Archive for October 2003

 
 

NaNoWriMo

It’s that time again!

This is the fifth year now for NaNoWriMo, the month that challenges you to write a novel in thirty days. Can you write 50,000 words before November 30th? The challenge begins at midnight tonight.

Friday Link Round-Up

  • Insane people are upset that the Looney Tunes boxed set doesn’t include all the best cartoons. There are 1100 cartoons. No 2 people will agree on the list of the Top 56. Give it time, people. I want to see “What’s Opera, Doc?” restored to, and with a full 5.1 surround sound mix as option, also. But this first set will keep me happy until then.

  • No surprise here: INDIANA JONES is the best-selling DVD of all time. Well, sorta. The definition goes more like this: “best-selling boxed set of classic catalog film fare.” That’s a narrowing of the field, true, but it’s still a $50 boxed set that sold 600,000 copies on Day One and a million-one by the end of Week One.

  • More Asimov film potential: Now it’s END OF ETERNITY.

  • Scariest thought of the month: Google and Microsoft? Perish the thought. Or start using AllTheWeb.com today.

  • An index to 80s Cover Tunes.

  • We all miss Fox Mulder.

  • With thanks to VandS poster Jeff Wooten, here’s a link to the direct-to-video 24 story I mentioned earlier this week.

Nigerian Spam Scam

/. is linking to this lovely article, which indicates that an Australian man has been placed under arrest for operating a Nigerian Spam Scam.

We all laugh at this e-mail whenever it rears its ugly head in our e-mail boxes, but here’s something scary for you on this Halloween: The man is reported to have received $1.5 million through the scam.

People fell for it to the tune of $1.5 million. I don’t know what the currency conversation is from Australian to U.S., but that’s still a lot of money and a lot of stupid people.

I know what I want for Christmas

A similar product like this came out for Atari about a year ago and sold out in half a heartbeat.

Now, you can buy a controller that plugs directly into your TV and holds over 80 8-bit (mostly NES) games stored inside on a memory chip, basically. This just has to be the perfect Christmas present for your favorite child of the 80s gamer, right? It includes Dig Dug, 1942, Arkanoid and more. Very cool.

24 direct to video?

I can’t verify this article. Have no idea where it came from. (Possibly Zap2It.com.) Couldn’t find a similar link off news.google.com, either.

However, here’s a fascinating concept that could pave new ground for the DVD market and take it one step further.

Following the success of numerous made-for-video movies, Joel Surnow, creator of the Fox TV series 24, is planning to produce a version of the show that will only be available on DVD. “There’s a whole new business to be made out of direct-to-video TV programming,” Surnow told a Los Angeles conference Wednesday. As reported by Video Store Magazine, Surnow disclosed that the 24 DVD, which would be distributed by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, will use a different cast than the TV show but employ the same concept. He said that it is likely to be even more appealing than the TV series because viewers sometimes object to having to wait a week to see a new episode. He also indicated that previous DVD sales of the 24 TV series “helped justify the kind of money we have to spend to make the show.”

Windows Longhorn

Some screen shots of Windows’ next iteration, codenamed Longhorn, have shown up here and there. Looking at these screen grabs, however, two things come to mind:

1. Either they haven’t added in basic icons yet, or they are truly regressing to a more text-based layout of many of the systems. (Check out the ctrl-alt-delete screen to see what I mean.) I actually like that idea. Less clutter. More to the point.

2. It strongly resembles GNOME, one of the popular desktop environments for Linux. I mean, it REALLY looks like it in some shots. The rounded corners, the large lettering, the simple bright buttons. The “sidebar,” itself, of course, is no stranger to the world of Linux, either. (I’m sure my Mac friends are all going to point out how much it looks like a Mac design, though.)

Longhorn isn’t due out for a couple of years yet. I’m sure these shots will still change a lot before then. More bugs will enter the sytem. It’ll get uglier and less intelligible. Screen space will continue to be eaten up by useless features. We’ll all be back to the drawing board and whining about how much better we liked the old system. =)

Aerodynamics of the Enterprise?

From the world of the bizarre, or perhaps a world in which scientists do look like FAR SIDE drawings, comes this web site. They ran a model of the Enterprise (from STAR TREK) through a wind tunnel to see how it would handle the flow of gas around it. The results are interesting, if ultimately pointless.

Final baseball thoughts

This ESPN article is so hilarious that I just had to pass it on. Here’s a representative quote:

“Lesser fans would have given up. Lesser fans would have abandoned their team. But not Marlins Unincorporated Municipality. We stood by our team as loyally and passionately as we had during those almost unendurable four years we spent waiting for the first championship. Regardless of how many players management traded, regardless of how many losses piled up, we packed the stadium by the hundreds. Some games, many of us even stayed through all of the rain delays before ducking out to beat traffic in the eighth inning.”

Now, bring on college basketball season, quickly! I need to root for my hapless St. Johns Redmen Red Storm.

New releases for 28 Oct 2003

How can one small week get so expensive, so fast?!? The full list this week can be had at DVDJournal.com, of course, but here are my highlights:

Brooklyn South: The Complete Series (6-disc set)

As noted last week: WOW. They are putting every television series out on DVD nowadays. Not my thing. It might be a great show, but I don’t have the time or money to commit to it, even on a rental.

Coupling: The Complete Second Season (2-disc set) (2001)

Introduced to this by TiVo, fell in love with it via the first season DVD. Cannot wait to see the second season next. The fact that there are more than six episodes this time is a real bonus.

Homicide: Life on the Street: Season Three (6-disc set)

One of the greatest shows ever made for television. Every police drama today owes something to this one.

Hulk (widescreen) (2003)

A noble failure, in my opinion. But an interesting movie on its own merits. I probably won’t be buying it, though.

The Looney Tunes Golden Collection (4-disc set)

This is the be-all and end-all of DVDs this week. If you can only afford to buy one boxed set this holiday season, this is the one. Four discs of the best six minute shorts ever made, all restored.

SpongeBob SquarePants: Season One (3-disc set)

I’ve never seen an entire episode of this show. I caught five minutes the other night of Spongebob and his pal sunbathing, and peering down their trunks to see how their tan is going. Only, Spongebob’s friend didn’t realize he was laying upside down and looking at his butt. Utterly bizarre.

Next week: The hits keep coming with the first season of the ANNA NICOLE SHOW, an Avril Lavigne concert disc, and BIG BROTHER 3 — the entire season. It’s sure to keep plenty of people screaming. Next week is a very interesting week, and potentially a very large one for DVD collectors. I won’t be buying much, but there’s someone for most everyone there. I love the holiday season’s approach. We get some amazing stuff.

The World Series

Ah, well. The Yankees lost. And all those people who decry Yankees fans for being obnoxiously In Your Face and obsessively fannish are now pulling the exact same thing against Yankees fans. Go fig.

In any case, the Marlins played better in this series. The Yankees shrivelled up and died on the vine and deserved to lose.

But no matter what happened in the World Series, nothing can take this moment away from Yankees fans:



A long time from now, when this WS loss is forgotten in most memories, it will be that moment when Boone launched one over the wall in Yankees Stadium to defeat the Red Sox in the ALCS that most people will look back on and smile. Pure magic.

I suppose I should, as a Yankees fan, now decry Steve Bartman, too. I sure wish the Yankees had played the Cubs, instead. ;-)

Comparison Shopping

The Best Buy circular showed up with the paper this morning, so I got to work plotting out this week’s multimedia binge spending and discovered some interesting things.

The LOONEY TUNES DVD set is $10 cheaper at Amazon.com than on sale at Best Buy.

COUPLING: SEASON TWO is $2.50 cheaper at Amazon.com over Best Buy, unless you’re buying it in conjunction with SEASON ONE, in which case they spot you $10 more at Best Buy.

SPACE JAM is $3 cheaper at Best Buy than Amazon.com.

On the other hand, HOMICIDE: SEASON 3 is $5 cheaper at Best Buy, but they’re not advertising it in their circular this week. It’s quite curious, because they dedicate almost an entire page to TV series on DVD, but leave out the one with a new boxed set this week. So you’ll be taking your chances walking into a BB store on Tuesday looking for it.

And the new REM GREATEST HITS compilation is by far cheaper at Best Buy than Amazon. I think the price difference is $5 on the two-disc set.

I’ll have this week’s full busy list of DVD releases on Tuesday.

Movie Trailers of the Week

Resident Evil: Apocalypse gets the award for being the most entertaining trailer ever made with only one shot from the movie in it. Interesting. I’m sure the movie will be utter pants, but there you have it. (I like sneaking British phrases into normal American conversations sometimes. Just for kicks and to completely throw people off. heh)

I love samurai stuff. LONE WOLF AND CUB is one of the greatest comics of all time. BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL is a great book. Give me a good sword fight in a movie, and I’ll be happy. The Last Samurai is a Tom Cruise samurai film, which seems a little weird. However, the trailer has plenty of shots in it that just reek of classic comic book layouts. The silhouetted warrior against the cloud-streaked sky. Two samurai opposing each other, swords drawn. The samurai donning his robes. Beautiful looking stuff. The movie is out in December.

There is also Cold Mountain, a Civil War romance/war story that I couldn’t help but laugh at. Nicole Kidman’s character has a whispering narration over the whole thing, in a Southern accent that’s sure to upset somebody. Renee Zellweger’s character has a line in the trailer which is amongst the cheesiest things in cinematic history. It must be a guy thing. I like my war movies to be about war. Not romance. I can skip this one.

Finally, we have a film which gives me hope, in a goofball comedy kind of way, Along Came Polly, a romantic comedy with Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston (still searching for a hit) that’s written by the guy who did MEET THE PARENTS. I like the blind ferret. I think he steals the trailer. That, and Aniston’s ass. ;-)

Friday Link Round-Up

I’m hoping this becomes a weekly thing. These are little links that have accumulated themselves over the course of the week. Not quite heavy enough for their own blog post, I’ve put them together here in a true VariousAndSundry.com weigh.

Here, now, are your Various and Sundry links:

* Todd Rundgren weighs in on the RIAA’s thug-like tactics on file-sharing.

* BBSpot compares the new Office 2003 with its predecessors in categories such as “Every document must be in ALL-CAPS 42 point Times New Roman font.” This is the first valuable Office comparison I’ve seen to date.

* Most addicting show of the week: VH1’s I Love The 80s Strikes Back

* Remember those previews the networks used to run on Friday nights in the fall to promote their new Saturday Morning Cartoon line-up? ABC’s 1983 Special has been thoroughly and scarily reviewed.

* I may have linked to this already, but just in case: Toll collectors have one of the worst jobs in the world — sitting in a half-sized cubicle in the elements, surrounded by idling cars and taking dirty money from dirty hands. Sometimes, it gets to them. Who can blame them? The funniest thing to read in these complaints is management’s suggested solutions to the problems, like “Establish a policy not to be vulgar or obscene to motorists.” What, that wasn’t in the training manual already?!?

* So familiar and yet, so — foreign.

Thank goodness that’s over

At last, the World Series can return to a real baseball park, and not a cow pasture/football stadium masquerading as one.

Don’t get me wrong — the Yankees have only themselves to blame for losing this game tonight. Wells’ bad back killed them early on. Wilson’s inability to catch Pudge in a rundown and blowing it in a way that even a little leaguer could have pointed out was wrong didn’t help, either. The Yankees looked old and frail tonight. They’re falling apart.

But Games 6 and 7 are at the Cathedral of Baseball now, with the homerun ball a possibility once again. In any stadium except that disgusting teal one in Miami, Bernie Williams’ fly ball in the ninth would have been a monster homerun. No wonder the Marlins built their team for speed: Any hit is a double. Any fly ball is an out.

Furthermore, Pettite and Moose are due to pitch against two Marlins pitching on short rest. I like my odds there. I’m not confidant, mind you, but I like ‘em. (Pettite always has one bad inning that ruins his entire games. If he can get around that, I’ll be happy. And does the man ever pitch in the post-season in a game AFTER the Yankees have won one?)

And before any of you Red Sox fans decide to pipe up to say something incredibly stupid, let me just remind you: You haven’t gotten this far in 16 years. You certainly didn’t make it this far this year. The Yankees did. Shut up.

That said — my apologies to the Marlins fans. I was wrong. Looks like this will take all 7 games. If I had known about that stadium ahead of time, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so bold.

Looney Tunes review

TheDigitalBits.com has the first review of next week’s big release, THE LOONEY TUNES GOLDEN COLLECTION. They liked it. I’m more excited for it now than ever.

If you see any other reviews, please link to them in the comments thread below. Thanks!