Archive for the 'Gear' Category

Walden.

A friend complained that I’ve taken too long to post anything new here, so here goes.

1.  It’s true, I haven’t written in a while.  Work is still busy.  Also, I haven’t been posting as much since I started writing in my moleskine pocket journal.  In the month of May, I became very sick and didn’t want to bother with computers or technology.  I completely withdrew from television and print media.  And something strange happened.  I started having cinematic, vivid dreams.  Sometimes, while I was awake.  Sure, you can blame the medicine, but I think the absence of media consumption forced my brain to return to its imagination.  It was straight out of Thoreau’s Walden.

2.  I am starting to grow weary of New York City.  I went home the other day, and as the historic downpour continued, I realized how beautiful it was out on the island.  Suddenly, the rain turned from something to resent into something to relish.  You could smell the earth, the trees, and all of the vegetation.  Everything was so green.  All I smell in New York is car exhaust, garbage, fetid steam vents, overly burned meat on a stick and the farts of the guy just up the street.

3.  More than anything, a lot of the excitement of New York seems to have left.  Ever since the economy tanked, the energy is just not there.  The massive layoffs in New York have affected everyone, including the still-employed.  Bars are morose, parties are muted.  I, for one, don’t like partying as much knowing that many of my friends are in debt, unemployed through no fault of their own, and hoping to ride out the storm.  There’s just less to celebrate these days.

4.  I just went to the Beyonce concert last night.  Man can she sing.  I don’t think that there is any female artist today who even comes close.  Our children are going to be hearing stories about her, the way people talk about Ella, Tina, and Aretha now.

5.  I am obsessed with building a home theater PC, or HTPC.  I know all the parts I want, but I just can’t settle on a case I like.  It is ridiculous to me that Time Warner can charge 100 bucks a month for cable TV, when Hulu is out there pushing content for free.  The entire business model of Time Warner is going to change, and I think they know it, which is why they are trying to promote bandwidth-use caps.  Unlike Netflix, which is attempting to craft creative solutions to its soon-to-be-obsolete business model, Time Warner takes an opposite approach, similar to the one taken by the MPAA and RIAA, and one that is destined to fail.  The HTPC will be a symbol of that failed business strategy, as hopefully I will be able to view all video content that I currently watch on cable through my HTPC, for free or near-free.  Soon, episodes of shows will pop up via RSS feed, allowing you to watch right then and there.  I expect the back-end to be sleeker than Google Reader, so that it is a video-friendly interface that automatically downloads and updates the shows you select.  I think Boxee already does this.  If you are interested in a similar project, I recommend you read up on the forums at AVSForum and Silent PC Review.  In case you are wondering, I am thinking an E5200, 4GB ram, 1TB WD Green, LG Blu-Ray, and either the Zotac 9300 (mini-ITX) or the Gigabyte 9400 (mATX).

6. Speaking of media, this preview for “The Pacific” gave me chills.  It’s the sequel to Band of Brothers, and it looks incredible.  I can’t wait.

Weekend update

A GLORIOUS weekend.

In sports: Mets clinched, Yankees lost, and my Wolverines are 6-0 and have moved up to the number 4 spot in the country. Sweet.

In food, I checked out the new Max Brenner that’s opened up on 14th and Broadway. The food was EXCELLENT! However, the service was awful. Our waittress was testy and obnoxious, and when she screwed up an order and it was obviously her fault, she tried (but ultimately failed) to place the blame on one of us. When my friend cancelled his original order to order something else, she instead accidentally cancelled another friend’s order. Instead of owning up to it and letting it go, however, she tried to say it was our fault. Also, only one of us had been there before, and he mentioned that every time the wait staff takes newbie orders, they tell the “Max Brenner” story. Well, we never found out what that was, because she had no idea what we were talking about. Apparently she was the only waittress that didn’t know the history of the franchise, and she was rude about her ignorance. My friend said that every single time he has been there in the past the waiter has told the story. Ah well. Missing forks from the table, inadequate water replenishment, and ‘back sass’ all contributed to her sub-10% tip. She was lucky to get anything at all. We will definitely go back again, and will make a point to avoid that waittress, if she is still employed when we return.

In clubbin’: Went to Aer, Park, and Earth. They’re all right by each other so why not? Also went to Serena, and 230 Fifth. Good times at all of those joints.

In movies: I saw two Lisa Ray films in one weekend, having never seen her before in my life. The first was Quarterlife Crisis. This movie was, in a word, awful. The characters were pallid and one-dimensional, the plot vehicles were hackneyed and obvious, and none of the jokes came off well, if it was in fact a comedy, which I am not convinced about. Maybe a tragi-comedy. They even had the gall to steal an entire scene (the speed dating scene) from 40 Year Old Virgin. Finally, every shot of New York was a cutaway to Times Square. When they are driving in a taxi, Times Square. A second drive through the city to pick up a random girl, Times Square. Random cutaway shots of the city interspersed through the film? You guessed it, Times Square again. Enough already! We get that the movie was filmed in New York. To say that the director was no Michael Mann would be an understatement.

The second was Water [SPOILERS]. In an earlier post, I mentioned wanting to see this movie. Well, I finally saw it. The movie was just short of great. One of the things I liked most about the movie was what it didn’t show. I agreed with the director that the prostitution and child molestation that occurs in the movie did not need to be seen to be felt. I thought not showing these horrific scenes made these events in the movie even more haunting than if they had shown them, and I thought a lesser director would have pandered to the shock value. Kudos to Deepa Mehta on that point. That said, there were some flaws. The relationship between the Kalyani and Narayan was wooden and not credible, and I think that the actors were a bit weak. Perhaps Ray, a model (and a beautiful one at that), has spent too much time appearing emotionless on the runway, and she fails to switch gears for this film. I have heard that her diction was poor too, though I am not a good judge. That John Abraham‘s character Narayan doesn’t shed a tear for his fiance upon her death was another example of either character or actor weakness. In the end, I thought the film did not live up to its potential, but I did think it was a near-great film, and would still recommend it.

I also saw Infernal Affairs, upon which the recent film The Departed is based. This film is EXCELLENT. A definite must-see. At first I wasn’t buying it, but it definitely got more believable as the movie went on. Andy Lau is excellent, as is Tony Leung. I heard from friends that The Departed didn’t deliver, but I plan to see it anyway just to compare.

In other news: I went to the Guitar Center this Sunday, and it was as my friend put it, the most fun I’ve ever had on a Sunday EVER! I was just going along with a friend who wanted to buy a keyboard, ended up buying some replacement guitar strings (which I broke already when restringing, UGH!) and playing around with the instruments. But what really had us going for 2 hours of non-stop fun were the keyboards with the built in synths. We started playing them, and were AMAZED at how easy it is to make music with them! All you have to do is play one note, and the keyboard incorporates tons of other instruments to make an entire song! We felt like Oakenfold afterwards. I KNEW Kanye and Pharrell weren’t as talented as they are trumpeted to be! The thing was so damn easy! Within thirty seconds we had already figured out how to play the Yung Joc song, “Meet me in the trap.” Needless to say, the sales staff was in love with us. They just love it when you mess around with their instruments. I think me and my boys are going to start a music production company. Tentative name: The Trap. That way when we go to the studio we can all say, “Meet me in the TRAP! ITS GOIN’ DOWN!” Sweet. It’ll go great with my fake band, the World’s Fattest Twins.

On My Ipod

Right now, the Red Hot Chili Peppers new CD Stadium Arcadium and Gnarls Barkley. Both great CDs.

A few songs that have been on my Ipod forever recently resurfaced and for some reason, they resonated:
I see the same shit everyday/the landscape looks so bleak
I think Ill take the first one of yous home/that does something unique

a. di franco, face up and sing

you left my heart empty as a vacant lot
for any spirit to haunt

u2, who’s gonna ride your wild horses?

You know what else is a g.f.s? Johnny Cash – Hurt.

everyone i know/goes away/in the end.

Brilliant.

Do you remember getting chills the first time you heard the guitar intro to that song? Remember when you heard the piano intro in “Trouble” from Coldplay for the first time, before they hit it big? Most people go through their whole lives without creating anything as illuminating as the first 20 seconds of those songs. Remember when you found out that “Creep” was not Radiohead’s best song, just the one with the most commercial success? Those moments seem to come less frequently these days. Is it because the older you get the more numb you become? Or is music just not as good anymore?

Make a $275 pen for 10 bucks

275 bucks for a pen just doesn’t seem worth it, no matter how well it writes. So, while I’ve bought Mont Blanc pens as gifts, I would never get one for myself. But some guy figured out that the refills of Mont Blanc pens are nearly identical to the refills for Pilot G2 Pro Pens. Here is a tutorial on how to take Mont Blanc Refills and put them into a Pilot G2 Pro. I may have to try this – I use Sanford Uniball Onyx pens at work now, and they work well, but they bleed when subjected to water.