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9 posts from July 2010

It's been one week since you looked at me...

With just a couple hours to spare, here I am! With Snippet Wednesday! Huzzah! Huzzah!

Reminder
There are so many bloggers that have kinda sorta given up on blogging in recent months. Several of them, I'd like to just reach out and say, "what gives? C'mon! Just write a couple blog posts!" But wouldn't that be hypocritical considering I haven't blogged in a week and, even when I do blog, it's infrequent at best. So I'll just shut up, okay?

Fantasy
As I was logging in to write this blog post, an e-mail came in from Brandon informing me that he's starting back up his Blogger Fantasy Football League. Now this is something worth celebrating! YES! It means we're that much closer to the real NFL season. Oh happy day!

Drives
Yes, my replacement Time Capsule arrived and is hooked up (within two days, mind you). And we bought a Western Digital My Book as a secondary drive and it is hooked up. Our WiFi network is up and running. The TiVos have refreshed their recording queues. The hard drive on the iMac is backed up. And...

Works
Podworks-icon I finally got around to downloading one of those pieces of software that will allow me to transfer my music from my iPod back to my computer. I went along with Juliette's suggestion and purchased the full version of PodWorks. And it works! It's currently transferring all the music back from my iPod to my iTunes account and it's copying right where it is supposed to go on one of the external hard drives. I was considering PodManager, but discovered that it pulls the music from my iPod and places it on my desktop for me to then copy into iTunes. PodWorks cut out that extra step and is uber easy to use.

Juliette, you are a goddess amongst mere girls! I love you! I love you! I love you! I love you so much right now that, I tell you what, I'm going to buy a copy of your book, Morning Neurosis, and attend one of your signings so you can throw your John Hancock on it! Oh wait, I already did that. I guess you're just going to have to take my word for it, okay?

Runaways
One of the movies I've most been looking forward to this year is The Runaways. It's the biography of the all-girl rock band from the 70s featuring Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. I figured that if there was any one movie that Kristen Stewart would excel in, it would be one in which her regular drugged-out appearance would be a natch fit. Basically, I was just waiting to find out it was in theaters. Then, a few weeks back, I opened up my Rolling Stone magazine and saw a big two-page spread for the movie. This is it, I thought. Um, not exactly. It was an ad for the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the movie the following Tuesday. Huh? Did it never make it to theaters? How did I miss it? Well, whatever, it is now coming in from Netflix. So I'm a happy camper.

Playlist
I had fun today asking all my Tweeps to set my musical playlist for the day. I challenged them to just name any artist or band and, if available on my iPod, I would add a pair of songs from them to an On-the-Go playlist to set my musical mood for the day. Damn, it was fun! I got some great suggestions, a vast majority of which I had available, but several I did not. I should do this more often. It was even more fun than setting my iPod to shuffle.

Well, I'm out of here. Adios.


I've never seen you shine so bright...

I'll be darned if I'm not on time with Snippet Wednesday this week!

Red
I still stand behind the whole red-light camera program, in theory. However, in recent weeks, as I've driven near some intersections with these cameras in place, I have noticed issues. I saw one the other day that snapped a picture of a guy who was 100% still at a red light that he was going straight ahead through. These cameras are supposed to catch violators of the right-on-red turns. So, I guess it's a lot like my view of the death penalty - I support it, but it needs to be re-evaluated before it's implemented. Even my hometown of Naperville is re-evaluating.

Red-willis Red
I am sooooo looking forward to the new movie Red (based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis) about retired CIA black-ops agents coming back to help their leader when his identity is compromised. It stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren as the retired team. It also stars Mary Louise Parker, Julian McMahon, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Dreyfuss, Brian Cox, and Karl Urban. That's one helluva cast! But the key for me is seeing Mirren and Freeman kicking ass and taking names! That would be wicked cool!

Red
I just read an article that some of those RedBox DVD rental units may start popping up in front of public libraries. Check that, for now it will just be popping up in front of a single library for a six-month trial period, but still. Interesting. I can see this being good for libraries that charge a minimal amount for rentals. Some of them do. And having a RedBox to distribute the latest movies at a similar price is good for those people trying to find the latest and greatest as well as libraries attempting to cut back on what they spend on materials. However, if you're talking my library, which charges zero for rentals, then I might have a problem. Well, maybe not. I don't want to see my library dip into the red with overspending on some materials. Oh hell, let's just say it's a pretty cool collaboration and leave it at that, eh?

Red
Speaking of RedBox, it seems they're going to experiment with an online distribution model in addition to their kiosk machines. No one is quite sure if this just means online video streaming or online sign up with mailbox delivery. Only time will tell. But it could mean viable competition for Netflix. Lord knows Blockbuster wasn't a viable competitor. Heh.

Red
I'll bet after being on this flight, the passengers are seeing red indeed. Holy cow! People sitting in their seats being tossed in the air, hitting the ceiling of the plane and then winding up in other seats??? I'm thankful every day that Katie isn't on a flight that is nearly that bad. She's nervous enough about flying. Experiencing this would push her over the edge and she'd never fly again. I can guarantee that. Me? I'd recover, but suddenly be a bit timid about flying, I'm sure. Otherwise, I love it too much.

That's enough red for now.


You never will be mine...

Sadly, the Pitchfork Music Festival has wrapped up for 2010 with a pretty little bow on it.

Granted I only went to a single day of the festival, I still feel compelled to write about it.

I missed out on the earliest act of the day, Sharon Von Etten, because I mistimed the train I was taking to get into the city. Bummer. I was kinda looking forward to hearing her.

As I entered the park, though, I was greeted with the acoustic stylings of The Tallest Man on Earth. I really dug on his sound and am looking forward to checking out more of his music. 

There was a pretty rough transition next from TTMOE to the next act, hip-hopper El-P. I didn't really dig on his first few tracks, but I finally started to get into it after that and enjoy his music.

Next up was one of the bands I was most looking forward to, Liars. However, what I wasn't expecting was how noisy and uneven they sounded. It left me happy that I spent the time wandering the booths instead of sitting in one place and listening to them. It just didn't fit the mood that was set by all the acts up to this point.

The disappointment of Liars was made up for by Robyn. I wasn't sure what to think about a former pop starlet at an indie music festival, but, DAMN, she tore it up. Just a high-paced pop and electronic set which left me wondering how she could've had that much energy considering the heat.

Next up was Broken Social Scene. The only bad thing I can say about them is that the sound system for their stage was a bit wonky. While I've experienced worse, the sound did go in and out a little on a couple of tracks. But I think that's a combination of the stage crew and the heat. Otherwise, Broken Social Scene was fantastic and the end of their show left me wanting to hear a lot more of their music. Good thing my iPod had some.

The final act of the night was Modest Mouse. This was the band I most wanted to see going into the festival and the reason I chose Friday over any of the other nights. The verdict? I was left a bit empty. While the songs that Isaac Brock and company chose to play were decent enough and ones that I recognized, they weren't ones that I truly knew well enough to be able to sing along with. I am not a diehard Mouser like so many other people that were in attendance, and I hate to sound mainstream with this request, but it would've been nice to hear "Float On" or "Ocean Breathes Salty" or even "King Rat." They left after a little more than an hour and came back about 10 minutes later for an encore which lasted a single song. Still nothing of those three tracks.

If I had known that this might have been a possibility, I probably would've opted for Saturday, instead, so I could've seen LCD Soundsystem. The downside of that would've been missing Robyn and Broken Social Scene, of course. But seeing as Modest Mouse was my number one reason for choosing that night, I think Saturday might have made for a better overall evening.

Oh well.

The festival grounds themselves, including the vendors, were great. I had a lot of fun wandering from tent to tent and just perusing what was available. I did buy a few smallish items and loved that Shawnimals was present for me to get a little bit of a Ninjatown fix.

Will I go again next year? Damn right. I'm not sure if it will be one, two, or three days. We'll have to wait and see. But I always seem to have fun at Pitchfork. So why the heck not?

Here are some pictures I took at the festival.

I think it's pretty obvious that I'm a junkie for Pixar animated films. They're always great. However, when it comes to other studios and their digitally animated feature films, I'm a bit more hesitant.

They always seem rushed, unfinished, poorly written, poorly acted... you name it.

So, yes, I was a bit wary of Despicable Me based on the trailers. I just didn't see it being any good save for a few moments of potential levity here and there.

Despicable_me Katie and I went to see it on Sunday and I would like to say, here and now, that I was wholly wrong in my pre-judgment of the film. It was hilarious and heartwarming and thoroughly enjoyable. The voice acting was good, the characters were a lot of fun, and damn if those minions don't steal the movie.

But the biggest surprise was that this was actually a movie where 3D paid off!

Katie and I have been to a few films in 3D since the craze came back full bore. And, honestly, none of them needed it. It was merely a gimmick to make you pay more to see the film and, thus, rake in more bucks and thrust the film higher up the all-time grossing list (I still wonder how Avatar would've really fared if it wasn't in 3D).

Despicable Me, though, used 3D like films that came out in a past era. Items on screen came out at you making you jump or laugh or whatnot. But, unlike old 3D films, it wasn't done intentionally like when an actor is swinging a sword and makes it a point to stick it out at the audience for maximum 3D effect. These scenes fit into the movie and flowed well with everything going on around it. 

All-in-all, I was very pleasantly surprised.


I focus on the pain, the only thing that's real...

Apple_time_capsule My Time Capsule died.

The external hard drive that we use as a data backup source, the primary operating drive for iTunes, and the recipient of data from the Time Machine on Katie's MacBook.

It up and died.

While it's not terrible, it's not good either. 

We won't have to pay hundreds of dollars to a data recovery company. Why? We have all our photos on the internal hard drive of our iMac (thankfully I hadn't deleted a bunch like I was going to). We found all of Katie's grad school files on a thumbdrive. I can download the most recent copies of websites I was working on from their servers. Almost anything else is so incidental so as no to be of no real concern.

Save for my music.

I had run out of hard drive space on the iMac so I resorted to using the Time Capsule as the primary drive for iTunes. I had no choice. I just have too much damn music.

The good news is that I do have it all on my iPod (and people thought having a 160GB iPod was stupid... ha!). I just need to figure out how best to get it from my iPod back onto a hard drive in iTunes. Any suggestions from anyone who has done this in the past? I know that there are pieces of freeware out there that can do this, but have never heard from a person who has used any of them. My buddy Eric told me of a piece of software last night as we were leaving Pitchfork, but I can't remember the name. I may have to contact him unless one of you jogs my memory with a suggestion.

There is one shining light in this whole thing and that is that Apple is going to replace the Time Capsule free of charge. They're going to send out a new one today and I should have it by the middle of next week. 

They are doing this because the MacBook is still in warranty and the Time Capsule serves as the backup destination for Time Machine on that computer. If we weren't doing that, I may have had a little more difficulty getting the free replacement since the manufacturer's warranty on the Time Capsule is kaput and they don't offer AppleCare plans on them.

Say what you want about Apple, and there are plenty of haters willing to do that, but at least they are trying to make things right and they do give a damn about their customers. I used the Apple Expert system on their website and they called me up within five minutes of the time I scheduled the callback and they walked me through potential fixes and, when those failed, they told me how they were going to take care of it. Very calm, very professional, very much aiming to make the customer happy.

And people wonder why I'm willing to pay more for Apple products. Now you know.

Never got service like this when I was a PC owner.

Oh, and I am going to buy another external hard drive that will be used as nothing but my iTunes music drive. Time Capsule can back that up (and not do double duty as an operating drive as a result). Suggestions on external HDs that play nice with MacOS?

Okay, it's not totally unrelated.

It is about Apple and is a video that was played at yesterday's press conference about the iPhone 4 and its antenna problems. I love it.

I don't get the hoopla either. I know several people with iPhone 4s and none of them have been having problems. Are they missing out? Should they be trying to make problems so they can cash in or be part of the pity party?


You gotta take if off, baby, for me...

I actually wasn't going to do any snippets this week. I had nothing yesterday. And I was pretty sure I'd come up with zilch today. However, Katie, in an attempt to make her brother feel like he actually has something worthwhile to live for during his day, helped me come up with enough crap to populate a Snippet Thursday entry. Day late, but not a dollar short!

Pitchfork
Yes, tomorrow is my live music day to end all days! The Pitchfork Music Festival is here and I will be there all day long boiling in what is predicted to be high 80s/low 90s temperatures with about 80% humidity. Oh joy. I love music, but that's brutal. The final day of Pitchfork last year found me wearing jeans, and doing so quite comfortably. Help. Me.

But for anyone interested, I will take some photos and upload them over the weekend to my Flickr account and I'm sure I'll be Tweeting throughout the event so long as there is a reliable AT&T connection at Union Park. It was, at best, spotty last year.

Strippers
My brother-in-law and future sister-in-law are going to a sports card show this weekend at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago. Pretty much the same one I went to with them earlier this year. However, this one got pretty interesting in that the Stephens Center will also be hosting an adult entertainment show called Exxxtacy 2010. So, basically what we're talking about here is a bunch of strippers in their red-light best walking around amongst families with children. And I thought Hooters was family friendly.

I'm trying to talk Scott (the BiL) into writing a guest post about this experience complete with photos from Becca (the FSiL). Anybody else want to see him do it? Votes?

Steinbrenner
No, I'm not wearing a black armband in memory of George Steinbrenner. Sure I was a huge Yankees fan back in the day. I worshipped them during the 80s and early 90s, an era that his iron hand ruled over unquestioningly. And he was responsible for bringing in my favorite baseball player of all time, Don Mattingly. And I do respect the hell out of him for many reasons. And, well, considering all that, maybe I should've been wearing a black armband. R.I.P. George.

TV
This has been a great week for TV. Psych is back. White Collar is back. The new Covert Affairs debuted. The Closer is back. Rizzoli & Isles premiered. Geez. Who needs the regular television season when you've got quality fare like this?

Geneva

Katie and I bummed around our hometown of Geneva this past weekend. It was great just doing our own thing the entire day and we discovered a few new things that made it even more fun. Like Steak Sliders at Wildwood. Yummy! And a bike race that is new to our town but, hopefully, will be back next year when I have my good camera on me (I didn't want to carry it that day only to discover this race was going on after it was too late to do anything about it). So I got a couple photos with my Blackberry. Oh well.

I think I'm going to skip the final snippet we came up with. This should be more than enough for you all, right?

Time to head to Predators!


Oh-oh, wait a minute, Mister Postman...

Can someone please explain something to me?

Hooters_logo How did Hooters become a family restaurant?

I know this isn't a new discovery. It's been this way for several years now, but I never quite understood how it happened.

I remember being back in high school and a bunch of us from the football team would drive out to Downers Grove with the intent of scarfing down wings and doing a little "bird watching" (yeah, that's what we'll call it) at the only Hooters restaurant outside of Chicago we could easily drive to.

We felt like miscreants and pervs, knowing we were there primarily to see women in tight-fitting, scoop-necked shirts and very tight and showy orange shorts. But isn't that why everyone was there? Businessmen, college guys, married men... but all men.

Nothing about the place has really changed. Same food, same atmosphere, same outfits.

But certainly not the same clientele.

Katie and I went there with my dad the other day.

Yes, Katie and I. A guy and his wife in a place with scantily clad women.

Walking in ahead of us was a guy and his wife and a baby in a babyseat.

There was a table full of high school aged girls there.

Guys had their women with them.

The walls were adorned with women's wear and kids gear including onesies, bibs (which, back in the day, probably should've been marketed to male customers), booties (get your mind out of the gutter), and more.

There was a time, just a decade ago, when the fiancee of a friend of mine completely nixed the idea of him having a bachelor party at Hooters. Nuh-uh! No way! I think she would've been more agreeable to a stripper than she was to Hooters.

Are we, as a society, actually becoming more accepting of the semi-naked female body? If so, what's next? Family night at the local peep show? Family discounts on lap dances?

This e-mail came in to me today. I was so touched!

Hello, (miracle2dd@att.net)
My name is miracle, i saw your profile today (www.mikebentley.com)and became interested in you,i will also like to know you more,and if you can send an email to my email address,i will give you my pictures here is my email address (miracle2dd@att.net) I believe we can move from here! Awaiting for your mail to my email address here.
miracle.

This is when it's painful to be a proofreader.

I guess it would be a miracle if I ever actually received spam with proper grammar and spelling, wouldn't it?


Fool for a lifetime...

Because of the holiday-shortened week, I almost forgot today was Wednesday and, therefore, SNIPPET WEDNESDAY!!!

Faith
Marty nearly blew my mind the other day when he Tweeted about Faith No More playing a gig in NYC the other night. Faith No More? They broke up more than a decade ago! Well, apparently it didn't stick and they got back together last year (minus guitarist Jeff Martin) and have been on tour for a bit and I had no idea. Sure, the U.S. leg of the tour is/was lacking more than just a bit, but how cool would it be to see them play? I loved these guys and never got to see them live back in the day.

Attic
I gave the attic one more shot. Lo and behold, in one container that I thought contained old board games, I found them! My Speed Racer LEGO sets, my robo-monkey, and my Octan Racer. Just some all-around cool stuff. I was stoked. But also in the container were a couple of my old stuffed animals that I loved from back in the day, including...

Opus
I had no idea how old this guy was. This Penguin Lust Opus from Bloom County dates back to 1984! So hard to believe. But he's in pretty darn good shape, don'cha think?

And I also found...

Woody
That kid Andy from the Toy Story movies had his Woody in the form of a Old West sheriff. My Woody was Woody Woodpecker. I have no idea how old I was when I got this, but he's still around. Pretty beat up but I would think that's an indication of the degree to which I loved this guy.

However, being as young as I was, I could not, for the life of me, pronounce "Woody Woodpecker." So I wound up saying — and, yes, this has found a place of prominence in the annals of Apgar history — "ooo-nee cock-er." Well, "woody," "pecker," "cocker"... not that I was too far out in left field with that one.

Cubs
Speaking of funny stuff, I was driving behind a car on the way home today with the license plate "CUBS BY 2." I had to laugh.

Cubs? By 2? What? Lost by two? Only won two in the month of June? Missed being in last place in the NL Central by two?

You become rather cynical as a Cubs fan.


Declare independence...

Happy Fourth of July to all my fellow U.S.ians!

The U.S. Independence Day is one of my favorite holidays second only to Halloween. Katie and I love to sit out and watch the various fireworks displays in the area. On Friday night, we were down in Aurora for one show and tonight we'll be in St. Charles for another with her brother and his fiancee.

I did take some photos on Friday. They didn't necessarily turn out great, though. Due to a little physical instability of the camera, the in-focus ones look like they're double exposed. So I decided to do something a little different and intentionally take a bunch of them with semi- to very-soft focus. I really kinda like the result.

Here you go...

Hope you celebrate safely.

Oh, and while I'm at it, I'd like to offer up a very special Happy Independence Day wish to my friend Marie. This is, after all, her first time celebrating as a naturalized U.S. Citizen.


Racin' off to see your peep show...

If you saw someone reading a book with this title and cover, what would your first reaction be?

Peepshow 

Well, this is what I was reading for the last week and I got my fair share of comments. At the gym, at work, at the coffee shop, at the DMV... yes, the DMV.

Let me say one thing first... I wasn't reading this for the title or what it could potentially contain. I actually read it because of the author. I was a big fan of Joshua Braff's first book, The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green, and as soon as I saw his name on this book, I grabbed it off the shelf. He could've been rewriting a volume of Encyclopaedia Britannica, I wouldn't have cared. 

So, yes, I was very excited to read Peep Show and it was everything I could've hoped for.

But, like I said, it did elicit some reactions based solely on the title and the image of the guy with a camera on the cover. Don't worry, all were good natured, but it was just weird seeing how people reacted. Mostly it's some variation of "so that's the kind of book you read" or "I had no idea you were into porn." I think one guy at the gym jokingly call me a "smut peddler." Then I explain what the book is all about and every single one of them walks away wanting to read it. So, either it's that good a concept or I'm just great at promoting, I'm not sure which.

If you are looking for a really good book, though, I do highly recommend this.