Sunday, January 29, 2006

My biggest weakness as a consumer

So, I guess it's about time I posted about my spending spree of a couple weeks ago. See, I decided I really wanted a video camera so that I could film some stuff and edit it on the computer. I wanted to get the hang of shooting, using a camera, and the editing piece. I asked Jen, and she gave me the go-ahead. Right on!

First I went to Costco, as I recalled them having some video cameras. Unfortunately, they didn't have squat. Mostly they had those burn-direct-to-DVD cameras, which is definitely not what I wanted. So we decided to go to Fry's the next day.

The next day, it was on to Fry's. I looked over their cameras, and decided I wanted the Canon Elura 85. That wasn't the one I really wanted - the one I really wanted was three grand. But I wanted the Canon so I could just kind of get started here. Jen asked if I wanted to apply for a Fry's account, and I said sure. We're used to getting turned down for credit left and right, so we figured at best we'd get an account for a few hundred.

They approved us for over $3k.

This was quite tempting. We looked around for awhile. Jen decided to buy a portable DVD player to use for Chas when we're on long drives and stuff. And we bought a computer desk, as we didn't really have a decent one. We looked at new computers, and Jen drooled over the Media Center PCs, which she has wanted for awhile. But she said we should wait. She's generally the voice of reason in these situations.

Then I saw the Macs they had. I've been wanting a Mac for awhile, specifically for video and audio editing. I've seen the programs for that on both the Mac and Windows, and the ones for Mac are much easier and better. Jen told me no way was I getting a Mac before she got a new computer, and complained about the fact that we hadn't bought a new computer for her in...oh, I think ever...while I had gotten a laptop and a desktop machine. We left, without giving in to the temptation to buy a bunch of stuff and rack up our new account.

But you see, electronics are my biggest weakness as a consumer. I love 'em. Those and cars. I don't like to shop for clothes, or food, or anything...except vehicles and electronics. Those I will go window shopping for just for fun. And I got to thinking, we hadn't bought Jen a new computer in...well, ever...and I was feeling guilty about that. So the next day, while she was at work, I went back to Fry's. I bought a Media Center PC for Jen, and some upgrades to it (it really needed a better video card and more memory). And another desk. And then I walked by the Macs.

Oh, I was tempted. I kept debating, imagining Jen's voice screaming at me about spending so much after she told me to wait. In the end, I gave in. After all, Fry's has a return policy...if she was too pissed off, I could return stuff. I bought myself a Mac Mini, which is very cute and nice, and should run Final Cut Express quite nicely. In fact, I'm writing this on my Mac. I'm kind of a convert now, after years of bitching about them. I still have the PC for gaming, and my Windows laptop, but I use the Mac for browsing and e-mail and stuff like that. And of course, I'll be using it for video and audio editing.

Anyway, I started home with the Volvo loaded down with about two grand worth of Fry's products - the salesmen loved me - and got into Issaquah about the time Jen should be off work. So I called her and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner, and she said sure. I was hoping to get to the restaurant after her, but she pulled in right behind me and clearly saw all the stuff piled up in the back. She got out of the car and the look on her face...oh boy. I started to get the boy out of the car, and when Jen got out I said, "You wouldn't kill me in front of the boy, would you?"
The look on her face said she was thinking about it.

After dinner and a discussion about just how much I spent, she decided it was ok, especially since she got a nice new computer all her own. So now our office is all set up and I have the Mac and the old PC at my desk hooked up with a Keyboard/Monitor/Mouse switch, and Jen sits next to me with her computer. We're happy. I've hardly watched TV since we got the office set up, because I spend that time in here instead. Although I gotsta watch some West Wing tonight.

Mattbear out.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

One funny little movie

The other day, Jen was telling me about some this computer-animated movie "Hoodwinked" that was a real indie production - the director guy was like living in a house with the computer animators and stuff, and he got some heavyweight actors (notably, Glenn Close) to do voice work for scale, etc. and then got it distributed by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. I was kinda, "oh, that's cool" about it and then forgot all about it.

So then Friday she says she wants to go to see a movie, and when I ask which one she naturally tells me "Hoodwinked". OK, I says, completely forgetting everything she'd told me about it until halfway through the movie.

Let me tell you, this is one damn funny movie. I enjoyed the hell out of it. I laughed out loud through much of the movie. Chas enjoyed it, but I think that mostly due to the animation and funny voices and sight gags. There were a lot of jokes in it that require a little more age to really get, so like some other computer-animated features of late this one is good for adults too. I heartily recommend it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Parade of the Freaks

So after reading a news story about a rather freakish person, I decided to post about a few who have made the news of late. First up, today's inspiration:

MSNBC had an article today about Jonathon Sharkey, who declared he is running for governor of Minnesota. What makes this stand out? Sharkey is a self-proclaimed vampire. Sorry, I guess it's "Vampyre" according to Sharkey. He says he wants to execute any terrorist caught in Minnesota by impaling them on a wooden spike in front of the capitol. He claims to represent the "Vampyres, Witches, and Pagans Party". Feeling that being a witch/pagan/whatever and having this guy claim to represent you would be bad, I passed the news along to a Wiccan friend. He already knew about Sharkey, and pointed me to Sharkey's site, particularly the part where he admits to having committed incest (that's near the bottom of that page). Not content to stop there, he also pointed out the conflict of claiming to be a satanist and a "Hecate" witch, that being that pagans who worship/believe in gods/godesses like Hecate don't believe in Satan. On a more mundane note, I'd also like to comment that his page design is horrible, especially the "Dark Side" page. Dear god, I'd need to smoke something mighty strong before I could stand reading that whole thing. Still not as bad as Sungod, though.

Note that Sharkey also states he is going to run for President in 2008. Ho-kay, time to take the meds, buddy.

Continuing with the crazy political candidate theme, Andrew Uitvlugt (what a name) ran for mayor of Kelowna, BC partly on the platform that crack users should be encouraged to get jobs (like trash collection) and be paid in part with crack. Good idea! They'll work, and smoke the crack, and work really hard so they get more crack, then work really hard again to get more crack...You see where I'm going. The big thing to me is, this guy came in fourth in a five-person race. Who the fuck did he beat? There must be an awful lot of crackheads in Kelowna who vote.

And for a local nutcase...back in October, Clayton Butsch from Lake Stevens was convicted of murdering his "friend" because his cat (named Sam, oddly enough) told him to. With friends like these....

Alright, enough crazies for now. Mattbear out.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Books and movies...

So, I've had my "What I'm reading now" and "What I'm looking forward to seeing" features up for awhile, but I never much say anything about them. So here goes, some of the more recent books and movies I've experienced, and what I thought:


The Men Who Stare at Goats: Interesting, if you like a dose of paranoia in your reading, but some of his conclusions and the points he was trying to make don't necessarily add up. Good read, though, if you know anything about MK-ULTRA and want to know what other kind of nonsense our government has been up to.

See No Evil: Damn fine book, well written, by a guy who really comes across as an expert. When the man writes about Middle Eastern terrorist organizations, his knowledge can leave you dizzy, but it's an educational read about a complex subject in a complex time. Best book I've read in awhile.

Jarhead: Compelling, well written. Tries a little too hard to be crude on purpose to show how crude and base he (and by extension, other Marines) is. Still very good, and I really want to see the movie.

Black Sunday: Dear god, this was horrible. I gave it a shot since it was by Thomas Harris, writer of Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal. Even Hannibal, the worst of the three "Lecter" novels, outshone this piece of shite by a mile. I don't know why I even read the whole thing. I just kept hoping it would get better. Instead, it just came out like a long Mack Bolan story (I may be the only one reading this that knows about Mack Bolan, but suffice it to say the publisher pumps out a new Mack Bolan book every month).


The Ice Harvest: This one wasn't quite as good as I expected. It wasn't as plain wrong as Bad Santa, to which it drew a number of comparisons from critics. The plot was a little too standard film noir treachery tale. And there weren't enough scenes with John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton together - if you've seen Pushing Tin, you know they play well off each other (and if you haven't seen it, go rent it). This was made up for in part by many scenes with Cusack and Oliver Platt, who also play very well off each other. Platt is probably my favorite comedy actor, is highly under-rated, and was fantastic in this film. Other than him, it really wasn't too great.

Syriana: One of the two best films I have seen all year. Along with "Good Night, and Good Luck", one of two Oscar grab attempts by Clooney and Sodebergh. I haven't seen Good Night yet, but if it's near as good as Syriana, it's worth it. This one will leave you thinking, and feeling somewhat dirty the next time you put gas in your car. If you own stock in a major oil company, it'll make you want to take a long, hot shower. As well you should.

Munich: I have a hard time deciding if this was better than Syriana or not, but it's damn good. I have to give it more points than Syriana for it's lead - Eric Bana really puts on a show here. Erik has a good commentary on it already.

Enough of my prattling for now. I have actual things to do. Mattbear out.