Thursday, July 31, 2008

LG & Netflix Get it Right?

Remember yesterday when I was excited about this Panasonic Blu Ray Player? Well, LG just trumped Panasonic-their newly announced Blue Ray player that also streams Netflix to the TV. It's about time--they announced their partnership in January. Will it do HD streaming one day? Here's hoping!

Film Podcast Reviews Summary

So here is a summary of all of my film podcast reviews. Listed below are the podcasts and my original ratings. Plus I calculated two fields:

  • Weighted was derived from the fact that the content is more important to me than the production. The formula here was (3*Content+Production)/10. The list is sorted by this column, as this weighted score best reflects what I cared about. Your results may vary.
  • Time weighted was derived from the fact that my time is valuable. In many cases I'd rather listen to a halfway decent podcast that is 5 minutes long than a pretty good one that is 120 minutes long. The formula here is not as scientific—Weighted score/Length*100. This isn't as accurate a measure so I didn't sort by it, but it can be used as a rough guide. The five minute podcasts Left Field Cinema and Film Gang scored inordinately high even though they weren't my favorite podcasts. So, use that information how you choose.


Length (min)




Time Weighted


The Treatment







Left Field Cinema





















Filmically Perfect







Film Gang







The Business














Fat Guys at the Movies







Movies You Should See



























So did I leave out your favorite podcast? Let me know, I'd be happy to listen to more, though my ipod is now filled to the brim with everything I have discovered in the process of listening to all of these productions.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Excitement Over E-Ink

Paul Reynolds at the Consumer Reports Electronics Blog just posted a brief synopsis on why we should be paying more attention to e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle. Interesting read.

My Next DVD Player

Drooling over this.

Film Podcast Review XIII: The Treatment

The Treatment (weekly, 30 minutes) is unique compared to the other podcasts that I have reviewed in that it is an interview rather than a lecture or conversational format. It is another podcast from KCRW (home of the previously reviewed podcast The Business) hosted by film critic Elvis Mitchell. Mitchell has been doing this program for 12 years, well before the advent of podcasting. His guests are filmmakers: producers, writers, and directors. Christopher Nolan, Jon Favreau, David Mamet, Andrew Stanton, and Anthony Minghella have all made appearances this year.

I debated with myself whether I should include The Treatment in this series of film podcast reviews. Perhaps it is unfair to compare the mostly amateur productions to a professionally produced radio program with A-List guests. I chose to include it simply because it is competing for space on my iPod "Film Podcasts" playlist. Plus, I have already included podcasts from NPR already, so excluding it wouldn't be fair. I think that the real reason that I hesitated was because The Treatment was just so much better than everything else that I have heard so far.

This podcast is a home run. Mitchell is a brilliant interviewer--these programs come across as a conversation with the guests rather than a Q&A. Rather than the typical "so how did you get Brad Pitt to agree to do this film?"--he really dives deeply into the guests' inspirations, thematic tendencies, motivations, and of course their films. I was riveted from minute 1 of the first podcast I heard and stayed in my car to hear the end rather than wait for my next drive to hear the rest. Since then I have listened to several more back to back with always the same result. Mitchell is obviously highly intelligent and knowledgeable about film. That makes him good. What makes him great is that he is a master of the art of an interview. He is soft-spoken, but not boring. He is smart, but doesn't feel the need to show you how smart he is. He clearly sets his guests at ease and let's them take center stage. Brilliant.

Plus, at under 30 minutes, I was never bored. The perfect podcast. A++ Go get this one.

Content 10/10
Production 10/10

What a perfect way to wrap up my film podcast reviews! Look for a summary in the next couple of days!

Update on Dad

Dating back to this January post, I know that you were all on the edge of your seats. Dad ended up getting an iPhone 3G. Not fair, I declare! The 3G wasn't announced until much later, and Dad didn't want to leave Verizon!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Carlin gets last laugh on death

Carlin gets last laugh on death from CNN.

IMDB Exposes a Listless AFI

Great post courtesy of Dave at E-Gear. In case you are wondering, here's the IMDB list. A differing opinion on the mob mentality of the IMDB list is here.

Devolution of the Fight Scene

Interesting article from Slate. Don't skip the series of you tube clips, including scenes with Bruce Li, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Robert De Niro, Keanu Reeves, and more. Well constructed thesis.

Goodmail is Badmail

I am still steaming about Goodmail. Since my post yesterday, I have been reading more about the practice of email providers accepting payments to ensure delivery of spam, and the folks at Slashdot made me even angrier by further heightening my awareness and the implications of this practice here and here. This is an issue that deserves more outrage IMHO. Like, as in, write your congressman outrage. As in, complain to your email provider if they use Goodmail or another 'service' outrage. And tell your friends that use Comcast/Verizon/AOL/Hotmail/Yahoo that this is going on outrage. Slashdot is saying that Microsoft doesn't subscribe to Goodmail because they have their own similar service in place. ARRRGH!! By the way, this isn't a spam issue alone, this is a net neutrality issue. Here's why. At this point, I THINK that Google doesn't do this, but I would prefer to find some direct confirmation first before trumpeting gmail any further. So far, they seem like the best bet on this issue.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Best TV of The Summer

is not where you'd expect it. Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog comes from Joss Whedon, the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Serenity/Firefly. It is a superhero musical comedy that stars Nathan Fillion (a longtime Whedon collaborator) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother). All of that is compelling enough, but what is even more compelling is that the show is not on any of the major networks or cable, it is on iTunes. Not only is Dr. Horrible an awesome show that you should run out and download, it may revolutionize content distribution. I have watched all three acts twice each already, I can't wait for the sequel, and will buy the DVD the day that it comes out. Trust me, you will enjoy it. Plus, by downloading it, you too can be at the forefront of history!

Too Much Spam?

If you can't beat them, join them? Now the email providers are participating in spamming you via a "service" from a company called Goodmail that pays email providers to have their messages pass through spam filters and directly into your inbox. Just one more reason to get Google's GMAIL. Infuriating.

"...Yahoo is participating in the system and Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner Cable have agreed to participate, although not all of them have activated the service. This represents at least two-thirds of e-mail traffic in the United States. Microsoft and Google are the big hold outs."
I recommend changing your email provider from the offending companies ASAP.

Read the full article

Hey Excel Nerds!

Wired Magazine recently put a shout out to this website which dubs itself "pop culture for people in cubicles"


song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

song chart memes
more graph humor and song chart memes

Vid of Week 2008 -07-28: Star Wars Shortened

This was my favorite video of the ones mentioned in the Wired article that I wrote about last week.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Film Podcast Review XII: Filmically Perfect

Filmically Perfect is a production of WYSO-FM, a public radio station near Dayton, OH. and is hosted by Niki Dakota, George Willeman, and J. Todd Anderson. The program is produced weekly and is about 30 minutes long.

On their website, they state

Many years ago, J. Todd Anderson (filmmaker, storyboard artist and bon-vivant) and Geo. Willeman (film archivist, writer, producer, and actor-of-sorts) came up with their Rules for The Perfect Movie. Four simple but defining rules. Thus was born Their List of Perfect Movies!
Although I would not have thought of this before listening to the podcast, one thing that struck me as obvious as soon as I started to listen was that these co-hosts were older. Not old, per se, but I realized that almost everything that I listened to up to this point was hosted by 20 or 30-somethings with little life experience under their belt. From their voices to their insightful thoughts about the films that they are discussing, it was clear that Filmically Perfect had more to offer than their inexperienced cohorts on other film-based podcasts. Only as the podcast went on did I realize that Anderson and Willeman are actually experienced cinematic professionals. Some of the insights that they share on the production of the films that they discuss are amazing! Dakota, incidentally, plays more of the facilitator role in this production, but she does offer some interesting insights as well.

I should say that the 'old' comment does not imply that these guys are boring. Though their podcasts does on very rare occasion stray into the SNL-parody of NPR territory of hosts on thorazine, they are humorous people, though their humor tends to be on the goofy side and rely often on the use of puns.

My only real problem with this podcast was the production quality. The sound levels on each of the hosts vary widely. With Willeman calling in(?) the sound quality on his voice is noticeably worse than for the other two. On a couple of occasions, the other two (in the studio?) interrupt him and he doesn't realize it and continues along, drowned out by the others. The other side effect of the practice of calling in was that the sound levels varied widely. I listened to several episodes of this podcast at my desk, in my car, and in a grocery store. I had to vary the volume levels widely from middle range to pegged at the top, even within the same episode at the same location. It was very strange, and especially because this is a professional radio production!

Still, if you can stand the sound issues, this one is a winner.

Content: 9/10
Production 4/10

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Almost Lost a Lost Letter

If you are not a fan of Lost, skip this message. This message was flagged by Yahoo's sucky mail spam filter, and I just noticed it:


Octagon Global Recruiting, on behalf of the Dharma Initiative, is pleased to announce that Dharma's Head of Recruiting, Mr. Hans Van Eeghen, has confirmed his availability for the launch of our latest recruiting drive at Comic-Con 2008.

"My colleagues at Octagon Global Recruiting assure me that Comic-con hosts some of the brightest minds in the country," said Mr. Van Eeghen. "As Head of Recruiting it is my intention to personally assess the very best of this talent in the hope that they may join us."

The Dharma Initiative will be conducting eligibility assessments at Booth 3529 at Comic-Con, San Diego between July 24th - 27th.

If you are attending Comic-Con and would like to submit your name for a randomly selected drawing to secure one of ten (10) pre-release appointments with one of our recruiting officers, please click here.

The volunteer eligibility assessment will be available online from July 28th for a limited time at

The Dharma Initiative hopes you will spread the word. Invite your friends to join the team at

If you can't view the images in this email please click here

Monday, July 21, 2008

Best Star Wars Parodies

The Wired article is called Best Star Wars Remakes, but it is more like a list of parodies/love notes paying homage to Star Wars. My all time favorite 'Hardware Wars' (pictured) is on the list, and I look forward to watching the ones that I haven't seen.

Film Podcast Review XI: CinemaBlend

Rafe Telsh, Margaret Williams and "Sometimes" Tim Kennard host Cinemablend, weekly hour long podcast talking about the latest releases and box office numbers.

This review will now benefit/suffer from the fact that it is eleventh in my series--I can't help but compare it to the others that I have listened to and reviewed. Content-wise this podcast is pretty good, but never really offered too many insightful ideas about their topics aside from what I have heard on other podcasts. They did have discussions about movie news which is different--a "Fiends" movie in the works? Can you believe Hellboy made $35M? Still, I am more interested in the films themselves than the Hollywood gossip. But if this is your cup of tea, then this may be a positive for you. Also, as I have said before, I always like to see a woman as a part of a movies podcast as most of the ones that I have heard are hosted solely by men.

Cinemablend is sort of a weak mashup of my previously reviewed Kermode and Cinebanter podcasts. It is like Kermode in that it has multiple hosts, but one host is clearly in charge--Rafe Telsh, in this case does 80-90% of the talking. Unfortunately, he doesn't have same level of charisma, wit, or insightfulness of Kermode. The podcast is like Cinebanter in that it is refreshing to hear a balanced view. Unfortunately, because Telsh dominates the airtime, the voices of the co-hosts are rarely heard. When they are heard, it is usually to mildly agree or disagree with the primary host or make a snarky comment. Not too many fireworks here. Essentially, if their idea is to have them engaged in a dialog a la Cinebanter, they come up short because one host dominates. If they are trying to replicate Kermode's podcast, where one host is meant to be dominant, they come up short there as well. Kermode is lightning in a bottle for 30 minutes, where Telsh is interesting enough, but can't sustain my interest for an hour. Plus, his co-hosts do little to prod him and stir things up like Kermode's brilliant co-host, Simon Mayo.

I was also disappointed in the production quality of this podcast. The microphone quality of the three hosts is different, making for uneven listening. There were plenty of instances of my personal pet peeve--popping p's. Also, from a production standpoint, some strange things happen. For example, in one episode, Margaret clearly leaves the 'studio' for a couple of minutes. Seriously? If the cohost can't stand to be a part of the show, why should I?

I do have to credit CinemaBlend for turing me on to Burn Notice, which I recently started watching on USA. Great show.

Production: 4/10
Content: 6/10

Vid of Week 2008-07-21: YouTube on TiVo

One of my dreams have come true. Now when can we download HD?

Friday, July 18, 2008

New Bond in November

Despite the title, Quantum Of Solace, the newly released trailer looks fabulous!

Film Podcast Review X: Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo's Film Reviews

In this weekly podcast, BBC radio personality Mark Kermode discusses current releases with his sidekick Simon Mayo. Kermode is manic, hysterical, irreverent, and most importantly, knowledgeable about films. His rapid fire delivery was a bit disorienting for me at first. All of the podcasts that I have listened to thus far start calm and occasionally escalate in speed, energy, and emotion as the hosts disagree. Not this podcast. They roar out of the gate and end just as abruptly, leaving you catching your breath. When Kermode likes a film, he trumpets its virtues. If he dislikes a film, he is liable to go on one of his patented rants, which are hilarious, even if you disagree with his opinions. Mayo serves as his calmer foil, feeding topics to Kermode or making side comments to fuel Kermode's fire. They work perfectly together.

I do have a couple of complaints about this podcast. They have a segment where they go through the top box office from the prior week and Kermode gives his 15 second opinion on each film. That is great, except if a film has been on the list for several weeks after originally getting a full treatment on the show, it gets repetitive. Also, as an American listener, I sometimes have trouble understaning the hosts accented rapid-fire delivery. That's really my problem though, and it doesn't happen often.

If you are a fan of film, this is definitely worth a listen, though the style may not be for everyone.

Content 8/10
Production 8/10

Up next: back to USA based podcasts with CinemaBlend.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TiVo & YouTube

TiVo announces YouTube integration. It's like having my best friends meet and fall in love, and I get to be best man. Here's tivo's official page.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Film Podcast Review Corrections

I made some errors in my reviews of Movies You Should See and Left Field Cinema. Just sloppy on my part--blatant mistakes and relying on other blog posts about the podcasts that were out of date. Still, my opinion of both podcasts is the same. Apologies for any feathers that I may have ruffled. I don't pretend to be a professional journalist or reviewer, just a guy who liks to share his opinion. Here are the corrections.

1. Left Field Cinema is not produced by Simply Syndicated and is not affiliated with Simply Syndicated or Movies You Should See in any way what so ever. Mike Dawson used to be a presenter on MYSS up until April this year.

2. Movies You Should See is not produced monthly. It is produced weekly, released every Saturday.

Wall E Thoughts

I got to see Wall E over the weekend. Spectacular. Especially the first half hour--the folks at Pixar really created a spectacular visual setting and essentially taught a clinic on the use of visuals and sound to tell a story without dialogue.

Still, it seems fashionable to say that WALL*E should be nominated for Best Picture beyond Best Animated picture. I think that is just plain silly. I thoroughly enjoyed the film as much as any animated film that I have seen in a decade, but Best Picture? Come on! Not for a film that is brilliant only 1/3 of the time. The scenes with the 'human' characters and most of the scenes with the secondary robots were silly and not nearly as powerful as the scenes on earth and the EVE/WALL*E interactions like their space dance. Though I do admit, WALL*E is the best movie that I have seen in 2008, this has been a relatively poor year thus far. That's no reason to think that there aren't 5 better films coming around the corner--films from names like Pitt, Clooney, Pacino, De Niro, Mortensen, Zellwegger, Fincher, Blanchett, Swinton, Hoffman, DiCaprio, and Winslet will be in theaters this fall. Do you think that Wall*E will stand up to those offerings when it comes to Best Picture nominations? Mark it down as a shoo-in winner for best animated feature, but it will not and should not get a BP nomination unless many many stars align and all of these top talents fall flat.

Wall E Deleted Scenes (Rated R)

"Wall-E Concept Art: The Deleted Scenes" by Jake Hurwitz on CollegeHumor

Kindle 2.0 Coming Soon

CrunchGear is reporting that the next-generation Kindles will be coming out in October or thereabouts. Improved UI, better form factor, and multiple color offerings are the expected enhancements. I hope that the price point drops as well. I want a Kindle because I love tech and I love the idea of pushing the book publishing model to a more environmentally friendly content distribution model. Right now, at $360, buying a Kindle is still too expensive for the benefits that it offers.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Film Podcast Review IX: Movies You Should See

Movies You Should See is a production of Simply Syndicated, the same UK-based folks that produce Left Field Cinema that I gushed over in a prior post. MYSS is produced monthly and ranges in length from 40 to 90 minutes, though most episodes are around an hour in length.

The show is hosted by 4-5 young adults (one woman). The hosts rotate on and off, so the number of hosts per episode varies. They basically spend each podcast dedicated to a single film that they recommend, meticulously going over the plot, performances, direction, cinematography, etc. They get sidetracked into talking about other topics of varying relevance, from completely irrelevant inside jokes to which the audience does not understand to insightful comments about the direction or performances. These are genuinely funny people, though--I did laugh pretty frequently. Ultimately, though, spending up to 90 minutes talking about a film that itself isn't much longer than that left me cold. Through the process of these reviews, I am finding myself trending in this direction--I favor the shorter, tighter podcasts (Left Field Cinema, Film Gang) over the long ones, but I don't think that that is a universal truth. Filmspotting is still one of my favorites at 60 minutes. The difference in Filmspotting (and to a lesser extent, Cinebanter) is that it is organized into clear and concise segments, each of which could be a standalone podcast episode. Every segment is tightly constructed and each host presents his ideas on the subject concisely. Movies You Should See is a stark contrast--these folks just gab on for as long as they like. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes there are insightful thoughts about the film but rarely is that enough to sustain my interest. It's like sitting through a boring movie for one or two great scenes.

Production 6/10
Content 6/10

CORRECTION 2008-07-16

Monday, July 14, 2008

Vid of Week 2008-07-14: Cell Phone In Microwave

I think this is probably the start of some sort of viral campaign for a horror/sci-fi flick

Friday, July 11, 2008

Film Podcast Review VIII: Film Gang

Popping P's on sub-standard microphones? On NPR? Unbelievable! That is what first struck me when first listening to Film Gang - Thoughtful Critiques of the Latest Movies. Dennis Morton and Amelie Hastie alternate hosting this podcast, with other guest hosts such as David Anthony and Carla Frichero, Professors at UC Santa Cruz filling in from time to time. The program is a production of KUSP Public Radio in Santa Cruz.

This no-frills weekly 4-5 minute podcast consists on a solo reviewer (they rotate between one another) discussing their impressions of current films. There is little introduction and little flair, which is fine with me. The reviewer basically sits at the microphone and shares his or her thoughts on the film or films in question. The reviews are universally thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful. I found this podcast to be interesting. I respect the reviewers, though the rotating nature of the hosts make it difficult to get a sense of who is who building a sense of connection with the host themselves. Left Field Cinema (in my last review) is another solo-hosted weekly 5 minute podcast that is better produced, more interesting, and with a more charismatic host. If I had to choose between one 5-minute podcast, I would choose LFC. Since I am not in that position, I will continue to subscribe to both. However, as my subscription list increases and I fill up my iPod, this may be a candidate to drop.

Production: 6
Content: 7

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Film Podcast Reviews VI and VII: Left Field Cinema & Cinemaslave

Most of the podcasts that I have reviewed thus far have had a team of hosts who mainly play upon the back and forth banter to provide a little levity and built-in conflict as compared to a single host. Well, this week, I listened pretty thoroughly to two solo-hosted film-themed podcasts and thought that it made sense to put them into one combined review.

Cinemaslave is hosted by Joe Barlow, an author, freelance writer, screenwriter, and filmmaker. The 60-90 minute show comes out around every other week. Left Field Cinema is a UK-based podcast hosted by Michael Dawson. This 10-15 minute podcast comes out on a weekly schedule. Both podcasts leverage the solo-hosted format into a more college lecture-style of film criticism, taking a cerebral and in depth look at the topic of interest, but this is where the similarities end.

Cinemaslave is a decently produced podcast, but often suffers from Joe's babbling, presumably due to a lack of detailed preparation. A solo podcast should be shorter than a co-hosted one, right? It was hard to maintain my attention for 90 minutes, especially when I had to listen to the podcasts in 20-30 minute segments. Barlow attempts to take a more intellectual look at films, which he often does successfully. However, he is perhaps not the best qualified for this job. I am not a film academic but some of the points that he makes are just plain ridiculous. The most egregious example of this was his assertion that "Birth of a Nation" is no more racist than "Amistad" because it reflected the time period. The time period argument doesn't even make sense, because what is relevant to that argument is the time period in which the film was made, not the time period where the story was set. Birth of a Nation was racist because it depicted blacks as subhuman, sex-starved, violent, and stupid. Amistad was not racist because showing slavery does not equate to advocating it. In fact, the most noble characters in Amistad were the slaves. Was Barlow playing devil's advocate? Did he see Amistad? Did I miss something when I stopped and started the podcast 6 times because I didn't have time to listen in one sitting? I don't know, but his argument made me scream at my iPod and really soured me to the show.

Something else that Cinemaslave does is include extensive (8-10 minute) listener feedback segments. In some cases, they were interesting, but in others it was maddening. I really did not need to listen to the completely idiotic 8-minute long "quickie" (real quote) review of Sex and the City by one of Cinemaslaves' loyal listeners. UGH! I like the idea of a podcast being a forum for a conversation between the host and his listeners, but if you are going to do that in your podcast, be smart with your choices and do some editing, for heaven's sake! Many of the other podcasts that I have heard include listener feedback, but all have limited to the reading of excerpts of emails or short voicemails. Listener feedback was fully 25-30% of Cinemaslave.

In contrast, Left Field Cinema, at 10-15 minutes, is a tightly produced, clear, concise, and consistently takes an insightful look at its topics. Each episode follows a theme, "Analysis", "Misunderstood Modern Cinema" and "Hidden Classics" to name a few. Dawson comes to his podcast prepared. He makes his point and he backs it up clearly and concisely. His opinions and arguments are well-informed and persuasive. Though I did not always agree with his points, it was nice to hear a different point of view and something other than simply reviews of the latest major studio release. Hearing his thoughts on why Eyes Wide Shut is underrated or whether Cloverfield is an analogy to 9/11 were a welcome oasis after hearing scores of reviews of Iron Man, Sex and the City, and other summer blockbusters in my other podcast reviews. The podcast also has a great balance of more obscure films and closer looks at more popular films. I love that the podcast is so fast as well--it meant that I could start and finish each episode in one sitting. This also means that there are no frills on this podcast. There was blessedly no 'listener feedback' or gimmicky segments that all of the other amateur podcasts that I have listed to contain.

Overall, Left Field Cinema is a winner. Because it doesn't tie itself to the latest releases, it is also timeless. I am looking forward to future episodes and to going back to listen to old ones that I missed, especially his take on License to Kill and Odd Man Out. I also plan to listen to (and review) one of Dawson's other podcasts, Movies You Should See. It will be interesting to hear Dawson work with co-hosts in a more unscripted format.

Cinemaslave, despite my rants, has some potential. Incidentally, Barlow has suspended Cinemaslave indefinitely to work on the Obama campaign. Maybe when he comes back he will tighten things up a bit?

Production: 6
Content: 5

Left Field Cinema
Production: 8
Content: 9

Another interesting review of Left Field Cinema.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Want a Jumbotron

I went to the Phillies game last night and was stupefied by the enormous LED video screen--the size and clarity were incredible! When can I get me one of those?

From the Phillies' Website:
SCOREBOARD SYSTEM: Largest LED video display board in the National League, 39'5" x 69'7"; 2,759 square feet; supplied by VMagic division of Venue1. Large scoreboard message board, side message boards, LED displays and out-of-town scoreboards all part of the system to keep fans well informed; supplied by Daktronics.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Hey loyal readers (all 3 of you)! I'll be away on vacation this week so you won't bee seeing much on my blog other than my already scheduled video of the week.... Look for more posts including like a dozen more film podcast reviews after I get back.