The Dreaded White Screen Of Death

Into every WordPress user’s life a little rain must fall.  That rain is usually the White Screen of Death.  Two years of blogging and I have finally had my rain.  One usually receives the dreaded White Screen when one updates one’s plugins.  It tends to block you from accessing any of your admin pages via the web and gives you the ever informative blank white screen.  Fun.

Getting past the dreaded white screen is a fairly easy fix if you know how to FTP into your website.  Each host is different on how you do that so I’ll leave that process as an exercise for the students to figure out.  Once you’re in, though, simply navigate to the /wp-content directory and change the /plugins directory to another name like /plugins.old or something similar.  Doesn’t really matter what.  This should allow you to get to your admin page via your browser.  If you’re still getting the White Screen, try changing the name of the /themes directory like you did the /plugins directory.  If you’re still getting the White Screen, good luck to you and may Google have mercy on your soul, your problem surpasses my knowledge.

Now that you’re at your admin page, go to your Installed Plugins page.  It should give you a message for all of your plugins saying that they have all been disabled because it couldn’t find the directory.  Now rename the /plugins.old folder back to /plugins and refresh your Installed Plugins page.  All of them should show up and all of them are disabled.  Now, if any of them need to be updated, update them.  Chances are that the plugin creator quickly realized the chaos they created and has since fixed it.  Then enable the plugins one by one until you either find the plugin that causes the White Screen or you have enabled all of your plugins once again.  If one of them still causes the White Screen, start over from the beginning and don’t try to enable that plugin again until an update comes out.  The same procedure can be followed if it is your Theme that is causing the problem.

You should now be back in blogging business.

Movie Review: Exodus: Gods And Kings

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: A visually gorgeous movie with great acting and a middling story.  Ploddingly long at points.  How can you make plagues boring?

Given that a vast majority of the population of the United States is either Christian or Jewish, the story of Exodus will be familiar.  Moses grows up like an Egyptian prince, later finds out he’s a Hebrew, gets told by god to free his people from Egyptian slavery, leads his people to the promised land.  Throw in some plagues and you got yourself the basics of the movie.

Visually, the movie was stunning.  Given, life at that time was much harder, more brutal, and shorter than any of us would be comfortable with, but man, would I want to see Memphis in its prime.  I don’t know how much historical accuracy Ridley Scott went for in portraying it, but it was beautiful.  It is too bad, the visuals were the best part of the movie.

The acting was great, as you would expect from a movie starring Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver.  The kid who played Yahweh was also quite good, though I can’t seem to find his name.  There was this one part where he goes all Old Testament that was just exceptional.

None of that can make up for the plodding length of the movie, however.  Weighing in at 150 minutes, much of the movie just goes from scene to scene without much background and often leaves you wondering why things happened the way they did.  The missing background, like Moses’ youth, would have made a much better story.  Also surprising was how boring the plagues were.  They seem to have been an afterthought of the movie.  It went kind of like this: story, story, story, story, plaaaaaaaaagues, overly long death of the firstborn, story, anticlimactic Red Sea showdown, story, story.  Yes, there was a completely pointless rationalization of the plagues thrown in the middle somewhere, but that didn’t seem to fit at all.

This one’s difficult to recommend.  There’s some good stuff, but I’m not sure it’s really worth the time investment.  Oh, and you can ignore all the biblical criticisms of the movie that you read.  Yes, liberties were taken, but choosing Moses to speak to a child-god just makes dramatic sense.

Go Read Someone Who Knows How To Write

My friend Austin Gilkeson has talent, something that is sorely lacking on this blog.  His is, alas, still an undiscovered talent and as his quest for the One Book Deal continues, he occasionally pens brilliantly subversive children’s short stories and indescribably awesome true life stories (in a James Frey sort of way).  His latest is up on The Toast and it’s called “How I Defeated the Tolkien Estate“.  You should read it.  I’m sure my blog will rocket him to the fame and inevitable drug and alcohol induced glorious flame-out he so richly deserves.

You should also go read his Mab Ipswich stories over at Underneath The Juniper Tree.  I’m too lazy to check which issues have his stories in it, but it’s a pretty decent magazine so you should thumb through (or whatever the digital equivalent is) it.  How Nickelodeon or Netflix or someone hasn’t yet made Mab into a cartoon is beyond me and a testament to how unfair the world is.  As a new father, I’m sure his soon to come additions to the series will be even more wickedly brilliant given the hallucinations that go with newborn-induced sleep deprivation.

Cereal, It’s Not Just For Breakfast

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Why, Yes I Do Own A Cat, Why Do You Ask?

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GOOOOOOAAAALLLLLLL!!!!!!

This may be the best goal I have ever seen.  It has been nominated as such for FIFA’s best goal of the year.  The match?  Irish Woman’s National Team vs. Wexmouth Youths.  The attendance? Sub-100.  The goal scorer?  Stephanie Roche.  Girl got game.

Movie Review: The Theory Of Everything

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 3/5 stars

Bottom Line: Eddie Redmayne has an uncanny likeness to Stephen Hawking.  Not much science.  Parts of the movie were engrossing, parts plodding.  Somewhat annoying soundtrack.

Stephen Hawking is an amazing individual and without a doubt one of the top minds so far in the 21st century.  He has also led, as you can imagine, a very complicated personal life.  This movie focuses more on the personal life than his life as a cosmologist.  At heart, this movie is a love story with maddeningly tiny bits of science intertwined throughout.  In the movie’s defense, what Hawking works on is well over the top of most lay people, including myself, and it does a pretty good job of describing the science it delves into so that most people can at least conceptualize it.

I am not sure how true to life the movie is.  It is based on an autobiography by Jane Hawking, Stephen’s love interest in the movie.  Having read things about the Hawkings’ personal life in the past, I get the feeling that this movie represents the sugar-coated, lipstick-on-a-pig version of the real story.  Not that I’d blame anyone for trying to put a better face on what is undoubtedly a compelling story regardless of the glossing over of sordid details.

It was amazing watching Eddie Redmayne portray the degeneration of Stephen Hawking from awkward nerd to the wheelchair-bound, speech-synthesized professor most of us are familiar with as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) ravages his body.  Equally amazing, but easily overlooked, was Felicity Jones’ portrayal of Jane Hawking.  If this were a better movie, I’d say they would both be nominated for various awards.

The pacing of the movie was somewhat awkward.  One could be so inclined to say that this was on purpose and represented Hawking’s awkwardness as his ALS took over his body, but I’m guessing that was not the intent.  Much of the awkwardness in the movie, I think, is due to the halting soundtrack.  Most of the more compelling parts of the movie are shot with emotion capturing silence, while others have a not out-of-place, but not quite fitting soundtrack that suddenly launches which, for me, almost always detracted from the scene.  Then there were the parts that were likely necessary, but lasted a bit too long so your interest would wane slightly.

All in all, though, this was a good biopic of the Hawking family.  They are certainly an intriguing family on many levels.  I’d recommend it to pretty much anyone.  There is no need to see this movie in the theaters, though, so save your money and wait for it to come to the small screen of your home.

Say What You Want About Amazon, At Least The Trains Run On Time

Sure, Amazon pays their warehouse workers fairly poorly and treats them like common criminals by forcing them to be searched for stolen items after clocking out from their shift, but I ordered an item Monday morning and chose the super-slow-get-$1-credit-towards-ebooks method of shipping and the item shipped Monday night and has already arrived at my doorstep by 1 PM Tuesday afternoon.  Logistics, you’re doing it right.

Of course, UPS also deserves a shout-out for their amazing delivery service.  And they pay their union employees fairly well.  If only Amazon would take a page from UPS.

And yes, my hatred of stepping foot inside a store trumps my disdain for certain companies that treat their employees poorly.  I’m not perfect.

Your Daily Dose of Dawwww!

Nothing like an unarmed black man being killed by a white police officer to bring out the undercurrents of racism that are prevalent in our society.  And nothing like a sham of a grand jury decision and the ensuing riots by a few bad apples to stir up the racists once again.  But I’m not here to complain about that.  I’m here to tell you that things will and are getting better.

I volunteer for an organization that provides lodging for children and their families when the children are in the hospital.  One of the things that we do for the children is bring them to this big old toy room and let them pick a toy of their choosing.  My last time there, I let a white girl who was about eight or so into the toy room and let her rummage around.  She came back to me a few minutes later and said that she couldn’t reach the toy that she wanted.  I went in to help her and she pointed up to the top shelf where there was perched a princess doll still in all of its packaging.  I reach up to grab it and I ask, “This one?”, and she nods so I grab it down from the shelf and hand it to her.  She looks at it momentarily says, “Thank you!”, and walks away.

The doll was black.

And just like that, a one minute interaction with an eight year old girl has renewed my hope that things will get better.

It’s Snraining!

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The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it is what can only be described as snraining outside right now. There is a moderately heavy rain falling and mixed with that is a swirling snowfall. It is bizarrely beautiful.