Wednesday, December 28, 2005

2005 Year-End Google Zeitgeist

Considering all that has occurred in 2005, we thought it would be interesting to study just a few of the significant events, and names that make this a memorable year. (We’ll leave it to the historians to determine which ones are lasting and which ephemeral.) We hope you enjoy this selective view of our collective year.

Apocalypto teaser has hidden image

The teaser trailer for Mel Gibson's Apocalypto was released last week. At about 1:46 into it, this single frame appears.

Judge Rejects Teaching Intelligent Design

"That was a real drag," said Michael J. Behe, a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University who was the star witness for the intelligent design side.
A "real drag?" The star witness gives quotes like that?

Peter's Evil Overlord List
or "The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord"

Some of my favorites include

  • My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
  • If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.
  • My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.
  • I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.

SPJ criticizes radio station’s sale of naming rights

The Society of Professional Journalists urges Clear Channel radio group to stop allowing its stations to sell naming rights to their newsrooms. WIBA, a Clear Channel radio station in Madison, Wis., sold the naming rights for its newsroom to a local bank.

USB ShrimpThe top 10 weirdest USB drives ever

USB drives comes in thousands of designs and colors, but these 10 are extraordinary weird. Or what do you think? Go ahead, check them out. They are weird! Promise. Hehe.

OCC trustees oust student paper adviser

Bosley rebutted the two reasons she was given for not being renewed as newspaper adviser — that the paper contains too many errors and that student staff, because they use Macintosh computers, are not being prepared for the real world.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Christmas House Video

This amazing animated Christmas display, synchronized to a rousing rendition of 'Wizards in Winter' by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, was constructed in 2004 by Carson Williams of Mason, Ohio using programmable light controllers and software made by Light-O-Rama of Garfield, New Jersey. The music was broadcast on FM radio so viewers could listen to it as they drove by the house in their cars.

What Is On George Bush's iPod?

Ever wondered what the most powerful man in the world listens to in his spare time? In a rare departure from formal media interviews, George Bush has revealed what is on his personal IPod. Andrew Wilson reports on the President's favourite tunes.
This is a streaming Windows Media video.

eBay: 8-Ft LEGO Rebel Attack Cruiser

This one-of-a-kind 8-foot LEGO Rebel Attack Cruiser model was designed by LEGO Master Builder Erik Varszegi for display at Star Wars Celebration III, San Diego Comic-Con, LEGOLAND California and several other national LEGO events to promote the final episode in the Star Wars saga. Megan and I saw it at Comic-Con and were blown away by both the size and the detail. You can see our picture in our Comic-Con photo gallery, but we couldn't back up enough to get the whole thing in the frame. Better pictures are found by following the link above.

It is now being auctioned off with a signed certificate of authenticity from George Lucas and 100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Habitat for Humanity’s hurricane relief efforts in the southeastern United States to aid families who are rebuilding their lives in the wake of the natural disaster.

There are six days remaining to bid, so make sure you've got at least $31,000. But shipping is free!

TV glitch mars Xbox 360 Kong game

Fans wanting to get the best out of the King Kong video game should avoid the version for Microsoft's new Xbox 360, the game's maker Ubisoft has suggested.
"When you play on an Xbox or a PlayStation 2, you start to see that it is beautiful," he said.
Ouch. This is just sad. However, the headline is misleading, as there is no "TV glitch."
The Ubisoft boss said the team who made the game used certain settings on high-definition TV screens. It did not occur to them that there would be a problem with standard televisions, which are what most people use to play console games.

Thursday, December 08, 2005 Sweet Profits

Not so long ago, in candy stores not so far away, anyone could snag a bag of Masterfoods' limited edition Star Wars dark chocolate M&M's. But since their release in collectible packages in April, the ten-week window of the promotional product has long since closed, leaving many craving more. And now some speculators have stepped in, tasting some sweet profits.
This article is slightly out of date now, since dark chocolate M&M's were re-released in late September through early November. What is still relevant, though, is they were impossible to find. I snagged 1-1/2 lb. at M&M's World when we were vacationing in Las Vegas, but once they're gone, it'll be tough (impossible?) to go back to boring old milk chocolate.

Video Journal # 22 - 20 Hours in San Diego

When we were at the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con, I attended the session for Superman Returns, featuring Director Bryan Singer. That session and the events surrounding it are recounted in his video journal on It does not reveal most of the footage that was previewed to the audience, and neither does the recently-released teaser trailer. But it's a fun little video nonetheless.

Christmas 2005 Newsletter

A Web Exclusive!! The 2005 edition of the Hargreaves family Christmas newsletter - The Informer - is available online! It is a 532KB PDF file, which translates into a 1-2 minute download for you dial-up users but unnoticable to you broadband users. Whether it loads in your browser window or launches Adobe Acrobat/Reader, don't forget that you can zoom in if it displays too small for your taste. This is a reward for all you blog readers who may or may not get a print version in your Christmas card (as if visiting this site isn't reward enough...)

Informer 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

Steve Jobs discusses music labels, iPods and Intel Macs

Jobs also warned of the challenge of offering extra features just for the sake of it, saying "We are very careful about what features we add because we can't take them away."
Really? Because over the past few years, you've taken away the included carrying case/belt clip, wired remote, the Settings option on the main menu, FireWire cable, dynamically-updating smart playlists, the headphone connector, power adapter, and the ability to sync with iTunes via FireWire. So are you sure you can't take things away?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Jelly Belly Factory

Megan and I visited the Jelly Belly Visitor's CenterJelly Belly Candy Co. in Fairfield earlier this month. Because it was a weekend, they were not actually making candies at the time and all the machines were at rest. But we still got to go on a walking factory tour with a knowledgable guide and watch some videos about the Jelly Belly bean-making process. We also saw a number of the Jelly Belly artworks, some of which use as many 5,000 beans. We even saw the 1989 World Series piece that was not missing a single bean after being recovered after the earthquake. Neither photography nor videocameras were allowed, however.

Interesting facts from that tour include:

  • The only flavor of Jelly Belly's 50 flavors that is not included in its 49 Flavors bag is Jalapeño.
  • Jelly Belly beans that get stuck together or are irregularly-shaped are called Belly Flops
  • They also make more than 100 other types of candy, including Candy Corn and Jordan Almonds
After the factory tour, we got to sample Jelly Belly beans from the (free!) Sampling Bar. They had a number of rare flavors available including: Green Tea Ice Cream, Baked Beans, Garlic, Buttered Toast, Pomegranate, Mint Trio, some new JBz flavors and the (ugh!) Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. I recommend having a Strawberry Jam + a Peanut Butter + a Buttered Toast.

But why were there children crying? Hello?! "Like a kid in a candy store" does not refer to unhappiness! You're getting free candy! We bought a few bags of Belly Flops at the visitor store, among other things and also had lunch at the Jelly Belly Cafe where Megan had a Jelly Belly-shaped cheeseburger. All in all, a neat place.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

iTunes outsells traditional music stores

For its comparison, the company compared 12 separate song downloads at iTunes to a single album purchase at an ordinary retail store. Using that measure, iTunes scored higher than Tower, Borders and Sam Goody.
Impressive and unexpected

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Las Vegas, Man of La Mancha photos

In one of my quickest updates yet, I've posted photos from our Las Vegas mini-vacation that were just picked up this evening. There is still one more roll that will probably not get developed until after Christmas.

And in one of my slowest updates (yet), I've posted photos from the April/May 2005 production of Man of La Mancha. However, I did have literally hundreds of nearly identical images to comb through and most were not in chronological order.

Las Vegas November 2005
Man of La Mancha 1
Man of La Mancha 2

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Paris Hilton doesn't change facial expressions

Warning: May cause seizure. Oh, and the images flash really fast, too.

DRM Crippled CD: A bizarre tale in 4 parts

The key restriction of this particular DRM is that it renders a disc nontransferable to the iPod. Nor can you make a backup copy, or travel discs, or a copy for the weekend house, or use any of the songs on a mixed disc. Oh, and it won't work with my iTunes Music software (and that also means no shuffle play).

Thursday, November 10, 2005

U2 in Oakland on Tues., Nov. 8

We saw U2 perform in San Jose on the first leg of the Vertigo tour back in April [review]. When they returned to the Bay Area to perform in the Oakland Arena, we certainly had questions: Would the show be any different? Would it be worth seeing twice? The answer to both those questions is yes.

Although the selection of songs played on Tuesday night was surprisingly the same (more on that disappointment later) the performance of each was dramatically improved and the overall concert was miles ahead of April's.

Just like in San Jose, things kicked off with City of Blinding Lights. But instead of a confusing, bewildering lead-up, there was a joyful, celebratory feel. And the visuals, particularly the video screens composed of hanging "beads" were astonishingly better. The song is a great concert opener and I suspect it will show up as the beginning of an encore on a future tour (again, more on that later).

The set list remained unchanged for the next two tracks: Vertigo and Elevation, which sustained the high energy. Vertigo benefited from an extended coda -- a feature that has improved many U2 songs performed live, notably With or Without You, One and Mysterious Ways. It's also a great crowd response song (Hóla!), topped only by Elevation (Woo-ooo-Hoo!).

I was shocked to next hear the distinctive tones of Mysterious Ways, since last time they'd played The Electric Co. and The Ocean, a couple of tracks from their 1980 debut album Boy. They had sometimes mixed it up by playing different tracks from that album: An Cat Dubh or Out of Control, both of which I have never heard them perform live and was looking forward to (I would have settled for Electric Co. again). Unfortunately, I would not get my wish, as nothing prior to 1983 was played all evening.

Instead, Mysterious Ways was the first of five Achtung Baby performances that evening (if there's one other album to favor besides the newest one, I don't mind it being that one). It was a great performance, again marked by improved visuals. From our vantage point looking directly at the stage front, the video curtains were reminiscent of the PopMart tour and the video screens at the top were straight from the Elevation tour. Bono brought a girl from the audience (who was apparently from Kenya) up onto the stage and they danced a bit ("She moves in Mysterious Ways") before she jumped on his shoulders and he gave her a piggy-back ride around part of the catwalk. It lengthened the song considerably, but the other members soldiered on with the aforementioned excellent coda ("It's alright, it's alright, it's all right").

They then lit into Until the End of the World, one of those U2 songs that's 10x better live than on the album. They've probably played it at every concert I've been to, but it's still a killer track. At this point in the San Jose concert, everyone was sitting down while U2 plodded through The Ocean. But at this point in Oakland no one had even thought of sitting yet.

They did take a breather after that, giving Larry's arms a chance to rest while Bono thanked everyone for coming out and explained that while they're proud of what they've accomplished, they still feel they have a lot of work ahead of them (which met with much audience cheering). Thus it was appropriate they then played I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. It was one of their biggest U.S. hits and the crowd always laps it up. I've heard it too many times on the radio, but the live performance is still enjoyable and the strong lyrics still resonate. Added to the end was a snippet of In A Little While.

The similarly bittersweet Beautiful Day was next, followed by Miracle Drug. I noted that this song was surprisingly strong last time (and had a great lightshow) and it had only grown stronger. Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own was next and the flow of these four songs was a perfect Part 2 for the concert after the high-energy Part 1.

Part 3 began with the predictable trio of war-related songs: Love & Peace or Else, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky. The first has been a highlight of the tour, prompting a reevaluation of the album track I was previously unimpressed by. It was just as good here and it brings Larry out to the edge of the catwalk for some solo standup drumming. Sunday Bloody Sunday was incredibly powerful, partly because Bono noted "it's your song now." Disturbing to think that a song written about terrorism in Northern Ireland in the 1970s could hold such emotional resonance in the U.S. in 2005. "How long must we sing this song," indeed.

Bullet the Blue Sky, while one of their oft-performed and oft-recorded live songs, is not one of my musical favorites but it had a nice beat and you could dance to it... Mostly the crowd was silent once Bono put the bandana over his eyes and blindly felt his way to the microphone to finish the song. I'm sure the recent news about alleged secret CIA prisons didn't make that any more comfortable. He dedicated the song to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces, though, and the crowd gave a surprisingly loud, positive response, considering the politics of the Bay Area. (Although says the show was in San Francisco, let's give the city of Oakland a little more credit)

The normal followup to that song (even on the album) is Running to Stand Still and the two are almost always performed together. But lately Miss Sarajevo has taken its place. I've never been a huge fan of this song, but I was glad to hear it live for the first time. And I was incredibly impressed that Bono sang the portions of the song that tenor Luciano Pavarotti performed for the original version, in Latin, no less. It's a perfect choice to segue out of the violent songs and led wonderfully into the declaration of human rights, which was very awkward and forced during the first leg of the tour.

And it segued perfectly into Pride, which I've heard so many times that I could live with never hearing in concert again. But I know by the reaction of the crowd that I was in the minority on that. And with the recent passing of Rosa Parks, it was fitting. Where the Streets Have No Name fit perfectly after and brought the audience to its highest point.

And so Part 4, the uplifting/take-action part of the show closed with One. The whole tour doubles as a recruitment tool for The ONE Campaign and it's prior to this song that members are asked to send their name in a text message to show their support (It's really hard to type Hargreaves on a cell phone keypad). The constellation of cell phones that light up the arena is beautiful in a modern way. I'm surprised the other members allow Bono to make such blatant plugs, but maybe I shouldn't be. This segment felt jarring during the first leg, like you'd just realized the vacation you got for free was actually designed to sell you a timeshare, but tonight it was pitch perfect. The song was backed by some impressive visual trickery involving still images of crowd members forming a video image of Bono.

The coda ("Hear me coming, Lord; Hear me call; Hear me knocking, scratching at your door") is as powerful as ever, but the last few notes drifted on at the end as Bono and The Edge conferred for a curiously long time. Bono then announced "this is for Axver" and proceeded to sing the first verse and chorus of One Tree Hill with minimal guitar backing. A live performance of that song is a rare occurrence, indeed, and one that I certainly appreciated. I had seen him take and read a slip of paper from an audience member much earlier in the show and I suspect it was the request of that song.

Although they left the stage at that time, it wasn't long before the four overhead video screens came to life, with full-color images spinning like a slot machine. For a brief moment, I felt like ZOO TV had returned. And when the Achtung Baby image appeared and started asking for 'Mommy,' I had high hopes for a Zooropa song (which have all been woefully underrepresented, in my opinion). Instead we got Zoo Station, which is one of my favorite tracks and one of their most overlooked songs, in my opinion. It was just as good as in San Jose and was similarly followed by The Fly. The difference was that the latter had an incredible new visual accompaniment, with words and phrases flying around like an insane(r) version of You Don't Know Jack. Also unlike San Jose, that first encore set ended with With or Without You, a welcome classic.

What was not so welcome to me was the final encore, which was composed of exactly the same three songs as the last show we saw: All Because of You, Yahweh and 40. All Because of You rocked, Yahweh didn't (due to an acoustic arrangement I wasn't particularly fond of) but had an extraordinary animated video. It feels a little wrong to complain about them, since they are all very spiritual (guess who the 'You' in All Because of You is...) but knowing that they have been performing songs I've never heard live before at other concerts on this leg made the final set disappointing. Sure enough, the very next night at Oakland they played Fast Cars, Gloria and The First Time.

Overall, the concert was great. It was much improved from the show we saw in San Jose from both a musical and visual standpoint. In addition, the sound quality in the Oakland Arena was far clearer than the HP Pavilion. Although I would've liked to hear a few different songs, the arc and flow of those chosen was nearly perfect. The Vertigo tour is an excellent blend of many of their former tours. Rather than putting together something completely original, they've picked bits and pieces of each to create a new tour that not only showcases the songs from their newest album, but also blends in two decades of other U2 songs. And after seven months, they've really got their act together.

Related: San Jose Mercury News Review | liveDaily Photo Gallery

More Than Meets the Eye: Star Wars Transformers

The power of the Force meets the power of the Allspark with a new assortment of Star Wars vehicles from Hasbro that are actually robots in disguise. Star Wars Transformers combine the classic characters and vehicles from a galaxy far, far away and transforms them into mighty mechs with seamless Star Wars alt-modes.

The official Superman Returns web site launched with a story synopsis, small collection of photos, downloadable items, etc.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Spider-Man 3 Villain Revealed

Thomas Haden Church as Flint Marko

If you don't recognize him, follow this link.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Due to the special election here in California (another) we've been getting phone calls, knocks on the door, physical mail, and e-mail. When I requested to stop receiving e-mails from one group (two a day is too many) I was taken to a web page that told me:

Um, how did I get on either of these lists?

Disney Online Privacy Policy

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

macCompanion November 2005

After a long hiatus due to my performance schedule, I've got some new reviews for macCompanion's November issue. One book and one hardware/software product:

  • Spring Into HTML and CSS
    There are seemingly two types of computer books available: the giant, thick tomes for geniuses and the thinner books for 'dummies' and 'idiots.' The "Spring Into" series from Addison-Wesley is designed to fall into the middle of those extremes.

  • Instant Music for Mac
    Since the beginning of the digital music revolution, it has been simple to rip CDs into MP3s or other digital music formats. The more difficult task has been converting LPs, 45s and cassette tapes. That task became even more difficult when Apple removed audio-in ports from most Macs. The ADS Tech Instant Music product makes it easy -- almost fun -- to import cassette tapes and other non-digital audio into your Macintosh.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Photo Galleries updated

I added a number of photos to our galleries page lately:

Over the River Act One
These photos show I have an incredible talent: being able to close my eyes for nearly every shot. And I cut out quite a few of the worst offenders.

Over the River Act Two
South Lake Tahoe
These pictures are really late, mainly because they were on a disposable camera that we didn't finish up recently. You might notice by Megan's change of attire that these were two separate trips. No witty captions for these.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A look at McCain's '08 media strategy

McCain is realistic about the topsy-turvy nature of presidential politics, too much so to make any hard and fast predictions. Yes, he conceded, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton was indeed the "odds-on favorite" to seize the Democratic nomination in 2008. "But we all remember Ed Muskie and George Romney," he added.
Actually, no, I don't. As to McCain v. Clinton in '08, that would make the vote very easy for me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

There are a lot of great interviews at SuicideGirls. Two I recommend include these (with some choice quotes).

Danny Elfman

Q: I read how you're not going to work on Spider-Man 3. Do you want to comment on that?

ELFMAN: Let me put it this way, there is no amount of money that anybody could offer me to do Spider-Man 3. I would sooner go back to bussing tables.
Tim Burton
"It's unfortunate that Disney closed down their drawn animation. They made a few drawn movies that weren't too successful and then they go, 'Well that's it, we're going to go to computers.' I think they forget that the reason why computer animated movies are successful is because Pixar made good movies."
UPDATE/CAUTION: I can't recommend the rest of the site, only the interviews area. I didn't note this originally because I thought it might encourage exploration instead of discourage it.

What Would Jesus Blog?

"As Christians today we are embroiled in the argument culture and we have forgotten this one thing: 'Blessed are the peacemakers.' Wouldn't it be nice if we could say we brought a level of civility back to the conversation?"

My Songs, My Format

"One of the problems I see a lot is that people who are using iTunes-iPods have ripped their entire CD collection to the AAC format because that is the default setting in iTunes," said Grahm Skee, who runs the Web site, in an e-mail interview. "Now they are stuck with a format that can only be played on iPods."
This article is from The New York Times, so you may be prompted to register prior to reading it.

The AAC format, while superior to MP3, has not been adopted by many other digital music players. But it is an open format, not a proprietary one like WMA. The real problem is Protected AAC (and, of course, Protected WMA). I can't listen to any of my U2 songs through our TiVo's Music streaming feature. And instead of making it more accessible, Apple has made things even worse by taking away burning capability from Toast. Their claim that I "own" these tracks is patronizing at best and ridiculous at worst. I can still live with purchasing individual songs for 99¢ but I find little benefit in purchasing full albums when I know I'll have full quality and freedom with a CD. Of course, if the labels continue creating more "copy-protected" CDs, I guess they'll also lose those sales.

appleiiStewart Smith has created his own music video for the haunting song Jed's Other Poem by Grandaddy. It was "programmed in Applesoft II on a 1979 Apple ][+ with 48K of RAM. Seriously." I think anyone who worked or played with an Apple ][ will appreciate it.

7.2MB QuickTime movie

World's Biggest Wi-Fi Cloud over Hermiston

While cities around the country are battling over plans to offer free or cheap internet access, this lonely terrain is served by what is billed as the world's largest hotspot, a wireless cloud that stretches over 700 square miles of landscape so dry and desolate it
could have been lifted from a cowboy tune.
Here's hoping that's the only big cloud over Hermiston that gets national attention.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Edge Comes Knocking

Turns out that playing nightly in the year's most popular rock 'n' roll tour isn't enough to keep a guitarist busy. When he gets back to his hotel after a show, he can often be found flicking open his Mac and writing songs on GarageBand.

Columbia Journalism Review: The Case for Comics Journalism

Now comics, or graphic, journalism is turning up in daily newspapers, where its inherent subjectivity contrasts sharply with the newsroom’s dispassionate prose — another round in the debate over what journalism should be in the twenty-first century.

... the ability to alternate between the realistic and the symbolic, is a major strength of comics journalism. It is also one reason why editors are likely to shy away from it — or, as with the recent newspaper strips, to relegate comics journalism to cultural coverage and human-interest stories. When it comes to the front page, newspapers favor plain language, in part to protect the readers from the seductions of rhetoric, of art. And comics are irreducibly artistic.

Bronfman Fires Back at Apple

The gloves are off in the battle between Apple CEO Steve Jobs and the music industry over the price of downloaded songs.
"We are selling our songs through iPod, but we don't have a share of iPod's revenue," [Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr.] said. "We want to share in those revenue streams."
The music industry didn't create iTunes, they didn't create the iPod, and they didn't create the iTunes Music Store. They don't pay any money to maintain the store (which certainly requires a lot of bandwidth), don't pay any money for manufacturing or duplication, and they get 70 percent of every purchase made. Could anyone be making more money for less effort? And now they want to get royalties on the iPod?

PC Magazine columnist John C. Dvorak has some good thoughts on this at The New Music Download Battle

Jim Henson: The Man Behind the Muppets commemorative stampJim Henson, Muppets, get stamps of approval

Lisa Henson characterized the stamps as fitting her father's sense of humor. "We are honored that the U.S. Postal Service chose to recognize our father's legacy with this fun and irreverent stamp collection - a perfect reflection of his inspired silliness and creativity."
When applied to a white envelope, each of the individually photographed Muppet stamps appear to burst through.
The back of each stamp sheet features humorous autographed notes from each of the Muppet characters.

Conan to Turn Entire Show Over to U2

NEW YORK - In his 12 years in charge of booking musical guests on Conan O'Brien's "Late Night," Jim Pitt always listed U2 and Johnny Cash as the dream artists he'd tried but never succeeded in getting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

U2's Opening Acts

Opening acts for U2 on their 2005 Vertigo tour in Europe were a veritable who's who of our favorite current artists:

  • Snow Patrol
  • Doves
  • Interpol
  • The Killers
  • Starsailor
  • Keane
  • Franz Ferdinand
  • Kaiser Chiefs
So Megan and I were looking forward to finding out who would open for them when they returned to the U.S. and played the Oakland Arena (which is listed on the tour schedule as being located in San Francisco. Boy, even with an NFL franchise, Oakland gets no respect.)

Their opening acts surrounding the Oakland show were announced as being:
  • Dashboard Confessional
  • Keane
  • Arcade Fire
  • Patti Smith
  • Kanye West (in Salt Lake City, no less!)
And then ...

U2 taps Kanye West, Arcade Fire, others to open fall shows
(Damian) Marley takes on the lion's share of shows; the son of reggae legend Bob Marley links up with U2 in Philadelphia on Oct. 16, and remains on board through Nov. 9.
Even though I set my expectations low, I did not consider reggae. Well, at least we got to see Kings of Leon open for them back in April.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Radio

I recorded two radio promotions for "Over the River and Through the Woods" - one is a 60-second commercial with June Spencer, who plays my grandmother Emma. The other is a 30-second Public Service Announcement. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Stockton Civic serves up fine family comedy

Lydia Maria Child's familiar poem "Over the River and Through the Wood" conjures up happy visions of holiday sleigh rides to Grandma and Grandpa's house. But Stockton Civic Theatre's family comedy "Over the River and Through the Woods" has less to do with Currier and Ives Christmas-card perfection and more to do with angst-peppered sitcom.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Accent on family

Joe DiPietro set out to tell a region-specific story in his play "Over the River and Through the Woods."

It's one close to his heart as well, as the New Jersey-raised, Italian-American playwright wrote a script about a New Jersey-raised, Italian-Amercan (sic) marketing director whose grandparents scheme to keep him from taking a job in Seattle.
I had a hard time finding a single paragraph of this story to include in this post, since I have serious issues with the author's assumptions and conclusions. I don't know that even those two sentences above are true. It reads as if he talked to the author, but I'm pretty sure he did not.

Oh, and including the time of the performances would've been nice, too.

Monday, September 05, 2005

But Wait, There's More...

There on your screen playing the title role of Lieutenant Colonial James Doolittle, is none other than San Joaquin Delta College faculty member John White.
John White was the the lighting and set designer for "Man of La Mancha" (and was nominated for two Elly Awards). He also starred in The Front Page as Walter Burns, although I didn't share a single scene with him.

The "Doolittle's Daring Raid" episode of Man, Moment, Machine will re-air Saturday, September 24 at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Elly Awards

Being involved in the production of "Man of La Mancha" at San Joaquin Delta College was reward enough. But I got a surprise today that made it even more rewarding. I was informed that I was nominated for a 2005 Elly Award. Sadly, I did not even know what the Elly Awards were. But I discovered they are put on by the Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance (SARTA). And upon searching the PDF of the nominations I found myself in the Supporting Actor: Musical category. Other "Man of La Mancha" nominations in the musical category include:

  • Supporting Actress - Nicole Halberg
  • Lighting Design - John White
  • Set Design - John White
  • Overall Production
The Award Ceremony will be held Sunday, September 25th at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento. Dunno if I can go, since I'll have a performance earlier that day and tickets might not still be available. But like they say, it's an honor just to be nominated.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Amazon Marketplace

Selling things on eBay takes effort. I have a lot of items sitting around that I kept thinking I'd auction off on eBay as soon as I had the time to devote to doing so. Ha. So I was definitely intrigued when I read you can sell items on in their Marketplace. What makes it incredibly easy is that Amazon already has the product page with pictures, specs, user reviews, etc., so you don't have to do a lot of work. You basically just hit the 'Sell Yours Here' button instead of the 'Add to Cart' button.

In the last ten days, I've put ten items up for sale and have already sold five of them. Impressive. Granted, I usually undercut everyone else's price, but those things were just sitting in our home taking up space. Plus, I don't have to deal with the buyer AT ALL, which can be a major headache on eBay. This is the kind of thing I'd write a column about for the East Oregonian if they still had room for me (and I still had time to write for them). It's been less than two weeks, too, so my opinion could change later.

The drawbacks are that Amazon's shipping credit is pretty measly and they take a larger cut of the sale than eBay. But that seems only fair, since, again, I didn't have to write any information about the product or post pictures. Of course, you can only sell items that Amazon is aware of, so that limits you to the last decade of CDs, DVDs, books, computer software/hardware, etc.

I've put a link to the list of items I'm selling in the right-hand column of this page, but please don't judge.

Was it something I said?

I got an e-mail today from EarthLink noting:

We're writing to let you know that your free EarthLink Web site has reached 75% of its monthly traffic
limit of 1GB.
Checking out the provided monthly traffic reporting tool, I see the following graph for 2005:

Friday, August 19, 2005

What place does pure evil have in films?

In a time of dismay and dread, is it admirable for filmmakers to depict pure evil? Have 9/11, suicide bombers, serial killers and kidnappings created a world in which the response of the artist must be nihilistic and hopeless?
An introspective response by film critic Roger Ebert. He gets more space than usual to tackle this interesting topic, and to good result.

San Diego Comic-Con photos

I uploaded some photos from our time spent at San Diego Comic-Con last month. We also went to some other places in San Diego, and we should soon have those photos posted.

What? A long blog post about our entire trip? Believe me, I'd love to, but I've gotta memorize a few lines...

Museum exhibits a creationist viewpoint

"If we lose Genesis as a legitimate scientific and historical explanation for man, then we lose the validity of Christianity. Period."
Why does a rock star get it right and this guy get it so wrong? God's love is not contingent on whether or not dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Over the River and Through the Woods

A more detailed page has been posted to the Stockton Civic Theatre's web site.

Over the River and Through the Woods abounds in love, guilt, matchmaking, unsolicited advice, and endless offers of food. With his parents retired and moved to Florida, Nick, a single Italian-American guy from New Jersey, keeps family ties by seeing both sets of grandparents every Sunday for dinner. But the family routine is upset when Nick announces that he's been offered his dream job. The job he has been waiting for - a marketing executive - would take him way from his beloved, but annoying, grandparents to the other side of the country. Thus begins a series of schemes to keep Nick around. How could he betray his family's love to move to Seattle for a job, wonder his grandparents? Well, Frank and Aida and Nunzio and Emma do their best, and that includes bringing to dinner the lovely, and single, Caitlin O'Hara as bait.

The show features a special $10 per seat public preview on Wednesday, September 7, 2005 at 7:30 p.m. An opening night reception will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, September 9. Performances continue through October 1 on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $15 for students, and $8 for children 12 and under.

The theatre is located at 2312 Rose Marie Lane, Stockton. For tickets, contact Stockton Civic Theatre’s Box Office Tuesday through Friday, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. at (209) 473-2424.

Microsoft frowned at for smiley patent

"I would have expected to see something like this suggested by one of our more immature community members as a joke on Slashdot, and probably would have chuckled at the absurdity of the notion. We now appear to be living in a world where even the most laughable paranoid fantasies about commercially controlling simple social concepts are being outdone in the real world by well-funded armies of lawyers on behalf of some of the most powerful companies on the planet."
™ Microsoft Co.

WB Waxes the Frog

The WB has fired Michigan J. Frog, the nattily attired singing-dancing 'toon that's served as mascot since the network's inception in 1995.
The (Television Critics Association) members, usually a hard-boiled bunch, uttered a collective sad sigh.
Um, Why?

Jinxed computer users might be sending out a bad vibe

"There are some people who seem to have a natural rapport with computers and other complex machines, and there are other people who seem to manage to break everything even without touching it..."

Hillary vs. the Xbox: Game over

I'd like to draw your attention to another game whose nonstop violence and hostility has captured the attention of millions of kids — a game that instills aggressive thoughts in the minds of its players, some of whom have gone on to commit real-world acts of violence and sexual assault after playing. I'm talking, of course, about high school football.
I'm no fan of the Grand Theft Auto series, but Hillary Clinton needs to be taken to task for trying to get on a moral high ground while at the same time wasting $90 million. She says she's on the side of families, but really she's on the side of families who purchase M-rated computer games for their children. Prior to the revelation of previously-unknown pornographic material in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the game was labeled as containing Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and Use of Drugs. So, basically, Hillary wants the vote of bad parents. Unfortunately, it seems to be a large constituency.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bono gives an explicit confession of being saved by Grace, not Karma

Is Bono, the lead singer and songwriter for the rock group U2, a Christian? He says he is and writes about Christianity in his lyrics. Yet many people question whether Bono is 'really' a Christian, due to his notoriously bad language, liberal politics, and rock star antics (though he has been faithfully married for 23 years). But in a new book of interviews, "Bono in Conversation by Michka Assayas," Bono, though using some salty language, makes an explicit confession of faith.
Though not entirely original, this is one of the best explanations of God, Jesus and Christianity and puts the lie to the secular wisdom that 'all religions are the same.' Christians that criticize Bono for using swear words should be pulling the plank out of their own eyes rather than notifying everyone of the speck in his.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Click here to view animationGet Perpendicular

Perpendicular recording increases the storage capacity of a hard drive by standing the data bits on end, allowing for up to ten times more capacity with no physical size inrease. Using this technology, Hitachi estimates that the microdrive (currently at 6GB in the iPod mini) will reach 20GB and the standard desktop 3.5" drive will go up to one terabyte in 2007.

When my first computer's hard drive was 80MB, and I heard about the existence of a gigabyte, I remember thinking 'Who could fill up an entire gigabyte?' I will not make the same mistake with a terabyte. Video is the answer to most questions regarding 'What could fill up that much hard drive space?'

For a comical, but informative presentation of how this works, check out Hitachi's animation. If Schoolhouse Rocks continued through to the Aughts, and switched focus to technology, this is what it might be like.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Superman Returns

The Fever Chart in the July 29 issue of Entertainment Weekly ("taking the temperature of pop culture") had the following listed just under the hottest temperature:

Fanboys literally weep (in a good way) as Superman Returns footage unspools at Comic-Con.
What?! They saw me there?! Hey, give me a break! It was emotional footage what with that classic John Williams score!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

New York Times: Corrupted PC's Find New Home in the Dumpster

Ms. Wong, a physician at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in South San Francisco, started getting a relentless stream of pop-up ads a year ago on her four-year-old Hewlett-Packard desktop computer. Often her entire screen would turn blue and urge her to "hit any key to continue." Sometimes the computer would freeze altogether.

After putting up with the problem for months, Ms. Wong said she decided last November that rather than fix her PC, she would buy a new one. Succumbing to the seduction of all the new bells and whistles, she spent $3,000 on a new Apple laptop.

She is instituting new rules to keep her home computer virus-free.

"I've modified my behavior. I'm not letting my friends borrow my computer," she said, after speculating that the indiscriminate use of the Internet by her and her friends had led to the infection problems.
Ms. Wong is apparently unaware that none of the spyware and adware can infect her new Mac, so the quarantine is completely unnecessary. Of course, if I spent $3K on a new Apple laptop, I probably wouldn't let anyone borrow it either.

This story is sad, though, because most of the folks aren't like Ms. Wong, they're just replacing one $500 Windows PC for another. That can't be great for the environment.

What's happening with ????? ????? is the same thing that happens with anything new and interesting. At the beginning, everybody wants to see what it is. They gather around and check it out. But gradually, people start to lose interest.

The people who don't lose interest become more and more involved. And the medium starts to be influenced by only those people. It becomes something exclusive to the people who've stuck with it for a long time. And when the people who were interested in it at first look back at it, it's no longer the thing that interested them.
This quote from Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto (who knows something about how to keep people interested in something for years) is actually about video games, but I think the same has happened in a lot of mediums: comic books, movies, television, radio, etc. It's from this article: The Man Who Keeps Nintendo Cool

Over the River and Through the Woods

Running September 7–October 1, 2005 at the Stockton Civic Theatre, Over the River and Through the Woods is "A touching, gentle comedy about families, the number one choice for comedy in the latest A.A.C.T.'s survey of community theatres. Nick is a young single guy who wants to move away from his grandparents, but they like it just as it is."

I will be playing the part of Nick. Be there, won't you? At 15 performances, this show will be the longest-running I've been involved with.

Wired News: Holy Homework! Comics Hit Schools

In the 21st century, comic-book super heroes are for kids, but comic books aren't. The likes of Marvel and DC Comics aim their printed products at older teens and adult collectors. That leaves the 14-and-under set in the lurch.
What? A story about comic books that uses a phrase from the 1960s "Batman" TV series? Unfortunately, even Wired isn't beyond using the cliche.

Watch Muppet cranks Statler & Waldorf as they review current movies on

Even using the low-bandwidth link I couldn't get smooth video (only about 10 frames total) but the audio was good and that's really all that matters (I hope).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Front Page photos

I uploaded a selection of photos from "The Front Page" to our photo galleries before we left for San Diego for five days, but didn't have a chance to note it on the blog. I know some of you found it, though, so kudos! Anyway, this selection of 33 photographs was taken at a photo shoot (the non-blurry ones) prior to the first dress rehearsal (the slightly blurry ones) so not all of the costumes are in their final iteration.

Transformers The (live action) Movie

This 30-second car advertisement demonstrates that a live-action Transformer movie is possible:
6.3MB QuickTime clip

Of course, with Michael Bay directing, there's less hope it will be good (although I'm looking forward to The Island). Steven Spielberg is an executive producer, and his enthusiasm for the toys and the characters in this video footage shown at San Diego Comic-Con does leave hope. I'm even optimistic the Autobots will be based out of Oregon.

DreamWorks also had a booth at the convention (our pictures are forthcoming but you can see some official ones by clicking the previous link), including an 18-wheeler (it's Optimus Prime!) covered with banners advertising the movie. We got a few free buttons, too. Mmm, swag...

If you've never heard the Kidz Bop series (from the makers of the series Now That's What I Call Music!), consider yourself lucky. If you have, you know how disturbing it can be. They claim the songs are "kid-friendly versions of today's biggest hit songs" but I don't know how children singing them make them kid-friendly. They range from the bizarre (Modest Mouse's "Float On") to the entirely inappropriate (Britney Spears' "Toxic").

The latest edition, Kidz Bop 8, has U2's Vertigo. Listen to the audio clip if you dare. Fantastic return

Nearly 20 years ago, a group of superheroes and one Stockton resident helped put the city on the Marvel Comics map.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What is Scientology?

With all the talk from and about Tom Cruise and the evils of psychology, here are some stories that you must read regarding Scientology:

The first is the 1991 Time magazine cover story The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power: "Ruined lives. Lost fortunes. Federal crimes. Scientology poses as a religion but really is a ruthless global scam -- and aiming for the mainstream."

This one is an absolute must, seeing as Time magazine fought a libel suit over it for nearly a decade. It's reprinted thanks to

Then, if you think maybe the 1991 article is outdated, read The Wittenburg Door Interview with Tory Bezazian, published in 2002.

And to bring things up to 2005, you can read AP Religion Writer Richard N. Ostling's Cruise Lends Hollywood Hype to Scientology, published just today.

Supposedly they've stopped suing people, so I should be safe from reprisal. But if any strangers ask you questions about my past, you'll know where they're from.

Monday, July 04, 2005

New York Post's PageSix: SUPER VIXEN

Red-blooded director Brett Ratner is having his dream character written into the new "X-Men 3" movie. The mutant is, according to an inside source, "an unbelievably hot and sexy hooker. Her super power is that she secretes a pheromone that helps her to seduce men. She can seduce anyone."
Yeah, because there's not enough characters in the X-Men universe that we need to start making some up for the movie. At least he's no longer the director of "Superman Returns." Oh, and don't forget, the movie is actually titled "X3." The Post probably only called it "X-Men 3" because, um, IT MAKES SENSE AND PEOPLE UNDERSTAND IT.

macCompanion July 2005

Thursday, June 30, 2005 Weber's babylon or just babble

[Grant] Ashley's "Weber Babylon" appears to be a response to criticism he received after his earlier research led him to speculate that [Stockon founder Charles] Weber owned slaves. He failed to prove his inflammatory assertion.

His critic in that instance, the director of The Haggin Museum, Tod Ruhstaller, again faulted Ashley for omitting historical fact and context.

PAX TV to change name to "i"

The new "i" brand reflects the Company's new network programming strategy - to provide an independent broadcast platform for producers and syndicators who desire to reach a national audience. The Company will begin using the "i" brand name on July 1, 2005, and during a transition period, will run on-screen identities featuring both the new and existing brands and on-air promotional spots informing viewers of the change.
Hmmm, a lowercase 'i' ... I hope Apple's lawyers don't get the scent.

I'd say a TV network with a single letter for its name is weird, but there is E! (although I doubt PAX would want to make its viewers think of that network).

Sunday, June 26, 2005 Project stages worthy edition of 'Front Page'

Gary Armanac (sic) directed with a sure hand this pessimistic comedy of political and journalistic manners that, though somewhat dated, still carries a powerful cautionary message.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

[ All Too Queasy: Virgin Airlines' Unique Collectibles ]All Too Queasy: Virgin Airlines' Unique Collectibles

In collaboration with Virgin Airlines and Activision, LucasArts has released limited-edition airsickness bags to promote the Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith Video Game
This has got to be the craziest Star Wars collectible I've ever heard of. Of particular note is that the 'Art of Jedi Combat' bag notes "Force lightning, although often associated with the dark side, is one of the deadliest and disabling Force powers." Interesting, I've never seen or read of force lightning being used by a Jedi, only Sith (or Dark Jedi).

Sharing the message via comic books

Creating comics is a delicate balance for Christian artists and writers using a medium sometimes viewed as frivolous or tawdry. But Schwartzrock says comics are like movies: They can spread an uplifting message as easily as an immoral one.
One thumb up for covering this topic, but one thumb down for using Zap! Pow! in the lead. How stereotypical and unimaginative.

Entertainment Weekly: Five things you need to know about 'Superman Returns'

2. 'Superman Returns' Should Have Been 'Superman 3'
While technically not a sequel, director Bryan Singer's film picks up five years after the events of Superman 2. (Consider those embarrassing Supermans 3 and 4 forgotten.) ''It puts the first two films in a vague sense of history,'' says Singer, whose respect for the first Superman film is such, he sought director Richard Donner's blessing before taking the job of relaunching the franchise. He even plans to incorporate unused footage of Marlon Brando's performance as Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian daddy.
This was nice news to read, considering one of the previously-named directors had badmouthed that classic. And then there was this quote
"I want to make a movie that in the future, someone can pop in a disc — or a crystal or something — and not go, 'Wow! This must have been really interesting back in the early aughts!'"
Yes! Published reference to this decade's unofficial title! I'm not alone!

Hawaii photos (page 3 of 3)

The third and final page of photos from our weeklong vacation to Hawaii last month is now up on our .Mac HomePage.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Rock star Bono urges EU to open wallets for Africa

Barroso quoted a Bono song to explain why the EU should rise to the development aid challenge ...

"Don't worry baby. It's gonna be alright. Uncertainty can be a guiding light," the Commission chief said.
It's not often I get to see those lyrics (some of my favorite) published by Reuters. Who can name the song?! Oh, and I would call it a U2 song, not a Bono song, but the words are certainly his.

Hawaii Photos (page 2 of 3)

The second page of photos from our weeklong vacation to Hawaii last month is now up on our .Mac HomePage (The trilogy will soon be complete). All the photos on this page are of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We first trekked through it on the ground via car and feet. A couple of days later we got an aerial view via a helicopter tour.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Revenge of the Sith Collectors Cups

These special edition collector's cups tell a part of the climactic Episode III story. Each comes with a poseable action figure and accessory that mirrors the action depicted on the cup.

Megan and I found one of these Target-exclusive cups when the Episode III merchandise first went on sale. The artwork has the same style as Burger King's Return of the Jedi glasses, giving them a nice nostalgic feel. They are plastic, however, not glass, so they shouldn't crack or break as easily.

Hawaii Photos (page 1 of 3)

The first page of photos from our weeklong vacation to Hawaii last month is now up on our .Mac HomePage where all our other vacation photos are located. They are in chronological order and only cover the first few days. The following two pages will be posted shortly.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

U2 Singles

CD Singles are often hard to find in the United States and are usually quite expensive when they can be found (due to their being imported from the UK). And since they only have 1-3 unique songs on them, the total price per song can be as high as $6.

So I was quite happy when U2 published The Complete U2 at the iTunes Music Store. This meant that most of those hard-to-find b-sides were available for purchase at the reasonable price of 99¢.

Unfortunately, they have continued to release multiple CD singles for individual songs (All Because Of You, Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, City of Blinding Lights) that are import-only in the U.S. and are not available on the iTMS.

Wake Up Dead Man Record Labels! End this!

Now Playing

Since we have a networked TiVo, I was interested in the Now Playing widget for Tiger's Dashboard. Unfortunately, I was never able to get it to work. So I was a bit surprised to see it listed in's list of The Best Mac Dashboard Widgets. Until I read why they picked it:

I don't have a TiVo, and so I wasn't able to test this widget myself, but if I did, I think I'd use it.
That's how they determine 'The Best'? Boy, I can't wait to read Forbes' list of The Best Companies To Invest In: 'I don't have money or know what to do with it, but if I did, I'd pick this company.'

Oh, and if anyone can tell me why I can't get the widget to work, that'd be great. It just sits and spins while saying XML Downloaded. I'm not expecting you to answer, though, Forbes.

7/23/05 Update: I'm now using version 1.1 of the widget and it works great.

A memorable quote by Rob Enderle

This story has actually been sitting in my blog queue for more than a month now, but the quote still cracks me up.

It's No Party -

But analyst Rob Enderle, head of California-based The Enderle Group, says the so-called 'halo effect' around the iPod is really just a myth. "From what I'm seeing, the iPod simply drives people into the stores, and the foot traffic helps move product," Enderle says. "The iPod benefits the entire Apple product line, but Apple could have done the same thing by having Paris Hilton, or some other celebrity, visit the Apple stores."
I don't know about the rest of you, but having Paris Hilton visit the Apple retail stores would actually make me avoid them. And would it really inspire folks to purchase hundreds of dollars of computer equipment?

Oh, and it's always worth mentioning that The Enderle "Group" consists of two people: Rob and his wife. The guy's been wrong so many times it's not funny. Paris Hilton? Really, Rob? That's what you come up with?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A new logo for DC Comics

A note from the publisher

We've decided this is the moment to do something we've debated for the last few years and introduce a new DC logo. The symbol ... will be spinning onto the whole line in June, and as fast as we can, onto all our films, TV shows, video games, licensed products ... Look for the launch of the film version on "Batman Begins," and keep your eyes peeled to play art detective as you watch.

New logos are tough to pull off, but I think DC did pretty well with this one. The blue may be a default color, but it is not set in stone, as I've seen it on multiple comics now with different color schemes, much like the previous logo (otherwise known as the bullet).

Newsarama has an excellent analysis of how major this actually is at a New DC?, noting how DC must have been chafing at how Marvel was putting their logo prominently in front of all the movies (and even trailers) bearing their characters.

The Front Page

While I was still in rehearsals for "Man of La Mancha," I auditioned for the Stockton Theatre Project's production of "The Front Page." Since the first week of rehearsals were going to take place while Megan and I were in Hawaii, I figured I wouldn't be able to get a part. However, I did get cast as Mike Endicott, a poker-playing reporter for the Chicago Post, who has a tendency to complain about the job. Hmm... It's a comedy set in a newsroom during the 1920s and is (supposed to be) very fast-paced. At the time it was first produced it was considered quite profane ("For God's Sake!") and one of my first lines is a profanity (you know you want to come see it now!)

Astute observers of the cast list will note some other actors from "Man of La Mancha" in the production: Chris Hayhurst (the barber), Parker Cushing (Pedro), Chris McAdams (Captain of the Inquisition), and Jerly Her (prisoner).

Performances are one weekend only: Thursday, June 23-25 at 8 p.m. and a matinee on Sunday, June 26 at 2 p.m.

And yes, this is why I haven't been blogging or writing columns/reviews for the past few weeks.

TV appearance

When Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs opened, we had lined up some television coverage. Unfortunately, the pope died and a small tornado touched down in Sacramento, so the stations recalled their crews. Fortunately, some of them returned the next week and produced some reports. I had the fun duty of doing some on-camera interviews for both, although I only made the final cut of KOVR's broadcast. I actually thought KCRA's story was better (less clichéd), though it was shorter.

I've finally been able to convert the recorded clips from our TiVo into QuickTime movies thanks to iMovie and our camcorder's AV->DV pass-through mode. (No thanks to TiVoToGo, grrr) Click on the images below to view those clips. (Tiger users, if you want to save them, you'll have to pay Apple $30, grrr)

KOVR 13 News
2:10 length
2.2MB file size
(5-1/2 minute download via dial-up modem)

KCRA 3 Reports
1:01 length
936KB file size
(2-1/4 minute download via dial-up modem)

Friday, June 03, 2005

Apple to ditch IBM, switch to Intel chips

Apple Computer plans to announce Monday that it's scrapping its partnership with IBM and switching its computers to Intel's microprocessors, CNET has learned.
Believe it or don't. We'll know on Monday.

Monday, May 02, 2005

macCompanion May 2005

This review of Drive Genius was originally slated for the April edition of macCompanion, but Prosoft released an updated version just a few days before the issue's deadline. Good for them, though, as it raised my rating.

  • Drive Genius 1.1
    Although Drive Genius is a single program, it contains a suite of functions that aim to provide disk maintenance and management. Those functions include: disk repair, defragmentation, duplication, repartitioning, sector editing, integrity checking, secure erasing, and benchtests.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The first weekend of performances of "Man of La Mancha" are over, so I finally have a few free minutes to post. I realize I haven't really blogged at all about the musical for the last two months, but you never really know exactly how things are going to turn out until they've actually happened. Everything came together for our opening night. We had a huge crowd that was extremely responsive and they really seemed to enjoy it. Most of the cast shows up outside the entrance to greet the exiting crowd and a few of them had some very kind words to say to me, which definitely makes all the long nights and days worthwhile. A few specific notes:

  • The director told all the male actors not to shave their faces or get a haircut. I got a reprieve from the facial hair requirement, which turned out to be very good, since I had to make a couple of on-camera TV appearances to promote Capture the Moment: The Pulitzer Prize Photographs (more on that in another post). But I have not gotten a haircut for nearly three months, which I think is the longest I've ever gone. Thus, my hair is probably the longest it's ever been. And by longest, I mean biggest. Of course, I wear a hat or a wig for 99.9 percent of the show.

  • Following "Harvey" and "The Curious Savage," this is now my third play in a row about 'crazy' and/or 'mad' people. I guess it's my 'Crazy' trilogy. As one of the characters in "La Mancha" says, "Why are you poets so obsessed with madness?" Why, indeed. On the plus side, I think it's the best of those three shows.

  • Due to contractual obligations, no recording of any kind is allowed. I do have some rehearsal footage, however. If/How/When I make that available is still to be determined...

We have a 10 a.m. special matinee performance this Tuesday followed by Friday & Saturday night shows and the final Sunday matinee performance. Tickets

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Apple sued over use of 'Tiger', injunction sought

Apple has been sued by Tiger Direct, Inc. for allegedly infringing its trademark with the Mac OS X 'Tiger', according to Bloomberg. Bloomberg says that court injunction, if granted, could halt the rollout of new Mac OS X Tiger operating system, which will be officially released tomorrow.
Apple has called version 10.4 of its Mac OS X operating system "Tiger" since June 2004 and Tiger Direct Inc. waited until the day before its release to complain about trademark infringement?
The company says that Apple's use of Tiger has changed internet search results, directly impacting its ability to market product to its customers.
And when Siegfried & Roy were in the news, did that ruin their search engine rankings? Did they sue the tiger ten months later?

Stockton singer makes a grand return in Delta College's 'Man of La Mancha'

It's been years since the Delta department has tackled such an ambitious musical, (Director Harvey) Jordan said. The sets and lighting have already created a buzz among those who have seen how they transform the intimate theater into a 16th-century prison dungeon befitting the dream world of Don Quixote. But it's the collection of voices that makes this "Man of La Mancha" different.

"It's collegiate theatre, but we're doing all we can to raise the bar on a performance level," Jordan said.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has posted the actual multi-track audio session for "The Hand That Feeds" in GarageBand format at Although he says the 70MB download requires GarageBand 2, I've heard it also works in GarageBand 1. In his own words:

For quite some time I've been interested in the idea of allowing you the ability to tinker around with my tracks - to create remixes, experiment, embellish or destroy what's there. I tried a few years ago to do this in shockwave with very limited results. After spending some quality time sitting in hotel rooms on a press tour, it dawned on me that the technology now exists and is already in the hands of some of you. I got to work experimenting and came up with something I think you'll enjoy.

Change the tempo. Add new loops. Chop up the vocals. Turn me into a woman. Replay the guitar. Anything you'd like.
I'm not well-versed enough in the program to do any of those things, but I still had a little fun. Get it before the lawyers get involved.

U2 in San Jose on Sat., April 9

Britannia ArmsPrior to U2's concert at San Jose's HP Pavilion on Saturday, April 9, Zoo Station, a U2 tribute band from the Bay Area, was going to perform at the Britannia Arms pub down the street. They usually perform in the Bay Area, but we saw them once in Sacramento. Walking down the street, we bumped into "Barely Larry," who encouraged us to come to both the pre-show and the post-show performance where they'd be playing songs U2 rarely or never perform live.

Since we got there pretty early, we got to hear their soundcheck, during which they performed a note-perfect rendition of An Cut Dubh. By the time they started their set, the British-themed pub was pretty packed. 107.7FM The Bone was giving away three pairs of tickets and there were a ton of people there who did not have tickets to the show. Since we were sitting at a table, we couldn't see the band over the crowd. But we were going to see The Real Thing in a few hours, and it was about the music, anyway.

Birthday LadyTheir setlist was as follows: City Of Blinding Lights, Beautiful Day, Gloria, Even Better Than the Real Thing, Gone, One Step Closer, Until the End Of the World, Bad, Where the Streets Have No Name, New Year's Day, Pride, I Will Follow, Vertigo and everyone seemed to enjoy it. However, the 80-year-old (pictured) who danced on the table in front of us wasn't one of my favorites.

The HP Pavilion is a nice arena, though half of the advertising banners were for software companies I'd never heard of. There was a nice selection of merchandise available, and I had to pick up a keychain with the Vertigo 'V' logo (or the 'V' the TV miniseries logo, depending on your frame of reference). What was shocking were the vintage t-shirts for previous tours (Boy, October, War, Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree, etc.) that cost $90 each. Yeah, like I didn't spend enough on the tickets in the first place. I heard that one person bought four or five, though (that's some scary math).

Our tickets were Section 115, Row 25. I was a little surprised to find out it was Row 25 out of 25. The nice side effect was that because we were directly in front of the box suites, we could stand without guilt. I was a little bitter that these were pre-sale seats, but getting them at all was lucky, considering how many other fans couldn't even get into the show.

The opening act for all the U.S. concerts (at least for the first leg) is Kings of Leon, which was a little disappointing to us, after discovering that Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, and Snow Patrol are opening for them in Europe. But I kept an open mind and was actually quite impressed with the quartet. They rocked pretty hard and fast and I compared them to the Southern Franz Ferdinand. Megan didn't keep an open mind, but was still impressed. The funniest part was when they dedicated one of their songs to "this guy over here who says we suck."

No doubt, no one there thought U2 sucked (well, other than the guy with the megaphone out front who said U2 were no longer a Christian band and we were all going to hell). They opened with City of Blinding Lights, which is a great live song and got everyone worked into a frenzy. Then they kicked into Vertigo, which everyone knew the words to, and turns out to be another good live track. It was unexpected but fitting when Bono worked some lines from 1980's Stories For Boys into the bridge. The stage was lit using the Vertigo circular iconography (or the Target retail store iconography, again, depending).

They followed with Elevation, which garnered a massive crowd sing-a-long that it seemed to surprise even them. Then it was time for my highlight of the night, The Electric Co., from their 1980 debut album. It was searing and great to hear that post-punk energy again. They followed that with another track from Boy, The Ocean, which I had completely forgotten and is a definite rarity. Its slow pace wasn't too well-received, though, and a lot of folks sat down. Of course, they got right back up for New Year's Day, which was bookended by Beautiful Day.

The stage took on a beautiful light scheme for Miracle Drug, which actually reminded me of Tron. During a lengthy prelude, Bono recounted the story of when he met Pope John Paul II and he traded his trademark fly glasses with him for a cross and rosary beads. He then hung them on the microphone before starting the song. Although that song gets a little overshadowed on their new album, it seemed like a classic track when they played it live.

A mini drum kit was placed at the edge of the outstretched circular stage where Larry banged out the beginning of Love And Peace Or Else. This song was not one of my favorites on their new album, but it took on a new life at the concert. Bono even shared the mic with Larry, which may have been a first. The song kicked off a war-themed group of songs including Sunday, Bloody Sunday and Bullet the Blue Sky. However, it was the most uncomfortable part of the show, with snippets of When Johnny Comes Marching Home thrown in. There was a cheer when Bono dedicated the next song to the men and women of the U.S. military, but it was Running to Stand Still. It's still a beautiful song that a lot of my friends rank very highly and has almost always been played directly after Bullet the Blue Sky.

Then it was time for a nice blast from the '90s, as they played Zoo Station, The Fly, and Mysterious Ways. Not having been able to see them in concert in the early '90s, this was great for me. Bono brought a girl up out of the audience to dance with him during Mysterious Ways. I think they were supposed to go offstage for their first encore after that song, but something didn't work right and I saw Bono shrugging to his bandmates, noting a 'dance-related mishap.'

I've heard Pride, Where The Streets Have No Name, and One plenty of times before, so that set was not super-thrilling, but they're all crowd-pleasers.

They came back for one encore to perform the Who-like All Because Of You, which rocked. Then Larry took over keyboards for a stripped-down version of Yahweh, which was actually a little too stripped-down for my tastes. And they ended it with their version of Psalm 40. Although they used to end every show with it from 1983-1989, it had not been performed at all in the 1990s. So its reappearance as the constant show-closer seems to say something. Maybe that guy with the loudspeaker should have come inside.

video curtainsVisually, it was a combination of the Zoo TV, PopMart, and Elevation tours rolled up into one. Musically, they rocked, but the sound was incredibly muddy. It was sometimes impossible to make out what Bono was saying. Of course, that's almost inherent with indoor arenas.

Overall, it was not the best U2 concert Megan and I have been to. That belongs to the Salt Lake City show from late 2001. But that post-9/11 show had emotional highs that maybe can never be matched. The emotional high point of this show was Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own, which is definitely one of their best songs ever. Unfortunately, that came halfway through the show, not at the end.

Jim Harrington of Inside Bay Area said it best, "So, if U2 couldn't top itself Saturday, it would just have to shoot for surpassing everyone else. Mission accomplished."

They also performed there Sunday, which yielded the performances of An Cat Dubh/Into the Heart and the premiere of Original of the Species. And among the many celebrities in attendance was Apple CEO Steve Jobs. report