May 302011

Rocky Horror Picture Show posterMovie Monday, the finnish weekly meme on moving pictures has been rebooted. The format is the same – a topic a week, about which participants are to write about. Since I’m a sucker for both movies and talking about them, I’ll be in from the very start.

The inaugural topic is musical, and since neither Avenue Q nor Muskettisoturit hasn’t yet made it to the silver screen, I settle for a blast from the seventies: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

I’ve seen the tale of a sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania multiple times, but two stand out.

The first was the loss of virginity when the movie finally made it to the finnish theatres in 1988 (or thereabouts). Without google to provide instant access to an audience participation guide, we were mostly at a loss what to expect. Had heard a few warnings of water and toilet paper, but the scope and numbers of the audience members singing along, dancing and tossing paraphernalia was nothing short of awesome.

The second was half a decade later, during the university exchange year in Utah. Introducing a couple of new recruits into the topic while entering a scene that had been playing in the theatre for years was an interesting experience. Checking in in a leather jacket, twisted black pigtails, a white-painted face with a luscious kiss-mark on the left cheek certainly broke some of the ice with the natives. Sadly, this being Salt Lake City in ’93, there was no nachspiel in a nearby bar to speak of.

Ever since the fateful night in the eighties I haven’t been able to see or hear Tim Curry in a movie without imagining him in Frank-N-Furter’s skimpy clothing. In most cases the mental pictures are more than a little disturbing.

Haven’t seen the movie in almost a decade now, it’s definitely soon time to venture out to the manor where nothing is as straight as it seems.

As old trailers tend to be longwinded, spoily and boring, here’s a song off the movie instead – Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul by Meat Loaf.

May 292011

Emptied the car at the conference hotel (Regency Hyatt), and went exploring beyond the Golden Gate bridge.

The western shore was a whole new region, and the views on the Pacific Ocean were postcard-worthy. The green bits were lush green, the blue bits had plenty of wave action and the clear skies crowned the day.

Pacific coast

PearlHad lunch in Stinson Beach, at the Parkside Cafe. The meal was noteworthy for two things: the Lagunitas brews accompanying the dishes, and a surprise appearance of a pearl in an oyster. The pearl, maybe seven millimeters across and dim white in color was an unexpected addition in the gratinated oysters. Fortunately it was discovered without being chewed. The staff were at first spooked by its appearance (dreading a costly dental renovation), but claimed that this pearl was the first one found in the decades the place had been operating.

The water was cold, and the warnings for currents and sharks (great whites in less than six feet of water) had deterred most of the visitors, who were not in the mood for swimming.

The slice of chocolate cake for dessert was murderously big, and started lulling me to sleep in the backseat. The chill air at the Golden Gate lookout around sunset was cold enough to wake up for the mandatory photographs.

Golden Gate

May 292011

Spent last week at the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco.

As this was my first visit to the city in seven years, I had high expectations of seeing more than the conference hotel. Good intentions notwithstanding, I didn’t get that much free time, and as such reporting the week’s activities shouldn’t take nearly as long as the east coast trip did.

Going to San FranciscoFlew to San Francisco on Lufthansa, through Frankfurt. The wakeup call was truly inhuman at 0414, and combined by the belated departure of the plane, insulting to punctuality.

Had an apron landing in FRA. That, the long bus cruise to the terminal and the very short transfer meant that lines had to be cut on the way to the gate. Made it, and so did the luggage.

The flight was on the brand new Airbus A380 plane, a double-decker on its whole wide body. Had no glimpse on the upper deck, but the conditions in the steerage were not bad at all. The plane was indeed new, the route had been open for only ten days before our departure. The new plane smell had gone, but otherwise the interiors were in pristine condition.

The seats were pleasantly wide, and even more important factor was the amount of legroom. Even when the occupant of the previous row lowered his seat as far back as it goes, it was nowhere near as threatening a move as on a tightly packed 747. The plane was full, and unfortunately didn’t get an aisle seat for the first time in a good while. The row assignation of the title wasn’t bad either – the second to last row was adequately supplied with food and drink throughout the flight.

Food quality was good as well, with lunch (teriyaki chicken) even being in excellent category. That was an important asset, as the tight connection in Frankfurt meant that no nuts or other self-provided snacks were available.

The per-seat screens were quite disappointing. Image quality was low, the touch interaction clearly in need of an UX re-work and the audio predictably unusable. Hence confined myself to reading as the main source of entertainment.

Arrival in SFO was on the smooth side. Going through INS took 45 minutes, and the yellow monster suitcase popped up on the carousel when I finally made it through.

Our brave group of four had an MB SUV for the duration of the conference. Sadly, the advertised capacity turned out to be bogus. The suitcase Tetris in the rental car center took an unexpectedly long time before a usable configuration was reached.

The original plan of heading out to Napa or southwards were thus abandoned in favor of first dropping the luggage at the hotel.

Airbus A380

May 292011

FrontierVille logoZynga’s FrontierVille is a semi-multiplayer social game that combines their previous hit FarmVille with american history.

FrontierVille begins innocently enough, with a small cottage and a couple of farm animals. Through growing and harvesting crops and trees, growing animals and adding buildings to the settlement to advance it towards a true frontier town. A nameless town in isolation, since while the neighboring villages can be visited, they in no way are part of the life of the town itself.

But the neighbours are, as the game requires an increasing amount of begged gifts from them. FrontierVille degenerates to a mutual fest of asking for and receiving various gifts – either to craft new buildings or to complete other goals. The process soon gets annoying, and the requests keep on filling up the players’ walls in facebook.

FrontierVille manages to stave off disappointment by variety. The new buildings, animals and goals create a semblance of a storyline, though sadly there’s no history function in the game – it’s not possible to check when a given goal was achieved.

The game shipped with four signposts on the town’s territory advertising further adventures in different regions. The first of them, the Oregon Trail, premieres in the beginning of June.

I was quite hooked by FrontierVille in the beginning, and keep on coming back for more. The pace of my playing has slackened a lot lately, though. And I’m looking forward to the inbound reboot of sorts by the departure to Oregon.