Category Archives: Media

Supertramp for cheap.

I’m really enjoying the Amazon MP3 Download store.  Last night, I remembered what brought me there in the first place — the specials.  The first one was Depeche Mode — a 21 track album for $2.99.  Right now, they’ve got Supertramp’s Breakfast in America for $2.99, which I bought last night.  I even signed up for a marketing email that will tell me what the new free/cheap things are as they change (I got a free one off of Lindsay Buckingham’s new CD last night also — it sounds a lot like Lindsay Buckingham, but it was free).  I never ever like marketing emails — I get very nasty at the places that spontaneously decide to send them to me without me opting-in.

The only thing that bugs me about the place is the windows-only client.  But no DRM and they don’t (at last word) watermark the files — you just agree not to distribute them.  A music service that doesn’t treat you like a thief — and that doesn’t steal back the music you paid for when they go out of business.  And you know what you’re getting — higher bitrate than the usual bootleg mp3, the whole song, and the song you wanted. 

And I’m not getting paid for saying any of this — I haven’t touched my Amazon Store on my website in years, and I’ve never gotten a check from it anyhow.  Just in case you were wondering.

27 Dresses, the Neflix Review

For those of you who aren’t my friends at Netflix (and you two who are know who you are).

I love romantic comedy done well.  I know (and talk with my daughter) about the parts that don’t happen that way, because it’s not realistic.  But when they get the right people, the right performances, the right director and the right script, it’s really, really hard to beat.

I watched this movie with a smile on my face most of the time (nice that no one else was around, because it was probably a little bit goofy), when I wasn’t laughing out loud.  The characters were real and deep and they all did what they did for reasons that made sense.  Even when I wanted to smack them for doing those things, they were the right things to do in that moment.  This is the place where many romantic comedies get it wrong, but this one got it right consistently. 

Katherine Heigl is not only amazingly beautiful, she is a brilliant comic actress who very much doesn’t buy into her own beauty, and that humility comes through with amazing performances with sincere emotion and uncanny comic timing.  I could watch her with the mute button on and be happy, but I could also listen with the picture turned off and be moved.  Malin Akerman, who plays her sister, is also amazingly beautiful and brilliant with the comedy as well.  Watching them together is a treat.

This is not a romantic comedy for men, like Date with an Angel or Dan in Real Life, but it is a romantic comedy men can love.  I recommend it highly.

Word of the Day: Skein

So I was wondering when there would be another season of my preferred reality show, Beauty and the Geek, so I did a little googling, and learned, to my dismay, that it’s unlikely that there will be another season. 

However, I did run into this word “skein” in a way I hadn’t seen before.  Turns out that “skein” is Hollywood insider lingo for a TV series.  I’ve never heard it used that way before. 

So, I thought I’d share. 

Tom Lehrer’s Elements

With a non-annoying flash animation

And some interesting links at the bottom about Mr. Lehrer.

And, incidentally, I got through the Periodic Table again getting all the elements (not all in order).  I’ve gotten a bit rusty — last time I missed ten, I think — so this is another small victory.  I even missed a president the other night. 

And, speaking of Jeopardy, I’m getting a break this week and last, because they did their Teen Tournament.  I did the first one, and ended up getting over $40k, having swept at least three categories on each board, but decided that being able to successfully beat people younger than (some/most) of my own offspring really wasn’t useful information.  And it looks like the Saturday shows (reruns) are approaching the time I started recording them, so, when that happens, I’ll only have five shows a week to do instead of six.  I’m still uncertain how much probability there is that I will be able to be competitive on the show, but what I’m doing is less harmful than chasing kittens across the freeway, so I think I’ll keep doing it.

Holy Watch Batteries, Batman!

Today was an interesting day.  It was the first day of the Right Response training (the equivalent of Nonviolent Crisis Intervention that Secret Harbor has used), which is mostly a day of navel contemplation, followed by some training in physical tactics like blocks and releases.  Tomorrow we’ll do the escorts and restraints, but today we got done way early, so I was off-shift about the time I’m usually going on-shift.

So I went for a slow drive back to where I’m staying, and decided to go see a movie.  It’s been a while since I went to see a movie for me for fun, so I watched The Dark Knight.  It was good, although the cleverness of the villain’s plots, got to be a bit much for me — more plot twists than 24, and 24 gets a bit too plot twisty for me by the end of most seasons.  It was, however, worth the $7.50 for the ticket and the $1 to upgrade my free small popcorn and free small drink to both medium sizes, and a nicer way to spend a few hours than twiddling my thumbs.

From there, I went to the nearby Fred Meyer to replace the battery in my watch — it went blank when I hit the Indiglo button.  The watch counter had a sign saying that watch battery replacements needed to go to the Fine Jewelry counter.  So I went to the Fine Jewelry counter and the attractive well-dressed young woman there agreed that battery replacements needed to be done there, but then blanched slightly when she saw my watch was digital, and informed me that the replacement would need to be done by a professional jeweler, out of concern that they might do it wrong and ruin the watch.  I asked if I could do it myself, and she agreed to sell me a battery, but didn’t know how to look up which battery I needed.  Disappointing.

So I went to Walmart.  Walmart won’t do the replacements on watches they don’t sell (and they don’t sell my watch) and they’re twitchy about doing water resistant Timexes and Casios (mine is a water resistant Timex), but the clerk was able to figure out what battery I needed and sold me a two-pack for <$5.  I then went to the Vision Center and bought a glasses repair kit with a very small screwdriver for <$4, and headed off to see if I could handle this task that's apparently strictly in the realm of professionals. I am.  It was a little tricky, as the very small screwdriver was just a teensy bit too large for the screws, and getting the screw that holds the battery to line up so I could screw it in was a bit tricky.  Also, I'm not certain I got the little gasket that makes it water resistant in the right place, so I'm going to be a bit cautious about getting it wet.  But I got it reset and everything seems to be running just fine thus far. That's all.

Bad, bad Jeopardy.

So I just did my second Jeopardy of the day, and it was bad.  I made no points at all on the Double Jeopardy board, scored only 6800 (my second lowest score ever), and the player I’ve hated more than any other since I started just won, making him a finalist so I’ll have to see him one more time.  And the one I liked the most didn’t make the Tournament, for reasons I don’t know (this is the Tournament of Champions — anybody who watched last week already knows who won and I don’t really care about that).

The first game went pretty well, but it’s not going well for me lately.  That same play-week (just finished off) had my lowest score ever.  I’m doubting there’s much point in this — I don’t think I’m ever going to score 24000 average for two weeks in a row, let alone consistantly.

My letter to Marvel Comics

This is in response to an attempted letter-writing campaign to Marvel Comics opposing their collaboration with Orson Scott Card due to his statements against same-sex marriage:

You may be getting a flurry of emails opposing your publication of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.  Or, you might not — I’m not certain that the individual who’s trying to generate that flurry has as much influence as he might wish.  However, I want to rise in opposition to that flurry, attempted though it might be.

I am very familiar with Scott’s work.  I’ve read almost every word he’s published in every genre he’s written in, including his columns.  I’ve read and listened to not a few interviews with him.  I attended EnderCon, where I got to attend the Q&A session, and then attended the writing class he offered over the next few days, where my son and I got to meet him.  My former room-mate had dinner in his parents’ home.  I’ve participated in live chat sessions he used to hold on his own areas in AOL.  And I’ve talked to a number of people who have known him for many years.  Just for background — I know Scott and what he has to say.

He is not a homophobe, nor is he hateful.  He has written gay characters and been very respectful to them.  He has stated that he didn’t see how gay marriage could be as damaging to families as heterosexual divorce is.  While he is opposed to same-sex marriage, and does not wish to see homosexual behavior normalized, he does not advocate mistreatment of gay people. 

His largest alleged “sin” is that he disagrees with the militant side of the GLBT movement, and he is both blunt and eloquent in doing so.  Hardly mortal sins.

All of which is irrelevant to the choice you folks have made to publish Ender’s Game.  There isn’t a moment in the Ender’s Game world which is harmful to gay people in any way, and I encourage you to continue with the project.  It will produce a great title for you, and will tie you in with what is anticipated to be a brilliantly executed film. 

These folks are trying to hit Scott in the pocket book to punish him for not agreeing with them.  I encourage you to not participate in this punishment.  It makes no sense.

Stupid address parsers, and stupid address things.

I live a block from the Post Office in a relatively small city.  It qualifies as “rural,” which means that the Post Office doesn’t have to deliver mail to my home, so as to guarantee revenue to the PO in the form of renting a PO box, something which has increased in price at about five times the inflation rate while I’ve lived in my house.  Thus, if anybody is sending anything to me via USPS, they have to send it to this PO Box.  Thus, my bank only has the PO Box address for me.  However, anybody sending anything to me by any other shipper can’t use the PO Box, so they need my street address.  Fortunately, USPS has an ingenious way of handling this:  they only look at the last address line above city, state ZIP to deliver to.  Thus, you can put whatever you want above that line and USPS will blissfully ignore it and deliver it to that last listed address.  Not a bad little system, really.

But it is way, way too complicated for people who write address parsers.  Some will allow multiple address lines, but they don’t seem to understand why those other lines are there.  Paypal won’t validate my full address, with both street and PO Box forms, because the bank doesn’t use both.  Not a few online merchant systems barf when you try to ship to a Paypal non-validated address, and hillarity has ensued not a few times when a merchant has decided to ship to my street address with USPS. 

Well, today’s adventure was with eCost.com, someone who has shown up on a RSS feed I have for tech bargains.  They had some items I wanted at prices I wanted, so I decided to try buying them.  Silly me!  They had an option for Paypal checkout, so I thought I’d try that and reduce the number of companies with my credit card number in their databases where they can be stolen and misuesed.  Silly me!  Their system notices that there is a P.O. Box in the shipping address (along with my street address, as per USPS guidelines), and locks down — can’t possibly process a transaction with a P.O. Box in the shipping address.  It turns out that, not only can I not use PayPal checkout, I can’t even pay via PayPal because, when you try that, it sends you to PayPal checkout, third base. 

Stupid address parsers.  I’m telling you.

Then, adding to the annoyance, when I do their check out, sending my stealable credit card information to their site, their address form munges up my phone number, stuffing the whole number (area code included, and hyphens) into the “phone number” not including area code field and the field is only seven characters wide.  And then it barfs when I try to submit the form as it’s sent up — like it’s my fault that their form munged up the phone number.

I’m still doing the purchase, but I got really, really annoyed along the way.

Stupid address form scripts.