Friday, December 29, 2006

Feeding Frenzy
I, Cringely

The most sublimely yet stupidly profitable periods for the recording and movie industries, respectively, were when music transitioned from vinyl records to Compact Discs and when home video transitioned from VHS cassettes to DVDs. Everybody bought new stuff -- the same stuff we already had but rebuilt using the new technology.
Great Robert Cringely column, as usual.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

2006 Foot-in-Mouth Awards
Wired News

You, the readers, have sent us your picks for the lamest quotes from or about the world of technology during this eventful year. We have selected the "best" of those and present them to you now.
Wired News did a lot of good 2006 lists and this is one of the shorter, but still funny ones. Here's a sample:
I want to squirt you a picture of my kids. You want to squirt me back a video of your vacation. That's a software experience.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Prius in Every Garage
I, Cringely

In case you don't remember, the U.S. Government came up with the idea of wiring first schools and then homes, primarily with fiber, with the goal of bringing high-bandwidth communication everywhere. The mechanism by which this was to have been accomplished was by encouraging through tax credits for telephone companies to upgrade their networks and by imposing a tax on telephone users to support the wiring of schools.

It didn't work.
I love Robert Cringely's columns because he's been around long enough and paid enough attention that he actually knows what he's talking about. So I'll probably end up posting a link to every one of his columns here. This one's been sitting in my drafts queue for a while, and I know there's a newer one I'll link to.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Our First Christmas

Only one podcast dares to publish on Christmas Eve: The Lame Show!

Episode 8: A Very Lame Christmas

In this very special Christmas Eve episode, Noah and Eddie look back at this year's past episodes (all seven of them!) and choose both the lamest items and their picks of the year.

Eddie also finds some gift ideas in SkyMall and finds time to rant about Blogger. And Noah has two Mexico Moments for this episode, including the return of the bus system.
Two weeks after our longest episode ever, here's our shortest episode ever. It's still chock-filled with Noah & Eddie goodness, though. And there's no hideous static this time (only moderate audio compression artifacts for Noah).

Episode 8: A Very Lame Christmas (30:50)

The Lame Show on iTunes

Friday, December 22, 2006

At 66, 'Zuzu' Thinks Life Is Wonderful

Karolyn Grimes jokes that she left her coat open, like her character Zuzu Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life. A more likely culprit is the holiday crunch of appearances by the former child actress from a Victorian festival in Puyallup, Wash., to the Colorado Country Christmas Show and now to Seneca Falls, which claims to be the inspiration for director Frank Capra's mythical Bedford Falls.
This article has probably appeared in everyone's daily newspaper, but you might not have read far enough through to get to this interesting note about It's A Wonderful Life
The film about a suicidal, small-town money lender was a bit of a dud after its December 1946 release. Wonderful Life got a second life in the mid-'70s when a lapsed copyright allowed television stations to show the movie for free. The movie gathered iconic status through constant showings.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Trailer Blazer: 'Transformers'

Uh, so where are the Transformers of my childhood? For one thing, there are too many d*** people in this movie, from the looks of this trailer, and not enough robots. ... Where are the autobots at?! I swear, they are only in the trailer for like five seconds; the rest of the time its Shia LaBeouf and another actor running away from things falling out of the sky.
Entertainment Weekly blogger Sophia Asare pretty much sums up my thoughts on the trailer for Michael Bay's Transformers movie.

Entertainment Weekly columnist Dalton Ross asks the same question I have:

... it was just announced this week that the halftime musical act will be none other than... Prince! And all I can say is, have the folks at the NFL lost their minds?!? We are less than three years removed from the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake Nipplegate, and now the league — not to mention CBS, the same network responsible for the cheese nip — is signing up Prince to entertain an audience of approximately 1 billion people from more than 230 countries?
He just has a lot more specific evidence:
Exhibit A: ''Erotic City.'' You know what, I don't even need to reprint the lyrics here. Suffice it to say Prince and Apollonia are talking about doing things to each other which I'm pretty sure CBS doesn't want to broadcast on national television.
Read the full post at 2 Crazy 4 Me, where he also addresses reader reaction to his list of The Five Worst Comic Book Superhero Movies Ever. But he didn't respond to my nomination of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze. (shudder)

Christmas 2006 Newsletter

The 2006 edition of the Hargreaves family Christmas newsletter - The Informer - is now available online. It is a 1.6MB PDF file, which translates into a 4-6 minute download for you dial-up users but should be unnoticable to those with high-speed Internet. 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. So if you didn't get a printed version in a Christmas card, here you go:

Informer 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's not my fault!

No new posts have appeared on this blog since Thursday, Dec. 7, and this time it's not due to my lack of attention. Google apparently made some changes to Blogger recently, which broke my ability to publish. Of course, they didn't inform me of these changes. I clicked around in Blogger's Help section for quite a while, but the error messages I received did not show up in the search results, and the few results that seemed to be related only seemed to point the finger at my ftp host (EarthLink). My repeated entreaties to their Customer Support went unheeded.

I finally found another blogger who posted a message in the Blogger Help Group about having to make a settings change from / to ./ in order to regain publishing abilities. Success! Now both new and backdated posts are showing up.

So I couldn't update this blog for nearly two weeks thanks to that stupid settings change that they still have not informed anyone of or noted in their Help files. You're so going on the Lame List, Blogger.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Crunks '06: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections
Regret the Error

Gather ’round for our annual collection of the funny, shocking, sad and disturbing media errors and corrections from the past year. From typos that celebrate Queen Elizabeth and her remarkable egg-laying abilities, to media hoaxes, unreliable sources, the Sago disaster and apologies for mistakes nearly 120 years ago, it was a good year for Regret.
I'm not the first (nor even the fifth) person to link to this, but it's just too satisfying a read not to share. The Oregonian and the Sacramento Bee both got in this year, although their mistakes were mild compared to some of these. One of my favorites:
There were several student journalist plagiarists this year (see our round-up), but the Exponent, a student newspaper at Purdue University, came up with a rather surprising fact about U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito, then a nominee:

Cars Advent Calendar

The Disney web site in Britain has a cool, animated advent calendar for the movie "Cars."

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Whatever Happened to Online Etiquette?
Pogue's Posts

I’m OK with criticism, I’m fine with disagreement, I’m perfectly capable of handling angry mail.

But what's really stunning is how hostile *ordinary* people are to each other online these days.
I had a discussion with family members recently about how online posts seemed to be more mean-spirited than ever and David Pogue basically confirms it here (he's been online as long as I have). Some of his thoughts on 'why' are standard and jibe with my own (anonymity) but some are new and interesting (young Internet users simply don't know anything different).

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Killers - Bones video directed by Tim Burton

Someone at work told me that Tim Burton had directed the most recent video for The Killers and I was shocked that I didn't already know about it, being a fan of both. So I'm a little late to the party, but if you follow the link above you can watch it in streaming QuickTime at the Island Records web site (now there's a record label web site I haven't been to since the late '90s).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Scot Finnie responds

A Windows expert opts for a Mac life, Part 2

Some Macintosh folks took umbrage to a sentence in the conclusion to the first story in this series. I wrote:
I expect to wrap up with a final assessment [on] whether the Mac is a viable alternative for real people with real jobs.
This story was referenced on and by numerous blogs around the Internet, including the Apple Blog, Cnet's Blogma, and the MacUser blog. In most cases, commenters to these blogs took the opportunity to read that one sentence and get spitting mad that I was apparently dissing the Mac. Reading it out of context, I can understand their ire. But it really wasn't meant that way.

I'll repeat here part of what I wrote in response to Derik DeLong's MacUser blog post, "Another Windows guy looks at a Mac":
Of course real people with real jobs use Macs! And have done so since the beginning (1984). I was one of them in the '80s. As a writer, I chastise myself for using hyperbole -- when, clearly, the Mac side of my audience didn't get it. The sentiment I was conveying was actually a gentle chiding of Windows users, some of whom may tend to think that there's no software on the Mac. If you read the whole story, and connect the dots, I think you'll see there's a connection to other things written in the story that support what I'm saying. I agree, the hyperbole was too subtle though.
I'm not sure why he responded to the MacUser post, since my post at The Apple Blog (and its subsequent post) preceded that, but I appreciate the response nonetheless. He also took the high road by blaming himself for using hyperbole instead of blaming stupid, rabid Mac users (who clearly exist). What he's really pointing out, I think, is that business people consider themselves to be 'real people with real jobs' and the rest of the country/world is not.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Episode 7

Episode 7 of The Lame Show is now available.

After first discussing the over-the-top Apple iPod Phone rumors, Noah & Eddie discuss the cracking of TiVoToGo's encryption, the failure of iPod video to catch on, the downloadable Superman Returns DVD options available at Wal-Mart, the willingness of a major music label to offer unrestricted MP3s and Microsoft's assertion it will sell one million Zunes by June 2007.

The truly burning questions are asked: Did Homer's brother even deserve to be a CEO? Does Bill Gates know the prices of all the versions of Windows Vista? Why does the Mexican Power System hate Noah?
For every step forward we've made since the first episode at improving the quality, we stub our toes on something. For this episode we managed to completely avoid the lag issue, giving true banter a chance to occur and allowing hopes to grow concerning future guest voices. But more than halfway through the recording, Noah had a power surge, shutting down his computer and destroying the audio recording he'd made. And the backup file I had was riddled with unpredictable static. So please forgive the poor quality of Noah's audio for the first 30 minutes of this episode. If it becomes too bothersome, skip to minute 30+.

But even if you skip a lot, you'll still get to hear plenty, as this one stretches to nearly 70 minutes -- our longest ever!

Episode 7: Unlocked (1:09:02)

The Lame Show on iTunes

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Buffy the Vampire Slayer TM & (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. Dark Horse Comics is a registered trademark of Dark Horse Comics. All rights reserved.Buffy the Vampire Slayer Is Back: The Complete Joss Whedon Q&A

Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan alert — the Scooby Gang lives! If you've been waiting since 2003 for the answer to little sister Dawn's series-ending question ("What are we gonna do now?"), it's finally on its way. Creator Joss Whedon is preparing Buffy: Season 8, but this time around the adventures are in comic-book form, arriving in March 2007 from Dark Horse Comics. We talked to Whedon about Buffy, today's TV and his many other projects.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Kicking off December with a real short piece at The Apple Blog:

Mac users aren’t ‘real people with real jobs’

Computerworld recently posted an advance excerpt from the newsletter of Windows expert Scot Finnie, detailing how he was making a MacBook Pro his main work and personal computer for 1-3 months.

My 10 Classic Features to 'Bring Back' to OS X piece prompted a number of comments on both theappleblog and digg. But one reader (a 19-year-old member of Apple's Developer Community) actually wrote a more lengthy response to each feature on his own web site:

Opinions on “10 Classic Features to ‘Bring Back’ to OS X” from the Apple Blog

This was a nice approach and kinda reflected some of the things that I mentioned that I would like to see appear in Leopard
He admits that he never much used Macs prior to OS X, and I think it's hard to realize the usefulness of these features if you've never experienced them firsthand. But it makes for an interesting perspective.

Monday, November 27, 2006

U218 ... the sellout arrives?

Throughout U2's career, charges of "selling out" have been leveled. Just about every album they released after 1984's The Unforgettable Fire has been called a sell-out by someone. And since concerts grow more expensive ever year, every succeeding tour they put on is followed by complaints that they're just trying to get rich, etc. I've never agreed with any of those previous charges because the albums and the tours always contained new music, regardless of your personal opinion of its greatness. And they've never cashed in on their past successes by re-releasing old albums in anniversary editions. They even resisted making a Greatest Hits album until 1998's The Best Of 1980-1990.

The Best Of 1980-1990 was a smart choice for two reasons: 1) Limiting the timeline of the songs meant that the album would stand alone and never need to be revised or re-released with any changes. 2) 'The Best Of' is different than 'Greatest Hits,' and it allowed them to include songs that were never really big hits but are certainly considered some of their best songs ("All I Want Is You," "The Unforgettable Fire," "I Will Follow").

Of course, most 'Best Of' albums include one or two new songs in order to give longtime fans more incentive to buy the album. Again, U2 took the clever route and re-recorded "Sweetest Thing," one of their b-sides from that time period, keeping the title almost entirely accurate. And making it even more compelling was a two-disc version with 15 b-sides from that time period. All in all, the two-disc set was great for hardcore U2 fans and the single disc was great for the more casual or cost-conscious. The only real problem was that a few notable tracks were left off ("Gloria," "40") and "Where The Streets Have No Name" was shortened by a minute. But a CD has a limited total length, so some compromises were necessary.

It was only natural, then, that in 2002 they released The Best Of 1990-2000. They matched the format and the design of the first Best Of. But there were some problems. The word 'best' is subjective, and unlike the first decade of their career, it is more difficult to definitively say which songs were the best of their second. Songs like "Elevation," "Walk On," "Lemon" and "The Fly" (a Number 1 in the UK) were left off in place of remixed versions of songs from Pop ("Staring At The Sun," "Gone" and "Discothéque"). And while the two new tracks were good, they weren't really from 1990-2000. (Ironically, although 1990 is covered on both albums, there are no songs from that year on either album.) And the b-sides disc focused more on remixes than original tracks.

So the announcement of U218 ("The definitive best of") this year was odd. They have only released one new album since The Best Of 1990-2000, so it can't cover much new ground. And they're already in the studio working on their next album, to be released in 2007, so it will quickly become non-definitive.

But it's not even "definitive" in the first place. states that U218 "is the first single disc collection to span the band’s career from Boy (1980) to How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (2004)." Yet it doesn't actually have any songs from Boy, nor its followup, October (1981). The oldest tracks on it are from War (1983). So how can it span from 1980-2004? Imagine if you bought a book of the best Shakespeare quotes and the claim was that it had "his greatest iambic pentameter from Romeo and Juliet to Julius Caesar!" and it turned out not have anything from Romeo and Juliet? The claim is misleading at best and deceptive at worst.

The reality is that it is not a "definitive" Best Of but instead a Greatest U.S. Hits. Gone are "Even Better Than The Real Thing," "Bad" and everything from Zooropa and Pop. The 27 tracks from the previous discs are condensed down to 16 crowd-pleasers.

The benefit of U218 is that a casual U2 fan who wants U2's Greatest Hits can buy this one disc that intermingles all the songs instead of both the previous discs that are separated by time. But it's not 1998 anymore, and the abundance of computers and CD burners means that most anyone can burn their own single-disc Greatest Hits without the need to spend another $10-$14 on a CD with dubious choices. And if those people don't own many U2 albums, they can download the single tracks from the iTunes Store without spending much. So the importance of releasing a single-disc Greatest Hits is hardly necessary anymore.

Maybe the goal is just to sell this CD to casual U2 fans who don't have CD burners. I can accept and understand that; fine, I'm not the target market. But they want it both ways. They've included two new tracks on the album that any U2 completist would surely want to have in their collection. Hmmm, purchasing an entire album to get two songs? That's roughly $5 per song at the cheapest price. The simple answer would be to purchase those tracks separately from the iTunes Store, as Entertainment Weekly recommended. But apparently EW didn't bother to see if that was possible, because it's not. Those tracks aren't available for individual purchase and you must purchase the entire album. How quaint.

There's no good reason for this album's creation other than a quick, Christmas-time money grab. Shame on U2.

Here's my 'of length' article for this month.

10 Classic Features to ‘Bring Back’ to OS X

When Apple created Mac OS X, they didn’t build on the creaky foundation of the Classic Mac operating system. So when OS X was first released, there were a number of features that long-term Mac users considered missing. Over the course of four major upgrades, Apple added a number of those features to OS X and trumpeted their return: Spring-Loaded Folders, Labels, Desktop Printers, USB Printer Sharing, Software Base Station (Internet Sharing). However, there are still a number of features from Mac OS 9, 8 and even System 7 and 6 that deserve to be resurrected for OS X. Here are my Top 10 (in no particular order)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Soul Of A New Microsoft

The soul of the new Microsoft, though--its Geek 2.0--may just be J Allard, the vice-president for design and development at its Entertainment & Devices unit. Allard looks and acts nothing like the prototypical Microsofty. Over the years he's swapped his plaid shirt and khakis--something of a Microsoft uniform--for edgy jackets made by Mark Ecko and other designer wear. He loads up his nine iPods, and now his Zune, with songs from hardcore bands like A.R.E. Weapons. And he's a downhill mountain biking maniac who has broken several bones after flying off his bike.

A Wii Workout:
When Videogames Hurt

The Wall Street Journal

A videogame maker has finally succeeded in getting kids off the couch and moving around. But the new approach is turning out to be more exercise than some players bargained for.
Parents used to complain that kids playing videogames didn't get enough exercise. Will they now complain that they're getting too much?

The folks at JibJab put together a music video for "Weird Al" Yankovic's Taylor Hicks parody: Do I Creep You Out

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Episode 6

Episode 6 of The Lame Show is now available.

Noah & Eddie discuss the new XBox Live Marketplace featuring movie & TV downloads. Eddie relates a conversation he overheard in San Francisco regarding the Zune and a possible video editor from Google. And the effectiveness and smugness of the 'I'm a PC, I'm a Mac' ads are debated.
In order to reduce the lag time of the conversations we'd had with Gene Steinberg, we didn't have any guests this week. Unfortunately, the lag persisted, so even though our total recording time was over an hour, once all the silence was cut out, the final show ended up at only 49 minutes -- our shortest ever!

Also different about this episode is that Noah's audio should sound a lot better due to a different method of recording. Unfortunately we were beset by all sorts of problems this time, and I had to "cheat" to get the final product out. If you can figure out what I did ... well, no one will probably figure it out, so I don't have to offer a prize....

Episode 6: Smug Joe Black (49:10)
The Lame Show on iTunes

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Edward Scissorhands the ... wordless musical

'Edward Scissorhands'This show made its North American premiere at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco on the same weekend that Megan and I visited for our seventh anniversary. We were able to attend the Sunday matinee performance and our tickets were half-price because it was considered the preview weekend.

It is a very interesting show that is hard to categorize. It's not a play, because there's no speaking. It's not a musical, because there's no singing. It's not really a ballet, either, because the dancing is modern. I agree very much with the following review in Variety, especially regarding the story changes (confusing and not really for the better) the music (good, but poor audio reproduction) and the visual effects (both impressive and amusing).

Edward Scissorhands - Reviews

"Edward Scissorhands" may be the first exported Matthew Bourne evening whose inspiration seems more commercial than re-interpretive. That may disappoint some dance fans, but this handsome stage translation of the 1990 Tim Burton movie is -- by virtue of the film's enduring appeal to a wide age range -- likely to reach a larger, more diverse audience on its North American tour than even Bourne's "Swan Lake" managed.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

New Photo Galleries

I was previously using Apple's .Mac service to create and host my online photo galleries. But since I didn't renew my .Mac account this September, I've been looking for a replacement. I've found Picasa, which was bought by Google a while ago. They offer 250MB of photo-hosting space, an iPhoto plug-in, auto-rss feeds, and customizable photo galleries that I've found generally easy to use. Oh, and it's free. So I've recreated a few galleries from my old HomePage (Alcatraz, Urinetown The Musical, Monterey) and added a couple of new galleries of recent photos:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Return to Sacramento & Co.

Lisa Cooperman and I appeared again on Sacramento & Co. to promote The Haggin Museum's J.C. Leyendecker exhibition and Illustration & Book Arts Family Festival. Thanks to the EyeTV 250 I reviewed for macCompanion, I was able to create a QuickTime movie of our 6-1/2 minute segment.

November 6 - Illustration & Book Arts Family Festival (29.6MB)

On the subject of web sites not known for their accuracy... I found my name in Wikipedia recently. No, there's not a full-on bio page, just a reference in the following section:

Mac OS X v10.5 - Compatibility

While it is known that Leopard will support PowerPC G4 and PowerPC G5 processors, it is unknown whether Leopard will support the PowerPC G3 processor.

My first digg success

It's rare that I visit But after my post on regarding the insane iTunes spender, I thought I might head over, search around and see if anyone "dugg" it. To my complete surprise, it was on the home page. As of this writing, 10-1/2 hours after it was submitted, it has 1,237 diggs and 160 comments. Based on those comments, site was unavailable at some point today, presumably because of The Digg Effect.

A couple of other funny and/or interesting comments I read were:

  • The new attack on marriage is now iTunes and not gays.
  • Pirating saves marriages!
  • I think for that she should be allowed to keep the ring cause the guy is obviously a moron.
  • With the guy spending 8k a month on iTunes, I am surprised Steve Jobs hasn't proposed to him.
Of course, it just couldn't be submitted to digg without writing a new, less-factual headline: $8000 worth of iTunes songs per month costs…1 Fiancée; Wedding Called Off

The original information stated only that the fiancé "had charged more than 8,000 iTunes at 99 cents each," not that he had charged $8,000 worth of iTunes. If he purchased 8,050 iTunes songs (which meets the criteria of more than 8,000) it would actually only equal $7,969.50. He would've had to charge a minimum of 8,081 songs in order to rack up an $8,000 bill. It's quite possible that the digger's headline is true, but neither he nor I know that for certain. But headlines on digg submissions range from the slightly inaccurate to wildly untruthful, so this one wasn't too bad, just unnecessary.

Hopefully all this traffic will result in Dalton Ross getting more people reading his blog, since that's where this information came from in the first place.

$8000 worth of iTunes songs per month costs…1 Fiancée; Wedding Called Off
In looking at his last bill (for one month) he had charged more than 8,000 iTunes at 99 cents each and had charges at places that sell music and movies, too. This guy made $45,000 a year. Called off the wedding.

iTunes iMix: Best U2 B-Sides

In January 2005, I created an iMix on the iTunes Music Store of the Best U2 B-Sides (12 original U2 compositions likely overlooked by most). Apple has now made it possible to "publish to web" these iMixes, so I'm doing so here. Sadly, they have released no original b-sides in the 22 months since I made this list.

8,000 iTunes songs per month costs…1 fiancée

At the 2004 Macworld San Francisco keynote, while recounting the success of the iTunes Music Store since its inception nine months ago, Steve Jobs noted that the top spender on iTunes had spent $29,500.
When writing for TheAppleBlog, there are a number of categories you can file a post under (Reviews, Hardware, Tips) but I found it difficult to categorize this post.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sometimes mixing Star Wars with something wholly unrelated can be a good thing (see: Lego Star Wars The Videogame)

But sometimes it can be a very, very bad thing (see: The Star Wars Holiday Special ... actually, don't)

Cinemax recently aired all six Star Wars movies in HD and in story order (how butt-numbing would that be? And, NO, I don't know). To promote it, they created the following commercial. It's not as bad as the Holiday Special, but it's clearly no Lego Star Wars, either.

Gas Prices
Hank Shaw | Stockton Record Capitol Bureau Chief

OK, am I the only one out there who noticed gas prices went up on Election Day? Now I am normally not a conspiracy theorist, but I had been a little surprised at how low prices dropped during the leadup to the election ($2.17 was the lowest I saw) Now prices have jumped a dime per gallon in the 48 hours since the Democrats took Congress. Sure looks fishy to me...
Who couldn't help but notice how low (relatively-speaking, of course) gas prices got in the months just prior to the midterm election? Here in California, they reached a seven-month low in October. Something that everyone complained about for the last two years suddenly became a non-issue. Of course, I was prepared for them to rise again after the election because I read an article a couple of weeks ago that said they would. But according to Gas prices in Northern California sneaking up
"It's unclear why gas prices have inched upward when everything appeared to signal prices dropping at the pump," said Michael Geeser, AAA of Northern California spokesman.
Well, if it was a politically-motivated ploy, I don't think it worked.

Blake Timm '98 authors sports column

Blake Timm '98, authored his first sports column titled Sidelines in a June issue of the Forest Grove News-Times.

The Mac ReviewCast Episode 81
Host Tim Verpoorten had me on The Mac ReviewCast again to talk about my November 2006 macCompanion reviews of FastMac's Slimline SuperDrive Upgrade and equinux's CoverScout.

If you do not have an application that subscribes to podcasts (like iTunes 4.9 and higher), the easiest way to listen to the episode is to click the following link to download the mp3: MacReviewCast81.mp3 (1:00:41, 41.7MB)

New Site Dedicated To Ruined Songs

Bono, The Killers' Brandon Flowers and Scissor Sisters' Jake Shears reveal songs they can't stand to hear anymore

Like a lot of dot-com success stories, the idea for Ruined Music came over a casual lunch. Only, this was not businessmen or even buddies, but a couple discussing their relationship.

"We were talking about all the songs that we would not be able to listen to anymore if we were to break up," co-founder Mary Phillips-Sandy recalled. "Bryan [Bruchman, boyfriend and co-founder] is a musician. I love music. We made mixtapes for each other in the beginning. So there's a lot of music that we share and have shared as our relationship grew. And the list of songs that would be ruined would be a very long one."

The Tech Night Owl LIVE

If you listened to the end of Episode 5 of The Lame Show, you heard special guest Gene Steinberg invite Noah and I onto his Internet radio show - The Tech Night Owl LIVE.

The good news is that we were both able to do so. The bad news is that we had audio quality and delay issues that made it a difficult session. And when I was asked what things are lame, I somehow blanked. Regardless, it will air on tomorrow's episode.

The Tech Night Owl LIVE with Gene Steinberg
Thursday, 8:00-10:00 PM Central Time
(6:00-8:00 PM Pacific, 9:00-11:00 PM Eastern, and Friday at 0200 UTC)

This week Gene talks about the PlayStation 3, the Microsoft Zune player and lots of other stuff with Special Correspondent David Biedny in "The David Biedny Zone." You'll also hear from multimedia expert Jim Heid, author of "The Macintosh iLife '06." And, prepare to meet Eddie Hargreaves and Noah Brimhall, the outspoken hosts of a new and different Podcast, known as "The Lame Show."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Episode 5

The fifth episode of The Lame Show is now available, and as you can see from the artwork we had a special guest: Gene Steinberg of The Tech Night Owl LIVE.

Gene visited to discuss Windows Vista, Internet Explorer 7 and Movie Downloads. He also gave us a variety of TV and movie picks, including a 'super' box set and a 'killer' TV show.

This show was recorded last Sunday, so if I seem surprised at week-old news, that's because it was breaking news at the time. This was actually a very difficult show for us because Noah was receiving the audio about four seconds behind Gene and I. I've edited all the gaps out, but if you think this episode doesn't have enough Noah in it, it's not his fault. Apparently his network packets were being detained at the border.

Episode 5: Kibitz with the Night Owl (55:47)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

macCompanion November 2006 reviews

The November 2006 issue of macCompanion is now online and it has two reviews written by me:

  • Slimline 8x Dual Layer SuperDrive Upgrade
    DVDs can hold six times as much data as a CD, but slow burning speeds mean it takes even longer to create them. FastMac's new internal slimline 8x Dual Layer SuperDrive upgrade enables users of Macs with slot-loading drives the ability to both burn DVDs faster and use the larger-capacity dual layer DVDs.
  • CoverScout 2.2
    Prior to iTunes 7, it was possible to add images to songs in your iTunes Music Library, it just wasn't easy. And equinux's CoverScout application helped make it easier. Now that automatically downloading missing album artwork is built into iTunes, equinux has had to make a few changes to CoverScout to keep it relevant and useful.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Episode 4

The fourth episode of The Lame Show is now available.

Noah and I discuss the Guadalajara bus system, TiVo, .Mac, RealD, and venture off into other territory. There are two Picks of the Week (again, odd, because it's a biweekly show) and nominations to the Lame List.

And check out our new logo/cover art created by Noah!

Episode 4: Broken Promises (53:12)

Friday, October 27, 2006

BrowseBack: Web page memory comes at a price

If you want to keep track of your web browsing history, consider Smile on my Mac’s BrowseBack. But be prepared for the memory, processor and disk space resources it will require.
This is my first software review for The Apple Blog. They don't have a set rating system, like stars or apples or anything, so it was nice not to have to fret over the exact numerical scoring and just write about how the product works. It wasn't long enough to qualify as a feature-length article, so hopefully I can crank out one of those before the month's end.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Episode 3

he latest episode of The Lame Show is right on schedule, but it's a little different than the first two. The biggest difference is that Noah isn't there. We had creative differences over the direction of the show: I wanted more modern art, like the sound of a pear floating in a pool of ... OK, it was more like Noah had some unexpected Internet difficulties preceding the recording session.

But this episode isn't just me talking to myself (Ooo, there's an idea for a killer podcast). Aaron Adams, one of the switchers featured in Apple's 2002 ad campaign, graced us with his thoughts and opinions on why Apple won't release a cell phone, what's going to happen with the new HD DVD and Blu-ray discs, and whether or not the term 'podcast' should be renamed 'netcast' due to Apple's legal maneuverings.

Aaron also provided a Pick of the Week, which prompted me to provide a Lame List nomination and led to general shared bitterness.

All in all, it's the longest episode to date (1:07:23). With another two weeks to go before the next episode 'drops,' you can parcel it out at 5 minutes a day.

Episode 3: Revenge of the Phone

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Mac ReviewCast Episode 76
Host Tim Verpoorten had me on The Mac ReviewCast this week to talk about my review of the new iPod U2 Special Edition and the InCase U2 Folio.

If you do not have an application that subscribes to podcasts, the easiest way to listen to the episode is to click the following link to download the MP3: MacReviewCast76.mp3 (47:37, 32.8MB)

First Look! Richard Donner's new Superman comic
Entertainment Weekly's

Check out a few pages from director Richard Donner's new Superman comic.
The design of this "Photo Gallery" is a little annoying because the pages with panels are too small to be read and the larger versions are PDFs instead of simple JPEGs. But this first glimpse of the upcoming storyline is notable for a number of reasons. First, of course, Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner is providing the story. Second, the artist is Adam Kubert, who has worked exclusively for Marvel Comics for decades, notably on the X-Men titles. Third, based on the pages previewed here, they're bringing aspects of the various movies into the comics. For instance, Superman's belt has the 'S' insignia, like the cosume from Superman Returns. Also, there are are crystals in the Fortress of Solitude reminiscent of the crystals from both Returns and the original films. The story pitch itself is killer:
The 6-part "Last Son" is the tale of a small child from the planet Krypton. Sent by his parents to Earth with powers beyond imagination, the child's future potential is limitless. Especially when Superman finds him!
Action Comics #844 will be on sale October 25 for $2.99.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

macCompanion October 2006

The October issue of macCompanion magazine is now online and my single review for this issue is:

  • iPod U2 Special Edition (Late 2006)
    When Apple updated its iPod lines in mid-September, it seemed like the U2 Special Edition would be left behind, seeing as how the new video-capable model was just introduced in June. But Apple has been kind enough to not only endow the U2 edition with all the newest bells & whistles of the regular iPod but also drop the price accordingly.

Download Festival 2006

In a musical feast, Muse and Beck were best dishes

Muse and marionettes were the big stars Saturday at the nine-hour Download Festival at Shoreline Amphitheatre.
Megan and I weren't there for the whole nine hours (more like eight) and only saw 4-1/2 bands, but we had a good time. This review is spot-on, even though it doesn't mention the overwhelming advertising for Volkswagen, Napster and SanDisk.
Perhaps somebody forgot to tell Muse that it wasn't the headliner, because the band ripped through its anthemic set like U2's evil twin.
Wow, their set was scorching. The metal of AC/DC meets the vocal stylistics of Thom Yorke meets the bombast of Queen. I didn't even recognize them before their set began, but during it was surprised at how many songs I recognized.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs really had no business following Muse. The buzz on this New York art-punk band has grown so quiet that you can hear crickets chirping. Not surprisingly, the group, which is led by the overly hyper vocalist Karen O, simply couldn't match the heights achieved by Muse as it ran through its increasingly tired blend of glitz and garage.
I really could not have said it better. I was almost entirely disappointed with their set.
Thankfully, Beck and his puppets closed out the night with a hilarious show that appealed to all the interest groups in the alt-rock nation.
I had read about the puppets, but couldn't quite understand how they would work. They're simple, yet impressively detailed and totally hilarious.
Throughout, everything the real musicians did on stage was echoed by their marionette doppelgangers, whose every movement was displayed on the giant video screens, using cheap visual effects from early '80s MTV.
Megan even noticed that the puppet stage had its own miniature puppet stage.

We heard a number of tracks from his new CD, including "The Information," "1000BPM," "Think I'm In Love" (my favorite) and "Nausea," which you can watch the puppets perform here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Scroll images in Tiger's Preview

If you press and hold the space bar with an image open, you’ll see the cursor change to a hand. There is it, the hidden scrolling tool!
This Macworld column by Rob Griffiths is based on the hint I contributed to Maybe that makes it a contender for September hint of the month! - Heroes comics

Pick up where the show leaves off by delving deeper into the Heroes universe with original graphic novels created by the world's foremost graphic artists!
NBC's new drama Heroes has actual comic book pedigree and they've been lining up good artists.

2006 Elly Award Winners

Megan and I attended the 2006 Elly Awards ceremony at Sacramento's Crest Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 24. The cast from Urinetown (one of the five musicals nominated for Best Overall Production) performed "Snuff That Girl," which seemed quite different without the drums and horns, but was great nonetheless.

Unfortunately, this year they judged musicals and plays separately in both the Young People's and Education categories, resulting in an additional 22 awards. Multiply 22 awards by 5 nominees, then the time it takes to name them all and for all their friends to clap and you've got a too-long-by-hours ceremony. At least the time spent waiting was rewarded by seeing a few colleagues give acceptance speeches.

In the Musicals category, Urinetown won:

  • Choreography: Valerie Gnassounou
  • Direction: John White
In the Drama category, Delta's production of Dark of the Moon won:
  • Supporting Actress: Joanna Bernazzani
  • Costume Design: Beverly Norcross
  • Lighting Design: John White
  • Set Design: John White
  • Overall Production
The complete awards list can be downloaded here:

Pee-Wee Turns 20
Entertainment Weekly

When Pee-wee's Playhouse opened its red vinyl door to viewers on Sept. 13, 1986, it didn't look like anything else on children's TV — and that's not just because the host was a gleefully immature grown man in a too-small suit.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast: Episode 2

Noah and I recorded the second episode of our new podcast this weekend and it's now available (for free!) at The Lame Show.

Visiting for this episode is my brother, Ray, who provided us with our theme music and the fresh, new perspective of a white male from Pacific University. (Paging Blake Timm... ) He brings us up to speed on Nintendo's upcoming Wii game console and we also discuss Microsoft's Zune and Xbox products.

In the Mexico Moment, Noah informs us of the popularity of (bad) American pop culture south of the border, including Paris Hilton, Outback Steakhouse and Chili's?! All three of us provide Picks of the Week (though it's a biweekly show) and some nominations are made to the Lame List.

This episode is about 10 minutes shorter than the first one (due to overwhelming request). So by the seventh episode it'll only be three minutes long!

Episode 2: Coming Zune

Friday, September 29, 2006

Apple releases 10.4.8

If you are using an Intel-based Mac, note that after installing the delta version, the computer will restart twice.
For the second time in a week I was able to write up this post on The Apple Blog before I saw it anywhere else on the Mac web. My Software Update schedule must fall at just the right time.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Apple releases iTunes 7.0.1 update

According to Apple, the 25.7MB download “addresses stability and performance issues with Cover Flow, CD importing, iPod syncing, and more.”
It's not often that I get wind of Apple news quick enough to post it to before every other site, but today was an exception.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Noah & Eddie's Podcast premieres

Now online is Noah and my first attempt at a podcast: The Lame Show

Episode 1: It's Showtime

Noah first explains the choices for high speed Internet in Mexico. Then he and Eddie discuss all of Apple's announcements regarding new iPods, iTunes, downloadable movies and the device code-named iTV.

There are plenty of diversions involving lanyards, door sizes and TiVo.

Picks of the week include Michael Stipe & Friends' "In the Sun" and Coverville. And Noah nominates a product name to the Lame List.

Now you can get coasters, mugs, t-shirts, hoodies and more ... all branded with the new macCompanion logo I designed.

macCompanion Gear

I've gotten another hint published on

How to drag-scroll oversize images in Preview

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Here's my first long post at The Apple Blog:

Why I will (probably) not renew my .Mac account

When .Mac was first announced at the July 2002 Macworld Expo in New York (remember those?) it held the rare distinction of being one of the few Steve Jobs keynote announcements to draw silence instead of applause. Of course, why should anyone applaud when they’ve just been told that something they were getting for free would now cost $100 per year? But when even the most faithful Mac users (i.e. the ones who waited for hours outside the building to get into the keynote) aren’t excited, then you’ve got problems.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I've gotten another hint published at

View TiVo Series2 Now Playing lists in Safari

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fox got bigger hit, but WB happy with Singer
The Hollywood Reporter

"Superman Returns will be profitable for us," says Warner Bros. production president Jeff Robinov. "We would have liked it to have made more money, but it reintroduced the character in a great way and was a good launching pad for the next picture. We believe in Bryan and the franchise. Clearly, this was the most emotional and realistic superhero movie ever made."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

2006 Elly Nominees Announced

The Sacramento Area Regional Theatre Alliance has announced the 2006 Elly Award nominees (PDF). San Joaquin Delta College's Dark of the Moon received a nomination in every one of the Drama categories:

  • Costume Design - Beverly Norcross
  • Direction - Harvey T. Jordan
  • Leading Actor - Brian Peccia
  • Leading Actress - Megan Devencenzi
  • Lighting Design - John White
  • Overall Production
  • Set Design - John White
  • Supporting Actor - Chris Hayhurst
  • Supporting Actress -
    • Joanna Bernazzani
    • Sue Barnes
Urinetown didn't get any Leading Acting nominations, but it got quite a few in the Musical categories:
  • Choreography - Valerie Gnassounou
  • Direction - John White
  • Lighting Design - Catherine Frye and John White
  • Musical Direction - Scott Bowen
  • Overall Production
  • Set Design - Christina Martinez
  • Supporting Actor - Parker Cushing
  • Supporting Actress - Brittney Monroe
I often don't understand what qualifies a role as leading or supporting, since I considered Brittney's performance as Little Sally a leading one. At last year's Awards Ceremony, songs were performed from each of the musicals nominated for Overall Production.

If they do that for this year's, I'm curious what song will be chosen, since many of them are large group numbers.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Do you feel that some of the movies coming out of Hollywood are just, well, missing something? At RiffTrax, you can download Mike's running commentaries and listen to them along with your favorite, and not so favorite DVDs. It's like watching a movie with your funniest friend.
And your funniest friend is Mike Nelson, head writer and (second) star of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Just so that I can keep up my streak of posting once per day in August, here are links to my latest posts on The Apple Blog. Check out the comments and help drive that traffic!

  1. ‘The Business’ misleads on ‘iPod music phone’
  2. Apple could allow video downloads to be burned to DVD

Friday, August 11, 2006

Terrorism scare doesn't seem to deter S.J. travelers

"It seems like a bit of an inconvenience at first, but the real inconvenience is if you are not safe," said Eddie Hargreaves, a Stockton resident flying from Sacramento to Portland today.
After my national debut in Many Straight Guys Say 'No Thanks' to 'Brokeback Mountain' I'm back on the local scene thanks to my connections as the husband of a Record employee.

I only fly about once or twice a year, but it always seems to fall right after some foiled attack means the airport has to implement stricter security measures.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

iPod music phone now on the way from Apple

What does a headline like that tell you? If you saw it in a newspaper or on the ticker of a cable news channel, what would else could you think but that it was confirmed there will be an iPod music phone?

And what if you only got to see the first paragraph of that story and it was this:

After months of speculation, Apple Computers has confirmed it is planning to produce an iPod music phone.
Wow! Apple has confirmed it?! Let's see this confirmation!
Steve Jobs, chief executive of the iPods-to-Macintosh computers giant, dropped a hint that a new type of iPod music player was on the way when unveiling Apple’s financial results last week.
Wait? It's not confirmation? It's just a hint?
"The iPod continues to earn a US market share of over 75% and we are extremely excited about future iPod products in the pipeline,” he said.
That's the hint? I did not see the words 'phone' or 'now on the way' anywhere. Jobs says Apple is excited about future products in the pipeline at every single financial results recap.
Later, Apple’s chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, appeared to confirm this: “We don’t think that the phones that are available today make the best music players. We think the iPod is [the best music player]. But over time, that is likely to change, and we are not sitting around doing nothing."
Peter confirmed what? The only thing he confirmed is that Apple is not sitting around doing nothing. Duh.

And the final paragraph stretches this report beyond belief:
Apple faces major challenges as competitors produce cheaper products forcing the US firm to diversify further. Mobile phonemaker Motorola has already launched a phone, the ROKR, designed to play songs stored on Apple’s iTunes software.
Anyone that didn't know better would conclude that Motorola was one of those competitors providing major challenges to Apple, when, of course, the ROKR was developed in conjunction with Apple and plays iTunes songs with Apple's permission.

So, to recap, no one at Apple, especially Steve Jobs, said anything about an iPod music phone, and certainly no one said it was "now on the way." But obviously they couldn't run this headline: Apple not sitting around doing nothing

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Movie transfers to DVDs to become easier

Online merchants, like Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store, could start to allow video downloads to be transferred onto DVDs.
This needs to happen if they want me to buy videos from the iTunes Music Store. I've downloaded a few free shows and never watched them because they can only be watched on the computer. Hooking up the computer to the TV is not something I like to do on a daily basis.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Apple Blog

I'm doing some writing, er, excuse me, blogging, for The Apple Blog. So you lucky few who read this blog can now read blog posts by me on another blog that will be linked to from this blog. Blog blog blog.

  1. Apple removes mention of G3s from Leopard pages
  2. Microsoft releases Office 2004 security update

Is Steve Jobs the new power behind-the-throne at the Magic Kingdom?

As Hollywood still struggles to get a handle on what just happened at Disney Studios, Jim Hill suggests that it's time to start paying attention to all those phone calls and e-mails that Bob Iger gets from Steve Jobs.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Oni to publish Stephen Colbert's TEK JANSEN & ALPHA SQUAD 7 comics

Oni Press, in cooperation with The Colbert Report and Comedy Central, will be publishing a series of comics based off the unpublished sci-fi masterpiece Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: Lady Nocturne: A Tek Jansen Adventure.
There's not a lot of information available yet, but anything with Tek Jansen promises to be hilarious.

Wow, a second hint of mine has been published at! Rate it how you please.

Easily send Safari web links from iChat

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Vote for The Muppet Show Season 2 DVD cover art is asking fans to help choose the artwork for the next Muppet Show season set. The cover will feature Miss Piggy, but which of the three covers will it be? Vote now at and let your voice be heard.
The web site is very bandwidth-intensive, so if you've got a slow Internet connection, you can go straight to the poll here. And note the fine print: "BVHE reserves the right to make changes to the final packaging."

Friday, August 04, 2006

Behind the Magic

The Oakland Museum of California is the current home of the touring exhibition Behind the Magic – 50 Years of Disneyland.

Go behind the scenes to see how Walt Disney and his Imagineers envisioned, created, and brought Disneyland to life. This touring exhibition includes hundreds of images and artifacts, including original artwork, construction drawings, architectural models, archival videos, promotional materials, and historic souvenirs—as well as original vehicles from Peter Pan’s Flight and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Meet Disney’s first human Audio-Animatronics figure, Abraham Lincoln!
One of its neat features is to have your picture taken on Peter Pan’s Flight, the original vehicle from Fantasyland. And it only cost $1!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

With the Best Hints contest as an incentive, I was able to successfully get my first hint published on It's not the most exciting thing in the world, but it's hard finding anything that hasn't already been published there.

Download files in NetNewsWire without launching browser

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

'Aquaman' Going Swimmingly on iTunes
E! Online News

Aquaman is a hit--and this time iTunes, not Vincent Chase, can take credit.

The TV pilot based on the all-wet DC Comics superhero was one of the iTunes Music Store's most-played clips Tuesday, the same day the rejected series became available for download on the online music/video purveyor.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

macCompanion August 2006

The August issue introduces macCompanion's new logo, which I designed. This month I reviewed:

  • LocationFree Player Pak for Macintosh
    Sony is not famous for being Macintosh-friendly. Of course, it's not famous for being friendly with hardly anyone, considering it usually tries to force its proprietary formats on everyone (Betamax, MiniDisc, ATRAC, UMD, copy-protected CDs with rootkits) at the expense of consumer ease-of-use. Its latest venture, LocationFree, is no exception.
There are two things I didn't mention in my review of Sony's LocationFree system. The first is that it is most directly competing against Akimbo, not Elgato's EyeTV products. But Akimbo is not (yet?) Macintosh-compatible, and that is the focus of macCompanion. Second, Sony requires a separate user license for every machine you own. So if you want to watch TV streamed from your LocationFree base station to your desktop, that's one license. But if you want to use your laptop, that's another license you must purchase. And if you want to watch with a PSP, that's another license to purchase. Imagine purchasing a DVD for $20 and then being forced to pay another $20 to watch it on a DVD player in a separate room. And another $20 if you loan it to a friend to watch.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

So Many Head Jokes, So Little Time

Bored with summer TV? Listless in the absence of your favorite shows? Posessed by the distinct sensation that there simply aren't a sufficient number of gun-toting chimpanzees in your life? Then by all means, make haste with great speed to the SciFi Channel's Web site, where you can watch the insanely wonderful new pilot, The Amazing Screw-On Head.
The pilot episode airs at 10:30 p.m. tonight on SciFi! (My apologies for not posting this sooner, but we've had Internet connection problems at home thanks to The New AT&T and, meanwhile,'s availability has been up and down over the past week.)

The Amazing Screw-On Head is a one-issue comic book by Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy. You might think that would make it easy to find. But I had to look through many, many booths at a number of comic conventions before I finally found a copy.

If you watch the pilot, take the "short online survey" to share your opinion with SciFi. How often do you get to tell a network you like (or don't like) what they're doing? I've been waiting for the TV premiere (well, and our Internet connection has been erratic), so I can't give my opinion just yet.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

24 Minutes of 'A Scanner Darkly'

IGN is pleased to bring you the first 24 minutes of Richard Linklater's new film, A Scanner Darkly!

Like a graphic novel come to life, A Scanner Darkly uses live action photography overlaid with an advanced animation process (interpolated rotoscoping) to create a haunting, highly stylized vision of the future.

Scanner has been rated R by the MPAA for "drug and sexual content, language and brief violent images." You'll note that the extended excerpt is age-gated -- you will have to enter your date of birth to view it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Yes, "Weird Al" is still active

Someone recently asked me if "Weird Al" Yankovic was doing OK, since we hadn't seen or heard much from him since the death of his parents in April 2004. I'm happy to report that there have been multiple sightings in the last month.

First, I got an e-mail stating that:

We're very sorry that the new "Weird Al" Yankovic album is taking a little longer than expected to make its way to a record store near you. We'll let you know as soon as we have a confirmed release date.

In the meantime, we thought you might like to download a free mp3 of a brand new Weird Al song (which won't be on the album). Our gift to you, just for being so darn cool.
The song is a parody of James Blunt's wildly overplayed You're Beautiful titled You're Pitiful. Apparently Blunt's label, Atlantic Records, objected to its release on the album.

Then, not even a week later, I get another e-mail regarding The Weird Al show:
That's right, all 13 glorious episodes from Al's 1997-98 CBS Saturday Morning kids' show - complete with commentaries and animated storyboards and all kinds of junk - will be hitting the stores in a spiffy 3-disc DVD box set on August 15.
And to promote that DVD set, he was listed in Entertainment Weekly's annual Must List as #43 out of 113 "people and things we love right now." He penned a parody song (albeit very reluctantly) called I Will Comply (set to the tune of Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive).

Dark Chocolate M&M's

You asked... we answered! Thanks to popular demand, summer 2006 features the launch of one of our most anticipated products—M&M'S Dark Chocolate Candies! Look for the purple pack and experience these delicious candies for yourself.
Delicious, anticipated and demand are definitely the words I would use. And they're supposedly in stores today.

The 53rd Annual Willie Awards

Stockton Civic Theatre held its 53rd annual Willie Awards (named for William Shakespeare) on Sunday, June 25, for its 2005-2006 season, which included:

  1. South Pacific (at Delta College's Atherton Auditorium)
  2. Over the River and Through the Woods
  3. Amahl and the Night Visitors
  4. Don't Dress for Dinner
  5. Picnic
  6. Kiss Me, Kate
Over the River received a total of seven nominations:
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor:
    • William Smith (Nunzio)
    • Tom Kelly (Frank)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress:
    • Dorothy Mulvihill (Aida)
    • June Spencer (Emma)
  • Outstanding Set Design: Gary Scheiding
  • Outstanding Lead Actor: Eddie Hargreaves
  • Outstanding Production: Lora Hinson
Megan and I attended the awards ceremony and saw a lot of folks from Over the River as well as some from Delta College: John White (who directed Urinetown, The Musical) won Outstanding Lighting Design and Valerie Gnassounou-Bynoe (who choreographed Urinetown) won Outstanding Choreography, both for South Pacific.

Tom and June won their respective categories and gave some very nice speeches. It was unfortunate that they had to go up against their counterparts, but I guess that's just the nature of the process.

Although I did not win, it was great to see the show get recognized with so many other nominations and wins, especially our director, Lora.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Comic Con Fans

Since the San Diego Comic-Con is looming on the horizon, I thought I'd take some time every day to do a drawing of some of the types of fans that attend. I've been attending the Con regularly since 1979 so I've seen a few characters in my day.

Hero's return wows original director

The original director of Superman, Richard Donner, was astounded by the big-budget relaunch of the Superman franchise, which opens in the UK ... nearly 30 years after he brought it to the big screen.

Monday, July 17, 2006

FBI plans new Net-tapping push

The FBI has drafted sweeping legislation that would require Internet service providers to create wiretapping hubs for police surveillance and force makers of networking gear to build in backdoors for eavesdropping, CNET has learned.

Terror On The Strip
Las Vegas Review-Journal

As its Internet preview suggests, "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas" has the makings of a kick-ass video game.

But the fictitious adventure could also present a marketing headache for Las Vegas because of its on-screen setting, sources said this week.
Yeah, you wouldn't want the city of Las Vegas to be associated with illegal or harmful activities.
"It's based on a false premise," [Las Vegas Mayor Oscar] Goodman said.
Does that mean Con Air, Ocean's Eleven, CSI, Project Gotham Racing 3, and Mars Attacks! were based on true premises?

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Escapists

Discovering his late father's decades-spanning vault of Escapist memorabilia at the age of six, Max became a fan of the Master of Elusion almost overnight. After exhausting the extensive stash of Golden and Silver Age comics, he needed more-and started writing his own Escapist stories. Now nineteen, he's determined to make the character a sensation once again, but where is he going to find an artist-in Cleveland? Meet Maxwell Roth and Case Weaver, latter-day versions of Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay, in part one of The Escapists!
This 32-page comic is only $1 and there are no ads (other than the one for issue two) so anyone who enjoyed Michael Chabon's Pulitzer-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay has little excuse for not picking up a copy at their local comic book store. At the end of the comic is a column by Steve Duin, Metro columnist for The Oregonian, that's in the spirit.

The Apple Store That Wasn't

So, Apple wanted to build this Apple Store here in Portland, Oregon. And not just any old Apple Store — this was to be a built-from-scratch, non-mall, original-design Apple Store, one of the few in the world. It was to be something fairly special.

That was four years ago.
Anybody could write about this story (and many of those anybodies have) but what makes this take special is that it's written by Cabel Sasser, who is close to the issue both as a Mac software developer and:
I'm a Portland native, born and raised. I remember when the Blazers were awesome, I pronounce "milk" funny ("melk"), and I was once a serious contender in Ramblin' Rod's "Smile Contest". I also just so happen to live on NW 21st Avenue, exactly two blocks from the proposed site of this ill-fated store.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The 100 best products of the year

You know how many new-product pitches we get every year? Thousands, each declaring that the item is the best in its category. Though many of the companies making these claims are clearly delusional, some creations do stand as superbly designed top performers in their field--and you'll find all of them right here in our roster of the 100 best products of the year.
I'm not entirely sure what qualifies as their year, nor how Google can qualify as a product of that year, but the list is still relevant.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pop Culture Beats the Street

You know a studio's marketing department has done a good job when a fictional movie tricks the Wall Street men. This morning I was watching CNBC when their morning anchor, Joe Kernen, reported on how Pirates of the Caribbean broke the opening weekend record, recording 132 million in ticket sales. Kernen said that Pirates broke the record held by last year's Aquaman.
What? You haven't heard of the Aquaman movie that held the all-time three-day box office record? Here's a link to a video recording where Kernen made the claim (although I'm sure he was just reading a Teleprompter).

It kind of makes you wonder what other facts they've gotten wrong on CNBC. I guess it's not a big deal, though, since people are only using information from that network to invest their money.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Why Ebert's opinion is wrong

A shocking title to a shocking post, as I'm sure most of you know that I'm a fan of Ebert and his reviews and opinions, even if I don't always agree with them. (And I certainly pray that he recovers soon and gets out of the hospital.) But it's not just that I disagree with his review of Superman Returns, it's that his opinion of the film is wildly hypocritical and, in a way, wrong.

It's often said that opinions can't be wrong. That's true if it's an actual opinion, such as "I think this ice cream tastes better than that one." But not if it's "I think this ice cream is colder than that one." Coldness is measurable, so you could simply measure one ice cream and definitively find out if the person's opinion was right or wrong. Thus it's not really an opinion at all. Similarly, what if you write that Superman should expect Lex Luthor to have kryptonite because he's done so in every Superman movie prior? Well, since Lex Luthor has not, in fact, had kryptonite in all of the movies prior, doesn't that invalidate the opinion formed from it?

If you have not yet seen Superman Returns, do not read his review and do not read any further in this post. I made that mistake and no one else should have to. It's not due to the fact he gave it two stars, but rather because he spoiled a major plot detail. So if you have not yet seen the movie you should neither read his review, nor the rest of this post (this is your second!).

(scroll down for more ONLY if you have seen the movie! Seriously, this is your final warning!)

The major plot detail spoiled is that of Lois' son:

Now about Lois' kid. We know who his father is, and Lois knows, and I guess the kid knows, although he calls Richard his daddy.
Most of the people I've talked to did NOT know or even suspect that the kid's father is Superman (even Megan, who has an astonishly high rate of predicting surprise twists). So thanks for spoiling that for me and everyone else who trusts you enough to read your reviews ahead of time. Post in the comments if you were not surprised. But even so, it doesn't excuse the revealing of it in the review. Unfortunately, it appears that even Ebert is willing to ruin a good surprise if he doesn't care for the movie.

This quote also brings up another major problem with the review: making assumptions that aren't necessarily true. Does Lois know that the kid's father is Superman? Certainly she knows when she visits Superman in the hospital. We don't hear what she whispers to him, but I think, at the very least, it is a fair assumption. And thus she probably knows after he throws the piano across the room. But did she know before that? We know that the two of them slept together in Superman II. But at the end of that film, Superman used a 'super-kiss' to give Lois amnesia, so she would not remember that Clark was Superman. Surely she would also have forgotten that she slept with the 'mortal' Superman. So what evidence is there (prior to the piano stunt) that Lois knew the kid's father is Superman? Unless she hooked up with Richard very quickly after Superman left, she probably doesn't think it's Richard's. Speaking of whom, what does he know? Does he truly think he's the father or is he playing the part of Joseph of Arimathea? I'm guessing Ebert would think Richard knows, since Ebert also guesses the kid knows. I have to think the kid doesn't know either, since, as Ebert points out, he calls Richard his daddy. Would a kid call someone their daddy if they knew that person wasn't? I don't think so.

Unfortunately, Ebert's misconceptions don't end there. In his TV review, he said he guesses that Lois knows Clark is Superman. I can't think of a single scene which would indicate that is true, and there are a handful which would refute that.

The other major problem regarding Ebert's review revolves around Superman's abilities:
Watching Superman straining to hold a giant airliner, I'm wondering: Why does he strain? Does he have his limits? Would that new Airbus be too much for him?
If we want to talk physics, we could say that maybe Superman could immediately stop the airliner. But what would happen to the airliner and everyone inside if they went from hurtling toward the ground to complete stop in less than a second? Well, imagine driving a car into a brick wall at 90mph. We saw him try to slow the plane from spinning and eventually the wing just gave way. So the limits are partly that of the regular world and trying to keep from overdoing things.

And if we want to talk drama, what's particularly interesting about being perfect? What if Superman were able to solve all the problems perfectly without any question? Would that be dramatic? Ebert said it himself in his review of Blade
Wesley Snipes ... makes an effective Blade because he knows that the key ingredient in any interesting superhero is not omnipotence, but vulnerability.
Ebert does not allow for Superman to have any vulnerability but one:
Superman is vulnerable to one, and only one, substance: kryptonite. He knows this. We know this. Lex Luthor knows this. Yet he has been disabled by kryptonite in every one of the movies.
First, Director Bryan Singer is not counting the third and fourth movies (and I don't recall kryptonite being in the fourth anyhow). And he was not disabled by kryptonite in Superman II, either. So really he's only encountered kryptonite once before.
Does he think Lex Luthor would pull another stunt without a supply on hand?
Lex was, in fact, going to pull the stunt without a supply on hand. It's only after Superman returns that he goes to get some. And Superman may not even know Lex Luthor is involved with the oceanic disturbance. We know Lex is the one pulling the stunt, but it's not a certainty that Superman does. And Lois isn't conscious to tell him. Maybe he could figure it out based on the missing crystals and the fact that Lex is out of prison. But Batman is the detective, not Superman.
Why doesn't he take the most elementary precautions?
What precautions? Inject himself with anti-kryptonite serum? Even if he knew ahead of time that Lex was out there, why would he expect him to have kryptonite? As far as Superman knows, there was only the one sample that was lost.
How can a middle-aged bald man stab the Man of Steel with kryptonite?
As Lex notes, "mind over muscle." He is the "greatest criminal mastermind of our time" and Superman is no mastermind. This is the same reason Lex was able to best Superman in the first movie, which Ebert and I both hold in high regard. And while it's certainly fair to compare this movie to that one, Ebert doesn't seem to allow for the concept of characters changing over time.
Jimmy Olsen, the copy boy, such a brash kid, seems tamed and clueless.
Apparently he considers "brash" to be a compliment. I would equate it with stupid or idiotic. There's no doubt the 1978 Jimmy Olsen was funny, but he was certainly clueless. If anything, this film's Jimmy is less clueless because he clues Clark in to insights about Lois and what's happened over the years.
Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has lost her dash and pizzazz, and her fiance, Richard White (James Marsden), regards her like a deer caught in the headlights.
This is supposed to be a criticism, but it's really a plot summary. Yes, Lois is not the same Lois as five years ago. People change. Back then she was sneaking onto the Eiffel Tower and risking her life to win a Pulitzer. Now she's won one ... for an editorial that didn't require her to leave the office. What's her motivation now for risking her life? And, let's face it, she knew Superman could always save her. Would you get near a hydrogen bomb if you knew Superman hadn't been around for years?
Even the editor, Perry White (Frank Langella), comes across less like a curmudgeon, more like an efficient manager.
Apparently this is also a criticism. I don't understand how, though. I would think someone who worked at a newspaper might recognize that an editor is bascially a manager, and being efficient is not bad.

Ebert apparently will not allow for change, even though the story is following the instructions he gave in his review of Spider-Man 2, which he called
the best superhero movie since the modern genre was launched with Superman. It succeeds by being true to the insight that allowed Marvel Comics to upturn decades of comic-book tradition: Readers could identify more completely with heroes like themselves than with remote godlike paragons.
And again in his review of Blade, he notes
There is always a kind of sadness underlying the personalities of the great superheroes, who have been given great knowledge and gifts but few consolations in their battle against evil.
Ebert uses that sadness against Superman Returns:
But when the hero, his alter ego, his girlfriend and the villain all seem to lack any joy in being themselves, why should we feel joy at watching them?
You can't have it both ways.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

ABC Looks To DVR, Commercial Ratings Issues

ABC has held discussions on the use of technology that would disable the fast-forward button on DVRs, according to ABC President of Advertising Sales Mike Shaw, with the primary goal to allow TV commercials to run as intended.

"I would love it if the MSOs, during the deployment of the new DVRs they're putting out there, would disable the fast-forward [button]," Shaw said.
Since the article appears in a trade publication, it doesn't define what an MSO is. Regardless, I'm opposed to the disabling of the fast-forward button. And if you're going to disable it, why not just remove it? I think it would be more irritating for the button to be there, teasing you with its impotence, than to just not exist at all.
Shaw ... threw cold water on the idea that neutering the fast-forward option would result in a consumer backlash. He suggested that consumers prefer DVRs for their ability to facilitate on-demand viewing and not ad-zapping--and consumers might warm to the idea that anytime viewing brings with it a tradeoff in the form of unavoidable commercial viewing.
A change in temperature from absolute zero to minus-50 degrees could technically be considered warming, but no human being would consider it warm.

Who's Counting: Cheney's One Percent Doctrine
ABC News Commentary

In his heralded new book, The One Percent Doctrine, Ron Suskind ... describes the Cheney doctrine as follows: "Even if there's just a 1 percent chance of the unimaginable coming due, act as if it is a certainty."
Mathematics professor John Allen Paulos looks at the consequences of an "if at least 1 percent, then act" doctrine. He also notes a bit of inconsistency:
A companion to the Cheney 1 percent action doctrine is the administration's non-action doctrine (if the probability is less than 99 percent, then don't act). This latter doctrine is generally invoked in discussions of global warming, where it seems absolute certainty is required to justify any significant action.
Yeah, now you're begging me to go back to comic books, aren't you?!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Comic Books and the Human Condition

"Comic books provide valuable insight into the human condition," I've been known to proclaim. It was in search of such insight that I curled up last week with the hotly anticipated conclusion of a DC Comics series called Identity Crisis.
This column was published long ago (January 2005) but I still think it's interesting. And seeing as how the focus of this blog has been superhero-related lately, it's about time I linked to it.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Monterey Bay movie

Megan shot photos while we were at Monterey Bay and I shot video footage. You've seen the results of her work, and now you can see the results of mine. I edited approximately 30-40 minutes of video of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and stops on the 17-Mile Scenic Drive down to an 11:15 clip that is 16MB in file size. Broadband users shouldn't have any problem with that, but it'll probably be a long download for dial-up users (an hour, maybe?). Come visit and I'll show it to you in full size! And if you don't recognize the songs I used but would like to know what they are just send me an e-mail or leave a comment.

Monterey Bay movie

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Missing 'Superman Returns' Sequences

The trailers for "Superman Returns" featured more dialogue from Martha Kent than made it into the film, while also highlighting an elaborate sequence illustrating Supeman's return to Krypton. So what didn't make it into the film? We'll likely never know about everything that Bryan Singer & Co planned for the film ... but we can examine some important moments that were cut from the theatrical release of the film.
This blog is fast-becoming totally devoted to Superman, but I thought this story from CBR News would be of interest to anyone who has already seen the film.

I also got a hold of three of the four prequel comics, two of which add enlightment to the film's story threads.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Truth, Justice and (Fill in the Blank)
New York Times

In the first screen incarnation of Superman, the Max Fleischer cartoons that ran from 1941 to 1943, each episode's preamble informs us not only of the origin and powers of this relatively new creation (Krypton, speeding bullet, etc.), but also the kinds of things he fights for. It's a shorter list than you think. Before World War II, Superman fought 'a never-ending battle for truth and justice.' Back then, that was enough.
Erik Lundegaard puts the lie to the 'controversy' over the omission of "The American Way" in Superman Returns.