16 December 2008

Criterion Collection

While most films that Criterion releases are a bit too avant-garde for my taste, the release today of Bottle Rocket Criterion on Blu Ray is a welcome addition to their Wes Anderson line, and the first in the Blu Ray format. Since Amazon has the Blu version at $10 cheaper the standard DVD version, you know which one I'm getting.

This marks the first DVD of any sort that I've bought in forever, and will probably only be one of two this year (the other being Wall-E, eventually).

Other Blu Ray/Criterion movies that I'd actually pay for if they were released:

21 November 2008

Gummi Legos!

Yeah, you read that right. How sweet is this?

13 November 2008

The Triple-8 Challenge

(Updated from original post on 27 January 2008. Current count: 25/56 after 47 weeks.)

In the interest of making the sacrifice of those trees who died to fill my bookcases not in vain, I've decided to kick my reading up a notch this year by attempting the Triple-8 Challenge. Basically it's 8 lists of 8 books each, with 8 overlaps. Total annual consumption: 56 books. Books will be struck through when completed, and I'll possibly post a review or twenty. We shall see. I also reserve the right to replace books if they suck.

On we go.

List 1: That was Then (Histories)
1. Dark Sun - The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes
2. The Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury
3. Nothing Like It in the World by Stephen Ambrose
4. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
5. The Jasons by Ann Finkbeiner
6. The Eugenics Wars Vol. 1 - The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox
7. The Eugenics Wars Vol. 2 - The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh by Greg Cox
8. The Perils of Peace by Thomas Fleming (Overlap)

List 2: Research for my Progeny (Kid and Young Adult Fiction)
1. The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud
2. Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
3. The Long-Lost Map by Pierdomenico Baccalario (Ulysses Moore)
4. The House of Mirrors by Pierdomenico Baccalario (Ulysses Moore)

5. The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams
6. The Hour of the Cobra by Maiya Williams
7. Foundling: Monster Blood Tattoo 1 by D.M. Cornish
8. Artemis Fowl 6 - The Time Paradox by Eoin Colfer

List 3: My People (Books by and about Jews)
3. Sabbath's Theater by Philip Roth
4. Gentleman of the Road by Michael Chabon
5. The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
6. Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky (Overlap)
7. Hitler's Gift by Medawar and Pike
8. Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present by Cory Doctorow

List 4: Mangia!
1. I'm Just Here For the Food by Alton Brown
2. I'm Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown
3. On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee
4. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (Overlap)
5. The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace (Overlap)

6. Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
7. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
8. Comfort Me with Apples by Ruth Reichl

List 5: In Order to Suck Less (Bridge, not Vampires)
1. Bridge for Dummies by Eddie Kantar
2. Why You Lose as Bridge by S.J. Simon
3. Right Through the Pack by Darvas & De V. Hart
4. 25 Bridge Conventions You Should Know by Seagram/Bird
5. 25 More Bridge Conventions You Should Know by Seagram/Bird
6. The Play of the Hand at Bridge by Louis Watson
7. Murder at the Bridge Table by Matthew Granovetter
8. The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats by Edward McPherson (Overlap)

List 6: More than Dragons (High Fantasy and Sci-Fi)
1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
2. Otherland by Tad Williams
3. The Sam Gunn Omnibus by Ben Bova
4. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 2 - Bloodlines
5. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 3 - Tempest
6. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 4 - Exile
7. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 5 - Sacrifice
8. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 6 - Inferno

List 7: Popcorn
1.Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 7 - Fury (Extra Credit)
2. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 8 - Revelation (Extra Credit)
3. Star Wars - Legacy of the Force 9 - Invincible
4. Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis
5. Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan
6. Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
7. Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley (Overlap)

8. Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley

List 8: Free Advanced Proofs (I get these from the wife's annual conferences. More of a physical discriminator than a topical one, but I get to make some of the rules)
1. The Perils of Peace by Thomas Fleming (Overlap)
4. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8. Lee (Overlap)
5. The Billionaire's Vinegar by Benjamin Wallace (Overlap)

6. Outwitting History by Aaron Lansky (Overlap)
7. Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley (Overlap)
8. The Backwash Squeeze and Other Improbable Feats by Edward McPherson (Overlap)

09 November 2008

Colbert and the Parallel Universe Theory

Colbert in prime form. Best part is at 1:58. Enjoy...

03 November 2008

Homemade Ticket To Ride Boards

With a little effort, 6 sheets of 20x30 foam core presentation board, some spray adhesive, an Xacto knife, clear tape, a really nice scroll-fed printer, and the efforts of a really bored Dane, I bring you TTR: Asia and TTR: London Tube. They're not perfect, but they're sweet.

30 October 2008

Happy Halloween!

I don't know what I like more about Halloween, carving the pumpkin or roasting the seeds. Both have their own rewards. I'm not exactly an artiste, mind you, but I think I do alright. Check out last year's dog and smiley for comparison.

This year I went with a dead-eyed, tongue-waggin' smiley and a Phillies "P" to celebrate the World Series victory.

Pictures with Alex in costume will be on the family blog this weekend.

Phils Win!


28 October 2008

Tribute to Ticket to Ride

Those who know me know I'm a huge fan of the various flavors of the Ticket to Ride board game. Pretty much since the game came out there have been folks putting together alternate maps for home play. Well, Jens Tønnesen has gone above and beyond the call of duty not only by cataloging what's out there in a clear and intuitive interface, but by designing some wonderful, professional-quality maps himself. His map of Asia and the London Underground look good enough to be licensed by the makers of the game.

Now I've just got to figure out how to print them out.

Oh, and if you've never played before, here is a list of the various flavors from my most to least favorite.

1. TTR: USA 1910 Mega Game (this is a must-have expansion to TTR: USA)
2. TTR: Europe
3. TTR: Nordic Countries
4. TTR: Switzerland
5: TTR: Märklin

I've not tried TTR: Card Game, TTR: Mystery Train Expansion, or TTR: Dice Expansion yet, but I will. Oh yes, I will. I expect only the card game will be worth the purchase price.

Now go shopping.

06 October 2008

October 2008 Movies

I am starting to wonder if one of the downsides of having a DVR (or two), is that you never seem to want to bother watching DVDs anymore, Blu Ray or otherwise. That probably explains why I haven't bought one in ages (although as soon as I get a 40% off coupon at Borders, I'm buying The Fall on Blu-Ray). The latest seasons of The Closer, Burn Notice, Monk, and Psych have all just finished up. The Shield, Pushing Daisies, and The Office are kicking off, and I'm going to give Heroes another shot (albeit with a short leash). Plus, I've been trying to get through a measly six episodes of Slings and Arrows (Season 2) with little success.

I've seen 3 movies in the theatres this year, and maybe watched 20 or so DVDs. Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now, some still unreleased, some increasingly ancient. The starred ones I've got on DVD or Blu Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch. A few movies have dropped of the list from last time just because I don't much care about them anymore.

1. The Fall*
2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
3. The Dark Knight
4. Iron Man*
5. Quantum of Solace
6. How To Lose Friends & Alienate People (just for the Pegg)
7. Choke (just for the Macdonald)
8. Idiocracy*
9. Children of Men
10. The Departed*
11. Invincible*
12. Pan's Labyrinth*
13. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
14. In Bruges
15. The Fountain*
16. Gone Baby Gone*
17. Revolutionary Road (just for the Winslet)
18. Persepolis
19. Zodiac*
20. Hellboy II - The Golden Army
21. Tropic Thunder
22. Ghost Town (just for the Gervais)
23. The Wrestler
24. The Spirit

25 September 2008

Turns out a star on Mad Men was a guest star on Firefly

So I was watching the Emmys on Sunday Night, and I was so amazed by Christina Hendricks, one of the stars of Mad Men, and her enormous pair of Golden Globes, that I looked her up on IMDB:

Turns out she played the memorable Saffron in a couple episodes of Firefly. Barb and I caught the first few episodes of Mad Men and weren't all that impressed, but I can't believe I didn't recognize her.

How do you forget this?

05 September 2008

Menolippu Pohjoismaat

So Barb's conveniently-relocated Uncle Gary returned to the US last week with a specially-obtained copy of Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries (that's Menolippu Pohjoismaat in Finnish) for us.
Awesome game. So awesome that they didn't release it in the US when it came out almost 2 years ago. Then, they promised some copies for release in the US market (this was after Uncle Gary had succeeded in acquiring a copy for us). Then they released them two weeks ago. Now they're out of print again.
You can't make this stuff up. Check your friendly local game store to see if they've still got copies. You won't regret it. If you haven't played any of the TTR series, you're in for a treat no matter which version you buy (although if you get the US version, buy the 1910 expansion with it, as it upgrades the freakishly tiny cards that come with the main set).

05 August 2008

August 2008 Movies

Lots of good stuff coming out in the theatres, but I ain't seeing any of it.... Ah, the joys of fatherhood. On the bright side, there will be lots of DVDs coming out this fall of films I've not seen.

Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now, some still unreleased. The starred ones I've got on DVD or Blu-Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight
3. Iron Man
4. There Will Be Blood*
5. Idiocracy*
6. Children of Men
7. The Departed*
8. Invincible*
9. Pan's Labyrinth*
10. Star Wars: The Clone Wars
11. In Bruges
12. Live Free or Die Hard*
13. The Fountain*
14. Gone Baby Gone*
15. Persepolis
16. Zodiac*
17. Pineapple Express
18. Hellboy II - The Golden Army
19. Michael Clayton*
20. Tropic Thunder
21. Doomsday*
22. Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D
23. Atonement*

10 July 2008

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008)

As I've said before, this dude is my hero. His 2008 video is as stellar as his previous efforts. Be sure to watch it in Hi-Def.

23 June 2008

July 2008 Movies

Realized I forgot to do this for June, so here's an early July list. I saw a bunch of movies lately, including Talledega Nights, Semi-Pro, The Grand, and (finally) Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End. The first three were forgettable. Pirates 3 started off slow and somewhat ridiculous, but eventually it turned into a fine, if overlong, entry into the trilogy.

Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now, some still unreleased. The starred ones I've got on DVD or Blu-Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight
3. Iron Man
4. There Will Be Blood*
5. Idiocracy*
6. Children of Men
7. The Departed*
8. Invincible*
9. Pan's Labyrinth*
10. In Bruges
Hot Fuzz

11. Live Free or Die Hard
The Simpsons Movie
12. The Fountain*
13. Gone Baby Gone*
14. Persepolis
15. Zodiac*
16. Hellboy II - The Golden Army
17. Michael Clayton*
18. Tropic Thunder
19. Doomsday
20. Atonement*

Update 2 July:
Caught six movies during my recent West Coast jaunt:
Wall-E: Frickin' amazing. Best Pixar film since The Incredibles, which puts it at #2 all-time. Forget Best Animated Feature. This one deserves a Best Picture nomination.
Hot Fuzz: Awesome. The best 2007 movie I've seen thus far (including Ratatouille).
The Simpsons Movie: Good, but was basically an overlong episode...I don't think they really took advantage of the big screen possiblities.
Wanted: Surprisingly decent flick, despite the departure from the exceedingly nihilistic source material. Needed more naked Angelina.
Shoot 'Em Up: Eminently forgettable flick with lots of bullets and negligible characters.
Borat: Entertaining, but I prefer my uncomfortable humor in 30-minute increments (Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (BBC), etc.).

Update 3 July:
Watched Crank tonight. Good flick. Needed more of my wife's former classmate. Still, Jason Statham should be doing better stuff. He's a far better actor than the second coming of JCVD.

Update 7 July:
I'm on a roll. Watched a Bruce McGill double-feature over the last 3 nights.
Vantage Point: Pedestrian thriller, made mildly more interesting by the POV storytelling, which they inexplicably abandon halfway through the flick. High-wattage cast is woefully underused, especially Sigourney Weaver.
Recount: Learned a lot from this movie, mostly about the labyrinthine election rules in Florida. I'll even say it was pretty fair and balanced, excepting for the "nominated by" subtitling of the Supreme Court justices which omitted that John Paul Stevens was nominated by Gerald Ford. For the life of me, I can't think why they'd bother to excise that information. Well used, stellar cast.

Update 9 July:
In the Name of the King - A Dungeon Siege Tale: I'm kind of disappointed that this movie wasn't as bad as I'd hoped it would be. It featured the holy trinity of badness: Uwe Boll, Burt Reynolds, and Uwe Boll. It had Jason Statham as a medieval farmer, named "Farmer." The potential for awfulness was limitless. But, as it turns out, it wasn't that bad. Matthew Lillard and Kristanna Loken were highlights, actually, compared to Ray Liotta and Leelee Sobieski's lowlights. And, in case you were curious, Claire Forlani is still hot.

13 June 2008


So now Pluto is not even a dwarf planet, but a "plutoid?" According to the International Astronomical Union (IAU), plutoids are defined as:
celestial bodies in orbit around the sun at a distance greater than that of
Neptune that have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid
body forces so that they assume a hydrostatic equilibrium (near-spherical)
shape, and that have not cleared the neighborhood around their orbit.
How can you define a celestial object by referring to the specific geometry of our little solar system? Ridiculous.

Methinks New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern is actually enjoying this latest imbroglio, as it casts the IAU in a rather unflattering light.

With regard to the etymology of plutoid, he said: "It sounds like 'hemorrhoid' and it sounds like 'asteroid', and of course these objects are planets and not asteroids."

With regard to the question that an IAU rival may form, he wrote: "There is a disturbance in the force. Enough said."

Any dude who brings Star Wars to the table is okay by me, and any definition of a planet that encompasses both tiny Mercury and enormous Jupiter should be flexible enough to include Pluto as well.

29 May 2008

28 May 2008

Now this seems a little excessive.

As entertaining as the PS3 demo for Overlord: Raising Hell is, I can't help but think that I could get the same game for my PC for $9 at Amazon:

How am I supposed to justify a $60 purchase for the PS3 game? And yes, it's the same game with additional, previously downloadable, add-on content for the PC and XBox360 versions.

When the price drops down to, say, $30, I may reconsider.


26 May 2008


So apparently two of the stars of the most recent season of Desperate Housewives were Gary Cole and Nathan Fillion. I find this interesting because they are both stars of cancelled-too-soon science fiction TV shows. Gary Cole was the maverick Captain Matthew Gideon of the Babylon 5 spinoff Crusade. Nathan Fillion was the renegade Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds on the phenomenal Firefly.

I find things like that interesting. Few other people do, however.

18 May 2008

Found a dog.

Found this beautiful doggie this morning playing with Roscoe on the front lawn. It looks like he's the lost Raleigh of this Craigslist post. Posting his picture here so his owners can see him.

05 May 2008

May 2008 Movies

Had a good weekend knocking two more titles off of my list. First up was The Golden Compass, an adaptation of the brilliant Philip Pullman novel (originally published as Northern Lights in the UK), first in the His Dark Materials series. It was a decent movie, but it felt like they were trying to squeeze too much source material into a 2-hour running time. They also didn't end the movie where the book did, and as such, it's likely that the movie trilogy will have to be a quadrilogy before all is done. Not that I mind, though. Great effects, decent acting, well-cast. I'd prefer a slightly more plodding extended director's cut someday, though.

Second on the small screen was Juno. Now I've not seen any Best Picture-nominated flicks other than this one and the winner, No Country for Old Men, and I really don't think that Juno is Best Picture material, but Juno was a hell of a lot better than NCfOM. Great little indie comedy with a stellar cast. I'd single out someone for their work, but it wouldn't be fair to the ensemble, which was just wonderful. I will recommend to anyone renting or buying the DVD to watch the deleted scene "Montage," as it shows the original cut of a scene that didn't quite ring true (temporally speaking) in the film.

I also caught Anthony Minghella's final film, a BBC TV production of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, an adaptation of the wonderful Botswanan mystery novel by Alexander McCall Smith. It was a wonderful little film, full of heart and magnificent scenery. Ultimately, it still felt like a TV movie, though. It probably wouldn't do well in the theatres on either side of the Pond. I hope that the series goes on under the helm of another talented director.

Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now, some still unreleased. The starred ones I've got on DVD or Blu-Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight
3. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End*
National Treasure II - Book of Secrets
4. There Will Be Blood*
5. Idiocracy*
6. Children of Men
7. The Departed*
8. Invincible*
9. Pan's Labyrinth*
10. In Bruges
11. Hot Fuzz
12. Crank
13. Live Free or Die Hard
14. The Simpsons Movie*
15. The Fountain*
16. Gone Baby Gone*
17. Persepolis
18. Zodiac*
19. Michael Clayton*
20. Tropic Thunder
21. Doomsday
22. Atonement*

Update 5/8: Saw 27 Dresses last night. Surprisingly decent comedy. Of course, I'm a sucker for anything starring Judy Greer.

Update 5/17: Watched The Illusionist, just to compare to The Prestige. Didn't like it. Boring. Predictable. Edward Norton was totally phoning it in. Couldn't hold Prestige's jock, even though both movies were utterly ridiculous.

Update 5/21: Managed to watch National Treasure II - Book of Secrets by Redboxxing it on the day of release. Decent film, but not as good as the first movie. Nice setup for NTIII, though. We especially liked the scenes in the rotunda of the Library of Congress, as we've been there before (including down the stairs to the bowels of the LC).

02 May 2008

Star Wars Ewok Gospel

Just give it one minute and twenty five seconds, and you'll know you've spent your time wisely.

30 April 2008

GTA 4 Goodness

I gave the game a spin last night...my first impression was that I was a bit disappointed in the antialiasing (i.e. there's still a bit of choppiness at the edges of moving characters/cars, etc, but that may be because I've got 1080i rather than 1080p) and there was a hiccup in the rendering of the opening cutscene. I immediately switched my controls back to "classic" GTA ones (I'm not about to learn a different interface...interestingly, the tutorials and instructions adapt to the alternate control set) and turned on the subtitles and immediately rewatched the opening sequence (without the hiccup) to figure out what dialogue I missed (I noticed that the Serbian is translated when the subtitles are on, but, at least in the opening, they don't automatically subtitle the translations.) I really like the "fade car audio" feature while people are speaking, even if I miss a bit of the hilarious radio station banter.

I haven't decided whether or not I like the added grittiness of the game...one of the reasons this series has been so great is that the violence is fairly cartoonish (somehow I doubt El Burro will be showing up). The visuals are certainly gorgeous, and the buildings in the distance are done really well (I swam across the harbor to see how they looked as I got closer...then I got 6 stars and died...the dying sequences are really nice, too).

Interestingly, Rockstar has incorporated some of the changes to the game from their far-less-violent game, Bully. The new health and armor bars and the "police radar" are right out of it.

So far it looks pretty damned impressive, and they seem to have done a very good job building a decent story around all of the visual splendor. I'll probably have to play this game for 40-50 hours before I figure out the map, if I ever do (San Andreas took easily that long, but wide stretches of nothing were easy to map in my head).

I also want to try out the online multiplayer feature...for some reason it didn't seem to think I was online, but according to Wikipedia, there are still some online issues to work out.

And lastly, when reading the credits I saw that The Great PJ Sosko (UR '93) voices Gerry McReary. I think the last time I saw him was in an NPH-directed play somewhere in LA. He's a good man, deserving of such a plum role.

1.9 thumbs up, more to follow.

18 April 2008

Blast from the Past

Frankly, I don't know anyone who would find this interesting except me, but isn't that the ideal thing to write about in this most-narcissistic of oeuvres?

So, once upon a time, there was a company called Infocom. Most of you over the age of 20 will probably heard of it. Most of you, period, will have at least heard of their most famous product, Zork.

Back when I was in my pre-to-mid-teens, $50 at the video game store got you white text on a blue screen, and, while that time has past, it was a hell of a way to play a game back then. The game developers didn't need fancy graphics, but they did need to know how to tell a story, and tell it well. Hence the gaming style called Interactive Fiction (IF). Infocom was the last word in IF until they extended themselves too far and developed a database program (Cornerstone) that ultimately sunk the company, whose assets were bought by Activision. In my humble opinion, their masterpiece was a story centered around the development of the atomic bomb called Trinity. I believe that game, more than anything else, stoked my still-burning interest in the Manhattan Project.

Infocom's second-best selling game, after Zork, was an interactive fiction version of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which was nearly impossible to win, but was a damned good game nonetheless.

Well, it turns out that Infocom tried to create a sequel to HHGTTG, entitled Milliways, and Andy Baio at waxy.org has the scoop. You can find my comment somewhere towards the bottom.

Fly, Flyers, Fly

I'll freely admit that I pretty much stopped watching hockey after the work stoppage a few years back. As far as I'm concerned, the Flyers are only behind Eagles Football, Illini Basketball, and Illini Football in my canon of favorite teams, but once I went a year without the puck, I didn't really feel any urgency to start watching it again (and given the ratings, lots of other folks agree). I maybe watched a game or two on the 12-foot screen just to appreciate how pretty hockey is in HD, but that was all.

However, given the Flyers managed to reach the postseason vs. the local Caps, I wanted to see what the latest incarnation of Black and Orange was like. Most of the pundits didn't give the Flyers a chance in hell against the Caps star Ovechkin, and if I didn't have a newborn at home, I would've gotten some scalped tickets to the first few games given the Verizon Center is only a metro ride away. So I settled down on Friday night with my dad and watched some hockey.

Holy crap, what a great game. Even with the Caps coming back in the 3rd period to overtake the Flyers' 2 goal lead, it was one of the best games I've seen in years. Flyers 0, Caps 1.

Then came game two on Sunday, a 2-0 shutout pitched by the Flyers' Martin Biron. Flyers 1, Caps 1.

Game 3 was a 6-3 buttwhooping that ended with my favorite play in all of sports, the dagger-in-the-heart empty net goal. Flyers 2, Caps 1.

And last night was Game 4....it was like Rocky vs. Apollo Creed. The Flyers got off a goal in the first minute of play, and then 3 minutes later the Caps respond with a power play goal, and then another before the Flyers tied it up before the end of the first period, 2-2. Then the scored in the 2nd, followed by the Flyers with 10 minutes left in the 3rd. 3-3, Overtime. Second Overtime. Goal, Flyers. Flyers 3, Caps 1.

Game 5's tomorrow afternoon in D.C., and I'd probably go if it weren't just before the first Seder and we'll have 8 houseguests, but you can damn well bet that it'll be on the TV.

I'd still rather they shrink the NHL season from 82 to a more reasonable 40 or so games, but I just might start watching the regular season again this fall.

16 April 2008

Alternative Nation circa 1994.

Back in the Woodbine Palace in snowy Rochester, NY, we'd spend most nights playing Euchre and watching Beavis and Butthead at 11pm and Alternative Nation at midnight. When this video came on, all play stopped. It was my first introduction to Milla Jovovich, before the craptacular Fifth Element and the surprisingly solid Resident Evil trilogy. I still listen to this album (The Divine Comedy) from time to time. Good stuff.

05 April 2008


Battlestar's premiere was lackluster. I'm still wondering how they're going to explain how Cylon Tigh has managed to grow old with Adama. Do Cylon skin jobs age? Also, how did Starbuck survive? Where'd she get that shiny new ship?

Methinks the writers have bitten off more than they can chew.

On the bright side, Torchwood has been surprisingly solid this season and Doctor Who is coming back in a few weeks.

03 April 2008

Beware the Ides of March

If you are in any sort of way in communication with me, you know this already, but for the rare visitor who's not, on 15 March 2008, Alexander Evan Bushman was born.

You can see more pics of Alex as he grows up at the new family blog: the_bushmans.

01 April 2008

April 2008 Movies

Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica.

The best of TV's coming back in the next 7 days, but I managed a free Redbox rental yesterday to finally catch Stardust, which I thought was great, if a bit predictable. I'm sure it tanked at the box office because everything fantasy not named Harry Potter tanks at the box office.

Still, a great, funny, well-done film from a superlative source.

I also caught Enchanted a few days ago. I rented it for the wife, as I thought she'd enjoy it. I was right. It's a cute film, also well-done, if a bit ridiculous at times (even for the genre). It's a shame three songs from it were nominated for Oscars, and consequently split the votes, since That's How You Know would've been a shoo-in nominated alone.

Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now, some still unreleased. The starred ones I've got on DVD or Blu-Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight
3. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End*
Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
4. National Treasure II - Book of Secrets
No Country for Old Men
5. There Will Be Blood*
6. Idiocracy*
7. Children of Men
8. The Departed*
9. The Golden Compass
10. Invincible*
11. Pan's Labyrinth*
12. In Bruges
13. Hot Fuzz
14. Crank
15. Live Free or Die Hard
16. The Simpsons Movie*
The Prestige*
17. The Fountain*
18. Gone Baby Gone*
19. Persepolis
20. Zodiac*
21. Romance & Cigarettes
22. King of California
23. Michael Clayton*
24. Juno*
25. Tropic Thunder
26. Doomsday
27. Atonement*

Update 4/10/08:
And, seriously, I just watched my first Blu Ray movie, The Prestige, on my 5-month-old PS3. The picture is insanely good, although the menu interface was a bit odd to deal with (I've tested out Ratatouille BD, which has more standard menus, but haven't watched it). The movie was also outstanding. I'm not sure if you'd call it a thriller, or a period drama, or a mystery, or a fantasy, but it's just plain great.

Update 4/15/08
Two movies in two days! Knocked out Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street on Sunday and No Country for Old Men last night. To be honest, I was underwhelmed by both films. Sweeney was all style and no substance, and I found that I wasn't emotionally invested in the fate of any of the main players. No Country seemed paced all wrong, like it didn't know what sort of film it wanted to be. It was like David Mamet wrote an action movie, but without the snappy dialogue. On the plus side, the always radiant Kelly MacDonald (whom I've loved since Two Family House) does a wonderful job with limited screen time, as does Josh Brolin, who is the only three-dimensional character in the movie. Frankly, I don't know how it won the Best Picture Oscar, but I still need to see Juno, Michael Clayton, Atonement, and There Will Be Blood to speak intelligently on what I would have chosen. I'll catch two of those by week's end.

14 March 2008

New year, new PS3 games

Since I got my PS3 last summer, I've finished up a few PS2 holdovers (GTA: San Andreas, Bully) and a couple of new games (The Godfather: The Don's Edition, Portal). So what's up for this year?

The Orange Box
Lego Star Wars -The Complete Saga

Grand Theft Auto 4 (Preordered already)
Lego Indiana Jones
Little Big Planet
Bionic Commando Rearmed (Download)

Bionic Commando
Echochrome (Download)
Lego Batman (Originally a "No-Buy," but it's gotten good buzz.)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
New Indiana Jones Adventure (As-Yet Untitled)
This is Vegas

Top O' The List for 2009:
Mafia II
Duke Nukem Forever (yeah, right)

Any suggestions?

13 March 2008

Double, double, toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

I dragged the tremendously-pregnant wife to Capitol Hill on Sunday for a matinee production of Macbeth at the Folger Theatre. Why would I do such a thing to my beloved? Well, first I've never seen Macbeth (Yes, I know. Hard to believe. I've seen Measure for Measure four times yet never managed to catch Macbeth on stage or screen unless you count Scotland, PA). Second, it was co-directed by Teller, who brought more than a little of his magical and theatrical know-how to the production, which was pretty much spectacular. The Washington Post agrees with me on that.

Great production, start to finish, and I can't think of too many places better suited to watch a performance of the Bard's finest than the balcony at the Folger. There we were in our seats, leaning forwards on the railing above the first row in the orchestra, stage right.

Awesome. And a hell of a lot cheaper than Coriolanus and The Tempest (en Français) at the Kennedy last year.

12 March 2008

A fun idea for the Eagles.

Sign Shaun Alexander, who is sure to be released from Seattle in a few weeks.

Line Brian Westbrook up as a WR. Every play.

If Alexander is healthy enough to run like the former Pro Bowl player that he is, it'd be an offensive formation sure to give defensive coordinators nightmares.

Then, bring in a dozen or so BIG WRs (6'2" or taller), mostly late rounders or undrafted rookies and find one who can learn (and execute) the playbook. If none of them can, bring in another dozen. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Drafting WRs early is worse than a crapshoot, never pays off in the short term, and costs a fortune. There's sure to be a few Marques Colstons out there.

Oh, and sign a veteran punt/kick returner. Westbrook is electric, and he may have to return a punt when the game is on the line, but he's dangerously exposed out there. As soon as Allen Rossum was available, they should've jumped on him.

04 March 2008

March 2008 Movies

FINALLY saw The Darjeeling Limited last night! Loved it. I hope they do an extended cut SE or Criterion release someday with tons of extras to enjoy.

The writers strike gave me and Barb the rare opportunity to catch up on some TV that we had missed over the last year or two or three. We plowed through Season 1 of Dexter (not the edited CBS version, thank you very much) and Seasons 2 and 3 of Entourage (which I really enjoy, despite the hating its gotten lately). We're halfway through Season 2 of Dexter and Season 4 of Entourage, and we should be done with both well before the regular shows return in April (Battlestar Galactica, The Office, House, and Scrubs being the only ones I care about). If we're really diligent, we may be able to get through Season 6 of Curb Your Enthusiasm as well. On deck after that: Deadwood.

Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now, some still unreleased. The starred ones I've got on DVD or Blu-Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight
3. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End*
4. Sweeney Todd - The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
5. National Treasure II - Book of Secrets
6. No Country for Old Men
7. There Will Be Blood
8. Idiocracy*
9. Children of Men
10. The Departed*
11. The Golden Compass
12. Stardust
13. Invincible*
14. Pan's Labyrinth*
15. In Bruges
16. Hot Fuzz
17. Crank
18. Live Free or Die Hard
19. The Simpsons Movie*
20. The Prestige*
21. The Fountain*
22. Gone Baby Gone
23. Persepolis
24. Zodiac
25. Romance & Cigarettes
26. King of California
27. Michael Clayton
28. Leatherheads
29. Tropic Thunder
30. Doomsday

01 March 2008

Mmmmmmmmm, Bacon.

If G-d really didn't want Jews to eat bacon, he wouldn't've made it so darned tasty.

I'm sure I could down a few of these tasty breadless BLTs.

Thanks to Burnt Fat for the tip.

26 February 2008

NFL Thoughts

So I'm reading this little nugget about the Lions putting the kibosh on rumors that they'd consider trading Roy Williams. The first thing I thought was, "Of course they won't trade him. With RW and Calvin Williams, they've got one of the best receiving tandems in the league."

Just like Arizona (Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin).

And Cincinnati (Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh*).

Last year the Lions were 7-9; the Cardinals were 8-8, and the Bengals were 7-9.

What about the Colts? With Marvin Harrison out of the lineup for most of the year, they went 13-3.

The Packers (13-3)? Donald Driver and Greg Jennings had good seasons, but neither would be considered an elite WR in the NFL just yet.

Really, the only exception is the Patriots, who went 16-0 with Randy Moss and Wes Welker. I'm not sure how to categorize Welker, though. The dude's fearless, and has amazing hands, but despite his 100+ catches last year, is he an elite receiver?

Basically, I'm wondering whether or not a championship team needs two star WRs, or will one do. And if you have two, would it not be a good idea to move one in favor of a more urgent need?

Just a thought. Any ideas?

*In case you're wondering, no, I didn't have to look up how to spell Houshmandzadeh. I'm that good. Or pathetic. Your choice.

20 February 2008

Badass Presidents

I'm not much of the Cracked reader now that I'm well into my thirties, but once in awhile, something good comes up that I just have to share. I don't want to spoil the fun. Go and read about The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All Time.

18 February 2008

February 2008 Movies

Here's my top 20 or so movies to see right now. The ones in red are still in the theatres or haven't been released yet. The ones in orange I've got on DVD or Blu-Ray yet still haven't found the time to watch.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight

3. The Darjeeling Limited
4. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End
5. Sweeney Todd
6. National Treasure II
7. No Country for Old Men
8. There Will Be Blood
9. Idiocracy
10. Children of Men
11. The Departed
12. The Golden Compass
13. Stardust
14. Invincible
15. Pan's Labyrinth
16. In Bruges
17. Hot Fuzz
18. Crank
19. Live Free or Die Hard
20. The Simpsons Movie
21. The Prestige
22. The Fountain
23. Gone Baby Gone
24. Persepolis
25. Zodiac
26. Romance & Cigarettes
27. King of California
28. Michael Clayton

12 February 2008

Now that's useful!

While I'm not normally a reader of features on men's websites (although I do, from time to time, flip through the pictures), after reading a story about Eat This, Not That, I saw that it was the result of a series in Men's Health Magazine. Clicking that link will take you to an all-out information session on the best and worst options at most major national food chains (fast, sit-down, beverage, dessert, and otherwise).

As for the book itself...I can't really see how useful it is unless you keep it in on hand all the time, but the website is pretty snazzy since if you're headed out to lunch or dinner, you can just click on the site to find out what the best option is, calorically speaking.

Now they just need a mobile-phone version.

29 January 2008

The height of irresponsibility

From today's IMDB:

Despite encountering outrage from the American Academy of Pediatrics, ABC said Monday that it plans to go ahead with the planned broadcast of an episode of the new legal drama Eli Stone in which the title character convinces a jury that mercury in a vaccine was responsible for a child's autism. The Academy and numerous health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, dispute such claims, citing many studies that rule out any link between childhood vaccines and autism. In a statement, AAP President Dr. Renée Jenkins said, "A television show that perpetuates the myth that vaccines cause autism is the height of reckless irresponsibility." She said that if parents who watch the program "choose to deny their children immunizations, ABC will share in the responsibility for the suffering and deaths that occur as a result." The network said that it would agree to air a
disclaimer at the opening of the show stating that the story is fictional.

Whoever (whomever?) greenlit this script should be beaten. Anyone who doesn't vaccinate their kids because they're worried about the unproven and unlikely mercury-autism link should be beaten. Anyone who chooses not to vaccinate their kids because they watched Eli Stone should be beaten twice.

My kid (due in 6 weeks) will get the Hep B vaccine within an hour of birth, and he'll get every vaccine on the vaccination schedule. If I were having a girl (or already had one), she'd be getting the HPV vaccine ASAP.

I'm doubly bummed by this news because I really like Jonny Lee Miller (although I hadn't planned to watch the show).

Other links:

I'm sure Bad Science will have something shortly, too.

24 January 2008

Reviews of new January TV

Breaking Bad: Damn, what a pilot. While most folks know Bryan Cranston as the dad from Malcolm in the Middle, he'll always be the moody Buzz Aldrin in From the Earth to the Moon to me. At least until now. He plays a dying, broke chemistry teacher who decides to supplement his income by cooking crystal meth out in the New Mexico desert with one of his old miscreant students. He's phenomenal. The cast is great. The writing is excellent (and profanity-laden). Interestly enough, some nudity was blurred out and some extreme profanity was "silenced" out. I imagine they shot this pilot for HBO or something and had to tone it down for basic cable. Bring on Episode 2!

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: First, let me say that I'm wholly of the opinion that if a show has to resort to voiceovers to let you know what's going on, neither the writer nor the director has done their jobs. Once in awhile there's an exception to the rule (e.g. American Beauty), but in general, let the story unfold without undue exposition. There's way too much voiceover on this show. Also, there was a major mistake made in part 2 of the pilot that pretty much screws up the entire premise of the show. Since no one reads this, I'll explain. The whole point of the Terminators-looking-like-humans thing is that only items sheathed in organic material can travel through the time tunnel. Maybe that's ridiculous, but I didn't make up the rules of the show. So when Sarah, John, and Cameron (played unevenly by Firefly's Summer Glau) rocket forward to 2007, there's NO WAY that the busted-up skeleton of the Terminator can go with them. NO WAY. This really bugs me. This show won't survive, though, since they'll have to focus on teen (and adult) angst for a good 25-50% of every episode to avoid the kind of action that would kill hundreds of Los Angelinos every week. I've given it 3 episodes. I'll probably give it one more before it's off of the DVR menu. On the bright side, I only gave The Bionic Woman three chances, and it starred a far hotter woman.

23 January 2008

January 2008 Movies

Thanks to another free DVD rental from RedBox, we finally saw Ocean's 13, which was better than 12, but not as good as 11. Very much style over substance. Call it 2.75 stars.

Also caught Spidey 3 via RedBox. Awful film. The only reason to watch it is Bruce Campbell. And the effects, which are admittedly amazing.

Here's my top 20-or-so. The ones in bold are still in the theatres or haven't been released yet.

1. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
2. The Dark Knight
3. The Darjeeling Limited
4. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World's End
5. Sweeney Todd
6. National Treasure II
7. No Country for Old Men
8. There Will Be Blood
9. Idiocracy
10. Children of Men
11. The Departed
12. The Golden Compass
13. Stardust
14. Invincible
15. Pan's Labyrinth
16. Hot Fuzz
17. Crank
18. Live Free or Die Hard
19. The Simpsons Movie
20. The Prestige
21. The Fountain
22. Gone Baby Gone
23. Persepolis
24. King of California
25. Michael Clayton

18 January 2008

We're screwed.

Just attended a colloquium by Robert Strom, author of Hot House, a comprehensive overview of Global Warming, Climate Change, and essentially how screwed we are. Or, rather, our kids and grandkids are.

Items I gleaned from the talk:

1. Small planet-average temperature changes can result in large climate changes.
2. Atmospheric CO2 increases track almost directly with temperature increases.
3. Aerosols banned by the clean air act actually staved off global warming to a degree by making the atmosphere more reflective.
4. Even if we turned off all carbon-based pollutants tomorrow, the inertia of the global ecosystem is such that it's unlikely to avoid reaching a ~4ºC increase in average planet temperature, which is sufficient to cause catastrophic weather events (to date, the temperature increase is ~0.5ºC).
5. Extracting CO2 from the atmosphere is very expensive at ~$500/ton.

While I've always been a believer that whatever can be done to reduce emissions is a good thing, the end result of a global weather crisis is a greatly reduced population (say in the billions). This, ironically, is the most likely solution to the crisis, however, in that a pandemic would result in the population decrease necessary to exact emissions decreases.

So, either way, people die. To put it another way, we're screwed.

To be fair, though, the Earth is fine. It'll outlive us all.

02 January 2008

Flight of the Conchords....is awesome.

Finally caught up on the fantastic adventures of Bret and Jemaine over Christmas. What a great, great show. Nice work, HBO.