Tag Archives: Reviews

Pet Shop Boys – Mahaffey Theatre Sept 13 2013

First time ever seeing my favorite band ever
First time ever seeing my favorite band ever

A fan for 21 years but this was my first time seeing them live.. needless to say I was nervous about how the show would turn out.  Turns out, I had no reason to be nervous!  PSB delivered big!

App review: “Podcasts” (Apple, Inc)

This post is about Apple‘s new Podcasts application, version 1.0.  It breaks out the podcasting functionality of the iOS “Music” application into its own app, a move that is long overdue.  I wanted to like this application so badly.  But in the end it’s just “meh”.  Here’s why:

Pros:

  • Can subscribe to and browse available podcasts directly from the app
  • Can see most-recent episodes of a subscribed podcast without leaving the app and without syncing to your computer
  • New jump-forward-10-seconds button
  • Big artwork; nice skeuomorphic UI that looks like an old-school reel-to-reel tapedeck (looks stunningly real).

Cons:

  • Long startup time (1 min+) on the most-recent Apple phone, the iPhone 4S, during which time the app is completely unresponsive
  • Crashy
  • Buttons & timeline scroll thumb too small to operate nicely
  • Jump backward button only 10 seconds; 15 or 20 seconds seems like a more useful amount of time.
  • App constantly forgetting episodes previously downloaded.
  • Podcasts that are being streamed sometimes do not start; much quicker to stream via the iOS iTunes store
  • Too many animations going from the timeline view back to the list of podcasts — navigation is pretty but takes too long.

Out of all these cons I’d say the biggest two are the long startup time and failure to play streamed podcasts.  Failure to play streamed podcasts wouldn’t be such a big deal if it didn’t prematurely delete the downloaded ones that were only partially played.

A good start; looking forward to the next version!

Movie ratings: Flixster Users vs Critics

While using the Flixster app on my phone the other day, I noticed it gave both an overall “Like” percentage from Flixster users, as well as from an aggregate of critics’ opinions (Flixster gets these values from the Rotten Tomatoes website). This got me thinking — I wonder which movies get the most-divergent opinions?
So I surveyed some of the movies found on Flixster’s front pages (box office top ten + DVD new releases). Sure enough, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was in there, but it wasn’t the most-divergent. For that you need to check out Just Go With It. Which isn’t terribly surprising because it’s basically a parade of big names.
On the other side of the spectrum you have the films critics love but Flixster users… well.. don’t. The winner in this camp: Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow. “The film bears witness to German artist Anselm Kiefer’s alchemical creative processes and renders in film, as a cinematic journey, the personal universe he has built at his hill-studio estate in the South of France.” No big surprise there 🙂
I do find this kind of thing fascinating though, especially the films that are dead-even popularly and critically. What’s going on with these films? Do they have a universal message or theme about them? Was it a fluke?
Anyway see the results below, sorted by the difference between popular and critical opinion (can anyone come up with a good name for this quantity?). I’m going to probably redo this every once and a while.
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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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Is it just me? Or was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) a much better film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)? I watched “Azkaban” last night and it feels entirely different — in a good way — than the first two. The plot seems SO much tighter, photography better, lighting better, everything, just better. Disclaimer: I haven’t read any of the books.
Update: I see Azkaban was directed by Alfonso Cuarón, and the first two by Chris Columbus. Sad to see Cuarón hasn’t directed any others in the series.

Weekend: Gasparilla 5k 2011; Avenue Q; misc awesome

(1) Hanging out with Cam, Melissa and Frank Thursday night.
(2) Hanging out at Devin’s Friday night with Christina, Melissa and Eduardo; good food, beer and shark stories around a backyard fire pit
(3) Saturday morning, Gasparilla 5k in Tampa, beat my goal by 30 seconds with a time of 33:27.
(4) Saturday night, Avenue Q (great) at the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre downtown with Joy, Heather, Pam, and two new friends, Leonor and Cynthia.
(5) Sunday afternoon, watching my first-ever polo match at the Sarasota Polo Club with Jovee, Chrissy and Saba. Dressed up as Jeff Goldblum for a celebrity look-alike contest. Met two ultimate players, Dan and Justin, from out of town, just because we were throwing a disc around.
(6) Sunday evening, birthday party with Jovee and Chrissy at South Lido County Park. Played beach bocce!
A few pics from this whirlwind:
Gasparilla 5k:
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Avenue Q:
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Sarasota Polo Club:
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Birthday at South Lido County Park:
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Super Size Me

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It only took 7 years but I finally saw Super Size Me.
The central question asked by the film: If McDonald’s truly has no share of the blame in the obesity epidemic, then what happens if you eat only their food for a month?
Morgan Spurlock takes on a task that everyone expects won’t have good results. But not even the three doctors he goes to to help him with the experiment expect what actually ends up happening (hint: it’s not good).
I really enjoyed the old-school science approach he took here (“No-one willing to do the experiment? Do it to yourself”). It would have been nice to have heard from McDonald’s, but Spurlock can’t be blamed for lack of trying. After numerous attempts to contact them, the golden arches wouldn’t agree to an interview. Adding to the dramatic tension is the fact that Spurlock’s girlfriend is a vegan chef.
4.5/5 stars.
Bonus: McDonald’s song by 4CHIN500!
Let Me Stuff My Face

Speedy J: Ginger (1993)

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mom’s out there! I love you mom!
I had something ridiculously awesome happen to me at the Goodwill the other day. *beat*
First a little backstory. Back at the end of high school and first year university, I used to go out to a coffee shop in downtown Victoria called simply Java. My friend Ryan and I would go on Sunday nights, when they had an ambient electronic music night called Zero G. It was dark inside, and we’d get over-caffeinated on mochas & sugar and discuss science & politics & philosophy and current events and whatever else was going on. It was awesome.
One of those nights, I happened to really like a track that was playing, so I went up and asked the DJ who it was. He said Speedy J. One night some months later, after listening to my school’s student radio, CFUV, late at night, I heard another track I liked, and called the station to ask who it was, and, lo, Speedy J again. The track was called The FUN Equations. I diligently wrote this down.
Download: The FUN Equations [6.6mb]
One year later, I discovered his album, G Spot, at the Sam the Record Man in the Eaton Center. On a side note, I have to give Sam’s props; for a chain, they sure had some interesting inventory. I purchased G Spot, and loved it. It was an introverted, experimental techno album, and it had FUN on it.
Fast-forward 15 years to present day. In the past two months I’ve discovered Speedy J is still active; he’s got an updated website & he is on teh YouTube.
So it was quite a thrill to find an album from him, “Ginger“, at Goodwill for $1.75, buried amongst discarded Christmas music CDs. Even greater for the fact that I’d never heard of it, AND it was in mint condition. I’ve just spent the past hour listening to it, and I all I can say is, I’m thrilled. Takes me right back to my days at Java.
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Speedy J’s biography, courtesy NME:

[ Speedy J (born Jochem George Paap in 1969, Rotterdam ), is a Dutch techno producer based in the city of Rotterdam. His breakthrough came with the release in 1992 of the minimal techno track Pullover. Subsequently his material became more mellow as he moved away from the hardcore sounds that were then becoming popular in Belgium and the Netherlands.
His debut album Ginger (1993) was released on Richie Hawtin’s Plus 8 record label in the US, while in the UK it was part of Warp Records’ Artificial Intelligence series of electronic listening music. A further, more introspective release, G-Spot followed in 1995; a live album, !ive, was also released. Afterwards his work, which included Public Energy No.1 (1997) and A Shocking Hobby (2000) became more experimental, importantly influencing the development of what is known as “intelligent techno”.
“Upon first impressions, Public Energy No.1 highlights a big departure from previous Speedy J offerings… in a complete role reversal, it enters upon an iconoclastic electro territory more familiar to admirers of such other purveyors as Autechre, the Aphex Twin, Mike Paradinas and Martin Damm in his Steel persona,” wrote Andrez Bergen in 1998 for Australian magazine Inpress.
The album Loudboxer (2002) saw a return to a more minimal four to the floor style of techno.
He collaborated with Mike Paradinas on the project Slag Boom Van Loon, through which they have released two CDs on Paradinas’s record label, Planet Mu. In 1999, he also released two ambient albums for the FAX +49-69/450464 label under his real name.
In 2008, he released his sound library/audio software, entitled Kreate by Jochem Paap. KREATE is released by Fixed Noise.

From GoDaddy to DreamHost

So, with luck you haven’t noticed any downtime– but over the weekend, I switched hosting services from GoDaddy to DreamHost. A big thank-you to my brother Davin for getting me started with my own domain, and managing it for me for the past three years 🙂
So far I am totally happy. I’d never transferred domain registrars before, and that went pretty smoothly (apparently the transfer process isn’t yet complete, but as far as I can tell it is). Transferring my Moveable Type 3.2 blog was also a super smooth process… all it took was bringing over the files, changing all GoDaddy-specific paths (ended up being about 15 files) and importing my Moveable Type database (previously dumped via GoDaddy’s database admin tool) and changing the mt-config.cgi file to point at the right DB path. Awesome.
My Gallery 1.5.5 install (see the “Photos” link on the sidebar over on the right if you’re reading this via the web… if you’re reading via RSS, I’m figuring out how to best configure an RSS feed for it.. you can see the current feed here 🙂 also came over super-easily; only needed to edit about two files. However there’s still an outstanding problem where viewing an album’s properties seems to fail in Safari but works in Firefox (odd). I’m about three years behind on Gallery so I’m just going to upgrade eventually.
Both apps now SCREAM. I am SO happy 🙂

Solaris International Podcast

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Do you like melodic progressive house and/or trance? If so, you’ll probably enjoy the Solaris International Podcast with Solarstone + Agnelli & Nelson. It’s a weekly show and each episode is two hours long. Great driving/all round listening music. I’m really enjoying it, and if you like electronic music, I think you will too.
Just search for “solarstone” in the iTunes Store and you should see a listing for it under the “Podcasts” section. Nothing like free goodness. Alternatively, you can try clicking here 🙂
Thanks to Jeff for the recommendation.