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Reviews / feedback / comments on books, movies, television, technology, food, etc. (These might be short snippets and not long reviews)

Written By: Gary on December 29, 2007 No Comment

Aff-Live-ItunesSo on Thursday the 4 track A Fine Frenzy – Live Session EP came out exclusively at the iTunes store. Of course I purchased it, can’t pass something like that up from A Fine Frenzy. It’s a great EP with 4 tracks – Almost Lover, Borrowed Time, Last of Days, and The Minnow & the Trout. They don’t sound very “live” to me but that’s okay with me, they’re more like different versions of the songs. And for $3.49 you can hardly go wrong…

Written By: Gary on October 27, 2007 One Comment

Tori Amos was awesome! I really haven’t listened to her newer stuff very much but I really enjoyed the latest album when she played those songs. She played a lot of older songs, which is what I like.

I’ve seen Tori a few times, I’m guessing about a dozen times now, spaced out over the last 15 years. So by this time, not only do I know where to sit, my mother knows, she specifically asked me on the phone, “did you get a seat on the right-hand side?”, I’m surprised she remembered something like that. I did sit slightly to the right and before I went and I thought I needed to be a bit more to the right, but my seat was perfect! Plus, all the people sitting in my line of sight were short!

She’s always a little quirky, but she didn’t talk much so it was hard to tell. But after her first outfit change, she was halfway through the third song and she stopped, and asked the guys to continue to play, “I’ve gotta go take this corset off, it’s killing me”. They finished up the song as she came back out and she just went on to the next song :)

Yoav opened for her and her was great! Not sure how to describe him, but he was a good act, could have listened to him more. He had a short EP for $5, they really needed to have a seperate line for his CD at intermission (maybe a ca$h only line). Everyone ran out to get it and it was a disaster.

You can see more of my Tori Photos at flickr (they didn’t come out very well, but you can see the different stage setups). If you saw my photo of the ceiling of the theater, go back and look at it because I added some more info (and sort of link to some older photos).

Written By: Gary on October 21, 2007 5 Comments

So I just got a bite to eat at the new Dearborn Kerby’s Coney Island at Ford and Mercury (next to the Best Buy). I gotta tell you this is the most boring Chile-Cheese Omelet I’ve every had in my life. The eggs are boring, the chili sauce is boring and the toast seemed boring. I even tried the hash browns, which I generally find boring, to also be boring. Fortunately, the strawberry jam tastes normal so I know it’s not me; and the water actually tastes pretty good!

There is another (non-chain?) restaurant, Parthenon II (Coney Island), where I usually get a Chile-Cheese Omelet, a little farther into this strip mall area that I’ve been to a million times and I’ll be sure to go back there next time. Unfortunately, they’ll probably lose business since Kerby’s does have a much better location.

I’ve also got to try the new Seahorse Grill which just opened at the same mall.

UPDATE – I just drove by the Parthenon II and it looks like they are out of business :(

Written By: Gary on October 16, 2007 No Comment

This past Sunday Brandi, as usual, was excellent. She just belts out some of those tunes and other times she’s just kind of mellow, she did a great concert. She covered a Queen song on the piano and it was awesome; it might not have been “a” queen song, it might have been a multiple medley song since I know part of Bohemian Rhapsody (‘momma, just killed a man’) was in it but I think there were parts of that song not sung (‘Gallileo Figaro – magnifico’); does anyone know for sure? She did the Queen song so perfect, I’ve got to think some of the younger crowd assumed it was a song of hers…

She talked about people traveling from Ann Arbor to see her (and vice-versa) and was excited by the response. I’ve driven to Chicago to see her and it was worth it! This was my third time seeing Brandi and I’ll go again next chance!

Back to her music. Some of her more passionate songs just totally get inside me. It wasn’t just me, you could see some were affecting other people too, I don’t know exactly what it is. But a couple really got to me, especially Hallelujah at the end.

Little did I know that while I had an excellent time at the concert that it’s emotional high was just that start of a roller coster ride of emotions this week…

Written By: Gary on October 16, 2007 One Comment

So A Fine Frenzy opened for Brandi Carlile on Sunday and they were so awesome they should be on their own tour. It was a small venue at St. Andrews and I’ve never seen it that packed, they were sold out and they were was a great crowd for AFF. Alison Sudol is the singer and she’s wonderful the songs she did were just beautiful, I wish she had played more. She was so polite and so gracious when everyone kept clapping after a few of her perfectly done songs. I so wish they would have played longer, I thought I saw an extra song on the set list but they didn’t do an encore; I couldn’t read the title so it might have been a song earlier played…

Alison did show up at the sales table to sign autographs. So of course, I purchased another copy of the CD. I got her to autograph it, a booklet and I got my picture taken with her (I sure wish I had a better camera than my phone with me, the lighting was pretty poor were we stood). Once again, she was so polite and pleasant with everyone, almost shy like. I hadn’t realized how very beautiful she was until I got that close to her, it made me feel kind of shy at that point.

The booklet was interesting about ten 5 inch by 7 inch pages with great photos and an interview. I think they were giving them away (at least I didn’t pay for the ones I grabbed for my friends and I) but they were really nice. They looked like they were from an earlier tour (maybe from some kind of press or info packet).I’ve been so happy with all the ‘opening acts’ that I’ve seen lately I’ve been very happy with most of them and become a fan of many recently. Heck, Brandi opened for Indigo Girls when I saw them a few months ago. I would travel a ways to see AFF again! I was really surprised that Alison didn’t sing a sone with Brandi (or vice-versa).

A few odd things – The manager(?) wouldn’t let me take a picture when she was signing photographs, “please wait until she poses” (or something like that). I would have put it with the spot where I was talking about her signing, so that it totally was in context; but it didn’t seem worth it to try an explain it.

Someone posts Twitter updates for A Fine Frenzy but they didn’t do any in Detroit, which I was keeping my eyes open for (and since they didn’t have a concert the next day they might have still been around).

Written By: Gary on August 21, 2007 One Comment

So I’ve been excited since I originally saw the preview for Stardust a few months ago and I got to see a preview of the movie a few weeks ago (the movie is out now). I really enjoyed the movie and the cast was great (Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox). They didn’t follow the book exactly and I have no problem with that, I’m re-reading the book and I’m finding that I really enjoy it after just seeing the movie.

I really like Neil Gaiman but I really haven’t seen them promoting him much in relation to the book and the movie; the book came out about 10 years ago as both a regular book and as a graphic novel (illustrated by Charles Vess). And I’ve seen this book in so many variations of the cover not even including the movie editions or the graphic novels…

Claire Danes as the falling star was wonderful, technically she was a fallen star but that sounds like it has a negative connotations and she didn’t have any. From the previews I wasn’t sure how Claire would be in the part (I eel they edited the preview oddly) but I thought she was perfect. DeNiro played a different part than I expected from the previews; I guess it was a different role than I’ve ever seen him in before. Charlie Cox was great, I’m not sure where I’ve seen him before.

Written By: Gary on July 22, 2007 2 Comments

My AppleTV is awesome! An “iPod for your TV” is a accurate description. I ran the software update (painless!) and it gave me YouTube videos and fixed “enhanced podcasts”.

It mirrors one of your computer’s iTunes just like an iPod does (and allows you exceptions) and will stream from any other computers running iTunes (platform independent) and I don’t think there is a limit. I can’t believe how fast it pulls hi-res movie previews from Apple down to the unit, it’s very very fast. It’s actually much faster than pulling down YouTube videos (many which are low-res).

It really streams full-scren video from other computers really efficiently. Very rarely does it need a moment to catch up. It has no problem with steaming audio. It almost makes no sense to download podcasts, I bet you could stream them live if you had a way to just get the RSS feeds onto the AppleTV.

With “enhanced podcasts” it now properly advances the embedded images to follow along with the audio. The problem is that it just shows them to the side like the album artwork, some images are much larger so it really cheats you by scaling them down. Since you don’t use the up/down keys on the remote during this process “up” would be a great way to enlarge the images.

I have the same image size concern when viewing slideshows with the “Ken Burns effect”, sometimes I want to view the whole image. Once again this would be another great use for the up button. The down button could be used for viewing filenames, date, time and other info about the images. Actually, this would be a good use for the down button while viewing videos or audio.

A few more features (like on the TiVo) like weather, movie listings and maybe Flickr photo viewing and it’d be even better…What I don’t like is that it only lets you sync with one computer. I’d like to sync music with one, videos with another and podcasts with another (not so sure if I care about the latter).

What I need:
1) A way to automatically convert videos and stick them into iTunes for me (so when I drop/download a file to a folder, it starts processing for me). I could probably do this via Mac or Windows….

2) A way to play other file formats on the AppleTV, such as AVI and DiVX files. I think I can hack it to do that but I’m not sure if I want to take it apart yet.

Written By: Gary on July 17, 2007 One Comment

I saw The Police in concert tonight at the Palace in Auburn Hills. They were excellent!!!! You’d never know these guys hadn’t toured in years, any other reunion (or county fair concert) I’ve ever seen you could tell everyone was out of practice, but not these guys.

I had a great seat, I wasn’t real close but I was a few rows off the main floor, I had a way better seat than the people who were 15 feet from me on the main floor that (I think) paid a lot more. They had an incredible stage setup, huge video displays and great camera angles.

Here’s the run down on the guys:

  • Sting – Awesome singer. He probably looks less old than the rest of the gang. (I don’t think he did any of his own songs, but his son’s band did open).
  • Stewart Copland – Excellent on the instruments, probably better than the other guys. Not sure what he’s done lately on his own (remember when he did the theme for The Equalizer TV series?).
  • Andy Summers – Looked a little ragged (sorry Andy). I’ve seen him in concert (he opened for Tangerine Dream), I thought he was a lot more mellow.

    I took a few photos, but I don’t know how to get them off the (stupid) Verizon RAZR v3 phone I have from work (my Treo is in the shop). I can’t seem to bluetooth them or e-mail them to a regular e-mail account, anyone?

    And what was up with the really old guitar of Sting? It looked in pretty sad shape, there must be a story (and someone must know it).

  • Written By: Gary on July 15, 2007 No Comment

    So I’m a little behind on the Ravinia concert updates, so here we go.

    As all Indigo Girl concerts go, all the fans know all the lyrics and sing along to all the songs. Okay, so not every song, but pretty much every song. By the end of the concert my ears were ringing a little bit and it’s not because of the speakers, it was because of the fans singing.

    The concert was excellent, one of the better ones I’ve seen of theirs (I’d guess I’ve seen them about 10 times). Philadelphia was one of the best, maybe the farther I go the better they get? And I’d have to say the time I saw them in Lilith Fair (Auburn Hills, MI) was probably the worst. But I digress…

    So it was great and they had everyone going from the beginning, I was a little worried since Brandi Carlile tried to get us to sing along to something and it bombed. We all cheered and sang and applauded over and over. Brandi sang backing on a song. They played some more and Amy Ray sang Romeo and Juliet and it was incredible, it’s one of my favorite songs of hers and she totally nailed it. And Brandi came out and sang Kid Fears, she did the Michael Stipe (REM) part and it gave me chills (I’m getting them even as I type this weeks later), it was amazing. Then IG just continued (and didn’t stop) with an awesome concert, it was well worth the trip. I’ll finish up my review in part 3 (that I promise to post soon).

    I’ve got the word “dancing” here in my notes, but I’m not sure exactly why I wrote that. I must have had an anecdote related to that and I assumed I’d remember…

    Written By: Gary on July 13, 2007 2 Comments

    So about 18 months ago I mentioned that Post removed all the sugar from Alpha-Bits cereal. Not only that, they removed all the flavor! They were awful!!!

    So someone e-mailed me last week about the new “Special Edition” dark blue box that was out. Here’s the thing, the box says “special edition” but not what’s “special” about it. THe box does say it’s sweetened but that’s it. Very strange.

    It’s like the old Alpha-Bits are back. Very yummy! The last box I bought was the un-sweetened kind and I didn’t even finish the first bowl. I hope these last a while. I which there was a place to vote or something they should never return to the awful bits they’ve been trying to peddle for the last year…

    Written By: Gary on July 12, 2007 No Comment

    So I’m not the largest Harry Potter fan, I’ve read the books, but I think I missed the last movie. I got dragged to the latest one but I did enjoy it. Except for the flying in the opening sequence the effects were awesome. They cut so much out of the books (and the books keep getting bigger), it’d probably be better if they’d make the movies twice as long and just release them in two parts (but twice as often) and make them ‘to be continued’…

    The parts when the magistrate (government) were nosing around the school with what should be taught and how it should be taught were hysterical, especially the parts about the standardized testing.

    Harry is starting to look pretty old, I’m not sure how him and the gang are going to make it to the 7th movie without looking like 5th year college students.

    Written By: Gary on July 12, 2007 No Comment

    After the pilot, the next few episodes of Traveler were a little slow (and complicated) and I didn’t really think I’d get into it. But after that I was hooked! It had the chase scenes and the conspiracy and the action but they didn’t waste time repeating themselves all the time like so many other shows do. It’s like they’re Jack Bauer and they’ve been falsely accused of bombing a museum. On paper the guy who did it doesn’t seem to exist so they’ve got to evade the law and prove that Will exists and that they didn’t do it.

    This weeks show was packed with twists and turns and ended with a great twist. Unfortunately next week is the season finale, this has got to be the shortest season I’ve seen, it was only eight episodes. As sad as I am that it’s only eight, I prefer that over them stretching the same story out over 15 or 20 episodes. I’m not familiar with the directors/producers but I’ll watch more if they make it.

    FYI, on a non-related note, the new season of Psych starts Friday on USA.

    Written By: Gary on July 3, 2007 2 Comments

    So I was never a huge Transformers fan. I never understood the reasoning/idea of the robots Transforming into cars (please don’t try to explain it to me) as a great story-line even for the comics. But the effects and the Michael Bay action couldn’t keep me away.

    THe effects were awesome, lots of action, lots of destruction and a bit of campy humor. I was totally into the movie and the chase scenes and the explosions. It did take more than a few minutes to set the movie up, but since the movie was two hours and twenty minutes I really won’t complain about that. My biggest complaint is to ditch the little robot that transforms into the tape deck, but they probably needed something that wouldn’t totally slaughter the humans…

    If it interests you, go see it, you’ll love it. My piece of trivia for this movie: the voice of Optimus Prime is the same guy who did the voice for the cartoons.

    I still don’t get the idea of the robot/car transformations, but I certainly want my car to be able to do it!

    Written By: Gary on July 2, 2007 One Comment

    So back to the concert in Ravina that I’ve mentioned sever times already. Brandi Carlile was the first act, she’s big enough these days that I’m surprised she didn’t get mentioned in the listings for the concert. She was incredible, I really like the songs on her current album and she played quite a few songs in the forty minutes that she was up there. Man, she can belt out a tune. Any & Emily came out and did a song with her which I never realized that they sang with her on the album.

    So Brandi has changed a bit in the last year since I saw here in Ann Arbor. When she was there she was excellent but she was kind of casual about her look (in a good way). When I saw the video for The Story I noticed how much makeup and hair-do work she had done, I didn’t even realize it was her at first (and who else would it have been). She still had her jeans and cowgirl boots on, but she definitely was still a bit more made up than I’ve seen her before (in person and album covers, etc.) and the jeans seemed a bit more low-cut than how I picture her normally. Speaking of last year’s concert, I do recall her being very grateful and chatty about Grey’s Anatomy but it didn’t get a mention at all this concert.

    She mentioned she was a huge Indigo Girls fan and tried to get us to sing along to a song (she knows everyone sings along to every Indigo Girls song) but it was a hard one, we didn’t didn’t do so good, we did better singing with some songs that she didn’t encourage us to sing on.

    After her concert she cam back out and sang “Kid Fears” with IG, she did the Michael Stipe (from REM) part. She was incredible, it actually gave me chills when I heard it.

    She sang more with IG, but that’s another post (or two).

    Written By: Gary on July 2, 2007 2 Comments

    So I went to see Waitress, starring Keri Russell, at the Main Art Theater (in Royal Oak, MI). I like Keri, unfortunately there is something about the parts she plays that I generally don’t like. But the reviews have been giving her great acclaim for this movie. Rightly so, she did an excellent job and I really liked her and her character in this film.

    She plays a small-town waitress in a rotten marriage who makes pies. These aren’t ordinary pies, they’re extra-ordinary pies. She thinks these pies out according to her mood, they might be called:

  • Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse pie.
  • Bubble-gum Mermaid Pie.
  • Pregnant Miserable Self Pitying Loser Pie – Lumpy oatmeal with fruitcake mashed in. Flambé of course!
  • I Hate My Husband Pie – You take bittersweet chocolate and don’t sweeten it. You make it into a pudding and drown it in caramel.

    And everyone just thinks they are the best thing ever. She’s trying to save money and wants to win a $25,000 pie contest so that she can finally leave her husband.

    The interactions with the other waitresses and with Joe, the old coot in one of the booths, (played by Andy Griffith) are excellent and I laughed aloud in the theatre many times. Her Ob-Gyn is played by Nathan Fillion and they have some hysterical interactions and strange conversations, so strange it makes me wonder if they had a script, or if they didn’t if they re-edited it to make it so goofy. I loved it!

  • Written By: Gary on July 1, 2007 2 Comments

    For the effects I give it a big WOW! THe effects were amazing. Where were these movies when we were kids? We would have gone nuts over them. Now most comic story-lines are so complicated, you could never make a movie out of them.

    The story-line was great but they had this constant sub-story line of stupid jokes and their powers bouncing back and forth which was just a waste in my humble opinion. Reed working around the wedding plans trying to save the world was interesting. And it was a lot faster moving than the first movie, IMHO. There was something odd about Jessica Alba, was it just that she was a blonde or was there too much make-up or what?

    We lost power just before the end of the movie so a few of us were debating if it was going to end in a few minutes or if it was ‘to be continued’, I was for the latter, I felt that way before going to see the movie.

    They had a bit of product placement, mostly by joking about sponsors for the team, which I enjoyed. And over at Population Statistic, Costa noticed that the name of the catering company was Edible Planet.

    Being a comic fan when I was a kid I really enjoyed this movie movie even with the above comments. Just remember it’s a movie, not a comic and they take some liberties.Did the girl named Frankie have the last name of Ray? Doesn’t she eventually become a herald of Galactus?

    Written By: Gary on June 25, 2007 One Comment

    IndigocarlileThis was the best concert!! It wasn’t just Brandi Carlile opening for Indigo Girls, a good part of it was Indigo Girls AND Brandi Carlile together!!! Not only that, it was like the concert that wouldn’t end! They just kept singing!

    I went way early and upgraded my lawn seat to row H (the 7th row actually) since Ravinia lets you do that (which is great). I originally purchased a lawn seat because I just didn’t know if I actually was going to go. But due to some empty seats, I really spent most of the concert in rows 2 or 3!!!

    At the beginning they did a song with Brandi and later she did one with them. Then Brandi did Michael Stipes part for Kid Fears and it actually gave me chills! Then she did who knows how many with them at the end (at least 4, maybe 6), some just backing but many performing with them. And they just kept playing, the fans kept cheering every time they played an additional song. They went way past when Ravinia says they normally stop playing (at least according to the brochure).

    I will be posting more on this later: Brandi, IG and Ravinia will probably get some more entries…

    Written By: Gary on May 19, 2007 No Comment

    So I’m at McDonald’s and I want my regular order, a number 3 combo (Quarter Ponder, Fries, Soda); so I order a “number 3, no pickle, no mustard” slow and articulated but as usual they have to ask me again what it is that I want. I don’t understand how they don’t get it the first time, it’s a limited selection of items that I can order even if I slur my voice someone should be able to figure it out, it’s not like I ordered an iPod with a side of onion rings. But that’s actually not my complaint today, she did get it correct and processed that part of the order quickly and accurately.

    So they hand me my order, while the QP box has the “no pickle, No mustard” tag on it there is an excessive amount of mustard on the box which lets me know to check before I bite. Sure enough there’s mustard on it (maybe pickle too). So I sent it back. Minutes later I get another one, with pickle and mustard. So I send it back, it’s easily 5 minutes more until I get a correct sandwich. They did give me fresh fries (the first order was better than delicious) and offer me a pie (but they didn’t have apple so I passed). They handed the final order to me in a togo bag, was that a hint?

    How much money (food and staff time) did they waste trying to make this sandwich correctly? We’re not even factoring in my time wasted and the fact that this is the most expensive McDonald’s around here.

    Written By: Gary on May 14, 2007 One Comment

    Year of Meteors Laura VeirsSo I did a quick photo blog from the concert the other day but I’ve been so busy I never said anything else (actually I’ve barely said anything lately). Laura Veirs was excellent! The Magic Stick is such a great small venue, $12 at the door and you can get closer than if you had front row seats at a larger venue. The group talked to us and even asked for some requests. Then they explained their goofy outfits which I’m not even going to try to explain, I’ll look and see if anyone has any good photos somewhere on-line.

    I’m always so happy with the smaller venues, I’ve got to pay more attention to people coming to town to see some people I would haven’t normally gone to see. And it’s really nice when they hang around and autograph their CDs! I bought two and got them both signed…

    “Lake” opened for them and they were pretty good but it just wasn’t the sound that draws me in too much. Kelly Jean Caldwell was a local opener (I’m pretty sure she’s local) for them that I heard was excellent but I showed up late (my niece, Courtney Robb, was playing at a club down the street so I went to see her first) so I’ll have to keep my eye open for her to come back.

    Written By: Gary on May 9, 2007 2 Comments



    Laura Veirs

    Originally uploaded by garylapointe.

    Laura Veirs at an excellent intimate show in Detroit at the Majic Stick. If you’re a fan and you didn’t come, you really missed out…

    Written By: Gary on May 9, 2007 No Comment

    Spider-Man 3 Peter DavidSo I had day off and it was raining so I finally took the time to go see Spider-Man 3. I really enjoyed it! Lots of differences between the movie and comics but these days with alternate universes and different story-lines (such as Spidey having a secret identity in one series and not in another) there are lots of differences from comic to comic too.

    Lots of action and effects; all the sand and the black suit moved around really cool. Unfortunately, sometimes the action was moving so fast it was hard to see what was happening. Gwen Stacy was in this story which was interesting since the ‘falling off the bridge’ sequence from the first movie was originally taken from the comics with Gwen being the fallen. Toby (Peter) just played such a nerd, I don’t remember him being such a dork in the earlier movies.

    What I don’t like about super-hero movies is they make the plots too busy; why have one villain when you can have three? They spend too much time setting things up and then the other half of the movie breaking them down. Not enough time spent with Gwen, Venom and Sandman. And who’s the dorky cute girl across the hall? Does she eventually become a hero or villian?

    While I haven’t read it (yet) the novelization is by Peter David. Peter has written everything (books and comics) from The Hulk to Star Trek to the Little Mermaid so it’s certainly worth checking out.

    Written By: Gary on May 6, 2007 No Comment

    So I was in Chicago the other week and while I was there I went to see Wicked. If you don’t know what that is, it’s the story of the Wicked Witch of the West (from The Wizard of Oz) and how her story went before she met Dorothy and company. You find out why she’s green, why the monkeys have wings, why the wizard really decided to go back to kansas with the gang and lots more. The music is good (some songs are really great) the story is excellent, it’s neat how they make the different pieces fall into place. It was kind of like watching a time travel movie and you could see what was going on the past that made the future turn out to be the way that you know it to be. I started the book but couldn’t get through it, the musical was much much better.

    Got really good seats for the matinee on a Sunday, ninth row in the center so you could really see everything. They put a lot of work and details into everything so that really made it enjoyable. I never new the munchkins could dance so well (or they were so sexy cute).

    Like I said, it was really enjoyable so if you think you’d like something like that you probably will. I wish I had watched the Wizard of Oz again to fill in the blanks, I know I was wondering about a few things in the movie while watching the musical so you might to watch the movie again before you see it just to refresh your memory a little bit. Lots of fun!

    Written By: Gary on April 24, 2007 2 Comments

    Stranger Than Fiction Marc ForsterI’m not a Will Ferrell fan but I really really enjoyed Stranger Than Fiction. I’ve heard several people (Kelly and Srah) say the same thing and since I thought the movie looked interesting I gave it a try. Before I tell you about it I’ll mention that it’s the slapstick / stupid / immature stuff that makes me not like Will Farrell but since I now know he can act I’ll pay a little more attention to his stuff; I feel the same way about Jim Carey and Adam Sandler, when they aren’t pretending to be one of The Three Stooges they’re pretty entertaining (hmm, the three of them as The 3 Stooges…).

    So all of a sudden boring Harold Crick realizes he can hear the narration of his life in his head as his day goes along. It makes him think he’s a little crazy but the narration is hysterical (IMHO) in that it captures his idiosyncrasies perfectly. Eventually with lots of confusion as he occasionally speaks out to the voice he he seeks out a shrink and eventually ends up with a Literature Professor (Dustin Hoffman) who helps him to figure out what type of novel he is “in”. All of it really makes for some hysterical dialog and really has some “meaning of life” stuff in it if you think about the story you are participating in as you live out your life…

    On a side note: I have a crush on Emma Thompson, but her semi-depressed chain-smoking character in this movie made that fade away; but they made up for it (with me) by having the lovely Maggie Gyllenhaal

    Written By: Gary on April 8, 2007 No Comment

    So I’m really liking the 2007 season of Doctor Who, the second episode of “The Shakespeare Code” was excellent. They’re still introducing the new character, Martha Jones, and it’s working out well, IMHO. I’m trying to figure out how many of the jokes are inside jokes since I’ve watched for two seasons and how many people will get it on the first time around. As I’ve said before they do ignore the technical details about how things work which they illustrated with this episode by having Martha ask all sorts of questions about the time machine and paradoxes by pretty much ignoring them or saying don’t worry…

    So they went back in time and had an adventure with William Shakespeare, I’ve never been a huge fan but I do appreciate that all the right people say he’s a genius and I accept that, especially since a lot of writers I really enjoy think he’s a genius. So it’s great that they had a character like The Doctor actually thinks he’s a genius and treated him as such. Lots of Shakespeare jokes, makes me wonder if I missed any…1

    Plus, there were a few Harry Potter jokes/references that I thought were great. But I’m getting tired of the Rose references already three episodes now (the first two of the season and the Christmas special which kinda took place between seasons) and while I loved Rose, if we’re going to ignore much of the science (and concentrate on the story) then maybe they should ignore the fact that he’s lost Rose.

    Written By: Gary on April 4, 2007 No Comment

    I wasn’t ever a Doctor Who fan (not even a bit), a friend mentioned it to me more than a few times but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. But then they started running a new series a few years ago and it seemed okay, but then I started watching it from the beginning of the 2005 season and it was really good. I really enjoy the humor, just a little British with a lot of wit; some of with wit is just barely acknowledged and then they move along (so sometimes you miss it).

    This is a perfect episode to start watching the series, it’s the first episode of season three (2007), it’s called ‘Smith and Jones’. She’s Dr. Martha Jones and he checked into the hospital under the name ‘Smith’. The Doctor is a bit out of sorts having lost his last traveling companion (Rose) but the show always has sidekick so we get to be introduced to the new companion. She’s a medical doctor in training who doesn’t get too freaked out about with the strange things that happen and she’ll probably be a great asset to the show. So it kind of re-introduces you to the main characters.

    Since the series was restarted they’ve changed both the doctor and his companion/assistant; it’s the start of year two for the doctor and the first episode with the new assistant. The 2005 Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, has been playing the invisible man on Heroes season one. I haven’t seen Rose on anything else yet. Some people will refer to this (2007) as the third season but some die hards will refer to it as the 29th season. I think the BCC is who restarted the numbering but I’m not sure why (but it’s probably due to a 15 year gap in the series).The Doctor is a quirky guy, smart (but seems flaky), a bit egotistical but he usually knows what he’s doing; he’s played by David Tennant and is the tenth Doctor in the series. He’s also the last of The Time Lords, his time ship which used to camouflage itself to fit in the environment got stuck looking like a 1960’s police call-box and liked it so he’s never fixed that (besides humans never noticed out o place things like that). The assistant is usually pretty helpful, not apt to panic and in some episodes is the one that saves the day. The thing to keep in mind is there isn’t always a lot of continuity between the episodes and some of the “science stuff” isn’t explained completely and won’t be; it’s a show for fun not to be over analyzed like the physics of Star Trek (or insert your geeky series here). And FYI his “sonic screwdriver” is the Dr. Who trademark tool to fix things, open doors and other oddities; it’s really the only thing he carries around everywhere.

    I don’t think anyone in the US has picked up season 3 yet so if you don’t get the BBC I think the only direction to send you is to a torrent site. (I’ve checked iTunes, Amazon unBoxed, SciFi channel, PBS and it just doesn’t seem like any stations are carrying season three yet.)

    Written By: Gary on April 2, 2007 One Comment

    So I enjoyed The Holiday but some parts were really really slow. There were parts that really appealed to my sense of humor, but I’d have a hard time recommending it. It’s got Kate Winslet (and Cameron Diaz) and I’ve always had a thing for Kate…

    It’s the story of two women who need to get away due to recent men problems and end up doing a home swap. Cameron leaves her huge home in LA to stay in Kate’s tiny place in the little town in England (and vice-versa); Kate really made out on this deal. Of course they meet men and the story goes on from there. One of the parts I really really liked is when Kate was exhausted from the trip and the jet lag and wants to sleep but it’s bright since it’s the middle of the day. Then she find the magical switch that activates the room blinds which slide down and seal the room up likes it’s a bomb shelter it was awesome; that’s how I like to sleep, when it’s pitch black so I could really handle having something like that.

    What else? Cameron makes movie previews for a living and that was cool, especially her daydreams about her life as a movie preview. I liked Jack Black’s part, when he’s not too goofy I like him, and the he was pretty good (a little less goofy would have been better, IMHO). The little girls were hysterical(!) but I won’t say anything else about them. That’s it, I wish it had been more exciting but that’s all I got, like I said, I enjoyed it…FYI, I read in the IMDB that “This film was written specifically with actors Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black in mind”

    Written By: Gary on April 1, 2007 One Comment

    Forget that it lets you create awful looking pages and that it’s ultra slow (partially due to the large quantities of photos and slideshows). We’re just talking about normal software problems that would probably save them bandwidth if they fixed/tweaked things (and make our MySpace lives easier and faster). Let’s get everyone to stop wasting clicks and using it better (which will stop wasting bandwidth!). I might even spend more time there if it wasn’t for all the wasted time…
    So here we go (I hope Tom is listening):

  • If I’m looking at an event it should tell me if I’ve added it to my calendar already when I’m looking at it. It should not make me click it and then add it twice. It should know this already.
  • I need a way to get the calendar out of MySpace. I’ve already got a calendar on my computer, it’s on my phone, it’s every where I go (and it’s all the same calendar). I need a way to get those events from MySpace to my other synchronized calendars. There are standardized protocols for this, if they really want me to see these performers (they really don’t care, IMHO) they need to make sure I know about them.
  • If I add a calendar item from someone’s page it should remember when I got the event from with a link back to the original page.
  • If someone is my friend already say that on the page don’t say “I’m in their extended network”, it says that for everyone. You go to add a band (or someone) and you can’t remember if they’re in your list already and it’s got to go to another page. It should know this already.
  • Artists can set their page to let you download some of their songs (or none) but the filenames are awful (like 89SAD09G89SD0FSDF089SDFS8D00S.mp3) and the songs have none of the tags so you can see who it is when you play it later (on the computer or your mp3 player). Once again, they aren’t helping the artists, it’s whatever they can do to get you to come back to the site for unnecessary things. If you’re hooked your coming back, just let me download something useful.
  • MySpace will send me e-mail reminders and alerts but you can’t choose which ones and it’s hard to get them past your spam filter since they change their e-mail address with every message. If you use some form of disposable address now your friends can’t search for you since they don’t know that address (I only send friends to MySpace to find the links to my bands, I have no real content there).
  • If I go to someone’s page for the first time, I’ll click play if I want to hear their favorite song, don’t start streaming me music I don’t want to hear. I almost want to say the same about a musician’s page too but I can understand that they want it to play (how about a 10 second delay so the page will stop loading first?).
  • They don’t let you subscribe via RSS/Atom to a persons blog, once again, no info unless you go to theirSpace. They could at least let you view an excerpt so then you’d want to come back…
  • If someone has no pics (or videos) it shouldn’t give me an option to view them. There aren’t any there!!
  • There should be a limit of 15 slideshows or 1500 photos per page. That’s sarcasm, have you seen how many photos and slideshows people put on their page? It takes 5 minutes to download them all on a high speed connection!
  • Why can’t I rotate my favorite song? Or my Avatar? Oops, wait those aren’t aesthetic complaints, they’re user wishes. I’ve been spending too much time in theirSpace….

    I really hope I’m not missing an easy calendar solution, I’ll feel kinda silly if I did. If I’m complaining, I suppose it begs the question why am I using MySpace? Because they’ve got my local bands convinced it’s the only place to list their calendars. And occasionally I follow a few other clicks while I’m there…

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    Written By: Gary on March 25, 2007 One Comment

    So a long time ago Dave Goodman recommended The Victorian Internet to me (that’s 3 links in this sentence). After a while I finally ordered it and then after a while I finally read it and then I finally remember to post about it.

    A very interesting book on the how long distance communications took place centuries ago. Eventually the story focuses mostly on the 1800’s and how the telegraph was build, used, subsidized and grew all over the world. It’s a great book with all sorts of obvious parallels to the last 30 years and computer communications that just jump out at you. At least they jumped out at me, the last chapter kinda spoon fed the similarities to you in case you didn’t get them but I think if you made it through the book you don’t really need that wrap up.I’m not going to say any more about the book itself, if it sounds even mildly interesting I really think you’ll enjoy it.

    I’m looking for some similar books for two reasons:
    1) I like stuff like this.
    2) I’m thinking they’re going to ask me to teach the Tech Leadership 900 level course again at a local university. And I think an understanding of “stuff like this” is helpful for people working in technology. Plus it’s a short book and less than $12 new so what college student isn’t going to like that?!? Last summer we used The World is Flat (revised), which was cheap and interesting but it’s long and gets repetitive and if it’s not interesting to you it just gets more uninteresting as you read. It’s a great book, don’t get me wrong but if it’s not your cup of tea it’s really long, while with this this book (if anything) it’s over too soon.

    Written By: Gary on February 4, 2007 No Comment

    It’s the Linksys CIT200 iPhone and works with Skype and you’d might not even realize it was a real phone. It looks more like a generic Nokia cell phone than a home phone and it works great. Actually, the one thing that makes it “not normal” (which doesn’t bother me as much as others on-line) is if you are manually dialing you need to dial the “+1” before all calls, to me it’s slightly silly, you should be able to configure it to have a default country (and area) code.

    So I really like my iPhone.You can see all the people you have on your Skype list on the display of the phone so you just scroll down and pick who you want to call. I’ve wandered all over the condo and it’s clear everywhere (I’m on the 3rd/4th floor and it’s clear on the first level too!). It’s got a headset jack on it, a great speaker phone and supports call waiting. From the USB base the plugs into the computer it even has a button to press so you can page the phone so you can’t misplace it. You do need to route the audio on the computer so it properly goes to the phone (Skype has audio settings but it seems like the computer overrides them).I initially set up Skype when I dropped my land-line phone. I wanted a way to make phone calls in case I forgot my phone somewhere (or it broke) and wanted an easy backup. Plus when I’m out of the country if I have interent access, I can make phone-calls to the US very inexpensively (2.1 cents a minute).

    If you use Skype it’s a must have, if you don’t have Skype and you need an extra phone line in the house get Skype and pay for unlimited outgoing calls to land-lines in the US and Canada for $30 a year. If you don’t get a phone like this you just use a headset on the computer.

    What don’t I like about my iPhone? It’s got a crappy wallpaper background and while they have several to choose from, none are a plain background so it’s always hard to read the screen. The “+1” is a minor annoyance, but since I really don’t use it that much, it’s okay. The audio configuration is mildly annoying, I’m hoping an update fixes that (update: I did just install the Jan 22, 2007 update and the audio confusion seems better, we’ll see how it feels after a few days).

    Written By: Gary on January 21, 2007 No Comment

    So I stopped by the Midnight Espresso Cafe in Dearborn. I really like it there but it’s generally pretty smokey (lots of smokers hang out and smoke cigarettes or a hooka) but they didn’t look too busy so I stopped by. WOW! They just renovated and made it much bigger and it seems brighter too!

    They’ve got a wide variety on the menu, I’m guessing much of it is Arabic in origin. Whenever I bring people here they generally find something interesting that they like. I generally get the BBQ Chicken Quesadillas and that’s what I’m getting today.

    Bonus, I pulled out the laptop hook up my phone as a modem and realized I connected to a network! So they’ve got WiFi now too (or else the business next door does), with their new larger non-smoking section and WiFi I think I’ll be here a bit more often now.

    Written By: Gary on January 7, 2007 2 Comments

    Cr Montezuma Big MapSo we really liked Montezuma, I’ve never been in that peninsula in Costa Rica and I’ve always wanted to go there (I think it’s called the Nicoloyia Nicoya Peninsula). We just kept extending our stay a day here and there and ended up staying four nights. We’re really glad we stayed an extra day or we would have missed the island of Tortuga (more on this later). It’s a very small town, just a few streets but it’s very laid back and I’ll definitely go back!

    Seems like a bit of a surfer town, but we saw very little surfing, even though there were lots of places to rent/buy surfing supplies. The water seemed very clear but part of that may have just been because the sand is so dark in Jaco. Speaking of Jaco, it seems like it’s a bit mini-Jaco before it grew, maybe if you could roll it back 30-40 years.

    Here is a street map of Montezuma. You can see all the busineeses on this map. If there is nothing listed it’s probably just trees or sand. Size-wise most of the hotels only have 10-15 rooms so they don’t take up much room. Most of it is concentrated in the top have of the map with Chico’s Bar (#14) at the center o the town, we stayed at El Sano Banano (#9) which is really close to the center.Things did seem less expensive in this town, but don’t assume and be sure to check the menu’s prices before you sit down. Generally (but not always) if a place lists the cost in US Dollars they are more expensive. FYI, no ATMs in this town so make sure you have cash, especially since many places will give you a better deal for cash than charge (mostly noticed this with tours, transportation and hotels).

    It’s way more laid back and it’s a bit of a hippie/rastafarian/bohemian crowd that seems to have settled in there. Some just seem to be traveling for a while and stop for a few months or years and others just seem to have moved there. There seems to be a few Ticos (Costa Rican people) who have relocated up that way as well, they just think it’s more relaxed than some of the other places they’ve been.

    Written By: Gary on January 4, 2007 No Comment

    Img 4271So we’re staying at the The El Sano Banano and we keep adding days to our stay. It’s a great hotel in that it’s located right in the center of Montezuma and it’s got all the necessary requirements for a hotel. It’s got air conditioning which to me is a must and not that many hotels have it (and it’s brand new, so it works very well), private bathrooms/showers, the showers have heat and it’s only about $65 US a night. There’s no internet but I just found out that the Ylang Ylang (the sister hotel) has free WiFi but I just found that out so I haven’t tried it yet.

    It’s cute but plain vanilla, just beds and a TV in the room, no chairs and no desk. It’s tiny, only 12 rooms, but many of the places are like that. Free breakfast in the morning, it’s delicious(!), I get Huevos Rancheos, which is eggs and salsa on a tortilla but no frijoles (beans). The dinning rooms shows free movies with dinner; I assume the legality of this is questionable, but I haven’t bothered to quiz them on the legalities of international copyright and are they paying the proper fees (my spanish stinks and no one’s English is that good). But pretty much you’re wandering the streets or beech or at a restaurant or people-watching or on the beach.

    I’d definitely recommend this place for the price, location, A/C and the rest of what I’ve mentioned above. The A/C really helps the enjoyability of it, the water pressure could be better (sometimes it’s awesome, but sometimes it’s not working). No one we’ve talked to has air conditioning, but they’re staying at places for half the price but we really like the A/C…

    The photo is the view out my window.

    Written By: Gary on December 30, 2006 No Comment

    Cr1902Cr1900So here’s a few shots from the balcony of our hotel, the wet stuff in the background is the Pacific (click the thumbnails for a larger photo). I really like the Hotel Balcon del Mar, it’s got everything I need. We’ve actually got a two bedroom apartment so there’s lots of room and I like that. The pocket camerea I used for these photos wasn’t wide-angle enough to photograph the room, I’ll try the other camera later.

    Well, it’s not perfect, it could have WiFi (wireless internet), an elevator (Mark says there are 63 steps to our floor) and a better English speaking person. I can make it pretty difficult for people with all the questions I like to ask, imagine if they don’t speak English?!? On a side note, I was a little disappointed about the included breakfast this trip, it used to be made to order but now it’s a buffet (not made my way).

    Today I was trying to figure out where to go when we leave here, I thought since I like the hotel I’d try to figure out where the people who own it might have other hotels. That conversation didn’t get me very far. Wouldn’t it make sense to have a list of other hotels that they have in there “chain”? They could keep it in the hotel room for you to look at and think “hey, maybe I’ll stay there some time…”, but of course no such list exists. If I tell them where I’m going the can tell me what’s close though :)


    Cr1901So far today, went in the Pacific Ocean a few times. Went for a wander and picked up a few things, checked out some car rental places (everyone is out until the 1st or 2nd). I’m typing this at a little restaurant that gave me a huge sandwich of BBQ chicken with pineapple and onion on a pita, it was delicious!!! The restaurant is “Caliche’s Wishbone” and it’s on the strip in Jaco (between Pops and Planet Food).

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