May 2008 Archives

Pop Friday Morning Math Quiz

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This is a 5th grade math problem. This is not a trick question.  This is a real math problem, so don't say that a bus has no legs. And there is no bus driver, so don't add 2 legs.

There are 7 girls in a bus.

Each girl has 7 backpacks.

In each backpack, there are 7 big cats.

For every big cat there are 7 little cats.

Question: How many legs are there in the bus?

Please don't post your answer, but feel free to brag if you got it right. And Ross, keep your eyes on your own paper...

Select text between the lines for the answer for answer
----------------------------------------------------
7*(7*((7*4)+(7*(7*4))))+7*2 = 10990
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Bond, James Bond

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To celebrate the 100th anniversay of Ian Fleming's birth, there is a new Jame Bond book coming out, by the noted English author Sebastian Faulks. Called "Devil May Care", it seems to be a grittier Bond, much like the most recent Casino Royale movie. If you haven't read any Bond books, do yourself a favor and try one. The series began with Casino Royale, first published in 1953. It's been a while since I last read them, but they were all very good spy novels. Don't be misled by the movies, which only had a glancing resemblance, if that, to any of the novels. These are some gritty, exciting books and worth trying out.
clipped from www.borders.com

10 Things You Didn't Know About James Bond & Ian Fleming

1. Although James Bond is regarded by many as the quintessential English hero, he is actually half Scottish and half Swiss. He also hates that most English of drinks, tea—and describes it as "mud"!
2. Bond has had many famous incarnations on the big screen, but, prior to these, he was first played on the radio by British actor and game show host Bob Holness.
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Movie Review: The Big Kahuna

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My long weekend viewing was fairly limited. We kept busy - went out for a magnificent "chef's tasting" dinner at Lumiere (we're definitely going to have to try chef Michael Leviton's new restaurant, Persephone), did a day trip to Cape Cod, and got started on the landscaping around the house, so there really wasn't much time or energy for movie watching.

We did get the girls to bed at a reasonable hour last night, so I had time to wind down and watch a short movie. I have two Netflix movies out, so I settled on the shorter one, The Big Kahuna, a play adaptation along the lines of Glengarry Glen Ross or Death of a Salesman, where three salesmen try to make a pitch and land the big kahuna.

Pretty much just a three person play, starring Danny DeVito as the weary one, Kevin Spacey as the wired one, and Peter Facinelli as the newbie with the religious fanaticism. Facinelli's character is the one who makes in roads with the big sales lead but his religuous fanaticism has him talking God not lubricating oil, so the fish slips out of their grasp, much to Spacey's character's dismay.

Really not much going on. Spacey was amazing as the hyper, wired, over the top marketing/sales guy, just a force of nature. But it was a very "stage-y" feeling movie, and the dialog was the stilted "important" stuff of plays. They also said each other's names way more than regular folks would, which kept grating on me for some reason. I also found it odd that they never once actually said "The Big Kahuna". They danced around the phrase a bit, but never used it directly. Wonder why?

I'm not really sure what the point of the movie is. They talked about some "big ticket" things, like life, death, god and what makes a person, but with no real destination in mind. There were some good one liners, but in general, it is a movie I wonder how it made it to the top of my queue.



Movie Review: Focus

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It's funny - just a couple of days before I ordered my Roku Netflix Player, I sat down in front of my computer to watch a movie. Not sure why I felt like watching an Instant movie instead of the two Netflix DVDs I have, but there ya go. And so I think the Netflix Player should work out very nicely. I got a shipping notice yesterday, so I'm hoping by early next week it will show up on my doorstep.

Anyway, the movie I Instant-ly watched was Focus, a movie starring William Macy and Laura Dern based on an Arthur Miller's first novel of the same name, written in 1945.

Focus tells the story of Larry Newman, long time manager for a manuscript firm, who is told to get glasses because he mistakenly hired a Jewish girl. But after he gets his glasses, even his mom thinks he himself looks "too Jewish" and sure enough, his anti-Semitic bosses move him down the corporate ladder, so he is forced to resign.

At the same time, the local corner market, run by Mr. Finkelstein, is inflaming the neighborhood, as Mr. Finkelstein brings in relatives obviously displaced by the ongoing World War 2. Fred (played incredibly well by Meat Loaf "Aday" - yes, that Meat Loaf) leads the neighbors in battling against "their" encroachment, fired up by the incendiary speeches of demagogue Father Creighton.

Tempers flare, garbage cans are spilled, window broken and even a little blood is spilled as the anti-Semitic "neighbors" turn against each other.

Interesting movie, although pretty ham handed. The basic premise of "walk a mile in my shoe", where Newman is mistaken (? it's never really clear) for a Jew just because he puts on glasses, is just a tad hard to swallow. And the ending, where the police are the solution, also seems a little far fetched. Macy is, of course, great, as is Dern. Meat Loaf really nailed the part of the shallow neighbor, willing to believe anything about anyone ho is different. A perfectly servicable movie, but not one to immediately put on your Netflix queue.



Streaming Netflix

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Alright, now this is cool. A box to show the streaming video now available on Netflix right on my TV! I just watched a movie on the computer the other night, but I had to reboot into Windows to do it. Now, I get it in full screen beauty - nice! I'll let you know when it arrives, as I've already ordered it.
clipped from www.roku.com
  • Over 10,000 movies and TV episodes instantly
  • No change in monthly Netflix costs and you continue to get your DVDs by mail
  • Easily connects directly to your TV
  • Pause, rewind or play anytime - just like a DVD
  • Guaranteed to work with your TV
The Netflix Player
The Netflix Player

The Netflix Player makes it easy to instantly watch movies and TV episodes over the Internet on your living room TV, or anywhere you have a TV and an Internet connection. Compact and lightweight, inexpensive but powerful, simple to set up and use (it’s the perfect answer for people who just can’t get enough Netflix).

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Blazing Tweets

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Last Friday night, after a couple of Maker's Mark and Cokes and much tweeting on Twitter, I decided it was a good idea to watch Blazing Saddles and tweet all the great one liners as the movie played. It actually was a blast and folks seemed to get quite a kick out of it. So I'm going to do it again (Tweet the movie; not sure about the drink) with Young Frankenstein (or, "Frahnk-en-shteen") this Friday. So get yourself a Twitter account and follow along!

And here's the transcript from my Friday night Mel Brooks session. See if you can't follow the movie as I go along:

And Bart was his name

What in the wide wide world of sports is going on here?

Send a wire to the main office and tell them I said ... OWWW!

Ditto? Ditto? You provincial putz...

You spare the women?
No, we rape the ... out of 'em at the #6 dance later on

We'll make Rock Ridge think it was a chicken caught in a tractor's nuts

People stampeded. And cattle raped. - murmurrrr

Authentic frontier gibberish

Work work work work. Hello boys have a good night's rest? I missed you.

I didn't get a harrumph out of that guy

Where would I find such a man? ... Why am I asking you?

Can't you see that man is a ni..

The sheriff is a ni..

As chairman of the welcoming committee, it is my privilege to extend a laurel, and hearty handshake to our new ..... n***r

Excuse me while I whip this out

The next man who makes a move, the n***r gets it

Are we awake?
It depends. Are we ... black?
Yes we are.
Then we are awake but very puzzled

Well, my name is Jim but most people call me . . . . Jim

Man, why do you do that to yourself?
Ha, you don't really wanna know that.
I do I do.
Well, if you must pry.
I must I must

Yeah, but I shoot with this hand

You was just pulling my lariat

Well raise my rent. You are The Kid!

I must've killed more men than Cecille B. DeMille

The little bastard shot me in the ass

What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?

Beans...

Why don't we give him to Mongo?

The common clay of the new West. You know ... morons

Never mind that shit, here comes Mongo!

Mongo ain't exactly a who - he's more of a what

Candy gram for Mongo.
Me Mongo.
Sign please. Thank you
Mongo like candy

My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives

Gol darn it Mr. Lamarr. You use your tongue prettier than a 20 dollar whore

Lily von Shtupp, whose very name was bleeped on network tv

[ed. note: For the record it's Lili von Shtupp or 'The Teutonic Titwillow' or 'Lili Lili Lili legs Lili Lili']

Is Bismark a herring?

They are always coming & going & going & coming & always too soon

Oooo. A wed wose. How womantic

Tell me schatzie is it twue what they say about the way you people are gifted?
Oh it's twue it's twue

Don't know. Mongo only pawn in game of life

I want rustlers, cutthroats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, real estate agents, mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwackers, hornswogglers, horsethieves, bulldykes, trainrobbers, bankrobbers, asskickers, shitkickers and ... METHODISTS!

You'd do it for Randolph Scott

Head'em off at the pass? I HATE that cliche

Now you are about to embark on a great crusade to stamp out decency on the West. Now you will only be risking your lives, while I will be risking an almost certain Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor

Now go do that voodoo that you do sooooooo well

Somebody's gotta go back and get a shitload of dimes


Movie Review: The Exorcist

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I finally got around to watching The Exorcist, a Netflix rentals I have had lying around for over a month. And, to top that off, I don't think I have ever watch it from start to end. I read the book oh so many years ago, but that's about it. For some reason, some horror flick that pivoted so completely on a grandiose battle of good vs. evil on a stage replete with religious trappings just was not drawing me in. But I finally put this version, the original not the restored one, onto the player and sat back.

And was blown away. Director William Friedkin took his time getting there and it made the arrival all the more anticipated. The first third of the movie merely showed the various principles in their normal lives, leavened with only a touch of strangeness - the odd noises coming for the attic of the Georgetown townhouse owned by Ellen Burstyn's actress character, Chris MacNeil. She shows way more spunk than I would have, going up into the dark attic with a candle, investigating the sounds. I'd be too afraid, not of ghosts but of a rabid raccoon or something!

But gradually her daughter, Regan (of course, Linda Blair, all of 14 years old herself), begins to exhibit some strange behaviors, like swearing, bouncing the bed up and down, and the like. Then come the most unsettling scenes in the movie for me, the father of two young girls - Regan getting scanned for possible brain lesions to explain her erratic actions. Really gave me the chills watching her go under the knife and get stuck in a room with machines.

Things get worse and worse and the mother finally brings in a reluctant Catholic priest to help out. Much screaming, hollering, religious mumbo jumbo and bloodshed later, she is finally cured. Very exciting stuff.

I am so glad to have finally watched The Exorcist. Really an exciting and tense movie, well worth its classic status. I loved how long the buildup was; it really made for some edge of the seat viewing. Friedkin sure is in love with filming long, usually solo, walks though. Right from the start, when he followed Mas von Sydow through a long walk through an Iraqi city, walks figured prominently throughout the movie. The religious mumbo jumbo got a little hard to take and weakened the thrills at the end a little, but it was good that in the end it didn't seem to really be the thing that got rid of the demon. Inner demons seemed to be the key.

I did watch about half of Friedkin's commentary, and it was interesting. He told of the search for an actress to play the mother's part. Burstyn campaigned early for it, but the studio wanted a name actress like Fonda or Hepburn, but eventually Burstyn got the part, and it of course worked very well. He also talked some about the writing process, how he urged William Peter Blatty to go back and do it again, as his original script overemphasized the "horror" parts of his book.

So a big thumbs up for The Exorcist. I'm wondering now if I should try the newer, "Restored Version", which adds over 10 minutes of footage. I originally had both in my Netflix queue, but I decided one was enough. Now I think I'll need to try the new one too!



Muxtape

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I "finished" a muxtape today, just for the heck of it. No real thought went into the song selection, just kind of prowled around my music folder and added whatever grabbed my fancy (and was a <10mb MP3 song). Predominantly 80s New Wave music, turns out - not much of a surprise. But a few new things, two Swedish artists, and an instrumental. Give it a try and share one of your own!

      Hieronymus' muxtape
      12 songs, 51:26 minutes

      Anna Ternheim - Girl Laying Down
      Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Brother, My Cup Is Empty
      Juluka - Simple Things
      Boys Don't Cry - I Wanna Be A Cowboy
      Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Shuffle Your Feet
      Robyn - Konichiwa Bitches (alt version)
      The The - Uncertain Smile
      They Eat Their Own - Like A Drug
      Massive Attack - Teardrop
      Laura Veirs and Saltbreakers - To the Country
      Fujiya And Miyagi - Ankle Injuries
      The Clean - Chumpy

Gaming My Life Away

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As for gaming, we really have been enjoying Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 (phew, that's a mouthful!). The challenge seems to be just right. We're playing it co-op, giving each of us one extra life, which I think is fair, given the viciousness of the weapons. While there isn't a real "story", you do play connected maps with a thin veneer of plot, so it's good enough for us.

It's been especially nice now that we've figured out how to use the M.U.L.E., which is the flying remote control "eye in the sky". By hitting the up arrow, you tell it to go to where you are looking and by hitting the down arrow, it will come and hover over you. It marks any enemies it sees on your HUD, making it much easier. We were just moving it randomly up until a few sessions ago.

My Neverwinter Nights campaign has slowed down due to Tuesday evening commitments from both of us. But we're nearly through the first part of the game and have actually explored a few sections that C hasn't been to before, so it has been fun. We have a million outstanding quests though, so we're afraid to talk to anyone else for fear of getting Yet Another Quest!

I picked up Grand Theft Auto IV for my PS3 last week, using my "sorry you bought HD-DVD" $50 Best Buy gift card, so it cost only $2, after I included another gift certificate. I played it a bit and found it interesting, but certainly not the 99 rating as found on Metacritic. I tend to more agree with Bill Harris' GTA IV impressions. There's just some weird shit that goes on. But I hope to dedicate some time to it soon.

MUTO

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An amazing video - animation draw on public walls:



Swedish Tour

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Went to a great club show the other day. Can't really call it a concert, as it was in a pretty small venue (the Middle East Upstairs, which is even smaller than Downstairs I think). But it was an excellent time.

We were pretty late to the show. The show was supposed to start at 9pm but due to overindulging at Midwest Grille, a Brazilian "Churrasco" restaurant (you know, one of those where they just keep coming and filling your plate with fresh cuts of meat). The sirloin was particularly good and the Caipirinha was an excellent "dessert". But it did mean we didn't show up at the Middle East until nearly 10.

But lucky for us, the first act was just getting warmed up.  Anna Ternheim was brand new to me, but between her guitar playing, clear voice, enchanting accent, and cute-as-a-button looks, I was hooked from the start. Her songs had an engaging personalness and were sung with feeling and verve. And her cover of China Doll blew me away. I talked with her a bit after her set and she was as nice in person as she seemed on stage. Her first real North American tour, it continued to Montreal the next day and on across North America. I later bought her US debut CD, Halfway to Fivepoints, which she graciously signed. Anna explained that it was much more orchestrated than her solo set, but that didn't worry me at all. Also, see V♥M's Anna Ternhiem post.

05 - China Girl
Anna Ternheim
No Subtle Men
Anna Ternheim

Anna was followed by Lykke Li, who opened up the sound quite a bit. Adding a drummer and keyboardist, Lykke showed some serious dance chops, with some great beats and plenty of energy. It was funny, as we were talking with someone in the audience before Lykke came out and he wanted to know about El Perro, who he wasn't familiar with, while we were in the opposite boat, having never heard Lykke Li before. Lykke later came out to accompany El Perro Del Mar.

And it was El Perro Del Mar that originally brought us to the Middle East. And she was as introverted on stage as she sounds on disc. Her hair in a short pony tail, she stuck with her hauntingly beautiful lo-fi songs, with a drummer and a keyboard along with her. El Perro's voice was as clear and unique in a club setting as it is on CD and she played a couple of encores, with Lykke Li helping out on one. The set was pretty much split between her first two US releases, while the encores were from The Valley to the Stars, her newest CD. I had held off buying it until the show and I was lucky enough to get El Perro to sign the new one there too. But, like Anna, her stage personae is no fake and she's as distant in person as she was on stage.

But a great night was had by all. Well, save for dropping a full beer on the floor before the start of things! But I otherwise had a grand time, especially enjoying the up close viewing I got for El Perro, as the crowd thinned out a little, possibly due to the latest of the hour, but also I think there were plenty who were there for Lykke Li. So if they come to your neck of the woods, I encourage you to check it out.




Bonded Again

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I also finally watched Casino Royale, the 2006 version that introduced new Bond, Daniel Craig. It was a darker, more serious Bond film than I am used to, although I have to admit to having never seen any of the Pierce Brosnan ones, so I'm not sure if the trend had started earlier.

In this film, based on Ian Fleming's first Bond book, we see the origins of the "double oh" that James Bond would become. In fact, it begins with a black and white montage, showing us how Bond qualified for the 00 status. After this, we see him in Africa, trying to track down the source of terrorist money and he follows the money trail until he attempts to break the financier in a high stakes poker game. Much mayhem ensues and Bond gets his man.

I enjoyed this new Bond flick and thought Craig made an excellent Bond. I'm not, however, keen on torture scenes, even if we know revenge is in the offing, so it was a little unsettling. And I thought the movie in general was uneven; that the pacing was off. There were plenty of good action scenes, but the idea of hinging the whole plot on a poker game seemed just to trite these days. But I'm looking forward to his next installment.

I watched on BluRay extra, about the search for Craig. It's funny, the producers were talking about needing a new Bond, because this movie would go back to the beginning of his career, so they wanted someone younger. But they admitted that while it didn't make much chronological sense, they did stick with Judi Dench as "M". I have to also admit that I for some reason thought this was her first, but she actually goes all the way back to GoldenEye, Brosnan's first Bond flick.

The BluRay picture was very nice. I could really see the quality when I paused the movie - rock solid pause with a crisp, clear picture. I still like the HD DVD menus and extras better, but what can you say?

Netflix and the USPS really have been combining for a joyful experience. I dropped the movie in the mailbox Tuesday just before pickup (1pm). Wednesday at 7am I got notice that the movie had arrived in the processing house. And I had its replacement by Thursday. Very Nice!



Too Crowded

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We went to see Crowded House last night at the Somerville Theater. My wife is a huge fan, me not so much. But hey, I'll go anywhere for a night out. They put on a good show, and seemed to be having fun up there. The crowd was a little laid back, at least until the encores.

It's unfortunate the cell phone pictures and videos didn't come out. A bad cell phone camera combined with the challenging atmosphere of a concert make for some pretty unusable media.

The coolest thing happened during dinner before the show. We went to an Indian restaurant in Davis Square and as the drinks came, I noticed that G wasn't paying any attention to me, preferring instead to stare at the table behind me. Turns out, two of the band members, Nick Seymour and Mark Hart (much older looking these days!), were having dinner. She couldn't get over it and I took a couple of pictures of her with them after they were done. Made for a pretty exciting evening.

Personally, I've still been playing the heck out of the Gorillaz Demon Days CD. Just can't get enough of it. I see where the Harlem film version of it is playing on MHD, I think, May 15. I think I like the mixing on that better than the CD version. A friend loaned me Guster's Lost and Gone Forever, which I enjoyed. A group formed locally, it's good jangly pop stuff.

I actually crawled out of my cave and went out to see Bess Rogers at a local dive. She was great and I really enjoyed the show. Picked up a CD and even got it signed, my third such CD (Lui Collins and Sleepy LaBeef being my previous two). Once again, big thanks to W♥M for the heads up on Ms. Rogers.

Now I'm looking forward to seeing El Perro Del Mar locally later this week. I should just grab her latest CD and give it a listen, although if I wait until the show, maybe I can get it signed!




All a-twitter

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I've been pretty quiet here at Trifle for a couple of reasons. First off, work has been pretty hectic, as we try to get a version together for a BIG customer. While my company is very very good at resisting long, involved changes for the sake of one customer, when a multi-billion dollar company really really wants something that is on your upcoming feature list, you tend to do your best to deliver it early, right?

I've also become something of Twitter-holic, especially since I added unlimited text messaging to our cellphone plan. As I've mentioned before, I have even received some timely help via my twitter "neighborhood", which is a feedback loop that is hard to resist. I've stopped using TwitterFox though. For one thing, Firefox itself is slightly too unstable, as it tends to crash about twice a day, so I figure I need to cut back on my Addons. Secondly, typing gets very very very slow. Not sure what that is, besides a general Firefox slowdown, but it makes it impossible to use.

So I've been beta (maybe even alpha!) testing phpitter, a PHP(!) app. It took some work to get it installed, but the SVN version is reasonably solid at this point. I suppose I should look at twitux. Or maybe write my own, eh?

But anyway, a couple of short takes on my time wasting efforts, besides Twitter:

  • I read Debatable Space by Philip Palmer. A pretty long science fiction novel, it tells the story of some space pirates who kidnap a VIP and then proceed to try and topple the current galactic overlords. A little too much internal dialog by the VIP, and not quite enough action, but the book postulates an interesting future of limitless resources and "travel" by avatar, as the light speed speed limit is still obeyed. If you like "hard" sci-fi, I think you'll like this book. Just skip over all the interminable Lena reflections and you won't miss a thing.
  • I watched Michael Clayton onDemand and was decidedly underwhelmed. Originally, I had no interest in the movie. Who cares about battle lawyers? But the previews I saw on cable made it look pretty intense, so I used my free coupon to "rent" it. The beginning was cool, with a very startling event punctuating a quiet time, but then it rewound time (which I generally like in a movie) and got dull. I just never understood why George Clooney's Michael Clayton suddenly got attacked by a case of the guilts. Some whacko lawyer friend of his decides that defending big business is right and he somehow infects Clayton, whose conscience bothers him after years and years of protecting the big guy. I never got connected with him and so the last 2/3rds of the film just didn't resonate. Oh well.
  • Fever Pitch became available online at Fancast (a Comcast site), so I watched that yet again while "working" yesterday. Man, the 2004 ALCS still brings a tear to me eye. I wonder if any but heartfelt Red Sox fans can really "get it". It's not as painful as Game Six, as it has a much better ending, but still...

Narrator: Ben became one of God's most pathetic creatures - a Red Sox fan.
Uncle Carl: Careful kid. They'll break your heart.



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