Category — Movies-TV
It was with an unexpectedly deep sadness that I read about the passing of one of Las Vegas’ most influential and talented entertainers – Danny Gans.
After several attempts to see his show, my wife and I caught Danny’s show just this past February. It was truly amazing… He was a master showman. What impressed me the most was not his singing or impressions (which were truly phenomenal in their own right) but, rather it was that he was truly interested in giving the best show he could to every single audience. He worked us continually – changing on the spot to what we responded to best. He jumped around decades in his music trying to find what would resonate most for us, and it worked…
His show was great – REALLY great.
I was very touched during his tribute song to his family and his stories of all the support they gave him during the tough years of travel prior to hitting it big in Vegas. I actually had seen him nearly 15 years prior in Worcester, MA at the old Colosseum. He was funny then too, but I didn’t fully appreciate who he was at the time. It wasn’t until many years later, seeing his picture on big board at the Mirage, that I put 2 and 2 together.
I was also very touched that he was so transparent with his faith. From his direct testimony during the show to doing little things like pointing to the sky while singing lyrics like “Who can make the sun shine?” during Bojangles, there was no question that this man loved his God.
It is inevitable when something like this happens to start to wonder – how can God let this happen? Why would He take a man that truly loves Him and leave behind a family that will forever be changed by the passing of a loving husband and committed father?
This is where our faith comes in… We either believe Romans 8:28, or we don’t.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
It is hard in the face of such tragedy to remain faithful, but it is to for our betterment that we do so. Rather than questioning God and his motives, we would do better to examine what would we have done without our faith during these tough times? Faith in God and in Christ isn’t a free ride. It isn’t all bubblegum, pink stars and dancing ponys. But, if you remain committed to your relationship with Him you are guaranteed that whatever happens, God will eventually work it for your good. In His time. It likely won’t be evident until much later, but it will be evident. Don’t think that means – EASY. Many times in life, the RIGHT thing and the BEST thing isn’t easy at all.
I’ve used the analogy that our lives are like a fine tapestry in the process of being woven. We see the tapestry from the back and typically have an ugly view of a myriad of knots and threads making up a nearly incomprehensible intersection of color and texture. Yet, every once in a while God treats us to a view of the front, where a beautiful picture is being woven through our faith and obedience to the Weaver. We just don’t have the full picture, and we either trust God in His ways, or we don’t. I’m not saying that we can’t be sad or scared or upset – that is a very natural response. Fortunately though, we don’t have to be. We have also been promised the Peace of God, which transcends all understanding and that will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I think that is my favorite verse of all time. It means that we can face inexplicable hardship and still somehow through the Love of Christ, be at Peace.
I pray that Danny’s family can place their trust in God and can somehow find that Peace during what will likely be one of the toughest time of their lives.
For Danny, I pray that he hears the words that all Christians want to hear upon meeting their maker – “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
May 1, 2009 No Comments
Just when you thought it was OK to like the French again, they go and screw it up with this crap.
If passed into law, the legislation would deal very harshly with any form of file sharing, be it video or audio. Alleged offenders will first receive an e-mailed warning, followed by a registered letter, and lastly with a 3-12 month suspension of internet service. The law will also prevent users from switching ISP’s to avoid punishment, and even public hotspots will contain filters. Additionally, home users will be required to lock down home networks, and will be legally responsible for its security.
In return the French will start receiving DVD’s in a more timely fashion, and music DRM will be drastically scaled back.
Now, I haven’t downloaded copywrited stuff in quite some time – not since I had a DVR installed, found Hulu and got a Live account with my new XBOX. But, in the past, I did a fair amount of downloading of “catch up” episodes for TV shows that I missed – something that I still consider a “gray” area of use. Of course, by the book, it isn’t “gray” at all – its illegal. In fact, I’m actually glad I don’t have to do it anymore. Truthfully, for a show that I really enjoy, I’d much rather pay $2 an episode than wait 3 days for a crappy quality download only to find out that it is dubbed in German.
Still, this bill scares the crap out of me. I can’t believe people would be willing to give up their freedom for early access to entertainment. Still, in socialist France, maybe the people actually aren’t, but the politicians are… One of the few things that I like about Obama is how tech savvy he seems to be. You almost have to have personally bought content and been frustrated with trying to actually use it where you want to really understand this stuff. Out of Obama, Biden, McCain and Palin, I would have definitely picked the O-Man as the one most likely to have done so. Still, given his politics, I’m not sure that this will help us any.
One day, people will have the ability to have their own networks and crap like this won’t happen. You already see it in big companies – very large WAN infrastructure that never actually touches the internet. Some day that will spread to people, and you’ll have co-op networks that are completely private. Its the only answer to crap like this and only technology keeps it from happening today. I’ve personally knows folks who all live in the same apartment building that have wired their apartments together – not for the purpose of circumventing copyright law, but simply for the ability to share information and infrastructure more easily. Why have four home servers when one shared one does the job for 1/4 the price?
Of course, in the current State-of-the-Tech-Union, you could only do that with people you implicitly trust. One day technology will make that unnecessary – just as our current internet security technologies make it relatively safe to surf the net. I think even the telecom companies would like that, as it removes them from having any liability whatsoever. You’d still pay a monthly fee for your “line” – but it would likely be a simple direct link to the next person up the line, or something similar. You may have private line aggregators that take a monthly fee from a number of people to allow for more bandwidth, etc. Don’t get me wrong – this would likely be in addition to an Internet connection, but I think there is a pretty good chance of it happening at some point in the future. It would take a ton of cash, a lot of technology and a critical mass of people, but its is indeed possible. I’d call it a Private Public Network or PPN.
For those of you saying “impossible” – just remember that one dude, Linus Torvalds, started the unstoppable wave that became Linux. Its amazing what can happen when fed-up people buck the status quo and go off and do something on their own. Linus didn’t try to start a revolution, but his idea was so good that it happened anyway. It may take years or even a decade or two (work on what became the Linux began in 1991), but it CAN happen.
Mark my words.
March 20, 2009 1 Comment
Forrest J Ackerman, the sometime actor, literary agent, magazine editor and full-time bon vivant who discovered author Ray Bradbury and was widely credited with coining the term “sci-fi,” has died. He was 92.
Ackerman died Thursday of heart failure at his Los Angeles home, said Kevin Burns, head of Prometheus Entertainment and a trustee of Ackerman’s estate.
Although only marginally known to readers of mainstream literature, Ackerman was legendary in science-fiction circles as the founding editor of the pulp magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland. He was also the owner of a huge private collection of science-fiction movie and literary memorabilia that for years filled every nook and cranny of a hillside mansion overlooking Los Angeles.
“He became the Pied Piper, the spiritual leader, of everything science fiction, fantasy and horror,” Burns said Friday.
Every Saturday morning that he was home, Ackerman would open up the house to anyone who wanted to view his treasures. He sold some pieces and gave others away when he moved to a smaller house in 2002, but he continued to let people visit him every Saturday for as long as his health permitted.
From the AP via CBS News.
Sad news indeed. I wish I had known that he welcomed interaction with the public . It would have been a real thrill to meet him. Godspeed Mr. Ackerman, Godspeed…
December 17, 2008 4 Comments
Here’s a neat concept: rather than messing with unreliable home WiFi networks, simply walk that big honkin’ HD video over to your TV, just like you’ve done for years. This time, the movie is on a portable hard drive, and the device to play the file doesn’t cost several hundred dollars.
Western Digital has introduced the WD TV HD Media Player, and it is a very interesting idea. Essentially it allows you to turn any USB hard drive into an HD media player. You store your HD content on a USB drive. Plug the drive into the WD TV and you can then easily play HD movies, digital music or still images on your TV in up to 1080p resolution. Now, that IS easy.
It supports a ton of video formats: from .avi to .mov to XviD, DivX, H.264 and a bunch more. Did I mention that it supports HDMI and 1080p? I think I did!
When you compare this little device to buying or building your own media server, I think that it clearly comes out ahead in the areas of cost and simplicity. You can get the item for as little as $119, and it may just be the answer to a lot of every day needs.
A couple of cons that I see. First and foremost, it doesn’t support component video, only composite and HDMI, so connecting this to my 6 year old 65″ Mitsubishi Widescreen HD Television with an HD signal just isn’t going to happen. It will however go on the newer plasmas screen that we have. But, we use the Mits much more than the Plasma because of location. I know, I know – I touted its HDMI support, and that IS awesome. But HDMI along with component would be even better.
Second con: No network support. It would be nice to be able to drop a USB drive onto this puppy and wirelessly be able to store files on the drive. I think it would reduce the “sneakernet” aspect of the whole thing. But, what can you expect for $100? This would be a nice feature, but it would certainly bump the cost up.
I suppose when all is said and done, going with something like the QNAP 109 II or 209 II probably makes more sense if you already have a method of displaying digital files – i.e. a PS3 or xBox 360. You’ll end up spending more money that way, but the benefits may be worth it.
Still, this little thing is easy to use and dirt cheap for the kind of functionality. You be the judge! Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know what you think!
File Formats Supported
Music – MP3, WMA, OGG, WAV/PCM/LPCM, AAC, FLAC, Dolby Digital, AIF/AIFF, MKA
Graphics – JPEG, GIF, TIF/TIFF, BMP, PNG Video -MPEG1/2/4, WMV9, AVI (MPEG4, Xvid, AVC), H.264, MKV, MOV (MPEG4, H.264)
Playlist – PLS, M3U, WPL Subtitle -SRT (UTF-8)
- MPEG2/4, H.264, and WMV9 supports up to 1920x1080p 24fps, 1920x1080i 30fps, 1280x720p 60fps resolution.
- An audio receiver is required for surround sound output.
- AAC/Dolby Digital decodes in 2 channel output only.
- JPEG does not support CMYK or lossless.
- BMP supports uncompressed format only.
- TIF/TIFF supports single layer only.
December 6, 2008 13 Comments
Flavio is an Italian goat who works as a dishwasher in a Pizzaria but aspires to be much more than that. Someday he hopes to be a great inventor like his hero Leonardo DaVinci. No one says it better than Flavio himself, “One-a day, straight to th’ top!”
Anyway, rush over to see the listings and be sure to change the location for your TV provider so you get the right time and channel. Its set for 1:30 Eastern, 10:30 Pacific according to what I can tell.
First up on Saturday are Solomon FIX; MooBeard the Cow Pirate; Two Witch Sisters followed by Sunday’s airing of The Finster Finster Show; Adventure Time; Mind the Kitty.
Its going to be an awesome show!
I’ll of course annouce it as soon as Flavio is going to air as well!
December 5, 2008 3 Comments
For anyone that cares, I updated MovieWidget to support the latest Amazon searching features.
Not a big deal, but hey, that’s what I did last weekend.
Also, I’m in the process of adding MovieWidget to the WordPress Plugin database for easy automatic update capabilities. Then I’ll also be able to tell if anyone actually uses this thing! :)
November 24, 2008 No Comments
February 12, 2008 No Comments