Thursday, May 31, 2007
And Another Short Post (Because I Can)
Who doesn’t see Google Gears as another step in Google’s slow march to the enterprise desktop? I wonder how the folks at Microsoft are feeling about this right about now?
About A Thousand Splendid Suns
Let’s just say that it looks like something Ayaan Hirsi Ali would appreciate tremendously. And that’s a good thing.
The review definitely doesn’t make A Thousand Splendid Suns sound as good as Kite Runner--which was one of the finest novels I’ve read in the last few years--but it does make it sound well worth reading.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Mr. Answer Knows it All (And Really Likes the Easy Questions)
Answer: Without including DVD rentals or sales, Apocalypto took in a combined $118,854,971 from domestic and foreign ticket sales from an estimated production budget of $40 million. Which isn’t bad considering that it didn’t star anyone, featured languages that almost nobody speaks, and came close after Mel’s big anti-semitic festival of drunken bad decision making. In fact, it’s a far better showing than Gibson’s own 1993 release, The Man Without a Face,which took in just $24,760,338 in domestic ticket sales and had actors that spoke English.
Which just goes to show that hating Jews isn’t the big career-damaging maneuver for actors that most of us might have imagined.
Further: Apocalypto still hasn’t made a dime from the Zomby, although, I admit to being curious as hell about the thing.
For more reading: With questions like this, you’re really better off getting answers from Boxofficemojo.com.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Monday, May 28, 2007
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (Ten Point Review)
If you feel so inclined, here’s the Cadillac view.
And De Doc enjoyed it tremendously.
Linked by the hilarious McCain. Love this guy.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Beware the Zomby Hordes
See. I told you I had minions. Totally evil, too.
Point being? If you don’t attend the Rocky Mountain Blogger Bash, you, too, will be courting the danger of a slowly shuffling, brain eating zomby (properly misspelled) horde.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Sounds of the 80’s: More Than 100 Songs
Jeff wants 80’s suggestions? You know I can’t resist this. How about a list of more than 100 songs that go from the end of the 70’s (Pink Floyd’s “When the Tigers Broke Free” to--what sounds, at least--like the early 90’s (all of the Screaming Trees songs). It also covers a wide spectrum of styles--punk, rock, metal, goth, country, and pop are all cozying up on this list.
Here, then, is a list of the 80’s type stuff that I have on the laptop or on my mp3tunes.com account:
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Jeep: I Don’t Want More. I Want Less.
Jeep (and Your New Overlords):
I don’t need leather seats, power windows, power seats, or an automatic transmission. I don’t need the most sophisticated, the most quiet, or the most flashy car on the road. Not when I’m looking at Jeeps, anyway. It doesn’t have to be the fastest, but it has to go wherever I tell it to.
I want Jeeps to be rugged, utilitarian, and rock solid. It needs to be able to take scratches, bumps, and, occasionally, a road filled with some super-sized rocks and streams. It needs to be reliable, easily fixed when it gets in a fix, and sure footed in a snow storm.
When I think about driving a Jeep, I want to shift for myself and feel like I can mount a Ma Deuce in the cargo bay and head off into a combat zone. A Jeep is, in its soul, a perfect expression of every American man’s sense of independence and strength (even if that self-assessment is more hope than reality).
And it has to look like a Jeep. Jeep fans will know what I mean, but it breaks down like this: Jeep Grand Cherokees only bear a passing resemblance to real Jeeps, but the original Cherokee was near perfect. The Patriot is close, Liberty isn’t what I’m looking for, and the Compass is just wrong. The Wrangler has an eternal appeal, of course, and the Wrangler Unlimited is pretty damned nice.
But the Jeep JT concept is what I’m really looking for. Keep it simple, keep it Jeep, and keep the cost down--this is all Jeep needs to do to catch my attention. Even the dull paint color on the concept truck is perfect--it has that tough, almost military look. The solid white wheels and the overall design are retro in a good way, calling to mind all the warm, fuzzy feelings I have about Jeep, but also promising the kind of utilitarian brilliance that made Jeep such an icon.
Here’s the deal: build it simple and build it at a decent price and I promise to put it on the shortlist for my next new car.
American Idol: Crawling Slowly to the Conclusion
A few impressions:
Update: Heheh. Funny:
Of course, if you didn’t see the show, this won’t make any sense at all. If you did see it, well, no explanation needed.
Speaking of South Africa (Because I Wanted To, Damnit)
This article linked by Drudge sort of grabbed my attention this morning.
“Why did it grab my attention?” you ask. Because I spent a little quality time on the phone with a gentleman from Joburg yesterday and he was telling me that they were expecting incredibly low temperatures last night--something on the order of -4°, although I’m not sure if he was speaking in Celsius or Fahrenheit. Either way, much of southern Africa isn’t really big on central heating in their homes.
Not that winter (June to August) temperatures don’t drop--South Africa isn’t as warm as many people might imagine. Still, the weather is typically moderate compared to, say, winters in Ohio. Not a huge story, really, but I find myself feeling a little tiny bit of sympathy for my friends in the area.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
American Idol: Still Fighting the Tyranny of High Standards in the Music Industry (Updated)
So, Paula tripped over her dog, Barbiturate. For some reason.
None of which changes the fact that tonight is the big fight between Beat Box Boy and The Towering Giantess. Which is fun for the whole family as long as they keep their actual musical expectations somewhere on the lower side of good.
Blake’s “Shot Through the Heart” was better than the first time he sang it, but it pales in comparison to Paula’s freaky, ruffly top. Not in quality, mind you, but in a sheer, “Are you serious?” way.
Tattoo You Aside: So, there I was, wondering what tattoo I should get next. Thank God for Blake Lewis and his magical Monchichi. And thank God for Andy and his willingness to help us through all of these American Idol related questions. If we’re really lucky, he’ll post naked pictures of Jordin Sparks next.
Er, just kidding about that last part.
Speaking of Jordin and her incredible height, she sang that song that I don’t know from some show a few weeks back. She sounded pretty good with the exception of the middle and end which devolved into some tuneless, broken, shouting thing.
I"m with Simon: round one goes to Blake.
Sad as Hell Aside: I kept hoping that Annika wouldn’t really leave us. She callously disregarded my hope. Annika is a bright young woman with a great future ahead of her--and I know that she represents the future leadership of our country. Somehow, that thought makes me feel pretty good. Aside from that, though, she has absolutely brilliant taste in footwear. Good luck, Annika, we’ll miss you tremendously.
Oh, great. Blake is doing that crappy Maroon 5 song. Pardon me while I go do something that doesn’t suck…
And Jordin goes for “Broken Wing"--which makes me wonder why the hell I stayed home to watch this crap tonight. Not only does the song suck, but her voice isn’t particularly sure, nor is it particularly pleasant. She can’t connect emotionally with the song, Randy is smoking crack, Paula is still suffering the after-effects of her run in with Barbiturate, and even Randy dips into the Kool Aid.
This round goes to Blake as the proud lesser of two evils.
But I Am Excited About This Aside: I didn’t really dig the first Fantastic 4 flick. It wasn’t nearly as good as, say, Spiderman 2, X-Men, or Batman Begins, although it wasn’t exactly horrible, either. But now they have Silver Surfer.
Silver freakin’ Surfer. Which is damned near as cool as if X-Men 3: The Minor Disappointment had actually featured Angel in the movie instead of just teasing me with his presence. Silver freakin’ Surfer, folks. I’m all giddy.
Which is good, because this crap that the two boneheads from Seattle wrote for Blake to sing is one of the most boring, ball-free songs I’ve ever heard. Pure and utter shit, completely without artistic value, and barely worth listening to (much less recording). If I were Blake, I would jump off stage and beat the living hell out of the writers for this little bit of idiocy.
My God, it’s like they actually hate music. I mean, that’s the only reasonable explanation that I can come up with.
American Idol Hates Music!
Simon is wrong: it is a bad song.
Now Jordin sings the song, too. Because American Idol Hates Music! The little crying girl thing she did at the end was a nice touch, though. That will buy her a few million extra votes (and probably the victory). Sadly for Blake, he’s going to lose.
If this is your now, your now sucks big.
Anyway, I’ll have to post something to listen to that might overpower the bad taste that “This is My Now” has left in my mouth. Maybe I’ll post some angry frog music and tell you about what I think might be worrisome changes in the political and social climate in South Africa. First, though, I have to take girl to get some ice cream to celebrate her extra good day.
Update: Venomous Chick writes:
Isn’t that the truth?
And this post has made Mullah McCain’s Fatwa (which also has the most adorable little picture of Osama bin Laden that you could possibly imagine--adorable, I tell you).
Friday, May 18, 2007
Target Rich Environment (Updated)
If you’re looking for something from our country’s leaders to set your anger level high, you’re living in a target rich environment. For me, personally, I don’t feel the level of rage that many Republicans and conservatives feel about the immigration deal. That might be because I still feel naive on the subject; I’m not really sure what the effect of the deal will be, I’m not sure I understand the costs or the benefits yet, and I want to read through all the details before I completely form my opinion.
What has got my brain burning, though, is the budget and tax plan that the Democrats are pushing through that leads me back to something I said some time ago:
What the Democrats are planning to do--along with all of our existing fiscal obligations--is almost guaranteed to send us into a recession of the kind that hit us early in Clinton’s first term. In fact, the “Clinton economy” only hit stride once the nation had shaken off his early tax increase and he had turned us toward a far more conservative (if I may misuse the term) tax and spend lifestyle. And for all the left likes to talk about taxing the rich, it should be remembered that their taxes usually hit across a broad spectrum and that their view of what constitutes “rich” might not be much like your own.
We will all see a gradual tax increase and for some it is bound to be quite large.
My budget is always tight, folks. Tax increases like this hurt--especially for a guy who is going to be getting married in the near future.
Aside from the personal pain, envisioning a long lasting and deep recession resulting from this kind of a tax increase doesn’t require any kind of crystal ball. Anyone who watched the recessions after the Bush 1 and Clinton tax increases knows the score--these moves hit at employment, consumer confidence, investor aggressiveness, and new business investment. It almost guarantees decreased consumer activity--especially if they hit in combination with high energy costs--as budgets tighten and people start worrying about their bank accounts and real estate investments.
With looming Medicare and Social Security problems so enormous that they sometimes seem insurmountable, what we need our leaders to do is solve our current fiscal problems in a responsible manner. Instead they simply plan to pile new problems onto the old, confiscate more money from we, the people, and give us so many new perks of citizenship in the form of pills, government handouts, and artificially cheap high fructose corn syrup sweetened everything that maybe we won’t notice the crumbling machinery propping up the whole damned show.
This isn’t entirely about the Republican/Democrat divide--my side has shown little willingness to control spending, failed to support the President in his push to reform Social Security in a meaningful way, and happily supported him when decided to send a care package of government-subsidized drugs out to the easily-frightened senior citizens who thought that the Social Security reform was aimed dead against them. I hear the drugs had a lovely calming effect.
As an aside; When the blue hairs go to bed at night, maybe they all imagine that Kanye West actually said, “Bush hates old people.” Look, I’m going to be old some day, too, and I hope there is some security in my life. I also hope like hell that I’m not the same as the selfish bastards who killed off any chance of reform of Social Security by lapping up the bullshit peddled by the anti-reformers and AARP. I hope I don’t put my irrational fears ahead of the good of the country and a better financial future for my grandkids.
I will never join the AARP as long as they are part of the fear mongers who block Social Security reform. Never.
Anyway, the GOP leadership is mostly happy to play the spending game; it’s hardly a sport reserved for the left. What keeps me voting for the Republicans is that the Democrats are more aggressive in the taxing, spending, and relying on Uncle Sugar to make everything better department. I’m a limited government believer not because I think government is inherently evil, but because I think it is clumsy, self-serving, and rarely as effective as its free market counterparts. Unfortunately, most Americans are true believers in Uncle Sugar’s capacity to be mommy, daddy, and universal umbrella against the ills of the world--and that’s why our future looks more and more like the worst of France.
So, yeah, I guess we all have reason to be cranky today.
Update: Kindly linked by Kate.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Late Night Heavy Metal Moments of Clarity
Have you noticed how much Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” has held up better than Dio’s “Rainbow in the Dark”? For that matter, Skid Row might not be well remembered, but damned if I don’t still like listening to “Slave the Grind”. Maiden’s “The Trooper” sounds pretty dated, too, but it doesn’t bother me in the same way that “Rainbow in the Dark” does.
Just sayin’. You know. In case you were wondering…
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
American Idol: The Torture Comes Slowly to an End
So, when the hell did Elliot Yamin become Mr. Kotter?
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
American Idol: Countdown to Extra Special Mediocrity
The night is one of my favorite nights of the year: the night that the judges and the producers choose songs for the singers. I like it mostly because I like to imagine the hell that I would put the contestant through if I were choosing the songs that they would sing. Sadly, the judges and producers usually choose kindness in place of cruelty.
But I can still dream.
Jordin Sparks comes out with a wonderful vocal of a marginal song. Nicely done, Jordin. You go girl, and other such leftover idiocies.
Blake’s take on “Roxanne” was alright, but, frankly, he’s no Sting. It takes a special voice to screw up a vocal like Sting does with this song and make it sound brilliant.
If you take my meaning.
Melinda is just sort of boring. Competent. Yeah, that’s nice.
“Are you drunk?” asked Simon. Stupidly, I thought he was talking to Paula.
“She Works Hard for the Money.” Doing entirely legal stuff. Honest.
Jordin’s second song is another snooze--it’s too grounded in the 80’s, too bland to really overcome its moment in history, and Jordin’s take is too straight to make it seem like something fresh.
Question time: did anyone else get the feeling that Blake was channeling his inner boy band with that Maroon 5 song? Horrid song choice, typical vocal.
Melinda’s second song was far better than the first, but, let’s just say, she’s no Tina Turner. Not by a long shot.
The little Sparks is having a really good night. In fact, her third song (a song I’m not familiar with) was a perfect fit for her; she screwed up the ending a bit, but the rest was wonderful. I utterly loved it and, contra Simon, am glad that she did something classic in feel and style rather than something contemporary, poppy, throwaway crap.
Blake, on the other hand, is surprisingly boring tonight. His third song passes like elevator music and I’m already on to something else. Melinda isn’t exactly helping herself, but she didn’t hurt herself, either. She continues to be the best talent in terms of her singing ability and consistency. But she didn’t really light the place up tonight, did she?
At the top of the show, I would have bet on Melinda and Blake in the finals based on their appeal to such different audience. Melinda and Jordin are competing for a lot of the same votes right now. I’m not sure, though, because Blake was definitely the weakest of the evening.
Still, the teen girl vote cannot be ignored, so I predict Blake in the finals. Jordin had the better night, but Melinda has had--by a big bit--the better competition. The goodwill and fan base that she’s built up will carry her through.
Blake and Melinda in the big show down. So sayeth the Zomby.
Update: Kindly linked by Kate, who thinks that Blake is going bye bye. More importantly, though, given her current proximity to Denver, she might want to ditch the kids and take the hubby on a road trip for a very special blogger bash.
Well, I’m Glad We Solved That Particular Problem
July 7 it is.
Bigger, more official type announcement later this evening; consult with Andy and others soon on location; saving up of beer money and commences now; and drinking exercises (to improve stamina) begin this weekend.
Now, any ideas for a blogger outreach program?
Friday, May 11, 2007
If You Don’t Buy This Product, You Might Be in Violation of the Law
There is something funny about this. Media Rights Technologies and BlueBeat.com are launching a wide-ranging effort to force some of the tech world’s biggest companies to adopt their technologies--and they are using the courts to do their work.
In case you didn’t read the above--since reading PR releases isn’t something most people do for fun--let me sum it up:
The law (apparently--I’m neither a lawyer nor a compulsive reader of legalese) makes it a crime for a company to develop a device or software that doesn’t use “effective copyright protection solutions.” Since the companies filing the injunction have developed just such a solution, the companies who don’t use their technology must be in violation of the law.
What’s an ethical, DRM-loving company to do? Well it’s obviously time to call in the lawyers. Lawyers can fix everything.
Okay, maybe funny isn’t the right term. Maybe what I was looking for was pathetic, obvious, idiotic, and irritating.
Update: More here at CNET.
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