Archive for February 2004

 
 

Oscar thoughts

Some pre-Oscar thoughts:

Peter Jackson should win Best Director. There’s no competition in that category. Zero. Nobody else devoted 7 years of their life to a movie, and I doubt many of them could get the high quality Jackson did should they attempt it.

Everything after that is secondary. I think LORD OF THE RINGS will win, but it will have some competition. The Academy wants MYSTIC RIVER to win something, after all. If Johnny Depp walks away with Best Actor (and how I hope he does) then they’ll feel really bad about Sean Penn and Clint Eastwood winning nothing.

I likewise hope Tim Robbins doesn’t win, but that might be more politically-motivated than performance-related.

I’m rooting for Bill Murray to win Best Actor, because I want to see his acceptance speech ramble on for five minutes making fun of everyone in the place. Then I want to see Crystal’s reaction to it. (Probably down on his knees bowing to the greatness that is Murray’s speech.)

I’ll give Copolla the Best Screenplay award while I’m at it, since it won’t win the Best Movie.

FINDING NEMO will win Animated Film in a laugher.

I’m hoping the girl from WHALERIDER wins, just to see an acceptance speech from a teenager. And it’ll make Roger Ebert happy.

I suppose it’s another laugher for Charlize Theron as Best Actress. Let’s see how she destroys her career after that, a la Halle Berry and Cuba Gooding Jr. (Think ‘genre films.’)

Let’s just hope Crystal can go five minutes without a Michael Jackson or Martha Stewart joke.

Yet Another Cure For Diabetes

Don’t hate me for not getting my hopes up. Every other month since I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1987, I’ve heard of some miracle cure or fantastic new product that was going to save the day or make it wildly easy to be diabetic. The nasal insulin spray was my favorite. The watch that checks your blood sugar through the skin automagically is another great one. (They had one on THE PANIC ROOM for dramatic purposes only. I loved how it beeped when your blood sugar got too low and the kid instantly went into shock with the beep. The real deal watch is still experimental and expensive.)

Now, WIRED is reporting of embryonic pig pancreas transplants to cure diabetes. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? They took a fetal pig’s pancreas and put it in a rat and it cured the rat’s diabetes.

Pardon me while I break out the Humalog (that last great diabetes breakthrough — insulin that kicks in after a half hour) and shoot up again, instead. Feh.

Timeshifting

So you say you want to TimeShift your life? It wasn’t enough to have a VCR and TiVO? What other ways can you do it? Slashdot explores the question.

I thought at first that the story was going to be another article on a TiVo Device For Radio, which I’ve discussed in this blog before. It turns out to be much more than that, though, once you sort through the comments.

My work schedule is now 7:30 to 4:00 out of the necessity to miss the worst of the traffic. I cut out about 15-20 minutes of traffic in my commute each way by getting to the roads earlier, and I ease a lot of the frustration that traffic gave me. I complain every day about waking up so dang early, but it’s worth it, overall.

Bonus: The New York Times (free registration required) has an article on a TiVo-like radio device. I’m tempted to give it a shot. Looks like an iPod in some ways. It has some frightful drawbacks, though, like poor reception, battery consumption, and cost/recording space. Eep!

SuperMillionaire

Some thoughts on this week’s SUPERMILLIONAIRE series:

  • It’s nice to see a game show which hasn’t been dumbed down. This one has gotten much harder. The prizes awarded are much greater, though, so it makes sense. So far, I haven’t seen any good case to be made for giving easy questions to promote a big winner. The temptation for the producers will no doubt be there for the final contestant of the week on Friday night, though. Keep a careful eye on that one.

  • Regis still tries to help. I watched the Massachusetts woman in agony as Regis tried so hard to steer her to two correct answers. It worked the first time, but she didn’t listen closely enough the second time, on the “Tinkertoys” answer. She walked away with nothing.

  • This still begs the question as to why the guy on Tuesday night didn’t ask The Three Wise Men [sic] for help when he had a NASA scientist on the panel to answer a question about the chemical composition of the earth’s core. Insanity! With those two new lifelines at the $100,000 level, using them both gives you pretty good odds of hitting the half-million mark. It’s a free guess, you get two chances, and you can even get input from the Wise Men. If you have one of the original lifelines left, all the better. Go into the game playing for $500,000.

  • That said, the “Double Dip” isn’t as great as it sounds. Used in conjunction with the 50/50, it guarantees you a correct answer. If anyone could last to the million dollar question with those two intact, it could mean big money. However, it really only eliminates one option for you. If you can narrow it down in your mind, it’s worth the risk. If you’re going for a million and you have no clue, the double dip only makes it 50/50.

  • Nerves are getting to a lot of the contestants. All three of them on Tuesday night looked like they were going to have a heart attack at any second.

  • It looks like the million dollar mark is the sweet spot. $500,000 is doable, but a million will take a strong will. We’ve had one of those so far, and it was the most exciting round yet. The questions thus far are far too hard to hit the $10 million level with. I can’t wait to see what one of those questions looks like. (“To the nearest pound, how much did Walter Hudson weight in December 5th, 1992?”)

  • This is a fun way to bring the format back to primetime television and I hope they do bring Regis back for another sweeps week in May.

Two nights to go, and I’m looking forward to both of them.

Elmore Leonard on writing

Elmore Leonard lays out his ten personal rules of writing. This is just his list of preferences, mind you, but there are some real gems in the list. The piece is titled Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle. Enjoy.

Group 3 Results

If Amy Adams had sung like that on Tuesday night, I never would have advocated voting for her. But, hey, they picked her to go through and then made her sing through the excitement. Can’t blame anyone for bad performances on Wednesday, in all honesty.

I’m overall pleased with the results of the voting this week. The two people I wanted to go through, made it through. The only sticky wicket in the voting was Jon Peter Lewis getting the third most votes. Frightening. I’m sticking with the theory that it’s the young female vote that got him that close. They need their cuties to vote for. (Heck, I was also rooting for Elizabeth LeTendre, so perhaps I’m not one to judge people on that.)

Leah LaBelle (nee “Vladowski” – is “LaBelle” very Bulgarian?) did deserve better than she got in the voting. In reviewing her peformance from Tuesday night, I found I enjoyed it more the second time around. The oddness in her body movements disappeared on the second go-around for me. I hope she makes the Wild Card Round. Actually, given the comments of the judges, she’s a lock for it.

Next week’s group is a mystery to me. It’s good to see George Huff return, though, taking the place of another Idol who was pulled after getting caught driving drunk at 100 MPH after a Going Away party his friends threw him before he left for Hollywood. This is, of course, all alleged. In any case: Whoops.

Sledgehammer to DVD!

Best news of the week:

Seminal 80s sit-com, SLEDGEHAMMER, will have its first season released to DVD, with plenty of input from its creator. This is the lowest rated series in TV history (at least, at the time) to be renewed for a second season. After a nuclear bomb exploded in the season finale. They don’t make shows like that anymore. OK, maybe 24…

News can be found here.

This week’s Intellivision story

It’s been 20 years now since Intellivision laid off its staff, and many from that stuff gathered together again (at the local mini-golf hangout) to remember it. The Blue Sky Rangers live on. It never ceases to amaze me how much game these guys got into a small memory slot. Those old Intellivision games were programmed in their entirety in something like 4000-8000 bytes. It’s ridiculous. By comparison, UNREAL TOURNAMENT 2004 is being released this year across 6 CDs or 1 DVD. And as much as I love the demo, it’ll never surpass the hours of fun I had with TRIPLE ACTION’S Bi-Planes game.

In any case, Slashdot has the story and links.

Group 3 Performances

Take all the guys in Group 3 and throw ‘em out the door. They weren’t good enough.

Jon Peter was a bad lounge lizard. It will likely be true that only Clay Aiken will ever go through on the strength of an Elton John song performance.

Eric Yoder was just weak. The slow stuff didn’t suit him. When he pushed it towards the end, he was passable, but nowhere near good enough, overall, for Group 3.

Jonah Moananu was the worst of the week with his monotonous lack of musicality and the need to pull a run out of every possible syllable. Particularly atrocious was his pronounciation of “Herrrrrrr.” It will go down as one of the funniest AI3 moments of the year, I’m sure. It was doubly bad when they featured that line in the final wrapup at the end of the show. (Hint: Hold the vowel sounds when you sing, not the consonants.)

Elizabeth Letendre would have ranked high in Group 2. In this week’s group, though, she’s not going to fare too well. I thought she was good and maintained perfect straight-backed dancer’s posture in those overly-plush red room chairs. And while she’s very cute, would it be completely wrong of me to wonder why she has such, er, chunky legs as a dancer?

Although I initially disagreed with Simon’s comments that the performance wasn’t good enough for AMERICAN IDOL, I think subsequent performances last night proved him right.

And it only took till the first song this week for a whitney or Mariah song. ::sigh:: Some week, I hope we can go the entire show WITHOUT a Whitney, Mariah, or Celine song. This week, we scored 3 songs from that group.

Amy Adams is this year’s Vanessa Oliveras. She sounded great. She’s a natural. She has a personality. She was definitely an early favorite.

Charly Lowry is another interesting one. She had a big problem, though, in the way that she kept time with the music by bobbing at her knees. I thought Simon was going to call her “karaoke” for that. “Chain of Fools” needs a different sound than what her voice gave it, I think, but I don’t think she has a bad voice at all. I just “didn’t feel it,” as The Big Dawg would no doubt say. Bad, but not awful, song choice.

Leah LaBelle I was not nearly as wowed by as the judges were. She was good, but I don’t think I’d vote her through. I have two others I’d favor. Still, she’ll be a favorite amongst the people voting from home. I think she might have been better if I had just listened and wasn’t distracted by the way she was hunched over the microphone so much and the way the arms flailed about.

Finally, LaToya London had one of those performances that will remind people of the great AMERICAN IDOL songs, like Clay Aiken doing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (or “Solitaire”) or Tamyra Gray’s “A House Is Not A Home.” Now, we have “All By Myself” from LaToya London. She has perfect control of her voice. She didn’t force it. She held that long note for about a dozen beats and never wavered at all.

Still, I can’t think of that song without flashing back to that DREW CAREY SHOW episode. I miss that show.

Anway, I want and think LaToya London will go through. I would also vote for Amy. America’s voting patterns are unpredictable, though. While I think they might go with LaToya and Amy, I wouldn’t rule out Leah. Or even Charly. My Dark Horse candidate for the week? Jon Peter. He’s quirky enough that people may want to see more of him. I just hope he could sing a song in a way as to keep it vaguely recognizable next time, though.

New releases, 24 Feb 2004

The entire list can best be found at DVDJournal.com on their “Release Calendar” page.

Here are some highlights:

Hamlet (1991)

This is the Mel Gibson version, right? Interesting timing there.

Janet Jackson: The Velvet Rope

More interesting timing. I’ll assume this has been planned for months, though. I’m not that cynical.

Matchstick Men (2003)

Ridley Scott directs, as I recall. That makes it interesting. A rental.

Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003)

I have no interest in the entire franchise. But, c’mon, a 3-D movie on DVD? How cool is that?

Tom Jones: Live at Cardiff Castle

I admit it — I own a Tom Jones CD boxed set. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s my one little throwback to an earlier musical time of lounge lizards and nobody writing their own music. He’s just got a cool-sounding voice.

In other words, I’m not buying anything this week again. Next week doesn’t looking much better, although SPACECAMP and LOONEY TUNES: BACK IN ACTION both street to start off March. My wallet once again breathes its sigh of relief.

Invest in poker

The people behind The World Poker Tour are planning an IPO.

Some might call it the ultimate gamble. I don’t care. If it means more stops on the World Poker Tour and more shows, I’m all for it.

Reboot Returns

It’s been a while, but Mainframe’s lovable group of computerized beings is returning to DVD soon. The two television movies that were created after the events of the last DVD releases, will be released on DVD in May. The specs are impressive: Anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 surround sound.

Sadly, there’s still no word on what’s going on with the first two seasons of the show, which originally aired on ABC. It was a confusing mess back then, but entertaining in its own right. By the third season, it found itself and produced some memorably cool episodes.

Now, everyone tap their chest twice and repeat after me, “REBOOT!”

Movie Trailers

I haven’t looked at these in a while, so here are a couple of interesting movie trailers for you this weekend:

  • 13 GOING ON 30: It’s a play on the usual age-switching comedy, but this time there’s only one person switching ages. With herself. Jennifer Garner plays a 13 year old girl in 1987 who wakes up one morning to find herself 17 years in the future in her 30 year old body. The entire trailer is worth it for Garner grabbing her chest and proclaiming, “I’ve got these incredible boobs to fill [my dress] out.” It looks like goofy fun, though, on the whole.

  • BON VOYAGE: Gerard Depardieu’s latest films is most notable for having a misspelled word in the subtitles of a scene shows in the trailer, as the word “teaming” is mistakenly entered in lieu of “teeming.” Idiots. The film actually looks entertaining, though. It’s a World War II murder mystery of some sort set in France, with elements of Hitchcock’s mistaken identity plots, some farcical comedy, and some melodrama. Odd mix. For a french film, the only casting I’m interested in is Peter Coyote. He speaks French?

Analyzing Microsoft code comments

Kuro5hin.org has an excellent article looking at the source code comments of the recently leaked Windows code. It specifically does not discuss the code, itself. This is only a look at the comments for the code. If you’re a developer, you won’t have to worry about inadvertantly stealing anything this way.

Warning: There is plenty of swearing in the article. Microsoft programmers are, like many programmers, complete potty mouths.

Why do they do that?

I subscribed a few weeks ago to NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC magazine. It’s one I’ve always enjoyed reading at the barber shop about every six weeks or so while I wait my turn for a trim. When they sent me an offer to get a year’s worth of the magazine for $20, I jumped at the chance. I like the magazine, and I like getting cool things in the mail. Win/win.

Well, it seems the subscription has started with a vengeance. On Tuesday, I received the January and February issues on the same day. On Wednesday, the March issue showed up.

At this rate, my One Year subscription will last approximately one month.