Friday, May 28, 2004

Ignorance is not bliss

Recording industry sues first Minnesotan for thousands, but she's a single mom earning $21,000: "(Tammy) Lafky says she doesn't download free music. Her daughter did last year when she was 14, but neither of them knew it was illegal because all of Cassandra's friends at school were doing it."

That's a great message to teach your daughter. I can't wait for a lawyer to defend them using the "But everyone else was doing it" defense.

The article also notes that the 41-year-old mother cannot pay the fine because she only clears $21,000 a year. So why does she have a computer that she doesn't know how to use?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

e-Column #95

Undeterred by laws, spam being spread by viruses, worms
Have you been receiving unsolicited e-mail relating to pharmaceuticals, get-rich-quick schemes, low mortgage rates, fast weight-loss plans or of a pornographic nature? You’re not alone, and the problem of spam e-mail has only gotten worse.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Megan and I are back from our vacation at the Disneyland Resort and I've posted a few photos on our Photo Galleries site.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Achtung Baby as Clock

With a total running time of about 55 minutes, two nearly evenly-spaced cassette sides of 6 songs, and each song averaging roughly 4-1/2 minutes, U2's "Achtung Baby" has become something of a trip-measuring tool in the car. Modesto isn't an x mile or x minute trip, it's a nearly one Achtung Baby trip. And instead of being x miles or x minutes away from your destination, you're really only an "Acrobat" away. Getting burgers from In-N-Out is a Side 1 trip. How do you know if you're running behind schedule? If "So Cruel" hasn't started by the time you reach a certain landmark, the traffic has been slower than normal. And what if your destination is further away than 55 minutes? Hey, cassette auto-reverse was invented for a reason.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

The Mummy Returns

Back in 2001, Megan and I were approached to possibly write movie reviews for the local paper. The movie I chose to review was "The Mummy Returns" and although that gig did not come to fruition, I'm releasing that review from the vault due to popular demand and to coincide with the release of director Stephen Sommers' latest monster mash, "Van Helsing":

Picture, if you will, a fedora-clad hero, with a gun in one hand and a torch in the other, wiping away a wall of spiderwebs to explore ancient ruins. And when he removes a treasure from its resting place, it triggers a catastrophic booby-trap.

No, it’s not “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but “The Mummy Returns” sure tries hard to replicate the Indiana Jones franchise. Unfortunately, Brendan Fraser is no Harrison Ford. And Stephen Sommers is no Steven Spielberg.

Sommers stuffs the two hours with wall-to-wall action and special effects, stopping every fifteen minutes for a deep conversation between Fraser and co-star Rachel Weisz, followed by a deep lip-lock. And while much of the action is exciting and entertaining, the rest of it is tedious and sometimes incomprehensible.

For instance, when did The Mummy become Darth Vader? In addition to having a black outfit, a mask and an echoing metallic voice, he lifts people up with a wave of his hands and flings them around.

Of course, logic was a casualty of the first film, and its sequel is hardly on a Spock-like course. It wouldn’t be so noticeable if the computer-generated visual effects made up the difference. But most of the baddies — mummies, dog-warriors, unexplained pygmy creatures, or the laughably bad giant scorpion — seem more like cartoons, stretching their features and their believability beyond reason.

Thankfully, the gleefully greedy John Hannah and the spunky Freddie Boathe provide official comic relief while Oded Fehr brings a healthy dose of seriousness, and explains the plot.

And if you just want to see The Rock, plan on staying ten minutes. He probably spent more time on the promotional circuit than he did on the set.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


Not being able to attend the San Diego Comic-Con International this year (thanks for the conflict, 10-year high school reunion!) I went to the WonderCon in San Francisco on Saturday, May 1. Here's a quick rundown of my experience at the show:

Having missed out on scheduled sessions and signings at WizardWorld Chicago, I arrived about 15 minutes early to the DC: Charting the Universe session, which turned out to be unnecessary since WonderCon is obviously not as crowded as WizardWorld. It was a fun session, though, as DC's Editorial VP gave a slide show presentation of the current and upcoming DC Universe titles and gave a panel of popular DC writers and artist Howard Chaykin a chance to comment on them all. They all had good things to say about everything presented ... until the slide with the upcoming "Catwoman" merchandise. There was a definite groan from the audience at seeing Halle Berry in that ridiculous costume and at least one of the panel members turned his head away in disgust. A fun time was had by all, I think, though I headed out a little before it ended, since the Q&A was dragging on a little. Somehow, my questions always seem to provoke a very negative reaction.

An exclusive preview of "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" was shown and it was absolutely incredible. A Q&A with the director and producer of the film revealed that the film is almost completely untainted by Hollywood studios and was financed and shot before shopping it around. Unfortunately, the release date has been moved from the summer to September. They said they are hoping to garner a good buzz through word of mouth. Watch for it, definitely. The only low point of this segment was the Q&A, where some doofus asked about whether all future WWII flying movies would use this movie's technology instead of real planes and whether the movie could succeed with matinee prices having risen so high. Thankfully, the moderator stepped in to cut him off and insisted that all future questions be related to the film. That garnered a round of applause.

There were a lot of summer movies previewed that day, as Fox presented exclusive previews of "The Day After Tomorrow" (it was the 10-minute segment that aired on FOX last night prior to American Idol), "Alien vs. Predator" (I missed that one, but did hear Lance Henriksen tell a hilarious story about "Aliens"), and "I, Robot," which also featured a video introduction from Will Smith, who addressed all the WonderCon attendees and admitted he'd had some summer hits and misses.

The big event of that day was the appearance of Tobey Maguire, his only convention appearance this year to promote "Spider-Man 2." Yet some people still left after the "I, Robot" segment which directly preceded Tobey's appearance...? Tobey told us how he was sick (it was apparent) but was committed to not canceling his appearance. Unfortunately, the Q&A session then began with a bunch of Tobey Maguire-obsessed, "Tiger Beat"-reading girls who asked him questions like "I love you so much! Can you just give me a hug?!" and "I came all the way from Los Angeles and it's my birthday and I've dreamed of meeting you in real life!" Ugh! I never thought a comic book convention wouldn't be geeky enough! Thankfully, there were some good questions asked, although the award for the funniest question is a tie between some dude dressed up with a big red mask over his face who complimented Tobey on his subtlety in acting and asked for advice (Tobey's response: "I don't know, you're pretty subtle already") and a question from Wonder Woman, who, when she spoke, clearly revealed she was actually a he (shiver!).

Steve Sansweet, the head of fan relations at Lucasfilm, gave an hourlong presentation on Star Wars (Q&A from WonderCon), including some small peeks at Episode III. The presentation was delayed for quite a while due to technical difficulties hooking up his Windows laptop to the projector, yet the presentation itself was just a DVD that had clearly been made on a Mac, since there was a giant Apple logo in the bottom right corner of the menu screen. Mostly he showed some short documentaries that are available at, but he also answered a few questions. The one that was most interesting was when someone asked which version of the classic trilogy would be released on DVD this year: the original or the special edition. His carefully-worded answer was that the movies included would be "as George Lucas sees them today," which seems to leave the possibility open that there will be even more changes made to the films (Hammerhead shoots first now?).

Of course, there were also comic books to be had at the show, and I found a few I'd been looking for. My favorite find, however, was a rejected "Hellboy" movie poster drawn by the inimitable Drew Struzan. If you want to see it in all its glory, you'll have to come visit.


Sometime between April 26 and May 11, Blogger implemented a number of changes, which I'm trying to sort out. One such change is the addition of comments. Simply click on the time-stamp of any of my blog postings and you'll be taken to the post's individual page. You can read and post comments there. Hopefully I can go for a month without spam showing up there.

macCompanion - May 2004

My reviews for macCompanion's May 2004 issue include:

Keyboard SleeveCase

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

e-Column #94

New digital music formats cook up an alphabet soup
"With the growth of the online music market, purchasing music on the Internet has never been simpler. And turning your CDs into digital audio files on your computer, or 'ripping' them, is still surprisingly easy. But choosing which format to use is a different story."