Archive for August, 2006

the prestige

August 31st, 2006


I’m still waiting for someone — anyone — to explain his creepy role as “Phillip Jeffries” in Fire Walk With Me, but nonetheless David Bowie continues to show up in interesting sounding movies:

David Bowie will join the Christopher Nolan-directed “The Prestige,” the Touchstone Pictures/Warner Bros. drama that stars Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Michael Caine… Here he’ll play inventor and electrical wizard Nikola Tesla, who is approached by one of two competing magicians for help in pulling off the ultimate magic trick in 1878.

~jeff

the victim

August 31st, 2006


Inexplicable, yet compelling — and while “Anxiety Girl” is a quite excellent depiction of a “girl” with “anxiety”, I suspect that ten-thousand years from now, “The Victim” is likely to be what our species is remembered for.

~jeff

best will ferrell sketches of all time

August 31st, 2006


…”Cracked” Magazine — of all places — counts them down and I suspect you won’t disagree. It’s great to be able to see lost favorites like “The H. is O.”, “Infinite Frontier”, and “Robert Goulet Coconut Banger’s Ball”; to this day I can’t see a Dodge Stratus without thinking of Ferrell’s furious dad character.

(WARNING: cruddy YouTube video quality)

~jeff

all food will be eaten this way in the future

August 28th, 2006

E4B

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it difficult to get five servings of fruit every day. If only somebody could mix them all together, peel them, puree them, pasteurize them and package them in a colorful, Japanese-designed, vacuum-sealed squeezable bag with a little resealable straw-like nozzle at the top.

That would be awesome.

Well, somebody has done all that. I am absolutely in love with e4b’s fruit purees. To the extent that my friends suspect I am working for the company. Which I am not. I just feel passionately about this particular fruit puree product. They’re all natural, no sugar added and completely delicious. They come in 5 different flavors, but the Pear Caramel flavor (made with 1/2 a pear, 1 apple, 1/2 banana) is my favorite.

Mark my words: all food will be eaten this way in the future.

the ruins

August 25th, 2006


Woo-hoo! I’m on vacation this week, so immediately the first thing I did was scoot down to the bookstore and pick up a trashy summer novel. This year, I chose Scott Smith’s The Ruins after stumbling upon the glowing review by none other than Stephen King on The Ruins Amazon page. It’s perhaps an odd choice for summer reading, as Smith’s previous novel A Simple Plan is a study in tension and duplicity, not typically feelings you want to experience and emulate in your beach reading — but King’s review was so effusive and glowing, I figured why not pick it up.

The Ruins is the story of six guys and girls in their early twenties who, during a crazy sexy drinky beach vacation to Cancun, decide for no particularly good reason to pack up and head off into the jungle. During their stumble in the jungle, they mistakenly fall into what is quickly and clearly The Wrong Place To Be. And then it gets increasingly worse from there.

It’s a quick read; I wound up reading the novel in two chunks in the span of about 12 hours. For the first couple hundred pages, I was riveted. The book is exquisitely written, with long detailed and well-voiced passages that pull you directly into the various characters point of view. The writing and pacing is very cinematic, perhaps suspiciously so, as the film rights have already been sold to Ben Stiller — who is thanked in the forward of the first printing.

But: sometime during the last hundred pages, I found myself tense, surly and depressed. I can’t tell you exactly why I think I felt that way without discussing-slash-completely-spoiling the ending, so click below if you don’t plan to read it but still really want to know about what I think is wrong with The Ruins

Read the rest of this entry »

snl shakeup

August 24th, 2006


Due to “budget cuts”:

IN: Jason Sudeikis as the anchor of Weekend Update, taking over for Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. I… guess? I miss Tina Fey already.

OUT: Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch are leaving for their own sitcom — “30 Rock”, about a thinly fictionalized Saturday Night Live type show — and Lorne seems to be giving the boot to Darrell Hammond, Chris Parnell, Horatio Sanz and Kenan Thompson… no big deal here. I always found Hammond’s impersonations to be technically correct but essentially soulless, Horatio Sanz is still cracking himself up in the middle of everything he does, and Kenan Thompson never got very funny but nobody does deadpan like Chris Parnell.

(Thanks to ‘Topher for the clip!)

~jeff

recession in 2007?

August 24th, 2006


Nouriel Roubini, president of Roubini Global Economics, thinks so:

“This is the biggest housing slump in the last four or five decades: every housing indictor is in free fall, including now housing prices,” Roubini said. The decline in investment in the housing sector will exceed the drop in investment when the Nasdaq collapsed in 2000 and 2001, he said….”This is the tipping point for the U.S. consumer and the effects will be ugly,” he said. “Expect the great recession of 2007 to be much nastier, deeper and more protracted than the 2001 recession.”

…exciting news for prospective canned-bean-eating, ukulele-strumming, train-track-hoboes, i.e. soon all of us. I will take it one step further: I believe 2007 will be the year of the Housing Slump/Zombie Apocalypse, and I for one am boarding up my windows and gathering chainsaws as we speak.

~jeff

snakes on an audience

August 22nd, 2006

airplane.gif

This is not a review of snakes on a plane. It’s not. Sorry. There are lots of those.

This is a review of the audience. I was at the 10 pm Saturday showing at the Metreon. I held out from the very tempting 8:10, because I wanted to see it in DLP. There was hissing in the previews, one drunk fellow in the front who had good effort and rubber snake, but clearly wasn’t ready to be the star of this audience. His only solid contribution was shouting “Skanks on a Plane!” when the about to be dead whore headed off to be bit. (Note: this isn’t a spoiler. The whore always dies.)

There was a smattering of hissing through the film, a solid bit of cheering in appropriate places, laughter at the especially campy aspects of the dialog, (“Time is Tissue!” – Snake Expert) and an entertaining round of trivia with the helping girls behind me trying to figure out just what movie that Adam Sandler was in (It was “Punch Drunk Love”).

Now I know it was a Saturday night. But I really thought that they would be more audience enthusiasm. Where were the rocky freaks?

it is possible: entertaining band website

August 21st, 2006

arms akimbo, thinking about chemistry

“If your lungs and stomach start talking to each other in cartoon bubbles, stand with your arms akimbo and think about chemistry”

Dear ldopa,

I read your article on band webpages but it still isn’t coming out right. I’m not that witty. What should I do?

Don’t worry about it. Here, have some recipes.

writely + web 2.0

August 21st, 2006

writely.gif

It’s every hack writer’s worst nightmare; a fancy new laptop, but without a copy of Microsoft Word installed. How will I know when I’ve reached the magic number of words I’ll need to reach to stop blathering on? How will I hide the shameful fact that I have atrociuos speelking? No matter. I’m not going to need Word to write this article; in fact, I’m not going to need to use any program installed on my computer at all. Instead, I’m testing Google’s online word processor, currently code-named “Writely“. It’s got all the modern features you’d expect from a word processor – spell check, fonts, embedded graphics, rich formatting, and yes, word count. It automatically saves my work as I go, and I can roll back to a time and date stamped past revision of whatever I’m working on at any time. It can print or even save out to a Word or PDF file, so when I’m done I can send off a copy to my editor — hopefully, in time for deadline. It’s pretty futuristic stuff, and I strongly suggest you try it.

But Writely is not an application program on a computer in the way we normally think of; instead, it loads and runs in a web browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer (Safari, not so much, not right now). All my word processing documents are stored online, so I can stop writing, close my browser, turn off my laptop – heck, throw it away if I want – and days later, from any other computer in the world, I can continue writing exactly where I left off. As long as I have access to the Internet, I’ll have full access to my files.

Writely, and other websites like it, are part of a growing Internet trend named “Web 2.0”. The term, suggesting an “upgraded Internet”, was first popularized by Tim O’Reilly, the publisher of the adorable computer books with pictures of animals on them. Web 2.0 has come to represent a class of more interactive websites that act more like applications or programs you might have installed on your computer. These sites are also frequently typified by a deeper collaborative aspect, and greater interactivity with the user overall; readers are often encouraged to post stories or comments while visiting Web 2.0 websites. Sites like the photo site Flickr, or the social bookmarking site Del.icio.us allow users to “tag”, or categorize, web content so it gains greater meaning. Popular news sites such as reddit.com and digg.com allow their users to promote or demote stories that they find interesting or boring, thus using the kinda-spurious “wisdom of crowds” to edit the sites so as to automatically contain links to the most currently popular and interesting web content.

The concept of the Internet as a platform for “programs we use” versus “pages we read” was attempted once before in the late 1990’s by Sun Microsystems and their cross-platform Java programming language. However, Java programs – despite having the advantage of running on pretty much any computer – were cumbersome and slow, and for the most part users shunned the technology. Current browser-based applications use a combination of spritelier technologies such as Javascript and XML, or “AJAX”, to create rich and responsive interfaces that feel much more like traditional desktop applications.

It’s not hard to imagine the end result of all this Web 2.0 innovation could be a tremendous shift in how we traditionally think of our computers; instead of computers being vessels that hold our programs and documents, instead our computers need only to provide access to the web, and via the web, all our programs, files, and email can be available anywhere. We’ll spend less time managing, categorizing and locating our data, and more time using it. And as the line between web pages and web applications blurs ever further: Microsoft Word need not apply.

~jeff

NOTE: This article was originally written for the Springfield Republican’s “Local Buzz” alt-monthly. That’s why there’s little to no swearing in it.

inquisitor

August 20th, 2006

IqIcon.jpg

David Watanbe produces some of the most useful and outright gorgeous software for the Mac of any developer out there. I’ve been a happily registered user of Acquisition for a long time, and this weekend (Aug. 19th and 20th, 2006), if you purchase his newsreader Newsfire you get his nifty search tool Inquisitor for free.

Personally? I’m starting to use Firefox with the Google Toolbar more and more, which provides a subset of the “find as you type” functionality that Inquisitor provides, but I always seem to come crawling back to Safari — it just seems lighter — so anything that enhances Safari’s usability is good news in my book.

~jeff

* Full disclosure: I am a whore.

quick review: entourage

August 16th, 2006

Each character on HBO’s “Entourage” is more obnoxious than the next. In the season finale, I hope they all get SARS*.

~jeff

*except for Jeremy Piven, who is of course a delight.

ipod + whatever

August 16th, 2006


Want to mine your jogging workout for mounds of delicious data, but you’re not the psyched about Nike’s ass ugly iPod sneakers? Marware feels your pain, and has developed the utmost in high-tech “velcro pouch technology” that will allow you to use the Nike + iPod pedometer sensor with your existing shoes. This guy just sewed some velcro onto his existing shoes, so caveat emptor.

~jeff

google analytics open for everyone

August 16th, 2006


Google’s Analytics software, previously in semi-closed beta, is now open for all. I’ve been using it for about half a year on the sites I manage and I’m impressed; I can’t imagine actually wanting more data on my visitors. Plus, hey, there’s a Dashboard widget.

~jeff

mopornnorthampton.com

August 14th, 2006


In the Pioneer Valley area of Northampton, Massachusetts, there’s suddenly a debate over a proposed porn store, located about a block from where I rent an apartment. Signs have sprung up all over town for a new website, nopornnorthampton.com, a site dedicated to — you guessed it — not having a porn store on King St. in Northampton. They’ve got facts and figures and more long blocks of text than you have time in your life to read. And they’re freaked out by blue gloves.

However, despite their best efforts, I’m not convinced that this is genuinely a discussion about pornography in Northampton. I’m suspicious that this secretly might be more of a discussion about property values; there are already a couple of porn stores in Northampton; Drug tests; they’ve been here for years, and they have not elicited any sort of public outcry. The owners of noporn.com are two writers who happen to live a couple blocks from the proposed site. Are they more worried about the culture of their town, or are they envisioning blindly crazed pornography addicts stumbling through their well-manicured Northampton backyard?

But: maybe there’s something to be said for community standards as well. Surely they don’t put the porn stores and the strip bars — and to a lesser extent, the Hooterses — in the best part of town. There’s a set of train tracks running through Northampton, and it’s increasingly clear that I live on the wrong side of the tracks, or as I have affectionately come to term it, the “Indolent Scumbag District”. On the average, the residents of my neighborhood already sit around and smoke on their front porch all day, with the occasional break for (I assume) Red Bull and vodka shots, and so maybe it doesn’t need to get worse.

So: in the spirit of open discussion, I’ve started mopornnorthampton.com. C’mon in — it’s a Drupal site, so anyone can post a story (click “Speak Out!”) or shoot off a comment. And I hope you do.

~jeff