
Escher for Real The Belvedere, Waterfall, Necker Cube, Penrose Triangle 3D Printing from Technion
Many people are familiar with the work of M.C. Escher. We have all learned to appreciate the impossibilities that this master of illusion's artwork presents to the layman's eye. Many of the so-called 'impossible' drawings of M. C. Escher can be realized as actual physical objects, Prof. Gershon Elber of Technion's Faculty of Computer Science has done just this. His research team has developed a unique CAD application for designing "impossible" 3D objects, with the 3D printer in Technion's Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning The Belvedere comes to life in a 3D model.


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Sunday 19 May 2013

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

This is the movie where I go right and the Star Trek franchise goes left. This is the movie where I stopped caring. This is the movie where I say that I get new packaging but the same old thing.

But it's not the same old thing. This is a new Star Trek, a reboot of a very popular science fiction series targeting a new generation of potential fans of a five year mission which has been going on now for over 40 years through movies, other series, animated shows, games, books, and God knows what else. God knows? There is a fan-made Internet series called "Phase II" based on the original series. Yes, fan-made and the quality isn't half-bad. I have no idea where the money comes from to support such an endeavour but if you're a diehard fan of the original series, this would be a place to get your fill.

I have always enjoyed Star Trek: the original series, the movies, the various other related endeavours like The Next Generation which was terrific. However in 2009, we had the reboot of the franchise with a brand new cast re-doing the original series. While many people liked it, I didn't. I asked the simple question of why redo what had already been done. The Next Generation was a new story, the same familiar theme but a new story. The 2009 reboot was re-telling a story which had been told. Were there not any new stories to be recounted?

Into Darkness is the same. For a new generation of potential Trekkies who are not familiar with the original series or who find it a quaint throw-back to an era of kitsch special effects and minimalist sets, they are going to be entertained by the latest and greatest of state of the art movie making and a dazzling array of special effects in 3D and IMAX. It is truly a blow-your-mind sensory overload. But isn't it re-doing what has already been done?

The movie makers trot out Khan as the bad guy. Khan? I'm sorry, Ricardo Montalbán did a fabulous job of reprising his role of Khan from the original series episode Space Seed in the second movie The Wrath of Khan and as far as I'm concerned, this requires no retelling. Am I being a fuddy-duddy? There have to be a zillion untold stories. Why rehash which was already done and done well? The Wrath of Khan remains in the eyes of the critics the best film of the Star Trek move series based on the original.

Leonard Nimoy makes a cameo? Why? Call me a party-pooper but I didn't get it. I loved Leonard as Spock but throwing him into the mix again for gratuitous nod to a by-gone era didn't make any sense to me. As odd as it sounds, I wasn't happy to see him.

Dr. McCoy has a tribble? (Wikipedia: The Trouble with Tribbles) Kirk reports to Christopher Pike? (Wikipedia: The Cage) Stop with the references, already! Maybe your novice Trekkie is going to go, "Oooo" but I'm sitting here trying to reconcile these throwaways with the episodes from the original series and you are asking me to take a big, I mean really big leap, in logic. Yes, it's a work of fiction but that doesn't mean it shouldn't follow a reasonable series of steps. I can't stand a writer throwing some sort of deus ex machina into the mix because he's painted himself into a corner. I already have to accept the premise of warp speed and teleportation. Isn't that enough?

When the very first Star Trek movie Star Trek The Motion Picture was made back in 1979, somebody decided to base the story on a similar idea from an episode of original series called The Changeling. Considering its dismal showing at the box office, you would think somebody would take a serious look at re-telling existing stories. Okay, if the target audience is twenty years old unlike yours truly clocking in at sixty, the bunch of them is going to be totally unfamiliar with all that old sh... er, stuff. We don't need William Shatner as Kirk when we have the young Chris Pine who, by the way, is perfect for Kirk. I think he captures that 1960s young Shatner to a tee. But for me, it is a question of why. The Next Generation was the next logical step. Why go backwards?

Final Word
The film is top notch. It is good entertainment and it is a good follow-up to the 2009 reboot of the series and a worthy entry in the franchise. If you're a fan, go see it. If you are hauled off to the flicks by a fan, you will have a decent time of it.

But for me, it's the same old same old. (Maybe I am a fuddy-duddy after all. Ha, ha!) The latest razzmatazz but basically this ground has been covered before. I have no doubt there will be another film involving these characters however I'm thinking right now I may be busy that day. Something about laundry or shampooing my hair.


Rotten Tomatoes: Star Trek Into Darkness: 87%
Visually spectacular and suitably action packed, Star Trek Into Darkness is a rock-solid installment in the venerable sci-fi franchise, even if it's not as fresh as its predecessor.

Wikipedia: Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Into Darkness is a 2013 American science fiction action film. It is the twelfth installment in the Star Trek franchise and the sequel to 2009's Star Trek.

Rotten Tomatoes: Star Trek (2009): 95%
Star Trek reignites a classic franchise with action, humor, a strong story, and brilliant visuals, and will please traditional Trekkies and new fans alike.

Wikipedia: Star Trek (film)
Star Trek is a 2009 American science fiction action film directed by J. J. Abrams, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman and distributed by Paramount Pictures. It is the eleventh film of the Star Trek film franchise and features the main characters of the original Star Trek television series, portrayed by a new cast.

Wikipedia: Star Trek (film franchise)
The Star Trek film franchise is the cinematic branch of the Star Trek media franchise.

Wikipedia: Star Trek fan productions
Star Trek fan-made productions are productions made by fans using elements of the Star Trek franchise. Paramount Pictures, CBS, and their licensees are the only organizations legally allowed to create commercial products with the Star Trek name and trademark.
[Good lord, I had no idea these things even existed. I have watched a couple of episodes of "Star Trek: Phase II", completely done by fans, and was surprised that it is better than you would have expected. Even George Taei and Walter Koenig from the original series have guest-starred.]

Wikipedia: Star Trek: Phase II (fan series)
Star Trek: Phase II (formerly known as Star Trek: New Voyages) is a fan-created science fiction series set in the Star Trek universe. The series was created by James Cawley and Jack Marshall in April 2003. The series, released exclusively via the Internet, is designed as a continuation of the original Star Trek (aka ST:TOS or just TOS), beginning in the fourth year of the starship Enterprise's "five-year mission." The first episode of the series was released in January 2004, with new episodes being released at a rate of about one per year, though producers have expressed their desire to accelerate production.

official web site: Star Trek: Phase II


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Monday 13 May 2013

3D Printing: The Star Trek replicator is here?

replicate (transitive verb): to duplicate, to repeat

replicator (noun): a fictional technology from Star Trek:The Next Generation. This machine was capable of reproducing objects, originally seen synthesizing meals on demand.

3D Printing or additive manufacturing is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object from a digital model. The "additive process" puts down successive layers of material in manner resembling printing. Unlike a printer which puts down one layer of ink on a piece of paper, this process puts down a layer of material (heated plastic or powdered material mixed with a solidifying resin) then returns to put the next layer on top of the previous layer gradually building up the three-dimensional object. Normally we would think of complex objects being made up of a series of components. We would produce each component then assemble them to create the complex object. However, more sophisticated 3D printers can produce complex objects consisting of multiple parts such as gears that actually move and interact.

This isn't quite the replicator from Star Trek but to view what 3D printing technology is currently doing is astounding.

3D Gun
What prompted me to look at 3D Printing were the headlines about one Cody Wilson who has 3D printed a gun, the Liberator .380 single shot pistol, and successfully test fired it. His non-profit organisation Defense Distributed was intent on publishing open source gun designs but has now come under the scrutiny of law makers. As of May 9, 2013, the U.S. Department of State ordered Defense Distributed to remove the download links for the STL files of the gun's design. Nevertheless, the plans had already been downloaded from the company's web site thousands of times so they are now out there in the world.

Is this a wake-up call? Has this brought to the forefront a technology which is probably unknown to the average person in the street? Is Wired Magazine justified in calling Wilson one of the 15 most dangerous people on the planet? (Wired)

A Manufacturing Revolution
Picture what the Internet has brought us: access to information. What's playing at the movies? How about a new recipe for banana bread? I wonder what the Jones have been up to lately. The sky's the limit. All you have to do is find out the right keywords to type into your search whether on Google, Yahoo, or Bing, then you have pages, no hundreds of pages to sift through to find precisely what you want. It's no longer a question of going to the public library; it's all there at your fingertips.

Now imagine this. Instead of going down to neighbourhood hardware store to buy an adjustable wrench, you downloaded a design file for one then made it. Yes, you made it. Right in your home!

Uploaded on Sep 9, 2011 by FunTheoryVideos
Amazing 3D Printer (4:27)

Development of objects is done in CAD software which outputs a STL file, STereoLithography, read by a 3D Printer. However, another file format is in use, an AMF or Additive Manufacturing File, is more advanced and allows for support for colour, different materials, and other intricacies of 3D design. I think of downloading, for instance, a PDF which contains a document. I print the file and then hold in my hand the document. I download an STL or AMF file, I print the file in a 3D Printer and then hold in my hand the object.

Additive vs. Subtractive
Traditionally, we have worked with a subtractive process. If I take a piece of wood, I whittle it down until I get what I want. If I take a piece of metal, I grind it down to make the necessary piece as you would see in a tool and die shop. 3D Printing on the other hand is an additive process. You add material layer by layer building up the object you want.

While this may at first seem to be limited, there are examples like the wrench above, where the final object is made up of component parts. Those parts, like gears, can interact so the resulting object does not necessarily have to be a single thing; it can be a complex object made up of individual parts.

It would seem that 3D Printing was not cheap and might have been strictly the domain of companies. However, there are now 3D Printers specifically made for the home user in the range of one or two thousand dollars. It is also possible to purchase parts and assemble your own 3D Printer and reduce the overall cost of the machine to under a thousand, maybe only a few hundred dollars. As with anything, as the demand goes up, manufacturing competition will become greater and hence prices will come down.

Rapid Prototyping
Industry seems to have taken a shining to 3D Printing as a fast and inexpensive way of prototyping designs. Rather than machining a part, you could 3D print a part and assess in three-dimensions if your design works or not. The plastics used in the layering process might not be as hard as metal, but as you see in the above video, those plastics can in some cases be hard enough to produce a working wrench. That's today. What are the developers of this technology going to come up with tomorrow?

Printed Firearms
It would seem that technology ends up in two things: war and sex. Printing a gun seems like an obvious objective of this new technology and a quick search of the web returns a number of articles talking about 3D Printing is also found its way into the sex industry. Instead of buying a sex toy, you could download the design file and make your own. (Google: 3D Printing and sex)

Is this the apocalypse? Or is this the collective we panicking at something new that it doesn't understand? Is Cody Wilson a bad man or just a rebel wanting to push the boundaries of society? There is no doubt about it. Whether it's Cody Wilson or not, somebody was going to try to do it. With any new technology comes new issues. But you are not going to be able to stop it. Cody has proven it's possible. This is going to happen. (Below, the 3rd video is a documentary about Cody Wilson by Vice Magazine. It's worth a look to understand what printed guns mean for society.)

Final Word
Wow. Like really wow. Okay, this isn't anything like the replicator on Star Trek but heck, can you see the potential? Do you see what this means? This is going to transform the definition of making things, of manufacturing. What did home computers, home printers, home faxes, and home scanners do for remote work, for home offices? What is 3D printing going to do for home workshops? What is it going to do for home life? If I don't have a wrench, I can go to the Internet, download a file then make a wrench for myself on the spot.

I've only scratched the surface in discussing 3D printing. It may not be like a replicator but I can certainly see where this is headed. What are we going to see ten years from now? We won't be able to create things out of thin air but we are going to have something capable of creating things from base materials even in our own home. The future does look exciting.

3D printed Valve Handle

Google image search: 3D Printing

Google video search: 3D Printing

Wikipedia: 3D printing
Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques, which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).

Wikipedia: Cody Wilson
Cody Rutledge Wilson (born January 31, 1988) is an American law student and self-proclaimed crypto-anarchist and free-market anarchist. He is the founder and director of Defense Distributed, a non-profit organization that develops and publishes open source gun designs, so-called "Wiki Weapons," suitable for 3D printing.

Wired Magazine - Dec 19/2012
The 15 Most Dangerous People in the World By The Staff of Danger Room
There used to be an established order to the world. A structure to things. You couldn't print a gun like a term paper. It was impossible to wreck a nuclear production plant with a few lines of code. Flying robots didn't descend on you in the dead of night and kill you in your home.

But that order has been upended. Cheap videos in California help spark riots in Cairo. Lynchpins of the Middle East now rant about 'Planet of the Apes' in public, and Iranian generals trash-talk David Petraeus over SMS. The world has gone a little haywire — sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Here are our choices for the 15 people most responsible for making it that way.

[Like me, I am sure some of these names are going to be unknown to you. Nevertheless, Wired's reasoning behind the selection of each of these names to their list of the most dangerous is quite eye-opening. This is an article worth reading. Today's world is truly a different world.]

15: Paula Broadwell
14: Cody Wilson
13 and 12: Matthew Dooley and Mark Basseley Yousef
11 and 10: The Stealth Jet Whistleblowers
9: Ahmed Abu Khattala
8: Eugene Kaspersky
7: The Men Behind the China Aviation Industry Corporation
6: Sheikh Ahmed Madobe
5: Mohamed Morsi
4: John Brennan
3: Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman
2: Bashar Assad
1: Qassem Suleimani

Published on Apr 5, 2012 by ObjetGeometries
3D Printed Snake, Gears, Art, Wrench and more.. (8:05)
Sam Green of the Objet blog explains the whole range of capabilities enabled by Objet's advanced 3D printers - from full assemblies (movable 3D printed snake and brain gear), to multi-material art and product prototypes to ABS-grade functional prototypes (adjustable 3D printed wrench and even a working 3D printed peeler).

Uploaded on Jul 19, 2011 by ObjetGeometries
Printing a Giant Wrench with a 3D Printer (4:21)
3D printers can be used to create virtually any object directly from a computer aided design. This video shows how an Objet Connex 3D printer can produce 6 different size adjustable wrenches from 5cm in size to 50 cm in size - all in one print run. All the wrenches contain fully-movable parts and were created with no assembly. The wrenches are made of Objet's ABS-like material which has the strenght and toughness of ABS-grade engineering plastics.

Published on Mar 25, 2013 by vice
3D Printed Guns (Documentary) (24:10)
Cody R Wilson has figured out how to print a semi-automatic rifle from the comfort of his own home. Now he's putting all the information online so that others will join him.
This is a story about the rapid evolution of a technology that has forced the American legal system to play catch up. Cody Wilson, a 25 year old University of Texas Law student, is an advocate for the open source production of firearms using 3D printing technology. This makes him a highly controversial figure on both sides of the gun control issue. MOTHERBOARD sat down with Cody in Austin, Texas to talk about the constitution, the legal system, and to watch him make and test-fire a 3D-printed gun.

Treehugger - Sep 10/2012
10 Tools You Can 3D Print for Your Garden
1. Birdhouse
2. Plant Pot
3. Fence Post Cap
4. Trellis Hooks
5. Hand Rake
6. Slug Trap
7. Valve Handle
8. Watering Spout
9. Seed Spacer
10. Question Mark Planter


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Sunday 12 May 2013

Alexander Rybak: Fairytale

Years ago when I was younger
I kinda' liked a girl I knew.
She was mine, and we were sweethearts,
That was then, but then it's true

I'm in love with a fairytale
Even though it hurts.
‘Cause I don't care if I lose my mind;
I'm already cursed

Every day we started fighting,
Every night we fell in love.
No one else could make me sadder,
But no one else could lift me high above

I don't know what I was doing
But suddenly we fell apart.
Nowadays I cannot find her.
But when I do we'll get a brand new start

I'm in love with a fairytale
Even though it hurts.
Cause I don't care if I lose my mind;
I'm already cursed

She's a fairytale
Even though it hurts.
Cause I don't care if I lose my mind;
I'm already cursed


Uploaded on Feb 25, 2012 by marie45276

Wikipedia: Fairytale (Alexander Rybak song)
"Fairytale" is a song written and composed by Norwegian violinist/singer Alexander Rybak, and the first single from Rybak's debut album Fairytales. This song was the winner of the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russia.

Wikipedia: Fairytales (Alexander Rybak album)
Fairytales is the debut studio album by the Belarusian-Norwegian artist Alexander Rybak. It was released in Norway and most of Europe on 29 May 2009. Most of the songs on the album are written and/or composed by Rybak himself.

Wikipedia: Alexander Rybak
Alexander Igoryevich Rybak, born 13 May 1986 in Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union is a Norwegian singer-composer, violinist, pianist, writer, and actor. Representing Norway in the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow, Russia, Rybak won the contest with 387 points—the highest tally any country has achieved in the history of Eurovision—with "Fairytale", a song he wrote and composed. His debut album, Fairytales, charted in the top 20 in nine European countries, including a No. 1 position in Norway and Russia.

official YouTube channel: Alexander Rybak

Uploaded on May 14, 2009 by EurovisionGR
YouTube: Eurovision 2009 WInner - Norway Alexander Rybak Fairytale
The song was elected through the Norwegian festival Melodi Grand Prix 2009 on 21 February, winning in the biggest landslide of the contest's history, and competed against eighteen other Eurovision entries in the second semi-final on 14 May 2009, where it qualified for the final. The final took place on 16 May and the song won with 387 points – a new ESC record. It was Norway's third Eurovision Song Contest win.

The backing dancers for the Eurovision performance, Sigbjørn Rua, Torkjell Lunde Børsheim and Hallgrim Hansegård, are from the Norwegian dance company Frikar, performing the folk dance halling. The backing singers, Jorunn Hauge and Karianne Kjærnes, wore long pink dresses designed by Norwegian designer Leila Hafzi.


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Friday 10 May 2013

Freedom = no rules. No rules = anarchy.

On April 30, 2013, a 5-year-old boy shot and killed his 2-year-old sister in Kentucky. (Washington Post) It was a tragedy, but a headline like this certainly stirs the pot about the issue of gun control. In the wake of other shootings, certainly Sandy Hook and the death of school children, there has been much debate about guns and what can be done to reduce violence in America. While proposals to enact new laws governing firearms like background checks seem to be supported by the majority of the public on both sides of the political divide, the pro-gun lobby, a strong and vocal minority in the U.S., managed to quash recent attempts to reform gun control.

On May 4, 2013, I posted the following tweet pointing to an Op-Ed:

NY Times: 2 Killings and 2 Guns, Unattended Should I be free to be negligent? #GunControl #LouderThanGuns #GunLaws

Later that day, I received two replies to my original posting.

Robb Allen ‏@PantsFree - May 4/2013
@wqbelle How many children died this year from other negligence? I bet you don't know because you only care about guns.

Sean D Sorrentino ‏@sdsorrentino - May 4/2013
The problem is that you want to take my freedom because of someone else's negligence. NO. @wqbelle

These two gentlemen raised issues I had talked about elsewhere so I tweeted back to both of them links to two other articles I had written about gun control.

Guns: as American as apple pie ‏@PantsFree @sdsorrentino

Sandy Hook, Gun Control and the Right Answer ‏@PantsFree @sdsorrentino

In the first article, "Guns: as American as Apple Pie", I discuss an incident where a man, armed with a concealed handgun, accidentally discharges his firearm while standing in a checkout line at Wal-Mart. It turns out that he had a permit to carry a concealed weapon so him having the weapon was perfectly legal. Gun enthusiasts pointed out the man's mistake as he did not have a holster and had not properly secured his gun. Case solved. Case closed. But I asked the question why anyone would be armed buying milk in Wal-Mart. Is Wal-Mart so dangerous, am I risking my life by shopping there?

In the second article, "Sandy Hook, Gun Control and the Right Answer", in discussing the shooting at Sandy Hook, I asked what the collective we, society, should do for the benefit of the many. I compared this to driving a car. I must pass a driver's test. I must follow the rules of the road. I am not allowed to speed; I must wear a safety belt; and I must come to a full stop at all red lights and stop signs. One could argue that I am not totally free, but I point out that by giving up some of our so-called freedom, we have order instead of chaos on the road. I also point out that what I am calling freedom here - running a stop sign - isn't freedom to do what I want; it is the freedom to make mistakes. If everybody drove as they wished, speeding or running red lights, I think we can easily see we would have anarchy, a very dangerous anarchy where driving would certainly be risking your life. I point out that the collective we, the government, has enacted laws to control our driving to ensure we all have the safest experience on the road. The government isn't controlling where we go; it is merely controlling how we do it. Drive safely and have a good trip. The government wants us to get where we want to go safe and sound.

I don't play golf. I have never been bitten by the bug so I could care less if I ever played the game in my life. As a consequence, if the government stepped in right now and closed every golf course in the country, I would not be personally affected. However, I would consider such a move to be draconian and would fight for the right of everyone to play the game.

I don't own a gun. If the government outlawed every gun in the country, I would not be personally affected. However, I would consider such a rule to be draconian and I would fight for the right of everyone to pick and choose what they do.

But, and here is the big but, like driving, I think the collective we has the duty to enact laws which govern how anybody conducts themselves. The good of the many should outweigh the good of the few. Can I buy a gun and shoot it off in the middle of Times Square? Of course not, that's not safe if not just plain crazy.

Safety Belts
Laws making the wearing of safety belts mandatory came into effect in the late 1970s. My brother took the stance that the government was interfering with his freedom and he was going to be goddamned if he would wear one. We were having this debate while I was driving and he was a passenger. He wasn't wearing his safety belt. I slammed on the brakes. He slid off the front seat but managed to get his hands up to stop himself from going into the dashboard. "What the F did you do that for?" I looked at him with a slight grin and replied, "If you had been wearing your seatbelt, that wouldn't have happened." Of course, he wanted to kill me but the point was made.

In theory, if everybody drove safely, none of us would need to wear a safety belt and yet we all now know instinctively that driving around without one would not be just foolhardy, it would be suicidal.

So I come back to any gun enthusiast. What is the matter with a few rules? What's the matter with a background check? Anybody has to pass a driver's test before they are allowed to drive a car. What's the matter with proving you are a responsible gun owner?

What's the matter with limits on gun clips? I'm not allowed to drive a Formula One race car on a city street. Should I be allowed to have a 100-round drum semi-automatic Uzi in my home? On the other hand, I can go to the race track and drive my Formula One. If I do have an Uzi, I should be allowed to go to some special shooting range.

Am I truly free?
I walk into Wal-Mart to buy milk while carrying a concealed weapon. How free am I? I have never owned a gun in my life and I have never been in a situation where having a gun would have been useful. I'm not a policeman. I'm not a drug dealer. I'm not a secret agent chasing a bad gun. I walk into Wal-Mart packing heat and that shows I'm free? Just how dangerous is Wal-Mart? Is somebody going to unholster their sidearm if I take the last quart of milk? Am I going to be exchanging fire in aisle three in order to get a package of barbecue wieners on special? This is the United States we're talking about, right? This isn't Afghanistan or Iraq?

At the end of this article, I have put together some videos made by Vice Magazine. Their coverage of guns in America is quite eye-opening. I am sure your average man or woman in the street has no idea to what extent guns pervade American culture. Yes, we are familiar with television and movies but what about gun shows, gun clubs, and speciality business catering to those who want to be trained in using a firearm? America: armed and dangerous.

In the second video " Shooting Guns at a World-Class Firearms Facility", you watch one of the videographers being trained to shoot attackers in his own home. What struck me as curious is that the scenario involves evil doers arriving on your doorstep and you must dispatch them in order to save your own life. Is the United States that dangerous? Is the U.S. still the Wild West or does everybody merely perceive the U.S. as the Wild West?

Are we paying attention to the right things? Yes, I admit it is possible that a bad guy shows up at my door but how probable is it? Am I paying attention to the real dangers in my life? It is possible that an asteroid hits the Earth and destroys my home but guess what? I find that so improbable, I have never purchased asteroid insurance.

my blog: Stephen Colbert: And the #1 threat in America: terrorist furniture!
In the June 21, 2012 episode of The Colbert Report during the segment entitled "Threat Down", our humorous pundit declared the number one threat in America to be terrorist furniture. Referring to an article in The Atlantic which in turn refers to the recently published 2011 Report on Terrorism by The National Counterterrorism Center, Colbert notes that of the 13,288 people killed worldwide by terrorist attacks in 2011, seventeen were private U.S. citizens or 0.1%, one tenth of one percent of the total. The article, in referring to a 2011 consumer report, states that in 2010 (the last reported year) twenty-one people died from a falling television, piece of furniture or an appliance.

17 American citizens killed by terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2011. Did you know that according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 82 people are killed each year by lightning? (CDC: lightning) Are we paying attention to the right things? Are we aware of the real dangers lurking around in our lives?

Mr. Allen raises two points in his tweet.

Robb Allen ‏@PantsFree - May 4/2013
@wqbelle How many children died this year from other negligence? I bet you don't know because you only care about guns.

I only care about guns? Negligence in any form is bad. But I would point out how the author, like many of the pro-gun lobbyists are trying to deflect attention from the current discussion. According to the CDC, 574,743 people died from cancer in 2010. Would Mr. Allen suggest we forgo a discussion about guns to turn all of our attention to cancer? I can pull up any one of a number of issues, cancer, AIDS, famine, etc., whose numbers are greater than the number of homicides in the United States but am I always going to change the subject? Am I always going to deflect any talk of gun control because I can find a more pressing issue?

From the CDC: Deaths: Final Data for 2009:
In 2009, 31,347 persons died from firearm injuries in the United States (Tables 18 and 19), accounting for 17.7% of all injury deaths that year. The two major component causes of all firearm injury deaths in 2009 were suicide (59.8%) and homicide (36.7%).

But, I don't want to skew the numbers. In this report, homicide is listed last on a list of 15 causes of death in 2009 behind such notables as heart disease, accidents, and other diseases. However do I put guns aside because I can claim other issues are more important?

Mr. Allen raises a good point about how many children died from negligence and other forms of mistreatment. The CDC (Child Maltreatment) estimates that in 2008, 1,740 children died from abuse and neglect with 80% of those deaths occurring among children younger than 4 years old. This is a good point. Do I pay attention to a headline about the gun-related death of one child without giving any weight to the problem of child abuse and neglect? Or is the headline of this child's death shining a light on the over 31,000 gun-related deaths annually in the United States?

Does anybody click on the links in tweets?
Shortly after having posted a tweets with a link to my article "Guns: as American as Apple Pie", I received back the following reply on Twitter.

Sean D Sorrentino ‏@sdsorrentino - May 4/2013
Not to nitpick here, but Apple Pie is German. @wqbelle @PantsFree

His response tells me two important aspects of our little back and forth on Twitter.

First of all, Mr. Sorrentino is nitpicking here. Apple Pie is an icon of American culture no matter where it originated. The saying "American as apple pie" is as old as the hills and very much describes the typical way of life in the United States. (Wikipedia:Apple Pie in American culture)

The very fact that this gentleman brought this up tells me this debate is not a legitimate debate, this is a question of brinkmanship. Can he one up me? Can he best me with the next sardonic comeback? Can he pick apart any argument I may have by finding fault in some piddly detail?

Secondly, I am convinced he never bothered to read my article. Our debate doesn't involve the thousands of words I wrote about my perspective on guns; it is limited the 140 characters of Twitter. I have noted time and again in the political arena, instead of having an honest debate about a subject, we are drawn to style not substance. If you look good, if you sound good, you've won. And when I say sound good, I don't necessarily mean being logical, insightful, or well-informed. If you have witty banter, if you've got a comeback zinger, you may win the debate but not because you're on the side of truth, justice, and the American way.

In part reaction to the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 which saw 35 people killed and 21 wounded by a man with a history of violent and erratic behaviour, the country enacted strict gun controls laws along with a buyback program. A survey showed up to 85% of Australians supported this move.

Today the country is enjoying a significant reduction in gun-related deaths. What seems so obvious is true: if you don't have a gun, you can't shoot anybody. (Wikipedia: Gun politics in Australia)

Final Word
The collective we wants to do something to have a better and safer society. Unfortunately, competing interests are fighting it out as to just what is the best course of action. I do not believe that anybody truly knows what the right answer is for the majority over the long-term. I believe that making safety belts mandatory for all citizens is a good thing. Yes, there are the few who complain that the government's laws are encroaching on their civil liberties but when these people are in a head-on collision and go sailing through their front windshield, it is obvious and I mean oh so painfully obvious they are really asking to be free to make mistakes. I'm being kind. In that case, they are asking to be free to be stupid.

What is the so-called "right answer"? Gun enthusiasts want to keep their guns. Critics want a safe country without the fear of mass shootings or misfires in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. Is there a "right answer" which is going to satisfy everyone much in the same way we all agree (the majority of us?) that mandatory safety belts are a good idea?

No background check? Don't I have to pass a driver's test before I get my license and am allowed to drive a car? Limits on magazines or the type of gun allowed? Am I allowed to drive a Formula One race car on a city street?

I don't think responsible citizens should be penalised for the irresponsibility of other people but on the other hand having no regulations doesn't protect me from those irresponsible citizens. A driver's licence and mandatory safety belts are ways of protecting me, of protecting all of us. I don't want a yahoo behind the wheel of a car anymore than I want a yahoo to own a gun.

Sean D Sorrentino ‏@sdsorrentino - May 4/2013
The problem is that you want to take my freedom because of someone else's negligence. NO.

I don't want to take away the freedom of a responsible citizen. I want to restrict the actions of an irresponsible citizen. I may be presumptuous but I am assuming Mr. Sorrentino would want to do the same.

I will close by pointing out the following. When the government makes me pass a driver's test, follow the speed limit, stop at red lights, and wear my safety belt, they are not restricting my movements; they are not taking away my freedom. They (the collective we = government) are merely trying to ensure my journey is safe and I arrive at my destination. That I would classify as freedom: the freedom to not make mistakes out of ignorance or end up dead due to the irresponsibility of somebody else.


Wikipedia: Anarchy
Anarchy has more than one definition. Some use the term "anarchy" to refer to a society without a publicly enforced government or violently enforced political authority. When used in this sense, anarchy may or may not be intended to imply political disorder or lawlessness within a society.

NY Times - May 3/2013
2 Killings and 2 Guns, Unattended by Joe Nocera
When a passenger dies in a car accident that is the result of negligence, there are usually serious legal consequences for the driver. If we really want to reduce gun violence, there must be consequences for negligent gun owners, too. The entire culture of gun ownership has to begin emphasizing safety in a way it doesn’t now. It is as important as universal background checks, or limits on magazine rounds.

The Washington Post - April 30/2013
5-year-old shoots 2-year-old sister in Kentucky with rifle he got as a gift
In southern Kentucky, where children get their first guns even before they start first grade, Stephanie Sparks paid little attention as her 5-year-old son, Kristian, played with the rifle he was given last year. Then, as she stepped onto the front porch while cleaning the kitchen, “she heard the gun go off,” a coroner said.

All three of the following video episodes are excellent. I have just watched all of them and I think the third one summed it up quite nicely. Just like abortion, gay marriage, and other hot button legal issues, it is nearly impossible to convince someone that his or her opinion about guns is wrong.

Published on Jul 12, 2012 by vice
Shooting the Biggest Guns Money Can Buy | The Big Sandy Shoot (13:09)
We went to Arizona to shoot some absolutely ridiculous and unnecessarily huge guns. Thomas gets a lesson in heavy artillery at the Big Sandy Shoot, where gun enthusiasts gather in Arizona's western desert to test their rifles, canons, and machine guns.

Published on Nov 22, 2012 by vice
Shooting Guns at a World-Class Firearms Facility (14:33)
We went to a world-class firearms training facility near Las Vegas to fire off some rounds and discuss American gun laws.

Published on Jan 31, 2013 by vice
Gun Crazy USA (26:09)
After so many recent mass shootings, we decided to travel to Florida to see why so many Americans are stockpiling firearms.
Weeks before the almost unfathomable mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, VICE editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro visited Florida to dive headfirst into its byzantine firearms laws and discover why his home state was the first in the nation to issue over one million concealed weapons permits. Through interviews and time on the range with veterans, law enforcement officials, and gun-store owners, VICE digs deep into the gun debate and uncovers many troubling revelations along the way. Oh, we also use a Craigslist-like site to arrange for the purchase of a handgun at 10 PM in the parking lot of a big-box hardware store. And it's all 100-percent legal. Welcome to Florida.


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Saturday 4 May 2013

Movie Review: Iron Man 3

Woo-hoo! Crash bang boom. Sarcasm, arrogance, and macho bravado. A little plot, a funny twist, hero shows his personal side, then add in the special effects and you have 130 minutes of eye catching 3D entertainment. Marvel comes through marvelously.

Yes, it's a comic book but don't we all still retain a bit of that comic book kid well into adulthood? Don't look for this to winning any Oscars for artistic direction or messages of great profundity. This is pure unadulterated kids' fun. It's the empty calories of fast food but if you're going to eat empty calories, it's nice to have delicious empty calories.

Robert Downey Jr. is back, baby, and Tony Stark (Or is it Tony Snark?) is at his arrogant best. The success of an over-the-top superhero movie is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. That played well with the 2012 film The Avengers with no small credit going to the character Iron Man himself.

But lets give credit where credit is due and any film starts with a story. Here that story was co-written by Shane Black who was also the director. Mr. Black seems to have a recognisable career in screenwriting having authored such films as Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout, Lethal Weapon 2, and Last Action Hero. Gee, according to Wikipedia, Black got $1 million for the screenplay Last Action Hero and $1.25 million for The Last Boy Scout. I had no idea screenwriting could be that lucrative. Bring home one of those babies once a year and colour me impressed.

The plot? Does anybody really care?

By the numbers
Marvel seems to be going great guns with Iron Man.

Iron Man (2008)
Budget: $140 million
Gross: $585 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Iron Man 2 (2010)
Budget: $170 million
Gross: $624 million (worldwide)
Rotten Tomatoes: 73%

The Avengers (2011)
Budget: $220 million
Gross: $1.5 billion (worldwide) (Yeah, you heard me: billion)
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Budget: $200 million
Gross: $413 million (worldwide) as of May 4, 2013 ($775 million as of May 11, 2013)
(released April 25, 2013 in IMAX; released May 3, 2013 in North America)
Rotten Tomatoes: 78%

Final Word
It was all in good fun. Nothing profound. For anybody wanting good craftsmanship, this is a good film. For you diehard fans, you'll love it.

It's funny. I saw the film a week ago and started writing this review but then couldn't think of anything to say. Ha ha. 78% on Rotten Tomatoes. That says it all. Two hours of decent entertainment.


Rotten Tomatoes: Iron Man 3: 78%
With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Iron Man 3 is a witty, entertaining adventure and a strong addition to the Marvel canon.

Wikipedia: Iron Man 3
Iron Man 3 (stylized Iron Man Three onscreen) is a 2013 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comics character Iron Man, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the sequel to Iron Man and Iron Man 2, and the seventh installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, being the first major release in the franchise since the crossover film The Avengers. Shane Black directed a screenplay he co-wrote with Drew Pearce, which is loosely based on the "Extremis" story arc by Warren Ellis. Jon Favreau, who directed the first two films, serves as executive producer, along with Kevin Feige. Robert Downey, Jr. reprises his role as the title character, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, and Favreau reprising their roles as Pepper Potts, James Rhodes, and Happy Hogan, respectively. Guy Pearce, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak, James Badge Dale, and Ben Kingsley round out the film's principal cast.

Rotten Tomatoes: Iron Man: 93%
Director Jon Favreau and star Robert Downey make this smart, high impact superhero movie one that even non-comics fans can enjoy.

Wikipedia: Iron Man (film)
Iron Man is a 2008 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. It is the first installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Iron Man film series.

Rotten Tomatoes: Iron Man 2: 73%
It isn't quite the breath of fresh air that Iron Man was, but this sequel comes close with solid performances and an action-packed plot.

Wikipedia: Iron Man 2
Iron Man 2 is a 2010 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Iron Man.

Wikipedia: Iron Man
Iron Man is a fictional character, a superhero who appears in comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer-editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. He made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963).

my blog: Movie Review: The Avengers
Shawarma VIDEO: After the Avengers save the planet and Iron Man is nearly killed, Tony Stark mentions going to get Shawarma. Funny enough, eh? At the screening I go to, everybody got up and left during the credits but at the end, the very end of the credits, there was an absolutely hilarious scene where the Avengers are all sitting around a table in a fast food outlet eating Shawarma. For a full thirty seconds, they all sit there eating and not a single one of them utters a word. I killed myself laughing.

my blog: The Avengers, Adoption and an Asgardian Firestorm
The following dialogue generated quite a fuss with people who took exception to this attempt to find humour in the fact that Thor's brother Loki is adopted.

Bruce Banner: I don't think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy's brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.

Thor: Have care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason but he is of Asgard. And he's my brother.

Black Widow: He killed 80 people in 2 days.

Thor: He's adopted?


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