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Random Thoughts (Blog)

What I'm Up To

Posted on December 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

Taking a cue from the "Random Thoughts..." banner on my home page, where I said that this blog will “contain all the latest things I'm watching, doing or listening to…” I figure that I would give the current rundown on these very things…


So, here’s the December batch of What I’m…


Watching:


TV: We’re in the final stretches of another season of Survivor, and I would actually be pleased with three of the remaining six players winning the million. (I could begrudgingly concede to Abi winning, but she has become so unlikable, it’s an outcome I’d rather not have...) Dana and I are still loving Parenthood, a one-hour drama that seems to get more intense each week. Ditto with Homeland, which has only two episodes left in season 2 and seems to be barreling towards some kind of climactic finale moment. In the embarrassed-to-admit-we-actually-watch-it-MTV-reality-show department, we've started back up the shame spiral which is a new season of Teen Mom 2. And, I take no pride in admitting that I think Jenelle is the pretty one. (“You don't understand. It's Ke$ha. It's like…it's Ke$ha! That's why I got all these feathers in my hair.") We’ve also started watching a new show called Catfish, where these guys help people that have been involved in suspicious on-line romantic relationships track down the person on the other end of the computer. After four episodes I can say that if you are e-mailing, texting, phone calling, Facebooking someone for 4 or more years and they won’t agree to meet you, there is a 100% chance that something is seriously askew, with a 50% chance they are a morbidly obese fatty (2 of 4) and a 50% chance (2 of 4) they are not the gender they say they are. Modern Family is one of our favorite comedies and I am still loving the entire cast of New Girl. (Though, to be fair, I would watch a half-hour of Zooey D balancing her checkbook while she hummed nonsense lyrics softly to herself.) New to the TV viewing roster is Last Resort, about a nuclear submarine captain that refuses to obey an order to launch nuclear missiles on Pakistan and is now in a stand-off with the government off some island. I like the show, it has a good cast and Navy SEALs and it’s entertaining, but let’s be real; if this were real-life, Episode 1 would have been him disobeying the order and hijacking the sub while fast attack subs pursued him and the SOSUS net tracked him. Episode 2 would have been about the B-2 stealth bomber crew that flies a non-stop, roundtrip mission where it fuels in-flight a couple of times and then obliterates the sub with a couple of JDAMs...


Movies: When the recent highlight of your Netflix queue is Sparkle, well, you know that your movie pipeline has high a bit of a dry spell. Our recent rentals included not one but TWO films in DTS-HD Farsi, the Eddie Murphy nightmare One Thousand Words and Adam Sandler's, Jack and Jill. (Groan..) But, the dry spell appears to be coming to a close and a monsoon of good stuff looks to be on the horizon in the coming days including Rock of Ages, MIB3, Odd Life of Timothy Green (which Lauryn says she wants to see), The Dark Knight Rises, and Premium Rush. We just watched Brave which I thought was good but not up to the usual brilliance I’ve come to expect from Pixar. Also, probably the most disappointing “Short” in some time. It looked and sounded great though, and since it was Pixar, it was still better than every other animated film put out recently*.


(* I've not seen Wreck It Ralph, but am hopeful that it will be awesome. Though Lasseter is the head of Disney Animation, so you could say that it is still kinda Pixar...)


Listening to:


I’ve downloaded quite a few high-res albums from HDTracks.com and have been really loving some amazing sounding REM and Diana Krall lately. These albums have incredible depth and ambience and really show off what a great sound system can do. REM’s first album, Murmur, sounds absolutely phenomenal in 192/24-bit audio. I have heard this album many times over the years – from a crusty old cassette I found lying in a basket at a gelato store to a CD – and this is truly like hearing the album for the first time. Stipe’s vocals are far clearer and you would never guess this is a 30 year old, first album. You can downloand and sample some high-res magic for free by clicking on this HDTracks link. Also been enjoying the streaming service Songza. You pick a “mood” (Dinner Time, Getting Ready to Party, Relaxing by the pool...)  and then it plays appropriate music. With AirPlay, I can beam this wirelessly to my system from wherever I am in the home which is very cool.


Reading:


Recently finished the Steve Jobs biography and thought it was brilliant. And if any biography could be a “real page turner,” this is the one. It made me both appreciate Jobs’ genius a bit more and also despise what a cruel, senseless jerk he could be. You get the sense that he felt his brilliance put him above the needs of normal decorum and that any tantrum on his part was excused as “that’s just the way I am and it’s up to you people to deal with it.” (However, his absolute binary outlook on life – that all people/things where either “total sh—“ or “the best ever” does simplify things...) Also, I wasn’t aware just how involved he had been at Pixar and how integral he was to the thriving success of that company. Also on about halfway through the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay. While the second book had me thinking, “Really? You’re building ANOTHER Death Star?!” it was still a very enjoyable, incredibly fast-paced and engaging story. It’s one of those books that after finishing the first story you try and imagine how you would continue it if, say, the author had suddenly and mysteriously died and they needed you to carry on for her.  (I think book 2 should have picked up right after the Games and featured more adjusting to life after the games and more about the tour through the districts. But, that’s just me...) I’ll be sad when I have to part with Katniss, Peeta and Gale in a few days. Also on the reading queue is the new Lee Child “Jack Reacher” novel and the Navy SEAL story about hunting down Bin Laden, "No Easy Day."


Reviewing:


I got the first sample of Marantz’s new pre-amp/amplifier combo and I’ve been listening to it like crazy. It sounds amazing, and allows me to listen to all 9 surround channels (front left/center/right, front height, side and surround back) at once and provides an amazingly immersive and detailed surround experience. I rewatched the opening of Master and Commander – a scene I’ve watched dozens of times – and the discreet placement of small ambient sounds is just amazing. Each small detail is sonically intact and bass is tight and punchy while still deep enough to punch you in the heart. If you’re in the market for a high-end surround processor, I can’t recommend this one highly enough. (I'm putting my money where my mouth is and purchasing my review unit!) I'm also due to get a brand new wireless audio system from NuVo that I saw at CEDIA as well as the new Sony receiver with Control4 processing built-in. Also due to receive a video enhancement product called the Darblett. (Fortunately for the company I'm not reviewing the product name...) I’m also part of a very cool beta test group on which I can’t say anything… (#Tease)


Playing:


Pretty much still playing with the iPhone5 a bunch. Someone asked me the other day how I liked life with a smart phone and I think the truth is, while it’s a very cool bit of technology, and does just about anything I could think of for it to do, it *definitely* makes you feel more tethered. I’m conditioned to pull it out and check it any time it makes one of its many swooshes, beeps or chimes to indicate an in-coming something. (Did I really need to be immediately notified of that Mesothelioma Legal Center spam e-mail? Probably not.) But it can do *everything*. I use it to turn on the lights. I use it to turn on the stereo. I use it to check random facts. I use it to take pictures. I use it to remind me to turn off the water filling the pool. I use Siri to send messages and make calls. It’s great, but it’s also a bit of a time suck… Still playing the Simpson’s iOS game, Tapped Out, though I’ve reached the level maximum, have completed all the quests and now just wait for EA to roll out occasional updates. Really, I’m getting pretty bored with the monotonous redundancy of tap-tap-tapping. I download Angry Birds Star Wars on my iPhone and Lauryn and I enjoy playing that. Not much else going on in the playing department…


Drinking:


Still continuing on the beer kick – specifically Double IPAs -- with over 120 beers reviewed so far. To date I’ve received beer to review from Stone, Sam Adams and Flying Dog. Not too shabby! My brother recently visited and brought me a wonderful selection of new stuff to try from California, but I’ve pretty much exhausted that stash and need to head out to pick up some new stuff… Hoping I can find a bottle of Stone’s Epic Vertical 12-12-12 to try, and that someone (anyone!) will send me a bottle of Stone’s Enjoy By IPA to try.


Excited about:


I’ve always been fascinated by the prospect of owning a custom made suit, but I’ve always been turned off by the pricing of said custom making. I stumbled across Indochino on the Internet a couple of months ago, and after some research – and a Black Friday sale – I finally pulled the trigger and ordered a suit that should arrive by the end of the year! (I ordered two suits, actually, but they won’t send the second until I confirm the measurements and fit of the first.) I’m planning on a blog on the experience and final product once it arrives, but for now, I’m in that glowy/waiting period while I’m eager for my product to arrive. Also we're about a month away from CES and I'm starting to field all of the press invites and events announcements which is a pretty exciting time.


And that pretty much brings you up to speed...

Categories: December 2012, Books, TV

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