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Syabas Popbox hands-on

January 6th, 2010 admin No comments

The Popcorn Hour lineup had (and still has) a huge following, but it remains one of the most under-appreciated media streamers on the market from a mainstream perspective. We get the feeling that all of that’s gearing up to change, with Syabas demonstrating its highly marketable Popbox here at CES. We were able to swing by and take a look at the product tonight, and we’ve got to confess — it’d be a pretty stellar add to any home entertainment setup. The box was small, light and stylish enough, and the actual user interface was drop-dead simple to navigate. It hooks up with any networked media (the demo was playing back content from a NAS drive), and it even pulls down metadata from IMDB for films. We briefly watched a couple of 720p clips, and playback started instantly and the video quality was nothing short of fantastic. We’ve got a video in the works, but for now, feel free to have a glance at the gallery below.

Syabas Popbox hands-on originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 05 Jan 2010 19:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Steve Rosenbaum: Da Dum. Real Life "Law and Order" New Manhattan DA Cy Vance to Star

January 5th, 2010 admin No comments

It’s been a very long time since such a collection of Democratic royalty gathered in one place.

But at City College’s Great Hall, New York’s political movers and shakers arrived to honor and celebrate a big Democratic win.

And with good reason – after 35 years in the office of District Attorney, Robert Morganthau was handing over the reigns of the busiest and most storied DA’s office to Cy Vance Jr.

Mayor’s Dinkins and Koch were there, as was State Senator Charles Schumer, City Counsel President Charles Stringer, John Kerry’s sister Peggy Kerry
and former Senatorial Candidate Caroline Kennedy.

Prosecutor turned author Linda Fairstein was in the crowd, as was documentary filmmaker Ric Burns, and Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts.

Vance steps in to an office that turned the criminal courts process into prime-time television with the series Law and Order and not one, but two spin offs. (Criminal Intent and Special Victims Unit). But the truth of the matter is that the slick 48 minute crime procedural doesn’t reflect that actual state of affairs for Justice in New York County. Luckily, Vance has movie star good looks that will serve him well in the high profile position as the City’s Top Prosecutor. As you might expect, the office has all of the history and some of the fossilization that any organization with one leader for three and a half decades is likely to exhibit. The challenges facing Vance include changes in both the very bones of the office and the world around it.

For example, crimes that used to increasingly be committed with a knife or a gun are now more likely to be committed with a computer or a forged stock certificate. In the era of Bernie Madoff and identity theft, the Manhattan DA’s office will need to recruit and retain a whole new class of computer savvy prosecutors who can piece together digital evidence, and make cases where the evidence is more likely found in an email trail than a blood trail. Digital evidence, from computer hard drives to high-tech wire taps will increasingly be the stuff that cases are made of, and New York can lead the way in setting new standards. This can’t come as a surprise to the savvy Vance, who’s been both a corporate attorney and criminal defense attorney. New York’s Courts have long lead the Nation, both in terms of visibility and complexity – and big changes are likely to face both the office and The Courts in the years ahead.

So even as Democrats celebrate the election of the first New Democratic DA in 35 years, Vance knows he’s got his work cut out for him. Mogenthau may have been known within the DA’s office as “The Boss” but Vance, in his acceptance speech, was already changing the tone by making sure everyone in attendance knows that he’s planning on building a team and sharing the limelight in his tenure in the office. Said Vance; “My Father stood in big shoes (speaking of his father, former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance) … and he always told me the way you fill them is with a team.”

And so, Team Vance takes the field.


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Angela of Arabia?

January 5th, 2010 admin No comments

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Here’s acting legend Angela Lansbury in NYC on Sunday (left) — and Peter O’Toole in the 1962 epic film “Lawrence of Arabia” (right).Murder, she wore.We’re just sayin’. …

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Sunday Talk – The Best and the Brightest

January 4th, 2010 admin No comments

While there’s much room for debate about the top things of the decade, the funniest political videos, biggest media fuck-ups and most moranic protest signs of the year, and whether or not Rahm Emanuel deserves to be drowned in a bathtub, I think there’s one thing we can all agree upon:

America has the greatest health care system the world has ever known.


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Susan Madrak: You Still Want To Gut Social Security? Bring. It. On.

January 4th, 2010 admin No comments

You find the darndest things on Craigslist, don’t you?

Looks like the The Peter G. Peterson Foundation is putting together another scare piece (remember “I.O.U.S.A.”?) to use in their latest attempt to kill Medicare and Social Security.

As a Philadelphian, I’m thrilled we were chosen to take part – even if they picked us because tightwad billionaire Peterson knew it would be cheaper than filming in New York.

But this is more than mere marketing – and it isn’t even the major thrust of his sophisticated astroturf campaign. The fact is, billionaire Peterson has spent decades of his time – and millions of dollars – pushing for the eventual gutting of these two programs. He’s a deficit hawk, all right – but only when there’s a Democratic administration.

And in a classic piece of disaster capitalism, he and his powerful allies are moving in for the kill. Be very, very afraid.

A New York City Production Company is looking for participants for a documentary web series about the financial issues facing everyday people. We are interviewing real people, not actors, talking about their lives, experiences, and thoughts about one or more of the major issues facing Americans today.

We are looking to cover stories from as many different ethnicities and political viewpoints as possible. Whatever your age, background, or income, if you have an interesting story, we’d love to hear from you.

Since this is documentary journalism we can not by law compensate the interviewees but we will pay for travel and food. The shoot should take a few hours and we will do our best to schedule around your convenience.

What do you suppose the odds are of my viewpoints being included in this “documentary journalism”?

You will be helping other people by telling your story. Other Americans who feel alienated and hopeless will gain comfort by knowing they are not alone. And together we can make a difference in the future of our country and for our children.

Yes, we’ll be stripping the recession-battered country bare of what tattered remnants of a safety net that remain – and we’ll make you like it! It certainly will make a difference.

The videos are for The Peter G Peterson Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan, organization whose only mission is to educate the American people about the country’s financial situation and incite them to take action on their behalf.

Dear sweet Jesus, shoot me now. The man worked for Nixon. He was the CEO of Lehman Brothers, which held the same kind of influence we now see with Goldman Sachs. (So you know he has only our best interests at heart!)

You don’t have to be a political expert to participate. We just want to know your personal story.

The topics are:

1. The Healthcare System – What it does to the participants and the need for reform in a way that works.
2. The Tax System – How complicated and unfair it is.
3. Social Security and Medicare – What will happen to the younger generations once the Entitlements go broke.
4. The Federal Government’s Financial Situation – 11 trillion in National Debt with no plans to balance the budget and pay it back.
5. Our own personal financial issues – High school loans, credit card debt and mortgage rates are crippling Americans.

Some of the possible “stories” we’re looking for:
* A person who can’t pay their mortgage or their taxes
* A recent college graduate with credit card debt and student loans.
* A young family adjusting to the costs involved in raising children.
* A person with serious healthcare expenses.
* A small business owner who would like to provide healthcare but can’t.
* A person who has been or is being audited due to a mistake by their accountant or not knowing how to file taxes properly.
* Anyone who is infuriated by these issues.

Please remember, the types listed above are only possible guidelines. If you have an interesting story about your financial struggles, we’d love to hear from you!

Fellow Philadelphians, I think you know what to do. Let’s send these sorry excuses for human beings back to Wall Street with some real stories.

The series will premiere on prominent websites with potential TV airings.
If interested, please send an email with your name, contact info, and a brief description of your your situation to John at casting@dynamiccontentproductions.com. We will be shooting in Philadelphia mid to late January so time is of the essence.

Look, if the healthcare battle hasn’t opened your eyes to the fact that immensely wealthy and powerful corporate interests are perverting our democracy, you’re not paying attention. Why else do you suppose the Washington Post turned over a chunk of their news section the other day to a Peterson propaganda supplement – as news content?

The Washington Post published in its news pages an article by The Fiscal Times — “an independent digital news publication reporting on fiscal, budgetary, health-care and international economics issues” — that promoted the creation of a task force to reduce the deficit in part through cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. But the Post did not disclose that the Times is funded by conservative billionaire Peter G. Peterson, whose organizations have long advocated reducing the deficit through entitlement cuts and have called for the creation of such a commission.

The Fiscal Times article ran on Page A10 of the January 31 edition of the Post. The article’s byline noted that authors Elaine S. Povich and Eric Pianin report for The Fiscal Times; a note at the end of the article stated that it “was produced by the Fiscal Times, an independent digital news publication reporting on fiscal, budgetary, health-care and international economics issues.

Oddly enough, there was no inclusion of opposing views in this “news” piece. But then, the Washington Post has a long and proud tradition as a willing andmaiden to powerful interests.

So here it comes, the cranking up of the Mighty Wurlitzer. If they want a fight, bring it on.

This time, we’re ready.


Alex Remington: Secret of Monkey Island and Monkey Island 2: Two Games Full of Pirate Jokes. What’s Not to Love?

January 3rd, 2010 admin No comments

With all of the notoriety of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (ratings: 80, 58, and 62), it’s easy to forget some of the other pop culture buccaneers who kept the lights of booty and plunder alive during the modern era. Frankly, few did it better than Guybrush Threepwood, protagonist of LucasArts’s bizarre, hilarious point-and-click Monkey Island games. His first two adventures — 1990’s The Secret of Monkey Island and 1991’s Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge — tend to be wordy affairs, with frequent puns and gags based on dialogue choices that the player may pick.

The game is heavily jokey and self-referential; one of the first pirates Guybrush meets in the first game is wearing a big button that says “Ask Me About Loom,” and if the player does, he launches into a long speech about Lucasarts’s game Loom — or, as the character calls it, “The latest masterpiece of fantasy storytelling from Lucasfilm’s™ Brian Moriarty™” — and as he speaks, the word “” appears just below him. When he’s done speaking, the character is able to say “Geeze, what an obvious sales pitch.” (Another of the game’s running gags is to put ™ after a number of proper nouns, including “Monkey Island.”) The second game includes an extended reference to the “Luke, I am your father” scene in Empire Strikes Back — easy pickings for a game made by a company with “Lucas” in the name. The basic plot of both games is rather similar: Guybrush Threepwood, an inept wannabe pirate, must make use of dumb luck and voodoo magic to defeat the evil ghost pirate LeChuck and win the love of the beautiful Governor Elaine Marley. The jokes are rapid-fire, but the sense of humor is cracked: if the names “Guybrush Threepwood” and “LeChuck” aren’t funny to you, it’s likely that a lot of the rest of the games won’t be either.

But the gameplay is quite enjoyable. If the games aren’t remotely as serious as the King’s Quest series, they’re still fun and engaging, and decently long: certainly much longer than Loom, whose short length is probably its biggest drawback. They try to walk a delicate line between having a reasonably engaging storyline and furiously mocking everything in sight. (”How come you guys talk so funny?” Guybrush can ask a passerby. “Pirate Lingo!” is the answer. “It’s how everybody talked back then.) They’re relentlessly ironic about everything, as though Douglas Adams turned from outer space to the lawless Caribbean.

Point-and-click adventures gradually evolved out of text-based adventures like Zork, as a limited range of movement in the game’s vocabulary (”go north,” “look at dog”) became intuited by clicking rather than patiently typing, but the engine was essentially the same. In these games it can be frustrating to figure out exacty where to click for what; sometimes the only solution is to drag your mouse slowly over every part of the screen until the identifying text changes to something promising, and then try out various commands — “push,” “pull,” “open,” and so on. (I got through the entire first game without using “Turn on” or “Turn off.”)

Later sequels had much better graphics and cartoony animation, and Tales of Monkey Island are still being produced by Telltale Interactive, a company founded by former Lucasarts employees. The series has had such staying power that Secret of Monkey Island was recently re-mastered with improved graphics and voiceover acting for X-Box — though the original is such a classic that the new version has a button that lets you play the game with the 1990 graphics. I haven’t played the new version, but it’s extraordinarily faithful; it’s the old game, with virtually the same interface, just improved graphics.

The first two Monkey Island games are extremely similar in look and feel (though the second has slightly better graphics and more detail in sprite movement), and totally delightful. Lucasarts’ house style always involved a lot of bizarre humor, but it was rarely better than in Monkey Island. The games aren’t hard to find, and thanks to the Scumm VM emulator, which plays old Lucasarts games, they’re very easy to run. If you have a similarly weird sense of humor, you may be surprised how much you like them. Just think twice before wearing an “Ask Me About Monkey Island™” button.

Rating for The Secret of Monkey Island: 85
Rating for Monkey Island 2: LeChucks’ Revenge: 83

Crossposted on Remingtonstein.

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Ben Heck’s PS3 Slim laptop pops up for sale on Ebay

January 2nd, 2010 admin No comments

You’re probably already familiar with the work of modder / hacker extraordinaire, Benjamin Heckendorn… and if you’re not, well, maybe it’s time to familiarize yourself with his work. Regardless, some of his fantastic handiwork has shown up on Ebay for sale, and while we don’t want to counsel you to foolishlessly spend loads of hard-earned cash, this is bound to be an heirloom one day. The listing here is for Ben’s PS3 Slim laptop — the one modded from a 17-inch Gateway 1775w LCD with a 1280 x 720 pixel resolution — and its currently at around $1,075.00 with 16 bids on it and roughly 3 days remaining. So if this kind of thing strikes your fancy (and we know that it does) hop to it! Check out our segment of The Engadget Show we filmed at Ben’s evil laboratory after the break.

Continue reading Ben Heck’s PS3 Slim laptop pops up for sale on Ebay

Ben Heck’s PS3 Slim laptop pops up for sale on Ebay originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 01 Jan 2010 21:28:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Best and Worst of Worst and Best Lists

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

It’s that end-of-the-year time again and (disputed) end-of-the-decade time when we get a gander at what assorted folk think was the best and worst of what we’ve experienced in the past year or the past 10. As Devilstower pointed out, these lists are stupid. That doesn’t stop them from filling the airwaves and other media, however. In late December, Top Ten and Top Five lists of everything imaginable pop up to fill the interstices left by contributors on vacation. Some of us, despite our best intentions, read them full well knowing their high potential for lowering our IQs.

This year, there’s 10 Cocktails for 2010, the Best Book I’ve Read This Year, the best films of the decade, no, these are the best films of the decade, no, these are the best films of the decade, the Worst Movie of the Decade, the 23 Shows That Changed Television during the Decade, the best 10 viral videos of the decade. And there’s …

Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About.

Decade In Review: Corporate Scoundrels And Scandals.

Top ten dreams of the decade– did yours make the list?

Capitol Hill’s Most Unhinged Republicans.

Nine Ways Our World Changed During the ‘00s.

Image of the decade.

Top 10 Sex Tape Scandals of 2009.

Biggest political winners and losers of 2009.

OK, OK, enough already, you get the picture.

Not to be outdone, the folks over at The Atlantic gave Marc Ambinder the task of putting up a reader poll to choose the worst political gaffes of the decade.

The choices: “Mission Accomplished”; Obama jokes about Nancy Reagan and seances in first post-election presser; Mike Huckabee hosts press conference to announce he won’t run negative ad, shows negative ad; John McCain unsure of how many houses he owns; John Kerry’s 2006 “Botched Joke.”

Really? That’s it?

How about John McCain’s 2008 comment, “Our economy remains fundamentally strong.” Or George Bush’s “You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie.” Or Larry Craig’s “wide stance”? Or John Edwards’s midnight encounter with the National Inquirer sneaking down the back stairs of his lover’s hotel room? Or what about Rod Blagojevich’s taped effort to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat: “I’ve got this thing and it’s f**king golden,” “I’m just not giving it up for f**king nothing,” and “Give this motherf**ker Obama his senator? F**k him. For nothing. F**k him.’”? Or Condi Rice’s slip-up when she said: “As I was telling my husb—”, then quickly changed to “As I was telling President Bush.”

As gaffes go, however, surely George W. Bush’s July 2, 2003, “Bring them on” dare to Iraqi insurgents is hard to top. If that is, it’s a “gaffe” to play tough guy with thousands of other people’s lives.


No Charges For Mike Tyson In Scuffle With Photographer

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

LOS ANGELES — Mike Tyson and a photographer won’t face charges after their scuffle last month at Los Angeles International Airport, city prosecutors said Thursday.

The decision prompted authorities in Arizona to say they won’t pursue any probation violations against Tyson in a 2007 drug case.

Los Angeles prosecutors found insufficient evidence to charge Tyson or photographer Tony Echeverria after they were arrested on Nov, 11, spokesman Frank Mateljan said.

Echeverria said a blow by the former heavyweight champion knocked him to the ground, and he was treated for a cut on his forehead.

Tyson was traveling with his family when he was mobbed by photographers. His attorney Shawn Chapman Holley said at the time that Tyson was protecting his infant daughter after Echeverria collided with her stroller.

The lawyer said Thursday the city attorney’s office made the right decision by not charging Tyson.

“The city attorney’s decision today is a small victory for those who continue to be harassed, annoyed and even stalked by the paparazzi,” Chapman Holley said.

Attempts to reach Echeverria for comment were unsuccessful.

Tyson also won’t face any probation violations in his 2007 cocaine possession case in Arizona, said Zach Dal Pra, deputy chief of the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department.

Arizona authorities said after Tyson’s arrest in Los Angeles that they were watching that case to see if the former boxer should be sent to jail.

However, Dal Pra said Thursday his office would have to show evidence of a newer crime to revoke the probation.

Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion ever in 1986 when he won his title as a 20-year-old. His life since then has been marred by accusations of domestic violence, rape and cocaine use.

He played himself in the 2009 hit film “The Hangover.”

___

Associated Press Writer Amanda Lee Myers in Phoenix contributed to this report.


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Merlin Olsen Suit: Asbestos Caused My Cancer

January 1st, 2010 admin No comments

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Football legend Merlin Olsen is suing NBC Studios, NBC Universal, 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Sherwin Williams, Lennox Industries and other companies, claiming he developed a rare form of cancer as a result of being negligently exposed to …

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