Category Archives: Matt’s thoughts

American Reunion Movie Review

I had the chance last week to go to an advance screening of the newest film in the American Pie franchise, American Reunion.  Overall I greatly enjoyed it.  I laughed more than I have at a comedy in a long time.

I think possibly part of the reason I enjoyed it so much, is that because I am the roughly the same age group as the characters in the film.  The film is built around the groups high school reunion, their 10 year reunion just happening a few years late.  Next year (2013) will be 10 years since I have graduated from high school so I am at a similar point in my life.  The things the characters are going through I am either experiencing or seeing my friends experience.  For these reasons the things that happen in the story make me more apt to relate to the film to a certain degree.

With taking that into account, this movie is still at its heart another American Pie film,  the characters are now just a bit older and facing different problems, but they have not changed drastically, but the natural evolution that you might expect at their current age.  The movie still has what I would call American Pie humor, some of the low brow humor and sex jokes the films are known for.  To me in the end if you liked the other films in the series, American Pie, American Pie 2, and American Wedding I bet you would enjoy this film overall.  This could be that since I have not seen the other three main films in the series for a while, but I think American Reunion could be the best of the series so far to me.  I just don’t remembering laughing as much during the other three movies as I did in American Reunion.

If you could not tell I would certainly recommend seeing this film if you are in the mood for a good comedy.

Protect IP/SOPA And The Impact It Could Have On Industries And Jobs

 

All images come from AmericanCensorship.org

When I started to learn about SOPA and the Protect IP Act that were being considered in the House and the Senate, I was saddened to see that both of my Senators Klobuchar and Franken were supporters and co-sponsors of it. I wrote a short letter to Franken about my dislike for Protect IP and I got a letter back from his office which seemed to have as one of the main reasons for his support of it being the protection of American jobs. So in crafting a reply to that argument I did quite a bit of research.  With that research I ended up creating a lengthy reply that I think helps to show while Protect IP may be designed to protect some industries and jobs in them, it also as it is currently written will have quite a negative impact on many other industries and jobs. The results of what I found in my research are below.  If you want to see a PDF of this piece with all the footnotes and bibliography, you can download it here:  PDF

Let me make clear I am not against better enforcement of copyright, as long as it is done in a fair and just way both for the copyright holder and the accused party so that they have reasonable means to contest it if they feel they are wrongfully accused of infringement. Any new bill should balance the need of the copyright holder and potential new business’ ability to innovate without there being overburdened with legal worry.  After looking into SOPA and Protect IP they do not seem to fit into that criteria. Continue reading Protect IP/SOPA And The Impact It Could Have On Industries And Jobs

New trend in technology “Sell Big or Die Fast”

A good article on the changing landscape in technology and the devices the companies make. The article talks about several reasons have helped speed up the process of declaring them a failure or success. Which really is not a huge surprise given the growth of Twitter, Facebook, and tech websites and other places that all help to speed up the process on reviews and the collective consensus for each new device, which is talked about a bit in the article.

I think that is partly where Apple is successful they often are able to create great buzz around their products.  The company then also has to deliver the goods when the product is actually shipped or all the hype won’t help once it is out, and in terms of hardware devices Apple has had an amazing success rate in the last decade.

These days, big technology companies — particularly those in the hypercompetitive smartphone and tablet industries — are starting to resemble Hollywood film studios. Every release needs to be a blockbuster, and the only measure of success is the opening-weekend gross. There is little to no room for the sleeper indie hit that builds good word of mouth to become a solid performer over time.

Some analysts trace the origin of this blockbuster-or-bust mentality to Apple. Each release of the company’s popular iPads and iPhones crosses over into being a mainstream media event. Al Hilwa, an analyst at the research firm IDC, described the accelerated lifecycle of high-end hardware as “Darwinian.”

“There’s a level of desperation from anyone whose name is not Apple,” said Al Hilwa, an analyst at the research firm IDC.

via Technology Devices Either Sell Big or Die Fast – NYTimes.com.

Avoiding the Paywalls or Business Class for News.

John Gruber of Daring Fireball pointed me to a worthy idea of how news websites such as the New York Times can avoid paywalls but at the same time have a system that can help them generate new revenue.  This option makes sense to me and is certainly something I might consider purchasing for sites I visited enough depending on the price points they used.

Business Class for News

I love this idea from Oliver Reichenstein: a premium “business class” level for news websites. Stop trying to figure out ways to block the flow of information with paywalls. Allow everyone the same access to the content — in the way that every passenger gets transported from A to B on an airplane — but allow people to pay for a superior experience.

via Daring Fireball. Link to full article: Information Architects – Business Class: Freemium for News?.

The Success of the Finnish Education System

“It’s very expensive to educate all of our teachers in five-year programs, but it helps make our teachers highly respected and appreciated,” says Jari Lavonen, head of the department of teacher education at the University of Helsinki. Outsiders spot this quickly. “Their teachers are much better prepared to teach physics than we are, and then the Finns get out of the way. You don’t buy a dog and bark for it,” says Dan MacIsaac, a specialist in physics-teacher education at the State University of New York at Buffalo who visited Finland for two months. “In the U.S., they treat teachers like pizza delivery boys and then do efficiency studies on how well they deliver the pizza.”

The two parts I bolded from this section from the article make an interesting social commentary on how we run our education system here in the U.S. It is hard to say whether the system fully detailed in the article would work in the US or not, as this last quote shows a bit:

Some of Finland’s educational policies could probably be exported, but it’s questionable whether the all-for-one-and-one-for-all-ness that underlies them would travel easily. Thailand, for instance, is trying to adapt the Finnish model to its own school system. But as soon as a kid falls behind, parents send for a private tutor — something that would be unthinkable in Finland. Is Thailand’s Finnish experiment working? “Not really,” says Lavonen. Would that it could, in Thailand and elsewhere.

Whether or not the Finnish school system would work completely over here in the United States or not is certainly debatable. However it is interesting to study and see what possible parts of their system and their way of doing things might be suitable for use here in America.

Both quotes come from page 2 of the article.

A sign summer is coming. The action film promo’s have begun.

Besides the normal signs that winter is ending like Groundhog Day and the days getting longer in terms of daylight, is the promos start ramping up for the big summer films.

After seeing the first glimpse of footage I think Captain America is one of the films I am most anticipating this summer.  From what they showed in the 30 second Super Bowl spot, it looks promising and  i am eager to see more.

The latest X-Men trailer looks good, and at least it likely will be a bit different than the other three, since this one is set in the 1960’s instead of modern day as the first three.

Thor also shows some promise in what I have seen. Anthony Hopkins who plays a part in this movie, is always great to see, along with Natalie Portman who I have enjoyed for a long time.

So after seeing these promos and the ones for the new Pirates of the Caribbean and Cowboys and Aliens, certainly seems like this year’s summer films have some real promise. Hopefully they live up to their promise.

Harry Potter 7 is here & nearing an end.

For me the winter movie season really kicks into gear with this weekends release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1.  I am excited for this one since I have Potter book number seven has been my favorite of the series, so been excited to see what they will do with the first part of the adaption.  For me I liked book 7 more because it had less of the extraneous sub plots that where more prevalent in the previous books.  Also it is certainly a bit different given that most of it is not set in Hogwarts.  I am certainly excited for it when I see it friday.

Also a little sad that we only have one movie left in the Harry Potter series after this one.  I say that since I have grown up with the books and movies.  First started reading the books when I was a freshman or sophomore in high school and have enjoyed the series as books and movies as a whole.  Also been great to see the actors basically grow up during the course of the films, amazing how young they where and how young they look as well when see the first movie now.

A Game of Thrones

I just finished reading ‘A Game of Thrones’ by George R.R. Martin, the first book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. I discovered the series of books once HBO starting making a series of shows of it and it was a type/genre of show that I normally like. I also learned that a friend I knew from college was a big fan of the series and had good things to say about it.

The basic setting for the book is like a medieval/feudal system, with lords and a king and all that you would expect. Throughout the course of the book you follow several noble families and the events surrounding them. The broad over arching story I have heard compared to several times is that of the War of the Roses in England during medieval times. The story is not just a straight medieval adventure, it has a bit of magic and fantasy elements but they are not an over bearing influence, just enough to make the story a bit different and give it a little flair.

Martin manages to handle a large group of characters well and is able to interconnect the different stories with one another eventually once he set things up. Part of how Martin manages those characters is that in each chapter he switches between characters and rotates the chapters among a handful of them, and we see the world through their eyes in each chapter. One Being Lord Edward Stark pictured below. Normally at the end of most chapters I don’t want to leave the character I have been dealing with and start in on the new one. To Martin’s credit I normally end up just getting as interested in the next chapter as I was in the last.

The book is a good mixture of adventure, political intrigue, back stabbing, a bit of war and fighting, and good character growth as the book goes along with the historical/medieval setting I mentioned above. All of those things for me add up to a compelling story and one while it is a larger book, kept me wrapped up and wanting to keep reading until I finished it, which is what a truly good book should do.

In the end if you like a mix of adventure, some fantasy, history and political intrigue you likely will enjoy this book. It is a longer book than I normally read but the story kept me engaged and wanting to read more.  Now off to read the next book in the series  ‘A Clash of Kings’

Here is the official book description behind the cut.

Continue reading A Game of Thrones

Halladay is Historic

Simply Amazing.  Even though I was not able to see the game live, it is simply historic to think about what Halladay did on several levels. These stats show how historic Halladay was:

  • Including the Rays/Rangers game that was early game and the Philly/Reds game there had only been two post season no hitters in 2525 games.
  • Put another way only .0007% of post season games ever have been no hitters.
  • Only 5 pitchers have ever thrown two no hitters in same calendar year.
  • Nolan Ryan was the last pitcher to throw two in a season in 1973, 37 years ago.
  • It has Been 54 years since there has been a no hitter in the post season.
  • Last one being Don Larsen’s 1956 World Series perfect game.

As a final though from me it is nice when my love of history and baseball can come together.

A little more info from ESPN:

Only two other times in the history of the postseason had any pitcher even taken a no-hitter into the eighth inning — Jim Lonborg 7 2/3 hitless in the 1967 World Series, and Bill Bevens 8 2/3 hitless in the 1947 World Series. So even to see a man get so close that it came time to start counting down the outs was a heart-thumping experience.

And, of course, Halladay had already thrown one no-hitter himself this season — a May 29 perfect game in Florida. No pitcher who ever lived, obviously, had ever thrown a regular-season no-hitter and a postseason no-hitter in the same season before. So you can add that stunning wrinkle to this improbable script.

via Roy Halladay tosses no-hitter in postseason debut – ESPN.

3 returning TV shows I am excited for

Stargate Universe, Syfy Tuesday, premieres September 28th, at 8pm central

Universe had a decent first season, setting up the characters and trying to find its footing in season one as all shows tend to do. Universe is certainly a bit more of a darker show than the previous two Stargate shows, SG-1 & Atlantis, much more conflict between the characters. I would say that so far is the biggest change from the previous two entries in the franchise. I do not mean to imply it is a bad thing, it certainly is not, just a bit of a change from what has come before. The first season ended with a cliffhanger so will be interesting to see how that is resolved.

Below is a trailer for season 2.

Big Bang Theory, CBS, premieres Thursday, September 23rd at 7pm central

This is a comedy that really broke out into a huge hit this last season. The show is very well written and has great actors in it that bring the comedy to life so well. It was great to see Jim Parsons win best actor in a comedy at the Emmy’s this year, since he does an excellent job as Sheldon on the show. With four of the five main characters being geeks/scientists there is so much potential for comedy in their interacting and interacting with non geeks/scientists that it has found the characters in some highly amusing and some times outlandish scenarios.

The video below from a TV Guide shoot just shows the great interaction between the three big characters on the show.

Fringe, FOX Thursdays, premieres September 23rd, 8pm central

I did not watch the first season of Fringe, but started watching during second season and then soon after got caught up on season 1 on DVD. The show is a great mixture of scifi/fantasy, a bit of horror, and procedural shows. Besides some of the procedural parts in most episodes in the case of the week, I love that the show has an over arching mythology. I do enjoy a show that mixes in an ongoing story/mythology, always have loved those types of shows. Fringe has quickly become one of my favorite shows since I started watching it last September.

The trailer below gives a brief glimpse into season 3.