Monday, June 30, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
My girls loved the movie Matilda so much, they watched it two days in a row on the Roku box. Next, I'll grab the Roald Dahl book it is based on. I asked them to write up their impressions of it, so here's their capsule reviews:
R (almost 9):
I liked the movie 'Matilda' because Matilda had a nice teacher and in the end they became a family because Matilda's family let Miss. Honey adopt Matilda. I also liked the movie because Matilda and Ms. Honey got out of Ms. Trunchbul's house before she found them. I didn't like the movie because Matilda's parents and Ms. Trunchbul were very mean. That is what I liked and didn't like about the movie.
A (almost 8):
I liked the movie Matilda. I liked it because it was funny and scary at the same time. The school did not look so great and it had a mean principal. Matilda had parents that did not care about her. She liked to read but her parents insisted to watch T.V. She finally became a daughter to her very nice teacher.
I fixed a few easy typos but otherwise these are their words. A also did hers in color, which I replicated for her. So if you have kids, this sounds like an excellent movie to watch.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I have recently viewed a couple of movies that could not have been more different!
First up was the documentary Helvetica on the Netflix Roku box and yes, it's all about the font. Actually, it was about the ubiquitous typeface and a whole lot more, including design, marketing and the psychology f typography. They interviewed a bunch of passionate folks, both pro Helvetica and the virulent anti-establishment designers who wouldn't use Helvetica if their life depended on it. I loved the passion these folks bring to both typeface design, as well as the graphic artists who both use and despise Helvetica.
The film also shows just how prevalent Helvetica has become, as it shows logo, signs and magazine covers just rotten with it, for better or for worse. It also tells the story of Helvetica, how it was invented in the 1950s as well as how it became so popular. Did you know there are directors of marketing for typeface companies? Exactly how do you sell a font anyway?
But the passion the interviewees bring to the table is very evident. I especially liked the anti crowd, like Stefan Sagmeister and David Carson, famous in the graphic design field for their wild, boundary straining covers. Carson even went so far as to use the Dingbats font for an article in his magazine that he wasn't all that happy with! Very interesting documentary.
On the opposite side of the film world came I Am Legend, viewed in its BluRay incarnation in all its 1080p, Dolby Digital glory. Will Smith stars as the last man standing in an apocalyptic world after some unnamed virus (related to rabies?), used as a cure for cancer, goes rogue and kills nearly everyone while turning a select few into raving, rabid lunatics afraid of the dark. Robert Neville, alone out of everyone in the world (somehow he knows this) is immune and searches for a cure, while prowling the abandoned streets of New York City with his dog.
All I can say is, why bother having it titled after a book if you aren't going to use it at all? While the novella by Richard Matheson had its problems, this movie had about as much to do with it as a Sean Connery James Bond had to do with the Ian Fleming book it shared a title with. Matheson's Neville is an ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances, a vigilante during the day and a whiner and drunkard at night, as he holes up in his fortified home. Smith's Neville is a heroic survivor trying desperately to find a cure. Heck, he doesn't even kill any of the mutants!
Some folks complained that the ending was too optimistic as compared to the book but given the entire disregard for the source material rampant in the movie, it seems like a hollow complaint. Maybe the movie would be better for you if you don't read the book first, but my parents who watched it didn't know the book and I don't think they were all that impressed by it either.
It sure looked nice though. Some scenes of Smith walking through overgrown fields in New York City came through crisp and clear. The soundtrack didn't really stress the speakers too much though. All in all, a very average adventure flick that goes to disappointing if you read the book. 28 Days Later did viral, apocalyptic horror much better.
Monday, June 23, 2008
From the Audible.com list, I read the first book in the Michael Forsythe series, written by Adrian McKinty. Called Dead I Well May Be, it was a really great start to the "Dead" trilogy.
The Dead trilogy tells the story of Michael Forsythe, an unwilling Irish immigrant, forced to come to the United States to work for a shady relative in New York City after being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Forsyth is a study in contrasts - well read, but prone to violence.
He crosses the wrong guy at the wrong time and gets send on a fool's mission, only to get locked up in a Mexican jail. Left for dead, he comes back to wreak his revenge, which only reinforces the old saw "Revenge is a dish best served cold".
I really enjoyed Dead I Well May Be. Tauntly written, with nary a quotation mark, Michael Forsyth was a multi-faceted, believable character. The action was well scripted and the journey back from the dead impressive, if perhaps a tad overlong. I also didn't really understand how he knew who, where and what to revenge, but it mostly got satisfactorly explained. Highly recommended. I'm looking forward to getting the second book in the trilogy, The Dead Yard. While my library didn't have that one available, I took out another McKinty book called Hidden River, a straight dectective novel written between Dead I Well May Be and The Dead Yard.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
1. Calculate the smallest limb diameter on a persimmon tree that will support a ten-pound possum.
2. Which of the following cars will rust out the quickest when placed on blocks in your front yard?
A) '66 Ford Fairlane,
B) '69 Chevrolet Chevelle,
C) '64 Pontiac GTO
3. If your Uncle JW builds a still that operates at capacity of 20 gallons of shine per hour, how many car radiators are necessary to condense the product?
4 A pulpwood cutter has a chain saw that operates at 2700 rpm. The density of the pine trees in a plot to be harvested is 470 per acre. The plot is 2.3 acres in size. The average tree diameter is 14 inches. How many Pabst Blue Ribbons will be consumed in cutting the trees?
5. If every old refrigerator in the state vented its charge of R-12 simultaneously, what would be the decrease in the ozone layer?
6. A front porch is constructed of 2" x 8" pine on 24-inch centers with a field-rock foundation. The span is eight feet and the porch length is 16 feet. The porch floor is 1-inch rough-sawn pine. When the porch collapses, how many hound dogs will be killed?
7. A man owns a house and 3.7 acres of land in a hollow with an average slope of 15 percent. The man has five children. Can each of the children place a mobile home on the man's land?
8. A two-ton pulpwood truck is overloaded and proceeding down a steep grade on a secondary road at 45 mph. The brakes fail. Given the average traffic loading of redneck country roads, how many people will swerve to avoid the truck before it crashes at the bottom of the mountain? For extra credit, how many of the vehicles that swerved will have mufflers and uncracked windshields?
9. A coal mine operates a NFPA Class 1, Division 2, Hazardous Area. The mine employs 120 miners per shift. A gas warning is issued at the beginning of the third shift. How many cartons of unfiltered Camels will be smoked during the shift?
10. How many generations will it take before redneck cattle develop two legs shorter than the others because of grazing along a mountain side?
A. If Daisy Duke were the half-sister of both her Uncle Billy Bob, who never had children outside of the immediate family, and her Aunt Lilly Mae who was married to her Cousin Jethro, what would you say her relationship is to Billy Bob and Lilly Mae's illegitimate son Bucky?
B. How many rednecks does it take to change a light bulb (not including the one stealing a bulb from the neighbors)?
C. How many widths of red clay brick should the Hatfields use in constructing the walls of their house, knowing the McCoys just purchased a Tomahawk missile at the local skinhead rally?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
|1||Anna Ternheim|| |
|2||Bob Dylan|| |
|3||The Alan Parsons Project|| |
|3||Amy Winehouse|| |
|5||Bess Rogers|| |
|5||Black Rebel Motorcycle Club|| |
|5||Bruce Springsteen|| |
|10||Richard and Linda Thompson|| |
Spent some time rating unrated songs, so note the alphabetical nature of most of these. This is in preparation for starting over on my MP3 player, so I can just yank the "interesting" ones I want to get on there. But I still want to have Anna's baby and I was informed she is going to be back in town come early next month, so I'll have one more chance to throw myself at her feet!
A newlywed couple had only been married for two weeks. The husband, although very much in love, couldn't wait to go out on the town and party with his old buddies
So, he said to his new wife, 'Honey, I'll be right back.'
'Where are you going, coochy cooh?' asked the wife.
'I'm going to the bar, pretty face. I' m going to have a beer.'
The wife said, 'You want a beer, my love?' She opened the door to the refrigerator and showed him 25 different kinds of beer brands from 12 different countries: Germany, Holland, Japan, India, etc.
The husband didn't know what to do, and the only thing that he could think of saying was, 'Yes, lolly pop...but at the bar...you know...they have frozen glasses...'
He didn't get to finish the sentence, because the wife interrupted him by saying,
'You want a frozen glass, puppy face?'
She took a huge beer mug out of the freezer, so frozen that she was getting chills just holding it.
The husband, looking a bit pale, said, 'Yes, tootsie roll, but at the Bar they have those hors d'oeuvres that are really delicious... I won't be long, I'll be right back. I promise. OK?'
You want hors d'oeuvres, poochi pooh?' She opened the oven and took out 5 dishes of different hors d'oeuvres: chicken wings, pigs in blankets, mushroom caps, pork strips, etc.
'But my sweet honey... At the bar... You know...there's swearing, dirty words and all that...'
'You want dirty words, Dickhead? Drink your f***ing beer in your goddamn frozen mug and eat your motherf***ing snacks, because you are married now, and you aren't f***ing going anywhere! Got it, asshole?'
.........and, they lived happily ever after.
Now, isn't that a sweet story?!!
Your free book for today is The Word of Mouth Manual, Vol. II and can be found via Seth Godin's blog post, What Dave just did. It's a book about how to guide word of mouth, a concept that is also slightly oxymoronic, isn't it? Very nicely written though. It might sound like it is just for marketeers, but truly, don't us saps who are getting marketed to deserve to know what is going on behind the screens?
And another free book for you, this time it is Lewis Shiner's Black & White, about civil rights, race relations and progress inn Durham North Carolina. You can find it here.
And, to make it 3-fer, a shareware story by the inimitable John Scalzi. Called How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story , it works just like shareware software - you download the story for free and pay what you think it is worth. Even better, half the proceeds go to the Lupus Foundation of America. You can find the post about it here. I downloaded it, but haven't read it yet.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
On the first day, Zeus created the dog and said:
So Zeus agreed.
'Sit all day by the door of your house and bark at anyone who comes in or walks past. For this, I will give you a life span of twenty years.' The dog said: 'That's a long time to be barking. How about only ten years and I'll give you back the other ten?'
On the second day, Zeus created the monkey and said:
'Entertain people, do tricks, and make them laugh. For this, I'll give you a twenty-year life span.' The monkey said: 'Monkey tricks for twenty years? That's a pretty long time to perform. How about I give you back ten like the Dog did?'
And Zeus agreed.
On the third day, Zeus created the cow and said:
'You must go into the field with the farmer all day long and suffer under the sun, have calves and give milk to support the farmer's family. For this, I will give you a life span of sixty years.' The cow said: 'That's kind of a tough life you want me to live for sixty years. How about twenty and I'll give back the other forty?'
And Zeus agreed again.
On the fourth day, Zeus created man and said:
'Eat, sleep, play, marry and enjoy your life. For this, I'll give you twenty years.'
But man said: 'Only twenty years? Could you possibly give me my twenty, the forty the cow gave back, the ten the monkey gave back, and the ten the dog gave back; that makes eighty, okay?'
'Okay,' said Zeus, 'You asked for it.'
So that is why for our first twenty years we eat, sleep, play and enjoy ourselves. For the next forty years we slave in the sun to support our family. For the next ten years we do monkey tricks to entertain the grandchildren. And for the last ten years we sit on the front porch and bark at everyone.
greywolf tagged me with this one.
The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.
1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
Been married a year, thinking about starting a family. I had just changed jobs and was working from home for the first time, which took some getting used to.
2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today?
- Get the lawnmower fixed - again. Last repair didn't take, as it were
- Go to the town hall to do town hall-ish kinds of things - register the dog, get another recycling bin, buy a pass to the local town pond
- Rate my Under-10 girls soccer players
- Go to a meeting of soccer coaches to get teams set up for the fall season, using the aforementioned ratings
- Get the Linux version of our software running
Nutrigrain bars, Nature Valley granola bars, peanut M&Ms, yogurt and Oreo cookies with ice cold milk
4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Put the girls into an exclusive, challenging private school and get them ready for a challenging university experience. Buy an RV. Travel to exotic places to expose the girls to new cultures. Ski more in the winter, play more golf in the summer. Finally buy my Lotus.
5) Places I have lived:
Not sure if you wanted to count all the places I lived as a kid, but they would include Tokyo, Sacramento CA, Falmouth MA, Bay Shore NY, New Ipswich NH. Once I moved out, it would include Jaffery and Derry NH, and Woburn, Newton, Weymouth and Medford MA. I've become much more of a stick around type since I moved out!
6) Jobs I have had:
Foundry worker, MacDonalds drone, roofer and for the last nearly 30(!) years, software engineer. And I still absolutely love doing it. I'll stop typing on a keyboard only when they pry it from my cold, dead hands!
7) Bloggers I am tagging who I will enjoy getting to know better:
Monday, June 16, 2008
I have watched a few movies using my Roku Netflix player , although mostly I have been sampling some series viewing and concert listening. Despite the relatively weak audio performance (just stereo), it works pretty well playing in the background as I slave away at the keyboard.
The Good German is a black and white Steven Soderbergh production, starring George Clooney, Tobey Maguire and Cate Blanchett in a story of romance, intrigue and murder set during the post war occupation of Berlin, as the Allied powers tried to figure out how to split it up. Clooney plays a weary journalist covering the events, although he is really searching out his ex-lover, Blanchett's Lena Brandt. Maguire complicates things and then things get really sticky.
Soderbergh strove for and attained a real 40s drama feel, from the obvious black and white connection, to the scene right out of Casablanca, right down to the (Oscar nominated) score. While some of the coincindences were explained later on, I still didn't completely buy the plot. It all felt a little scattershot, unconnected and uninvolving. It wasn't helped by the presence of Maguire, who just doesn't inspire me as an actor.
I also watched 5 Steps to Danger, a 1957 cold war noir/thriller starring the vastly underappeciated Sterling Hayden. Hayden gets picked up by a damsel in distress, which involves him in a spy plot, again hinging on post-ware Berlin. I really enjoyed this flick and, seeing as it isn't available on either tape or DVD, makes the Instant Watching of this all the more precious.
I played KOYAANISQATSI (life out of blalance) in the background one day, but it proved to be too interesting to just listen to. It kept pulling me away from the keyboard to watch its incredible images which match the classic Phillip Glass score impeccably. I was so enthralled with it that I immediately added both its sequel (POWAQQATSI - life in transformation) and Ron Fricke's (a writer/editor for th QATSI trilogy) Chronos. I am particularly intriqued by Chronos because it is available in hi-def BluRay, a treatment for which the QATSI trilogy cries out for. Great stuff, for sure.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
I really have to get The Cosmos DVD set. Carl Sagan's work was seminal in my growth as a person and he still gets me "right there". And I would hope he would still have the same effect on my girls. Anyway, here is a brilliant example of his passion, insight and knowledge (hat tip to Pharyngula for the pointer):
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The Audible.com 20 Most Addictive Series got me to thinking about my favorite series of books. I have read a few of them (Aubrey-Maturin, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Thursday Next, Hercule Poirot, Shelbey Foote's Civil War) but there were several that were interesting enough for me to grab the first ones out of the library. I've been looking for some mystery and sci-fi to try, and this gave me a good excuse.
The only one on the Audible list I would include is the Aubrey-Maturin series. Truly an epic and fantastically readable series of "at the mast" books, they are especially great in the audible book narrated by Patrick Tull. His readings were so good, so nuanced and so wonderful, that I really can't imagine reading the books myself. Truly an experience not to be missed. Just go to the Audible.com page for the first book and listen in to the very beginning of this spectacular series here, where Maturin first encounters Jack Aubry. The movie was pretty good, but seriesly lacked the depth of the books, despite being helmed by Peter Weir, one of my all time favorite directors.
In the same category of the Aubrey-Maturin series, I would put the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwell. All versions of these books are great, from the source material, to the audio books as read by William Gaminara, to the PBS miniseries starring Sean Bean. Haven't really been able to get into any of Cornwell's other series to the same extent as the Sharpe series.
My all time favorite mystery series probably remains the Travis McGee series by John D. McDonald. It is perhaps the only series I have read that didn't wear out its welcome by about the tenth book, remaining interesting and fun to read right up to Travis' last. His world weary diatribes remained interesting, and yet Travis still remained passionate about things, making him the prototypical Floridian anti-hero.
I lasted through the first ten or twelve of Robert Parker's Spenser series before I tired of it. But Spenser's still got some good wisecracking going, even if I wish he would lose Susan already.
As for science fiction/fantasy, the first one that pops to mind is George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, currently up to four books with, I think, 4 more planned. A tremendously interesting series set in the fantasy land of Westeros, it mixes in a feudal like milieu with just light touches of fantasy, and each chapter is told from a different character's point of view. You just never know what is coming next and I find all the characters interesting. Some are repelling, some are good and nearly all have both vices and virtues. An excellent series.
I'm not sure any other sci-fi or fantasy series has grabbed me lately. But then again, I'm not much of a reader of those genres these days anyway. I have enjoyed the first books of Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey trilogy, Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness, and Katherine Kerr's Deverry series, but I haven't moved on in any of them.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Last Friday, I did my weekly Twitter-cast of the classic Mel Brooks comedy, Young Frankenstein. Basically, I watch a funny movie and TXT as many of the funny quotes as I can. In Young Frankenstein they come fast and furious, but I think I got most of them. Tomorrow night, I think I will probably do National Lampoon's Vacation, which is one of my favorite comedies. Anyway, here is last week's transcript.
My name. It's pronounced Frahnk-in-steen
My grandfather's work was doo-doo!
Not on the lips... I don't want to smear my lipstick
The hair! The hair! It's just been set
No the dress Is taffeta. It wrinkles so easily
You must be Igor.
No, it's pronounced Eye-gor
Perhaps I could help you with that hump?
Walk this way. No no, like this...
Hello! Would you like to have a roll in zee hay? Roll Roll Roll in ze hay.
There wolf. There castle.
Why are you talking that way?
I thought you wanted to?
No, I don't want to.
Suit yourself. I'm easy
Oh zank you doctor
Stay close to zee candles. The staircase can be treacherous
Destiny! Destiny! No escaping that's for me!
It seems to be coming from behind zee bookcase.
Behind zee bookcase...
Take out the candle and I'll block the bookcase with my body...
Now listen to me very carefully - don't put the candle back
Put zee candle back!
3 yrs dead
2 yrs dead
I-yee ain't got nobody and nobody cares a for me ...
A hunch - buru-chi!
Wait master! It might be dangerous. You go first.
Damn your eyes!!!
What a filthy mess!
Oh I don't know. A little paint, a few flowers, a couple of throw pillows...
Well it seems our mysterious violinist has disa...
He would have an enormous schwanstuker!
That goes without saying.
What a filthy job!
Could be worse.
Could be raining
"After 5:00 pm slip brains through slot in door"
Now? Right here?
If science teaches us anything it teaches us to accept our failures as well as
our successes with quiet dignity and grace... Son of a bitch bastard I'll get
you for this!
You haven't even touched your food.
There, now I've touched it are you happy??
You know. I'll never forget my old dad when these things would happen to him
the things he'd say to me.
What did he say?
WHAT THE HELL YA DOING IN THE BATHROOM DAY AND NIGHT? Why don't you get out of
there and give someone else a chance!
Quick give him the...
Give him a sedagive!
Would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?
And you won't be angry?
I will NOT be angry.
Abby Someone... Abby who?
Abby ... Normal.
I'm almost sure that was the name.
Are you saying I put an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long,
54 inch wide GORILLA!?!?
Ix-nay on the otten-ray
HE ... VAZ ... MY ... BOYFRIEND!!!!
Now throw a kiss and say bye-bye. Oh dear nothing left. What shall we throw in
Me a blind man and you a mute. An incredibly big mute...
Fire is good. Fire is our friend. I'll show you
Now don't inhale until the tip glows
No matter what I say. No matter how much I cry. Do not open this door.
Nice working with you.
What was once an inarticulate mass of lifeless tissues may I now present a
cultured sophisticated man about town...
If there was only some way I could gif you a little peace
Igor, would you give me a hand with the bags?
Soitanly. You take the blonde and I'll take the one in the turban...
Is your room right down the hall in case I get the fright-th-s during the
Now give me a kiss and say goodnight... No tongue!
Oh Sweet mystery of life at last I found you!
Penny for your thoughts.
You're incorrigible my little zipper neck. Alright seven has always been my
He gave me a calmer brain and a somewhat more sophisticated way of expressing
"Mrs Frankenstein" What a beautiful name...
Mmmm the feeling is mu-tule. You know, it's a puzzlement. Something I've
always wanted to ask you about that operation. You know in that operation, za
monster got part of your vonderful brain but vhat did you ever get from him?
Oof I don't belief ... Oof oh oh Oooooo sweet mystery of life at last I found
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
My Roku Netflix Player showed up Thursday evening and I of course immediately set about installing it.
I ordered the cable package with it, as an HDMI, optical audio and component video cable, all for US$20, was a pretty good deal. Of course, I only really needed the HDMI cable, but having the optical audio cable can't hurt. It all came in one box, which took about a week to get here:
- The first time I ran it, there were four white dots to the left of the word "quality" while it buffered the content. I really had no idea if this was good or bad. But after watching about 5 minutes of The Story of the Weeping Camel with my daughter, it reloaded the buffer, this time showing two white dots, followed by two white circles. So I guess the white dots are good and white circles are not. Although in neither case did I notice much difference. But I may try running a (long) wire to the back of the box.
- Speaking of The Weeping Camel, it looks like the box remembers your position when you stop viewing, as we only watched about 45 minutes of it, yet it still says "Continue viewing"
- Video quality is just fine, and this on a 50in hi-def Sony tv. Nothing to write home about, but not bad enough to be distracting
- Audio quality has only been stereo, which is probably more disappointing than the video quality. The Player FAQ doesn't say anything about the audio quality, unfortunately, so I don't know if I just haven't seen anything in 5.1 or if it just isn't there.
- It's truly addicting to just watch bits and pieces of movies. I did watch all of The Good German, but after that, I dabbled in a few movies. I also watched two episodes of Bullshit, the Penn and Teller series, and had a great time.
- No power button, which is annoying.