Saturday, May 30, 2009

Best Pixar Movies

Now that I’ve seen Up here’s my amended list of favorite Pixar Movies:
1) Wall-E
2) Monster's Inc
3) Toy Story 2
4) Toy Story 1
5) Up
6) Finding Nemo
7) The Incredibles
8) A Bug's Life
9) Cars
10) Ratatouille

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Hero

I love people who do cool things with Legos; this guy is completely amazing! He created a MASSIVE Lego layout of Disneyland. I can even begin to imagine how much ity would be to buy these many Legos.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Diana and I decided to use a half off coupon to visit the Anaheim Muzeo today. Below the phtos below of the exhibit (it was a monster theme)...

How California are these palm trees?

This guy isn't quite as scary with the flash on!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Geeky Computer Cases

These Star Wars computer cases are probably the geekiest (and most awesome) computers I have seen in a long time!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Kindle Killer

A few days ago, a thought occurred to me: I haven't used my Kindle in quite awhile. It's not because I have already grown tired of eBooks; it's because I recently bought an iPod Touch, and find the experience to be a bit more agreeable than the the Kindle in most settings.

The text on the Touch is clear and does not tire my eyes, can be read outdoors, and is easy (and light) to keep in your pocket. I now find myself reading everywhere I go--the movies, waiting rooms, etc. One of the biggest problems I have with the Kindle is the lack of back light; this makes reading in low lit places (like movie theaters) impossible without bring a light with you. With the newest Kindle app update, the software just got better (it now rotates text and let's you have different text colors)

The Kindle is still a great device (it has better lighting and it is a bit easier to read outdoors), but the Touch has proven to be the perfect companion. The great thing about Kindle is you can have the both worlds--since Amazon stores all your books online it's incredibly easy to download your books on both devices.

If you'd like to try out eBooks, the Touch is the perfect starter device; it's pretty cheap considering how powerful it is (it runs all the iPhone apps, can surf the net, play videos (both videos you have bought and videos you want to stream from places like youtube), and view pictures). Refurbished you can get one for less than $200.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Wise Blood: A Movie Review

From: Disturbed Christian

2001 was the year I discovered Flannery O'Connor. I was a college senior doing an independent study on post-WWII Christian literature. My advisor suggested that I add O'Connor's "Wise Blood" to my growing list of semester reads.

It was one of those books that went on to change my life--the one that made me say, "I've never seen the world in this light before."

For the past four years in college, I had been intrigued by the idea of the sacred and profane; the idea that even in the most sacred places of the world were always broken vessel, more polluted and shameful then those who followed them.

I have been curious to see John Huston's adaptation of the movie ever sense I put the book down; unfortunately, it was one of those classic movies long out of print in any format.

Earlier this month, Criterion restored and rereleased the film on DVD; for obvious reason, I put my order in when I first found out, and got the chance to watch it this past weekend.

The film, like the book, follows Hazel Motes--a young soldier returning home to the South, who discovers just about everything, but the religion, has changed. Hazel is a changed man, and wants to forget that God ever existed; he's so convicted in his ways that he intends to start his own church called, "The Church of Christ without Christ" (which, Hazel later clarifies is a Protestant denomination!)--for those who have not read the book, Hazel actually called this "The Church Without Christ," and then another man started a church called "The Church of Christ without Christ" to rival his.

You would think people would just pass up Hazel as a crazy war veteran, but they don't; they are intrigued by his church, and that lies the power of both the film and the book--we all have a void inside us that we try and fill in some way; if we try to strip away religion from our hearts we still are searching for something to replace it. Every character in the movie has something that's not God which they cling to as a form of God--from a gorilla to a historic artifact. Hazel tries to believe that you don't need God if you have a car, and even uses that vessel to play the part of God and take someone’s life by running them over.

<<<--------S P O I L E R A L E R T---------->>>

The tragedy of the movie is Hazel never can replace God; when a police officer’s pushes his car into a lake, he takes away the one thing that Hazel thought could replace God, and it crushes his soul. He inflects bodily torture on himself to try and redeem himself, but none of it works because only God is capable of giving this kind of redemption, and Hazel refuses to accept God, and is left empty.

<<<--------E N D O F S P O I L E R---------->>>

No film can ever match O’Connor’s, wit, or gothic charm; and it would be impossible to capture the idea of free will and redemption that O'Connor thematically, and perfectly, captures in her novel--but that's not to say it's not a worthy viewing; however it is you that you get your movies: rent, own, or illegally download--get this movie, watch it, and tell all of your friends to do the same.

And if you have never read the book, then it's about time you did so...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Papua New Guinea Artifacts

I was helping my Dad at my parents house the other day, and went into my old bedroom where too many of my old belongings still remain. One of the things that stood out where all the things my brother has sent me from Papua New Guinea, where he currently lives...thought I'd share a few of them...

The one below is one of my favorite birthday presents EVER. During his first stay in the country ten some odd years ago, he found a New Guinea artist and asked if he'd paint his interpretation of The Simpsons. My brother showed him a picture, but he didn't need one--he knew who The Simpsons were! The man had no TV (or electricity for that matter) and yet somehow managed to know the show.

The next painting is a New Guinea interpretation of Noah's ark; I don't know if it's the same artist or not.

For the life of me, I never did figure out what this next thing is, and my brother never bothered to explain it.
Really isn't all too sharp for a cutting tool...
Believe it or not this is what straps onto the men's...member...during native dances.  It sort of looks like a primitive form of birth control...I'd really hate to be on the receiving end of that about a wicked splinter!

He sent it home one year as a Christmas gift to all the males in my family; my Grandma has a picture somewhere of several of my cousins, myself and my Grandpa wearing it...over are clothes of course.
Hand carved decoration of a creepy looking headhunter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Kindle, A Good Idea Wasted

So, if you haven't been following, there's a new Kindle coming to town. I cannot begin to even tell you how disappointed I am in this new reader. $359 is a lot of money, but the price you pay for having cutting edge technology...$489 (the price of the new Kindle DX) is complete uncalled for; especially if they are calling it the Kindle that every college student will want, because it will save them money.

They are "probably" right about the saving money thing if you account for long term; many publishers haven't put textbooks on Kindle, but that will probably change come Fall if Amazon holds up their end of the bargain. The problem, of course, is it will take between two to three years before a college student has actually "saved" money. By that time, it's very likely that the screen on the Kindle has broken, or there's something much better on the market.

Realistically, college kids don't have $500 dollars to put down on something that won't actually save them money for two to three years, and parents aren't going to see this of much of an investment because it's just too new. As far as textbook e-readers go, the rumored $200 touchscreen Android netbook seems like a better solution, because in addition to reading books, you can get applications. If I was going to blow $500 for a e-reader, I would hold out for the rumored Apple tablet, which is expected to be just a little more (and, I'm willing to bet, will be capable of running the Kindle application like the iPhone and iPod Touch).

Sure, it's nice that the Kindle can now read PDF's; and that rotating screen is a pretty nifty feature that is sure to make all your friends say "cool," but that's not enough to get me to pay over $100 more. I was actually expecting a price drop, not a price hike--I guess they just assume that if you enjoy reading then your not one of those poor saps out of work, because your smart enough to keep your job during the economic crisis?

What does the Kindle need to win me over (in five easy steps)?

First, drop the price. $200 is more realistic. I read that it cost about $190 for Amazon to make a Kindle, but the hardware isn't where their profit is--it's the books. They are making a pretty penny selling things that cost basically no money to produce, sell or ship.

Second, give it a touchscreen! You want college kids to use this like they would a textbook? Students highlight textbooks! Sure you can use the highlight/bookmark feature, but that's hardly interactive or easy to do.

Third, make the experimental features REAL! A functional Web browser shouldn't be "experimental." It should be a real, fully operational feature that sits on the home screen...not tucked away in a less visited place. The same can be said of the MP3 feature, which is really quite lousy--you can't even browse songs, for crying out loud! You'd get a better MP3 player off some street vendor.

Fourth, give it a light. I'll be honest, I tend to use my iPod Touch more than my Kindle when I'm reading in bed. How hard is it to put a little back light on it? The iPod Touch is so much more piratical for night time reading.

Fifth, again, get the price down. If they can't do this by dropping the price then find other ways. Like users get $200 if they subscribed to the NY Times or WSJ for a year or two; or initiate a Kindle loyalty program that let's Kindle first and second generation users turn in their old Kindles for an upgrade at a reduced price.

I love the idea behind Kindle--I love my first generation Kindle. I just hate the price.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

999 Boycott

I found out today that Quiet, Please is one of the books listed on the 999 boycott! Who knew?! For those of you who don't know about the boycott, it was started because of a bunch of readers getting mad at bestsellers selling for 15 bucks on Kindle; the whole point of Kindle is you save the publisher money by not having to waste money on paper, and passing on the savings to you. At 15 bucks you could just as well go to Border or Barnes and Noble (heck even Amazon!) and buy a copy of the book since bestsellers are typically priced well below the retail cost ($25 to $30)

I don't exactly fit into the 999 club sense I am not the author of a bestselling book, but it's still nice to be included in something!

From an authors point of view, I do wish my book was 9.99; it's a better price point and I think it would grab a few more readers. And why shouldn't it be cheaper? You don't have to market an ebook, you don't have to pay anything to print--really all you have to do is do a bit of formatting changes to the book and upload it.