Capn Design

January 2006

This month I posted 34 entries, listened to 913 songs, watched 8 videos, bookmarked 21 sites and took 25 photos.

A Hamburger Today is Posting Regularly Again

We took a hiatus or two, but I've got a bunch of posts up from the last week and a few more in the can. Good times.

The Cost of A La Carte Television

Posted January 30, 2006

Update (1/31/06): I've updated some of the numbers based on comments and a glaring omission on my part (The Daily Show). The difference is MUCH more prominent now.

When iTunes announced they would be selling TV shows online, I explained that I wasn't terribly excited. The quality was bad and it seemed too expensive.

Being the nerd I am, I broke down the cost of downloading every episode of every show I watch for a whole year. This only includes episodes of shows I have season passes for on my Tivo. It does not include any sports or shows that I happen to watch if they're on (*ahem* Project Runway). Also worth noting is that I estimated the number of episodes based on previous seasons.

As of right now, my yearly cable bill comes to $648 ($54 a month). If I were to download my shows online, it would cost $1,140, which is a difference of $492 or $41 a month. The difference isn't ridiculous, but if you tack on the cost of watching live television (sports, awards shows, etc.) it will add up quickly. I'm not sure how the pricing would work there, but I currently pay about $200 a year for NFL Sunday Ticket, which is every NFL game (that amount was not included in the $648).

If the cost initially seems negligable, consider the fact that I live with 3 other people who also have shows recording on Tivo. If I had included their shows in the total, the total would have been a few hundred dollars higher, easily.*

Here is the breakdown of all the shows I watch:

Arrested Development20$40
The OC24$48
American Idol24$48
Curb Your Enthusiasm10$20
The Wire12$24
The Sporanos13$26
Malcolm in the Middle22$44
Sealab 202112$24
Chappelle's Show15$30
Da Ali G Show12$24
Meet the Press40$80
Aqua Teen Hunger Force15$30
Good Eats24$48
Inside the NFL21$42
The Office24$48
Love Monkey16$32
The Daily Show168$336
Total Episodes570$1,140
Money Currently Spent$648

* I won't get into the possibility of sharing downloads as that's a whole post unto itself.

Strangers with Candy Movie Out in June

[via Cinematical]

Humuhumunukunukuapuaa Dethroned as Hawaii's State Fish!

I wouldn't normally include an exclamation point, but I'm crushed. How could this happen? Poor humuhumu...

The Simultaneous Release of Bubble

Posted January 28, 2006

bubble-poster_0106.jpgYesterday, Steven Soderbergh and Mark Cuban's 2929 Entertainment released Bubble in theaters, on DVD* and on cable at the same time. This is the first film with a simultaneous release by an Oscar-winning director. I haven't seen the film yet, but I love this idea.

The window between theater and DVD release has shrunk significantly and most major films can be found on the street a day or two after it comes out. This being the case, Cuban closed the window shut and released everything at once, seeing what will stick. He'll be fine as he owns the production company, the theaters and the television network, but things would get hairier if the product weren't so vertically integrated. Still, I love the idea.

Simultaneous release will eventually work because it benefits the consumer. Although I do love seeing movies in the theater, I often go because I want to see a movie when it's fresh on people's minds. If I can't discuss the film with friends, it loses some value. If films were released on DVD, cable and in theaters on the same day, I'd oftentimes pick DVD or cable. A movie like King Kong is better in the theaters, but I could have seen Caché at home (in fact, it might have been even better). And that's just my preference.

The success of DVDs is in large part due to their low price and the rising cost of going to the movies. If you could buy a DVD of a film on the day it's released for $25 and have your family of four watch it together, you're saving $35 if you include concessions and don't have to deal with hauling everyone to the movie theater.

Hopefully we'll get a lot of good data out of Cuban's experiment. I can't imagine the theater chains will be happy about this, which Cuban discusses, but their need to adapt is inevitable. I'll be watching this one closely.

* The DVD is officially out on Tuesday, but I could have bought it at Landmark Sunshine last night.

iTunes U

Apple initiative to allow colleges to distribute lectures via the iTunes Music Store. Love it


Brilliant book-holding invention [via Cool Hunting]

Four Four Four Four

Posted January 24, 2006

Well, I've been tapped on the shoulder by Khoi and now I am obligated by internet law to complete the following meme. It shall be the first I've done in at least a year. Thankfully, it should be pretty painless. Here goes.

Four Jobs I’ve Had

1. Linen delivery for BBJ
2. Service Department Gopher at Jacobs Twin
3. Concert Booking Director at WUD
4. Web Intern at Spin

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over

1. Delicatessen by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
2. Rushmore by Wes Anderson
3. Waiting for Guffman by Christopher Guest
4. Spaceballs by Mel Brooks

Four Places I’ve Lived

1. Riverwoods, IL
2. Madison, WI
3. London, England
4. Brooklyn, NY

Four TV Shows I Love

1. Ed
2. Home Movies
3. 24
4. Lost

Four Places I’ve Vacationed

1. Maui, Hawaii
2. Rainy Lake in Int'l Falls, MN
3. Cinque Terre, Italy
4. Hong Kong

Four of My Favorite Dishes

1. Mom's Chicken Parmesan
2. Bacon Muenster Burger at Soup Burg
3. Albuquerque Turkey at Monty's Blue Plate Diner
4. Pierogis and cheese blintzes at Veselka

Four(-ish) Sites I Visit Daily

4. Cub Reporter / Windy City Gridiron

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now

1. Somewhere with a mountain, snow and a pair of skis
2. Somewhere with a beach, sun and a strawberry/banana smoothie
3. Somewhere with a grassy patch, a frisbee and my friends
4. Anywhere with my family

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging

1. Nedward
2. Keith
3. Karen
4. Gothamist's entire staff (you can choose to do it separately or as a group)

Help Me Read Good

Posted January 24, 2006

Okay, so I can't decide what I should read. I've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately and I need a break. I need some good fiction. Please post any recommendations you have in the comments.

For a little reference, I've been digging Jonathan Ames and Jonathan Lethem lately. That being said, feel free to recommend books by authors with first names other than Jonathan.

I Won on Blingo!

Woohoo. Got a free movie ticket. Thanks for clicking Jori.

Jonathan Ames' New Book is Out

It looks like it's a collection of essays, but I will buy it nonetheless

Photos of the Special Airmax Sneakers Released Alongside the New 360

The special colors are great

Sexy New Frank Gehry Watch

Posted January 20, 2006

Frank Gehry designed watchWhile in Asia, I happened upon this watch in a swanky watch in a swanky homegoods store and fell in love. I'm not a big watch-wearer, but this was unique. It wasn't until I did some googling that I found out it was designed by Frank Gehry and made by Fossil. Still, I didn't need a watch and it was 200 bucks there, so I passed.

Thankfully, I mentioned it to my lovely girlfriend because she surprised me with it for Chanukah this year. As you can see from the photo, instead of showing the boring "12:15 PM" it would say "15 past noon"; if it's 3:45, it reads "15 til 4"; and if it's 12:30am it reads "half past midnight". Also, during the day it has white writing on a black background while showing the opposite at night. For a digital watch, it's incredibly elegant.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find much information online about Gehry's inspiration or thoughts on the watch. All I could find was this boring press release. Too bad, as I'd love to hear this thoughts.

Related: The M & Co. watch I got a couple years ago

Update (1/28/06): Gizmodo and Boing Boing point to a similar but uglier watch. I'm much happier with mine.

Showtime Confirms Talks with Arrested Development

If they pick up the show I will subscribe immediately. [via better than fudge]

Resolution #1: Cook at Least Once a Week

Posted January 19, 2006

The only conventional resolution I made this year was to cook more. It's healthier, it's cheaper and it's usually tastier. Since "more" is a little too amorphous for me, I decided I would cook at least once a week.

Cooking doesn't just mean microwaving a Lean Cuisine; I have to actually create a dish. In Week 1, I gave into my sister's praises and made Rachel Ray's Spanikopita Burgers. They were excellent. The spinach kept the burgers juicy, which is hard to do with a turkey burger.

Last week Jori and I had some people over for a dinner party, which meant serious cooking. Our menu was lime and honey glazed salmon on a warm bean and corn salad from Rachel Ray 365 (good recipes, annoying girl), asparagus and goat cheese quesadillas, red-skinned mashed potatoes and baked apples by Alton Brown, my favorite. The entire meal was fantastic and we managed to get everything out on time and hot. I was happy.

I haven't decided what to cook this week, but I'll certainly keep you posted and will start talking some photos.

In honor of my newfound dedication, I decided to splurge on some new cookware. I was going to just get a nice saute pan, but I found an amazing deal on Amazon for a 10-piece set of Calphalon One cookware. The entire set, with an extra 12 qt. stock pot and a 6" cleaver, was $375 with shipping. The deal has expired, but I couldn't pass it up. It's scheduled to arrive on Saturday (Fedex Ground does Saturday deliveries?) and I'm eager to get cooking.

Update (1/23/06): My pans have arrived!

Jake Nickell Redesigns his Blog to Incorporate Most Aspects of his Online Life

The concept isn't revolutionary but the implementation is impressive (via k10k]

Iraqi Invasion: A Text Misadventure
A Prarie Home Companion

It's an upcoming film directed by Robert Altman with PT Anderson "pinch-hitting" as co-director. Two of my favorites in one.

Tops of 2005: Music

Posted January 18, 2006

Wow, I got a lot of music this year. Nutty. Going through everything, there was no clear number one record. In fact, I spent the last couple days shifting the line-up around and I'm still not happy with it. Instead of fretting forever, I figure I'd just put it up as the albums weren't changing, just the order. Enjoy.

1. Kings Of Leon - Aha Shake Heartbreak
2. Nada Surf - The Weight Is A Gift
3. Sufjan Stevens - Come On Feel the Illinoise
4. Archer Prewitt - Wilderness
5. Real Ones - Home With the Girls In the Morning
6. Spoon - Gimme Fiction
7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Howl
8. Beck - Guero
9. The Spinto Band - Nice and Nicely Done
10. Portastatic - Bright Ideas
11. Hot Hot Heat - Elevator
12. Low - The Great Destroyer
13. The Magic Numbers - The Magic Numbers
14. Laura Veirs - Year of Meteors
15. Aquabats - Charge!!
16. The Mountain Goats - The Sunset Tree
17. Rogue Wave - Descended Like Vultures
18. Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs
19. Ben Folds - Songs For Silverman
20. The New Pornographers - Twin Cinema
21. Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
22. The Russian Futurists - Our Thickness
23. Eels - Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
24. Damien Jurado - On My Way To Absence
25. My Morning Jacket - Z

Best EP
Iron and Wine - Woman King

Albums Worth Buying
Brendan Benson - Alternative To Love, Black Mountain - Black Mountain, Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene, Clem Snide - End Of Love, Kanye West - Late Registration, LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem, Elbow - Leaders Of The Free World, Metric - Live It Out, Super Furry Animals - Love Kraft, Queens Of The Stone Age - Lullabies To Paralyze, OK Go - Oh No, Jens Lekman - Oh You're So Silent Jens, The Decemberists - Picaresque, John Vanderslice - Pixel Revolt, Stars - Set Yourself on Fire, Ed Harcourt - Strangers, The Coral - The Invisible Invasion, Sam Prekop - Who's Your New Professor?, We Are Scientists - With Love And Squalor

Read the rest of this entry »

Web Inspector for Webkit

Pretty cool for checking out a site's hierarchy or specific css elements

It's Official: Trader Joe's is Coming to Union Square

Election: Not the Best Hong Kong Movie

Posted January 17, 2006

The Guardian is reporting that Election was named the best film of 2005 by the Hong Kong Film Critics Society. I couldn't be more shocked.*

While in Hong Kong last fall I happened to catch this film and didn't love it. It started out strong, but the ending was unbearable. There were no less than three false endings and each successive one was more and more ridiculous. It's too bad, because the film's ambition made for an engaging and entertaining first half.

For thos familiar with the films coming out of Hong Kong this year, how could this movie be chosen? Is the HK Film Society out of their gord or did nothing good come out this year?

*Okay, I could be more shocked, but if you are looking at being shocked in this specific context, then my shock is at 11.

A review of Election
A list of HK movies released in 2005

Advertisements on Roofs for Google Maps Users
Feltron's Personal Annual Report

Great idea. Expect something like this at Capn Design for 2006.

R.I.P. 2005 Chicago Bears

Posted January 16, 2006

Yesterday, the Chicago Bears ended their 2005 season. Sigh. It was a fun ride and they certainly played better than most expected, but I was hoping for more from them during the playoffs.

On the brightside, all of their starters on both sides of the ball are signed for next year with the exception of Hunter Hillimeyer, who is a restricted free agent. Barring any significant injuries, I think we'll be in a better place next year. If we can draft a great tight end, sign a free agent corner and add one more capable receiver, I think we'll be golden.

For the remainder of this year, I have adopted the Pittsburgh Steelers. I can't stand Carolina and don't think Denver or Seattle deserve it. Also, my late season adoption should make Lizzie happy.

2005: Where I Travelled

Posted January 13, 2006

Following a meme Kottke took hold of, here are the cities I've spent at least one day in during 2005:

New York, NY
Chicago, IL
Boston, MA
Camp Lake, WI
Toronto, Ontario
Centerport, NY
Somers, NY
Jerusalem, Israel
Beer Sheva, Israel
Seattle, WA
Montreal, Quebec
Rainy Lake, Minnesota
East Hampton, NY
Hong Kong, China
Tokyo, Japan
Kyoto, Japan

James Frey and the Importance of Truth

Posted January 12, 2006

I'm a little behind on the whole "James Frey Made Up A Million Little Pieces" meme, but I've had a thought. It doesn't matter than he added color to his stories. I haven't read the book, but I'm sure that the meaning behind the massaged text is clearer after it was, uh, massaged, which is the whole point. You don't read a book based on the accuracy of the fact-checking; you read it because it affects you.

One of my favorite authors, Tim O'Brien, made this point quite clearly in his work of "non-fiction", The Things They Carried. The book is a collection of memoirs and stories from his time in the Vietnam War. The stories are often heart-wrenching, even though he admits in the book that he made up facts and supporting details.

By telling stories, you objectify your own experience. You separate it from yourself. You pin down certain truths. You make up others. You start sometimes with an incident that truly happened, like the night in the shit field, and you carry it forward by inventing incidents that did not in fact occur but that nonetheless help to clarify and explain.

For me, this had no impact on my feelings about these stories. Others in my class (I read it in high school) felt differently. By knowing that things had been made up, the story had lost meaning. Some admitted that the story was only interesting because they thought it really happened. Others felt manipulated.

Unlike Tim O'Brien, James Frey was not trying to include his thoughts on the ethics of memoir writing. He was telling a story as if it was truth and denied he fabricated portions of the book when confronted. This is why people were upset. If you go on Oprah and retell the horrors of your youth, they better well be true.

And so, I have absolutely no sympathy for the man.

Sun-Times Fills Remnant Ad Space with Google Adwords
Excellent Prank delivered by Facebook Users to Campus Cops

Tops of 2005: Magazines

Posted January 9, 2006

Magazines are my favorite way to read. Since I have a short attention span, reading an article is oftentimes more satisfying than a good book. Ever since I discovered discount magazine sites, I have been subscribing to more and more magazines. My taste varies, so I can't really compile a ton ten list (also I probably only have ten magazines I subscribe to), so I'm just going to list some specific favorites. Hopefully you'll find something you'll like.

Best Magazine Design: New York Magazine

I got hooked when they started their redesign in 2004. Before that, I would read it occasionally but preferred Time Out New York. Now, I look forward to this magazine more than almost any other. The typography is my favorite, but the grid is flexible yet very consistent and the imagery is bold yet tasteful. It makes me want to design type. They also have some great regular features, like the Approval Matrix and the Look Book. New York Magazine, you are my favorite NYC-centered rag.

Best Video Game Magazine (by a Long Shot): Edge

I've always been happy to gripe about the sorry state of video game publications in the U.S. The internet has kept me sated for the last couple years, but before blogs caught on, I was consistently disappointed. The names you know — EGM, Gamepro, etc. — are geared towards 12 year-old gamers who like poop jokes and reviews with big numbers (yes, I admit, I like poop jokes). Edge is nothing like that. To provide an analogy, Edge is like Cahiers du Cinema for video games. The reviews are thoughtful and thought provoking. The features, the existence of which is exciting on its own, span multiple pages and actually answer questions I would have asked. On top of that all, it's a beautiful magazine to look at. The one downside is the eight dollar price, which is due to its English origins. I, for one, am happy to pay this price since it was virtually impossible to procure stateside only six months ago. If you love games, I suggest you head to B&N and get a copy today.

Best Food Magazine: Cook's Illustrated

Yes, this is another magazine that commands a high price but delivers fantastic profit. Deal with it. Cook's Illustrated often tops lists of best magazines and its for good reason. There are good recipes and features, but I like their detail-oriented nature. Oftentimes they'll show what a dish looks like when it's over-done, under-cooked and just right. That's invaluable. I have a feeling I'll be a life-long subscriber.

Best Sports Magazine: ESPN the Magazine

The divide used to be much greater, but in the age of always-available online coverage, ESPN makes the best use of the print format. Their graphics are a touch dated now, but they're still far better than Sports Illustrated or Sporting News and they tend to approach articles from more unique perspectives. I'm also a sucker for their larger format.

Guilty Pleasure: Sound and Vision

A lot of girls fall prey to US Weekly, but I prefer to oggle audio-visual equiptment. I'd much rather pretend I could afford a $20k HD projector than a trophy wife. That's it, really. Their reviews are good, but I like the pictures. Oh, and the specs. Nothin' gets me like 32 HDMI inputs.

Best Long Articles: The New Yorker

I'm so far behind in my New Yorker reading. I'd just throw them out, but the articles are too good. James Suroweicki is a demi-god.

2006: Not Great So Far

Posted January 8, 2006

On Friday, I had to make a surprise visit home. My grandma had been afflicted with lung cancer for months and things were looking bad. Then, yesterday, she passed away beside my dad and his two brothers. I'm certainly upset about it, but having five months to think about this day has made it easier. Also, I think it will be much more difficult as the holidays start arriving. Passover will never be the same.

What's worse, is my great uncle, who was diagnosed with cancer the same week as my grandma, passed away last Wednesday. I wasn't nearly as close with him, but I feel bad as he definitely suffered more. Mostly, I feel bad for my dad and grandpa. He lost his twin brother and ex-wife (or uncle and mother) in the same week.

My grandma lived life on her own terms and was darn smart. More importantly, she cared incredibly deeply about her family and friends, which is what I'll miss most. Thankfully, she passed down her selflessness in my dad and I'd like to think I've picked some of it up myself. Thanks gramma. I love you and I'll miss you.

Hopefully this means I've gotten all the rough stuff out of the way and the rest of 2006 will be great. I'll keep you posted.

Video of All Flights During a 24 Hour Period

The frequency and area of travel isn't surprising, but it's still damn cool to watch [via khoi]

Tops of 2005: Movies

Posted January 6, 2006

Best of What I Saw in 2005

1. Oldboy
2. Match Point
3. A History of Violence
4. Syriana
5. Capote
6. The Squid and the Whale
7. Brokeback Mountain
8. King Kong
9. Me and You and Everyone We Know
10. Serenity

Worst of What I Saw in 2005
1. The Perfect Man
2. The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D

Movies I Didn't See But Might Have Made My "Best Of" List in 2005
The Three Buirals of Mequiades Estrada
Howl's Moving Castle

After the jump, you can see all of the new films I saw this year.

Read the rest of this entry »

Movie Titles Designed by Saul Bass

[via kottke]

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