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"Before you know it as the years go by, you're just like other people you have seen, with all those peculiar human ailments. Just another vehicle for temper and vanity and rashness and all the rest. Who wants it? Who needs it? These things occupy the place where a man's soul should be." -- Henderson the Rain King

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Wet and Rusting

I'm officially digging the new Menomena album. Here's a video for "Wet and Rusting" one of the strongest tracks.

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Murderball

Film #5 of '07 was Murderball, an inspiring well-rounded documentary about wheelchair rugby.

Jamie says: If they ever make a fictionalized version of this I nominate Woody Harrelson to play Joe Soares.



My NetFlix rating: 4-stars
RIYL: Mad Hot Ballroom, Mad Max, Mad TV (okay not really Mad TV but I was on a mad roll)



Official site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia page

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Nintendo Fan Network

At Mariners FanFest this weekend Nintendo had a booth set up to demo their new "Nintendo Fan Network". Starting this season, fans watching the games at Safeco Field will now be able to bring their Nintendo DS and connect to the NFN. Once on the network you can order food, watch live video, peruse through player stats, keep up with scores in other games, and play baseball trivia games.

I'm pretty excited as I've been waiting for something like this to be developed (though I always thought it would be cell phone based). From playing with it briefly the implementation looks pretty slick, so I'm tempted to get a DS now just to check it out (nice marketing Nintendo).

On the downside, the price point that they're currently floating is $8 per game. That seems pretty steep (I can get a Safeco beer for that price), especially over the course of the 16-20 games I usually manage to make it out to. Somewhere in the range of $3 per game seems more like the sweet spot. The Nintendo Guy I spoke with did mention that they may do a $1 a game deal for full-season ticket holders, so if that offer gets extended to everyone it means roughly $80 will net you a season pass. Pretty tempting...especially since with a DS I could play Super Mario during all of those pitching changes we're going to have to sit through this year.


You make the call: Mario or Edgar?

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

Film #4 of '07 was Academy Award darlin' Little Miss Sunshine. Nice to see the film getting some well deserved love. Too bad there's no Academy Award for best emo kid because Paul Dano would totally get the nod.

Jamie says: Frickin' sweet. The closing dance scene may actually top Napolean Dynamite.
My NetFlix rating: 4-stars
RIYL: The Royal Tenenbaums, American Beauty, offbeat indie films


Official site
Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia page

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Speaking of Booms

Yesterday's trip to the Ballard Boom resulted in a large outflow of cash and a large influx of aural goodness. This should tide me over nicely until my new Shins and CYHSY albums arrive:

Frank Black - Christmass - Ugly name for a disc with such beautiful tunes. I believe this is available only in Indie music stores at the moment. It's a two-disc set, one a CD of live & studio acoustic tracks and one a DVD of a performance in Sacramento.

Damien Jurado - Gathered In Song - Fact: according to Last.FM Jurado is my second favorite artist. I'll buy pretty much anything the man puts out, but that especially holds true when he's re-releasing a tough to find EP and throwing on some demos + bonus tracks. Don't confuse this one with his backing band Gathered In Song which played on 2002's I Break Chairs.

Damien Jurado - This Fabulous Century - Limited to 600 copies, this vinyl-only release is exactly the reason I own a turntable. Features 13 demo tracks recorded in 1998. Drool.

Menomena - Friend and Foe - More Pacific Northwest goodness from the boys at Barsuk. This one is either really great or terrible. Three listens in I'm leaning towards great. Think A.D.D. indie rock a la Fiery Furnaces. Special bonus props for choosing Craig Thompson to do the arse-kickin' art work. Interview with Stereogum and Wet and Rusting [MP3].

The Broken West - I Can't Go On, I'll Go On - Haven't had a chance to dig to deep into this one yet, but it comes highly recommended. MP3's and more at IAF,YAF.

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Surprise Fireworks

Yesterday's surprise firework show over Lake Union nearly scared the bejesus outta me. We were sitting inside when we started hearing the explosions. With all of the thundering I thought we were under attack or something. Nearly had to head down to the old bomb shelter and start pulling out the emergency rations. Thanks a lot Vista.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

David Korten

Caught most of this fascinating speech by David Korten on NPR the other day. Well worth the 30 minutes, but you can get a quick excerpt here. I unfortunately couldn't track down a podcast, so YouTube it is. The speech is based on his new book The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community. Looks like he'll be coming out to speak at Seattle U. in March if you're interested in seeing the live version.


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Friday, January 26, 2007

An American Family

Book #3 on my reading list this year was Harry Crews' An American Family: The Baby With the Curious Markings.

A twisted shocker of a book, Crews' new novel reads like Stephen King's Dolores Claiborne on steriods. It's a book that pops you between the eyes, kicks you in the stomach and then cruises off into the night. But then what else would you expect from Crews?

Though it's listed as a novel, An American Family is really more like a short story clocking in at a mere 103 pages, double-spaced with large margins and plenty of blank pages between chapters. If you tried to turn this in for Novel Writing 101 you'd probably get an "incomplete" based solely on length alone. Then again the short novel seems to be all the rage these days (see Roth, Philip), so what do I know?

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Of HD-DVD and Porn

Great NY Times article or the greatest NY Times article? I'd like to nominate Matt Richtel's "In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real" for a Pulitzer. Seriously, it's genius on so many levels.
"The biggest problem is razor burn.” -- Stormy Daniels

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The Boys From Old Florida

Book #2 of my '07 reading list was The Boys From Old Florida: Inside Gator Nation by Buddy Martin.

If you're not a Gator fan, you can stop here and move right along to the next book. For Gator fans though, this book provides a nice way to bone up on your Gator history...you know those days before Spurrier?

Martin provides a nice mix of historical facts interlaced with insightful interviews of former players and coaches. Although the prose is a cliched at times and the editing weak, (for instance on pg. 79 we read 'That 70-yard catch of Reaves' missle against Houston may be more famous, but none ever surpassed the amazing grab Alvarez made against Florida State two weeks later" only to read further down the *same page* "Great as the catch against Florida State was it could still never surpass the one against Houston...") Martin's love for the Gators shines through, and this is after all a book about loving the Gators. Another big plus is that the book is surprisingly up-to-date, covering the Gators all the way up to the start of the '06 season. There's coverage of Urban Meyer's hiring (and why Spurrier didn't get the job), his first season as the Gators' head coach, and even a few references to Tim Tebow.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Oblivion

Damn you Oblivion. Why must you be so addictive? Seriously though, this game rules. I'm about 20 hours of game play into it and have barely made a dent.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Film #3 of my new 50 film challenge was The Devil and Daniel Johnston, a nicely architected documentary about the legendary song-writer and his battle with mental illness. The film is a real treasure for Johnston fans, but contains enough substance to appeal to the uninitiated too.

Jamie says: If you don't already know Daniel Johnston's music already get thee to a record store and pick up a copy of The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Uncovered (no he's not dead).
RIYL: Speeding motorcyles or Casper the Friendly Ghost


Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia page

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Talladega Nights

"Film" #2 of my new 50 film challenge was Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Shake and bake.

Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, UCB's Ian Roberts, Andy Richter, Mos Def, Walker & Texas Ranger...what's not to like?! Doesn't elevate to the level of cult classic but it's a funny film none the less.

Jamie says: Pretty funny
RIYL: Happy Gilmore, Anchorman




Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia page

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Shelfari

My friend Rohit (who recently kicked off his own 50 book challenge) just introduced me to a nifty site called Shelfari. You can use the site to create a virtual book-shelf containing all of your books. Users can provide commentary and ratings on the books, find other users with similar tastes, and participate in discussion groups. The site is a little rough around the edges at the moment, but it looks like it's got a lot of potential. I found adding books one-by-one to be tedious (I only added 20 or so and gave up), and although you can import from a text file I don't see any easy way to just copy over the list of books you've marked as owned on Amazon. Also surprising is that there doesn't seem to be any way to see a list of recommended books based on what users with similar tastes own. I was able to find a few users with similar tastes to mine though, so I'm looking forward to digging in and seeing if I can find a few good recommendations.

Is there a virtual music shelf library like this anywhere? Seems like a no-brainer, especially since it would be easy to export your library directly from Windows Media Player, iTunes, etc.

My Shelfari page

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tags

In the 'it's about damn time' department, Blogger finally got around to adding tags so users can label their posts. So for instance, if you only want to read posts about books you can use this link: http://jamieca.blogspot.com/search/label/books. Tags should show up at the bottom of each new post I put up. Pretty nifty. Unfortunately, since the feature was just added only the stuff I've posted recently is labeled (though I did go through a few old posts and tag 'em).

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Snow Driving 101

How to drive in the snow Pacific Northwest style.

Video

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Fix Up, Look Sharp

YouTube Monday classic. If you want to battle bring your posse, bring your crew.


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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Curse of the Golden Flower

Film #1 for me this year (and the first film ever of my 50 Film Challenge) was the visually stunning Curse of the Golden Flower.

If you're heading to see this one just be aware that it shares much in common with Hamlet than it does with kung-fu films like The Protector. Sure there are some fight scenes here, but the core of the movie is its sinister plot and its amazing cinematography.

Jamie Says: Worth Seeing
RIYL: Hamlet, Hero



Rotten Tomatoes reviews
Wikipedia page

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Martin Dressler

Book numero uno of my 2007 50 Book Challenge (yeah I'm doing it again) was Steven Millhauser's Pulitzer Prize winning novel Martin Dressler: The Tale of an American Dreamer.

Dressler is an allegorical fairy tale of an over-ambitious young man set in New York City in the late 1800's. The story has all of the makings of a classic Greek tragedy, with Martin playing the role of the tragic hero as he goes from shopkeeper's son to hotel maven to broke. Although the book is technically adept and works well as a commentary on progress/the American dream/ etc., it didn't really resonate with me as the fun read I was expecting.

New York Times review
Wikipedia entry

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NetFlix and a New Challenge

I finally decided to join the 21st century and sign-up for the NetFlix. A big selling point was the fact that they stock HD-DVDs now, so it should be a great way to enjoy the sweet XBox 360 HD-DVD player I got for Christmas.

My initial trial DVDs should be in the mail now. In celebration of this new endeavor I've decided to embark on a 50 Film Challenge this year to complement my 50 Book Challenge. I'm going to count any films that I see in the theater plus DVDs. Movies that I've seen before don't count (even if they're really good). I'll be posting a small blog post on each much like I do for the books. Wish me luck!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Say It Ain't So

Dear Major League Baseball,

It has come to my attention that you are currently contemplating a move to an NFL-like deal with DirectTV to hand over exlusive rights to broadcast MLB Extra Innings. Please, please, please re-consider. For those of us who do not currently have DirectTV this is a terrible deal that will greatly curtail our ability to watch the game we love. Is the nearly $200 I'm giving you a year truly not enough? Do you really expect me to change my cable provider now just so I can continue to have the "privilege" of paying for this package? Say it ain't so.

Yours truly,

A Baseball Fan (and Comcast subscriber)

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Zune + Xbox 360 = Crazy Delicious (almost)

Finally got a chance to play around with hooking up the Zune to the Xbox 360. Turns out it's way easier to do than I expected, though it doesn't connect over the Wi-Fi like I was hoping. The front of the 360 has two USB plugs. You just plug the device right in via the USB, and voila you can play your songs straight through the media player built into the console.

On the downside, I'm having a hard time figuring out what the compelling scenarios are here. I already share out my music directory over the wi-fi so the Xbox 360 media player can connect to my music share directly. It's pretty fast over the network (even with 200+ GBs of music), and given that all of my synched songs exist on the share it doesn't seem to buy me much to connect the Zune. On the 'it's the social' side I guess a compelling scenario is bringing your Zune with you to play your tunes at a friends house. Kinda cool, but not a killer feature. The fact that the two devices can work together though definitely opens up possibilities for cool new features in the future.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

We Are The Champions

Damn it feels good to be a Gator.

"Suddenly, it's Florida's world, and we're all just fighting for second." -- Bud Withers of the Seattle Times


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Monday, January 08, 2007

National Championship

It's D-day. Go Gators! Let's bring home that title.

BTW, is Urban Meyer wearing a Spot watch in this photo?

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Data Loss Catastrophe Averted

Imagine my disdain when I logged onto my PC earlier this week and found that my 300 GB music drive was no longer recognized by Windows. Upon investigation (digging into the Disk Management tool in the MMC) I was able to determine that although Windows could find the physical drive, it was seeing it as unallocated & unformatted despite the 200+ GB of data I had on the disk. My best guess is that somehow the master boot record on the drive got blown away, causing the OS to no longer be able to read the data. Whatever the cause though let's just say it was bad stuff.

After panicking for awhile, I got down to doing some research and found a data recovery tool called GetDataBack from RunTime Software. The tool is free to run on your machine, so you can download it, run it and see exactly what files it's going to be able to recover. It took about 8 hours to run the analysis on my machine, but when it finished it was able to rebuild my entire drive. To actually restore the files you have to buy a $69 license (which include free lifetime updates), but it was a small price to pay to get all of my data back. After buying a license and running the restore (another 8 or so hours) things seem to be back to normal. So far I haven't noticed a single corrupt or missing file.

Moving forward, I've decided to invest in an online back-up service to supplement the periodic CD archives I do. I looked at two services, Mozy and Carbonite. Each service has a small software client which integrates with the Windows Explorer. The client monitors your machien usage and opportunistically uploads the files you want to archive when your machine is not busy. For about $5 a month you get the software and unlimited disk space to store your files. Since these services run in the background, you no longer have to remember to do backupsm they just happen. The off-site back-up also is useful if there's ever a major disaster which destroys your local backups (house fire, flood, etc). You can download free trials of each tool to give the services a test run. After evaluating both, I ended up going with Mozy as it provides support for External USB drives (a feature Carbonite is sorely lacking). I've already uploaded about 4 GBs of data (about half of my digital photos) in the 2 days I've been running it and so far it seems to be working flawlessly. For $60 a year it seems like a sound investment (at least until Microsoft and/or Google come out with their competing services)

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Aqua Teen Movie

Today brings the excellent news that an Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie is apparently in the works! How they're going to take a show that's usually 15 minutes long and expand it into a feature length film I have no idea, but color me excited nonetheless.

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Ryan Adams Gap Ad

I don't really have much to say about this clip, but as a Ryan Adams fan I've always found it kinda fascinating so I was excited to see it on the YouTube. I think it must not have screened particularly well to non alt-country fans as I only saw the ad run once on actual television.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Zune - First Impressions

I got a brown Zune for Christmas this year. After getting past the painful install process (though I remember my initial iPod setup being pretty crappy too) I'm totally digging it. The radio features are fan-frickin'-tastic, the customization options are slick and the color screen looks great. I know the blog-o-sphere is slamming this thing, but if Microsoft continues to put out software updates for the installer and Zune store it's going to be one sweet little device. Next step...see if I can get this thing working with the Xbox 360. Yippee.

Bonus points for putting the Band of Horses screenshot on the box. Nice!

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Monday, January 01, 2007

World of Britney No More

Man do I love real articles that could just as easily pass as articles in The Onion. BTW, it's my first Britney post ya'll!
"I think that [WorldofBritney.com] has had its run. Its feet are not holding firm anymore, not because of my ability to run it, but because I believe Britney is unfortunately done (for me at least)." -- Ruben Garay host of WoB

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Final 2006 Reading List

Here is my complete reading list for 2006. 3 less than last year, but still more than one a week!

  1. The Dirt - Motley Crue
  2. The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil - George Saunders
  3. A Man Without a Country - Kurt Vonnegut
  4. Chance - Amir Aczel
  5. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #18 - Various
  6. Science Friction - Michael Shermer
  7. Oh the Glory of it All - Sean Wilsey
  8. Yes Man - Danny Wallace
  9. Mother Night - Kurt Vonnegut
  10. The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2003 - Various
  11. All The President's Pets - Mo Rocca
  12. Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
  13. Less Than Zero - Bret Easton Ellis
  14. Vox - Nicholson Baker
  15. Summer of '49 - David Halberstam
  16. Galapagos - Kurt Vonnegut
  17. Don't Get Too Comfortable - David Rakoff
  18. Fantasyland - Sam Walker
  19. Airships - Barry Hannah
  20. Typical - Padgett Powell
  21. From Bauhaus To Our House - Tom Wolfe
  22. Cathedral - Raymond Carver
  23. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #5 - Various
  24. Black Hole - Charles Burns
  25. The World Is Flat - Thomas Friedman
  26. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #19 - Various
  27. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
  28. In Persuasion Nation - George Saunders
  29. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay - Michael Chabon
  30. A Woman Named Drown - Padgett Powell
  31. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #20 - Various
  32. The Revolution Will Not Be Accessorized - Various
  33. The Rescue Artist - Edward Dolnick
  34. Veronica - Mary Gaitskill
  35. Room Full of Mirrors - Charles Cross
  36. Independence Day - Richard Ford
  37. The Littlest Hitler - Ryan Boudinot
  38. Permanent Visitors - Kevin Moffett
  39. Conservatize Me - John Moe
  40. The Dead Emcee Scrolls - Saul Williams
  41. Everyman - Philip Roth
  42. Edisto Revisited - Padgett Powell
  43. Watch Your Mouth - Daniel Handler
  44. The Stranger - Albert Camus
  45. Orphans - Charles D'Ambrosio
  46. Factotum - Charles Bukowski
  47. The Best American Comics 2006 - Various
  48. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #21 - Various
  49. The Night in Question - Tobias Wolff
  50. A Fictional History of the United States with Huge Chunks Missing - Various
  51. Chronicles - Bob Dylan
  52. The Sound and The Fury - William Faulkner
  53. Florida Frenzy - Harry Crews
  54. Deliverance - James Dickey

Previously: My 2005 reading list

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Deliverance

Book #54, the last book on my '06 reading list was James Dickey's classic Deliverance.

A spellbinding thriller, Deliverance is a book that begs to be consumed in one sitting. Having never seen the movie adaptation, the plot was new to me and I found that I couldn't put it down until everything was brought to resolution. New Georgia Encyclopedia has a great summary of the book and it's themes.

Deliverance is ranked #42 on The Modern Library's Top 100 Novels list

Wikipedia

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Florida Frenzy

Books #53 on my reading list this year was Harry Crews' Florida Frenzy, a 1982 collection of his previously published essays and fiction.

I loved every page of this one. Florida Frenzy easily vaults into my short list of best books I've read this year. Crews flair for gritty storytelling is astounding. The essays cover a wide range of intriguing topics such as why Crews teaches, why he lives in Gainesville, dog fighting, poaching gators in the Everglades, bar fights, falconry, and the Gatornationals.

The essays were even more interesting to me as they ooze of the North Central Florida in which I grew up. For several years Crews even lived near Putnam Hall, a one gas station town just North of Interlachen (which looks like a compartive metropolis with its one stop light) where I grew up.

Highly recommended.
"Mustard is allowed in a good bar, but there is never any mayonaisse. Mayonaisse won't do. And it cannot be explained. Either you know right off that mayonaisse doesn't belong in a bar or you can never know." -- Harry Crews "Tuesday Night"

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