Matt Hackmann

How Far Does One go for Fandom?

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Over the last three weeks, I was finally able to experience the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy in theaters. And not only that, but these were the extended versions. To say that I finally feel fulfilled as a human being would be outrageous - but it was enjoyable all the same.

However, last night's watching of the Return of the King was a hardship on par with the journey to Mordor to destroy the ring of evil. First of all, despite having arrived an hour early, all the good seats were already taken, so myself and the good folks whom I watched the film with were forced onto aisle seats. But this was only a mild nuisance. No, the real fun was about to begin.

Before each screening, Mr. Peter Jackson was there thanking me for taking advantage of this rare opportunity to watch the "remastered" version of the trilogy as it was meant to be seen - on the silver screen. All well and good, but a dark cloud loomed into the room when the video began stuttering. And so it began.

At various points through out the film this occurred, sometimes only briefly, sometimes for extended periods of ten to twenty seconds, all the while being traumatized by the audio buffer looping on itself. Due to conflicting reports, I could not decide if the movie was being microwaved in or was on a hard drive (I heard reports of both). After two hours of this agony, the movie finally gave up the ghost at the beginning of the battle of Minas Tirith. And we waited...

We waited a good half hour or more, with all sorts of people getting pissed off around us and not a single word from the theater themselves. Finally, a theater manager (I'm assuming) waltezed in and proclaimed that they were having technical issues and we'd be moved to another theater where we could finish watching the film - pending a delay to get everything set up.

So, we moved to a new theater (apparently usurping a showing of X-Men: First Class) which, at the very least, was far and away more comfortable than the last. Like, I could've taken a nap in those chairs with little effort. Which was good, because that "delay" turned out to be an hour or more. Just as we were approaching the "okay, we give up time" the film finally started up again and played without issue.

Generally, one goes to see adventures in a theater, not have one. Would I go through all that again just for the experience of seeing RotK on a large screen? Yeah, probably, because that's the way I roll.

Oh, they did give me a pass for a free ticket, so there was that. And in total, I spent seven and half hours in that theater. Almost an entire work day...

Calculate Moon Rise and Set in PHP

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If you've been paying attention to my Twitter account, you've probably seen a reference or two about how I've been calculating the positions of astronomical bodies. Well, today I release part of that to you.

Download: Source

The above code is pretty much a direct port of Keith Burnett's implementation here. Outside of porting, my only changes were some code clean up and having the timezone be calculated automatically for the longitude given. This means that you will always get back a time stamp that is local to the point of origin.

How to Use

Moon::calculateMoonTimes(month, day, year, latitude, longitude);

Code: php
  1. <?php
  2. date_default_timezone_set('America/Chicago');
  3. include('moon.php');
  4. print_r(Moon::calculateMoonTimes(6, 28, 2011, 36.754478, -96.110291));
  5. ?>

The above code will output the following result:

Code: output
  1. stdClass Object ( [moonrise] =&gt; 1309246800 [moonset] =&gt; 1309300560 )

Moonrise and moonset, as stated previously, are a Unix time stamp local to the latitude and longitude given.

Alpocalypse - A Review

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Reviewing music isn't really my style, but Weird Al can certainly be the exception to that rule. He may not have impacted my life quite like this guy, but through all the various genre swings I've gone through in my life, Al has always been there. He's in a very exclusive club that will get an in-store album purchase from me.

The reviews that follow are for the songs only. I've not yet checked out the accompanying DVD a music videos.

He's still got it

1. Perform This Way

An obvious rip on Lady Gaga and her extreme fashion. This song has been a terrible ear worm for me since I watched the video last week. Both the lyrics and music for this are pretty damn good, only problem being that the song is far too short, imo. The song sounds very, very similar to Madonna's Express Yourself so it's kind of funny to hear "express yourself" uttered during the lyrics.

2. CNR

It's a song about Charles Nelson Reilly being some sort of super human god. Not my favorite on the album musically, but not terrible. CNR was pretty cool on Match Game, though, and not to mention as the voice of Mermaidman Arch-villian, the Dirty Bubble.

3. TMZ

A parody of Taylor Swift's You Belong With Me (so Wikipedia tells me), TMZ is all about those idiot celebrity gossip shows/magazines I hate so much (even if he only mentions TMZ specifically). A few chuckle worthy moments to be had as he mentions real life celeb stupidness such as Spears shaving her head. This one's pretty good.

4. Skipper Dan

A rather depressing song about an acting genius who is stuck working a crappy amusement park ride as a tour guide. Probably all too common of a tale, the song is okay overall. This was one of a few songs he released a few years ago, so I'd already heard it.

5. Polka Face

I love Al's polkas; think they're the highlight of all his albums, so call me nerdy when the first thing I realize about this song is that, in an unprecedented move, not only does he feature another song by an artist who's been parodied on the album, but that song opens and closes the polka. This is not Al's strongest polka ever, seeming more repetitious than previous ventures.

6. Craigslist

This psychedelicy sounding song about the internet's garage sale is my least favorite on the album. Every time Al screams "CRAAAAAAIIGGSSSLLISSSTTTT-uh", I wince.

7. Party in the CIA

This is your usual Al song taking some serious topic (being in the CIA doing all sorts of black ops killing and wiretapping and stuff), and turns it into a bouncy, fun little tune. A Miley Cyrus parody, this song is classic Al.

8. Ringtone

A style parody of Queen (who is awesome), Ringtone is about some guy who has a terrible ringtone and how everybody around him cannot stand it. The opening sounds very much like Don't Stop Me Now and there's harmonies all over the place. The lyrics are pretty decent, too.

9. Another Tattoo

I am not a fan of rap and its current place towards the top of the charts means that much of Al's pluckings come from this pool. This song isn't terrible, there are some melody redeeming qualities in the chorus, but I probably won't put it into playlist circulation.

10. If That Isn't Love

If there's one person who knows how to make a screwed up love song, it's Mr. Yankovic and If That Isn't Love, a style parody of local band Hanson, is everything you'd expect from such. It's a cheery melody about the things the guy in the song do for his girlfriend that he considers above and beyond the call of duty (like not pretending she's some one else while they make out... most of the time).

11. Whatever You Like

This is another rap parody, made back in '09 right on the heels of the economic down turn. About a penny pinching boyfriend/husband, this song was kind of funny back then, but it's mostly "seent it" now.

12. Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me

This is probably my favorite song on the album, both lyrically and musically. It's yet another style parody of Meatloaf and song writer Jim Steinman, whose over the top songs are something I enjoy more than I probably realize. Stop Forwarding That Crap to Me is about some guy who is forever receiving forwarded internet garbage from a "friend". As anyone who has ever talked to me on IM knows, I am very much the "forwarder" here. Though, my content is usually fresh, not three years old. Oh, internet points for including a reference to Snopes.

So, that's my review of Al's latest. Overall, it's not as strong as in previous years and I attribute his overall seeming decline to change in the music landscape as well as age (he's over fifty now). But, even at that, the man is still a genius and can still belt out some awesome tunes.