Monday, February 26, 2007

The Merlin Show

I've had a love-hate relationship with 43Folders for about a year now. All that talk about productivity and Getting Things Done and moleskine notebooks seems like so much fetishism, but occasionally the author, Merlin Mann, will throw out a truly useful tidbit for bringing one's work life into focus.

Merlin seems like a nice guy, so I'm going to give The Merlin Show a few episodes to grow on me. No way it could ever replace The Show with Ze Frank in my heart, but it's not trying to. Let's see where this goes.

What a wonderful world

I figured there would be something in the Oscars telecast that I would be sorry I missed. I also figured it would be on YouTube the next morning.

I was right on both counts. Below: Will Ferrell, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly wax melodic on the plight of the comedian on Oscar night.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Wow, so that's how much I don't care.

It's 8:25 p.m. EST. I'm about 20 minutes into Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla. I just realized, hey, the Oscars are on right now.

And though G vs. SG is one of the worst Godzilla movies ever made, I keep watching.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

What does Marsellus Wallace look like?

Variations on a theme. You'll need to have seen Pulp Fiction to really know what's going on, but I figure that covers most of you reading this.

Look here and then here.

[via Graceful Flavor]


"The Host" hits theaters

Sci-Fi Japan has a handy list of release dates for Gwoemul (The Host) in various US cities over the next month or so. Check and see when the latest giant monster movie from Korea stomps into your town. There are also a couple of trailers on the page.

If you're in the Tampa area you can see The Host even earlier -- it's playing on March 3rd at the Channelside 10 theaters as part of the Gasparilla Film Festival.

And don't forget to read Stomp Tokyo's review of The Host.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Official Ishiro Honda Site online

A little late perhaps, given that Honda passed away in 1993, but a welcome addition to the web nonetheless. Ishiro Honda co-wrote and directed the original GODZILLA and dozens of other amazing films including seven more Godzilla films and a host of Toho sci-fi and fantasy films. It's not necessary to read Japanese to enjoy the site but it sure helps.

[via Sci-Fi Japan]

Elevator World

This is one of my favorite short films of all time -- I saw it as part of a film festival years back and have subsequently wondered if I'd imagined it. Now the bounteous waves of the Internet have carried it back to me. Thank you, Internet. Thank you.

Interesting that AtomFilms got on the bandwagon and started allowing users to embed films on their own pages a la YouTube.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

From the eye-popping quotes dept.

From a capsule review of Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles on Netflix:

"I'm a Robotech fan. I even named my daughter Miriya."

That poor kid. But hey, coulda been worse. He could have named her Minmay.

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Manga Simpsons

I found this image file on my desktop while cleaning up the clutter. I think I found it a while back via Daring Fireball but I don't really recall. Check out the original here or see it on deviantART.

Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier in your ear: the SModcast

SmodcastIf you're one of those people who can listen to all three of the commentary tracks on Clerks II, then SModcast may be for you. Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier, apparently with nothing else to do with their time, get together to chat about pop culture and current events. It's part of the new incarnation of Movie Poop Shoot called Quick Stop Entertainment.

Anyway, if you're so inclined you can add it to your podcast subscriptions or listen to it online by clicking here.

Monday, February 19, 2007

One more Vista review

I know things have been a little heavy on the "technology" side of my "film, technology, fun" slogan around here lately, but there's one last(?) Vista review I want to share.

[Vista] does benefit from a lot of good ideas, many of them Apple's, of course, but good nevertheless. It simply doesn't work very well, unfortunately. There are serious problems with execution; it's not polished; it's not ready. It should not be on the market, and certainly not for the outrageous prices being charged. Don't buy it, at least until after the first service pack is out. Don't pay to be a beta tester.
Review by Thomas Green in the Register.

[via MacSlash, which points to an Infinite Loop article that estimates that 75% of all Vista reviews mention OS X]

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What's news - February 19th

John Gruber over at Daring Fireball offers a wonderful translation of Fred Amoroso's thoughts on digital rights management (DRM). DRM is a hot topic right now, and personally I'm hoping it (DRM, not just the topic) dies a quick and quiet death. But until then it sure makes for some entertaining reading.

The Maltese Falcon has been stolen.

New Simpsons movie trailer!

Friday, February 16, 2007

The 1/2 Hour News Hour

Fox news made a crappy Daily Show ripoff for the radical Right. Should I be surprised that it's not funny?

'Cuz I'm not.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Family Auto Mart

Go ahead, waste eight minutes of your life. I dare ya.


Now That's a Freakout

TheguteNew blog from my friend Kelly Williams, grand poobah of film programming over at the Austin Film Festival. "Now That's a Freakout" showcases all of Kelly's favorite freakouts, like the homemade "Get A Life" action figure or the 1980s video tour of a Chuck E Cheese after hours. Kelly's a huge fan of sketch comedy (a comedy school dropout himself) and has a bit of a nostalgic bent for the '80s, so expect great things.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Windows Vista - the Wow starts... now?

WhichvistaThe reviews of Windows Vista are rolling in, and I don't think it comes as much of a surprise to anyone that those reviews are lukewarm at best. (Sure, there's the occasional raving from "industry experts" like Paul Thurrott, but honestly -- that guy would praise Bill Gates' latest bowel movement if given the excuse.) Never being one to pass up a good bit of schadenfreude at the expense of Microsoft, here are some of my favorite quotes thus far.

The big guys were iffy but largely played it safe.

If the description so far makes Vista sound a lot like the Macintosh, well, you're right. You get the feeling that Microsoft's managers put Mac OS X on an easel and told the programmers, ''Copy that.''

. . .

And then there's that Sidebar, the floating layer of mini-programs. If you close one of the gadgets, you lose its contents forever: your notes in the Post-it Notes gadget, your stock portfolio in the Stocks gadget, and so on. You couldn't save them if you wanted to. How could Microsoft have missed that one.
- David Pogue, The New York Times
. . . while Vista has eased some of the burden on users imposed by the Windows security crisis, it will still force you to spend more time managing the computer than I believe people should have to devote.

. . .

Many of the boldest plans for Vista were discarded in that lengthy process. What’s left is a worthy, but largely unexciting, product.
- Walt Mossberg, The Wall Street Journal
From a bit lower down the journalistic food chain come comments like these.

Regardless of widespread skepticism, I was confident that Vista would dazzle me, and I looked forward to saying so in print. Ironically, playing around with Vista for more than a month has done what years of experience and exhortations from Mac-loving friends could not: it has converted me into a Mac fan.
- Erika Jonietz, MIT Technology Review
Perhaps we're spoiled, but after more than five years of development, there's a definite "Is that all?" feeling about Windows Vista. Like cramming an info-dump into a book report the night before it's due, there certainly are a lot of individual features within the operating system, but the real value lies in their execution--how the user experiences (or doesn't experience) these--and like the info-dump, we came away shaking our heads, disappointed.
- Robert Vamosi, CNET
And finally, my favorite of the bunch, Stephen Manes' review in Forbes magazine. The reviews from Mossberg and Pogue left me thinking that no major print publication would come out stridently against the new OS, but Manes proved me wrong.

Windows Vista: more than five years in the making, more than 50 million lines of code. The result? A vista slightly more inspiring than the one over the town dump. The new slogan is: "The 'Wow' Starts Now," and Microsoft touts new features, many filched shamelessly from Apple's Macintosh. But as with every previous version, there's no wow here, not even in ironic quotes. Vista is at best mildly annoying and at worst makes you want to rush to Redmond, Wash. and rip somebody's liver out.

Vista is a fading theme park with a few new rides, lots of patched-up old ones and bored kids in desperate need of adult supervision running things. If I can find plenty of problems in a matter of hours, why can't Microsoft? Most likely answer: It did--and it doesn't care.
Manes goes on for pages, dropping gems like this one along the way:

Should you upgrade your current machine? Are you nuts? Upgrading is almost always a royal pain.
But Forbes isn't done there. A few days later Bruce Schneier wrote on the Forbes site about Vista's built-in digital rights management features.

Windows Vista includes an array of "features" that you don't want. These features will make your computer less reliable and less secure. They'll make your computer less stable and run slower. They will cause technical support problems. They may even require you to upgrade some of your peripheral hardware and existing software. And these features won't do anything useful. In fact, they're working against you. They're digital rights management (DRM) features built into Vista at the behest of the entertainment industry.
Schneier actually goes so far as to recommend "holding out" against Microsoft by not upgrading to Vista for as long as possible.

Reviews like these certainly won't make Microsoft happy, but it sounds like they richly deserve these comments for foisting a steaming turd onto the computing world at large. As for me, I'm hoping I can last for a while on my Windows XP (SP1!) tower and XP (SP2) laptop for long enough for more reasonable version of Vista to appear (Vista SP1?). Not that I plan on using Windows for much, but there are still some things in this world that require a Windows box. Unfortunately.

[thanks to Daring Fireball, Engadget, and FakeSteve for the links]

Thanks, Target. Thanks a bunch.

Commission an awesome new cover of the Beatles "Hello Goodbye" by Sophia Shorai and the only place I can hear it is on YouTube. Well, there and on Shorai's awesome advertising jingles page.

[Update - Shorai's jingles page is awesome, but the "Hello Goodbye" jingle isn't there. Aw. Still worth a click and a listen.]


Friday, February 09, 2007

Pointless Friday Video for Feb 9 2006

You bet your ass it's a skateboarding bulldog!


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Glen & Gary & Glen & Ross cross-genre trailer

Not even vaguely safe for work, but hilarious.

See also Must Love Jaws and Ten Things I Hate About Commandments. Ooh, and Office Space: Recut.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Net @ Nite - will someone please shut Leo Laporte up?

NetatniteSince installing a stereo in my car that accepts auxiliary input, I've been listening to more podcasts during my commute. Gone are the days of burning an hour's worth of podcast material onto a CD-R every day; now I just plug in my iPod and drive. Yes, yes. Welcome to 2002.

I used to subscribe to Inside the Net, which I enjoyed for Amber Macarthur's thoughtful interview style and the news about fun emerging web services that I'm too lazy/busy/lame to find for myself. Amber liked to drop a question in an interviewee's lap and let them answer it (more or less) in full before jumping back in to prod the conversation forward. The format of the show wasn't revolutionary, but it was good information and easy to listen to.

Nowadays Inside the Net has been rebranded as Net@Nite. The show is recorded before a "live" studio audience on a VOIP service called Talkshoe and features both MacArthur and long-time tech pundit Leo Laporte. I have nothing against Laporte in general – he's good at making technology concepts accessible to mainstream audiences, and at chatting up tech "celebrities" like Steve Wozniak while going over the news of the day on his own show, This Week in Tech (aka TWiT). His style is all wrong for Net@Nite – or at least it would have been for Inside the Net. Leo's personality steamrolls over both MacArthur and the guests unless they have an aggressive style of their own, which is particularly annoying when one just wants to sort out the subtleties of a technological issue.

One guest whose appearance was particularly wasted on a recent episode was John Gruber's. Gruber writes Daring Fireball, which is one of the most contemplative and sophisticated technology blogs on the web. Asking Gruber to comment on the iPhone shortly after its announcement was the right move, but subjecting him to Laporte's jokey interview style was not. Gruber struggled valiantly to articulate what he thought Apple's strategy was with the iPhone and with future versions of the iPod but Laporte interrupted his train of thought every few seconds.

John Gruber: Steve Jobs has explicitly stated that he sees this more as an iPhone -- or iPod-like device than as a computer or PDA or --

Leo Laporte: It's less of a phone and more of a -- well, not even just an iPod but he called it an internet communicator.

JG: Right, and one way -- you can think of it that way. Think of a device, let's just call it, say, the next generation iPod. If hypothetically the next iPod is exactly like this iPhone except it doesn't have any of the phone features, you know if it has wi-fi --

LL: I hope the have a -- that's one other thing I was saying is I really hope that they do do a touchscreen iPod, I mean -- wouldn't that be a nice iPod? Might be a better iPod than it is a phone!

JG: Right. I mean, so imagine a device with the exact same -- I mean, even if you imagine that it, you know -- don't even think about hard drive storage space, just think, you know, flash-based storage, just like this. Four gigabyte, eight-gigabyte. It would be the exact same specs, other than the phone features --

LL: No, I want one with a hundred-gigabyte hard drive.

JG: Well, I'm just saying though, for the sake of argument . . . .
And so on. Gruber tries to explain that philosophically the iPhone may be better thought of as a next-gen iPod with phone features than as a smartphone designed for heavy voice and internet use, but it takes him several minutes of struggling up-stream against Laporte's interjections to get the thought out. It's a shame, really - what other interesting points might Gruber have made if given the chance? (John is well-spoken and friendly in person -- if you're going to SXSW interactive this year drop in on one of his panels to see for yourself.) Judging from this performance, Leo Laporte has forgotten that a radio host's job is to ask good questions and get out of the way for the answer. Being friendly to your guests is fine. Obfuscating the topic is just bad podcasting. So long as Mr. Laporte is muddying things up on Net @ Nite, I think I'll be getting my tech news from some other show. Sorry, Amber.

Apple gets its digs in at Vista

Apple's marketing department / ad agency must be having a ball with the new opportunities to poke fun at PCs.

New "Security" ad at

[via Daring Fireball]

7 Things Learned From Superbowl Ads

Scott and I used to do a write-up of the Superbowl commercials each year, but now everyone and his brother does the same thing. Ironically, the commercials have become complete crap since then. One of the best of this year's reviews of the game day ads is here at 10 Zen Monkeys. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Best. Superbowl. Commercial. Ever.

"Grab your Garmin."


Friday, February 02, 2007

Whedon calls it quits on Wonder Woman

...and I, for one, am relieved. I can't say I was ever enthusiastic about the subject matter, and development was taking so long that one could detect the faint whiff of failure around the project. Looks like all parties involved felt that way:

We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that's never gonna work. Non-sympatico. It happens all the time. I don't think any of us expected it to this time, but it did. Everybody knows how long I was taking, what a struggle that script was, and though I felt good about what I was coming up with, it was never gonna be a simple slam-dunk. I like to think it rolled around the rim a little bit, but others may have differing views.
Read the rest of Whedon's statement at Whedonesque.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What is Communism?


Marty McKee of the Mobius Home Video Forum has a pretty good overview of the controversial short What is Communism? – which used to screen every year at B-Fest until the print disappeared. Now it's on DVD, though, so it's preserved for the ages. I say controversial because some B-Fest fans loved its annual appearance and thought it hilarious, while others rankled at the treatment of what was once serious international politics (including photographs of mass graves) as comedy. Watch and decide for yourself.