Archive for July, 2008

Bulk Movie Reviews

In an effort to get caught up with the six weeks of non-blogging I just did, and to push the last boring monolithic post down the page a bit, short reviews of the last few movies I saw.

Get Smart was entertaining, but not great. I liked it largely because I like Steve Carell and I used to watch reruns of Get Smart on Nick at Nite growing up. It didn’t seem like it could make up it’s mind whether it wanted to be a summer blockbuster spy movie or a parody of them.

The TV series had Maxwell Smart as a terrible screwup who only succeeded and survived by dumb luck and the help of Agent 99 . The movie has him as a bit of a clumsy doofus, but actually not a bad secret agent.

Carell sells it pretty well, and I particularly enjoyed that halfway through the movie, Alan Arkin (the chief) gets unchained from his desk. He’s a hilariously grumpy old man, and I genuinely thought he was one of the better parts of the movie. I thought The Rock was really good, too, but then I like pretty much anything he does. I even liked Doom, largely because it was awesome, and if you disagree you probably suck.

If that last statement didn’t turn you off on reading the rest of this post, Wall-E and Wanted are after the jump. I saw them more recently, so they’ll be a little less vague.

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get_them_ducats.pl: RSS parsing and screen-scraping, poorly.

Since I moved to New York, I’ve found myself facing an extra hour and a half a day on the train, with nothing to do but wish I had a seat or could afford a closer apartment.

It’s left me scrambling for things to listen to, or to read. So I’ve done two things. One, I started downloading and listening to podcasts - they require too much of my attention to listen to during work, and generally don’t hold up against the myriad distractions of home, but episodes of This American Life and Scientific American’s Science Talk podcasts are perfect for the train.

The other thing, which I’ll go into an absurd level of detail about in a minute here, has been to dust off of the old Sony eReader that I thought was going to be so important and ended up sitting on my desk for months on end unless I was going to be on an plane.

The trouble with the Reader, and I don’t think I’m overstating things to say that this is the problem with all portable media devices, is that it lives and dies by the content that you can get on it. The iPod thrives off of the iTunes store and people’s MP3 libraries. Amazon is trying to do the same with the Kindle, though I honestly think it’s a losing plan, for a number of reasons.

The Sony reader, then, by that standard, failed horribly, at least out of the box. The store it connected to had a small selection of overpriced books, and RSS support, which was pretty much why I wanted the thing, sucked. Hard. Through a combination of programs that other people wrote, I managed to get RSS feeds converted to PDFs that were readable on the umm, reader.

This time, I decided to do things differently. Becki’s got me reading New York Magazine, and it occurred to me that what I really wanted wasn’t 30 snarky Gawker line-items to read on the train, but one or two longer, in-depth pieces.

So what I did was throw together a perl script (get_them_ducats.pl, because I should never be allowed to name anything, ever) to make this a little easier.

I’ll warn you now, this is long and exceptionally dry, so I’m hiding it behind the jump.

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