Patrick's Rants


Reign Over Me

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 10:36 am

– Raw emotion.
Alan Johnson, played by Don Cheadle, thinks he sees his college roommate, Charlie Fineman, played by Adam Sandler, riding a scooter through the streets of New York. Once he catches up with him he finds a man troubled with post-traumatic stress disorder following the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11; his wife and children were aboard one of the planes that was flown into the towers. Alan is struggling to reclaim his own sense of self while attempting to help out Charlie whose mental state causes him to be paranoid about everyones’ intentions.

This film makes no attempt to theorize about the motives of 9/11 or to make any kind of political statement. Instead it is a dark look into the life of two men, if you count Cheadle’s character, who are only trying to get by. There is some humor but, like the pause on a roller coaster at the top of a rise in the tracks, it only serves to heighten the twist of the emotional knife that is thrust into the viewer. The moments of laughter are brutally followed by additional pain from the characters.

There must be something in the makeup of comedy players – of which Sandler certainly belongs – that allows them to play emotionally disturbed individuals so convincingly.


IBM “Jukebox”

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Reviews — site admin @ 10:32 am

I’ve spent the weekend cleaning up a failed upgrade on that old IBM laptop that I’m using for the kids’ mp3 players. The players are Sansa e250s
from Sandisk. With the exception of Sandisk’s preference to completely ignore my question regarding Linux support, customer service has been completely responsive. I managed to brick out the player that I was trying to upgrade and I was able to return the player with the only hassle being that someone dropped the ball and my return paperwork was slower than it’s supposed to be. If they had instructions on upgrading using Linux, I might not have had to return the previous player. Their software is built around Windows XP though, so getting this company to move on this is a Don Quixote move. I am able to use Amarok to manage the music lists and edit tags in the mp3 files. Sadly, so far, it does not appear to be able to actually write the mp3s themselves so I continue to use lame from a script to create the files. The other mildly annoying behavior is that the Sansa e250 doesn’t seem to allow changing ownership of the files on it so Amarok has to be run from either root or a sudo command.

For those interested in hooking up this player make sure to set your USB mode to MSC. The laptop has hotplug and automount running so that all I have to do is plug the thing in. The settings in Amarok allow me to set it as a Generic Player and set a mount point. Clicking the connect icon in the Devices menu brings up the player and allows copying files from the laptop to player and vice versa. So far, I have not found where Amarok allows one to create mp3s – or any other sound file – that can then be copied to the player. Instead Amarok appears to be a feature rich sound file manager. I haven’t tried to hook up any other players to this machine, but so far it seems to work quite well for copying files between the “Generic” Sansa and the hard drive.


Blades of Glory

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 8:52 am

Will Ferrell fans, rejoice. Blades of Glory is a well written comedy that brings back the air of Old School. In this ice skating movie – full of cameos from real ice skating stars – Will Ferrel and Jon Heder play banned ice skaters who find a loophole in the ice skating rules that allow them to skate as pairs. Seeing two men skate pairs together should be funny enough. Add a thin, but cohesive, story line and this becomes a movie to watch and stick into your Will Ferrell library.

Wild Hogs

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 8:01 am

Mid life crisis leads to some pretty interesting and funny story lines. Wild Hogs is the story of four guys whose biggest adventure is to ride their motorcycles to the local diner for Sunday breakfast. What happens when they decide to hit the open road and ride to the West coast is hilarious. It all starts when Woody Stevens, played by John Travolta, tries to run away from his imploding life and drags his bumbling friends with him.

On the way the raise the ire of a real biker gang, and catch the attention of highway patrolman, John C. McGinley’s lustful eye. McGinley’s skin tight uniform in his first scene portrays his leanings as he ends up being as queer as the entire Village People line up. He ends up tailing the guys (no pun intended) through the movie, but is mysteriously missing when they could use his help in the show down with the Del Fuego biker gang.

Some of the story line might strike you as cliché and slightly predictable but that shouldn’t keep you from popping it in and laughing for most of the 100 minute playing time.


The God Delusion

Filed under: Books,Religion,Reviews — site admin @ 7:35 pm

The God Delusion receives four stars

I (hopefully still) have a regular reader whose story mimics part of the preface,

“Chapter 9 quotes the comedian Julia Sweeney’s tragi-comic story of her parents’ discovery, through reading a newspaper, that she had become an atheist. Not believing in God they could just about take, but an atheist!”

He goes on to describe why we don’t hear so much about atheist groups,

“organizing atheists has been compared to herding cats, because they tend to think independently and will not conform to authority”.



Man Of The Year

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 6:29 pm

Man of the Year gets fours stars
Robin Williams is part Bill Maher, part Bev Harris, as a talk show host who runs for president in a movie that is part funny, part scary as hell. Man of The Year” is a comedy to be sure, but a sick comedy that looks at how a single company (think Diebold) controls voting for the entire country and the consequences of unaudited source code and the complete lack of a paper receipt. Unfortunately for the American people there is a “bug” in the software that would have benefited the incumbent had a political comedian not entered the race. Attempts to bring the bug to the attention of management by a lone programmer are futile.

It’s a movie to make you laugh and to make you think. But you have to watch it to find out how the bug works and whether Williams will become an unwilling “Dubya” or whether he really is one of the good guys, who like Maher, best serves his country by being a straight shooter and asking the hard, if funny, questions.


Where Have All The Leaders Gone?

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 9:28 pm

Where Have All The Leaders Gone, by Lee Iacocca, Four start review
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

After seeing Iacocca on a TV interview I decided to get this latest book for my library. Mr. Iacocca is bold and to the point.

Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder. We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff… But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course.”
Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned Titanic. I’ll give you a sound bite: Throw the bums out!

And with that Iacocca starts his 263 page look at our so-called leaders. At 82 years old Lee is trying to inspire outrage at the status quo. He falls short of calling Bush a moron or imbecile but it is blindingly obvious that he has no love lost for the president. This is a no-holds barred call for sensibility, intelligence and a demand that we hold our leaders accountable. In the process he gives us a simple check list with which to judge our next leaders. Unless you are dead, this book will cause your blood to boil. If you are the least bit upset about where the country is headed you will be absolutely outraged once you reach the end. It is a call to arms, a challenge to apathy, a road map to righting the “ship of state” as he so eloquently puts it.
Buy it.

Hotel Rwanda

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 9:00 pm

The story is simple. A single man helps to shelter over 1200 fellow citizens; sparing their lives. The effect is gut-wrenching and hard to watch. In scene after scene, Paul Rusesabagina – played by Don Cheadle – does everything he can to prevent the death of his Tutsi family members, his neighbors, and even strangers at the hands of the Hutu militia. “Hotel Rwanda” is at once an uplifting story of one man’s courage and a picture of genocidal atrocities. I found myself appalled at the apparent inability of the UN “peace keepers” to prevent these killings, outrage that any government in the world could allow these actions to go unanswered, and a sickening realization that whatever I wanted the outside soldiers to do also applies to our own troops in Iraq today. We didn’t create the civil war in Rwanda – but if our sensibilities begged us to have something done about it those same sensibilities now must tug at us – at least a little – to do something about the civil war in Iraq. This is an incredibly powerful movie that surely will leave a mark on anyone who has seen it.


The Pursuit of Happyness

Filed under: On video,Reviews — site admin @ 4:14 pm

Will Smith plays Chris Gardner, a man at a turning point in his life. As he struggles with his family while trying to sell medical equipment, Smith has to make decisions about the path he is to follow.

I watched this movie with a little trepidation. It has received many great reviews, but a single personal view caused me to watch it just a little more critically. Gardner was criticized for not, “doing everything he had to do for his son”. This was the viewpoint of an idealistic twenty-something. Age has a way of changing your perspective. During the Great Depression, some people would not do work that was beneath them, while others would do anything and everything to put food on the table. The young view of this movie is that Smith’s character should have gotten whatever job that he could – no matter what the pay. (more…)


Moby and Ahab on a Plutonium Sea

Filed under: Books,Reviews — site admin @ 2:08 pm

It is not everyday that an ordinary person such as myself discovers himself in the presence of a published author. Scott Douglas, who drives a school bus here in Flagstaff, is an unassuming character with tired, life beaten eyes. He is as public as a bus driver naturally is and yet there is a certain seclusion about the man as well. His book, Moby and Ahab on a Plutonium Sea: The Novel Which Ended the Cold War is a fictitious account of what might have happened leading up to or following a purported event in 1979.

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