This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Wednesday, June 30, 2004
Fox Pr0n?
During a promo for a story on pr0n, Fox News blurred out the breast from this hardcore image; however, it missed the, how should I say this, "penetration."
Jack Valenti's curtain call
News.com has a good interview with Jack Valenti the soon-to-be ex-CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America. It focuses on the current relationship between the motion picture industry and the technology industry while speculating on how that relationship may change in the future.
Alibi Networks
The NY Times has an interesting article about "alibi networks." These networks are basically just a group of strangers who agree to make excuses for one another when needed.

The article tells of a college student who wanted to cheat on his girlfriend by going out of town with another woman. In order to pull off the trip without raising suspicion, he requested the help of a 3,400+ person "alibi and excuse club." A club member then called the guy's girlfriend and told him that he was needed out of town for a soccer tryout. Then, presumably, cheating ensued.

I'm not advocating the use of such a network; however, I do find it very interesting from a sociologic perspective that these type of groups have formed.
EFF Patent Busting
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a list of 10 technology patents that it wants to see revised or killed. EFF claims that companies are using these patents to limit free expression.

The EFF takes a shot at one of my least-favorite companies, Clear Channel (who pulled Howard Stern from the Louisville airwaves). They recently bought a patent for "Instant Live" which covers technology used to produce instant recordings of live concerts. CC is now going after artists who choose to give fans CDs of their shows. Yet another reason to not support Clear Channel.

The other big name on the list is Nintendo who has patented video-game emulators. These emulators used to be allowable under the fair use doctrine; however, the EFF claims Nintendo is being a bully by trying to stop them. I'm not sure what Nintendo has to gain by stopping emulators for playing their old games. If anything, emulators could be used a brand-building tool.
Tuesday, June 29, 2004
Century Cam
Sam Raimi has an idea to create what he calls a "Century Cam." Basically, he wants to place cameras above all major American cities to document the United States' urban landscape for, get this, 1,000 years (which begs to question why he is calling it a "century cam").

By taking a frame per day for 1,000 years, someone could watch a year's worth of shots in 15 seconds, a decade's worth in 2.5 minutes and a century in 25 minutes. The entire 1,000 years could be viewed in about 4 hours.
David Lee Roth, EMT
This story really bums me out. David Lee Roth has decided to become an EMT in New York City. Yes, you read that right. Arguably the greatest frontman in crotch rock history is training to be a part-time EMT.

Roth says that medicine is in his family. His father was a surgeon and other relatives were "in the medical community." I can't help but imagine Dave's next family gathering being like the scene in "Meet the Parents" where Ben Stiller's character reveals that he is a nurse while all of his in-laws are accomplished doctors.

The E! article speculates that this is a reaction to Sammy Hagar rejoining Van Halen for a tour. I would like to think that Dave could come up with a better stunt that this.
Before Sunset
I am really excited to see Richard Linklater's upcoming "Before Sunset." It is the followup to 1995's "Before Sunrise" (which is still one of my favorite films) and, like the first film, stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy.

"Filmmaker Magazine" has an interview with Richard Linklater about the making of the film. "Filmmaker" says that it is the first sequel of an American independent film and Linklater quickly points out that it is probably the lowest-grossing film to spawn a sequel.

Rolling Stone gives it 3 stars in this review. The trailer is available on Quicktime.com.
Monday, June 28, 2004
Need a shirt? Check these out.
Hey, if you're girlfriend or wife needs a new shirt, check out these auctions on eBay (HINT: Even if you don't have a wife or girlfriend, check out these auctions on eBay).
Montecore the Falcon
SpikeTV.com has posted the clip of Montecore, the falcon who delivers each week's "Falcon Twist" on Joe Schmo 2, flying into the glass doors on the "Last Chance for Love" mansion. It is so funny.

BTW, Montecore, whose given name is "Ace," was the falcon who fetches beers in the Bud Light commercials. To think we almost lost one of the great bird actors of our time.
Rhapsody: One Dirty Minute
I've been a Rhapsody user for a couple of years now and I just noticed this feature. It allows you to blog a song or a playlist, so I'm trying it right now. The song I am linking to is "One Dirty Minute" by Har Mar Superstar (featuring Dirty Preston). It's 1 minute and 22 seconds of funky ridiculousness. I can't stop listening to it.

If you're a Rhapsody user (and if you're not, you should be), click this link. Rhapsody should load and the song should start. Sweet!
Utilikilts
Well, Scott Brown has rightfully pointed out that jumpsuits aren't the only thing to put on your summer shopping list. BTW, the site was down for the past few days, so you may have to check back to make your purchase.
Bloomba - alt. to Gmail?
Simson Garfinkel at Technology Review posted a comment on Bloomba, a new search-based e-mail client. He calls it a privacy-friendly, ad-free equivalent to Gmail.

Having checked out the product details for Bloomba, one glaring difference jumped out at me - Bloomba is $59.

Maybe I'm weird (ok, I am weird) but I don't have a problem with Google scanning my e-mails for keywords in order to serve ads. At least they are upfront about how it works. I love the storage capacity and the user interface. I also like the fact that it is free and, unlike Bloomba, I'm more confident that it will still be around in a few years.
Wireless TV is where it's at
CNET Reviews has a cool article on Wireless TV. Basically, wireless TV does just what the name implies - it lets you take the TV from room to room (or even outdoors).

How does it work? Well, it's pretty simple. The TV's base station has connections for your audio and video source(s). The base station uses an 802.11b network to transmit the content to your TV.

According to the article, the SD picture quality was good. However, these will never be able to transmit HD over 802.11b.

Sony's model sports an option so cool that it is almost hard to believe. Their LF-X1 will let you watch your own cable or satellite feed from anywhere (yes, anywhere) that has either wired or wireless broadband access. So you could be on vacation in Florida and watch your local TV channels. It even has an IR blaster that lets you change the channels on your remote cable or satellite box. Sweet!

While these first generation models have their limitations, I can only imagine that, in a few years, we'll all have something like this. I can't wait.
RIAA and Internet Radio
The Washington Post has an article on the RIAA's push to get Congress to require manufacturers of digital radio receivers to include some form of copy protection into their hardware.

As usual, they want to waste tax dollars and cause customer confusion rather than come up with a viable approach that works for everyone.

The article cites a speech that activist and blogger Cory Doctorow gave to Microsoft on DRM. He asserts that "DRM systems are broken in minutes, sometimes days. Rarely, months. It's not because the people who think them up are stupid. It's not because the people who break them are smart. It's not because there's a flaw in the algorithms. At the end of the day, all DRM systems share a common vulnerability: they provide their attackers with ciphertext, the cipher and the key. At this point, the secret isn't a secret anymore."

I'm all for the RIAA trying to protect their copyrights as long as they don't try to pass off that responsibility to someone else. Hardware manufacturers and Congress should not have to be involved.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Joe Schmo 2
I finally got around to watching some of the Joe Schmo 2 episodes on my TiVo. Damn, it is funny. I almost p!ssed myself when I saw the first "Pearl Necklace Eviction Ceremony."

The faux-British host Derek Newcastle instructs phony bachelor Austin to pick four women to give a pearl necklace to (if you get a pearl necklace, you get to stay). Of course, they try to build the same sort of cheesy tension that you see on shows like "The Bachelor".

The gag would have gotten old real quick had it not been for Tim, one of this season's two Schmoes, trying not to crack up every time Austin would so sincerely ask, "Ingrid...can I give you a pearl necklace?" Poor Rita wasn't picked for a pearl necklace and was forced to walk the Last Chance for Love Trail of Tears.

Check out the website for more on the first two episodes
Saturday, June 26, 2004
GameSpot Live - On the Spot
GameSpot.com has started a new hour-long, live webcast series called "On the Spot." The weekly series will be broadcast live once per week with all episodes available for later viewing. The first installment, available here, goes inside EA Sports' Tiburon Studios to see how the Madden NFL, NCAA Football and Nascar games are made.
Wilco settles over sample
For some reason, Wilco has decided to settle a lawsuit with Akin Fernandez, owner of an obscure record label in England, over use of a sample used on Wilco's 2002 "Yankee Foxtrot Hotel."

The sample features what are allegedly spy broadcasts made via shortwave radio. The one in question features a woman with a heavy accent repeating "Yankee...Fotxtrot...Hotel..." According to Fernandez, who claims to have recorded the sample off of the radio, he owns the copyright to the sample because he recorded it. However, Simon Mason claims that he gave the recordings to Fernandez in an informal deal. And while Fernandez admits Mason gave him some recordings, he claims that he recorded the one Wilco sampled. Confused, yet?

American copyright experts aren't so sure that Fernandez is entitled to anything simply because he recorded it off of the radio. "Copyright requires some amount of creativity by an author," said Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Jason Schultz. "Simply pressing the record button on your radio receiver hardly qualifies to me." He added, "If Irdial simply published someone else's recording verbatim, then under U.S. Copyright law, they don't own anything."

Nevertheless, Wilco has agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to settle the case. Fernandez now claims that he has won a classic David-versus-Goliath battle.

Friday, June 25, 2004
Are CDs Rotting Away?
Michele Youket, who works for the Library of Congress, has been doing research on the lifespan of compact discs. They are often touted as indestructible; however, Youket is finding that isn't always the case.

The most frustrating part about this article is the fact that Youket's approach doesn't provide a time estimate of how long a CD will last. It only shows that CDs can and will break down under the right conditions.
Jumpsuits anyone?
First, let me give credit to KingMonkey.com for this link. Second, buy one these damn jumpsuits! They are awesome. I think they would make perfect warmups / after-game leisurewear for our kickball team.

This is my favorite.
Fourth Street Live dress code
OK, I know I said that I wouldn't get political in this blog, but this really irks me so I am making an exception.

It turns out that the new Fourth Street Live entertainment district in Downtown Louisville has a dress code that seems to be intended to filter out certain groups of people. In a nutshell, the code says that women can wear anything that they want as long as there is no "indecent exposure". Men, on the other hand, cannot wear tank tops, sleeveless shirts or (get this) sports jerseys. In addition, men are not allowed to wear a baseball cap backwards.

No jerseys and no baseball caps backwards, huh? Who are they trying to keep out? Hmm.

Kimberly Goodwin, a spokesperson for the management company, hints at what it might be. "It's just, you know, when you go out at night to a first-class enviornment -- it's certainly not a race issue -- it's just not appropriate attire when you have a night out on the town."

According to the article from WAVE 3, the dress code is enforced Wednesday through Saturday nights. The Mayor's office says because Fourth Street Live has an arena liquor license, the blocked off area basically becomes private on those nights, and they aren't sure anything can be done.

I've got no problem if a private business wants to have a dress code. I do have a problem when they try to enforce a dress code (which appears to be racially motivated) on a public street in an area that was built with taxpayer money. Councilman Dan Johnson believes the dress code is a good idea. "I think they should have strict, strict dress codes there," he said, because "they don't want a certain element of people doing things there." I wonder who that "certain element" is?

The whole idea of building Fourth Street Live was to try and revitalize the downtown area during non-work hours. This dress code seems to just add more division and confusion among residents.
BMW & iPod
I saw this commercial last night and, as much as I hate to praise Apple for anything, this is pretty damn cool. It allows you to integrate an iPod with the car stereo of the BMW (and even control the iPod with the stereo controls on the BMW's steering wheel).

I've been waiting for someone to take this approach for a while now. Automakers have been struggling with how to add audio/video gear to cars considering the long development cycle of new models (i.e. much of the technology is out of date by the time the first one rolls off the line).

This approach by Apple and BMW makes much more sense. Basically, just give the car a standard interface (maybe USB2 or Firewire) and allow the user to jack in whatever type of a/v product they may have. Maybe Microsoft will steal the idea and make a similar product that I would be willing to buy.

More From BMW
More from Apple
Microsoft to design Xbox Next chips
Microsoft is going to take a more active role in the chip design for the tentatively-titled "Xbox Next" gaming console due in 2005. This will allow Microsoft to customize the chip in order to improve performance.

It will also allow them to potentially control hacking. The current Xbox design uses standard PC parts which makes it very easy for someone to turn an Xbox into a PC. The new chips could limit that ability.

While worrying about future hacking is a smart move, I bet there will be a lot more hacking the existing Xbox as the price of the console drops.
Thursday, June 24, 2004
First impressions: Gmail
I've been playing with Gmail some today and, so far, I really like it. The "conversation" functionality is really nice. Basically, it treats e-mail threads like discussion threads with only one link visible in your Inbox (instead of 1 link per e-mail in the conversation). So if you sent someone a mail and the two of you have exchanged replies a few times, all of those messages are grouped together and accessible in a single click. Cool.
Yahoo! IM blocks Trillian (again)
Yahoo! has changed its IM protocol again to prevent Trillian users from accessing Yahoo! IM. Yahoo! claims its an effort to reduce spim; however, it is the latest in a series of moves aimed specifically at locking Trillian out.

While I like the unified interface of Trillian, I feel that Yahoo!, Microsoft and AOL have a right to keep their free IM networks closed.
Beastie Boys CD installs DRM "virus"
According to this Register article, all Beastie Boys "To The 5 Buroughs" CDs sold outside of the US and UK are infecting users computers with a digital rights management "virus" when the CD is loaded. Allegedly, the file is a driver that prevents users from ripping the CD.

The article charges that this driver qualifies as a "virus" because it "can be transferred from machine to machine on a removable disk, and requires user interaction to spread."

I'm not sure about whether I would call it a virus; however, I would call it sneaky and underhanded (those are legal terms, I think) to automatically install anything on a user's computer with explicitly explaining what is being installed.

And in the case of this type of driver, couldn't the user be considered in violation of the DMCA if they tried to remove or uninstall the driver (since it serves as copy-protection)?
Wednesday, June 23, 2004
smorty71 at gmail dot com is mine!
Thanks to an invite from Ted Laun, I was able to snag smorty71 at gmail dot com thus expanding the sMoRTy71 empire. Feel free to send me an e-mail so I can actually see what all the fuss is about.
Karen O. + Har Mar Superstar
Karen O. of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has teamed up with kooky R&B singer Har Mar Superstar on "Cut Me Up" from his upcoming album "The Handler." Although the video, from the Jackie Farry F*ck Cancer benefit, is hard to see, it sounds like the song is pretty good.

I actually like some of the stuff on 2002's "You Can Feel Me"(especially "One Dirty Minute"). Kind of like an R&B Beck. Har Mar even reviews his own albums on Amazon. Check out his reviews page.
Congress Punk'd By Moonies
Somehow Reverend Sun Myung Moon got several U.S. Congressmen to host an event back in March in which Moon donned a crown, declared himself the "Messiah" and said he was "sent to Earth . . . to save the world's six billion people. . . . Emperors, kings and presidents . . . have declared to all Heaven and Earth that Reverend Sun Myung Moon is none other than humanity's Savior, Messiah, Returning Lord and True Parent."

Since this was first reported by Salon.com, several of the lawmakers have claimed that they were duped into attending adding that they are now receiving calls from angry constituents wondering whether they were Moonies.
"Last words, last words -- out."
RollingStone.com has a really interesting excerpt from the book "Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend" by Stephen Davis.

One of the more interesting claims was that Morrison was in danger of being snuffed out by the government: "This retired lawyer was given to understand that Fink was quietly told that his famous client would be neutralized in prison -- murdered or incapacitated -- and should get out of the country before his legal appeals were exhausted and his passport confiscated. France, which has no extradition treaty with the United States for so-called sex crimes, was suggested as a logical place for Jim to take refuge. No direct or documentary evidence for this warning exists, only the unverifiable word of a respected former associate of both Rudin and Fink. Whatever the accuracy of this account, within one month Jim Morrison was in Paris, living incognito as a lodger in an apartment house, under the assumed names of James Douglas and/or Douglas James."
Microsoft patents body power
Microsoft has patented the use of the human body as an input device for wearable computers and other gadgets. However, the always-forward-looking MS is not limiting the patent to human bodies.

"It will be apparent,' it says, 'that the body may be that of a wide variety of living animals and need not be limited to being a body of a human being."
AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs
The AFI released its list of the so-called "top movie songs of all time." After scanning the list, there are some surprising selections (Public Enemy "Fight the Power" at #40, Eminem "Lose Yourself" at #93).

However, what is most troubling to me is who is not included - Prince. I mean, come on! The obvious choices are from "Purple Rain" ("Let's Go Crazy", "When Doves Cry", "Purple Rain"); however, "Sign O' The Times" from the film of the same name or "Kiss" from "Under the Cherry Moon" could have easily made the cut as well.

It's one thing to make some token choices to include hip hop; however, you can't exclude Prince.
Google, Bomb Thyself
Buried at the end of this NYTimes piece on the Google IPO is an interesting tidbit about a Google bomb planted by Google employees.

To see it in action, go to Google, type "out of touch management" then click "I Feeling Lucky," you get the Google Management page.
Lollapalooza cancelled
According to CNN.com, this year's Lollapalooza tour has been cancelled due to weak ticket sales. This is a big bummer since there were some really good acts on the tour: Morrissey, P.J. Harvey, The Pixies and Sonic Youth.

According to the article, "older fans" (that's me, I guess) don't want to spend all day at an outdoor festival. Conversely, younger fans don't want to see any of these older bands.

I guess I am one of the few old timers who would spend all day at a festival to get to see the Pixies and Morrissey. If they could just find 14,999 more people like me in each city of the event, they'd be in business.
Tuesday, June 22, 2004
EW's The Must List
I was just flipping through Entertainment Weekly's The Must List issue and noticed a few of my favorites listed: #16 Charlie Murphy, #74 Will Ferrell, #80 P.J. Harvey, #88 Will Arnett (Gob from "Arrested Development"), #95 "Reno 911!", #117 "Pimp My Ride", #127 Alexander Payne, #128 Richard Linklater, #129 Wes Anderson. I guess 9 out of 137 ain't bad.

Check out the full list here
Will Ferrell: Sexy Beast
Will Ferrell is featured in the cover of the latest issue of GQ. The picture is great. He is wearing a ruffled tuxedo shirt and has a poodle tucked under his arm.
Digital Living Network Alliance
According to News.com, the Digital Home Working Group will announce Tuesday a new name, Digital Living Network Alliance, and release guidelines for its 145 member companies which include Sony, Microsoft and HP.

I am excited about the idea of having a set of standards for sharing digital content between various consumer electronics and PC-based products. While I currently have a Home Theater PC to do all of the heavy-lifting, I would much prefer having standalone components that could do the same thing.
Pimp My Ride
One of my latest guilty pleasures is MTV's car-improvement show, "Pimp My Ride". For the uninitiated, Xzibit surprises a viewer by picking up their crappy car, taking it to West Coast Customs and totally redoing it (adding a new paint job, new tires, stereos, DVD players, LCD monitors, fishtanks, etc.). Their goal is inject as much of the driver's interests and personality into the pimped out ride as possible.

I think my favorite is the Chevy Luv Truck that got an Xbox and a 7,000 watt sound system in its new motorized pop-up camper. Check it out on Sunday nights at 9:30pm.

UPDATE: Since posting this, CNN.com has published a feature on the show
Stranger finds a home with EA
StrangerGood news for Oddworld fans (especially my son Mahlon). EA confirmed that it will publish the new Oddworld title, referred to as "Stranger," for PS2 and Xbox sometime in 2005.

"Stranger" was featured in a Discovery Channel documentary on Microsoft last year that predicted a 2004 release date; however, Oddworld Inhabitants and Microsoft have gone their separate ways.

This GameSpot article gives more details on the arrangement as well as a brief interview with Oddworld cofounder Lorne Lanning about the upcoming game.
Hollywood & neuromarketing
OK, I first read about this on the MIT Technology Review blog and thought it was a joke (especially since I had just seen "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind"). However, after reading the Guardian article, it appears to be legitimate.

Basically, Steven Quartz, a lab director at CalTech, is using brain scans to measure how people react to films. According to Quartz, "There's a part of the brain - the orbitofrontal cortex - that underlies liking or anticipation...We can look at changes in blood flow in that region to measure how much people are anticipating a movie when they are watching a trailer or how much liking they have."

He claims that he has sold the technology to Hollywood studios, but he won't name names. The article points out that, unlike focus groups, the brain scans don't lie.
Personal Tech. Freedom Coalition
Rep. Rick Boucher's HR107 bill is about to get some support from some high-profile companies (Intel, Sun Microsystems, Verizon Communications, SBC, Qwest, Gateway and BellSouth) and associations (the Consumer Electronics Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Consumers Union and others) who are forming the "Personal Technology Freedom Coalition".

It looks like the PTFC will be advocating the same changes to the DMCA. Some critics point out that these changes amount to nothin more than a power shift (The bill wants to let the FTC handle enforcement). It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.
Monday, June 21, 2004
DMCA & Fair Use
Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia is the sponsor of HR107 which would overturn the provision in the DMCA that bars consumers from making backup copies of CDs or DVDs that they own. The bill currently has 19 co-sponsors; however, it is unlikely that it will pass this year.

In a related story, News.com is reporting that the #1 album in the United States, "Contraband" by Velvet Revolver, is the first #1 album to include anticopying protections.

As a consumer, I should legally be able to make a backup copy of any movie or CD that I buy. In the case of CDs, I like to place the original in my CD changer and make a backup copy for use in the car. That practice would make a pirate if I were to buy the Velvet Revolver CD (don't worry, I won't) and attempt to make a backup since the DMCA prohibits disabling copy protection.

Hollywood and the RIAA need to come up with workable solutions (for both consumers and the studios/labels) to these issues instead of trying to legislate everyone into submission. They've already driven up the cost of consumer electronics hardware (HDTVs, HDTV receivers, DVI-enabled DVD players) by requiring manufacturers to adopt HDCP and other copyright protection schemes into their hardware.

Why should Congress and hardware manufacturers be asked to protect someone else's copyrights?
Army Sets Up Video-Game Studio
According to Wired.com, the U.S. Army has opened the America's Army Government Applications office in Cary, North Carolina to build upon the success of the Army-produced action video game "America's Army" which was released in July 2002. The studio employs 15 people pulled mostly from local video-game companies. The Army claims that it is cheaper to operate its own studio than it would be to farm out training simulations to outside vendors.
Coffee and Cigarettes
I saw the trailer for "Coffee and Cigarettes" last night before "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." It looks really good. I love some of Jim Jarmusch's earlier films especially "Stranger Than Paradise," "Mystery Train" and "Night on Earth."

It looks like Tom DiCillo, who worked as the DP on early Jarmusch films, shoots one of the vignettes. DiCillo also wrote and directed 1995's "Living In Oblivion" which I really, really love. "Lone Wolf!"

"Coffee and Cigarettes" has a great cast including Bill Murray, RZA and GZA from Wu Tang Clan, Meg and Jack White of the White Stripes, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Steven Wright and Cate Blachett.
Morgan Spurlock on The Daily Show
ComedyCentral.com has posted the video of "Super Size Me" director Morgan Spurlock's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart a couple of weeks ago. Check it out here.
Sunday, June 20, 2004
Review: Eternal Sunshine...
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindOK, I think I just finished watching one of the best films I've ever seen. I know, I know. Usually when I hear that type of exaggerated praise, I dismiss it immediately. The claims are often made off the cuff or in a fit of passion. However, even now after having time to think about it, I stand behind that claim.

I was already a fan of director Michel Gondry's work in music videos. In fact, I own a retrospective of his work on DVD. Visually, the guy is a genius (See Cibo Matto's "Sugar Water" or Chemical Brothers "Let Forever Be"). I was also already a fan of Charlie Kaufman who wrote "Being John Malkovich" and "Adaptation." And, I'll even admit that I am a closet Jim Carrey fan, too (The "Truman Show" and "Man on the Moon" Jim Carrey, not the "Mask" and "The Majestic" Jim Carrey).

So, it could be argued that I was predisposed to like this movie based on these affinities. However, I think it is just one of those rare instances where the script, the director and the actors were perfect for each other.

The script is brilliant. The story is so complex and is told in a non-linear fashion, so it could easily get messy (or try to be too clever like "Malkovich"). However, Kaufman moves you through it without overwhelming you with too much information at any given time. And, most importantly, through all of the mental twists and turns, he crafts a terrific love story.

And I don't know of any director who could have pulled this script off as well as Michel Gondry. The stuff he does in this movie (and in his previous music video work) is unlike anything I've ever seen before. Instead of being bound by realism, Gondry will always choose the shot or image that is right for the scene. That may be something surreal or absurd; however, it never feels out of place. And while the visual effects are great, they complement the story. You never find yourself saying, "Wow, what a cool shot" because you are too engrossed in the film to care. When you watch Gondry's work, you feel like he is liberating your mind from the constraints of traditional filmmaking (and he is).

For the sake of keeping this somewhat brief, I'll just add that Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet were excellent as Joel and Clementine. In fact, this is definitely the role of Carrey's career to this point. Often, it is hard to ignore the "baggage" that a famous actor brings when you see them in a different type of role. However, I never gave that a second thought. From the opening frame, he was Joel Barish. Also, Jon Brion's score was a perfect complement.

An Oscar would not be good enough for this film (yeah, I said that).
Saturday, June 19, 2004
RENO 911! Season 2
Craig and TrudyOMG! The new season of RENO 911! is so good. I've laughed harder in the first 2 episodes than I did all of last season. The "Truckee River Killer" episode was great. Trudy is dating a guy named Craig Pullin who the rest of the force suspects to be a serial killer.

Junior and Garcia ponder whether having the sometimes-suicidal Trudy fall in love with a serial killer isn't just God's way of helping her finally end it all. Even if Craig doesn't kill Trudy, Garcia sees him as a little death leprechaun sitting on your shoulder that could urge her on. Junior decides that Death Leprechaun would be a "wicked awesome name for a band."

The scene where Dangle refuses to save a guy's novel from a burning building is great, too. They make him give them a quick decription of the novel. They decide it is a rip-off of the movie "Frequency" and refuse to go in. One firefighter advises the man, "If you can't excited about your work, how do you expect anyone else to."

The RENO 911! microsite on ComedyCentral.com is funny, too. Be sure to check out the officer dossiers. Garcia's personal motto is "Criminals are the vomit of society and we (the law) are the sawdust."

Check out a clip from Episode 2.
Excerpts from page 180
The DirtI haven't posted any updates in a while because I think I've gotten numb to the stories already. Let's just say that, since page 62, the guys have had a megaton of sex, have all become addicts and one person has ended up dead.

In the midst of the debauchery, I've found the chapters written by Mick to be surprisingly funny. As he recalls his high school days playing in different bands, he writes:

"I soon stopped playing with the Garcia Brothers: It had gotten too scary...One of the Garcia Brothers later landed in jail after accidentally killing a little girl in a drive-by shooting and another ended up playing in Richard Marx's band. I told you they were bad."
Friday, June 18, 2004
EA's online plan for Madden
EA has released details on its new online gaming features for Madden 2005. This will be the first year that Madden is playable on Xbox Live and it appears they are going all the way. Many of the features, like online tournaments and alert options, are straight out of Microsoft's now-defunct XSN.

Although I have already decided on ESPN NFL 2K5, it will be interesting to see which game grabs more marketshare now that there are only 2 major players. I am hoping that ESPN's gameplay (which has already won Best of E3 honors) and $19.99 price point will help it catch up with Madden. If nothing else, the price point may allow hard-core NFL gamers to buy both and determine which they prefer.
Close Encounters...
I had tickets to Churchill Downs yesterday, so I took half a day off work to watch the races. Although we started off sitting in the shade, apparently, as we drank more and more beer, our shade went away (turns out the Earth moves throughout the day, causing the angle of the sun to change. who knew?).

Now, I look like Richard Dreyfuss in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". I have a nasty sunburn that is concentrated on one side of my face. I can't wait to go out in public today.
Madonna = Esther
According to an ABC interview, Madonna has changed her name to "Esther." The name change stems from her study of Kabbalah (which is the Hebrew word for "scientology"). Maybe "Esther" knows how to make a decent record.
Thursday, June 17, 2004
RIAA suing Louisville teen
The parents of a 17 year-old Sacred Heart student are facing up to $750,000 in fines if they don't settle with the RIAA (for around $4,000). According to the RIAA, the girl downloaded around 1,000 illegal mp3s.

I think this is the wrong long-term approach for the recording industry to take. Sure, piracy is a problem (and I don't support the idea that people should be able to download music for free); however, the RIAA needs to recognize that the market has changed. They need to be looking for new opportunities in the digital marketplace instead of trying to sue everyone into supporting an outdated model.

While I think the lawsuits may deter people from downloading illegal mp3s, I don't think it is going to increase the sale of CDs. So, I'm not sure why RIAA is spending all of this money of lawsuits when it isn't going to help them solve their core problem.

I've been using Rhapsody for 2 years and would never go back. I love the idea of music as a service. While I still buy new CDs from artists that I like, I enjoy having access to all of the other music that I wouldn't want to shell out $15 for.
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Oral-B Brush-ups
While watching the season premiere of "Newlyweds" on MTV (OK, I probably shouldn't have shared that...), I saw possibly the dumbest commercial for possibly the dumbest product, Oral-B Brush-ups. They are these blue, condom-like sleeves that you slip on your finger and brush your teeth with. The horrible song and dance in the commercial have to be seen to be appreciated (check out the couple on the scooter). Maybe Gunther could be their celebrity spokesperson...
Beastie Boys Overload
Last night, Beastie Boys performed live on both MTV and David Letterman. The MTV show, "Live from the 5 Buroughs", featured two performances: "Triple Trouble" & "So Whatcha Want."

On Letterman, they started their performance of "Ch-Check It Out" in the subway, walked through the streets and finished up in the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

This Sunday, Beastie Boys will be featured on MTV2's $2Bill concert live from Las Vegas.
Fear of Gmail?
OK, it looks like Gmail has officially replaced RFID as the newest and most scariest tool of Big Brother. At least, that's what gmail-is-too-creepy.com thinks. The site, dedicated to "exposing" the risks of Google's new e-mail service, is filled with the same fearmongering that seems to pop up with each new technology product or service.

In a nutshell, Big Brother or the government of somebody really evil could mine data from Google's database and use it track you down and do something very bad to you. Funny, the site never mentions exactly what Big Brother might do to you; however, I'm sure it is very, very bad.

The problem with the points made on the site is that they are not problems specific to Gmail. Yes, Gmail stores personally identifiable information about you in a database. But so do your bank, your credit card company, your mortgage company, etc. The potential for someone to use that information in a way you didn't intend isn't limited to Gmail. Chances are, all of the aforementioned types of companies are already selling some or all of your information to third parties.

I'm not sure why they want to single Gmail out. I just hope these evil people never get a hold of the Louisville phone book...
Urge Overkill venue confirmed
Just got an e-mail back from Urge Overkill's booking manager. They will play Phoenix Hill Tavern on Tuesday, July 13th at 8:30PM. I can't wait!
"Don't Say Nuthin'" by The Roots
You can listen to the single or watch the video for "Don't Say Nuthin'" at TheRoots.com. Fans of the Knight Rider theme song should dig it. The site has both the audio and video embedded into the page, so you don't need to download any files or spawn an external media player. Cool.

The new album, "The Tipping Point," will be released on July 13th. The Roots are probably my favorite hip-hop band (they play all of their own music) and, coincidentally, "The Tipping Point" by Macolm Gladwell is one of my favorite books.

If you haven't heard The Roots, pick up "Things Fall Apart." It is incredible. BTW, it is also available on Rhapsody.
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Touch my tra-la-la
The ding dong himselfOMFG! This is either the most genius parody I have ever seen or the cheesiest video ever made (and maybe both). Either way, it is unbelievably funny. It is "The Ding Dong Song (Touch my tra-la-la)" by Gunther and the Sunshine Girls. I still can't get my brain around this. His mullet. His lipgloss. His white jacket. Ahhh!!!

The site is in Flash, so I can't post a direct link to the video. You'll have to click from "video" tab on the website. Here is a temporary direct link from MTVAsia.
State of the Union spoof
When I started this blog a few weeks ago, one of my ground rules was "no politics and no religion." For one, I find that sh!t boring. Plus, it tends to get people too "riled up."

I decided that this clip was worth bending the rules for. Shoutout to Scott Brown for sending me this Bush State of the Union spoof that is making the e-mail rounds. It takes real footage and sound bites and edits them together to totally change their original meaning. It's very similar to "Fun with Real Audio" from Robert Smigel that's often featured on SNL.
DVD format wars to heat up (again)
First, there was the battle between the DVD-R vs. DVD+R formats. Now it looks like the HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray battle is about to heat up. News.com is reporting that the DVD Forum has approved version 1.0 of the HD-DVD spec which includes a requirement to include support for Microsoft's VC-9 codec.

HD-DVD (and Blu-ray) will allow the recording of high-definition material onto DVD. I, for one, can't wait for the technology to be available to consumers. I just wish that we didn't have to constantly take a wait-and-see approach on which new format is going to gain wider acceptance. I'm placing my bet that HD-DVD will be the ultimate winner, in part because of its name (which will be more familiar to consumers due to the "HD" prefix) and in part because of the push from MS.
Monday, June 14, 2004
Student film: Festus Rockefeller
This is the second of my two graduate thesis films. It was shot with a crew of one (me) and a cast of four in the Spring of 1997.

The films follows the day in the life of a man who is terrified of germs. He is so terrified, in fact, that he has not been out of the house in 5 weeks. In addition, he has covered the inside of the house in plastic and wears rubber gloves and a mask at all times. On this day, Festus is venturing out to attend a job interview. Unfortunately, the germs have other ideas.

As with "Unseen Power", "Festus" suffers from some terrible and/or missing audio in spots (especially the scenes in the bathroom and in the car). Scott Brown's performance, however, makes up for the film's other shortcomings.
Student film: Unseen Power...
...of the Picket Fence. This is one of my two thesis films that I made in graduate film school at The University of Memphis. It was shot with a crew of two (myself and Kevin O'Brien) and a cast of non-actors over the course of a weekend in the Fall of 1996.

I think the script and the story are pretty good. I think my execution of the script and story are less than pretty good. The sound stinks at times. Some of the acting is distracting. Gee, I bet you can't wait to watch, huh?

The film was actually accepted into the 1997 Tacoma Tortured Artists film festival.
Student film: Generation Ecstacy
This is another film that I shot in Bradenton, Florida in 1995. It is a short documentary on the widespread use of ecstacy in Sarasota (thus the oh-so-clever title). I made it with my friends Rob McKittrick (who stars in "Skinflute") and Mike Le. Mike and Rob have since gone on to careers in Hollywood. Rob has written and directed his first feature film, "Waiting...". Mike recently wrote "Tokyo Suckerpunch" for Fox Searchlight. I'm sure this film; however, still ranks as one of their proudest achievements.

This one, like most of my films, makes me cringe (a lot) when I watch it (especially since we misspelled "edited" in the credits).
Student film: Debaser
This is the first short film I ever made. It was for a filmmaking class I was taking at a community college in Brandenton, Florida while awaiting graduate school. It is set to "Debaser" by The Pixies and features film clips from Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali's classic surrealist film "Un Chien Andalou" which inspired the song. It stars Jason Heisel. It's pretty goofy; however, I learned a lot and had fun.
Amazing video game auction
I won't even try to list all of the items featured in this auction. It includes just about every game console ever made and tons of software to go with them. Starting bid is $100,000. The winning bidder will be able to celebrate with one of the many bottles of PS2 "celebration wine" included. Anybody want to go in half?
NFL 2K5 to launch at $19.99
In an attempt to win over Madden players, the next installment of the ESPN NFL 2K series will be priced at $19.99 when it is released on August 24th. While it had been rumored for a couple of days, the price was confirmed late last week.

This is great news since I had already decided to convert back over to the 2K series this season with the demise of Microsoft's NFL Fever franchise. I've never been able to get into Madden. There is something about the play calling interface and the controls that just don't feel right.

NFL 2K5 has already been named "Best Sports Game" at E3 2004 by Gamespot and Gaming Illustrated.
Extreme Dodgeball on GSN
OK it looks like the whole adult playground sports resurgence thing I predicted may have already jumped the shark.

Game Show Network is premiering "Extreme Dodgeball" tomorrow night at 10PM. It is mock game show hosted by the ever-annoying Jerri Manthey from Survivor and that dude who won ESPN's Dream Job (I'd hate to see what happened to the losers). Basically, there are phony teams arranged around various occupations (a rip-off of MXC?) that play dodgeball. Blah...
Memoirs of a Super Freak
According to RickJames.com, David Chappelle is in early talks to play Rick in a film based on the upcoming "Memoirs of a Super Freak." Producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura is in negotiations to acquire the rights for a Paramount film. This film HAS to be made. Cold Blooded!
3rd Annual Lebowski Fest
For the third straight year now, I've said that I would go to the Lebowski Fest; however, I always procrastinate and/or forget. Of course, this year's bowling night is sold out. So are the posters done by Shepard Fairey of "Andre the Giant has a posse" fame. When will I become an "achiever"?
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Beastie Boys from MTV Movie Awards
This was the other good moment from the 2004 MTV Movie Awards. The Beastie Boys performed "Ch-Check it out" and, as usual, they were on top of their game. Their recent albums may not be their best; however, they always put on a great show. I saw them in 1998 in St. Louis with A Tribe Called Quest and it was unreal.
LOTR skit from MTV Movie Awards
OK, for the most part, the 2004 MTV Movie Awards was on par with past years (meaning it sucked). However, there were a few good moments. The show opened with this skit featuring Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller pitching the idea of a Lord of the Rings sequel to Peter Jackson. Pretty funny.
Prince at R'n'R Hall of Fame
This is a clip I found while archiving stuff off of my TiVo this weekend. It is from this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Prince joins Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and others in an all-star jam on George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and blows everyone away with this 3-minute solo. It's amazing.

Saturday, June 12, 2004
Turd Ferguson
I picked up the "Best of Will Ferrell" DVD at Target yesterday for an incredible $7.50. One of the skits featured is "Celebrity Jeopardy" where Norm MacDonald plays Burt Reynolds. The funniest part of the skit is when Burt decides, much to Alex's dismay, to change his name to "Turd Ferguson." There is something about the way Norm smirks and chomps his chewing gum that is too funny. If you've got $8 laying around, pick up the DVD.
10 years since OJ killed Nicole
Run killer!Bill Simmons at ESPN.com has an interesting look back at the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman on June 12, 1994 and the trial that followed. I remember a lot about the trial; however, I forgot just how much DNA and other physical evidence there was against OJ.

Here is a quote from the column that sums up my problem with the defense's claim that OJ was framed:

"On the one hand, the defense argued the LAPD was completely incompetent, so you couldn't possibly trust the DNA evidence. On the other hand, they played the race card, arguing the LAPD was calculating enough to arrive at a crime scene and, within about 10 minutes of digesting what had happened, hatch a convoluted plan to frame Simpson because he was African-American ... even though they didn't have any idea if he had an alibi or was even in the country at the time."
Friday, June 11, 2004
The Special FX of "Six Feet Under"
CNN.com has a profile of the special effects team behind all of the corpses on "Six Feet Under." The company, MastersFX, does work on "Six Feet Under," "Carnivale" and "Stargate SG-1."
Help Trogdor! burninate villagers
TROGDOR!!!I stumbled across this game after someone (shoutout to Eric Brinley) sent me a link to the old Strong Bad "Trogdor" cartoon. Your goal, of course, is the "burninate" and not get "sworded." It's actually kind of fun.

After you do get "sworded", check out the "Trogdor" episode of Strong Bad. And to make sure you use the words correctly in a sentence, see Trogdor! and burninate in the Urban Dictionary.
Watch YYYs perform
In case you missed it (or if you just want to see it again), check out the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance of "Maps" from last night's MTV Movie Awards. For some reason, the stage set reminds me of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" video. Or maybe it is just guitarist Nick Zinner's hair.
Make avatars say naughty things
Me love you long timeOK, I was trying to find a .WAV file of Pee Wee Herman saying, "Paging Mr. Herman" when I found this link. It is a demo of Oddcast's SitePal product which "allows YOU to create speaking animated characters (avatars) for your web site, and add your own audio message via Text-to-Speech or voice recording."

Basically, you can type in ANY text you want and the attractive female animation (yeah, I realized how creepy that sounded after I typed it) will say it. As you can imagine, you can spend a lot of time thinking of clever things for them to say. And they will say ANYTHING.

BTW, notice how her eyes will follow your mouse. Weird.

Try it now (be sure to click the "try it now" button under the heading "Talk to me")
Thursday, June 10, 2004
Paging Mr. Herman
Pee-Wee's Playhouse is finally coming to DVD. I have the VHS collection; however, that only includes a couple dozen episodes. According to this Reuters article, the DVD box set will contain all 45 episodes including 6 lost installments. Sweet! Shout out to Pat Glancy for this one.
New video from The Hives
Those dapper Scandinavians, The Hives, have a new video for "Walk Idiot Walk". It is the first single off of their upcoming album "Tyrannosaurus Hives" which is scheduled to be released on July 20th. BTW, the bassist is a dead ringer for Ron Jeremy.
Classic Triumph moments
I stumbled across the Triumph the Insult Comic Dog archive on the NBC site this morning. It features about 15 clips from the past 5 years.

One of my favorites, besides the Star Wars one which isn't listed, is when Triumph was invited (for some reason) to be the guest weatherdog on a local Hawaiian TV affiliate. It's a scream. Check it out
TiVo to add internet content?
News.com is reporting that TiVo has plans to allow users to download music and movies via the internet with their set-top boxes. Of course, some analysts speculate that this type or service could further strain their relationship with DirecTV.

This could be very cool if they're able to pull it off. My decision to build a Home Theater PC was based on the lack of an existing out-of-the-box product. If TiVo or some other company could produce a box that has an HD satellite tuner, HD PVR, broadband access and a DVD burner (and could be controlled by a single remote), there would be no need to buy or build anything else.
YYYs on MTV / SPIN cover
Yeah Yeah Yeahs on SPINOne of my favorite bands, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, will perform tonight on the MTV Movie Awards. If you've never seen them perform, you need to watch. And if you don't have "Fever to Tell," you need to buy it now.

Also, I just saw that YYYs are also on the cover of SPIN magazine this month. Hopefully they will finally get the credit they deserve. The entire album was great; however, "Maps" is one of the best songs I've heard in years.
Preview "To The 5 Buroughs"
To The 5 BuroughsThe Leak on MTV.com is featuring the Beastie Boys' new album. You can listen to all of the tracks before it is available on Tuesday.

I hope this album is better than the last couple. The new single "Ch-Check It Out" is OK; however, it sounds like a rehash of the stuff on "Hello Nasty." Good verses with a crappy chorus.

BTW, look how old Mike D and MCA look in the photo. "I got more rhymes than I've got gray hairs / And that's a lot because I've got my share." Word.
Wednesday, June 9, 2004
VisitorVille
I read an article on Wired.com this morning about VisitorVille. It is a web analytics tool with a twist. It does all of the stuff you expect like tracking referrers, pageviews and click-thru; however, it uses a Sims-like visual interface to do it. It looks very cool.

Better still, it is cheap and simple to implement. The service costs $29.95 per month for a typical small business web site. Plus, it requires no configuration of your web server, so it is perfect for small businesses who have had their sites built by outside firms.

Screenshot
LouisvilleHDTV.com
For HDTV nerds: this page has a nice overview of the local Louisville stations broadcasting HDTV, the formats they broadcast in and other juicy tidbits.
CNN article on HTPCs and PVRs
The article tells readers that they can get the same functionality with an HTPC as they can with a TiVo (as long as they're willing to do a little tweaking of their PC). Well, as someone who has been tweaking his HTPC (w/ SageTV 2 and an Hauppauge PVR-250) for the past 4 months to try and get it there, I can say, without a doubt, that there is nothing better in terms of image quality and ease of use than a TiVo.

Part of the quality issue has to do with the fact that the DirecTiVo doesn't have to do the extra digital-to-analog-to-digital conversion that an HTPC requires when recording from a satellite receiver. The other problem is that I am trying to view the image on a very large screen (65") which will highlight the flaws in the signal.

As far as video goes, I am probably going to use my HTPC to record shows from my DirecTiVo onto DVD and for distributing video to other devices (like my Media MVP)/smaller displays in the house. More on that later.
Bad news for DirecTiVo users?
According to a News.com article, DirecTV has sold its stake in TiVo. Analysts are speculating that this foreshadows the end of their relationship when their current contract expires in 2007.

As a DirecTiVo user and TiVo evangelist, this is a potential bummer. Most of the subscribers that TiVo has added in the past few quarters are DirecTiVo customers, so TiVo could take a big revenue hit. Plus DirecTiVo customers only pay $4.95 for their TiVo service as opposed to $12.95 for standalone TiVo units.

I really love the cost savings and higher picture quality that the DirecTiVo provides. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this shakes out.
ESPN videogames to support LSP
According the XBOX magazine, ESPN's NFL 2K5 will support XBOX Live's Live Server Protocol. LSP will allow ESPN to replicate the functionality of Microsoft's now-defunct XSN feature which allows users to create leagues / tournaments and track stats online.

I actually switched from the ESPN football franchise last year in order to take advantage of NFL Fever 2004's XSN support. Now that MS has dumped production of most of its sports games in order to get in bed with EA, its good to see that ESPN is picking up the slack.
Tuesday, June 8, 2004
"Coolest Band on Earth" no more
Julian takes the news hardCNN.com has a decent article on the rise and fall of The Strokes. "The band has gone from being critical darlings to ... well, not being critical darlings."

I really loved their first album. The second was mediocre. Seemed like they were trying too hard to be the Cars. I was going to see them on their tour stop in Louisville; however, the show was sponsored by Clear Channel. And since CC pulled Howard Stern off the air in Louisville, I refuse to support them in any way.

Oh well, I'm glad I didn't go since CNN says they're not cool anymore anyway.
Screenshots from SportsCenter in HD
Thanks to KevinYee over in the HDTV Programming forum at AVS Forum for posting these. Not quite like watching it, but close:

Screenshot 1: Close up of Linda Cohn
Screenshot 2: Two shot of Cohn and Rece Davis
Screenshot 3: Stanley Cup highlights
Screenshot 4: Wide shot of Cohn and Davis
Sneak preview of "Six Feet Under"
HBO.com has a video sneak preview of the upcoming season of "Six Feet Under" which begins Sunday June 13th at 9PM.
Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool
Life got you down? Looking for love in a loveless world? Did you get a free ride when you'd already paid? Well, don't despair, friend. Mr. T can help.

5minutestolive.com has Mr. T's "Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool," a 1984 instructional / inspirational video for kids. Here are just a couple of things you will learn:

1. If you're walking down the street and you fall down, just start break dancing so no one will know you fell

2. If you forget to wear pants when you go out, just strip off your clothes down to your red hot pants and start doing push ups

As an added bonus (as if you need more of a reason to buy this), Gary Coleman's "For Safeties Sake" & Corey Haim's "Me Myself & I" are also included.

Shout out to Scott Brown for sending this my way.
Monday, June 7, 2004
Excerpts from Page 62
The DirtOK, I'm 83 pages in and I have to share some of the finer moments from Motley Crue's "The Dirt..." Without a doubt, the highlight has been page 62 which was written by Vince Neil (in iambic pentameter, I think).

On juggling groupies and girlfriends in the early days:
"We'd scrounge up enough money to buy an egg burrito from Noggles. Then we'd bite the end off and stick our ***** into the warm meat to cover up the smell of ***** so that our girlfriends didn't know we were ****ing anything stupid or drunk enough to get into Tommy's van."

Describing a fight that he started with a fan during one of their early shows: "I leapt off the stage midphrase and put him in a headlock and started pummeling him. I looked back, and Nikki has his white Thunderbird bass over his head. He swung it forward like a circus strength-game mallet and cracked it over some guy's shoulder blade. If there was a bell on the guy's head, it would have gone through the roof."

And these are the stories from before they ever released a record. And they were on a single page. It can only get better in the remaining 300+ pages.
SportsCenter in HD. Wow!
Damn, the in-studio footage and onscreen graphics of the new SportsCenter are unbelievable in HD. Looks like my concerns about the quality of the SD game clips were unfounded. They are pillarboxing the SD stuff and placing HD graphics and sidebars on each side of the screen. Plus, they now show HD highlights of events originally shot in HD.

Every time they come back to the studio after showing SD game highlights, the HD PQ is jarring.

One bummer is that they are now pillarboxing commercials. It used to be that 4:3 SD commercials would stretch to fill the 16:9 screen. Now I get ESPN sidebars during the commercials.

A small price to pay for HD content that I actually want to watch for the content, not just the PQ.
The Louisville Star
I recently heard about this site from some co-workers. It is a very small satire site run here in Louisville by a guy named Doug Small. It may be worth checking out from time to time. And since it touts itself as "Louisville's Only Source for Satire," we really have no other choice.

Highlands Residents Agree on Own Importance
Remote Control Anarchy
Jakob Nielsen's latest column, "Remote Control Anarchy," takes on the usability of home theater remote controls (a subject near and dear to me). Most of his columns consist of about 99% hot air and 1% data and this one is no exception.

He asserts that remote controls are sooo hard to use that "the consumer electronics industry is losing significant sales because prospective customers are afraid of the complications entailed in attempting to integrate one more box into their existing system." Says who?

What I find most interesting, after reviewing the photo of his remotes, is that this usability "guru," who "could easily afford more equipment," chose ReplayTV over TiVo. TiVo has long been recognized for the usability of both their software and their remote control.
Video Review of "Riddick" for XBOX
GameSpot has a great video review of "The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay" for the XBOX. The game, which XBOX magazine called the best-looking XBOX game they'd ever seen, gets a 9.3 rating from GameSpot.

I've played the demo and it does look like the game to fill the void until Halo 2 arrives this Fall.

Click here (and scroll to the bottom of the page) for the 6-minute video review.
Sunday, June 6, 2004
Motley Crue rekindles love of reading
The DirtOK, lately, I've been feeling a little bit guilty over the fact that I rarely read anything that isn't displayed on a television or computer monitor. So the other night, as I was flipping through the channels, I came across VH1's 100 Most Metal Moments where they featured the book "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band" by Motley Crue at #2. It was touted as a tell-all from their days of sex, drugs, drugs, drugs and rock n roll.

Now, I must confess something here, I was really (really) into 80's hair metal. On top of that, I really used to like Motley Crue. Well, I picked it up this afternoon and, after 20 pages, I am hooked.
"He's one dominant cat"
OK, let's do a little free association, shall we? I saw Rasheed Wallace on SportsCenter this morning refer to Shaquille O'Neal as "one dominant cat." Rasheed Wallace wears a white terry cloth headband. Yesterday, I bought a white terry cloth head band. Take a look at this picture of me in my new terry cloth head band and tell me if there is a more fitting phrase than "He's one dominant cat."

Didn't think so.
Rock Hard Ten
OK, I'll admit that I don't watch much horse racing, so I may be a little late on this one. Anyway, I about fell out of my chair while watching the Belmont Stakes when I heard Tom Hammond say, "And here's Rock Hard Ten." Maybe I'm just a perv, but that seemed like an "anatomical reference".

I did a little Googling and found this on a racing web site:
"Much speculation about the meaning of his name. Rich widow co-owner denies its a line from a swingers ad but no one believes her."

This ranks right up there with watching the Reebok Terry Tate Super Bowl ads from a couple of years ago and seeing the name "Felcher & Sons."

"Skeet, skeet, skeet, skeet, skeet!"
Friday, June 4, 2004
SportsCenter in HD starts June 7th
From the ESPN website: "High Definition television takes another great step forward when SportsCenter, the nation's leading news and information program, comes to ESPN HD at 11 p.m. ET on June 7. SportsCenter will feature a whole new look, with a new set in ESPN's brand new Digital Center, plus new graphics and a whole new look and feel. Every SportsCenter ... every day ...on ESPN HD"

I will be eager to see how much of a difference this makes overall since all of the game clips will still be standard definition.
Urge Overkill is coming to Louisville!
The venue is TBA; however, the date is July 14th. I saw them several years ago at the New Daisy in Memphis and the show was incredible. To this day, "Saturation" is still one of my favorite CDs. Pick it up if you don't already have it.
HD TiVos for triple MSRP on eBay
The one home theater device that I really, really want right now is the new Hughes HR10-250 AKA the HD TiVo. It is almost the perfect HT product (the only things missing are a DVD burner and an ethernet port) since it records standard definition satellite, OTA high definition and satellite high definition.

The MSRP is $999; however, since the units have been hard to come by, eBayers are making a killing on them. A quick check of completed auctions shows that most are selling for about $1200.

This one went for over $2400, nearly triple MSRP!
If Ron Burgundy Says It...
It's the Truth! OMG, I just saw the trailer for Anchorman - The Legend of Ron Burgundy (shout out to Eric Brinley for recommending it). I won't even try to describe how f*cking funny it is. You have to see for yourself. BTW, empty your bladder first (just a tip). July 9th can't come soon enough. "I'm storming your castle on my steed, me lady."
Weather nerds just aren't funny
It is a long-standing (well, since this morning) belief of mine that meterologists, weather men and women and even those wacky storm chasers are a humorless lot. This page, from stormtrack.org, confirms it. They fail to make Mr. T (the man who made me want to capitalize the MRT in sMoRTy71) funny (and that's tough to do). I mean, they don't even use "jibba jabba". Amateurs...

Actually, there is one good one:
"Is my point getting through to you, chickenlegs"

Luckily, it is at the top of the page so you don't have to read the rest.
Thursday, June 3, 2004
Dodgeball is back, too? Sweet!
OK, this week just keeps getting better. A co-worker sent me the link to this Courier-Journal article on Adult Dodgeball in Louisville.

Coupled with the new Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story movie and we're on the cusp of an adult playground sports resurgence! And who is going to capitalize on it? Me, that's who!

Louisvilledodgeball.com, anyone?
What's wrong with Morrissey...?
...and why can't I stop listening to his new CD? I ask myself these same questions every time I get his latest CD. His new one "I Am The Quarry" is no exception.

Still, to this day, after buying 8 albums, I can't figure out if the guy is kidding with these lyrics. He sings them so earnestly that I honestly can't tell. And part of me doesn't even care because they're so damn catchy!

From "First of the Gang to Die"
"You have never been in love / Til you've seen the dawn rise / Behind the home for the blind"

From "I Have Forgiven You Jesus"
"Monday - humiliation / Tuesday - suffocation / Wednesday - condescension / Thursday - is pathetic / By Friday life has killed me / By Friday life has killed me / Oh pretty one, Oh pretty one"

One of my favorites from his last album is this gem:

"Roy's keen oh Roy's keen / We've never seen a Keener window-cleaner / Back up the ladder / Into each corner / Dunking his chamois/ Just think of the goodwill / The ladder's a planet / Roy is a star, / and I am a satellite /(But that's alright)"

What?!
Wednesday, June 2, 2004
Student film: Skinflute
OK, even though I went to graduate film school and even though the whole reason I got into web development was to place my films online, I never have gotten around to getting much of my film work on the web.

The one short that I do have online, Skinflute, is probably one of my favorites. I shot it in Bradenton, Florida in 1995 with my friends Mike Le and Rob McKittrick as part of a film course I was taking between undergraduate and graduate school.

Mike and Rob have since both moved to Hollywood to pursue writing careers. Rob, who stars in Skinflute, is directing his first feature film "Waiting..." which stars Ryan Reynolds.
LouisvilleKickball.com
In anticipation of my participation in this fall's adult kickball league (and because I'm a big dork), I decided to register the domain "louisvillekickball.com." I'm not really sure what to do with it, but for $8, I figured I couldn't go wrong.
Super Size Me! Trailer
Finally caught the trailer for "Super Size Me!" The documentary follows filmmaker Morgan Spurlock as his health steadily declines from consuming a strict diet of only McDonald's food.

www.supersizeme.com
"Curb" frees murder suspect
One of my favorite episodes of "Curb Your Enthusiasm", "The Car Pool Lane," has helped prove the innocence of an accused murderer.

According to CNN, footage that was edited out of the show supported the accused's alibi that he was attending a baseball game at Dodger Stadium with his daughter at the time of the murder.
Kickball is back!
Turns out that Louisville Metro Parks has an adult kickball league. Yes, you read that right. Adult kickball league. Sweet!

From last month's Courier-Journal article:
"Kickball is certainly coming back. Rather, grown-ups are coming back to kickball, which never really left the schoolyard. Leagues are forming all around the country, and thousands of adults are adding kickball to their repertoire of organized sports, alongside softball, golf, tennis and basketball."
Tuesday, June 1, 2004
Let the blogging begin...
I've resisted starting a blog for the same reason I've refused to buy Apple products -- I generally find their owners annoying. So, it is with much reluctance that I start my own blog. Here goes...

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.