Blog Archive for June 2005

How To Destroy Narnia

We thought that, for once, Disney was going to do something good with the Chronicles of Narnia release. The preview looks great, the production is really high-quality, and even C. S. Lewis' son is involved heavily in the production. But, alas, I've decided that Disney is shooting themselves in the foot by using The Passion of the Christ method.

Disney is working very hard to promote the movie in Christian circles. Why? I don't know. New Line did nothing to promote The Lord of the Rings as a "Christian" movie and yet it did some of the biggest numbers ever in movies. Is Disney worried that nobody will come out to the movies in December unless every single Christian is there? I guess.

Their marketing plans includes a full-length CD of music "inspired by" the movie featuring Christian artists. Of course, it's separate from an orchestral soundtrack and a collection of music "inspired by" and featuring mainstream artists. Also, they've partnered with almost every Christian music and/or media website to make sure we know plenty about this movie before it comes out.

What's the benefit? Well, Disney probably sees it as the fact that, like The Passion of the Christ, they'll get Christians to rent out whole theaters and everybody will show up on opening weekend. What do I think the benefit will be for Disney? It'll short-circuit what should be their biggest audience: the mainstream and fantasy groups. I won't be surprised if people don't go to the movie because they hear it's a "Christian" movie.

It's not a "Christian" movie. Just like J.R.R. Tolkien's work, Narnia is just a fun story for readers. Sure, it might carry some Christian undertones, but it's not like other "Christian" movies where there's an altar call at the end. Besides The Passion of the Christ, no studio has pulled off a successful Christian movie. The Prince of Egypt had a very similar marketing campaign and it never really got DreamWorks anywhere.

Please, Disney. Just do a regular movie, not a Christian movie. If you do, it could be a moneymaker for your dying company.


Congrats To Me!

Well, it seems I have a job!

Next week I start at a local banking establishment doing over-the-phone technical support for their employees. It pays well but has some odd hours. I'm gonna have to learn to get up early really fast.

In other amazing news, since then I've talked to a couple other companies about a job too. It seem that, when it rains, it pours.


Robert Who?

Lots of people have been asking this question, and the answer definitely is Robert Randolph. If you seriously haven't checked out their rock 'n' blues jams, please do. I just picked up his Live At The Wetlands disc and he does six epic tracks in 70 minutes. It's high-quality bluesy rock.

I'm gonna say it now, just in case anybody else hasn't: If John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd had made The Blues Brothers in 2005, it would have included a scene with Robert Randolph & The Family Band doing a tune. And speaking of that hilarious movie, feel free to put it under my Christmas tree or yours by getting the 25th Anniversary Edition.


Music Podcast?

Speaking of podcasting, I'm thinking about a music podcast of music from I'm not sure if I can do this, though. It seems the legality of podcasting music is really in question and the RIAA is a scary organization. So, if I can work out the logistics, it might happen in the near future.


The Podcasting Conundrum

Recently I've been getting into the latest phenomenon: podcasting. It's basically downloadable radio shows that I can put on my iPod if desired. (Right now I mostly listen to them on my computer, but I can forsee myself loading up my iPod and listening on the way to work.)

So why podcasts? Very simple. There's thousands of them out there and they reach a much more targeted audience than probably any radio show. Or, if not, they have a highly focused stream of content and allow basically anybody on the 'net to broadcast whatever they want. Of course, this quickly arose to include some lewd programming that would never get on radio, but there are many great ones out there.

My first podcast that I subscribe to is TWiT. Basically, a couple of years ago my silly roommate got cable. I had no need for it because all I really watched was reruns of The Simpsons and Seinfeld. Of course, I ddin't mind that cable had crystal-clear reception and Star Trek: The Next Generation on every night. But the real gem I found was TechTV. It was TV for true geeks. They had folks on the TV showing you all the tips and tricks to get the best out of your applications, did a bit with the latest games, and kept everybody updated on tech news. It was great.

A couple months later, my roommate decided he couldn't pay for cable (which I already knew). So gone from my life was the ever-enjoyable TechTV. But, I'm told, it was not that bad of a thing. Apparently the channel got to be more and more popular and the techs had to dumb things down and make it less unscripted. Then, about a year or so ago, they merged with G4, the all-gaming channel, which meant less tech and more games. And now, the G4TechTV channel is just G4 again, so there goes all the fun content.

Luckily, all the favorites from the prime-time variety show The Screen Savers got together and decided to start TWiT. Basically, they just get together and talk a plethora of tech news every week. It's probably the first talk show that's not boring to me (besides the one time The Geek Squad took over WCCO 830 one evening probably eight years ago). Plus, of course, it's completely free to download.

Another one that's just started and looks promising is systm. The first episode was a bit too hardware-based for me but was still cool. But the second, which shows how to set up a Linux-based TV turner that does everything a TiVO does and more was very fun to watch. Actually, I guess it's not a podcast because it's video and all podcasts are audio, but it is still part of the independently-produced downloadable medium that is the essence of podcasting.


Thanks, Sprint!

I just have to give a big shout-out to Sprint PCS for finally getting a much-needed tower up. I have been living in the west end of St. Paul, Minnesota for most of a year now, and here in the southwest corner it's a battle to keep a Sprint connection. I had to practice finding the one spot in my room where I could get a signal. But all those problems are finished.

Starting about a week ago, I get 2 or 3 bars at all times in my house. I can move about freely and still get service. It's a beautiful thing. And, yes, Sprint, I'll use more minutes now. So be happy! If you've been expecting me to call you, the chances of me doing it have gone up 10x.


Films and Prejudice

In the summer of 1997, I figured out that girls exist. Shortly after, in my 10th grade literature class, we were required to read the book Pride and Prejudice. Most in the class were really disappointed by the book and its femanism and romance, but I did enjoy it somewhat. I guess I got in touch with my femanine side or somethin'.

So when the females at the house I currently live in rented the miniseries version of Pride and Prejudice, I was eager to see it. I knew that if it was half as good as the book, it'd be much better than most romance movies I had seen in my day. And, of course, it was. Sure, it stretches a lengthy six hours, but it is worth it.

I daresay it's probably the only good adaptation of a book to the film medium that I have ever seen. Part of it has to do with the length and being able to say most or all of what the book also says. But part also has to do with the fact that the book allows us to get inside the main character's head and the movie does a fairly good job of getting the thoughts of the main characters out on the screen. Not many movies have most of the "action" going on in the thoughts of the main characters, but this one does it and does it well.

Sadly, there's another remake of Pride and Prejudice coming out this year. It's gonna be terrible and will never stack up to the perfection of the miniseries version. First of all, it's being released to theaters so it cannot be longer than two or three hours. Even in the trailer I noticed a couple lines where they cut a beautiful retort of Elizabeth's from a sentence or two to a boring one-liner. Second, the main character, Lizzie, is being played by Keira Knightley. Lizzie's not supposed to be the prettiest babe in the story, by any means. As Strong Bad says, "Modestly hot, my eye!"


Now It Begins

I leave now to go to my sister's high school graduation. Congrats, Lisa!

And very soon after we start the 30 hour marathon of Graduation Parties. If there's a time in the year when I eat too much food, this is it. But it's all so great. I wonder if I can make 20 parties this year, because mom and dad always talk too long at every party.


Gotta Go

I have a headache and a sudden craving for Mountain Dew.

I gotta run to the store.


Open Source Has Features

I use many Open Source software tools in my day-to-day life, but I know I could use more. Right now I use PHP, Apache, MySQL, Drupal, WordPress, and may others, mostly related to my website design business. About six months ago I switched to FireFox from Internet Explorer, and that is probably the one I use the most for everyday life.

One that I have not tried until now is OpenOffice. I just figured I didn't need it since I already have a copy of Office 2000 that I bought at a student license price and want to get all the use I can out of. But then I came to a problem that Word 2000 couldn't handle.

A client put some images he'd taken with his digital calendar into the Word document and sent it to me. I knew the hi-res versions were in the file because the .doc file was a hefty 7MB. Opening Word, I tried to get the images out into PhotoShop so I could save them and put them on the website. You'd think a right-click on a photo would give a nice "Save As..." link, but no cigar. The best option was to copy to the clipboard, and when pasted into PhotoShop, it got me only a 300-pixel-wide photo with something like only 256 colors. In other words, it was totally unacceptable.

Then the thought struck me: I be OpenOffice has it! Basically, OpenOffice is a totally free, open-source version of Office. And if Word has that setting in there so that you can't copy somebody else's photos, OpenOffice probably has the workaround to get the images out becuase open source people like free access to everything.

Sure enough, I was right. I downloaded it from their site in a couple mintues, installed it in five minutes, and immediately had the Word file opened in OpenOffice. Although there wasn't a handy "Save As..." link like I hoped, their copy function worked. Pasting into PhotoShop gave a beautiful 2000-pixel-wide photo that will definitely be enough to put on the site.

Thanks, OpenOffice. For the uninitiated, if you get a new computer and don't want to buy Microsoft Office, download OpenOffice really quick and you're set to go. I'll keep playing around with it, and probably soon I'll switch over. Of course, if you have the finances, it is very helpful to support the work of the OpenOffice programmers, but it's not required.