Archive for January 2003

 
 

Stupid Stupid Videogames

Remember these awful video game systems? I can only remember one of them, but the stories behind them are impressive.

The tech industry has a ton of great failure stories behind it. Some of the most spectacular bombs in modern memory have come out of the tech industry, from push technology to virtual reality everything. (The only good thing to come out of the VR craze was the TV show, VR.5. BUFFY fans take note: It co-starred Anthony Stewart Head.) Remember when the web was going to go 3-D and every site you went to was going to be an interactive environment that you walked through via VRML? The only good thing that came out of that was a Linux program that ported your file manager to DOOM, and even that only appeared last year. Fire your gun at a file to delete it. Pretty funny, but ultimately futile. Once the novelty value wears off, forget it.

Emo Phillips quote of the day

“At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.”


American Lit with Mary Kate and Ashley?

Because, hey, who wouldn’t want to go to college with the Olsen Twins?

Dawson’s Creek couldn’t get any worse

I have to rant. I just watched the most recent two episodes of DAWSON’S CREEK tonight. There are now only ten episodes to go in the series before the mercy kill takes it out of all our miseries. It’s painful to watch. It’s a melodramatic soap opera written in cliche by committee with less intelligence than an episode of MELROSE PLACE. The problems range from the mundane to the important:

* What is with Michele Williams’ new haircut? We don’t need to see that much of her forehead.
* Are we supposed to believe the whole Joey Potter/Eddie Dolan romance, let alone feel awash in their glow as they kissed in the end of the most recent episode?
* Why do all of the characters refer to each other by both their first and last names?
* The show is lost. Splitting up the characters across two sides of the country may have been necessary for Dawson’s career path, but it’s proved fatal to the show. The show is made up of the interactions between all these main characters. Instead, we now have a series with six stars acting on different shows. It’s an anthology series, with six horrible plots.
* The dialogue is trite, cliched, hackneyed, banal, and sounds like the stuff a swooning 16 year old girl with a first grade reading level might write in her personal journal, decorated with stickers of her favorite band.
* What is with all the bands in the show? Why do we continually need to have a main character singing in a band?
* Dawson is now a grinning sexaholic doof.
* Is Jack still even on the series? Remember when he and Jennifer had that great friendship? It’s gone.
* Jennifer is still drifting along, looking to be any semblance of her former self, or even to develop a character.
* Joey is left to scrunch her eyebrows up to look serious and confrontational at every other moment in the scripts.
* Pacey is adrift on a ludicrous career path that just steals scenes from Wall Street-oriented movies to sound more intelligent than the current crop of writers are capable of being.

I don’t care about these characters anymore. Last season was a little shakey, but I still cared. When the series ends in 10 episodes, I have no confidence that they’ll do it right. However the relationship between Joey and Dawson ends in the series, it’ll be just as cock-eyed as everything else they’ve written into the scripts this season. That’s a shame.

The first season comes out in DVD in April. It’ll probably be too late for the show to save itself by then, but I’ll be happy to see the good days, when there were intelligent teenagers discussing introspective and high-minded philosophies. Anything is better than the weak-knee’ed illiterate morons the cast of characters has become. I can’t believe any of the actors on the show can possibly be happy with what they’re doing right now. It’s awful.

Good-bye and good riddance to the Creek.

I feel better now.

[Edited due to B2’s inability to do a bullet point list properly without deleting text afterwards. UGH]

Tough Crowd gets picked up

I’m surprised by this. I think Colin Quinn might be, too. Comedy Central has committed to 21 weeks of Colin Quinn’s Tough Crowd talk show. It aired for two memorable weeks in December. While it might not always have been very polished, it was hilarious and well worth picking up. It will retain the coveted 11:30 post-Daily Show time slot, too.

The Challenger

Challenger patch
In the midst of a busy day at work yesterday, I failed to take note here of a major anniversary. It was 17 years ago on January 28th that the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up before our eyes shortly after blast off. It’s one of those days from my childhood that I’ll never remember. I was a big space nut at that point. I can remember our class taking a field trip down the street to a local restaurant. (Really. We were learning how to divide by splitting the bill from lunch. These were the days when schools would let children walk down the street at lunchtime. But I’m digressing…) One kid had a walkman on and heard the news report. We crammed into the restaurant and watched CNN coverage of it for most of the time we were there. We were only 9 or 10 at the time. While those who were alive then talk about clearly remembering where they were when Kennedy was shot, I think most people my age will remember this moment.

All the information, pictures, and movie clips from the mission can be seen over a NASA’s website. Take a moment to go there and remember them all: Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Judith A. Resnik, Ellison S. Onizuka, Ronald E. McNair, Gregory B. Jarvis, Sharon Christa McAuliffe.

Alias Soundtrack

When you type in “ALIAS soundtrack” on Yahoo.com, this site is the first one that pops up. I mentioned the darn thing once months ago in a link to a story on MoviePoopShoot.com, and it still generates hits to me instead of them.

So to help out those who come here looking for the ALIAS soundtrack, I’ll instead point you to a web page with a list of all the songs used in ALIAS, broken down by episode. Now you can go out and buy all those CDs or hit some P2P network and gather them all up.

Good luck.

TV Shows on DVD

Everyone talks about how cool it would be to have their favorite TV shows available on DVD. The list is endless. There are fans for every show. Yes, even COP ROCK.

Now there’s a central clearing house for fans to band together to share their collected interests and maybe get some studios to notice. (Seriously. There’s a RELIC HUNTER boxed set coming out.)

TVShowsOnDVD.com

Go there, register yourself, and start clicking away. You might just make a difference.

Releases for 2.28.03

Not going to be able to do the release update until later on today or possibly tonight. I’ve seen the list, though. Feel free to stay home and keep your credit card in your wallet. There’s not much there this week. I mean, THE BANGER SISTERS is probably the biggest-grossing film being released. That’s how sorry it is.

Pity the DVD industry this week.

UPDATE: OK, here it is. I hope you weren’t anticipating this, because it would just be a disappointment. I’ll have something a little more exciting than this in the next entry, I promise.

These are the highlights of this week’s DVD releases, excerpted from the full list over at DVDJournal.com:

# The Banger Sisters (2002)

As if the world needed another Susan Sarandon picture…

# Dennis the Menace (1993)

Dennis the Menace Strikes Again (1998)


A real killer of a double feature, if you ask me. You’ll kill yourself to get out of sitting through the last hour of it.

# Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home (1995)

Free Willy 3: The Rescue (1997)


I stand corrected. You’ll kill yourself to prevent yourself from cracking open either of these two movies.

“Look! It’s a whale!” “Splash” “Hahahahaha” “Awwwwww”

Ick

# The Foreigner (2003)

I wanna know what love is.

Oh, wrong Foreigner.

# The Master of Disguise (2002)

I really do want to like Dana Carvey. He just makes it so hard.


# The Real World You Never Saw: Las Vegas

As I move away from the prime demographic that MTV is shooting for with this series, I realize what a bunch of whining ninnies they choose to stock the house with.

There are only four titles left, but I just can’t be bothered. Better luck next week. No, there isn’t any better luck. There are three HELLO KITTY releases next week. If you can hold out for February 11th, I’ll promise some more interesting fare at Best Buy.

Super Bowl sports telecast analysis

Lost amidst all the clamor for analysis of the commercials and the half-time show is an analysis of the broadcast of the game, itself. Check out Phil Mushnick in the New York Post for that. He’s one of the most entertaining newspaper columnists I enjoy reading a couple of times each week. He’s dedicated primarily to analyzing sportscasters and the ways the networks televise games. It’s a really good read, although it’s usually far too local to include here. Since this is the Super Bowl, though, it’s reach can be a bit broader than the New York City market.

New movie trailers

No, I don’t mean the HULK trailer. It’ll be available on Sunday night.

Apple updated its web site this week with a bunch of new trailers. I’m not getting terribly excited by any of them, though. In fact, some of the offerings are spectacularly meager. Take, for instance, the new Miramax “comedy,” VIEW FROM THE TOP. Gwyneth Paltrow and Christina Applegate as stewardesses. It looks awful.

Jet Li continues to court the hip hop world with CRADLE 2 THE GRAVE, and Vin Diesel has a boring looking drug-busting movie called A MAN APART. When the trailer opens up with a scene showing how much his wife means to him, you just have to start counting the seconds in the trailer until she’s killed by the drug dealers, don’t you? In this case, it happens just after the halfway point.

Another worrisome thing about both VIEW and MAN APART is that the trailers are presented in pan and scan only. Look out.

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 Cover
I had forgotten how good a movie APOLLO 13 is. Best Buy had the DVD on sale a couple of weeks ago for $10, so I picked it up. Watched it this afternoon, and it had to be the fastest 2 hours (and change) of a movie I’ve seen in quite some time. Ron Howard treats the subject with all due reverence, and presents a team of people working their hardest to save the lives of three heroes who let themselves be shot into space for a chance to walk on the moon. It’s the kind of thing that would be hokey as a piece of science fiction, but as the historical story that it is, it says a lot about the best of us. The CGI animation never fails to impress, except in one shot where Mattingly is looking at the Apollo craft from the distance that just screamed “blue screen.” The camera movements work in all the shots, such as the memorable blast off sequence and even the “check for go” sequence inside command and control.

There’s an amazing number of great and recognizable actors in this movie, including some I had forgotten about. Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Tom Hanks, and Ed Harris get top billing, but then you also have to throw in Xander Berkeley (“George Mason” from 24), Kathleen Quinlan, and a host of character actors you’ll recognize, even if you can’t name. Jim Meskimen, a “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” player from late in the British run, even made it.

Man, if you want a movie to make you cry over what’s become of the space program in the past 30 years, this is the one.

The DVD itself is done well. The anamorphic picture (2.35:1) looks great, even in the deep black areas. Sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 and fills up the room during re-entry and blastoff. I would have loved to see a DTS soundtrack on this, but I’m more than happy with what we got. There’s also a commentary track from Jim Lovell and his wife, and a separate one with Ron Howard.

The DVD has been out for years now, but it still holds its own with all the special editions we’re getting today. That being said, I wouldn’t object to a new 2 disc set with an extra documentary on the Apollo 13 mission, itself.

For now, you can take a look at the details on the NASA site. Take a look at the pictures that are also available from the flight, including a look at the damaged module, as seen near the end of the movie. They did an amazing job in keeping the movie look just like the reality.

Update: A separate DTS edition of the movie was released at the same time as the regular edition. To make space for the DTS track, though, all of the extras (including the commentaries) were dropped. I’m not sure I’d want to make that trade off.

I’d like to see them prove this

Since there have been studies that show people who download music off the internet are more likely to buy more music, I’d love to see this claim proven:

“Specialty retail chain Wherehouse Entertainment has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing intense price competition in its core music lines and music downloading as reasons for its poor sales.”

Cowards. They can’t compete with the BestBuys of the world, so they try to throw in a little “music downloading” crap to muddy the waters and make themselves look like the victims. Pitiful.

Radio TiVo?

I love my TiVo. I really do. But has anyone made anything like it for the radio? There are certain radio shows that I would like to listen to that are on during the day when I’m at work, or that start in the morning before I get out of bed. If I could set my computer to record it (using an TV/FM Tuner card and some sort of software), then I could listen to it after work in record time by zapping through the commercials and songs and such.

It seems like such an obvious idea. Has it been done yet? I know there’s one company that was making a cassette recorder that specially recorded on tapes to get up to three hours of time per tape. That could be programmed to record at a given time. But a digital one would be ideal. I could listen as I checked my e-mail or surfed the web.

Of course, a quick Google search can simplify things greatly. I’m not the first with such an idea. Slashdot even did a story on it a couple of weeks ago. (It happened on a Friday night, and I don’t always check Slashdot on weekends, so I must have missed it.)

An even better link can be found on this blog. It talks a lot about capturing internet radio streams and NPR, though. Not exactly what I was looking for. Time to dig through those Slashdot comments.

UPDATED: One possibility is the Cybercorder. Its main shortcoming is that you have to connect a radio in through your line-in jack. It doesn’t tune into different stations for you. It just records the audio coming in at programmable times. Playback looks pretty good, though.

THE SOLUTION? Check out this bad boy. It plugs into your USB port and records FM radio stations for you, including a timer program and MP3 encoder. The web site sells it for $100, but everywhere else seems to suggest an MSRP of $30. ebay has it for less than $10 in some places. The other catch with it is that it doesn’t mention compatibility with WinXP. 2000 and 98 are fine, though. Crap, I have WinXP.

After reading the Slashdot pages, I’m tempted to go through Linux and try hacking something together. Very tempting weekend project…

And, finally, the expensive solution that’s easy, but no fun. Where’s the hack? ;-)

Hirschfeld on Linux?!?

Check it out: Al Hirschfeld did a caricature of Linus Torvalds for Forbes Magazine a couple of years ago. It looks like the original might still be available for sale, if you’re independently wealthy. Maybe the Open Source community could just take up a collection. ;-)

It’s fun to look around the Hirschfeld Gallery On-Line. Lots of hidden treasures on there.