A few weeks ago, as opening day for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon approached, I began to make up other phrases that fit into that 4 word, 8 syllable format. For instance, yesterday’s plane ride could be described as “Crowded Aircraft, Crying Infant”. My workday so far today can be summed up as “Freezing Fingers, Empty Workplace”. The best one I’ve come up with is “Fancy Bobsled, Happy Hobo”, which doesn’t mean anything, but I still like the sound of it (who knew B was such a funny letter).
I’ve closed posting on this, but you can read other people’s alternate Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon titles here.
I read Voltaire’s Candide on the plane yesterday (a quick read at only 94 pages). It was good, but I think I would have enjoyed it more had the plane not been so loud and distracting. A full version of Candide is available online at the Voltaire Foundation.
Castaway was good, but not great; Hanks plays the same character he’s played in the last 6 movies he’s made. I would have enjoyed the movie more with an actor like Philip Seymour Hoffman in the lead role. Also not great is the official Castaway Web site, which I’m not going to point to because it opens in a full-screen window without giving you an obvious way to close it. Bad, bad.
I spent Christmas in Boston this year, the first time I’d ever been there. A nice town, more working class-seeming than either SF or Mpls., but it was too cold to really explore the city much (it seems I’ve acclimated to the warm California weather much quicker than anticipated).
On Christmas Eve, we went to the Nutcracker (my first trip to the ballet), followed by champagne at the Ritz Carlton with the former mayor of Boston, shopping on fashionable Newbery Street, and fine dining at an elegant restaurant. Well, we didn’t exactly have champagne *with* the former mayor of Boston, but he was seated at the table next to us. And the shopping trip was more window in nature than anything else, although I did buy this nifty A Clockwork Orange poster.
Christmas Day brought a partial solar eclipse, which we were in an excellent position to view; the moon obscured almost 60% of the sun in Boston. I made a quick pinhole camera so we could look at it safely. We also viewed the eclipse through the thickness of a CD, which worked quite well.
As you can see, I’m testing out the BlogVoices commenting system. I’ve wanted to put a commenting system on my site for quite a while now, and BlogVoices is a fairly good alternative to building my own. There are a few things that I don’t like about it (not-rebrandable, posting form is at the bottom of the comments list, comments list is in reverse chronological order, comments appear without the context of the original post, no status bar so you can’t see the URLs of links), but I’m hoping it will do for now. And it’s free! What part don’t you like about free? I’m also hoping that it works without Blogger…I just threw in a random BlogID and it seems to work.
Hey, that’s Silkscreen lurking at the bottom of the BlogVoices popup window. Excellent.
I saw Requiem for a Dream last night, which is quite possibly the most unsettling and disturbing movie I’ve ever seen. I liked it a lot though.
Holiday fun recycled from last year: a Shockwave snowball fight game. Quite simple and quite addictive.
A new Radiohead album, titled Amnesiac, is already due out in March or April of next year. An interesting side note: their US publicity firm, Nasty Little Man, also handles the Beastie Boys. The Boys’ last new album took its title from the way that the PR firm answered the phone: “Hello Nasty”.
Now that I work over in the financial district, I see this guy walking around quite a bit. His name is Frank, he’s Asian, and he is working to impeach President Clinton (who rules 12 galaxies) on behalf of a Zegnatronic society. That all may sound a little strange, but he might be more sane than the scores of people rushing past him trying to win the rat race.
Some reflections on 2000 and predictions for 2001 (with a focus on the Internet) by Dave Pell of Davenetics. Amidst all the doom and gloom articles being written out there, Dave’s commentary is among the most even-handed and insightful that I’ve read:
“Email will become the killerer app. It continued to work when all else failed. Communication - not consumer storefronts - is the core value provided by the net and email is the star. The best things on the net make things easier and faster. Seems simple, but many of the failed business propositions of the past year seemed to go in the opposite direction.”
Somehow, I was able to buy the new Princess Mononoke DVD three days before its official release date on Tuesday (Camelot Records in the Embarcadero Center for anyone who is interested…they had 6 copies when I was there last night). I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but I’m looking forward to that tonight. Here’s an Epinions review of Princess Mononoke that I wrote over a year ago.
I forgot how good Joaquin Phoenix was in Gladiator. I hope he gets nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar.
We have three bathrooms at our new offices: one co-ed upstairs, a men’s downstairs, and a women’s downstairs. As far as I can tell, no one uses the downstairs bathrooms…except for me. It’s like I have my own private bathroom down there. I’m thinking of bringing in some nice hand towels, some French milled soaps & fragrant hand lotions, a basket of reading materials, appropriate wall coverings & knick knack items, and some plush rugs. Maybe I could even hire an attendant to dispense these items. Then I will be living in high style.
Live party cam (if you can actually see anything with the darkness in here…)
Update on the party cam: the party is over and I was going to post some archived pics, but the quality is so crappy, I’m not going to.
No more Jakob Nielsen parodies, jokes, or the like. It’s not funny anymore (if it ever was).
TiVo owners rejoice, a new version of the TiVo software will be heading your way soon. Among the new features: wish lists, searching (by keyword, actor, director, etc.), overtime “padding” (to ensure that you get the ends of shows), and prioritized recording.
Required reading over at caterina.net: The upsides to the downturn, or why this dot com going out of business thing isn’t such a bad deal after all.
Adidas, wanting to distance themselves from the extremely busy (over)design of athletic shoes these days, modelled Kobe Bryant’s new shoe after the Audi TT…with help from the folks at Audi. I don’t like the look of the result, but after walking around in Niketown for 45 minutes last week and not finding a single shoe that appealed to me, I applaud their effort to move away from the conventional approach.
Nubbin is back. Monstro is back. Metascene has a new URL. Overjoyed? Yes. Yes we are. We were beginning to give up hope.
It’s over, it’s over. So glad. So, so glad.
Domain name misuse: petac.org. PETAC, which is currently People for the Expeditious Termination of Annoying Characters, a group aiming to assassinate annoying literary and movie characters, would be more properly used by a group called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal Crackers. It’s much funnier that way, dammit!
Thanks to a recommendation by TiVo, I caught a documentary about Secretariat on Sunday. I’d always heard of Secretariat being this great horse, but not having heard or seen anything specific about him, I’d never really understood why. After seeing the amazing race he ran at Belmont, I completely understand why he’s spoken about in hallowed tones. Secretariat won the race by 31 lengths, running the entire race at top speed, an effort that would have killed a normal horse and ranks right up there with any sort of heroic effort that you’d care to name in the world of sports. After his death, an autopsy revealed that Secretariat was indeed not a normal horse; his heart was 2 1/2 times bigger than that of the average horse.
Underworld fans should check out Everything; Everything, a DVD version of their live album of the same name. Great music and great design from Tomato.
We have to wait until March for the new Daft Punk album, but you can get the first single right now.
I posted a review of Edward Fella: Letters on America, a book of signage photography (recommended, 4 out of 5 stars). Princeton Architectural Press, the publisher of Letters on America, has many other fine books on design that I’m drooling over as I look through their catalog.
Bigger is better…at least with televisions.
A good article today from the New York Times Magazine about gay teens depending on the Internet to explore their sexuality. As much as I enjoyed the article, I enjoyed Brian Cronin’s illustrations even more. A pass through his Web site reveals even more illustrative goodness, his style a cross between Magritte and that of airline safety instruction cards (at least, that’s how it appears to my untrained eye). Put me down as a fan.
Cisco has an interesting Facts & Stats page that links to a number of statistics about Web usage, ecommerce volume, and the Internet’s impact on the economy at large. Quite a lot of research for which Cisco paid a lot of money, all on the Web for us to use for free. Gotta love the Web.
Two links stolen from Steve: under construction: (re)defining culture and community in cyberspace (an overview of the way that anthropology is beginning to understand culture and community in the context of cyberspace) and under construction (a collaborative weblog exploring and chronicling culture and community on the internet). Alas, I have no time to explore either of these things thoroughly, but I’m passing them along in the hopes that you might.
Passed along for your (possible) amusement: Am I KOTTKE or NOT. When something gets to the stage of including a reference to someone like me, I think the horse is pretty much dead, isn’t it folks?
Online merchant to avoid: goodguys.com. I tried to order a television from them and had several problems. During the checkout process, I got dumped back to the shopping cart after I had entered my shipping and billing information. Then, when I pushed the “next” button to complete my transaction, it redirected me to “staging.goodguys.com”, which I am assuming is their development server, and asked me for a name and password.
Not knowing whether my order had been completed or not, I tried calling customer support. No answer…the phone didn’t even ring. I then emailed their support staff. Almost three days later, still no response. After calling twice more and getting busy signals, I finally got through, but was told that they couldn’t check on my order because their site was down. Finally, I got through to them this morning via phone and they verified that my order had not gone through.
If it had been one problem with the ordering process, it might have been ok, but all of these errors taken together is clearly unacceptable. On top of that, the person I spoke to on the phone this morning told me that the easiest way for me to complete my order was to do it over the phone, indicating their own lack of confidence in their online ordering process. My advice to you is to avoid goodguys.com for your holiday needs, at least until they get their online ordering process straightened out.
I watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on TV last night…you know, the old stop-motion, family classic. A couple lessons learned:
- It’s not ok to be different, unless you have a useful skill or profession, like dentistry or saving Christmas.
- Any important task is a man’s job. Womenfolk need not apply.
And then there’s the question of Rudolph’s young dentist friend: Is he gay? It certainly would seem so from watching the movie and from all the clues that are dropped: doesn’t fit in with the rest of the elves (who are presumably heterosexual), has hair (none of the other male elves have hair, but the female ones do), has a high voice, and has a pointy nose (the other male elves have big, rounded noses; the female elves have pointy ones). Hermey the Elf could be one of the first portrayals of a (I would say, openly) gay character on television that is portrayed in a (relatively) positive light. Pretty good for a children’s holiday special made in 1964.
It was fun while it lasted.
The Top 10 Greatest Moments in Simpsons History. Not on the list is any moment from last night’s “Internet” episode. (insert obligatory “worst episode ever” joke here) (insert apology for using both the tired “worst episode ever” and “insert obligatory” jokes here) (insert acknowledgement that I did it again) (insert further acknowledgement that I am most likely, consciously or subconsciously, ripping this whole meta-acknowledgement bit from Dave Eggers’ book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius) (and so forth)
There’s a new episode of 0sil8 called Press Nothing to Continue. Basically, it’s a weblog (powered by Blogger) read over the phone. Blogger outputs a VXML (Voice XML) file which is then scraped by Tellme Networks when someone calls the 0sil8 extension. The Tellme system then reads the text of the VXML file over the phone via a text-to-speech translator. The contributors have been posting some good stuff; it’s worth a listen (US and Canada only, although folks from other areas can use those newfangled Net telephones like Dialpad and Net2Phone to make free 800 calls to the US).
The stuff that Tellme is doing is pretty impressive. They’ve taken something which is fairly easy and inexpensive to do (Web development) and used it to do something that has traditionally been difficult and expensive (building custom telephone applications). The Web-to-phone integration is pretty cool, but allowing small companies to build inexpensive, non-proprietary, telephone applications with their existing Web development staff and infrastructure is where Tellme is going to make their money.
I stumbled across Jeff Bezos’ page on Amazon the other day. He reviews, among other things, an $1800 pair of binoculars. His wish list contains the X-Men on DVD, a studsensor, and more Star Trek merchandise than is probably healthy for one person to own. Jeff’s favorite people include Brewster Kahle (creator of WAIS), Bruce Sterling (author), and someone named peepeehead. His profile also includes this picture of Jeff dressed up as Austin Powers. I don’t know why, but I find this fascinating.
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