November 13, 2009

D-Pad Hero!

It’s exactly what you think it is.

April 1, 2008

Two Thousands and Seven Pennies.

April Fools!

My movie-going in 2007 was way above 2005 and 2006, and a hair above 2004 when I started keeping track of such silly things. 36 flicks, all told (300, 1408, An Unreasonable Man, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, Beowolf, Blades of Glory, Blood Diamond, Bourne Ultimatium, Breach, Charlie Wilson’s War, Darjeeling Limited, Death at a Funeral, Disturbia, Evan Almighty, Helvetica, Hot Fuzz, I Am Legend, Into the Wild, Juno, The King of Kong, Knocked Up, Live Free or Die Hard, The Lives of Others, The Namesake, No Country for Old Men, Paprika, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Ratatouille, Rescue Dawn, Sicko, The Simpsons Movie, Spider-Man 3, Superbad, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, There Will Be Blood, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story). The increased outings were probably partially due to there being a lot of good movies out, and partially due to me sneaking into a lot more films since I’ve moved to New York (hey, at $12 a pop, it’s almost like they want you to).

Anywho, a quick rundown of the year before getting on with the show…

I saw Zodiac on DVD, and it was good, but I probably wouldn’t have put it on this list… despite my love for Fincher flicks.

I didn’t see No End in Sight or Taxi To The Darkside, but I did see Sicko, and I was unimpressed.

I did not see Pan’s Labriynth or The Host, but I did see I Am Legend. And while I wish it were on here, I just can’t do it… the bad CGI bad guys were just bad. In a bad way. Not in a bad way.

I feel bad that I’m leaving out “good” movies like The Lives of Others and Into The Wild in exchange for a bunch of Apatow, but, well, that’s where we are as a society.

Likewise, I feel bad leaving out Wes Andersony goodness in the form of The Darjeeling Limited, but, well… eh.

I also feel bad leaving out Hot Fuzz, but it was no Shawn of the Dead. It does make me want to see Point Break again, though. And Point Break Live!

Of the Best Picture/Best Director Nominees (they’re almost one in the same), I’ve seen 3 of the 6… although I doubt Michael Clayton, Atonement or The Diving Bell and The Butterfly would have made the cut anyway.

As for worst movie of the year, it was a close race between Evan Almighty, Spider-Man 3 and Beowolf. (Interestingly, I saw all three at the Lincoln Square Cinema on 68th… hmm.) None of them were particularly bad per-se, but I had expectations for each, and none of them lived up to those expectations. That said, I think I’m going to have to give it to Evan Almighty. Spider-Man 3 was entertaining, and I saw Beowolf (in IMAX 3D!) for free, so it could have been worse. Evan Almighty was just bad… and to top it off, the only reason I saw it was because I couldn’t sneak into Sicko.

Finally, I’d also like to point out that Sweeney Todd gets the honorary 11 spot, since it was pretty awesome, but just not quite there. Sorry Megan.

Anyway, to the list:

#10: No Country For Old Men – Mostly on here so Javier Bardem scares the shit out of me and if he got word that I didn’t put him on my top ten list he’d blow out my brains with compressed air. I think that’s fair, don’t you? The Coen Brothers are in a dark place, man. Check out The New York Times article about the music (or lack thereof); it’s pretty spot on.

#9: The Bourne Ultimatum – I’m hoping this wraps up Herr Bourne’s story. It made a pant-load of money, however, so I’m sure they’ll bring him back at some point.

#8: There Will Be Blood – Or, as I like to call it: “White Dudes: Doing Crazy Shit For Oil Since 1898.” Or, alternatively “White Dudes: Doing Crazy Shit for Jesus Since 1898.” Either works. Seriously, though, good stuff. As much as I love the Coen Brothers, I disagree with the Academy, and I think this was the better film between it and No Country For Old Men. Despite the awful music. (And despite not enough Paul F. Tompkins.)

#7: Superbad – More like Supergood! Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all night. Here we have both Michael Cera and Jonah Hill making their first of two appearances on this list. I wish high school was more like this when I was growing up. In actuality I suppose it was, I just wasn’t a part of all of these hijinks and shenanigans. I was too busy being a nerd. Glad I fixed that in college. Although I didn’t get into Dartmouth. Goddammit.

#6: Knocked Up – Seth Rogan was probably my favorite part about The 40 Year-Old Virgin, a Judd Apatow saw that and said “I’m going to make a movie based entirely around Seth Rogan.” Thanks, Judd. But also, like The 40 Year-Old Virgin, the main character’s friends pretty much steal the show. And I mean “friends” literally, since they’re all pretty much playing themselves (to the point where their characters’ names are the actors’ names).

#5: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story – Pre-heat your oven, grease up your Walk The Line pan, put in one part Naked Gun, another part This is Spinal Tap, throw in some Apatow, sprinkle on some excellent cameos, add a pinch of Tim Meadows and wrap it all in John C. Reilly. Cook for 96 minutes and serve. There you have Walk Hard. If only for Tim Meadows. And a lot of sinks. Oh, and entirely too much full frontal male nudity. Yet simultaneously not enough. Weird. The unrated DVD (which is inevitable) is going to be unbearable.

#4: The Namesake – I love me some Kumar. Err, Taj. Err, Kal Penn.

#3: Ratatouille – Fucking Pixar. They just can’t be stopped. They made a movie about a rat who wants to be a chef in Paris into a phenomenal film. Wha? After this and Cars, I’ve just given up… they’re an unstoppable menace. Even Disney knows it. Prediction: after Wall•E, their next movie will be about a group of sentient boulder people who adopt a orphan meerkat and teach him the ancient art of origami. It will gross 800 million dollars.

#2: Juno – About five minutes into Juno you start asking yourself whether you can put up with an hour and a half of teenage girls saying “honest to blog?” and other bullshit. By about the 10 minute mark though, the film has already won you over and you just sit back and enjoy it. J.K. Simmons as always, represent.

#1: The King of Kong – “You’re the best! / Around!” King of Kong is such a good movie it hurts. If you don’t know what it is, let me give you the one sentence summary from the website, because the summary itself is genius:

King of Kong Follows a middle school science teacher as he battles a hot sauce mogul for the Guinness World Record on the arcade classic Donkey Kong.

It’s really excellent. I saw it at the Tribeca Film Festival and it was one of the best movie-going experiences of my life; the crowd really got into it… they laughed, the booed, they cheered, they loved it. I then saw it again at its official New York premiere and met the director, the producer and on of the stars, Steve Wiebe… also awesome (Steve signed a Donkey Kong cartridge for me “I’ve never signed a cartridge for someone before” he said). Then I saw it a third time in Times Square, after which I snuck into two other films… but really, I should have just watched King of Kong three more times. It’s just that good. And it’s a travesty that it wasn’t nominated for Best Documentary. (Maybe it was submitted for best picture… because it should have been.)

It’s worth noting the film does have its detractors, but that just makes the whole thing more interesting to me. I say see the movie, do some reading, and decide for yourself what the real story is. Regardless, it’s the most entertaining movie about competitive Donkey Kong playing you’re bound to see. I promise you that.

April 2, 2007

Blood, Sweat, and De Beers

Not gonna lie, I’m pretty proud of that title. If I were a film critic, that would have been my headline for my “Blood Diamond” review back in December. As it stands though, it’s a headline for three movies now:

  • “Blood” being Spartans dying left and right.
  • “Sweat” being Ralph Nader.
  • And “De Beers” being the African diamond trade.

For those of you not hip to my jive, that would be “300,” “An Unreasonable Man” and “Blood Diamond” respectively. I also just saw “Breach,” “The Namesake” and “Blades of Glory,” but I couldn’t figure out how to work those into the title.

Anyway, some movie blurbs:

Blood Diamond: Pretty by the books sort of semi-docu-drama-based-on-a-true-story kinda flick. No twists, no turns, just some action and a whole lotta guilt towards all you ladies with those rocks on yo fingers. Leonardo DiCaprio plays it all “I just care about diamonds” and then redeems himself in the end. Blah blah blah. And Jennifer Connelly is still hot.

Breach: Even more by the books than “Blood Diamond” and even more based on a true story. Ryan Phillippe plays rookie FBI agent assigned to take down Chris Cooper’s character who is a threat to national security. Nothing particularly noteworthy about the flick, it accomplishes what it sets out to do, and that’s about it. But hey, at least you get some Dennis Haysberty goodness out of the deal.

An Unreasonable Man: I saw this in theaters the same weekend I saw “An Inconvienent Truth” on DVD. Made for a pretty stellar weekend of feeling bad for myself, I must say. Two movies, two failed runs at the presidency. (Well, four actually… stupid Nader.) Point is, this was a pretty in depth look at the life and times of Ralph. You get his early childhood (and a great story about his mother meeting up with Bush’s grandfather), all the way up to the present. With all of his clashes with big business and appearences on SNL in between (this is true). Hancock, get downloading…

The Namesake: The current front-runner for my favorite film of this year. I do love me some Kal Penn, and after watching this I love him even more. Apparently he can do serious as well he can do stoner… and I think we all know he does stoner pretty well. It’s not just Kal Penn’s movie though, which was interesting… he doesn’t even show up until like 45 minutes in. The story is really about the Ganguli family moving from Calcutta to New York City in the late 70’s, and then their how their lives continue to present day. I dare say this movie encompasses “blood, sweat and tears” all on its own. Maybe even a little De Beers as well.

300: As far as Frank Miller comic to screen adaptations go, this was no “Sin City,” but it was still pretty entertaining. It had something for everyone… dudes running around with their shirts off for the chicks, topless chicks for the dudes, and lots of CG blood for everyone! Yay! Blood orgy! I’m not sure if the “digital backlot” technology has advanced a whole bunch since Sin City came out, or if the stylizedness of ancient Sparta hid the blue screenness better than the City of Sin did… but this was a damn good looking flick. You wouldn’t know it was shot in a warehouse in Quebec.

Blades of Glory: The Onion’s review had a good formula for making a Will Ferrell comedy:

“All Ferrell needs is a subject fat enough to improvise around— Christmas (Elf), NASCAR (Talladega Nights), local news (Anchorman)— and a plot that won’t get in the way.”

It’s pretty true, besides “Stranger Than Fiction,” pretty much every Will Ferrell movie has him swaggering around all high and mighty making completely absurd statements with absolute confidence. And everytime it’s hilarious… this time being no exception. The homosexual undertones fortunately don’t become overtones in the world of pairs male figure skating, and the plot doesn’t get in the way of the jokes. As far as the cast goes, Jon Heder does a pretty good job of repressing his Napoleanness, and Coach does a pretty good of being, uh, Coach. Not enough William Fitchner for my liking, but what are you gonna do. Anyway, yeah, best Will Ferrell comedy since the last one. (Because they’re all pretty much the same.)

March 18, 2007


Are you ready for the next chapter in the continuing saga of “The iMac That Would Not Die” (or possibly more appropriately “The iMac That Pat Just Wouldn’t Let Rest In Peace”)?

I didn’t think so.

After having my fun with Mac OS X Server 1.0, I decided I would use the iMac for testing purposes… mostly playing around with client/server stuff with my Cube running Mac OS X Server 10.4 (aka the server not from the Clinton administration).

Unable to figure out a way to back up the precious Mac OS X Server 1.0 drive (multiple partitions with weird OpenStep file systems installed…), I decided the best idea was to remove the drive entirely and upgrade the 6GB drive to a semi-respectable 60GB. While I was at it, I also upped the RAM to a semi-respectable 192MB.

With the system specs cranked up all the way to, uh, like, 5, I figured installing OS9 would be a snap. The plan was to get the firmware upgraded so that I could just install OS X via Ethernet. Thus taking my Apple-dweebdom to the next level.

After countless unsuccessful attempts however, my Apple merit badge was torn from my Steve-Jobs-sash and set aflame. OS9 was a no go, and even OS X didn’t work. Even after reformatting the drive so that the first partition was less than 8GB (a limitation with the original non-slotloading iMacs), it still didn’t work.

Finally, I decided to take the two birds with one stone approach. That being, “hey, let’s upgrade my Cube’s hard drive, and just throw the old drive with OS X already on it in the iMac.” So that’s what I did. And it worked. Kind of. Until I rebooted.

Okay, fuck OS X, I’m putting Linux on this bitch.

You know, since OS X was so easy to install, Linux should be a snap, right? No, wait, that doesn’t make any sense at all.

Ubuntu seems to be the flavor of the week in the Linux world right now, and just like Mac OS X, there’s a desktop version of Ubuntu and a server version of Ubuntu. Since it’s Linux though, it has to be more complicated than that (yet still simpler than Windows). Beyond the server and desktop versions, there’s also version 6.10 and 6.06 LTS (Long Term Support). There’s also 5.10, but we’re not going to go into that. Basically 6.06 LTS is more stable but less feature-rich than 6.10. My friend Frank gave me his 6.06 LTS Live CD a while back, so I decided to use that. (This turned out to be a very bad idea.)

Basically a Live CD is a hybrid disc that allows you to boot off the CD and run Linux, or also install it on your hard drive. But now we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

While popping in the disc and holding down C got me to a command prompt, once the Ubuntu GUI kicked in, the iMac display kicked off. I could still hear the CD-ROM drive plugging away though, so I knew it was still loading, it’s just the display couldn’t pick up what the disc was putting down. After a little googling, I found out that this was a common problem among older iMacs and it just required editing a few lines in the /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. Oh, is that all? Welcome to Linux, Pat.

So after the disc stopped spinning, I hit control+alt+F1 to drop to the command line. Uh… control+alt+F1? Maybe they keys are mapped weird because this is a Mac keyboard? command+alt+F1? Tried a few more combinations. Nothing. Just for kicks I hooked the keyboard into my TiBook. Wait. Really? Seriously? The control keys are broken? Both of them? Goddammit.

Several days and one keyboard later…

Okay, c… wait… live-powerpc… wait… control+alt+F1… ah, command line. sudo nano /etc/X11/xorg.conf… change some refresh rates, blah blah… ctrl+o ctrl+x sudo killall -HUP gdm Tada! Now we’re talking. Install <click>, Language <click>, Time Zone <click>, Create new user <click>, and partition <click>… <click>… <click>. Goddammit. Okay, Ubuntu PPC Forums, here I come.

The next day…

The consensus seems on the Ubuntu Forums to be that old iMacs have a better time with the server installing the version of Ubuntu rather than the desktop version since the installer is less resource intensive (techincally all versions of Ubuntu require at least 256MB of RAM).

So I download all 550MB of server 6.06 LTS and burn it to a disc. Pop it in, hold down C, and… oooh, DOSy! It’s ugly, but it works. More or less exactly like the desktop installer only with a DNS or LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) option. Took about an hour to install. And… drumroll…

/pci@80000000/mac-io@10 … /vmlinux : input/output error.



So I download all 688MB of Ubuntu 6.10 Desktop. Burn that to a CD. Boot. And… <click>, <click>, <click>… partitioning utility that doesn’t crash! Yay hooray! Play around… throw in a ext3 partition, HFS, a little FAT32 (Linux is multilingual like that), and… success!

So yes, it only took a week (which is much less time than it took to get the Mac OS Server 1.0 password), but I now have a Lime iMac running Linux on my desk. It’s very nice, and probably substantially faster than Tiger would have been. Now if only the sound card would work… and my Mighty Mouse… and Flash… and… and…

Lime iMac: kill me.

March 11, 2007

The Number 27?

With only 3 hours left in my 23 hour day marking the 27th year of my birth (suck it Jim Carrey), I thought I’d do a little recap of the festivities of the past week or so.

Like the 25th birthday a couple years ago, the week was supposed to kick off with a trip to see some Jon Stewart, only this time in the form of The Daily Show. Apparently though, having tickets to The Daily Show doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to go see The Daily Show, as Frank and I found out after braving the below-freezing conditions of the West Side Highway on Tuesday. Oh well, now we have VIP tickets for April. Word.

As for the events of the actual (slightly abbreviated) birthday, here are some highlights…

  • Buena-framed goodness from Debra.
  • Grapey goodness from Shelly and Kevin.
  • Bushy goodness from the Hancocks.
  • Getting “Bauer’d” by Hancock on 64th street.
  • Winning at golf for a change on my birthday (albeit of the Wii variety).
  • Losing at poker on my birthday (although, given more time, I’m confident I could have turned it around).

Anyway, yes, all in all a fairly low key birthday, which I’m actually fine with, given how exhausted I’ve been lately from this goddamn City. Likewise, by virtue of living in the City, there were no trips into the snowy depths of Vermont for mini golf… although it would have been even more hilarious than it has been in years previous, given I’m about twice as far away now and it would be a six hour card ride. Hilarity would have indeed ensued.
To finish the day off, I’m about to go out and watch “The Namesake” starring Kumar (or “Ahmed” if you prefer), with my Indian friend and his white girlfriend. Should be pretty freakishly autobiographical. Only, you know, with slightly more tolerance.

Oh, real quick… I’ve written a little haiku to celebrate the day:

I’m 27.

Okay, so it’s still a work in progress. It’s missing a few syllables, but I’ve got some ideas, I think it’ll come to together nicely in the end. Next year. Promise.

March 4, 2007

Two Thousand and Six Pennies.

A top ten movies of 2006 in March of 2007? Really? Hey, that’s just how I role. (And, uh, I wanted to wait until after the Oscars were over? Yeah, that’s it, yeah… the Oscars.)

According to my ticket stubs and blog posts I went to the theater 23 times in 2006. Two of those were retro outings, though (Sleeper and The Nightmare Before Christmas… in 3D!). So that’s really only 21 times. And actually, two of those movies I saw twice (Little Miss Sunshine and Superman Returns… in 3D!) So really, I only saw 19 movies this year. That’s, for those of you playing at home, down from 37 in 2004, and 25 in 2005. Damn. I blame the pirates! Yar!

So officially more than half the movies I saw in theaters are on my top ten list. Kind of gay, but really, I only try and pay for movies that look good to begin with, so really it’s the best of the better to begin with anyway.

That being said, there’s always a worst movie of the year. Even amongst the cream of the crop are a few, uh, not so creamy spots? I don’t know. Point is, The Illusionist was pretty bad (Stephen Millhauser, represent!), but only on account of it dragging out a predictable twist ending. Caché (Hidden) was apparently good, but I thought it kinda sucked. Even more drawn out than Edward Norton and company. So I guess that leaves Ultraviolet. Like Stealth last year, it may seem a little obvious to be hating on Milla, but this was really bad. Really really bad. It got a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I think even that’s a little generous. So that happened.

Anyway, as for the real top ten… per usual there are a lot of movies I didn’t see last year. Never found a convienent time to watch An Inconvienent Truth. The Departed never, uh came into dock? I went and saw The Illusionist instead of Half Nelson (true story). And while I kept up to day on all of my Brangelina news on Best Week Ever, I never got around to seeing Babel. So this isn’t your be all and end all 2006 list. But it is mine. And since I’ve already written blurbs about most of these movies, I’m just going to repost what’s already been written (in italics). I hope you don’t think me lazy. I’ll try and make up for it with the four new movies, okay?

And… go!

#10: Little ManhattanClearly funded by the New York City Tourism Bureau; if you don’t want to move to Manhattan, or at least visit there and spend lots of money after you see this, you’re a stronger man than I. Bradley Whitford couldn’t even resist. Could you? (Incidentally, since seeing the Little Manhattan, I’ve found out that it was the first film to sport the official logo of the New York Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater, and Broadcasting… so there you go.)

#9: The Science of SleepIt would be impossible to top “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”— and I think Michel Gondry knows that— but it doesn’t stop him from trying… and trying all by himself at that. No Charlie Kaufman helping out this time, and sadly it shows. Actually, I shouldn’t say shows, because the film itself is gorgeous… it’s the plot that was lacking. Still good though, and extremely charming.

#8: 8 Bit – Number 8, appropriately enough. I mentioned 8 Bit in passing back in Dorkfest in October. I hadn’t seen it at that point, but I’ve seen it twice since… and it’s quite good. The movie is sort of two movies in one: one about the general video game art scene and the other about the chiptunes scene. I think the directors’ intentions were for the movie to cover the widest breadth of the nerd media scene possible, but really since they spend so much time on the music side of things, it would have almost made more sense to make a whole seperate movie out of that. If you’re going to spend 45 minutes on the chiptunes scene and another 45 on everything else put together, why not just go all the way? Also, why no iam8bit love? Still, entertaining and informative, and not really as dumbed down as you’d expect a movie pertaining to a fairly exclusive club would be. Good times. In fact, I think I’ll go listen to some Bit Shifter right now.

#7: Stranger Than Fiction – It wanted to be written by Charlie Kaufman and directed by Michel Gondry, but, well, it just wasn’t. Still better than a solo Michel Gondry outing. Also, I must say I rather like subdued Will Ferrell. Don’t get me wrong, I like crazy Will Ferrell, but like Jim Carrey, Ferrell can go both ways and pull it off convincingly. Oh, and Maggie Gyllenhaal is smoking hot.

#6: A Scanner DarklyIt’s a total mind trip, and while it certainly could have been done without all the rotoscoping madness, the animation just makes the whole thing that much more surreal. Philip K. Dick is the man, and Richard Linklater has an amazing range as a director. Oh, and Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson should probably have a sitcom together if they ever need drug money later in life. Comic gold.

#5: Borat (Insert Ridiculously Long Subtitle Here) – Unlike Snakes on a Plane, I feel like Borat lived up to the hype. It was hilarious, if only on a naked-hairy-man-wrestling level. (The DVD comes out Tuesday. It’s unrrated. I’m afraid.) But beyond that, it also made for good stories. Like that time I tried to go see it opening night with some friends, but it was sold out, so we drove to Harlem looking for a bootleg, only to find even the bootlegs were sold out. And when we finally did manage to see it on Sunday of opening weekend, it was at a sold out 10pm showing in Queens. Ridiculous. Sacha Baron Cohen… we salute you.

#4: Thank You For SmokingAaron Eckhart carries the film, but J.K. Simmons, Rob Lowe, William H. Macy, Maria Bello, David Koechner, and Adam Brody all put in great performances as well. Particularly J.K. Simmons and Rob Lowe. And Sam Elliott as the Marlboro Man. Genius. It had me right from the opening credits.

#3: Little Miss SunshineEverything you’ve heard about this movie is true. First and foremost, it’s hilarious. After that, though, it’s also perfectly cast. Greg Kinnear is great, as is Steve Carell. Toni Collette and Paul Dano also do a great job, but neither of them have a lot to do. The real standouts for me are Abigail Breslin and Alan Arkin. They’re both fantastic, and really set the movie over. (Enough for Alan Arkin to win the Oscar… thank christ… and hey, best screenplay too.)

#2: WordplayI’m not sure why I liked it so much… maybe it’s because a dude from RPI plays a prominent role in the film, maybe because Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart show up and they’re both left-handed, but I think the main reason is because crossword puzzles are awesome. I didn’t know this going into the film, but I’m quite certain now.

#1: Children of Men – I’m a sick bastard, I know it. But what can I say, it was damn good. And horribly depressing. And frighteningly prescient. I think the best way to describe this movie is “it’s always darkest right before it goes pitch black.” Which is to say, every time you think things are going to turn around for Clive Owen and company, they just get worse. I don’t want to give away anything, I don’t even want to discuss the plot, since I think it’s best to go in not knowing anything, but suffice it to say, don’t watch it if you’re looking for a pick me up, but do watch it at some point. I will say this, though… this stork is delicious.

February 25, 2007

40 Pounds of Lime.

Adding to my Macs I Didn’t Pay For Collection (which is currently hovering around 15 machines), I found an old iMac G3 on Broadway a couple weeks ago (make that 16 machines).

It was snowing when I first walked past the iMac, which at the time was flanked by two blue and white G3 towers. I walked back past the same spot about an hour later, only to find the towers were gone (insert 9/11 joke here), and the iMac all by its lonesome. Similar to how many (read: “normal”) people feel the need to bring home stray animals and nurse them back to health, I feel the same way with wayward Macs.

With my apartment only a few blocks away, I brushed the snow off as best I could, and lugged the beast home with me.

(I assume that whoever took the blue and white G3 towers thought the iMac was shot since it was filling with snow through the vents on top. This is a common misconception of anything electronical: if it gets wet, it fries. Notsomuch. Only if there’s electricity running through the electronics when it gets wet will something bad happen. That’s why if you have a dirty keyboard you can put it in the dishwasher to clean it, so long as you let it completely dry before you plug it back in.)

A few days later, having acquired a keyboard, mouse and ‘99 appropriate translucent power cord, I decided it was as dry as it was going to get, and plugged it in. No sparks. Good sign. Power button. Boing. Good sign.
Semi dithered beach ball. Uhh. Splash screen. Mac OS X Server? WTF? It’s an old server. That was unexpected. Login prompt. Ah crap.

First thing I did when I brought the iMac home was to open the i/o panel on the side to check the specs of the machine. (333MHz 64MB RAM iMac Rev. D, if you were wondering) (oh, yeah, it’s green too) (I mean, uh, Lime?) What else do I find in the i/o slot? A piece of masking tape with “root” and a password written on it. Bingo bango. So I typed that in… hmmm. Again. Hmmm. Wait, is that a “r” or a “n?” That might be a 4… I think. Maybe it’s supposed to be a capital “k.”

20 minutes later, and some consulting with the roommates yielded no results on the password front. Ah crap. Well, I’ll just pop in my Tiger disc and run password reset. Oh, wait, no DVD drive. Balls. Oh, well, I’ll just download that Panther disk image from Bear’s FTP that I keep around for just such an occasion. Oh, wait, neither Toast nor Disk Utility will burn it? Weird.

So flash forward a couple days, and I’ve acquired some Jaguar upgrade discs. I figure the earlier older the cat the better, since this is clearly from either the 10.0 or 10.1 days (or possibly the Public Beta… although that would have probably expired by 2007). So I fire up Password Reset, and lo and behold… nothing. Huh. Maybe Jaguar wasn’t old enough? Possibly, but I wasn’t going to find anything older than Jaguar.

Single User Mode, here I come.

Single User Mode works… oddly. It comes up in quasi GUI mode, with a full screened terminal window. Weird. After some digging around on the interweb, I find some commands for resetting the root password in the netinfo database. As I soon find out though, there is no netinfo database on this machine. So bizarre. There’s another account called “Administrator” though, which I figure might be easier to reset than root. Sure enough, after some more googling, I stumble upon this page at your favorite Mac hacking wiki and mine, MacShadows. And guess what… it worked!

So, finally… two weeks after I dragged the machine in from the cold, I can see what it was all for. Drumroll please…

(click image for largeness)

Umm… what? It’s not quite OS X, it’s not quite OS9, it’s not quite NEXTSTEP… it’s Mac OS X Server 1.0! (I’m particularly fond of the Sticky note, and the “Expiring Beta” notice on OmniWeb… that’s putting it lightly)
Now I consider myself quite the nerd, especially in the world of Apple, but I had never even heard of Mac OS X Server 1.0. According to Wikipedia page, it was the first fruits of Apple’s NeXT acquisition. Madness. Anyway, so obviously this was too cool to reformat right away, I had to play around.

First thing’s first, let’s get it online. This was, uh, interesting. Since it’s not really OS9, there are no Control Panels, and since it’s not really OS X, there are no System Preferences. So where does one modify TCP/IP settings? Yeah, good luck with that. Eventually I found a setup assistant (it took a while just to find the Applications folder) (there’s actually several), and I was up and running. It couldn’t pull DHCP off the router in the apartment, so I had to set up everything manually, but it worked.

Secondly, what was this thing serving, anyway? In addition to the masking tape with the root password on it, the only other distinguishing feature on the machine was another piece of tape (blue painter’s tape this time) with some IP addresses on it. The IPs were registered to, which seemed to be an early port of Apache to Darwin, was set to run on start up… so as best I can figure, this iMac was the old web server.

(Incidentally, Flat is located at 391 Broadway, directly in front of where I found the iMac.)

So yes. There it is. No really, there it is. It’s sitting there on my desk staring me in the face as I type this. Thing is huge. And loud. And slow. And it hates its life. “Please… kill me…” it says. I would too, given the circumstances. As stated on the Wikipedia page, it is indeed running two OSs, both Server 1.0 and Mac OS 8.5 under an emulation layer. Unlike Classic under Mac OS X, once you boot up 8.5, you’re stuck there until you shut it down. It’s weird. Non Parallels weird, but weird.

December 15, 2006

Beepy shit.

Two weeks ago at this very minute I was downtown in the financial district listening to chiptunes at the Blip Festival. It was four days of what my friend Ashley would call “beepy shit.” And let me tell you… it was glorious. The Tank puts on quite a show. Tons of musicians, awesome visuals, workshops, a showing of both the Super Mario Movie (not the Jon Legusamo version), and the 8 Bit movie.

The music was really what it was all about, though. All of the artists were 8bitpeoples are awesome. Check out their site to get an idea of what they do. They have a bunch of albums up free for download with the Creative Commons license if you want to peruse their discography. I highly recommend Bit Shifter and Random. And if you’re feeling particularly festive, you could even download the 8 Bits of Christmas. Tis the season to, uh, listen to 8-bit Game Boy music?

Anyway, to give you a better impression of what the show was like, here’s a video of Covox performing at the Saturday night show. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video, well, I can’t even do the math on that one.

Beepy, no? And if you’re super interested, Matt Hawkins has a very thorough Blip Fest review covering all the other artists. Awesome.

Goodnight New York!

December 14, 2006


So I’ve never impulse bought software before. Mostly because it’s kind of a hard thing to do. You can’t really pick up Photoshop in the checkout line with a TV Guide and a Snickers. Not yet anyway. That said, nowadays, you can download a shareware program and pay for it within the app without even touching a web browser. Welcome to 2006, bitches.

Anyway, that’s exactly what I did with Delicious Library a little over a year ago. (I guess make that 2005, bitches.) I downloaded it, played around for like 20 minutes, and then bought it. Forty bucks. Not bad. Soon after I bought it though, I started feeling impulse regret. Mostly because I was convinced Delicious Library 2.0 was right around the corner and I was going to have to drop another thirty bucks to upgrade. Fuck.

Well, here we are, more than a year later… and we’re at Delicious Library 1.6. Yay hooray. At this point thirty bucks for all the new crap that’s being included in 2.0 is perfectly reasonable.

Wait, there is new crap, right?

Well, I just read an interview with Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster and Omni fame on Ars. When asked about DL2 he didn’t say much. In fact, from the sounds of it, all it’s gonna be is a graphical overhaul accompanied by a huge speed increase and support for larger libraries. A far cry from the in 2.0 “we’re going to flip a switch in the next version and it will turn into social software” remark he made during a Wired interview almost two years ago. (That said, I’m all for a speed increase. Fuck new features, I just want the damn thing to work.)

There was one enlightening part of the interview, though. Ars asks Wil what he thinks of MacHeist, a site that takes a bunch of small Mac apps and bundles them together at a deep discount. (The current offer is insane, $49 for 10 great apps… bear in mind Delicious Library is $40 on its own.) Anyway, MacHeist has gotten some negative press lately for supposedly taking advantage of independent Mac developers. (That link leads to Gus Mueller who everyone seems to be linking to for some negative MacHeist spin, but but per usual, for the fairest commentary, talk to Gruber.)

ANYway, in his Ars interview Shipley says all there needs to be said about this, no need to read anything else on the subject:

“None of us who are bundled with MacHeist were forced to do so; we knew ahead of time what the price would be and how much we’d get.” Bam, case closed.

More people need to take a tip from Wil. Both in the world of Macintosh software, but also in the world in general. Quit bitching. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Don’t participate. No one is making you buy or sell or anything. Like dad always said: vote with your wallet.

December 13, 2006

Bring me the finest muffins and bagels in all the land!

After I watch this week’s episode of House— downloading now… 17 minutes remaining— I believe my TV watching is over until 2007 (unless Neil Patrick Harris shows up one more time in December). That is, if you can call what I watch TV. I don’t really watch TV proper at all anymore (not even on TiVo, frowny face), I download everything the next day and watch it on das PowerBook. Ergo House.

Anyway, yeah. Lost is over until February (fuckers!), Heroes is on hiatus, House is done, and South Park won’t be new until like, I don’t even know… June? 24 hasn’t even started yet… but when it does… hoo boy. So that leaves, hmmm… ah yes: Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.

When the final episode of The West Wing aired last May I had mixed feelings about the show ending. On the one hand, I was sad to see it go… for the most part it was a good show. On the other hand, it had really gone downhill in recent seasons, and the story had reached its logical conclusion. So I was happy and sad.

When I heard that Aaron Sorkin was making a new show for the fall though, I was wicked excited and that more than made up for The West Wing ending. (Aaron Sorkin created The West Wing, and single-handidly wrote every episode of the first four seasons.) And when I heard that it was going to be about the behind-the-scenes of an SNL-esque show, I was even more excited. Sorkin specializes shows about exclusive environments like, well, the west wing (”The West Wing”), sports shows (”Sports Night”), and now live television comedy (”Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”).

Anyway, we’re 11 episodes in so far, and it’s been damn entertaining. Reminds me of how The West Wing used to be. Good times. It’s sort of like watching the both backstage antics at SNL and the innerworkings of a television network. Both make for great television.

Problem is, not everyone seems to share my exuberance. Apparently its rating are low, which (obviously) is bad, but the viewers that it does have are of the richy rich variety (good). And while it’s been picked up for a full season, the question is will it last past that?

One of the complaints of people who don’t like Studio 60 is that they say the show within the show isn’t funny. I.e. the sketches in the fictional “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” aren’t humorous. To those people I say, SNL isn’t funny either, why should Studio 60 be? If anything, Studio 60 not being funny adds credibility to the show.

And moreover, some of it is funny. Last week’s episode had a pretty good bit in it (a To Catch a Predator spoof, starring Santa Claus.) I laughed out loud at the premise alone, which is more than I can say I’ve done while watching SNL in the past 10 years.

(Quick aside: Why is it that we actually see the sketches at all? Back in The West Wing days you would virtually never see President Bartlet give any speeches or do anything big and presidential. The episode would invariably end just as he was taking the stage or just started kicking some ass. Perhaps it was Sorkin’s laziness, or it was just to keep the presidential mystique, but which ever it was, Studio 60 could use some of The West Wing’s restraint.)

Anyway, my problem with Studio 60 (the show show, not the show within the show) is that it’s trying to exist in two worlds simultaneously, and it’s just awkward and distracting for everyone involved and everyone watching.

You see, Studio 60 exists in this nebulous world where CBS, Fox, NBC and ABC all exist (I think ABC exists… hmm), but there’s also this other network, NBS. (One might imagine that the NBS acronym is an amalgamation of NBS and CBS, the two networks that were bidding on broadcast rights to Studio 60.) Maybe it’s the network that UPN and The WB never were… or maybe it’s a, uh, seventh network? Who knows.

Problem is, in this world you’ve got all of these pretty well known actors (Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Steven Weber, Mark McKinney and others) playing other people, while co-existing in the real world with other actors playing themselves. You following me? For example, references are made to Saturday Night Live on a regular basis. This is in addition to companies, shows, and people in the real world: HBO, Fox, Conan, Letterman, Leno, Donald Trump, Desperate Housewives, Deal or No Deal, Seinfeld, the list goes on. But then, inexplicably, other well-known actors show up also not as themselves: John Goodman, Judd Hirsch, Ed Asner… and then other people do guest star as themselves: Rob Reiner, Howie Mandel, Lauren Graham, Sting, blah blah blah.

The best (worst?) example of the real world clashing with the fictionalized Studio 60 world is in an episode where Amanda Peet and Steven Weber are talking about focus groups and George Clooney is brought up (apparently he didn’t test well). Amanda Peet says something like “oh, he’s hot,” or something, at which point all I could think about is the both of them starring in “Syriana.”

With such a well-connected cast, it’s only a matter of time before there are more blatant real-world connections between characters in the show and actors in reality. And it’s just going to make me cringe.

Anyway. That’s my problem with the show. It’s not a big problem yet, and hopefully it won’t ever become one. I think the writers (err… writer?) is conscious of the problem it could become, and is actively trying to avoid it.

But hey, other than that, great show. I dig that Sorkin chose to eschew the title sequence to cram in a little more dialogue. Likewise, I appreciate the titles using the same font as The West Wing. Classy. Kind of ties the two shows together.

Now that’d be something. Studio 60 existing in the alternate reality of The West Wing? The mind boggles at the mere thought.