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November 30, 2003

Punch Drunk Love

Paul Thomas Anderson wrote and directed Punch-Drunk Love, which debuted at Cannes and earned him the Best Director prize. I don't think I've seen any of his other movies (which include Magnolia and Boogie Nights), but after this one I'm gonna have to look into them.

This is one of those small movies which is just about perfect in every way. Jean chose it when she picked up The Fast Runner, so she scores twice in one round. Anderson apparently called it "an art house Adam Sandler film", which is true, but only part of the story. I've seen a few of Sandler's films, and I never knew he could do such an understated, nuanced acting job. His character is messed up, sure, but not the frat boy loser he so often plays.

Emily Watson is wonderful, again in an understated way. The visuals are perfectly united throughout the film, and the arty transitions make the picture more surreal.

I have to close by noting that I must get the song "He Really Needs Me", which was written by Harry Nilsson for the musical movie Popeye and sung by Shelley Duvall. I don't think I'm ready yet to buy the entire Punch-Drunk Love soundtrack to get this one song, so maybe the iTunes Music Store will stock it someday soon. I really like that song.

Posted by dpwakefield at 06:08 PM

CryoTongue

Now Kelly knows why you're not supposed to put your tongue on a flagpole in winter. We were all at the grocery store yesterday, and while Jean was off looking for something Xmassy, I was with Kelly in the frozen foods aisle.

I asked her what she wanted, and she tried to be cute by pointing with her tongue. You know how you can see something coming and just as surely see that there is not enough time to stop it? I started saying "whoa Whoa WHOA!" and moving toward Kelly. Her tongue touched the metal shelf, her eyes swiveled toward me, and she realized that something was wrong, and jerked back.

She left a little bit of herself behind that day, and tasted blood, not for the first time, and probably not for the last. But at least she knows a little bit more about the physics of physiology firsthand.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:39 PM

November 29, 2003

Holiday Movies

Wednesday, I left work early and went to see Timeline. It's based on the book by Michael Crichton. It's a measure of the studio's confidence in this latest Crichton vehicle that when I searched for an official website, I couldn't find one (not in the top Google picks, anyway).

Like most Crichton movies, you can read the book and feel like you just saw the movie, or watch the movie and feel like you just read the book. I did both, and after reading the book, I knew the movie was going to be one of his lighter efforts. And I was right. Just the right size to fill out a holiday afternoon, no greater impact.

Yesterday evening, Jean and I (with occasional participation by Kelly), watched The Fast Runner. This is a movie I wish I'd seen in the theatre, but as I've griped before, Regal Cinemas does not see fit to show many art/independent/foreign films in the 'burbs. And I find it difficult to make it to downtown Portland for the few they show there.

The Fast Runner seems a not to distant cousin to Italian for Beginners, another film Jean introduced me to through video rental. This was, you might recall, a Dogme 95 film, one of a collection of movies made by directors who have bound themselves to 'The Vow of Chastity'.

The Fast Runner had the same sparse presentation, intimate concern with everyday lives, and generally simple production values as Italian for Beginners. It departs from Dogme 95 in that there is occasional music overlaid onto a scene which is not produced by the characters themselves (very infrequently), and there are one or two video effects. But it otherwise felt very much like a Dogme 95 film, including the effort needed to absorb the story.

Timeline requires no effort, and in fact is fed to you with such eagerness that at several points I was shaking my head wondering who their target audience was. The Fast Runner requires your attention and doesn't talk down to you. It is a very absorbing film, and I'm glad I saw it.

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:09 AM

November 27, 2003

Ah Lahk Pah

Yum, that was the best Pumpkin Pie I ever had. Kelly found it too spicy, Jean found it too rich, so it's all mine! Mwah hah ha!

And I made real whipped cream. That's about the easiest thing in the whole world to make. I'm never gonna buy Cool Whip again (not that I buy it more than once a year anyway...).

What'll I make next? I'm psyched!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:14 PM | Comments (2)

New Mini-gallery

Kelly and I did a quickie photo-shoot to commemorate her ninth Thanksgiving (she's creeping up on eight and a half years of age now). Just click on the banner photo. I didn't polish it, just a few rough shots run through Photoshop's Web Gallery option.

While I'm at it, let me take a moment to wish my family and all my friends a happy Thanksgiving. I'm grateful to know you all. That includes all you 'web only' folks as well. Kylanath, Pascale, I enjoy reading your weblogs, and appreciate that you take the time to comment on mine.

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:36 AM | Comments (1)

November 26, 2003

Da Craw, Da Craw!

Damn I love the Internet! I went down to check the ReplayTV for tomorrow's television sloth (hint, no football), and discovered that due to a glitch it had cleared all the program guide data (not my recording requests, just the 'TV Guide' menu).

Now I already knew about this but had to go to the site again to look it up. All ReplayTV boxes have a secret menu, named humorously by it's developers the "Clawfoot Portal". Just start viewing live television, and enter 2-4-3-Zone. Bingo! Secret Menu. Then I used this to force a phone connect and had my program guide updated in less than twenty minutes.

Did I mention that I love the Internet?

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:07 PM | Comments (2)

Food Is Afoot!

Seriously, what else did you expect on Thanksgiving Eve? Kelly and Jean made mini-muffins (blueberry) and tapioca pudding. I just finished putting the tofu chili into the refrigerator to stew in it's seasoned juices. And Kelly helped me do the non-sticky part of preparing dough for the pumpkin pie crust.

On tomorrow's menu of scratch and not-so-scratch prepped entrees are Freedom Loving Turkey (died in a hospice with soft music playing, "go to the light!"), also known as free-range turkey (Kelly's suggestion), pumpkin pie (purčed pumpkin from a can, everything else done from scratch), and yams. On the convenience front we're having cranberry sauce (canned), baked beans (canned) and sparkling grape juice.

I'm sure you more sophisticated types are gonna have the fancy stuff, like Pumpkin Cheesecake and flan, but that's it for us!

Posted by dpwakefield at 08:00 PM

November 25, 2003

Snoozer

New banner photo! Actually an old digipic, but I thought it was about time to bump Dad off the roster, and I was too lazy to scan in the pics from the last coast trip. So ya get to see Kelly snoozing. How old is that pic anyway?

Funny thing is, it's been sitting on the compactflash card I use in my Nikon Coolpix 950 forever. I let my wife use the camera to take pictures of Kelly during her horseback riding lessons, and downloaded them to the kitchen computer for her. The kitchen computer, Haruko, is still running Mac OS X 10.1.5, and the older flashcard reader I've had since Mac OS 8 days, works with it fine. [unfortunately, the horsey pictures were all kinda fuzzy, so you won't see them in the banner for now]

I then tried to grab the one banner photo shown above by downloading it to my den computer, Megumi, which is running Panther (Mac OS X 10.3.1). No go. Not even after reinstalling drivers, rebooting, etc., etc.

After some research on the Internet, I find this is a familiar problem with some USB card readers, in fact with any which require you to install drivers to use them. USB 1.1 is a standard device API, and any modern OS is supposedly able to work with any compliant device. No drivers required. So the older gadget ain't compliant. A round of email with the manufacturer, who shall remain unnamed and hence unpromoted, informed me that they had no plans to supply drivers for Panther. "I have no plans to buy your brand again", I thought.

A trip to Fry's got me a new Lexar USB card reader, this one labelled Mass Storage Compliant, which are the magic words assuring compatibility with the USB 1.1 spec. By the way, buzz on the web is that Lexar knows how to do this right. I fussed with whether to buy a $20 no-name card reader, $10 cheaper than the Lexar one, but decided to go with the known quantity. As it turns out, there was a markdown on the Lexar item, and I only paid $9.90 for it. Cool!

So the crusade to switch all our machines over to Panther proceeds apace. And printer sharing over the Airport works great too! Can't wait for Christmas season when I finally transition Jean's machine to Panther.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:33 PM | Comments (2)

November 23, 2003

Anti Flan Clan

Friday I was hunting up recipes for pumpkin pie, so that Kelly and I could make one for Thanksgiving. I'd thought I had one in my cooking magazine, but it turned out to be a recipe for pumpkin cheesecake. Riffling through our cookbooks, my mind was taken by a random thought (at least it seemed random at the time). "You know what I wanna make? Flan!"

"Eeew!" Jean cried. "Flan is so bland!"

Kelly took up the cry, because to Kelly, there are really only two or three edible foods, and I usually don't suggest them. Soon I was overwhelmed with protest, and what had been an idle thought became a resolve. "I'm going to make flan!"

So yesterday I made flan. I cut the recipe in half, improvised on some of the ingredients, and sorta guessed on some ambiguous wording in the recipe, so what came out wasn't really flan as it is et in Espaņa. The texture is rather coarse, it tastes too much of cinnamon, and it 'weeps'. Still, it is recognizable as flan.

This afternoon, I gave Jean a sample, and she made a kind-hearted attempt not to scowl. Then I held a forkful out to Kelly, who, distracted by television, allowed it to get into her mouth. Moments after that she jerked her head back, gave me a dirty look, and ran into the kitchen to spit and rinse her mouth out.

So no flan for this clan.

Posted by dpwakefield at 07:34 PM | Comments (6)

November 22, 2003

Journey Beyond Selene: Remarkable Expeditions Past Our Moon and to the Ends of the Solar System

I neglected to write this book up when I finished it. It was pretty good. It's basically a history of all the robot spacecraft launched by NASA since it's inception, and what we've learned from them thusfar. Already out of date, as we now are hearing about Voyager 1 and it's potential journey beyond the heliopause.

What else have I been reading? Lots of 'toe-dipping', as I'm trying to find a few books on the Middle East in modern history. I did a global search of the library for books on Israel, and reserved about eight. I narrowed it down to two, Israel: An Illustrated History by Daniel J. Schroeter, and Israel: A History by Martin Gilbert, for purchase sometime later. For good measure, I added Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power by Daniel Yergin, to my Amazon wish list. Next comes a search for a book from the Palestinian perspective, but I'm pooped out from the last search...

Currently, my library book du jour is Warchild, by Karin Lowachee. I read a review of the sequel which made it sound good, so I snagged it. Let ya know how it is later.

Posted by dpwakefield at 05:17 PM

November 13, 2003

Panther

The great project has begun. Today over lunch I bought the Panther release of Mac OS X. I'm mostly done with the install on my iBook. The plan is to complete the install, give it a week to stabilize, then move on to the iLamp in the den. After that one's taken care of, I'll wait until Christmas vacation to overhaul the kitchen computer.

So far the only snag is some irregularity with Mail. As that's one of the main jobs of the kitchen computer, I'll have to unkink the other boxes first. But I've already got printing working from the laptop! It's always fun to learn the ropes on a new OS release.

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:09 PM

November 10, 2003

Anime Everywhere

For anime dilettantes only. Check out this screenshot of the Finder Live Search feature in Mac OS X Panther. The top search entry should be obvious to the most casual anime fan

Now I know that John Siracusa is an anime fan!

Posted by dpwakefield at 09:48 PM

November 09, 2003

Field Trip!

Ooh! Ooh! I gotta be there! Maybe I can get a T-Shirt. Nah, I need to take my daughter to swim class that morning, so by the time I got to the Apple Store, I would surely not be one of the first 1,000 people in the store. Still, I wanna go ho-ho-ho!

Posted by dpwakefield at 10:10 PM

November 05, 2003

Idiots

Keep your broadcast flag out of my property. Innovation hating, fair use fearing, morons...

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:46 AM

November 01, 2003

Bloody Halloween

Halloween is over, so sad. It was a cold night, but lots of fun. The only event worth mentioning is that Kelly took a tumble and chopped a divot out of her knee. Her candy went flying, and we had to pick it up in the dark. I asked Kelly if she wanted to go home right away, and she said she wanted to finish out the block.

From that moment forward, she was sure to point out her knee to everyone who answered their door:

"Trick or treat! See my knee? That's real blood, and don't touch it because it hurts! Thank you, Happy Halloween!"

Posted by dpwakefield at 11:16 AM