Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Knight Rider - Back Until the End of the Writer Strike

I don't think they planned it that way, but the writer's strike was the only reason I watched the season premiere of "The Knight Rider," and the only reason I am here to scream into the electronic void, "WHY!!!!?????"

Really, I was around for the first run, in the demographic, and the odd collection of tribute blogs aside, this was bad television. David Hasselhoff was as cheesy as it gets, and Kit was the campy cool car book end to Herbie the Love Bug, but there was no reason to bring this story back.

Herbie got his own, bad, theatrical movie, but Kit just came back with a TV movie/pilot. I was assuming this was a pilot, but looking over web listings, it is billed as the Knight Rider Movie. I know I won't watch it anymore. One lap around this track was enough, clearly put to bed by Hasselhoff's cameo at the end. The car, now a Mustang, looked good. The show, on it's best merits, was an extended commercial.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vista - Joining the Chorus

I've tried Linux, and liked it, but on my new laptop, I just had to go with the system the store(and HP) had installed, Windows Vista, as well as on my desktop PC that is running XP. As usual, there has been an adjustment period, but I'm not being quick to make judgement, Vista sucks.

For my part, I actually had good luck with XP. It runs nicely on my old desktop and has handled every upgrade and install I threw at it nicely, too nicely, because elsewhere things aren't quite as smooth. On my laptop, Vista is a nightmare, beyond what I can accept as normal adjustment to a "new" operating system. This thing has the bugs of a BETA, at full price, and nobody supports it. WTF???

First off, there is the handling of periphery devices like my camcorder and MP3 players. My not that old Sony Handycam won't interface with Vista, after a bit of digging on the Sony support site, I find that the USB interface no longer works and I will have to purchase a different cable. BS. Hey MS, ever hear of backwards compatibility?

And the MP3 player, one a Sansa that was flaky before, but now can't even be recognized, no matter how many updated drivers I download. They don't make the damn thing work, but they sure leave tracks all over my new HD. Sansa's player is nice, and the right price, but the support stinks. Sansa e250, on XP, it only works with Windows Media Player 9. Aside from being a massive pain in the ass to maintain, I like the thing, but my laptop and Vista hate it.

So I bought another MP3 Player, Creative Labs, no, I don't want to pony up the extra money for an Ipod and let Apple worm it's way into my life. Well, Creative Labs has a better driver system, with it's own managers and lots of extra footprints on my desktop to wipe off. But it works. Because I liked the interface best with Windows Media Player, I use it on the laptop too, but there I have Windows Media Player 11, not an upgrade for the same reasons Vista is not. It just looks different, doesn't work better.

The Vista Explorer views and options are fancied up but depowered, and navigation is needlessly complicated.

And, nobody supports this. Instant Rails for Ruby runs headlong into a wall when using this as does Open Laszlo and every other application I want to work on. Thats why i am writing instead of working with new applications.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Online Poker Ranking Sites

As I've written before, I like to play online poker. I'm not militant about it, but apparently I have played over 250 games in total, which would be the last two years or so. How do I know that, exactly? Well, I don't write it down, and I haven't found a place on th actual site, PokerStars, where I play, it's on at least two different web sites which rank everyone.

My ranking? I'm right in the middle, 48-49%, which I can live with. It's a leisure for me. I am also, almost exactly breaking even. None of this surprises me. My poker games seem to follow luck and my attention span, either of which can come and go. I found these two web sites at a poker table, the player was kind of ranting into the chat, asking if anybody ever won, and asking why they play if they didn't. I chimed in and said that I had won, hoping to shut him up. I hate chat room clutter aside from the faux congratulations on good hands and such.

He answered me, telling me I had won a total of $3 in 251 games. Then told another player his stats as well. Wow, I wasn't sure, but that sounded right. So I bugged the guy until he told me where he got the stats, it took me accusing him of being a liar and a good guesser, but he gave up a site, Sharkscope, and then another Official Poker Rankings. I checked them out and was promptly so distracted that I blew myself out of that game.

I'm stupified and a little worried. First, by seeing all the games I have played. It will probably make me cut down. Second, I wonder how easy it is to get to any other information about me. Third, I wonder how many people know this and use it in games to see if other players are good or not.

It helped me, when I saw a player that had been on a table with me before as the big stack, and playing very well, I looked him up. Turned out he hadn't been playing long and had lost a lot of money in that time. So I quit taking his bluffs seriously and bam, he was out.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Breaking Bad is good...

Benefitting from the writer's strike, and the extra chance at viewership afforded as one of the few new scripted shows, the new AMC show, Breaking Bad, is taking advantage. Bryan Cranston, former third banana on "Malcom and the Middle," as Walter White, is becoming my favorite new character on my favorite new show this year.

I have to admit that I may not have found this show if not for the lack of new shows on, or even gotten to it on my DVR Hard drive. I recorded it as a curiosity, and logged two episodes before we started watching. The last episode we watched right away, because this story, and these characters, especially Bryan Cranston as the school teacher gone wrong , are mesmerizing.

Bryan Cranston plays Walter White, who in the first episode, founds out he has terminal lung cancer and takes up cooking meth as a side business. His journey from beleaguered, over-whelmed everyman to meth-cooker is intriguing,
and not without consequences.

This story reminds me most of FX offerings like the Shield, and Rescue Me, there are no limits to where this story can go, already established in four episodes. No story line is safe, and there is no comfort bubble for the viewer to watch from.

The show avoids being predictable. In episode 3, Walter encounters an annoying lout at the bank after a particularly stressed exchange with his wife. All is in place for Walter to go off on this guy, as he had on a group of young punks in a department store in a previous episode, but he keeps cool. Still, you see him fuming beneath.

The whole scene is not left to be a red herring, because later in the show, after things have gotten even stickier, Walter re-encounters the jerk at a gas station. After the guy goes inside, he opens the hood of the expensive convertible the guy was driving, shorts out the battery with the handle of a window washer, at least it looked like that, and closes the hood. Momentarily, the car catches fire and blows up. This may not hold up on Mythbusters, but it was different enough, and not outside the curtain of believability.

This show is not easy watching, because as likable as Walter is, he is dismantling his life. The cast of supporting characters are far ranging, with vast potential for plot development. Walter's wife is constantly suspicious and nosy, with an enormous martyr His brother-in-law is a DEA agent, not coincidentally in charge of tracking down meth labs and dealers. His sister-in-law is a busy-body, sure to cluck her tongue at anything Walter does. and steadily judgemental.

The three of them hold court after the revelation of Walter's terminal illness as if he weren't even there and his wife begins her crusade for his cure without regard for Walter at all.

This is good writing, and acting, worth searching for on AMC.

About My Home town...

I live in DeKalb, Illinois, am a graduate of NIU, and am so tied to the university and town that anything that happens here, happens to me. All that said, I don't want to rant about what happened here, I have no objectivity, and the victims deserve better than my remarks. I have posted twice about the NIU tragedy, and have a lot of opinions, but most of what I have to say about it all can be done with these pictures...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Summer Movies and the Mummy 3: Tomb of inconsistence

I recently found a Youtube video of Summer movies, by a guy that calls himself the Irate Gamer, who puts together quality work and offers a valid point of view. I don't agree with his list, but I respect it, and am happy to put a couple links to him if that can help at all. Of course I'm giving my own view as well, but overall, great job.
  1. Dragonballz - Who? What? That really bad anime toon? Well, if he says so, but I didn't even know about this movie and won't be going to see it, or rent it, and will probably change the channel in six months when it is on cycle for all the cable channels.
  2. Batman 2 - I'm excited about this too, it brings out the not so dormant dork in me and I will surely wade into a sea of children to watch this one at the theater. Heath Ledger as the Joker will be even more interesting now, as they say he was drained from playing the part.
  3. Indiana Jones 4- I may cut in front of you in line for this one, long time coming. One thing, he says that Louis Stephens is in it, what about Shia Lebouf?
  4. Mummy 3 - Is this really #3, I always thought that #2 passed off the baton to the Rock and went on to the Scorpion King. Hahaha, of course that movie made the old Jason and the Argonauts look realistic and well acted. At least they realized that Brendan Fraser and cast was driving the Mummy franchise, and are backtracking.
  5. Hancock - A comedy starring Will Smith as a superhero, that I have never heard of, but that's why I keep looking for stuff.
  6. Iron Man - Robert Downey as Tony Stark, it looks good, but could also just be a repository of Power Ranger Moments I hope I'm wrong.
  7. Hellboy 2 - I am looking forward to this too. I watched the movie, missing all of the comic books, and enjoyed it. Since then, I have watched the animated movies, which are okay, but this new movie should be fun. He reminds me of the old Ben Grimm, back when he just sid, "It's Clobberin' time!" all the time.
  8. The Hulk - I have many times tried to watch the first attempt at this storyline as a feature film. It's not terrible, but the graphics are just terrible, making me laugh and change the channel. According to the gamer, it is being completely redone, with Ed Norton as Rex? Banner. I'm hoping he meant Bruce, not that they have thrown another ccurve into the Hulk mythos(it should be Bruce Banner).
  9. Harold and Kumar 2
  10. X-Files 2 - I am also intrigued by this, and saddened that the once proud and aspiring stars, Duchovny and Anderson, have had to slog back to doing this.

  • movies I will Absolutely see at the theater - 1st day
  • movies I will see at the theater
  • movies I will watch on video
  • movies I will watch on TV
  • 'movies I will avoid

Frank Caliendo: Enough Already!

Media Saturation Point - When a person, event, movie, product, is so prevalent as to negatively affect your impression of it/him/her.

Britney is there, Paris, Madonna, and a constantly streaming list of others, find ways, usually on purpose to put their faces, names and every move in the spotlight. For good reason. It is lucrative to be famous and sought after, but dangerous and cumbersome.

Over the last few months, on a whirlwind tour, Frank Caliendo has penetrated every single bit of the national consciousness. Partially because of my demographics, which must align perfectly with his targets, I can't go an hour without getting some tidbit of his. And despite only having watched one whole stand-up routine of his and part of one of his television shows, I know his bit and his characters so well I call every punchline. He has a small arsenal, and memorizing them is easier than the details on my DMV report.

I used to like him. I checked out his routine, part of one of his shows that was advertised on every single break during the Cubs games last season. But really, enough already. During Superbowl week, he jumped from one sports radio station to another, then to television, where mercifully he is only allowed to be on one broadcast network. Then he is on Comcast commercials, his Madden character getting much more air time than the overburdened real John Madden, with fewer new lines than the Video game.

Frank, you surely made a nice haul from this, and your show will be coming back after the Writer's Strike, but if I have to listen to one of those five fucking soundbites again, or watch puffy George Bush, I'm going to put you on remote control probation. I see you, I change the channel, same with the radio.

This is not some backhanded way to get him more buzz, but to be fair, if you want to see more of Frank, check out this YouTube video. It is old, but you'll notice he hasn't changed much of it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Comic Books and Magazine Diets

I don't think of myself as middle aged, but I am by every definition.
And I don't think of myself as a geek, but here I am writing a blog post about comic books. I also never tire of making light of my own contradictions, or definitions.

All that said, sitting here this evening, I have figured out why I really started this blog, other than a place to eventually show off my cool Ruby comic book Database application.
I can catch everyone up. latest post on Comic Obsession

I'm also working out and trying to diet better, though I can hear a chorus of naysayers about this latest diet I'm trying, which I got out of Men's Fitness, and is really just common sense, but it's written down and should work until I get a little more fit.

Smallville has some Power Ranger Moments

When Smallville first came out, I didn't look into it enough to even know it was about Superman, truly, they didn't promote it like that in the beginning, but in handling it that way the show has been able to evolve, along with it's cast, into a mythology of it's own. As a teen soap opera it has succeeded, and as a TV show trying to capitalize on the success of comic-based movies, it has had moments. In the last couple of years, I know it has ascended from free-time fodder to schedule making viewing.

The last few years, they have slowly introduced other superheroes, the Flash, Cyborg, Green Arrow, Aquaman, and Black Canary, for starters. This last season they even had references to the Justice League, with the posed shot of them walking into the camera right from the cartoon's opening theme.

This last week was the return of Green Arrow and appearance of Black Canary. Maybe they were trying to geet out the big guns for the new show push, but it was reaching a little bit. The opening sequence, where Black Canary appears and faces off with Green Arrow, with some very hacked up CGI flying/cable descension, had some Power Ranger moments. It made my girlfriend laugh when she happened to walk into the room.

Suspension of disbelief and ridiculous aside, the slip seemed to be out of laziness, a little more care to take the special effects to the current level would have fixed most of it, but Black Canaries powers never translated to paper very well either.

I can respect that this show relies on straddling a few demographics, teenagers, comic book fans, and cartoon watching kids, and still enjoy it. In fact, I think the plot string it is following might be a lot more interesting than any the original Superman comic came up with. The handling of Bizarro Superman was very vanilla, but watchable, and if they are careful, the Justice League and DC comic character universe could be a well for the writers to continue to taste from, I'll keep watching.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Comic Obsession - introduction

I have a little bit of a comic problem, I can't quite let them go. I'm not "Comic Book Guy", never was, but I've always gone back to the rack and bought comics, even after managing to kick them for a while.

I am talking about them like an addictive substance, maybe that's a little bit of other parts of my life coming through but it's mostly because the shoe fits. One of the things that irritates me about comics most is the way they constantly mix metaphors. Ha Ha. read the rest ..

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A Run Around My Blogs

Today, as a writing exercise, I opened up all of my little blogs, discarded at various addresses throughout the internet, and wrote a post on each. It was a nice exercise, mostly successful, except that I cannot figure out a single thing to say about the Chicago Bears today. I'm all footballed out, and the better for it. Here's what I came up with:
  • Writing Blog - Where I begin to explore why I quit writing and why I have always had to write in some form, as well as review some writing and blogging blogs:
  • Cubs Obsession - Brief Rant about the Cubs new owner, how he is a real-estate baron trying to put one over on the state and city and Cubs fans.
  • Health Obsession - Brief rant about how fast the year has gone and then two reviews of new fitness sites I have found, sweat365 and MapMyWalk, comparing them to fitday unfavorably.
None of these posts today will get dugg, or even read, but they got my feet wet. Maybe this is why so many blogs have speedlinking posts or constantly re-run down their content. Any of you backlinking to me because I mentioned you, Hi there, and thanks.