Merry New Year! HA HA HA HA HA!
This is, of course, Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.
This is, of course, Eddie Murphy in Trading Places.
After checking out of my Santa Fe hotel, I caught the early matinee of Atonement, figuring my time for watching movies is rapidly running out. It was an entertaining film, in the school of British period pieces: much of the action revolved around events in an aristocratic household, with social class issues looming large.
I arrived at my motel near the Albuquerque airport yesterday mid-afternoon feeling achy and congested and sneezing a lot, so I pretty much spent the past 15 hours in bed. I feel a bit better now as I prepare to head home.
While the Albuquerque airport struck me quite modest in scope, the Dallas-Fort Worth complex is sprawling, with multiple terminals. I am on a layover for a couple of hours until my flight to Hartford. I'm still dragging a bit, but feeling worlds better than yesterday afternoon.
The new Vanity Fair has a cover story and exclusive photos about Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Click here to see the online version.
I saw the Met's production of War And Peace by Sergei Prokofiev tonight. The show started at 7:30 and ended at 11:45, so it was a marathon befitting the 1500-page epic by Tolstoy. The opera was certainly an epic production, with 13 scenes, over 60 solo singing parts, and huge numbers of choristers and actors on stage throughout (not to mention a few live animals).
Barack Obama may be making a believer out of me. I was impressed to listen to his Iowa town hall meetings on the radio last week and the fact that Democrats turned out almost twice as much as ever before--largely due to enthusiasm about his candidacy--says good things about this man's ability to inspire.
I enjoyed the back-to-back Republican and Democratic debates tonight. It was entertaining to see the incredibly phony Mitt Romney squirm as the rest of the GOP hopefuls ganged up on him. Huckabee continues to be the most likable Republican, though many of his ideas are just out to lunch (especially a tax policy that is downright cruel to the middle and working classes). I thought John Edwards was in as good form as I've seen him, coming across as fresh and on message. Barack Obama was eloquent in defending the power of words from Hilary Clinton's attack, demonstrating with his remarks the qualities so many voters are discovering in him as appealing.
The first major of the 2008 tennis season is just about a week away. Defending champ Roger Federer is pictured above working out at Melbourne Park in advance of the Australian Open.
Got my airline tickets for Bermuda today. The Choate tennis team will be spending a week at the Coral Beach And Tennis Club in March.
As we're bracing for a pile of snow to be dumped on us in the next 24 hours here in New England, it's refreshing to see the beginning of the Australian Open on ESPN2 tonight (the Monday 11 a.m. start works out to be 7 p.m. Sunday night on the East coast of North America, given the difference in time zones). A year ago, I was enjoying the midsummer heat in Melbourne on day one of the year's first major. I am missing being there right now.
The bright sun reflecting off the somewhat garishly blue new Plexicushion courts is certainly an eyeful, too!
With the school's move away from the Palm Treo platform, it looks like I will have the option to get an iPhone and have part of the monthly cost picked up by my employer. Of course, I would much prefer the second generation of the iPhone. Perhaps today's keynote address by Steve Jobs at the MacWorld conference will give us a sense of when that will be released. I'll be watching.
If you've been following the format wars in high-definition DVDs, you will enjoy this:
Whoever put this together is brilliant!
I am now a proud iPhone user. Drove up to the Apple Store at WestFarms Mall this afternoon and emerged with a shiny new toy. Activation with AT&T took just a few minutes and I've already loaded the software update released yesterday. Goodbye, Treo!
I saw Jersey Boys on Broadway last night. My seat was in the second row, right orchestra. It was a bit close to the stage, frankly, and at an angle, but better than being in nosebleed territory, I suppose. The show itself was incredibly fast paced (especially in Act I) and energetic, with the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons presented in dramatic fashion. Obviously the music itself was the highlight. An enjoyable outing.
When he hits a career-best 42 aces, one would expect Andy Roddick to prevail in the fifth set against 29th-ranked Philipp Kohlschreiber--not exactly a household name--in the third round of the Australian Open. But the American ended up on the wrong side of the scoreboard, finishing play after 2 a.m. That kind of loss down in the Antipodes has got to make it a VERY long ride home!
UPDATE: For another take on this from the Choate blogosphere, click here.
. . . the United States will (finally) inaugurate a new president.
Cameron Mullen asked to be in a blog post, so here's your fifteen minutes of fame, Cam. Enjoy your newfound celebrity.
So the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Pretty sweet (and unexpected)!
I've had my new iPhone for almost a week now and I keep asking myself: why didn't I get this before? Quite simply, the product is better than expected. Even if Apple releases a second generation model tomorrow, I don't regret having taken the plunge.
The syncing of my contacts and calendars is seamless (unlike my Treo experience). The maps feature is pretty terrific, especially with the locating feature in the latest software upgrade. Critics have observed the AT&T Edge network is a bit poky for Internet access, but it works well enough, especially since I don't do most of my surfing on the iPhone. For a quick lookup of something while on the road, it's fine (though I'm sure the 3G model expected later this year will blow it away).
The one major drawback I have encountered thus far is that my To Do list doesn't migrate onto the iPhone in an easy manner (but then again I haven't yet tried the Leopard approach to Tasks, which is built into Apple Mail). I still have to connect my school e-mail account on the Exchange server to the iPhone, but hopefully that shouldn't be too hard.
I downloaded some video shorts, the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, from iTunes to watch in small doses while traveling. I've also bought about ten ringtones via iTunes.
Heading into the final few days of the 2008 Aussie Open, there are some big matches looming. Hard not to like a Federer/Djokovic semifinal pairing. And Rafael Nadal is looking better than ever Down Under, and is a real threat to win his first Slam title outside of Paris (and make a serious bid for the #1 ranking).
On the women's side, it looks like the crown may be Maria Sharapova's to lose, for she has been in awfully fine form. But don't rule out Ana Ivanovic, who took out Venus Williams earlier today to advance to the semis.
In recent years, the Aussie Open has been serving up some unlikely finalists in the men's singles: Arnaud Clement (2001), Ranier Schuttler (2003), Marcos Baghdatis (2006), and Fernando Gonzalez (2007), for example. This year, #38-ranked Jo-Wilfired Tsonga upended world #2 Rafael Nadal in straight sets to advance to the title bout. He'll have to face either #1 Roger Federer or #3 Novak Djokovic--no easy feat.
Kudos to Connecticut's senior U.S. Senator, Chris Dodd, for virtually single-handedly taking a stand against the telecoms who are angling for retroactive Congressional immunity for their illegal FISA wiretaps (that is to say, their complicity in spying on American citizens!). The Bush Administration is finding plenty of Republicans and Democrats willing to support such immunity for these corporations in the name of national security. Fortunately, Dodd is using his position to defend the Constitution vigorously. That's what one hopes to expect from his elected representatives.
In my effort to see all the Oscar nominees for Best Picture, I snuck off campus for a 5:30 screening of Juno, which I found charming. The kids at school who saw it came back with tepid reviews, but I thought it was cleverly written and featured a stellar cast.
This weekend I aim to see Michael Clayton and next week I hope to catch There Will Be Blood. Then I'll be up to date.
My special edition copy of Family Guy: Blue Harvest came with a "free" digital download. That is, a companion DVD of the Star Wars parody enabled me to connect to iTunes and downloaded a digital copy of the movie--really an extended TV show episode--which can be watched on my computer or transferred to an iPod, iPhone, Apple TV device, etc. Apparently Fox will start doing this sort of thing routinely with future DVD releases. Pretty cool.
I woke up early (around 5:30 a.m.) and turned on the bedroom television in time to catch the end of the live coverage of the Federer/Djokovic Aussie Open semifinal. The Serb's straight-set win this morning (technically Friday night, Melbourne time) was clearly an upset--it's the first time in three years The Fed hasn't made it to a Slam final--but this win was never beyond the realm of possibility. What was surprising was the extent to which the younger player dominated the match. Djokovic's serving was amazing, blasting both corners consistently. Federer arguably wasn't at his best, surrendering a comfortable 5-3 first set lead, for example, but he got beat fair and square.
After reading a few articles online about how the MP3/iPod phenomenon has lowered our collective standards for audio quality to "low def," I have decided to encode my ripped CDs at 192 kbps, rather than the 128 which is standard for iTunes downloads. iTunes Plus songs, which don't have the DRM protection in the files, come in 256 kbps. But given the nearly 15,000 songs I have in digital format, 192 seems to be the sweet spot between the competing needs for better sonic fidelity and the need to keep file sizes as small as possible on computer and iPod hard drives. I have already re-ripped the CDs I loaded into my new iMac in the last month or so. I suppose I will gradually try to re-rip more of CDs at a leisurely pace in the weeks and months to come. But there's no rush, as it will take a long time to update all the music to the higher quality bit rate.
Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely extraordinary in There Will Be Blood. My prediction is that this performance will take the Best Actor crown at this year's Academy Awards. Though I would quibble with its pacing in places, this is a film worth seeing.
Novak Djokovic's assault on the top of men's tennis took a major step forward with his winning his first Slam title in today's Australian Open final. Looks like he will join Rafa Nadal in the pursuit of Roger Federer's #1 perch in 2008.
Big news of the day is the withdrawals of Democrat John Edwards and Republican Rudy Giuliani from the presidential race. I will miss Edwards, who has emerged as an articulate champion of addressing poverty in the nation and the world as well as a steady voice against special interests in government. Giuliani had impressed me tremendously in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy, but his exploitation of that attack since for personal profit and his pandering to the right wing as a presidential candidate soured me on him.
Season 4 of Lost started tonight, picking up after the spectacular third season finale many months ago. With the writer's strike leaving fresh TV shows few and far between (Friday Night Lights being a happy exception) I am glad Lost is back, even if it's only for an eight show run.