Friday, October 24, 2008

Chinese movie torture

I swear, I went in to this movie (W) on October 23rd, and I felt that by the time I was let out, it was November. The only good part about that is that it would have meant it was that much closer to the time our president is no longer our president. Alas...

How this movie got a 56 on RT I don't know—but I do know that score seriously shakes my faith in that vaunted site, not to mention the critics it relies upon. Because, and I'm not alone on this, I have seldom seen a worse movie. I think The Hottie and the Nottie might be better. Honestly.

Okay, Josh Brolin gives a tour de force performance—something I find hard to imagine ever saying about Paris Hilton. But I bet Hottie had a plot. Maybe a thin plot. Maybe absurd. But a plot nonetheless. That would give it one up on Dub. This was allegory to a whole new level.

But, and here's the thing that got me the most—because I was prepared to be sickened by this film, by the depiction of the man who led the ruination of this country over the last eight years, and the cabal behind him (and, to be fair, in a few scenes, I was)—for the most part, I was just nauseated by how lousy the movie was... and that really ticked me off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

an iPhone for Crackberry users

I admit it—the iPhone is très appealing. It's cool. And slick. And does some nifty stuff. And let's even assume I could get used to that pane of glass touch screen.

Still. There's NO CUT AND PASTE. And here's the thing—if that complaint doesn't make sense to you, then, well, it doesn't make sense to you. But if it does—then you, like me, couldn't and wouldn't contemplate using the iPhone for all the tea in China, or Carter's liver pills, or salt in the ocean, or whatever. Not to mention the other various and sundry complaints (that's for you, Mel and Lynn)—such as non-removable battery, SIM card, slow internet connection, yadda yadda yadda. I gotta admit that after the no cut&paste revelation, I stopped paying attention.

Mind you, this is not to say that for the people who love it, the iPhone isn't great. It's simply not all things to all people. And in my world, I'm the only people who count.

So where does that leave me and my people? Happily anticipating the Blackberry Storm. First off, that "pane of glass?" Not a problem. According to Gizmodo, the Storm's entire screen is a giant button. You have to press it—no "click it"—to make anything happen. Now, Gizmodo also says it's likely people will either like this or loathe it. Fair enough. Engadget is a fan of what RIM is calling the Clickthrough interface, which, unlike the iPhone, turns with the phone when you turn to portrait or landscape mode. Nice.

And of course, most importantly... the Storm has, yep, you got it in one, CUT AND PASTE. Not to mention the whole host of Blackberry features that us crackberry fanatics are so addicted to.

Stay tuned, next week I might be so motivated as to investigate the G1 phone featuring Android.

Okay, so we can't get her on the pronunciation, still...

Evidently, noo-kyu-lar, as a pronunciation of the word "nuclear," is a form of something called "metathesis." Not a form of ignorance. Damn.

My gold medal winning Ikea shopper (she's quite handy) sent along the following from Slate, Wiki, and this article in The New York Times (I have to mention that The New York Times article misquoted Merriam-Webster's form letter on October 13th , corrected itself on October 20th, making another error, which it then corrected on October 27th. That's both thorough and... not.)

Okay, back to metathesis—the transposing of two sounds. The examples given include "iron," which we all seem happy to pronounce "eye-ern" as opposed to "eye-ron," and "comfortable," which we hear just as often pronounced "cumf-ter-bul," as we do "cum-for-tuh-bul," without wincing.

There appears to be both a definition of metathesis (on Wiki, it is considered a speech error consisting of swapping phonemes) and a sort of an explanation—that is to say, some words get distorted because certain sounds occur more frequently than others. In the instance of our good friend "nuclear," the argument is that the "u-lar" word ending is much more prevalent than the "lee-ar" word ending.

I might argue that this particular corruption of enunciation is merely a spectacular example of a candidate hopefully playing to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to distinguish herself as the most unique. But that's just me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I don't think that word is pronounced the way you think it's pronounced...

Yep, it's a video. Can't see it? Click here.

The only actor I ever had a crush on...

This may come as a surprise, but I wasn't really your typical teen-age girl (shocking, I know). I didn't have crushes on actors—I didn't quite get that. I mean, you didn't know them. They weren't real, not really. I don't know, it just seemed sort of silly to me. But then, I was the girl who raised her hand in 7th grade social studies and asked the teacher what "petting" was. Yeah—that was me.

On the other hand, I could see having a crush on a character in a movie... I mean, what girl didn't have a crush on Joe Fisk in Fire with Fire? or Jake Ryan in Sixteen Candles? Or Loudon Swain? Gib Gibson? Looking back, 1985 and 86 were pretty good years—Some Kind of Wonderful, St. Elmo's Fire, Sixteen Candles, The Sure Thing, The Breakfast Club, Back to the Future, Vision Quest, Real Genius, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, About Last Night, The Color of Money—you have to admit, those were some good movie going years.

But, and here's where I fell of the wagon but hard (albeit I was in college by this time), I did have a crush on one actor. And on the characters he played. As far as I was concerned, Christian Slater was the be all and end all. Pump Up the Volume, Heathers, The Legend of Billie Jean... you name it... I just thought he was the coolest of cool, the hippest of hip.

And, I've got to say, his je ne sais quoi is the only saving grace so far of his new TV show, My Own Worst Enemy, which should be just so much better than it is. But... it's early days yet. And he is, after all, Christian Slater. Enough said.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baseball is to money as...

I like baseball as much as the next person, assuming the next person isn't a rabid Yankees or Dodgers or Sox or Mets fan. Or semi-rabid for that matter.

But several years ago, at a sponsorship conference in Chicago, I heard Billy Beane speak. Who is Billy Beane you ask? So did I, rather prepared to be bored out of my skull. Well, more fool I. I was riveted. It turns out that Michael Lewis, of whom I am a semi-rabid fan, had just published a book all about him. Billy Beane is the man who turned baseball on its head by treating it not only like a business, but like a science.

Moneyball is Lewis' book about Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A's—one of the lowest funded teams with one of the best records. Beane didn't do things the way they were always done. He did them his way. Beane hired brainiacs from Harvard and Yale, not baseball insiders (does the name Theo Epstein ring a bell? No? He's the GM who, two years after being hired, steered the Boston Red Sox to their first World Series Championship in 86 years—but first he worked for Beane). Beane drafted players no other team wanted, and drafted them early. Beane rejected the sacrifice bunt. Beane ran more statistics, and paid attention to them, than any other GM in the game.

As much as it is about baseball—and I would imagine the more you know about the sport, the more you would enjoy the book—this book is about using your brain and following your gut, not the herd.

Pretty good story, right? Evidently Hollywood thinks so too—I hear Steve Zaillian is on board to adapt the book and that Columbia is pitching Brad Pitt to play Mr. Beane, with David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) to direct. I'd see it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It may not be pebbles on ice

I spent half a day at Ikea yesterday—which started me thinking... what's the process for nominating a sport for Olympic consideration?

If curling—a sport entailing sweeping (albeit rocks on ice)—is a sport, and has been since 1924, it seems to me shopping should be as well. It is, after all, an endurance sport like no other. I'd like to see 10 grown men make it through that electric blue box, without a list, after lunch, before dinner, sober.

I went with a friend yesterday. I had one item on my list (yes, I had a list)—one set of table legs. She had a purpose, and something of a list. Three hours later, as we neared the finish line, pushing a cart and a flat-bed, weary and pale, my friend looked at me in alarm. "Table legs!" she cried.

She definitely took home the gold.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Making sense of the insensible...

This came through on VSL: a great site on, well, the economy meltdown—The Money Meltdown—"everything you need to know about the global money crisis of 2007-?"

From the Motley Fool: Why the bailout solves nothing ("you've just been sold an extremely expensive pig in a poke that you'll be paying for throughout the rest of your life").

Paul Krugman (who just won the Nobel Prize in Economics) in the New York Times: last Friday, ("Lehman’s failure caused the world financial crisis, already severe, to get much, much worse") and Monday, wondering if Gordon Brown, "the British prime minister, saved the world financial system?"

On—check out their list of "indispensable blogs"—including The Big Picture and Calculated Risk.

I'm reading as fast as I can—and, is it just me, or does anyone else think maybe Chicken Little wasn't so crazy?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm no David Pogue, but I have my moments

David Pogue posted a great column last week in the NYT with basic technology tips—the things you think everyone knows and you're shocked (SHOCKED) to find out they don't. Or as he put it..."everybody knows 40 or 80 percent of what there is to know—but everybody knows a *different* 40 or 80 percent."

Fair point.

Evidently Pogue's was the most emailed article on the NYT for two days straight, and provoked over a thousand reader responses with even more "basic" tips.

Here are a few more from me to you (PC based only this time around):

  • You can hit Ctrl-X to cut something or Ctrl-C to copy it, and Ctrl-V will paste it—this is not that hard, and soooo much faster than using the mouse. Trust me on this.

  • More importantly—hit Ctrl-Z to undo whatever you just did that you really didn't mean to, you know, like that time a whole paragraph disappeared and you have no idea how? (And... it's iterative—it will keep skipping backwards—so if you don't see what you expect the first time, try, try, try again.)

  • If you click in the space over or under the vertical scroll bar on a window, it will jump up or down in greater increments than clicking on the up or down arrow, and faster than dragging the bar. Again, can I say "faster?"

  • Ctrl-T will open a new tab in most current web browsers—of course, if you're like me and a tab-abuser, knowing this is not necessarily a good thing.

  • You can add a new number on most cell phones by entering it (usually, you don't even have to complete the call) and then pressing the option or menu key and selecting Add to Address Book/Contacts—this is often faster (huh. there's that word again) than finding the Address Book application on your phone and adding a new person.

  • The dot in gmail addresses is optional— and are equivalent (the dot in .com is NOT optional).

  • Putting your phone on vibrate generally shortens the battery life faster than having it on a regular ring (it takes more power to actually move the phone than to generate a sound—kind of like you'll lose more weight walking than talking on the phone).

  • Pressing F1 will open Help in most applications; there is sadly no real-life analog for this.

  • Almost every email that exhorts you to forward it to 10 of your closest friends or to "everyone you know" is a hoax—don't do it! More tell-tale signs: if the email doesn't include a link to reputable website, if it doesn't come from a credible source, or if it warns of dire viruses or consequences. Still not sure? Check out Snopes or Hoax-Slayer. Whatever you do, don't send that email to ME.

  • You can text the name of a store or restaurant (and city) to 46645 (GOOGL) and get the address and phone number. Or a movie and zip code for theaters and times. Or "1.6 million dollars in yen" when your friend's boss is in Tokyo bidding on... something.
That's all for now. When I think you're ready... I'll be back.

Fill in the blanks

I sorta wish Obama and the Queen of England weren't in the same bracket...

Friday, October 10, 2008

Quote of the day

“George H. W. Bush was born on third and thought he hit a triple. George W. Bush was born on third and then stole second …”

--- Ohio Governor, Ted Strickland, at the 2008 Democratic Convention

(thanks, Dad!)

"Almost" only counts in horse shoes and...

I want it, I want it, I want it - but I don't want this one!

Is it just me, or does the Kindle seem like a real tease. So close and yet so far?

What I love: The idea of being able to get a book I want, wherever I am, without having to wait or shop (I really, really, really don't like to shop). The idea of being able to travel with 5, 10, 20 books all in the space of one. The idea of being able to read my favorite newspapers and blogs on the same device.

What I don't - (full disclosure - this is all hearsay based on multitudinous reviews) - the ill-placed buttons, the slow screen-drawing, sluggish interface, disconcerting browsing experience, the steep price tag.

So, where does that leave me, inveterate reader, intrepid gadgeteer? Waiting, of course. There are rumors abounding that Kindle Next Gen, Kindle 2.0, re-Kindle (that one's mine), will be out soon - in two versions, in fact. A student focused version out this fall, and another, generation skipping (not us, but itself, as in going from version 1.0 to version 4.0 in a single bound, the Superman of consumer electronics) version in early '09.

I can hardly contain myself.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Had to share

This is a post from 23/6:

McCampaign do-overs: Did we say $500 FOR every rape victim? We meant FROM

Let's just pretend the last three months didn't happen, cool?

Looks like there was a little typo in McCain's new mortgage plan when he put it online Tuesday night. At the end of the first paragraph, the document included the line: "Lenders in these cases must recognize the loss that they've already suffered." Which means the lenders would have to suffer and the government would purchase the mortgages at discounted prices.

Yeah, that was a misprint. Turns out, McCain wants to buy the mortgages at face value, protecting lenders from losing a dime and forcing taxpayers to foot the bill. A McCain campaign official explained:

"That language was mistakenly included in the initial draft and it's been corrected...a simple mistake."

Of course. Considering that sentence completely redefines the entire plan and its effect on the economic crisis, we can understand how that's where you might get a little sloppy. It wouldn't have had to do with the fact that every conservative pundit in the nation pissed their blogs the minute you made your little announcement would it?

Looks like we're at the point where McCain just starts responding to criticism by asking for a do-over. The only question is, what will he try to weasel out of next?

I rest my case

I've been known to be a bit of a stickler when it comes to grammar, typos, punctuation, etc.

No, really, it's true.

So imagine my glee when I stumbled across the story of the $2.1mm comma. Yep, one superfluous comma cost a company over two million dollars.

This is how it went down:
A Canadian communications company made a renewable deal with a strategic partner; the key clause in the deal stated that the agreement “shall continue in force for a period of five years from the date it is made, and thereafter for successive five year terms, unless and until terminated by one year prior notice in writing by either party.”

Lo and behold, not even three years after signing the deal, the partner gave written notice it was terminating the agreement. Communciations company cried foul—we've locked in our rate for five years from the signing date! But no... eighteen months of sentence parsing later and the judge ruled: that second (do you see it?) comma clearly allows for the agreement to be terminated at any point with one year's written notice. Ah, if only...

Never underestimate the importance of grammar (or a good editor, for that matter).

It's a car thing

Tony Stark, this one's for you.

For those few who are willing and able, Bugatti has just introduced the Veyron Grand Sport, a convertible version of the Veyron. The Grand Sport features a removable hard top of transparent polycarbonate - that's right, the top is clear - and evidently Bugatti took its time releasing this bad boy to keep the original's speed, dexterity and safety uncompromised.

What's more amazing? The Grand Sport makes the Veyron look like a veritable bargain at $1,500,000 - the first convertible was auctioned in August for - are you sitting down? - $2,900,000. And I bet it doesn't even have cup holders.

Because they don't allow pets in dorm rooms

I have a friend, who shall remain nameless (but she knows who she is), who's a professor at a, shall we say, highly esteemed institute of higher learning.

Graduate degree... $200,000
Tie on the doorknob... $25
Saying the following to your professor with a straight face... priceless

"Sorry my paper is late, I was sexiled yesterday - my roommate was using the room to have sex. So I had to spend the night on the couch in the dorm lounge."

Brings a whole new meaning to sexile dysfunction.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Mavericks are NOT his friends

Thanks to my brother for sending me this tidbit published in the NYT today:

There’s that word again: maverick. In Thursday’s vice-presidential debate, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican candidate, used it to describe herself and her running mate, Senator John McCain, no fewer than six times, at one point calling him “the consummate maverick.” But to those who know the history of the word, applying it to Mr. McCain is a bit of a stretch — and to one Texas family in particular it is even a bit offensive... [the Maverick] family has been known for its progressive politics since the 1600s...

Well, my friends, it appears McCain and his Pal have co-opted a word with no regard for its history, meaning or accuracy. Quel surprise.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Kid, the next time I say, "Let's go someplace like Bolivia"

...let's GO someplace like Bolivia!

I'm trying to remember the first movie I saw with Paul Newman. I can't. I can't even remember if I first saw him in one of the later movies - "The Verdict" and "Absence of Malice" - or one of the earlier ones, "The Long Hot Summer," "From the Terrace," "The Young Philadelphians."

I do know I remember them all, even "A New Kind of Love," a romp he made with his wife, which I always liked, though evidently most critics didn't.

Of course you've got "The Hustler" and "Cool Hand Luke." And I loved Newman's version of "Sometimes a Great Notion," with Henry Fonda and Michael Sarrazin. And all the rest...

Everyone has their favorite memory of Newman, I'm sure. Maybe it's just me - though somehow I don't think so - it just seems that Paul Newman means Robert Redford. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." Remember? "Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you."

So for me, nothing, but nothing, so clearly encapsulates the sheer effortlessness of spirit Newman brought to his roles than the moment he gives Redford the high sign in "The Sting." It just doesn't get better than that.

RIP Paul Newman. 26-Jan-1925 to 26-Sep-2008