Happy Halloween!

A very happy halloween to my friends, relatives and casual readers! It’s that time of year when ghouls, vampires and generally the kind of people I hang out with come out of their crypts to prowl neighborhoods and suck blood. Hmm… actually that sounds like a normal Saturday night…

Not much to update really, just some general stuff.

I’m beginning to think that Apple’s highly successful iPod is a gateway drug. I’m serious! I bought an iPod Nano before I went on vacation… mostly because I preferred the idea of a solid-state player when riding my bike. Plus, for a flash-based player of such a significant size, you couldn’t argue with the price! Finally, since I work for Citigroup I get a Corporate Discount at the Apple Store. Sweet!

Anyway, I buy the Nano and load it full of music. Nice player by the way, and the “scratch problem” that’s been so frequently reported in the media has been seriously blown out of all proportion. Sure, mine has picked up a few scratches from wear and tear… and I’ve not exactly been careful with it. However, the scratches are a minor blemish… they don’t make the screen any harder to see (the screen on the Nano is excellent in my opinion and very bright… the scratches would have to be incredibly deep to impact the viewability.

Back to the point. The iPod is a gateway drug! Be careful! iPod ownership leads to using iTunes quite a lot. That can lead to the iTunes Music Store… and impulse buying on the iTMS is almost frighteningly easy!

Yes, I have found myself moving to the heavier drugs of iTMS. It’s not that bad really… I’ve only purchased one album so far… but believe me I can see how this “click and buy” thing can get incredibly addictive. The ease with which I was able to navigate through iTunes, find the exact album I wanted and download it directly to my machine was actually extremely impressive… but I could see this becoming expensive in a hurry!

Like everything, a modicum of self-control is required… but I was able to buy an album that I’ve wanted for a while but have had a hard time finding in CD format; namely the soundtrack from Children of Dune by Brian Tyler. If you’ve not heard this soundtrack before, that’s probably not too surprising. The miniseries of Children of Dune was not one of the most watched sci-fi TV shows, but to my mind was an excellent take on the books of “Dune Messiah” and “Children of Dune” (by Frank Herbert) turned into a quite powerful, well acted and beautiful TV miniseries. In fact, the imagery alone was impressive and although did not match the imagery in my head from reading these books as a teenager, actually converged in surprising ways and in others actually improved upon what was in my head.

For reference, the Dune miniseries was flawed; many parts of it were supposed to be grand in scope but looked too much like they were shot on a sound stage… in fact in some desert scenes you could see the corner of the stage and floor! However, it was well acted, written and superbly designed (from an artistic perspective) such that I much preferred that adaptation of the source material to the “love it or loathe it” adaptation by David Lynch from the 1980′s (with Kyle McLachlan in the key role of Paul Atreides… an actor who is good but has never really struck me as a great thespian!).

I digress… the soundtrack for Children of Dune was one aspect of the miniseries that I simply loved. While it wasn’t anything groundbreaking technically, they had a great cast (with a couple of exceptions) and some visual effects that were not state of the art, but also were not so jarring that they removed you from the narrative. That’s one thing George Lucas has yet to figure out; state of the art visual effects can sometimes remove you from the narrative to focusing on the effects themselves. Visual effects done right advance the narrative even if they don’t look “real”. Just look at Babylon 5′s early seasons; the FX were used sparingly and were not very realistic (mostly due to the incredibly low budget). However, when they were used they advanced the narrative or were inconsequential… as such the story tended to just flow.

Sorry, getting off on a tangent here repeatedly. The soundtrack; highly recommended if even only for the “Montage Scene Song” from the end of the first (?) episode of CoD. The song is called “Inama Nushif” (“She is Eternal” in the Fremen language) and is sung by Azam Ali. Absolutely beautiful piece of music, and I can’t seem to stop listening to it since I downloaded it! I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for more music by this guy, just my style of enjoyment :)

Well, it’s another soggy day in St. Louis… so Halloween might be a washout for the kids. Still, I intend to have some fun… so until the next update… ciao.

I’m Back!

Greetings. Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I last wrote. Truth be told, as some people know I was in the UK for the first time in 10 years for the first two weeks in October. I visited family, toured the South of England and almost froze to death in the mountains of Wales. Still, it was a fantastic vacation and I enjoyed it a lot!

I’m still working on a writeup of the vacation which I’ll post for all to read and enjoy… but for now you can see a choice selection of pictures from my trip here (link will open a new window). Please feel free to browse, post comments and so forth. Email me if you have any questions. If you want to take any of the pictures for your own use, please do but please also let me know!

Anyway, it’s early… I’m getting ready for work and I need to get moving. I’ll update more later…