Archive for the ‘Reading, Watching, Listening’ Category.

Movies of Late

Saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 last night. Completely awesome. See/read what came before or you won’t get it. I think seeing it in “Digital Projection” at the Daly City Century 20 was good, the cinematic effects were just so…. real. 2 weeks after opening, the theater was full, and everyone in the audience was over 30. Curious.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – 3 hours of kinda bland character study with 1 neat twist. Meh.

Grandma’s Boy – juvenile, funny male humor. I liked it.

40 Year old Virgin – I was expecting juvenile, funny male humor. There was a bit of that, but it was much better than that. Very enjoyable :-).

UHF – Ouch. Weird Al has learned a LOT about entertaining people after this film

Anvil! The Story of Anvil – Holy crap, these guys love music. An honest documentary about the real life Spinal Tap.

Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus – there are 60 seconds of awesome and 2 hours of them poking you in the eyes with a stick. Watch the awesome here.

Eddie Izzard: Definite Article – stand up show. He completely rocks. You should watch more stand-up. Seriously. Funny.

The Passion of Joan of Arc – I always thought I was missing out on something awesome by not seeing this 1928 “classic”. I watched most of it and completely couldn’t get through it. I totally don’t get why this is a classic.

City of Angels – Started pretty good, went way downhill. :-(

Demetri Martin. Person. – Funny stand up is always funny and puts me in a good mood. I like funny standup.

The Gates – the story of Christo and Jeanne-Claude installing The Gates in New York City. Good stuff. It’s amazing how much perseverance it took them to get this piece to happen. Pretty awesome. But then I like big awesome art.

Iron Man 2 – Wee!

High Fidelity – Certainly classic John Cusack.

Idiocracy – After all the hype some friends gave it, I though it was going to be as awesome as Zoolander (wow, that is an awesome movie… just earlier this week a friend said offhandedly “Oh, the files are in the computer!” and I laughed so hard). It isn’t. It has it’s moments, but only a few.

The Princess Bride – watched again at a house party with friends, brought my holocaust cloak :-). This is still a near perfect movie.

The Sopranos – I’m most of the way though the last season. What a powerful show.

Movie Night

I made it a triple-feature in Daly City tonight. Limitless, The Adjustment Bureau, and Hall Pass. 3 fine Hollywood films.

Android Essentials?

I just got an Android phone, AT&T Samsung Captivate SGH-i897.

What are the essentials for this phone? Here’s what I’ve got so far to change the phone from PITA to awesome

Google Voice – ($free) to avoid the ancient “You have 2 new messages. To listen to your messages, press 1” and replace it with visual voicemail on my phone and computer. Installing it was ridiculously easy after spending an hour hunting on the forums. I went to my (pre-existing) google voice account online and clicked Settings | Voice Settings | Activate Voicemail next to the description of my phone. I typed a few characters into my phone to enable forwarding and Tada!

Touch Calendar Free – ($free) so I can look at my entire calendar at a glance. I can’t navigate around it smoothly but it’s better than the default calendar

RealCalc – ($free) stupid Samsung put the buttons on their calculator in the wrong places! It’s stupid! RealCalc has the buttons in the right places and a lot of bells and whistles that don’t get too in the way

Hi-Q MP3 Recorder – ($3.00) the built in voice recorder sounds like crap and has a mediocre interface. This one is a lot better.

Screen Filter – ($free) The phone is blindingly bright at night. Even at the lowest brightness, it is an excellent flashlight. It is dangerously bright when trying to use the GPS in the car. Screen filter works well to put some kind of “software filter” in front of the screen. Sometimes it turns itself off but it mostly works great.

No fix yet – The AT&T Samsung Captivate (SGH-i897) has 4 buttons at the bottom of the screen. Actually they are “soft” buttons with no tactile feedback. Well, after 3 seconds of inactivity, they turn off, making it impossible to find the buttons in the dark! I don’t have a fix for this yet. I heard of an app called something like “Keep the Lights On” or some such but I lost the reference to it and I have to root my phone to install it. PITA.

I’m still not ready to switch to Gmail as my primary email but it’s working well enough. I’m not switching because: 1- last week the gmail at the office was running slow a while due to Google’s fault. 2- Also last week Google switched our office’s Google Docs interface to something newer and betterer. I wish they had asked/told us before doing that!! I don’t care how new and exciting the new whatchamacallit is, not mentioning that things will be changing freaks me out. It reminds me of the absolute power they have over my email.

NoLed – ($free) when you miss a call, there is no blinking light on the phone telling you that you missed it. Uncool. NoLed fixes that. It might draw too much battery, the jury is still out.

3G Watchdog – ($free) It is difficult… impossible to tell what apps are doing on the phone. They could be downloading porn, burning up your monthly data quota. This should tell me if that happens. The ethos of the platform is pretty much that programs can run in the background whenever they want. That kinda freaks me out.

Battery Graph – ($free) I’m a program to keep track of my battery usage because I haven’t really figured out what drains the battery the most. Some users see 5 hours of battery life, some 30. I really really want to have 30 and not have to think about it.

Installing programs is nerve-wracking because so many apps want access to my data. Does Facebook need access to my Contacts list? If I give that cute new game the power to read and write to the SD card, will it be able to steal data and send it to Russian spammers? The “community” is no help because as of yet, I haven’t come across any group that has recognized malware; there is no procedure for dealing with malware!

The places to look for help appear to be (in decreasing order of usefulness) ??

So, dear reader, what am I missing? Comments welcome.

Malaysia Movies

On these long flights for work I get to see a lot of movies. Here’s the tiny reviews of my latest flight.

She’s Out of my League – sweet, funny, and hopeful! (if just a little crass… But then that’s part of it)

Prince of Persia: the sands of time: really cool and eyepopping action

The A-team: only saw 20 minutes, a little too “noisy” for watching on a plane, shaky-cam, noisy soundtrack

500 days of summer: homey, real, lyrical like a ballad, don’t get the wrong idea but I found it a little disturbing how honest it was.

Saw Avatar: Pretty awesome

I saw Avatar in 3D at the Metreon with Stacy. It’s pretty, awesome, and pretty awesome.

Totally beautiful,  sumptuous  visuals,  gorgeous realization of an alternate world. And the aliens are totally hot!

I should write more about it but I’m short on time. So here’s bullet points:

the first 1/2 of the movie hurt my eyes with the 3D, maybe they were pushing objects forward of the screen with the effects instead of behind the screen? The 2nd half had less issue with this. Coraline was crisper in 3d, but that was at the Alameda theater and done with real claymation.

CGI or costumes?! Wow, it’s really hard to tell. Must have been both.

SamsonScorpionavatar-scorpion-gunshipThey got the helicopter sounds wrong! The most common flying machine in the movie is this totally awesome looking “scorpion gunship”.  Each of the 2 “wings” has 2 co-axial counter-rotating 3 bladed propellers in a ducted fan. So it would sound a lot like the “woooooo” of a jet engine. Maybe with a bit of resonance, like “wooowooowooowooo”  But the sound effect they used is that of a regular  2 bladed helicopter, going “Tuh Tuh Tuh Tuh”. Every time I heard the sound (which was a lot toward the end with all the crashing and smashing of those machines!) I cringed :-(

Ooo, pretty!

I can imagine it being worth seeing it in IMAX. But there were no good showtimes at the Metreon :-(

Yup, the 3D movie experience has saved modern cinema from being outmoded by large screen televisions in peoples’ homes.

Exploring the world reminded me of this fantasy book I read that had lots of word-play with real magical hangman trees and steaming bread trees… Argh, I don’t recall the name!
Update 3-14-10: Xanth!

The Existentialist (1963)

I was introduced to this absolute gem at Noisebridge 5 Minutes of Fame last night. A fantastic 8 minute piece showing a taste of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton with a decidedly novel approach. And the story is the thing.

local version:

All is Love by Curt Smith

Play All is Love – Curt Smith.mp3

(locally archived) (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License) (this track from, at no cost)

Update 3-7-10: It is now $0.89 on Amazon. I have “purchased” it anyway because, wow, this track keeps resonating in me! If you love this track, buy it.

I wrote on Curt Smith’s website (of Tears for Fears fame)

Curt, Thank you so very much for this song.

I found All is Love when browsing around for for Zoë Keating’s music. I’ve played it 50 times in the last week on your website. It hits me at a very deep level and I don’t know why. Every time the song ends, I get this slow lost feeling, as if I had been on my way to somewhere beautiful and then, despite trying to keep it in my memory, I slowly forget how to get there. So I find the page and hit play again. That’s all I can do. I don’t know what you’ve stirred in me but it’s worthwhile to explore.

Thank you for the message in this song. I look forward to the album release.

Curt writes about the song

CS-AllIsLove-coverClick here to listen to “All Is Love (featuring Zoë Keating),” Curt’s first new solo material in nearly two years. It will be released on January 24. 2010.

Smith is releasing “All is Love” via his KOOK Media label as a standalone single, which will be available in digital format from AmazonMP3, iTunes, CD Baby, thesixtyone and other online retailers.

Smith met guest artist Zoë Keating online. “I was looking for a cellist to play on the track and heard about Zoë through Twitter. I watched a few of her performances on YouTube and thought she was fantastic and innovative.” He sent her the in-progress tracks, and a month or so later she hand-delivered her cello parts to a Tears For Fears concert outside of San Francisco. The two will perform in concert, as a double bill, on March 23 at renowned L.A. venue Largo at The Coronet.

“All Is Love,” began life as a demo track for a television pilot theme song (the original version, called “Halfway Home,” streams on Smith’s website). While the pilot didn’t get picked up, Smith liked the musical idea he’d begun, and reworked it with longtime collaborator Charlton Pettus. In a departure from his usual lyrical themes of longing and loss, All Is Love’s anthemic chorus (“When every mother’s loving every son / When all is love, there’ll be love for everyone”) looks forward with hope to a time of peace and calm. “I was inspired by the 2008 U.S.presidential election” says Smith “The verses are about the negativity of all the advertising, whilst the chorus invokes the inspiration I felt about positive change.”

Like Smith’s previous solo effort “Halfway, pleased,” he’s releasing “All Is Love” under a Creative Commons license. The license Smith uses allows others to freely share, perform, and remix his work,so long as the uses are non-commercial, Smith is credited, and any derivative works carry the same license. “I’m a big fan of Creative Commons,” Smith says.”It’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. It affords you the opportunity to set the ground rules of how people can use your music upfront.”

Background vocalists on “All Is Love” include singer-songwriters Michael Wainwright (who opened for Tears for Fears on its 2009 U.S. tour) and Jason Joseph, as well as Pettus’ daughter Georgica. Charlton Pettus and Smith share writing and production credits.

Smith plans to play several Los Angeles-area solo gigs in 2010, working around a busy schedule of Tears for Fears concert tours taking place in Australia, New Zealand, southeast Asia and the U.S. EastCoast. He’ll continue to release new tracks as he completes them, with the possibility of compiling them into an album when he’s got enough material.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Lyrics to “all is love (featuring zoë keating)

Written by Curt Smith and Charlton Pettus

Look what you’ve done
You’ve blown it all
On vanity and sympathy
See how you run
A pot of gold
And a bleeding heart to go with it

When all is love
And the hurt is gone
We’ll all reach out
To touch someone
When every mother’s
Loving every son
When all is love
There’ll be love for everyone

Look what you’ve lost
Innocence and faith
And save yourself at any cost
Here’s what you’ll find
When the bottom drops out


Close your eyes and it’s gone
Don’t look down till it’s over
Hold on tight, everyone
We’re halfway home

Chorus (repeats)

When all is love
When all is love
There’ll be love for everyone
When all is love
When all is love
There’ll be love

Look what you’ve done


The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Video game rivalries can be thrilling!

And wow, Billy Mitchell is really made out to be a jerk. Though I read some discussion notes on Wikipedia about how some parts of that stress was manufactured by the director with editing. 2 points being that we never see Billy playing even though he says how important it is to play in public, and that we never see Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe speaking to one another except for a single jab that Billy makes. It gives Billy this total jerk feel. Though I read that they do speak to one another at events.  Heh, you can even buy a “Billy Mitchell is a jerk” T-Shirt.

Tropic Thunder


The Hangover

Fun :-)


When I first watched Superbad, I thought it was fun and cute. But I recognize now that it is an iconic film. I put it in the rarefied company of films like  Napoleon Dynamite, Revenge of the Nerds, Real Genius, and Breakfast Club.

Saw Seven Pounds

I liked it a lot.

I was blindsided with the surprise ending. Don’t learn the spoiler before you see the movie. It’s kind of Fearless meets The Crying Game. No it’s not. I liked it anyway.

From The ‘Hood to the House

Last week I got to attend “From The ‘Hood to the House”. This year,  the Glide Church annual holiday festival was held at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House on the 12th. It was quite an affair with Maya Angelou, a huge church ensemble singing, dancers, musicians and Cecil Williams celebrating his 45th anniversary running Glide Church.

I have to thank Cindy for inviting Charlotte and I to volunteer for the event. We got to help folks (I helped Cindy in the office much of the day), see most of the show and try a zillion tasty foods. :-)