Posted August 30, 2002
I just realized that as of tomorrow I will no longer have a cable modem. I have had broadband internet access for a little over two years now and it's going to be very tough to let it go. I guess that means no more movie trailers and flash movies online.
Really, it's not the end. I plan to investigate broadband options while I'm at my uncles house and investigate the free wireless in different parts of NYC. Free Wireless! Free Wireless!
Posted August 30, 2002
Tomorrow, Saturday, I will be embarking on my journey to New York City. Staten Island to be exact. I feel a mixture of excitement, confusion, fear, anticipation and optimism. It is a new beginning. While in NYC, I will be living with my uncles because they have a house and are letting me stay for free. I really appreciate this, for without this gesture I would be staying in Chicago.
I don't have a job yet. I did have an interview at J. Walter Thompson today, but I'm not sure if they have a place for me there. The man I spoke with was very nice and quite helpful. He's also giving me some more contacts, which is always good since it seems that connections are the only way to get jobs these days. So, like I said, I have no job. A clean slate.
The journey will take place over two days and via automobile. I am excited for a roadtrip, even if it is along I-80 the entire way. (That reminds me, any suggestions for stops along the way? I love kitschy siteseeing.) Fourteen hours of driving excitement. My ipod and camera will make things interesting though. I'm hoping to document most of the trip with my camera. It'll be a good momento in 10/5/2 years.
All I have left is to ask you to wish me luck, for I will likely need some in the months to come.
Posted August 30, 2002
The New York Times ran a piece on a new audio format called DataPlay. The first few lines sum it up, but my commentary will follow.
The record industry wants you to buy your music on a new kind of disc. Unlike a CD, the format will greatly restrict your ability to make digital copies. It will cost more than a prerecorded CD. And it will require you to invest a few hundred dollars in a new player. If the appeal isn't immediately apparent, you have some idea of the salesmanship task ahead.
Yeah. Apparently, the selling point for these is DVD-like extras. There'll be videos, photo galleries and games. Wooooo! Although extras are interesting, do they really think people will shell out more money for copy-protected music? Small and cute: yes. A con: yes.
This is one time when I really hope the American public doesn't fall for a marketing ploy. If they go hook, line and sinker then we're stuck with an expensive format that provides no improvement in quality. The article makes it clear that people are not as dumb as I fear because they go with their pocketbook. Why pay more when you don't need to?
The most annoying part is the absence of mp3 players in the article. They don't even mention that it's about the codec, not the medium. I could go on for hours, but I'll hold back because it's getting late.
What do you think? Will something like this ever work or are we heading the way of open-source, mp3-like formats?
Posted August 29, 2002
Recently I saw a commercial for the All About the Benjamins DVD. At one point during the commercial they tout the "animated menus" as a key feature of the DVD. It certainly doesn't say much about the movie itself or the quality of the bonus features, but it also is propagating one of the most frustrating, unneccesary, intrusive features in DVDs today.
A little while back Jakob Nielsen* published an article at his website entitled DVD Menu Design: The Failures of Web Design Recreated Yet Again. Essentially, DVD menus have brought back the animated email GIFs and cat backgrounds of a few years ago. When I watch a DVD I want to be able to easily find what I'm looking for. I don't care about how cool that spinning word is. The only time where I thought an intrusive DVD menu was worthwhile was on the Zoolander DVD. The extras in the menu were additional content and didn't affect my ability to find everything I needed.
So I beg you, DVD Menu designers of the world, remember that the hamster dance was never funny and seeing a 5-second loop of Vin Diesel zoom by in a fast car is always a bad idea. Simple, clear, focused. Thank you.
*Funny enough that the only time I reference the godfather of usability it is when he has a guest writer on his website.
Posted August 26, 2002
I had a great weekend. Throughout the weekend I was accompanied by Johanna, Justin, Jena and Dan. (For those at school, these are my home friends. For those at home, hi.) Friday night we went out to a tapas bar called Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba that was quite good. The only problem is that I've never loved sharing food at meals. I don't mind if people taste mine, but I usually like to stick with what I've got. Despite my eccentricities, I enjoyed myself and the food. We went to a bar called Spoon afterwards and it was just alright. Loud and Sweaty = Poop on a stick.
Over the weekend "the crew" went to Dan's beachhouse in the Indiana Dunes situated on Lake Michigan. His house is beautiful and possibly the best designed summer home I've been in. So we spent the time laying on the beach, playing Scattegories and drinking. Oh, and we ate. A lot.
Today I ran a bunch of errands and got my teeth cleaned (all by myself).
Good news: my teeth are in good shape.
Bad news: traffic today was horrible.
Bad news: my old DVD player broke last month.
Good news: I got a new one and it does DVD-Audio.
Good news: this makes me happy.
That is what's up right now. Any questions?
Posted August 22, 2002
Eagle Insurance is back!
For those who have spent any tme watching local tv in Chicago, you are aware of the Eagle Man Commercials (they are capitalized because of their fame). If you are not aware, here is an example.
These commercials are amazing and I have missed them while I've been away at college. I recommend that you watch channels 50 and 32 next time you're in Chicago. Wow, I really have nothing else to say except for how wonderful Eagle Man is.
I love you Eagle Man and I love your Eage Wife and Eagle Baby. EAGLE!!!
Posted August 22, 2002
There have been updates on American Idol over the past few weeks, but this week is a doozy. Tamyra, the judges' and a lot of fans' favorite, was knocked off while Nikki McKibbin managed to stay on despite being inferior in just about every way.
Some explain the situation on war-dialing, or power-dialing. This is when people use power dialing software on their computers to call in thousands of votes. I'm not sure if this is the reason for the switcheroo, but it is interesting. Is Fox to blame or should those with the power hold control? Personally, I think we need some checks and balances up in this place.
On another note, some people know, Nikki is a no-talent, two-toned wannabe. Others claim she's original, but she ain't. The only solace I have is that no matter what happens, she won't get anywhere and those with some talent will. I hope.
P.S. I like this show and I'm not afraid to admit it. I think.
Posted August 21, 2002
Here are a few points I thought I would share:
1. The band Matthew is amazing. I bought the CD a week ago and have listened to it upwards of 20 times. Go listen to the mp3 on their site and then buy the album, even if you don't like the song. They're from Chicago.
2. I don't like when bands include their own albums in Top 10 lists. It's obvious they like their own album because it is their album. Why do they do this? I don't know. Rhetorical question = answered.
3. I am interviewing Mum. I will now have interviewed two cool bands and two nerdy bands.
4. All of this RIAA business is getting out of hand, and people are doing something about it. A web host is actively denying any web user with an IP address coming from the RIAA. The RIAA has announced it will start entering users' computers without their consent about a month ago and the webhost thinks this put its clients at risk. I love this. We need to stand up and tell the RIAA that they are not only in the wrong, but they are the wrong. Way to go Information Wave.
Posted August 18, 2002
Sorry I didn't let you know via the blog, but I've been out of town these last couple days on a fishing trip with the family. It was a good time. I'll give you some more details once I'm back in Chicago (I'm in The Cities at the moment).
UPDATE: I'm back. HA HA!
I'll tell ya, 5 days of not having to plan anything during your day is great. The double bonus was being on a houseboat in the middle of a lake where you couldn't do something productive if your life depended on it. And so, my days consisted of sitting on a big boat playing gin, sitting on a little boat fishing for walleye, and eating on both boats, the shore, airports and everywhere in between.
Total Saturated Fat grams this week: 1,945g
Fishing isn't my thing, but I love hanging with the fam. It was nice to see cousins from afar and uncles from all over. I also love bacon/onion/butter sandwiches -- a great appetizer for fish fried in bacon fat.
Posted August 13, 2002
Madison, Wisconsin is now a part of my past, at least physically. Although it was sad to move out, I am glad moving is over. The West Wash has already shared my pain with their moving stories (no pun intented, he he) so I'll just let you know it wasn't fun. I had a little help from professionals though, so I shouldn't complain too much.
Now, I will enjoy a few weeks of Chicago before it's off to the Big Apple. Wheee.
Posted August 10, 2002
Right now, the city of New York is deciding what to do with Ground Zero. Professionals have provided design ideas, and so have the public at large. There are some people that want to put a memorial in its place and some who want to build the biggest, hugest, awesomest tower we've ever seen. Personally, I think both are a bit ridiculous. Building another business center will completely miss the point. Part of the reason Al Qaeda attacked us is because we are a self-centered, money-grubbing society and raising a new business complex would not help imrpove the point they've made. Obviously I don't agree with the means, but I do think we are way to into ourselves. And a monument alone would not do us justice, which will be explained in the rest of this post.
The best proposal I have heard yet is from our favorite Apple Tour Bust Guide, Speed Levitch. He recently wrote an article in Heeb about his personal experiences with Ground Zero and explained how he felt about the situation. Here is an excerpt from the article (it's a long one):
I think what we should build here is a park, a people's park, a place where spontaneous cultrue can spontaneously combust. The centerpiece of the people's park should not be a stone commemoration, but a living memorial, and that living memorial should be a herd of free roaming buffalo, American Bison. Bring the lost sage of North America existentially front and center to this hotly contested ground that certainly represents a plot point in the American adventure. The holocaust of American buffalo -- whose million became 200 by the late 19th century -- happened because the buffalo were truly American, and were really having the full experience called "America." That majestic beast would also be a real comedic decoration, because down here everyone's alwyas worried about the bull and bear markets. Well, you'd have actual bulls coming here to promote the true healing of the state. The most important healing that could happen down here is to put something up that is not profitable. To continue competition on this property is to learn nothing from Sept. 11. Also, the city has plenty of office buildings, but not one buffalo.
Obviously a bit out there, but it is still by far the best suggestion I've heard. Even the bison are great. Cutting down on our capitalist nature is always a good thing.
(You all should definitely rent The Cruise, which is the movie all about Levitch.)
Addendum: Stevie mentions this piece by Roger Ebert. Definitely interesting and similarly poignant, but with slightly different intentions.
Posted August 10, 2002
I have moved nearly half of my stuff out of my place. My dad came up and took my A/V setup and most of my clothes. Right now it doesn't feel so weird, it just feels like the last couple years. This time, it reminds me that I won't be coming back in a couple days. An odd sensation, to say the least.
Despite all that, I am getting really excited to go to New York. Madison's great, but as many of us have discovered, rather boring. The music scene here has all but crumbled and all the good movies take months to get here. Right now I'm willing to pay a little more to see a movie right away or pay higher rent to go to a good show every night. It's going to be a good time.
Anyway, enough babble about yesterday and tomorrow. I think I'll get some great ice cream while I still can.
Posted August 8, 2002
Professing your love for Russ Feingold may be passé, but I am going to remind everyone that I love him.
In this week's issue of the Isthmus there is an article with Feiny about his newest congressional adventure, an attack on the 1996 Telecom Act. Essentially, he's looking to limit the amount of radio stations companies like Clear Channel are allowed to own.
Currently, as if you don't know, radio is incredibly bland since only bands backed by a big label can afford to be on commercial radio. This is a result of the pay-to-play scheme, devised by the radio companies, where the record labels have to pay song promoters to pimp their songs to radio stations. In order to increase their power, the huge radio conglomerates pay the song promoters to exclusive agreements, which is why you hear the same songs on every modern radio station.
So, Feingold is looking to be rid of this pay-to-play business and work on the number of stations a company can own. A lot of people think this will be successful because both the record labels and the artists are in support of this, since it means cheaper promotion and more opportunity. And, of course, it benefits the consumers because they will have more diversity and authenticity in radio. I just want to be able to call in and request a song without worrying about whether or not the band is signed to a major label. But I digress.
This new attack on big business, his disdain for soft money and his opposition to the Homeland Security Act have made me a lifelong fan of Russ Feingold. I would vote for him as President in a second.
Posted August 8, 2002
While reading through a recent issue of EGM I happened up an article with Mr. T. No big deal usually, but this quote was amazing.
EGM: Of course not -- you're a tough guy. Spare time's reserved for needlepoint!
T: Actually, when I'm coolin' out, I watch Trading Spaces. Then I watch the other guy...he got a little beard...I forget his name...
EGM: Uh...Christopher Lowell?
T: Yep, that's right. Me being a tough guy, I like his style, 'cause I don't like a dirty house.
Ha ha, awesome.
Posted August 7, 2002
In half an hour (5pm) I will do my fist and last radio show that will feature only music and a little banter, instead of the other way around. Listen if you'd like.
In other news, here are some great photos from Dick Cheney's visit to San Francisco. I especially like the faux-Dick.
Posted August 6, 2002
In New York City, as of last month, it costs $7.50 to buy a pack of cigarettes. The intent was to curb smoking, not to make money, and it appears to be working. According to this NYT article the number of cigarettes sold in the city has been cut in half. People could be buying them elsewhere, but this is still a really good step.
Now if they would only give the tax money to cancer research and if only the rest of the country would start imposing the tax then maybe, maybe, we would be getting somewhere.
Posted August 5, 2002
A lot of you saw me on Wheel of Fortune. A lot of you didn't. This post is for the latter half.
Last night and part of today I edited together a 3 minute clip of highlights from my episode of the Wheel. Unfortunately for some, I encoded it in MPEG-4. That means you must have Quicktime 6, which is the newest version and was released a month ago for all platforms. Anyway, it is great and you will enjoy it. Here is a list of highlights:
- My Introduction
- My "mistake"
- "The Handshake"
- A full round in super speed
- The final round
Click on me to watch, er, me. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read this as a primer.)
Posted August 4, 2002
A weekend of wonder and amazement took place in Chicago beginning on the 2nd of August. Ok, I'm probably over-glamourizing, but I had a kickass time.
On Friday night was the first night of the Summer on Southport festival at Schuba's. There were five bands, but I was there for the Shins, Brendan Benson and Archer Prewitt. And let me tell you, the combination of these three bands for $15 equals one of the best shows I've ever seen. I was specifically floored by Brendan Benson's live show. He is amazing.
Then yesterday was the Cubs game, which followed lunch at a little supper club. He he. The Cubs game was fun, even if they lost. Where else can you have someone throw a bag of peanuts at you? Exactly.
An awesome weekend. Really.
Posted August 2, 2002
1. What is your lineage? Where are your ancestors from? My family is mostly from Russia, but parts are from Eastern Europe, near the border of Poland and Germany.
2. Of those countries, which would you most like to visit? I'd love to visit Russia. I've always loved Russian literature and history and I think that they're attempt to move to capitalism is really interesting. So I'd likely go to Moscow and then a tour of some sort.
3. Which would you least like to visit? Why? Well, I don't have too many options, but I'd say Poland is the least likely. It's just less interesting than the other two options.
4. Do you do anything during the year to celebrate or recognize your heritage? In a grander scheme than where my immediate relatives are from. Being Jewish, a lot of holidays are in celebration of heritage, specifically Rosh Hashanah and Passover. I love being Jewish and a lot of that has to do with the history.
5. Who were the first ancestors to move to your present country (parents, grandparents, etc)? I'm not positive, but I think my great-great grandparents moved here, but I'd have to check on that. I know it's that far back because I have a photo with my great-great grandmother when I was born.
Posted August 1, 2002
Taking a page from Nelly'sbook, I have a dream I've had the last two nights.
Two nights ago I dreamt that I had actually been taking summer school classes this summer and I had forgotten to go to any of my classes for the last month. I started freaking out, thinking that I wouldn't graduate and I'd have to come back in the fall. I was freaked out when I woke up.
Last night, I once again realized I hadn't been going to classes but then, for some reason, it seemed alright. I guess I thought it was just for fun or pass/fail. Unfortunately, I talked to my friend Dan and he told me he was also taking classes and made me realize that I had to finish mine to graduate and I freaked out again.
So, I ask you, the reader, am I going crazy? Am I just freaking out about leaving Madison/college? Hmm?
Posted August 1, 2002
Thanks to some good friends, I was able to get to the Wilco show at the last minute. Let me tell you, I am so glad I was able to go.
Steve gave a good rundown of the show, but I thought I'd share some comments of my own.
The show was, in short, one of the best shows I've been ever attended. Two and a half hours, two encores, work from three albums and a drummer who could drum and play xylophone at the same time. I've always known that Wilco is an amazing band, but they have a stage presence that raises the bar a few notches. And 2.5 hours, none of which was boring, is a feat unto itself. It really shows that the band is understands their relationship with their fans. My least favorite shows are bands that try to jam an album down your throat or just seem like they're going through the motions. But I digress.
Bottomline, if you haven't seen Wilco and they're coming to your town before the end of their tour.