October 2004 Archives

Numbers

As gameplans go, it's a simple one. Make sure your alliance is solid, and make sure your alliance has more people than the other one when the merge hits. But apparently the subtle nuances of that scheme are too complex for the men on Survivor to grasp. The women of Yasur gave them a gift when they saved Rory's butt. So do the men capitalize on it by ousting a woman and giving the men the numerical advantage? No. For some reason left, perhaps, on the cutting room floor, the guys decided that John-- who had never expressed any disloyal notions that we know of, and who claimed in his final words that he would have stuck with the men to the end-- was a sufficient threat to warrant leaving themselves even-up with the women. I don't get it. They all questioned the women's loyalty, and John was a sure thing. When you've got someone in your pocket, you don't vote him out while viable alternatives exist. Utter stupidity. But then, there's only been one rocket scientist on Survivor-- and he lost.

Comment (1) | last by Doug Orleans, Oct 29, 3:02 PM

Attention, customer support representatives: not everyone who calls in for assistance is a gibbering idiot from the shallow end of the gene pool. Some of us can even pronounce "nuclear" correctly. So when I call to inform you that I have a technical problem with your product, that it was working perfectly when I went to bed but was not working when I awoke, that I am not a sonambulistic wiring fetishist and absolutely nothing had changed on my end while I was asleep, please do me the courtesy of accepting me at my word. Do not make me disconnect my equipment, change wiring configurations multiple times, or sacrifice a goat before you finally acknowledge that the problem might be at your end. I realize that many-- perhaps even virtually all-- of the people who call for technical support think a serial port is where their Cheerios arrive from overseas. But some of us have a clue, and would appreciate being treated accordingly.

Comments (6) | last by Larry, Oct 28, 8:57 PM

Answer, or Else

Is blackmail illegal?

Does the answer depend on the demand? Is there a legal difference between "Back out of the Presidential race or I'll expose your Yanni collection to the public" and "Give me $100,000 or I'll give these photos of you and the naked nanny to your wife"?

Comments (13) | last by Anonymous, May 18, 6:38 AM

Conversation last night between me and a fellow foodie:

Me: "I picked up Alton Brown's Gear For Your Kitchen at Half Price Books a few weeks ago."

Him: "Nice, I paid full price for mine."

Me: "It's going to wind up costing me a lot more than that. I'm lusting after a lot of the stuff he talks about. Last night I got to the Viking blender, which looks pretty sweet."

Him: "God yes. I've masturbated to the page with the Viking blender."

[beat]

Me: "Why do you have to ruin everything for me?"

Hot Laptop Deal

If you're in the market for a laptop, tomorrow Dell will offer a one-day special of $750 off any Inspiron laptop of $1,500 or more. That's an even sweeter deal than what I got (the bastards!). Here's the skinny from Slick Deals.

Comments (5) | last by Jake, Oct 26, 11:43 PM

It's here!

My free 20 GB iPod arrived via FedEx at 9:15 this morning. I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl. "People really do win on MTV!" So I can now say with conviction that freeipods.com is not a scam. Not only did I get a free iPod, I also got two free $10 Amazon gift certificates from joining one of their offers.

The details: I completed all the requirements on September 7, at which point my status on the site changed to "Order submitted to vendor, waiting for product." On Friday, Oct. 15, my status changed and I received email informing me that my iPod had shipped. It made the trip from Shanghai in great time, arriving via FedEx three days later on Monday, Oct. 18.

A big thanks to everyone who completed an offer on my behalf. I suspect this may spur some further activity on the conga line, so here are some referral links from fellow Static Zombie readers. Help 'em out by clicking on one of their links, signing up, and completing an offer-- then post your own referral link in the comments. Let us know once you reach 5 referrals, so I can remove your link and avoid having people "waste" their sign-up.

To help Chris: done, link removed
To help Justin: click here
To help Craig: click here
To help Alfredo: click here
To help Larry: click here
To help rem: click here

Comments (6) | last by Anonymous, Aug 7, 10:35 AM

Boys and Their Toys

This has been a week of new toys. On Wednesday my new laptop arrived. Thanks to Slick Deals, I was able to get in on a great deal at Dell for $500 off an Inspiron 8600 laptop, plus an additional $200 rebate. It's got a great 15.4" widescreen and 128 MB Radeon 9600 video card, and with a Pentium M 1.8 Mhz processor the little fella's way more powerful than my desktop P3-550. Maybe now I'll finally get to play Neverwinter Nights which has been gathering dust for a year. On Monday I should get my wireless LAN set up, and I'm looking forward to surfing and working from the couch or bed.

If anyone has any laptop software to recommend, I'm all ears.

This weekend I paid my first visit to Fry's where the motto is "If it runs on electricity, we sell it." I can see why the Silicon Valley crowd goes gaga for this place-- it's like a Radio Shack, Best Buy, and Wal-Mart combined. Geek nirvana. I went to pick up a laptop carrying case, but wound up getting a backpack instead. I've been carrying the same backpack around for fifteen years and this seemed like a good time to retire it. The backpack form factor just seems more versatile than a shoulder-strap laptop bag, especially since I'm used to schlepping one anyway. I also picked up another 512 MB of memory to bring the laptop up to a healthy 768 MB.

Meanwhile, someone at work was selling a used Game Boy Advance SP package (with headphone adapter, power charger, Final Fantasy Tactics, Warioware, and Yoshi's Island) for $100, which also seemed too good to pass on. I wanted all three of the games anyway, and even used they'd have set me back at least $60. I was getting tired of having to angle my GBA just right to catch the light. I foresee much lost sleep in the future.

And the parade of toys continues later this week, as (if FedEx can be believed) the long-awaited free iPod finally arrives! More on that as the situation develops...

Comments (6) | last by Danielle, Nov 3, 10:50 PM

Primer

Like everyone else, I like to think I'm a reasonably smart guy. Don't get me wrong, Ken Jennings would certainly kick my ass in a no-holds-barred answer-and-question deathmatch, but at least my VCR's not blinking 12:00. So I generally consider it a bad sign if the first thought I have when a film's end credits start to roll is, "I need the Cliff's Notes for this movie."

Primer opens with a cryptic voiceover from one of the main characters which, by the end of the film, takes on a much larger significance. That's par for the course with this film, which is a time travel story without any intergalactic spacial anomalies or customized DeLoreans. By the end of the film the timelines have crossed each other more times than the Sopranos, and the audience is ready to fuhgeddaboutit. The filmmakers are perhaps too clever by half, choosing to tell the story by inference rather than good old fashioned storytelling. The end of the film builds to an accelerated montage of quick-cuts just screaming for a more comprehensible pace, leaving the audience exhausted and utterly baffled. It's as if Columbo gathered all the suspects in one room, said, "I suppose you're wondering why I've gathered you all here tonight," and turned around and left. The clues, the filmmakers insist, are all there. The audience is left to piece them together for themselves.

Normally I'm a huge fan of not being clubbed over the head, but by the end of the film I'd have bought the lead pipe myself. Seven of us hung out in the theater at 2 AM, just trying to make sense of what we'd seen. People are calling Primer brilliant. I'm calling it inscrutable.

And yet. I kept turning the film's plot over in my mind as I lay in bed last night, and this morning a number of pieces seem to have fallen into place. Like The Usual Suspects or Memento, this is certainly a film that would benefit from repeated viewing. But I'm not sure if I could sit through it all a second time. The characters aren't engaging on any level, so you really don't care what happens to them. The camera is often unsteady and the sound is almost universally murky. The characters tend to talk over each other in a way that feels very realistic but does nothing for the film's comprehensibility.

The backstory on Primer is at least as unusual as the film itself. Shot for a paltry $7,000, the film was selected for exhibition at Sundance and proceeded to win the Grand Jury prize. Now it's got a distribution deal and is popping up in arthouse theaters around the country, where its target audience of Mensans and film students will hopefully find it.

My advice is to wait for the DVD. You'll lose nothing on the small screen, and just like the characters you'll have the ability to replay events over and over via your own little time machine: your remote control.

Comments (4) | last by Nathan Beeler, Oct 16, 11:45 AM

Poor Choices

Two poor choices on last night's reality double header. First on Survivor, the men continued their bone-headed decision to play the individual game well before any merge. Already holding a 5-2 majority over the younger guys, the older men could have eaten one of their own and pruned the tribe of some dead weight, leaving them with more physically stronger members for future challenges. Instead, they're worrying about individual immunities well before any are at stake. Probst hit the nail on the head with his commentary. What makes this even more galling is that the guys may have been right. From the previews, it looks like next week we'll see some shuffling of the tribes. If your tribe isn't staying together, keeping the strongest members no longer makes sense. The shake-up just comes a tad too late for Brady, whose game would likely have gone completely differently had he managed to stick around one more week.

Over on The Apprentice, The Donald continued his series of perplexing firing decisions. Pamela was condescending and strong-willed, but she was also hands-down the most effective and impressive of all the women on the show. He as much as admitted it when he moved her over from the men's team. She acquitted herself well in the boardroom and got fired anyway. When the Trump's decisions are this idiosyncratic, the show becomes less interesting. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. As the linked article mentions, part of the reason for the first season's success is that by the end, the players left behind were all worthy. Players who were early standout performers didn't get axed until late in the game. That's not happening this time around, and rather than making the show more exciting it undermines its premise.

But the DeLonghi and "It Works" people must be kvelling.

Comments (4) | last by Peter Sarrett, Oct 12, 2:27 PM

Check Under T

I can't remember the last time I laughed as hard as when watching this week's episode of The Venture Brothers ("Are You There God? It's Me, Dean"-- although TiVo is a bit confused and reports it as last week's episode, "Midlife Chrysalis"). If you haven't jumped on this bandwagon yet, what are you waiting for? The episode will be reshown a couple of times this week.

In other news, don't expect Boston Legal to last out the season. Without Rebecca DeMornay it lacks a sorely-needed edge, and just feels sloppy. David E. Kelley just phoned this one in. Denny Crane.

Comments (2) | last by Erin, Oct 5, 4:21 PM

Call Me Late to Dinner

I don't recall what corner of the Web I was trolling-- was it really just a couple of days ago?-- when a link brought me to The Julie/Julia Project, but since then I've fallen headlong down the rabbit hole. In 2002-2003, New Yorker Julie Powell decided to work her way through Julia Child's seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking, jumping among chapters but cooking through each recipe in each chapter front-to-back. 536 recipes in 365 days. And more butter than humans were meant to consume in a year.

What a fabulous concept.

Many of us have picked up a cookbook and, enchanted by the delights it promised, thought about how great it would be to cook through it cover to cover. But to actually do it-- and on such a harrowing timetable-- is madness. Sheer madness. To do it and blog about it is genius. Our good fortune is that Julie Powell knows her way around Strunk and White. Her record of her year cooking in the shadow of Julia Child is turning out to be a great read, and I'm only a few weeks in. Granted, the project ended a while ago and calling your attention to it now is a bit like, in ´┐Żber-geeky game show parlance, breathlessly reporting that Chuck Woolery has left his hosting gig on Wheel of Fortune. Old news. But like me many of you are foodies, and for foodies the Julie/Julia project is inspirational.

So many sauces... so little time...

Comment (1) | last by Rialtus, Oct 4, 11:33 AM