Tuesday, October 12, 2004

I stumbled across magnatune.com a few days ago (someone mentioned them in a slasdot posting). Magnatune is an open music label that totally rocks! I bought one album by Drop Trio and two more by Kitka. I'm also going to see Kitka at Holy Cross church here in Santa Cruz later this month.

cathedral flyer

Magnatune's catch phrase is We're a record label, but we're not evil or the shortened form we're not evil. One of their many innovations is that they let you choose how much to pay for an album. Think it is only worth $5? then only pay $5! Think it is worth $12? Then pay $12. Of course with Magnatune you can feel better about paying more than the minimum as 50% of the gross proceeds go to the artist.

Other items of note:
  • No DRM on the music files.
  • CD quality FLAC files available as well as MP3 and Ogg.
  • you can listen to 128k bps MP3 streams of all the music that is for sale as many times as you want before you buy. We're not talking 30 second snippets, we're not talking low quality samples. you can listen to then entire magnatune.com library over and over and over (streamed) for free!
Remember: when you buy from Magnatune you spit in RIAA's eye.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

I've been experimenting with hello and picasa in preparation for our trip to Paris later this month. You can see the results of my philosophical experiments by looking at my other blogs (left sidebar under Enough about you).

I continue to work my way through the Audible.com unabridged recordings of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin novels. Right now I'm on The Ionian Mission. Patrick O'Brien is quite a story teller. Right up there with Jane Austen and Charles Dickens!

Amelia and Caitlin went to a concert at the Shoreline Amphetheater. Sting and Annie Lennox were playing. I would love to see a show by these two but I simply can not do the stadium rock thing anymore. So many people in such a small place just isn't worth it.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Alvin waits patiently for me to take him on a walk.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I am so disgusted with myself. I've been playing Go on the Dragon Go Server (a play by web server) and I just made a blunder in this game. I spent hours and hours considering this position and was pretty sure I could kill my opponent in the fight on the left. I finally settled on a course of action but I blundered and played the second move in the sequence I was considering rather than the first move. My opponent promptly took the point I should have played.

The first few moves of the sequence I had settled on in this position were:

  • white B5
  • black C7
  • white A7
  • black has many choices, D7, C7, C5, D4. By my reckoning all these lead to the B8 group dying.

What happened here was that after looking at the position for so long and having considered white B5 as the only move for so long I had forgotten that I had not yet played it. I worked so hard on trying to find the best move in this position that blundering like this makes me sick. I really don't care what happens in this game now. It is not making a bad move that upsets me so but making a blunder.


Monday, July 12, 2004

Saw some movies this weekend:

  • Ponette loses
    her mother in a automobile accident and then has to come to terms
    with her death. Good child acting. Apparently the widescreen version
    of Ponette is not available on DVD in the US. I occasionally
    found my self wondering about the bad camera work and then
    remembered is was pan and scan (Yuck). 4 stars

  • Dummy.
    A great performance from all the cast. A milquetoast Steven (Adrien Brody)
    decides to take up ventriloquism. 4 stars

  • Queer
    as Folk USA
    . This series can be summarized as Sex in
    the City
    for queers. The girls are renting this and Amy and I
    frequently sit in and watch it with them. explicit language and sex.
    3 stars.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I sit here in Border's books and Music cafe, 2nd floor, on the corner
of Powell and Post, next to the window, facing north (parallel to
post). I have paid the T-mobile capitalist pig scum their 9.99 single
day toll to access the intenet. I play their game for now but one day
these infidels will pay for their bourgeois ways! Soon our forces
will smash the capitalist apparatus of the sneering haughty plutocracy
and the glorious fibres and radio spectrum will once more be in the
hands of the workers (vive la republic!) but today I must pay their
toll. I must curtsey when they walk by and give way. My outward
appearance shall remain obsequious but I will keep the embers of
hatred and fury smoldering in my breast until that fateful day.

Citizeness Amelia and I have been here in fog city for the holiday
weekend. Like good members of the (future) republic, the citizeness
and I made our way from Holy Cross to Saint Francis via the bus, the
train and the underground, eschewing that decadent capitalist mode of
locomotion the automobile. Arriving around 10pm, walked from the
underground terminal to The Mosser

The Mosser, is located on 4th street, between Market and Mission, not
far from Union Square, the Moscone and Yerba Buena park. The Mosser
has both rooms with private baths and rooms with shared baths. While
frugal, the hotel was clean and well maintained.

On the lookout for an omen as to how our luck this holiday would run,
one presented itself as soon as I came up the stairs from the BART
station. Not half a block from our hotel was a Walgreen's drugstore!
Without even checking though my luggage, you may assume as fact the
proposition that I have forgotten some essential accoutrement de
toilette. Having a drugstore so close to my hotel, especially when
they are so difficult to find in San Francisco, was as blunt a harbinger of good luck as I could ask

While such flowery verbiage and bad prose as you find above is my
idiom, this citizen finds himself severely taxed when called upon to
express thought in languages other than C, C++, Python or Perl.
Consequently I shall resort to a more economical mode of expression
for the remainder of this entry.



  • Mel's Drive-In. 833 Mission St. We had breakfast here. What
    can I say -- we were desparate; bad food, sub par service.
  • Max's On the Square. 398 Geary St. Better service than Mel's
    (not saying much here) and better food but not worth repeating.
  • Les Joulins Jazz Bistro. 44 Ellis St. We ate here on Monday. We
    had walked by on other days and it was never busy. Hallelujah!
    Finally some good breakfast. When asked, the Turkish lady who served
    us explained that the circular object hung above the door was there to
    ward off evil (the 'evil eye'?). Yet again we asked for a side of
    crispy bacon. This time our request was granted; the bacon
    was cooked to crispy perfection! We each had omelets which came with
    home fries (seasoned with chili powder?) and toast. The service was
    somewhat european (i.e. slow) but we were not in a hurry.
    Even if we had been in a hurry, it would have been difficult to be
    ungrateful after the gastronomic breakfasts of torture we had been
    subjected to the previous days.


  • Foreign Cinema.
    The food and service were
    excellent. The chocolate torte we had for desert was not particularly
    good. Next to our outside table was one of those old drive-in movie
    sound box poles. You remember these, you take the box off of
    the pole and hang it inside your car on the window ... we put the box
    on our table and turned the volume up to the maximum as the restaurant
    was packed and noisy. Sound we listened to was synchronized with the
    moving picture, Talk to
    , projected on the brick wall.
  • North Beach Restaurant. 1512 Stockton St. We ate here on Sunday
    the 4th. excellent food and service. The tiramisu and chocolate
    torte desserts were delicious.


After dinner sunday, we walked down to Pier 39 to watch the
fireworks. It was quite amusing to see the seething mass of tourists
like ourselves defeated by the legendary San Francisco fog; We got to
hear loud BOOMs and see the fog glow white and red but that was the
extent of pyrotechnic splendor Grothar allowed us to experience.

On Saturday we went to the
Legion of Honor Museum and
saw the Art Deco exhibition, along with the regular
exhibition. Highlights from the Art Deco exhibition were:

  • a 2 minute movie showing a vivacious and scantily clad Josphine
    Baker dancing and acting silly.
  • Dresses.

Among the regular exhibit, I quite liked the 17th century dutch
paintings showing game and other still life.

Well, that is all for now. Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite!

P.S. I would proof read this post more but I am so frustrated by wrestling with some formatting issues that I must put aside this travail lest I hurl my laptop out second floor window of this strong hold of corporate blandness and give away my seditious intent!

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Well, I've been falling behind so it is time to cram:

Here is what has passed through our rental queue since Curves

  • Barbarella (1968)

    1 star. This movie goes so far past bad it wraps around to good.
    Right up there with Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

  • The Guns of Navarone, 1961

    4 stars. Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, David Niven. Covert
    operation to blow up a giant german gun.

  • Johnny English, 2003

    1 star. Rowan Atkinson doing his thing. He is his usual funny
    self but it just wasn't worth it for me.

  • Pushing Tin (1999)

    1 star. Didn't finish watching

  • The French Connection (1971)

    4 stars. Blast from the past. Who knew that Gene Hackman had
    brown hair!?

  • Alias: Season 1: Disc 1 (2001)

    3 stars. Spy stuff. A bit formulaic

  • Gangs of New York: Disc 2 of 2 (2002)

    3 stars. Amy watched all of it, I didn't.

  • Donnie Brasco (1997)

    4 stars. I didn't see all of it but it looked very good.

  • Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

    4 stars. Lots of violence but creative in parts. fun tribute to
    the super spy / samurai / assasin.

  • Road to Perdition (2002)

    3 stars. Not good but bearable

  • Veronica Guerin (2003)

    5 stars. Powerful 'based on a true story' movie. Cate Blanchett
    rocks, as always.

  • Beyond Borders (2003)

    did we rent this? Not only did I not see it, I didn't even know
    it was in the house...

  • Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

    1 star. I watched the whole thing. Wanted a refund of my time
    afterwards. Parts were amusing but overall not worth it.

  • Enemy at the Gates (2001)

    4 stars. Jude Law and Ed Harris face off as Russian and German snipers during the WWII
    siege of Stalingrad. Joseph Fiennes too.

  • Morvern Callar (2002)

    4 stars. Scottish gal's boyfriend commits suicide. She submits his
    just written novel to a publisher as her own.

  • Boogie Nights(1997)

    4 stars. Stellar cast and performances.

  • Happiness (1998)

    say what? Another mystery DVD. Maybe Amy will come back and fill
    this in

  • South Park: Season 1: Disc 3 (1997)

    4 stars. I love SP.

  • Holes (2003)

    4 stars. Good kids movie. Follows the book closely

  • Flirting with Disaster (1996)

    4 stars. Good film. Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda make it really good

  • Iris (2001)

    5 stars. Free spirit genius slice of life movie meets
    Alzheimer's / end of life story. Judi Dench, Jim Broadbent, Kate

  • 8 Women (2002)

    1 star. This was so awful it was awful. Depending on your
    tastes it may be so awful that it is good

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin, into the future ...

Boy, I lay down to take a nap and when I wake up a month has passed!

Sunday, March 07, 2004

ain't nuthin but a party. Gretel, Jim, Gadget and Lisa are here. We watched the Stoned Age and laughed up a storm. The wine hasn't run out yet so I gotta go and hang.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

computer stuff: Our old HP 855 cxi printer died a few months ago so we bought an HP psc 2175xi scanner/copier/printer. Amy is having fun scanning pictures from her extensive collection. It does lots of fancy stuff but for now, printing school papers and scanning photos in enough.
movie: Bend It Like Beckham. Indian girl in London wants to play soccer but her parents won't let her. Jess (Parminder Nagra) is on the television show ER these days. Nice gradual build up of romantic tension at the end. The DVD extras include Gurinder Chadha's family recipe for Aloo Gobi. 4 stars.
movie: Real Women Have Curves. A cranky mexican teenage girl graduates from high school and wants to go to college but her parents want her to work. 3 stars.
movie: South Park, season 1, discs 1, 2. I love South Park. It is so wonderfully irreverent! It is also fun to see who 'old scratch' will be this time. 4 stars.
movie: Lagaan. a Bollywood block buster. 3 hours and 40 minutes, phew! They sure like long films in india. I generally don't like musicals and I was a bit leary of seeing a Bollywood flick but I was pleasantly surprised that there was only about 1 song and dance routine per 30 minutes (perhaps less). Some indian friends tell me "yes, Lagaan did not have as much singing and dancing as a typical Bollywood movie". The plot was very predictable but, like a shakespeare play, we are not here to be surprised. The singing and dancing was actually very good. I see more Bollywood films in my future. Here is a movie poster Since IMDB doesn't have an image for this movie. 4 stars.

movie: Exotica. I think one of the critics on Netflix recommended this film. It was kind of fun trying to figure out the accountant character... Elias Koteas (who was in Crash) is in this one. Usually I like strange films but I only give this one 2 stars.
movie: Dazed and Confused. A cultural reference point. While I was not of high school age during the period depicted, I don't think the types of hazing shown in the movie were common in the S.F. bay area where I grew up. Lots of good cast and nice vibes. 4 stars.

Monday, January 19, 2004

movie: The Virgin Suicides. What was this movie about, anyways? I saw it but I still don't know. None the less, I give it 4 stars.

geek stuff: I bought a 40G iPod a few weeks ago.
I love it! The iPod is a wonderfully engineered piece of consumer electronics and iTunes is a very good program. I've used Roxio's Easy CD Creator suite of tools for a while and developed several gripes about the Roxio stuff. iTunes does a better job at doing the simple stuff well.

I've bought a few things from the iTunes music store. The music store is pretty cool but has a way to go before I stop buying CDs in favor of iTunes albums.

FYI: the iTunes program (for windows PC or Mac) is freely available for download on the internet. Even without an iPod, iTunes is a good program for playing MP3s, burning music or data CDs and (of course) accessing the apple iTunes music store. iTunes is also OK at ripping MP3s but for some reason it is much slower (e.g. only 4x CD speed) than Roxio's Audio Central program (which routinely rips CDs at 30x plus).

Music Store Cons:

  • no CD "booklet" when you purchase an album. How about providing a PDF with this info? I don't necessarily want to print it out but I do want to read it.
  • 128 kbps AAC is the only file format available. You want 192 kbps AAC? too bad -- buy the CD and rip it yourself.
  • many albums are simply not available.
  • many albums are only partially available -- i.e. missing a few songs (What is the point of this anyways?).

Music Store Pros:

  • great if you only want to buy a single (e.g. you want to pick up a few The Who hits for nostalgic reasons).
  • convenient immediate impulse gratification (assuming what you want is available).
  • it is the only HD based MP3 player that supports Audible.com content (I subscribe to Audible so this is a deal breaker for me).
  • you don't have to deal with re-ripping a song that didn't rip properly the first time (e.g. because the CD was scratched).

I connect the iPod to our family PC via firewire (IEEE 1394). I bough a Belkin's 1394 + USB2.0 PCI card to provide the firewire interface. So far it has worked great.

Friday, January 02, 2004

movie: L'Auberge Espanole. Parisian guy goes to Barcelona as part of a foriegn exchange program. Has lots of fun. Typical for the genre but well executed. For all you xenophobic monoglots out there "l'auberge espanole" means "the spanish eggplant" in english. The meaning of the title is revealed at the very end of the movie. Nice cinematography. Audrey Tautou (of Amelie fame) has a small role in this flick.
I give this one 4 stars.