The Daily Belmore

opinions, links, and more…

The Link Rundown

I’m worthless.  As John Cho would say, I am not worthwhile.  I claimed to be bringing the blog back, then let it sit dormant for weeks on end.  But have no fear!  I bring you a mass quantity of links (some of them old) for your viewing pleasure; enjoy!

A.V. Club Interview with Rainn Wilson
Who doesn’t love Rainn Wilson?  This interview has some good background information, although a lot of it is about The Rocker, which we all know flopped miserably.  Still worth it for gems such as this regarding Juno: ” Sexual tension… I think Ellen Page is hott, double-t hott. All that sexual tension will probably be on the 25th-anniversary DVD as the torrid erotic scenes between Rollo and Juno. I think they bathe in a bathtub of Sunny D and get it on.”

Better Late Than Never: Watchmen
With the greatest graphic novel of all time coming to the big screen next year, there has been a lot of hoopla surrounding the release (including Fox suing Warner Bros. over rights issues).  This article tells you why the story is so incredible, and why everyone should read it.

Former SuperSonics owner dropping Bennett lawsuit
I just wanted to make sure you saw what a slimy hack Howard Schulz is (at least in the sports world…I’m not necessarily judging his coffee or business ethics).  He tries to save face by suing Clay Bennett after he realizes the city of Seattle hates the fact that he sold it a businessman from a city desparetely in want of an NBA team, and then slips it out late on a Friday that he’s dropping the lawsuit.  For shame, Howard.

Heart to McCain campaign: stop using “Barracuda”
Nothing makes me happier than a great rock band telling an old fart to screw off.  And a local great rock band at that!

Yes, it was a terrible call Husky nation
Ted Miller gets all the points right, including the fact that the call isn’t what made us lose the game.  The referees should be suspended, but so should our pathetic defense and inept offense.  I still support Tyrone Willingham, but I won’t object if he’s gone after this season because we don’t go to a bowl game.

That’s all for now, hopefully I’ll be back soon with more great ramblings and links!

September 16, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, Movies, News, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AppleTV Take 2: Belmore Review

AppleTVAs you may have heard, the 2.0 update for the AppleTV came out today, and I couldn’t get wait to get home and give it a test run. Chris Breen over at MacWorld has already written a great walkthrough, so I’ll spare the minute details and give you more of my opinion of things.

The update itself takes about 10 minutes. I didn’t bother to pay attention, as I’d read about this, so I watched some college basketball on ESPN while I waited for the blinking yellow light to turn back to white.

Once it was fully updated, I switched over to start playing. I love the new interface, as it is much easier to navigate and a hell of a lot faster. The update also ties in to the latest version of iTunes, giving it some new features. The first that I noticed (and also immediately turned on) was the ability for iTunes/AppleTV to auto-sync the device. No user input needed, and the most relevant items are synced to the AppleTV (I have to assume this means the newest and/or least played items). I have yet to test it without having iTunes open, so I can’t determine what is actually being synced (another new feature of AppleTV 2.0 is that all of your media from the synced library, whether synced or streamed, is in one list, so you don’t have to switch between the two options to play items).

As I looked at the new options in iTunes, I noticed that my computer was now seeing an AirTunes device. That’s right, this update also turns the AppleTV into an AirTunes, letting your $229 device do the same thing as a $129 device! I’ve been wanting this control ever since I first used my AppleTV, and it works as expected. I can control playback from iTunes on my computer, making it a much nicer experience when I’m working at my computer (as opposed to reading on my couch). You can’t skip songs using the remote (I have a PowerBook G4, so I’m referring to the remote connected to the AppleTV…not the remote that comes with those newfangeled Intel Macs), but you can still navigate through your AppleTV and look at all of the other categories. If you don’t mess with the AppleTV and just go about your business on the computer, the standard screensaver comes up with the music information in the lower left like before. The AirTunes mode is also instant, unlike the actual AirTunes. No waiting for a half second before seeing/hearing changes you’ve just made to your playback.

Another thing that’s nice is the ability to look at Flickr accounts on the AppleTV. It operates very similarly to the regular photography slideshows. You click to display a username’s account, and voila, you have access to everything. The one giant problem is the user input…the keyboard that pops up takes forever to enter in usernames (for instance, I Am Paul’s Typing Fingers took me about three minutes). They need to either make the keyboard speedier (the real problem is how long it takes to move between letters, even when holding down the forward button), or allow you to login to the URL’s (my URL is Belmore, which would have taken me a fraction of the time.

Okay, now to the bread and butter: HD rentals. I was really anxious to check this out, so I logged in and rented Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (as Paul Thurrott notes, the selection is very odd…the other Star Trek movies are only available in standard definition). I had read online (sorry, can’t find the source) that audio was a tad bit problematic on the HD movies if you tried to play the file before it was done downloading, so I allowed it to finish (which took over two hours) before I started. The AppleTV popped up a message after 3% was done that I could begin watching it, but I decided against that due to the aforementioned information. Also, I should mention that the HD rental was only $3.99, unlike what Chris Breen said. It appears that new releases are $4.99, but older movies are a buck cheaper (similarly, standard definition movies are $3.99 for new releases and $2.99 for older movies).

The good? The movie looks great. Even for a 25 year old film, the quality is pretty damn good. It’s not perfect, but for an old film scan you can’t complain about it. The encoding looks beautiful, I have not noticed any artifacts. There are some gradient problems, but nothing to complain about. Bit rates have to far exceed the capabilities of the AppleTV before known digital problems like gradients go away. Playback is also much improved. Even on this much higher bit rate file, it stops and starts without pause, unlike before where there was always a few second delay.

This brings us to the bad. Why am I starting and stopping it? Well, this may just be a bad encode (although I highly doubt it), but the audio becomes unsynced after about 10 minutes. Stopping and starting the movie fixes the problem, but this is a problem we should not be having in the 21st century. I’m going to avoid stopping and starting for the rest of the movie (I have over an hour left) and see if it gets progressively better, or if it’s just a small delay due to the hardware (for those that don’t know, the AppleTV was hacked as soon as it came out and was found to have a 1 GHz generic Intel processor with 256 MB of RAM and an NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 with 64 MB of VRAM, so it’s amazing it can do HD video at all). I’ll keep you posted if I can find out for sure. UPDATE: It appears to have either been a temporary problem, or just a problem related to the dated quality of the movie.  I never noticed the movie getting progressively less synced the longer I left it on without pausing it, and it never seemed to be more than 1/10th of a second off.  I’ll chalk it up to my eyes and ears playing tricks on me and leave it at that.

Long story short (and I mean damn, that was a long “opinion”!), the AppleTV 2.0 upgrade makes the AppleTV do what it should have been able to do the first time around. Rent movies from your couch. Use it as an AirTunes. And be much more dynamic with web-based applications. Not to mention the things that don’t appeal to me, such as buying music from the iTunes store with your remote (which it can also now do). And with the recent price drop, this is a great addition to your home entertainment center. If you have an HDTV and are fed up with your cable company (as I am), go the AppleTV route. Heck, if you have more than a few GBs of video in your iTunes library, you’re crazy for not having this easy method of watching them on your TV.

February 12, 2008 Posted by | Movies, Technology, Television | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Separated at Birth?

Anyone else think the Portland Trailblazer’s point guard Steve Blake looks a bit like Lucas Black (of Friday Night Lights and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift)? Have a look:

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Movies, Pictures, Sports | , , , , | Leave a comment

Daily Topics!

Alright, faithful readers (all 5 of you), I’ve decided to narrow down the scope of this blog and have each day represent a specific topic to talk about.  I’m open to any and all suggestions (although, keep them broad; as in “Books” rather than “The Collected Works of Charles Dickens”).  This is to not only make it easier to blog (as I’ll have a more defined path for each day), it will also make it more interesting for the reader (so you know that at least once a week I’m blogging about Topic X that you are a fan of).  So here are the few ideas I’ve thought of; please leave any others you may have in the comments!

  • Movies/Television (this could be two separate days as well)
  • Sports
  • Tech Topics
  • Seattle
  • Music
  • News/Politics
  • Books (this might be more of a monthly topic, as I don’t read as much as my high school English teacher probably wishes I did)

January 17, 2008 Posted by | Movies, Music, Musings, News, Politics, Sports, Technology, Television | , | 3 Comments

Zwickel on Superbad’s Soundtrack

Jonathan Zwickel of The Stranger brings up a great point about everybody’s favorite vulgar flick of 2007, Superbad, in Line Out (emphasis his):

Aside from the lead actors, the other huge highlight of Superbad—the part I can’t believe isn’t being talked about more, the part that is not the name “McLovin”—is the soundtrack. Apatow brought on composer Lyle Workman to put together funk-fueled original material to match classic tracks by the Bar-Kays, the Ohio Players, Rick James, Curtis Mayfield, and more. Workman then looked to funk forebear Bootsy Collins, who played bass for James Brown before becoming a star member of Parliament-Funkadelic in the ’70s. Collins recruited original JBs drummers Jab’o Starks and Clyde Stubblefield, guitarist Catfish Collins, and P-Funk/Talking Heads keyboard genius Bernie Worrell.

He’s so right. You never think twice about the music during the movie because a) you’re too caught up in the hijinks on screen, and b) it fits perfectly and you’re never caught thinking “why did that song just play?”

I highly recommend everyone pick this movie up, and why not get the soundtrack as well.

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, Movies, Music | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Incredibles; Gotta Love It

Lame post today, but I just wanted to share with you that I’m currently watching The Incredibles and loving every second of it.  Such a fabulous movie! It has been quite some time since I’ve seen it.

In other news, I played the first game of a basketball league today that I have joined.  It was fun, but man oh man am I out of shape and out of my game.  You know that feeling, when you want your body to do something but you feel a step slow?  Well, that’s how I felt.  I’m going to get back into running and whatnot so that I’m not so out of it for the next game.

The team I’m on is pretty good, and once we start meshing I think we’ll have a worthwhile season.

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Movies, Musings | , | Leave a comment

Live Free or Die Hard Goes 21st Century

Wasn’t I just talking about this a few months ago?

In an industry first, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is expected to announce Tuesday that the special-edition DVD of “Live Free or Die Hard” will come with an electronic copy of the movie that can be played on a computer and select portable video players.

I should get royalties or something for this.  Read the full story at the Hollywood Reporter.

October 16, 2007 Posted by | Movies | , , | Leave a comment

Why I Don’t Use the iTunes Store…

…and how I could be persuaded to in the future.

A prevalent concept of the Internet these days is the ability to instantly purchase content online and then listen to/watch it immediately. However, these types of stores make up a very small percentage of the market, and while they are gaining points, it is a very slow process.

Everyone has their reasons for not using them, from not having an iPod to not having a decent computer to view the content (at this point I guess I’m talking more about movies/tv shows/video podcasts), and everything in between. Well the reason I don’t use the iTunes store (and for the sake of the argument, as I have an iPod, we’ll just draw parallels to the general concept), is that I don’t want to “own” anything that I don’t physically have a copy of. If I buy a CD, I can put it on my computer and/or iPod with ease, and (while a bit tougher) the same can be said of DVDs. However, if we go the other way, an album I buy from the iTunes store is 128 kbps (soon to be higher, but the argument is the same), and if I want to burn it, I have to burn it to a CD at 128 (meaning if I re-rip it, it will suffer greatly from the lossy encoding). And a movie or tv show online? Forget it, the DRM on those keeps me from doing anything.

And how about the fact that if I own a DVD that doesn’t mean I can download the movie? I have to purchase it again? What a joke. In order to watch a movie that I own on my computer or iPod or Apple TV, I have to rip it from the DVD (technically breaking the law, although I think this specific law is a sham and I don’t follow it) or buy it (again) online. What if, instead of jumping through these hoops, we could purchase DVD (or Blu-Ray or HD DVD), and have a data side with a version of the movie that I could put on my computer? There would be a serial number on the DVD that I would enter online (either to iTunes or to a much larger MPAA *shudder* database) that would then allow the data on the DVD to download to my computer in a DRM *shudder* encoded file. Heck, we could even still have to download the movie from the online store (this might work better, but I’m just throwing ideas out there), yet still be DRM’ed and tied to my account.

You don’t think that people would be more tempted to use these online stores if they would be able to freely use the content that they have already purchased? I really want an Apple TV, but I really DON’T want to repurchase all of my DVD content (and I sure as hell don’t have time to encode all of it at a rate of about a DVD per eight hours with Handbrake…and yes, my computer is that slow). Why all the hoops? I understand the movie and TV industry being a pain for Apple to deal with, but hasn’t anyone thought of a better way?

I understand buying a record, and then a tape, and then a CD, but the digital age is completely different. We are no longer talking about owning a physical object, but the content itself, and we should not be forced to re-purchase content because we don’t want to spend the time finding other ways of obtaining it.

Sorry, this is a quickly written ramble, and I did not edit it. Just my two cents…

May 5, 2007 Posted by | Movies, Music, Television | , , , , | 1 Comment

Even I watched the Oscars

I usually hate awards shows. They’re long, full of speeches nobody wants to hear, and for the most part are a pat on the back of the rich by the rich (see: The Grammys). Now, I have nothing against rich people, just rich people congratulating other rich people for being rich. Doesn’t that seem a little, well, rich?

As fate may have it, I ended up watching the Oscars tonight. In my defense, I was lulled in by Ellen, then rapidly switched channels during montages, thank you speeches, and awards even huge movie buffs don’t care about (quick digression: why is nothing else ever on during awards shows? Is there not a direct demographic – I would guess 18-45 year old males – who are most likely to not be watching the award show? Couldn’t we get Die Hard on TNT or a marathon of Seinfeld on TBS?). As I was watching the show, it quickly occurred to me that I missed out on a lot of movies last year. And I’m not talking the big ones, or the award prone (such as The English Patient) that I avoided because I knew I wouldn’t like it regardless of how many other people did; I’m talking about a lot of movies!

I decided to do some quick research with the help of Rotten Tomatoes and see how many “great” movies I missed. I popped up the top 100 movies of 2006, according to average review, and quickly looked at how many I had seen. I was astounded to find out that only 11 (eleven!) of the aforementioned 100 cinematic adventures passed through my eyes between January 1st and December 31st, 2006. And yes, there were many independent movies that I had never heard of, but even so, that’s a very small number.

I’m not your average Joe Blow that watches whatever movie gets the most publicity. I use Rotten Tomatoes to seek out the highest rated movies in order to have a higher chance of enjoying my time (and I’m not trying to plug them, it’s simply the only place I know of that will take all of the reviews of a movie and spit out an average score at you). Yet I have managed to let 90 great movies slip by me (and even more that managed to score just under 78%) due to failing at watching movies.

These things happen, I suppose. But I’ll try harder this year (and I’ll try to catch up on last year). And in hindsight, I’m sure The Departed deserves the Oscar (I actually did see that one, and I have to ask you, William Monahan, you couldn’t think of anything but a cop out ending?), but without seeing the other movies, will I ever really know? Thank god for Netflix!

February 25, 2007 Posted by | Movies, Musings | , , , , | Leave a comment