QUEENSU.CA/… iTUNES

Greetings,

I was poring over the Star this morning and noticed a short news bit on Queen’s: apparently, the university is partnered with Apple to offer podcasts on life at Queen’s as a marketing tool for recruiting to the school.

Very nice idea, Queen’s.

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RANDOM BUYS?

Greetings,

Have you ever woken up one day and thought, “man, my camera’s only got 3.5 megapixels, I need to upgrade that thing” or “God, my iBook is really slow, I need a new computer bad.”

Then have you realized how crazy that sounds?

Yeah, me too.

IT’S HARD OUT HERE FOR A NERD…

..when he tryin’ to get this money for the PC…
..for the MacBook and kernal effort spent (you ain’t knowin)
..because a whole lot of tech support service talkin shit (you ain’t knowin)
..will have a whole lot of Linux programmers talkin shit (you ain’t knowin)…

Hey, don’t judge. I never said I had mad rhyme-dropping abilities.

Here’s a collection of three stories that kind of dishearten the pro-science, pro-technology, pro-women and pro-geek crowd everywhere.

“Me Bill O’Reilly, me mad!”

BILL O’REILLY: When I was in California, I got a chance to watch the O’Reilly Factor on Fox News (trust me, the show’s worthy of many laughs). Of course, O’Reilly’s crazy as Andy Dick on various cocktails of drugs and plays the audience either for suckers, launtics or the fact he can say what he does with relative impunity (hey, News Corp. has to make some money off its news division). Normally, I kind of just ignore him and his “no-spin zone” antics.

But this really bothered me.

I don’t even have to say much other than: Bill O’Reilly is what is wrong with America today.

TOP FEMALE GEEKS: Normally I’d support anything that dispels the moronic notion technology is a bastion of phallocentrism, but CNet kind of goofed on this one. Paris Hilton. A geek?

Wait, read that again. Paris. Hilton.

All you have to do is look at this photo:

Oh look, Tara Reid is drunk – again. And so is her friend, what’s her name. Right, Paris friggin’ Hilton. Nerd indeed, because all us geeks regularly get wasted with billionaires and D-list celebrities. That’s how most of us spend Fridays.

And, finally, in another ode to America’s collapse into post-millennial, pre-fall of the Roman Empire-like behaviour…

CREATIONIST MUSEUM: Oh dear. Where’s Richard Dawkins when you need him?

Wii v. PS3 v. 360

Greetings,

So now that both Nintendo and Sony have finally released their console packages, it’s time to start talking about these systems critically; more to the point, why should you care about them?

In my honest opinion, the best investment you can make, if you plan to buy these systems, is the Nintendo Wii by a landslide.

That’s right Wii, you win!

Why the Wii? Well (ugh, alliterations!), the price is the biggest single determining factor here. It’s dirt-cheap compared to the other two systems, engages the gamer on a physical level and is a whole lot of fun.

While I’ve got this strange attitude towards Sony (they’re like the Toronto Maple Leafs of technology; they used to be an amazing company but now largely rest on legacy and ill-fated investments) and I’m more than willing to give the Playstation 3 a chance here, the price (sweet Jesus, $700?) is more than enough to turn me off the sweet Blu-Ray technology, Cell processor and… well, okay fine, I’m not completely turned off the PS3.

Wow, you’re so pretty, PS3.

The Xbox 360? It’s been a year now since they were out with the 360 but it still doesn’t inspire love. The only thing that really makes me question the virtues of the 360 is Halo, which is frustratingly limited to just Xbox.

So, while the technology is arguably superior in the PS3 than any other platform, the Wii has already won this battle (fuzz, alliterations again!). In an age overloaded with gadgets and technology, as well as overstretched wallets, cheaper has become better.

This being said, a lot of which side wins the war before the next generation systems debut in six years has a lot to do with the ability of a console to exploit its technology to its maximum effect in the long-term. At the outset, PS3 has a lot of work cut out for it. Adoption of the PS3 on a mass scale will have to do a lot with third-party developers creating games that really use the Cell processor to full impact. Further, will this power a move to adopt more HDTV among gamers? The Xbox 360 was touted to do this, but can Microsoft make a real correlation here between HD advances and the Xbox?

Also, on another note, to my friend JC, so sorry man.

RATING THE BONDS AND BOND MUSIC

Greetings,

Saw Casino Royale last night – it was the best Bond movie I’ve seen in years. Daniel Craig really is Bond, it’s uncanny how good he is in the Bond role. The movie itself is a welcome change from conventional Bond films; no gadgets, a surprisingly emotional Bond and a much more awesome villain. It’s easily one of the best 007 films ever.

This kind of inspired me to do a review of previous Bond actors; this blog’s been sorely neglected in light of all my travels and crazy busy weeks. I’m a huge fan of the 007 series, so why not take up valuable blog space with some completely frivolous reviews of past Bonds?

Sean Connery (1962-1971)

Movies: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever

Defining Bond Traits: Cold, steely demeanor, emotionally detached, smoothly cruel, lover of insanely over-the-top gadgets, tough guy approach, a paragon of Cold War paranoia and 60’s sexism.

Strengths: The prototype for all Bonds after him. Connery’s version of Bond exemplifies everything in Ian Fleming’s novels about Bond, Mi6 and being a spy. All the Bond films of the Connery Era are largely awesome because of him and him alone (and, of course, Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, the ultimate Bond Girl)

Weaknesses: Not many, but one major complaint: Connery acting in the kind of lame, non-007 canon film Never Say Never Again, which was a re-make of Thunderball, released the same year as Octopussy (1983).

Grade: A. Connery has, is and will always be the finest Bond there is.

George Lazenby (1969)

Movie: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Defining Bond Traits: Super masculine, dark-edged Bond, ruthless but masking a sentimental side. Only Bond to ever get married in a Bond film (and featuring a very unconventionally sad ending).

Strengths: George Lazenby has gotten a bad rap in the past. It’s completely undeserved – he’s a very strong Bond in arguably the best Bond movie ever. He fits the role very well, it’s just too bad he didn’t get another chance.

Weaknesses: Turning down a seven-film contract due to political views may have been the worst decision he ever made.

Grade: B+. Hard to judge him on one film, but he made a good impression as Bond.

Roger Moore (1973-1985)

Movies: Live And Let Die, The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View To A Kill

Defining Bond Traits: The polar opposite of Sean Connery’s Bond – ultra-suave, comical, the living embodiment of elitist, oozing charm. Also, the most wildly inconsistent Bond of any era.

Strengths: Moore was a lot of things, but when he had a great script, he was near-perfect as Bond. That’s also the Moore Era’s problem (see below).

Weaknesses: While Roger Moore was good as Bond, it’s really a shame the 007 series went into the tank more often than it should have in his era. For every brilliant Moore Bond film (Live And Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only and the best Bond movie ever, Octopussy), he had some real clunkers. The Man With The Golden Gun is exceedingly bad (Christopher Lee on a remote island with a solar laser… ok…) and then, of course, there’s the 007 series lowest point ever, which was the Star Wars-inspired Moonraker, which ranks up as the worst Bond movie ever. Finally, instead of bowing out gracefully after Octopussy, Bond stars in A View To A Kill that features a pre-Cowbell Chris Walken, a scary Grace Jones as a Bond Girl and a moronic plot that culminates with a fist-fight on a suspension bridge axis on the Golden Gate Bridge? Huh?

Grade: B. Moore was great as Bond only when the scripts were great. Otherwise, you could have put Connery back in with greying hair and it would have been a-ok.

Timothy Dalton (1987-1989)

Movies: The Living Daylights, License To Kill

Defining Bond Traits: A much more human Bond after the cartoonish qualities of Moore, the Dalton Era was typically rougher and a more emotional Bond.

Strengths: Dalton is the most underappreciated Bond of them all. Audiences may have been a bit wary of such a radical shift in approach between Moore and Dalton, but Dalton’s approach is far, far better. This Bond, while vicious and tough, also seems capable of empathy and even love.

Weaknesses: It’s a shame that Dalton, scheduled for three Bond films, left the role after endless legal battles between United Artists and MGM after License To Kill. Dalton’s Bond is much more in the spirit of Daniel Craig’s Bond – more human and less gadget-driven, which, unfortunately, audiences may not have been ready for back in 1987.

Grade: B+. He deserved better treatment and could have used a better script for License To Kill (watch for a young Benicio Del Toro as a bad guy and Law & Order’s Carey Lowell, a.k.a. former ADA Jamie Ross, as a Bond Girl, and Wayne friggin Newton!), but his performances get better with age.

Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002)

Movies: Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day

Defining Bond Traits: An amalgam of virtually every previous Bond’s characteristics; oozes charm, viciously cold and comically suave.

Strengths: A much-needed change in Bond’s personae in 1995.

Weaknesses: The most overrated Bond of them all. I still don’t get how people thought Brosnan was the best Bond ever when he debuted with Goldeneye. It took Brosnan an unusually long period of time to get comfortable with the role (to describe his performance as wooden in Goldeneye would be risking offending maple trees far and wide) and, quite frankly, all four of his films kind of sucked. Goldeneye was passable, Tomorrow Never Dies beyond belief lame (wow, a media tycoon starts a war! Holy crap, that’s too edgy for post-Cold War Bond!), The World Is Not Enough laughably written (Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist still seems like a bad, bad joke) and Die Another Day… well, let’s not go there (there’s only one good part of that movie, and it isn’t the invisible car, it’s the super-talented Rosemund Pike).

Grade: C+. Like the Bond films of the Brosnan Era, passable but not spectacular.

BOND MUSIC: Naturally, one can’t review Bonds without the seminal music tracks that go over the crazy animated lead-ins for the films.

For Your Eyes Only – Sheena Easton

Grade: B – not bad, early 80’s goodness. Too bad it’s Sheena Easton performing it.


Octopussy – “All-Time High” – Rita Coolidge

Grade: D – wow, this is crap. Belongs in the late 60’s Bond music canon, not 1983. It sounds like pure schmaltz, the kind of music that belongs in Marge Simpson’s music collection.

A View to a Kill – Duran Duran

Grade: B – passable Duran Duran just after their 80’s fame had started to wane a bit, but it’s still one of the few aspects of that Bond film worth paying attention to still.

The Living Daylights – a-ha

Grade: A – pretty sweet 80’s Bond with the ultimate 80’s band playing with the ultimate 80’s synth-and-voice modulation and pretensious Eurotrashy voices. Deliciously over-the-top.


Licence to Kill – Gladys Knight

Grade: F – Oh. My. God. Gladys Knight? Good God Why? Beyond belief bad.

Goldeneye – Tina Turner

Grade: C – you’d have thought a song written by Bono and The Edge and performed by Tina Turner would be amazing. But no, not really. It’s shamelessly bombastic and not in a good bombastic, Bond-esque sort of way. LAME.

Tomorrow Never Dies – Sheryl Crow

Grade: D – Sheryl, to quote Homer Simpson: “you tried hard and failed miserably. The lesson here is, never try.”

The World Is Not Enough – Garbage

Grade: A – finally! Someone gets it right! Mind you, when you have Shirley Manson’s voice at the helm and three producers doubling as your band, it’s got to be good.

Die Another Day – Madonna

Grade: F to the power of infinity – this is the worst 007 theme song ever. EVER. Who thought using voice faders, trippy hooks and obvious AutoTuners and a video that looked and sounded like an S/M how-to guide was a good idea?


Casino Royale – “You Know My Name” – Chris Cornell

Grade: B – not exactly Mr. Cornell’s finest hour, but it’s still a heck of a lot better than Die Another Day.

NUMBER 500 & 007

Greetings,

Because I’ve got strange ways about me, or merely the fact I’m extremely geeky, or the fact I’ve been blogging since 2003 and only just made it here, I’m at blog post #500. Hard to believe it’s been nearly three years and it has taken this long. But hey, life’s been busy, you all know how it is.

CASINO ROYALE: I’m seeing Daniel Craig’s take on Bond tonight. I really can’t wait for this – I’m a huge fan of the series and everyone is saying really good things about the movie.