Posted on Thursday, January 1st, 2004
In coming back from celebrating the New Year with friends in Seattle, I have to travel back over Stevens Pass which just happens to be in the middle of a winter storm warning...
Since I've been driving in heavy snows and icy roads for the past twenty years and make sure that my car has the best snow tires money can buy, I don't worry much about adverse weather. What I DO worry about are other idiots out on the road who don't know what the hell they are doing.
This time was really fun. Cars run into the ditch... pile-ups on the roadway... a cornucopia of idiots who just don't know how to drive in the snow and should be staying at home. My favorite was a moron in a light-duty, rear-wheel-drive pickup with no weight in the back who stopped in the middle of the highway on a hill (blocking an entire lane of traffic) so he could install chains. Dumb-asses everywhere you look!
The good news was that there was a pileup directly behind me (when yet another idiot thought he would do a U-turn in the middle of the highway, but instead got stuck and blocked traffic in both directions)... giving me the entire road to myself! Sweet!
Sure it's pretty, but you can't ride a motorcycle in this crap.
Posted on Friday, January 2nd, 2004
1. What one thing are you most looking forward to... today? Getting off work.
2. ... over the next week? The only thing I am looking forward to next week is it ending.
3. ... this year? A few more Hard Rock visits and seeing a bit more of the world.
4. ... over the next five years? Finally finishing my book.
5. ... for the rest of your life? Finding happiness without it having come at the expense of others.
Posted on Friday, January 2nd, 2004
Interesting how mad cow disease comes home to roost and all of a sudden restaurants are falling all over themselves to show non-meat options on the menu. Burger King has the BK Veggie that's right up front (too bad it sucks) and now Taco Bell has a "Cheesy Rice & Bean Burrito" that's in full-panel glory on their menu. All I can hope is that McDonalds gets in on the act and finally rolls out their McVeggie Deluxe nation-wide (I've only ever seen it at the Times Square location). Sad that it takes a horrid disease to turn people on to the dangers of meat, but there you have it.
Posted on Saturday, January 3rd, 2004
Since everybody else is looking back on the films of 2003, I might as well do the same. And, since I feel the Oscar-winners rarely end up reflecting those actually deserving it, let's go with that...
Best Picture: Lord of the Rings, Return of the King. Okay, the award would really be for the entire trilogy not just the final chapter, but Peter Jackson's film version of an un-filmable book is an incredible achievement and is very much Oscar-worthy. Two other films just as worthy: Lost in Translation, which is one of the best character studies ever put to film, and The Last Samurai which is one of the most beautiful films I've seen in years.
Best Actor: Bill Murray for Lost in Translation. Bill Murray is a comic genius that can salvage even the most inane roles (re: Bosley in Charlie's Angels). But it's his more dramatic turns that make him Oscar-worthy. First there was Rushmore, then there was The Royal Tenenbaums, and now his absolute best role to date in Lost in Translation which completely dominates any other actor this year. And the best is yet to come... Bill is re-teaming with Wes Anderson for The Life Aquatic next year!
Best Actress: Uma Thurman for Kill Bill. Oh come on. Forget Jennifer Connely, Nikole Kidman, Charlize Theron, and all the rest... that sappy drama crap is cliche, and each role is interchangeable with the others. Uma's stylish performance elevates this grinder-flick to new heights, which takes a talent no other actress came close to this year.
Best Supporting Actor: Ken Watanabe for The Last Samurai. Easily one of the best performances this year, it really chaps my ass that he will probably be overlooked. Anybody who has seen this film knows Watanabe's quiet dignity and mind-blowing charisma on the screen deserves the Oscar.
Best Supporting Actress: Scarlett Johansson for Lost in Translation. How many actresses could have held their own against Bill Murray in this film? Very, very few. Johansson actually deserves Best Actress for her stunning work here.
Best Director: Sophia Coppola for Lost in Translation. Yeah, yeah, Peter Jackson did an amazing job for Lord of the Rings. But such effects-heavy films have me question what the role of a director actually is in such a spectacle. And, as if the performances that Coppola managed to coax from Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson weren't enough, she wrote Lost in Translation as well. Every scene was perfectly orchestrated for effect, then sewn together to create a film that was brilliant and Oscar-worthy.
My only regret is not finding a place for Johnny Depp in my list. His performances in Pirates of the Caribbean and Once Upon a Time in Mexico were classics in 2003. Likewise, I haven't a clue as to where Master and Commander should go, but that was a pretty good flick as well.
Posted on Saturday, January 3rd, 2004
While Britain continues to await a signal from their Beagle 2 Mars Lander, NASA has just announced that their new Mars Rover Spirit has landed safely and is even unpacking itself on the face of the red planet. A second rover Opportunity is due to land on January 24th.
NASA claims that these new Rovers are far more flexible and maneuverable than the Pathfinder Rover which landed in 1996, so we are sure to get some pretty cool photos back. It's amazing to me how the surface of Mars looks exactly like Haleakala Crater in Maui. When the Pathfinder images first arrived, I instantly thought them to be fake since I had "been" there before right here on earth!
I hope that the Beagle 2 team is not too discouraged by their loss. NASA lost a pair of probes in 1999, so their current success is not without some setbacks along the way.
Posted on Monday, January 5th, 2004
Living with my face every day as I do, it is easy for me to overlook just what a throbbing bundle of cuteness I really am. Until, that is, somebody is kind enough to send an e-mail and remind me. Last week I joined a discussion group and needed a photo for my user profile. Vanity being a trait I don't possess (for obvious reasons... or so I thought), I don't have photos of myself laying around. Well, nothing current anyways. Fortunately, I have an iSight camera on my Mac for just such an occasion, and took a few stills of myself.
Anxious to get underway, I just cropped one of the stills and uploaded it without really thinking about it. Last night, I happened to glance at my profile and thought that the image I had chosen (left) was dopier than usual (even for me). So, I rummaged through the shots and selected another, more serious one (right) to upload. This morning I get this e-mail from "Katie":
You changed your picture! What did you do that for? You were much cuter in that other one where you were smiling a bit!!! ;)
Now that I take a look at both shots, I have to admit... I am much cuter in that first photo (well, I'm either cuter or more constipated-looking, I can't seem to decide about that). So, naturally, I'm off to upload it again. Sure I only got one e-mail complaining, but heaven only knows how many other women I've devastated because I just don't realize how damn cute I am.
Posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2004
Whenever MacWorld rolls around, I find myself giddy with excitement as Steve Jobs takes the stage and proceeds to blow everybody away with the new stuff Apple's got going on. I then find myself filled with pity... pity... for anybody stuck with a crappy Windows PC. This time was no different. One of the major highlights was a nifty re-working of Apple's Soundtrack app into a cooler (and much more accessible) tool called Garage Band. To demo the product, Steve trotted out John Mayer to perform live over a composition he had constructed with sampled loops included with the program...
Then here comes a video with Sheryl Crow saying how Garage Band will help her be more creative in her song-writing because she can conjure up a temporary back-up band to play with as she works. Can't get a much better endorsement than that! Even better is the fact that this cool new tool is bundled together with the rest of Apple's jaw-dropping iApps for just $49. FORTY-NINE DOLLARS!
Macs kick ass.
Posted on Tuesday, January 6th, 2004
Alrighty then. Apple's "New Music Tuesdays" mailing was delivered to my in-box, causing me to cruise by the iTunes Music Store to see what's new. While scrolling through the storefront offerings, I see four babes on the cover of a newly added selection and am instantly intrigued:
The name of the group is "Bond" and they play classical music to modern-day dance beats that's amazing, amazing stuff. I instantly bought both albums and am hooked. A little research has turned up that the group is alternately praised and condemned within classical music circles. Praised because they are exposing a new generation of listeners to classical compositions, and condemned for the pop-stylings that they infuse into these classical works.
All I know is that they are damn hot and know their way around a violin and cello.
Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2004
First of all, thanks to everyone who sent such wonderful ego-stroking e-mails assuring me that I am cute, sexy, adorable, hot, lovable, and generally not so bad to look at (well, I really could have done without such assurances from you Roger, but thanks just the same). I had to re-read my post from a few days ago to make sure that I wasn't threatening to kill myself or something, because the response was unexpected.
Anyway, some had asked how I got pictures from my web cam in the first place, and so I should explain that the images I had up were cropped from the original window snapshot which looks like this:
A friend gave me an AppleScript that allows me to use an app called Snapz Pro to save out a series of snapshots from Apple's iChat A/V using an iSight camera on my Mac. Snapz Pro is a really amazing program, because it has many powerful features and can be AppleScripted to do just about anything. The resulting snapshots can then be saved to a folder with an AppleScript Action attached for automated processing/cropping/color correction/whatever. Some people are having snapshots automatically uploaded to the web at regular intervals, others use it to monitor their homes when they are away. Just a testament to the astounding things you can do with a Mac and very little effort.
Hmmm... before anyone asks, that slash on my cheek is from an accident that occurred on New Years Eve involving alcohol and an Uno Attack game. Fair warning: having a game machine fling cards at you when your reflexes are diminished is just asking for trouble.
Posted on Wednesday, January 7th, 2004
Meagan got excited by me using her scripts and ideas to take photographs with my web cam, and forwarded an interesting script that photographs you at regular intervals while you work. From her notes:
... I always take a quick look through the thumbnails and pull the shots with my eyes closed or I'm doing something embarrassing.
Uhhh... problem is that I am really tired, so I have my eyes closed or am doing something embarrassing in almost every shot (or they are blurry because of movement). Oh well. I never realized that I moved around so much while staring at a computer screen for hours-on-end each day.
Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2004
I eat for crap! So when Theme Thursday comes around with the theme of eating, I look around to see that the only thing edible in my office is my breakfast of Famous Amos Cookies and an A&W Root Beer. Usually, I am not a pop-drinker (preferring water), but I needed some sugar water to wake me up.
Definitely the breakfast of champions! Sadly, I will probably have the exact same thing for lunch.
Posted on Thursday, January 8th, 2004
Before heiress Paris Hilton became famous for her "home movies," she filmed a show called The Simple Life which shows what happens when you take rich city girls and transplant them to a farm in Arkansas. In each episode they find new and unique ways of offending their hosts and just about everybody they meet, which makes for terrific entertainment. It should surprise no one that both Paris and co-star Nicole Richie (daughter or Lionel Richie) ended up doing whatever they wanted, while acting however they wanted, whenever they wanted to do it.
In other words, they were behaving just like every other "that's hot" woman on the planet. The only difference is that they were filmed and have become television stars because of it. Forget baseball, this is exactly the kind of thing that makes me proud to be an American.
Posted on Friday, January 9th, 2004
One of the only things that was going to make my non-motorcycle-riding winter worthwhile was the coming of Kill Bill 2 on February 20. I was already pissed off that I had to wait that long, but today Variety breaks the news that Miramax has moved the release date to April 13. That's 94 days... over three freakin' months... away.
What the f#@%?!? The movie is done, what in the hell are we waiting for? I didn't complain when the movie was split in half... whatever Quentin needs to fulfill his vision for the film is fine with me, but to pull something like this is unforgivable and doesn't make any sense at all. Fans of the first film... YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE YOU MIRAMAX DUMB ASSES... are dying to see part 2, and you now go out of your way to piss them off? If this stupidity is due to coinciding with a DVD release or some other moronic marketing crap I will be very disappointed. If this were any other film, I'd boycott the theatrical release just to be happy knowing that I didn't support Miramax for being such bastards. But it's Uma kicking ass on the big screen, so what can you do?
Posted on Saturday, January 10th, 2004
Nothing is more amusing than when Microsoft cries "foul play" and starts whining about "freedom of choice" for computer users. It happens every single time that a company offers them any competition and, as Microsoft's monopoly grows bigger and stronger every day, gets funnier every time. Microsoft was hilarious when it did this as Apple's QuickTime started being adopted as a "standard" by industry groups like 3GPP. And it's downright hysterical that Microsoft is whining yet again now that HP has decided to bypass their crappy Windows Media Player in favor of Apple's iTunes and iPod. The guys over at As the Apple Turns sum it up perfectly:
Check it out, this was the best a company spokesperson could muster to undercut the announcement: "Windows is all about choice... we believe you should have the same choice when it comes to music services." Translation: "Use any service you want as long as it sells Windows Media, buy any player out there as long as it plays Windows Media — but for heaven's sake, don't buy one of those wretched iPod thingies or we'll be completely boned with our whole plan to monopolize digital media commerce and then we might actually have to start innovating for our paychecks for a change."
So now HP has signed an agreement with Apple to create their own version of the iPod and to bundle iTunes on every PC they make. They wanted the best for their customers, saw that it was a non-Microsoft solution, and made the choice to go with Apple. But here's the interesting part... since HP computers run Windows, the Windows Media Player is included as well... so HP customers have the ULTIMATE in choice. They can go with iTunes/QuickTime or they can pick Windows Media. If Microsoft was truly about choice, they would encourage ALL Windows PC manufacturers to do the same.
Microsoft will undoubtedly clarify their statement and say that iPod/iTunes allows you to shop for music ONLY at Apple's music store, whereas Windows Media solutions allow you to shop at a number of different vendors, which is fine. But shouldn't that choice be left up to the consumer?
Posted on Sunday, January 11th, 2004
Yet another killer episode of Alias tonight, which is pretty sweet considering we've been waiting weeks to see it. What's truly amazing is how creator J.J. Abrams is totally fearless when it comes to reinventing the show. You never know which characters are going to live, die, change, disappear, reappear... or even if the entire concept of the show is going to be altered.
I have to admit that the ending was not as shocking to me as it could have been... they are running out of people that could switch from good to evil or evil to good (an Alias hallmark!), so it was only a matter of time before they got around to it. But still, the way everything dropped into place was pretty slick. Now if only they would find something to do with Dixon! His character used to be kick-ass cool when he was out on missions, but now he's barely in the show at all. Maybe he'll turn evil next.
Posted on Monday, January 12th, 2004
For the most part, I think music videos suck ass. 90% of them are formulaic and blur together into a wash of boring images that don't enhance the song at all, 9% of the remainder are only good because they have hot babes in them, and only the final 1% seem to have any kind of vision. But every once in a while, an amazing video comes along that makes you glad you bothered to watch... the first one I remember doing that was a-ha's landmark video for Take On Me. Others have come and gone, but now I've run across this really cool retro video for Junior Senior's Move Your Feet.
The above screenshots don't really do the video justice, because it's the movement that makes it so cool... kind of like an old Atari 2600 video game or something. Worth a YouTube search to take a look.
Posted on Tuesday, January 13th, 2004
Okay... a movie featuring motorcycles and hottie biker babes (called Torque)? Who is the genius behind such a perfect concept? Oog... looks like it's über-producer Bruce Berman. The guy has his share of hits (well, one anyway: The Matrix) and complete misses (Matrix: Reloaded, Matrix: Revolutions and just about everything else), so I guess it's anybody's guess as to how bad this movie might suck.
Watching the Torque movie trailer, I can see that they are mixing in some special-effects for the trickier (i.e., impossible) riding shots. I guess it will make for a more exciting movie, but it kind of sucks that reality is so blatantly absent from every film that hits the screen now-a-days. Oh well, I'm sure all the breasts are real...
Posted on Wednesday, January 14th, 2004
Spam blows. Even with a spam filtering service and the anti-spam capabilities of Apple's Mail program, I am regularly getting 30 to 40 pieces of spam hitting my In-Box every day (not to mention the hundreds of pieces every day that are filtered out for me).
And now that we have anti-spam legislation in place, I honestly feel that the spam problem will get worse since there are so many loopholes in the law for spammers to hide behind. Now they can send out even more spam because they can claim that they are "in accordance with anti-spam laws." A big "thanks for nothing" to stupid politicians for not solving the problem, but instead making it a big PR stunt for re-election (can't blame them there... everybody hates spam, so it's a win-win topic to stand behind).
With every new day, I am starting to agree with those people who think that ISPs should have to pay for every piece of e-mail they process. They, in turn, can then pass this minimal charge to their customers. Just a simple charge of 2 cents would mean nothing to the average user... 300 e-mails a month would cost just $6.00, so big deal. But to a spammer who sends out millions of e-mails each day? Well, it's not so profitable to spam anymore is it?
The logistics of charging for e-mail is not a simple matter... mail servers would have to start keeping track of e-mails sent for billing, and would also have to refuse e-mails without "postage" on them. And then there's the questions: What about exchanging e-mail with foreign countries that don't charge for e-mail? Should .org non-profits get to send e-mail for free? During the transition, what happens to e-mail without postage? Do we still allow "postage-free" e-mail and, if we do, could it be marked in some way so that users have the option of refusing it?
I haven't a clue, and there are hundreds of other questions that would need to be answered. Given the number of e-mails sent each day, one thing I am sure of is that a charge-per-e-mail system would pay for itself in no time, and any excess funds collected could be put into programs that expand broadband options into rural communities or something.
All I know is that I don't want spam anymore, and I would gladly start paying if it meant an end to it all.
Posted on Thursday, January 15th, 2004
This is a placeholder for my Theme Thursday photo. I do have one, but I seem to have lost my USB cable so I can't upload it from my digital camera. Sigh. I'll probably have a chance to look for it on Saturday.
Posted on Friday, January 16th, 2004
1. What does it say in the signature line of your e-mails? Dave2. I used to have my favorite quote of all time: "No matter where you go, there you are" at the bottom (from the most excellent movie Buckaroo Banzai), but dropped it a few months ago.
2. Did you have a senior quote in your high school yearbook? No. What was it? If you haven't graduated yet, what would you like your quote to be? If Buckaroo Banzai had been released before I graduated, then it would have been the same quote as above but, as it were, I just signed my name.
3. If you had vanity plates on your car, what would they read? If you already have them, what do they say? If I were to get them for my car, they would say "F650GS" which is the model of my motorcycle that I'd rather be riding than driving in a car in the first place.
4. Have you received any gifts with messages engraved upon them? Once that I can think of... it was on a metal picture frame. What did the inscription say? "You are my world." It was really sweet, but the woman who gave it to me destroyed it when we broke up.
5. What would you like your epitaph to be? "He made a difference."
Posted on Saturday, January 17th, 2004
Last week I went to see the movie Paycheck (which is not as bad as you might think, seeing as it stars Ben Affleck), in which there is a major action sequence featuring a beautiful BMW 1150 R "Rockster" motorcycle. Ever since, I have been even more distraught over the fact that my F650 GS is put away for the winter.
Lately the roads here have been free of ice, making me sorely tempted to haul out my ride and take a run through town. But since many of the streets are covered with sand and gravel left over from icier days, I wimp out and decide against it (knowing full well that I'd probably end up dumping it). All I can say is that the City had better get their cleaning trucks out on the streets to the minute the snows start to retreat.
Posted on Sunday, January 18th, 2004
Speaking of BMW Motorcycles... OneWheelDrive is reporting that their latest on-road/off-road dual-sport, the R1200 GS, is going to be released in Europe on March 13. This looks like a sweet machine, that's probably considerably more comfortable for touring jaunts than my little F650 GS. To top it all off, it looks damn cool...
Sigh. I'd be happy if I could just ride mine.
Posted on Monday, January 19th, 2004
Just when I think that I have finally reached a point where I can safely ignore cnet, whose take on "journalism" isn't fit to wipe my ass, they sink to even newer lows of being Microsoft-stroking, Apple-bashing morons. True, they've been against all things Macintosh from the very beginning, but now they are to the point where their constant attacks aren't just sniping at Apple with editorial ramblings and blowing actual problems out of proportion, oh no... now they are actually inventing bad news.
Lately, Apple has been promoting the use of their PowerMac G5 by Virginia Tech to create the word's third-fastest super computer. With off-the shelf Apple G5 computers, InfiniBand network cards, a lot of cable, and open-source software, Dr. Varadarajan and his team did the unthinkable: created a world-class supercomputer for a rock-bottom price of 5.2 million dollars... magnitudes less than solutions costing hundreds of millions with far less power.
But then along comes cnet to yet again do their best to smear Apple with shit. In an article charmingly called "A grain of salt with your Apple," they have decided to "warn" businesses that Apple's price tag is not accurate, and that using Macs involves all kinds of hidden costs. Naturally, nobody signed their name to the article... which is typical cnet bullshit... and none of the "facts" they trot out are verified, but who cares about that? Let's take a look, shall we:
The $5.2 million doesn't include hundreds of volunteer hours work. That's because volunteers are not paid you stupid jackass! The implication is that a business would have to pay for their Macs to be set-up, adding additional cost... which is true... but if you bought Dell or Sun computers, they somehow magically unpack themselves from their boxes, install their own network cards, and hop on the shelf and plug themselves in? Bitch, please. Even if you had to pay a team for 500 man hours at $20 an hour (unpacking a computer from a box @ $20 an hour is great work if you can get it), that adds just $10,000 to the bottom line. Whoopee. Even if you spent $100,000, that's a pimple on the ass of a $5.2 million project.
Virginia Tech had plenty of graduate students on hand to figure out how to best set-up the network and translate software to the Mac platform. Yes, but what you forgot to mention was that the software they used is open source you moronic prick. It was free for the translating! It's not as if they purchased 5 million dollars worth of software and then had to re-work it to the Mac... oh no, thanks to MacOS X's Unix architecture, Dr. Varadarajan tweaked existing open source code and compiled it to run on the Mac. While I am sure he probably had some help, the entire project was completed in less than 3 months, so even if you decided not to use the freely available technologies waiting and available for the Mac (like Apple's own X-Grid), how bad could it be? Again, the implication here is that this stuff adds millions of dollars in hidden costs which is far from the truth.
Since apple only has one computer in the top 500, it's just an experiment, and businesses should pay experts to design their clusters and not rely on Macs. Well somebody had to be first you condescending turd. Let me get this straight: Just because the solution is from Apple, it doesn't matter that it was far, far, far cheaper and exceeded every expectation... it still sucks because nobody else is using it? If that moronic logic was applied to all new technology that was released, we'd still be banging rocks together to make fire. What a complete dumbass! What excuse will cnet come up with when Apple has 20 computers in the top 500 and the software has been perfected, optimized, and is free for the download?
What's so stupid here is that people continue to rely on cnet for "news." They are clearly biased and inaccurate... how could you possibly trust anything that they say? Hell, their editorials aren't even signed! For all we know, this new bash against Apple was written by the president of Intel. The facts speak for themselves: you can buy a supercomputer cluster from Apple that is world-class in terms of speed, University-tested in terms of reliability, and much less expensive than anything else out there. Who are you going to trust... Virginia Tech who actually built the damn thing, or cnet who probably doesn't even know what a super computer is.
Posted on Wednesday, January 21st, 2004
I have no idea how Trey Parker and Matt Stone continue to churn out South Park shows that just keep getting better with each new episode. I've been too busy to watch television for the past few months, and have just been letting everything stack up on my Tivo. Well, the thing is finally getting full, so I've been trying to squeeze in a few shows here and there to make some room. Among those were about 6 episodes of South Park I hadn't seen.
I haven't laughed that hard in a very long time, which was surprising because none of the episodes had my heroes Terrance & Phillip in them.
Probably the best episode ever was one called "Christian Rock Hard," where Cartman decides to form a Christian rock band to become rich and famous (since he has no talent, he figures Christian rock is the way to go... it seems to sell no matter how bad it sucks), and Stan, Kyle, and Kenny get arrested for downloading music off the internet. The usual hilarity ensues. If you haven't checked out South Park in a while, it is just as insightful, timely, and damn funny as it's ever been.
Posted on Thursday, January 22nd, 2004
I ran across a proposed bill which would ban all "objectionable" language from radio and television. Now I can't get the song It's Easy Mmmkay (from the South Park movie) out of my head as I try to mentally picture radio shock jocks trying to learn how to stop swearing on the air...
You can do it Its all up to you-mmmmmkay.
With a little plan you can change your life today!
You dont have to spend your life addicted to smack...
Homeless on the streets giving handjobs for crack.
Follow my plan and very soon you will see, its easy mmmkay...
Step 1: Instead of ass say buns, like "kiss my buns" or "you're a buns hole."
Step 2: Instead of shit say poo, as in "bull poo," "poo head," and this "poo is cold."
Step 3: With bitch drop the t because bich is latin for generosity.
Step 4: Dont say f#@% any more because f#@% is the worst word that you can say!
So just use the word "mmmkay!"
Now, out of respect for others, I never swear in mixed company... oh no, I save that kind of language for my friends, family, and this blog. But I have to say that harsh words have lost their shock value to me anymore... through years of constant exposure, words like "f#@%" have no more worse meaning to me than "darn." Yes, it's a shame that today's youth have turned into foul-mouthed little perverts... but what's the use in stopping the swearing on radio and television when kids can hear far worse on the school playground? Mmmkay?
Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2004
At this moment, what is your favorite...
1. Song? At this very moment it would have to be You're Mine by A Flock of Seagulls from their Light at the End of the World album. VH1 is getting old bands back together, and ever since I heard Flock would be one of them, I've been listening to their music... this song has been kind of stuck in my head ever since.
2. Food? Totino's has out a new "Four Cheese" pizza that I've been currently consuming at a rate of about 3-4 a week. For those unfamiliar with the brand, Totino's makes these nasty pizzas you can often find on sale for around $1.00... they taste like crap, but I somehow like them anyway.
3. TV Show? I am totally addicted to Alias.
4. Scent? Vanilla.
5. Quote? I doubt my favorite quote will ever change... it's been the same for decades: "No matter where you go, there you are." —Buckaroo Banzai.
Posted on Saturday, January 24th, 2004
I finally got around to ordering up a new serious" camera to replace my faithful Canon A-1 that I've owned for the past 20 years. The big question was, would I stick with a film camera, or switch to a digital SLR? After a month of going back and forth... (digital will never be as good as film but, after you've used digital, let's face it: the thought of going back to film blows)... I decided to go with a Canon EOS Rebel Digital.
It was supposed to be here Friday, but was delayed because FedEx thought there might be bad whether in Spokane (there wasn't, and other freight arrived just fine).
When I called FedEx, they said they would flag it for Saturday Delivery, but Fed-Ex doesn't deliver on Saturday to where I live, so I drove the 40 minutes to the airport only to find it still hadn't made it (despite having "left the ramp" at Spokane hours ago). Nothing quite like being at the mercy of FedEx when you have a new toy coming.
Posted on Saturday, January 24th, 2004
Computers started out as a fascinating hobby for me and nothing more. My first PC was an Atari 800 that featured a whopping 48K of memory, a real keyboard, and pretty slick graphics (for the time) with a max res of 320 x 192. My parents bought it for me in 1980 along with a 5-1/4-inch disk drive for around $1200. I pretty much stuck with Atari for the next several years, graduating to an Atari 800XL (1982) and an Atari 1040ST (in 1986).
My loyalty to Atari ended in 1992 when I purchased a new scanner for my 1040ST which came with a free copy of Adobe Photoshop. The program didn't work on the Atari, only on a Mac, so I went out and bought a Macintosh Performa 600CD so I could use it.
Since that time, I have been a die-hard Mac user and have never looked back. I've upgraded a number of times over the years, including a Power Macintosh 8100, a PowerBook 2400, the PowerMac G3, an iBook G3... and finally landing with a Titanium PowerBook G4 1Ghz and the amazing G4 Cube (which is showing it's age, but is so damn cool that I cannot bring myself to part with it... it is undeniably the most beautiful computer yet made).
So Happy 20th Birthday to the Apple Macintosh, which revolutionized computers in 1984 and is still revolutionizing the computer world in 2004. I am profoundly grateful to have been using a Mac all these years (as opposed to the heinous Windows alternative) and look forward to my next 20 years as a Mac user.
Posted on Saturday, January 24th, 2004
I rarely have the time to just sit down and watch television and, on those rare occasions that I do, I usually end up watching only those shows that I have my Tivo record. But today was a little different. I had so much work to catch up on that I didn't want to risk being distracted by something "good" so I just parked the television on VH1 and left it there.
My plans for non-distracting television were dashed when the Bands Reunited: A Flock of Seagulls episode came on. I already had it recorded on my Tivo DVR, but became instantly captivated and couldn't help but watch. Something about seeing people who have long since put their mega-star life behind them and moved on... only to be mercilessly ambushed with the prospect of a reunion with their old band mates... it's just compelling television.
Since I am a huge fan of AFOS... this episode was fantastic for numerous reasons (not the least of which is hearing them play again!). The stories behind the rise and fall of the group is just the icing on the cake.
But then VH1 continued on with more Bands Reunited episodes, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Klymaxx... each with loads of drama involved in getting the bands back together again. This is a really cool series that will captivate you, even if you don't like the bands they feature.
Now if only VH1 would provide an RSS feed for the companion blog to their other amazing show Best Week Ever, I would be really happy.
Posted on Sunday, January 25th, 2004
Okay. I am officially addicted to VH1's new Bands Reunited show. The only problem is that it's not enough... I want MORE. I want to see Flock of Seagulls and Berlin's entire reunited concert! Not just the few songs they put at the end of the show, but the entire concert!! And what about a tour? I'd pay serious money to see some of these bands play. But even that is not enough... I want more bands to be reunited!
The original Depeche Mode... the original New Order... the original Thompson Twins... Breathe... Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark... Information Society... Johnny Hates Jazz.. The Kane Gang... The Psychedelic Furs... Talk Talk... When in Rome... THE SMITHS! Ack! So many cool bands from the 80's that I'd give anything to see back together, even if for just one night. The possibilities are endless, and just thinking about it makes me sick with anticipation over what new shows VH1 might dredge up for the next batch of episodes.
Ooooh... Romeo Void and The Alarm are just around the corner...
Posted on Monday, January 26th, 2004
My Canon EOS Digital Rebel camera finally arrived today after Fed-Ex missed two previous delivery commitments. While it was worth the wait, it is very different than the string of smaller (and much lighter) digital cameras I've been using over the past 5 years. I hold up my Canon PowerShot 400 next to the new one and find it's easily 8 to 10 times bigger!
This worries me a bit, as I had forgotten what a bummer it is to pack around a neck-anchor during my travels. But, then again, after only an hour of playing around with the Digital Rebel I'm remembering just how much I gave up when I switched away from film. This baby is sweet! It shoots beautifully in just about any condition I've thrown at it (including low light), and I'm amazed at some of the shots I'm getting... exactly the type of stuff I used to shoot for film, but with all the convenience of digital.
So now I'm psyched to get out and take some photos. And I already want to go out and buy $1000 worth of additional lenses (which only seems fair considering how much I will save in film and developing costs).
Posted on Tuesday, January 27th, 2004
As most people who know me knows, I am a huge fan of television legend Betty White. She can take any role and completely own it, and then eclipse anybody else who dares share a scene with her. Well, Betty was on Ellen today and revealed that she is guest-starring on three(!) episodes of The Practice starting February 15th! Sweet!
Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2004
I had already given my take on who should be winning an Oscar this year, but thought I would do a rough follow-up now that nominations are out:
Best picture: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," "Lost in Translation," "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," "Mystic River, " "Seabiscuit." Who should win: This is a really tough call since the first three are all Oscar-worthy. I previously theorized that Return of the King should win based on the strength of the entire trilogy, but in retrospect I feel Lost in Translation is the better film. Who will win: I am guessing Return of the King has the edge.
Best Actor: Johnny Depp, "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl"; Ben Kingsley, "House of Sand and Fog"; Jude Law, "Cold Mountain"; Bill Murray, "Lost in Translation"; Sean Penn, "Mystic River." Who should win: Absolutely Bill Murray... not even a contest (though Johnny Depp made that film). Who will win: Bill Murray... how could he not?
Best Actress: Keisha Castle-Hughes, "Whale Rider"; Diane Keaton, "Something's Gotta Give"; Samantha Morton, "In America"; Charlize Theron, "Monster"; Naomi Watts, "21 Grams." Who should win: Uma's Kill Bill performance was overlooked (idiots!), and the only one of these films I saw was the excellent Whale Rider, so I have no clue. Who will win: It looks like Charlize Theron has the edge, though Nicole Kidman is a Hollywood darling that could prove an upset.
Supporting actor: Alec Baldwin, "The Cooler"; Benicio Del Toro, "21 Grams"; Djimon Hounsou, "In America"; Tim Robbins, "Mystic River"; Ken Watanabe, "The Last Samurai." Who should win: I admit I haven't seen all these films, but I don't need to... Ken Watanabe's performance was one of the best I have ever seen in a film. Who will win: My guess is Tim Robbins.
Supporting actress: Shohreh Aghdashloo, "House of Sand and Fog"; Patricia Clarkson, "Pieces of April"; Marcia Gay Harden, "Mystic River"; Holly Hunter, "Thirteen"; Renee Zellweger, "Cold Mountain." Who should win: I didn't see any of these films, but Holly Hunter stands out because she doesn't usually lower herself to dramatic pap like "Cold Mountain." Who will win: Renee Zellweger can't seem to get any hotter in Hollywood right now.
Best Director: Fernando Meirelles, "City of God"; Peter Jackson, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"; Sofia Coppola, "Lost in Translation"; Peter Weir, "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World"; Clint Eastwood, "Mystic River." Who should win: I maintain that the direction of special-effects spectacles like Rings is too much in the hands of people at the computers rather than directors... so Sophia Coppola easily gets my nod for best director of Translation which she wrote as well. Who will win: They'll probably give it to Jackson for Rings just because of the mammoth effort it took to film the entire trilogy (and that's not entirely wrong, I think).
Best Animated film: "Brother Bear"; "Finding Nemo"; "The Triplets of Belleville." Who should win: The magic that Pixar pulled off in Nemo gets my vote (though Triplets is brilliant). Who will win: Nemo.
As for the other awards... Original screenplay: Sophia Coppola should win and probably will. Adapted screenplay: This is an area where Lord of the Rings deserves to win... it's the impossible task somehow done really well, but I have a feeling Cold Mountain will take it. Art direction: Both Last Samurai and Master and Commander are deserving, and Samurai should take it. Cinematography: Last Samurai really should have been nominated but, since it wasn't, Cold Mountain will probably grab it.
Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2004
Today I was walking through the mall on my way to get a haircut when I ran across a small boy standing in the middle of the walkway looking confused and crying. Twenty years ago... hell, even ten years ago... anybody with half a heart would jump in and offer to help the kid. Sadly, we live in modern times when such an act of kindness could so easily get you into trouble.
I knelt in front of the little guy, being careful that my hands were out to my sides and in plain view, then told him my name and asked him: "Are you okay? Are you lost?" In-between sobs, I found out he was indeed lost. "Are you here with your mommy or daddy?" No, he was here with his grandma.
So now what? If I were to take his hand and try to lead him to somebody who could help, it could give somebody the very wrong impression that I was some kind of child molester kidnapping the kid. Can't have that. So what I ultimately did was tell him that I would stay there with him and see if we could get somebody to find his grandmother. Eventually I managed to flag down a girl in a nearby store and ask her to call security. But before they could arrive, grandma came running and everything was okay.
But not really.
The entire drive home, I got to thinking about how horrible our world has become. Even the best of intentions can end up having dire consequences... try to help somebody who has been fatally shot, then get slapped with a wrongful death lawsuit... try to help a lost little boy, then get thrown in prison for attempted child abduction. What the hell? Is the world we are making for ourselves really the one we want?
In the end, I try not to blame society as a whole. Instead I blame f#@%ing child molesters and f#@%ing child abductors for forcing society to have to be so suspicious of anybody who would try to help a lost child. f#@% you all.
Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2004
Lately I have been reading a number of blogs by Iraqi natives that provide a fascinating insight into what life has been like "after the liberation." I am not one who feels that war is the ultimate solution to all the world's problems, but I cannot help but be touched at how the lives of the Iraqi people have been changed.
One of my favorite Iraqi blogs is Iraq at a Glance by a dentist in Baghdad named A.Y.S., which has just become even more fascinating now that his mother (an English teacher of 20 years) has started posting as well. For anybody even a little curious about what it's like to be a citizen of Iraq with a blog right now, this is a great starting point.
But the blog that encouraged me to write this post today is Iraq the Model. Yesterday Ali posted a response to a comment made by Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean about Iraq being worse off now than when Saddam was running the country. It is a powerful and eye-opening read, and defends American troops in a way that every American should be doing whether they agree with the war in Iraq or not. Here's an excerpt...
"By statements like these you deny any honourable motives for the great job your people are doing here. How in your opinion will this affect the morality of your soldiers? Feeling that their people back at home don't support them and that they're abandoned to fight alone in the battlefield."
"And all of this for what? For staying in the white house for 4 or 8 years? Is it worth it? And this is not directed only to Mr. Dean, it's for all the Americans who support such allegations without being aware of their consequences. What's it that you fight so hard for, showing your soldiers as occupiers and murderers, the soldiers who I had the honour of meeting many, and when talking to some of them, I didn't see anything other than gentleness, honesty and good will and faith in what they're doing."Ali sums it all up by saying: "My heart goes with those brave people and the widows, orphans and mothers of the American soldiers who died while doing this great service for their country, ours and humanity. I can't imagine what their response would be to such thoughtless words motivated with nothing more than selfish ambitions."
Politicians here are famous for spouting off crap that they think will get them votes or raise their popularity, despite the ramification of what their words might incite. Dean wanted to appeal himself to anti-war voters (like myself, I guess), and didn't seem to stop and think of what it might mean to our troops who are fighting and dying over in Iraq, nor the Iraqi people trying to rebuild their country. I can only hope that politicians will one day come to learn that being a leader is about more than just saying whatever it takes to be popular... and isn't it ironic that it takes somebody from Iraq, so new to freedom, to point this out?
Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2004
Roger made my morning by sending me the link to the new Kill Bill Vol. 2 teaser trailer that's up at Yahoo in glorious QuickTime (I have no idea why Apple doesn't have it on their trailers page). Somehow I managed to miss it when it was posted last week.
While this does nothing to ease my anger about Miramax pushing back the February 20th premiere date to April... it does make me happy to know that the film is out there somewhere.
Posted on Thursday, January 29th, 2004
Since I got my new camera, I actually shot quite a few photos that I thought would make a great post for today's "Theme Thursday" of repeating patterns. But it ended up one of the very first photos I took was the one I ended up liking the most...
I think this was probably the third photo I ever took with the camera... I was interested in seeing how the EOS Digital Rebel handled the subtle shading details in my office window blinds. It was just a test, but it made for a pretty cool shot!
Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2004
You have just won one million dollars...
1. Who do you call first? The BMW dealership.
2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself? A BMW Z4 Roadster Convertable 3.0i.
3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else? Airline tickets.
4. Do you give any away? Absolutely. If yes, to whom? Probably some charities promoting animal conservation or child welfare.
5. Do you invest any? Yes. If so, how? Whatever my new investment broker thinks will be a good idea, so long as it doesn't involve weapon producing or environmental damaging companies.
Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2004
As I have mentioned many times, I absolutely loathe those Pier One commercials featuring a screaming Kirstie Alley dressed in dumb-ass prom dress rejects. Every time one of her insanely stupid ads airs, I want to puncture my ear drums and then gouge my eyes out.
Why in the hell would an advertiser want to annoy prospective customers of their product like that? Because it works. Pier One reported drastic increases in foot traffic (around 12-17% depending what you read) after the Kirstie Alley campaign began airing.
But, mercifully, they've hired a new commercial spokesperson to replace her: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Thom Filicia. This is quite a coup, because Thom is really good at his job (have you seen some of the things he does on Queer Eye?) in addition to being on a very popular show. Apparently, Thom is also in discussions to create his own line of decorator goods there as well, which means I may actually have to step foot in one of these places one day.
Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2004
Continuing on with my infatuation with VH1's Bands Reunited, I just watched the last episode of the series for another old-time favorite group, The Alarm, and found it to be one of the best yet (unlike the episode for Squeeze, which was not only boring but disappointing as well). Oh how I hope that VH1 continues on with another season. Sure it won't be quite the same surprise when old band-mates are ambushed (since everybody knows about the show now), but there are so many bands out there left to be reunited...
Posted on Saturday, January 31st, 2004
The successor to the blogging software I use, Kung-Log, has finally been release from beta and is now called ecto. This is essential software for anybody running a Mac with OS X and keeping a blog. Thanks Adriaan!