Friday, February 27, 2009

Darren Aronofsky 's "The Fountain"

This morning I started by peaking at this movie while doing some chores around the living room and ended up immersed in a couch and fully absorbed by the depth of this movie. Darren Aronofsky, the director of "Pi" (1998) and my fav "Requiem for a Dream" (2000) makes a statement with this one as well. $35 million for a love poem to death as the Washington Post called it, but again, in my opinion quite worth it. Although Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet (targeted for the the original cast) might disagree on this point. However, Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz have solid performances, so nothing is lost there.
A mystical (admittedly a bit cheesy, but decent) mash-up of modern life, conquistadors and abstract future glimpses come together like the colored squares of a Rubik's cube to provide a surrealistic view of the triumph of love over death.
Very I gave it an 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Surprising NBA All Star Weekend

It started with the PlayStation skills where Tony Parker or Moe Williams did not really make and effort to compete, followed by Jason Capono's froze in the 3point shoot-out against some famous-but-not-for-3-point-shooting oponents like Mike Bibby or Danny Granger, to Saturday's climax when Nate Robinson fully employed the power of Kryptonite (he was all dressed in green with green sock, shoes and even a green ball) to take the dunk title back to New York in a final with Superman Dwight Howard.
I think that Howard did a mistake in arranging his dunk since his first ans second one were definetely better than the ending (a classic Air Jordan free throw line dunk) which is not extremely appealing for someone of his size.Finally, Sunday in the big game, Shaq and Kobe were reunited and shared the MVP title after a spectacular game in which both of them play spectacular.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Romania-Croatia 1-2 (soccer & sausages)

After beating Romania in a friendly soccer game last week, Croatia beat us also to a rightful place in Guiness World Records book for the longest sausage in the world. Romania held the previous record with a decent wurst of about 392m. However, Croatians took it to another level (530m) and used it to feed pairs of hungry Valentines.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dublin Philarmonic Orchestra - The Irish Spectacular

Naturally, I was expecting traditional violins and uillean pipes and Irish flutes, maybe even some bodhran (percussion), but I got much more than that. One of (if not) THE best concerns I had the privilege to assist to. The Dublin Philarmonica was great and I think that the difference was made by the unconventional program which included traditional Irish songs performed by a regular Irish band, exquisite singers and even one dancer. All and all, a great mix of music ranging from classical to almost pop-rock stuff that was always exciting and different. The result: people went frantic for an encore but, unfortunately, it did not happen. However, some of my 2 best concert hours yet. Just Great!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Another Flight Incident

Well, after the Hudson miraculous landing, last night another incident happened here in NY. A Continental connecting flight between Newark, NJ and Buffalo, NY crashed close to its destination. Unfortunately, the death toll is significant (50), raising again questions and worries. I also flew these small jets a lot between Albany and Washington or Chicago, mostly Delta and United, but occasionally also Continental, thankfully without incidents.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

WINAMPs for Mac

Like many (probably?) migrating from Win based machines, I never got comfortable (and tried, for that matter) with Itunes. I really am used with Winamp's versatility in terms of what to play, when and ease of switch and cancel etc. Moreover, I DO NOT like to: copy/duplicate my files just for the sake of a player, map all my music into playlists and stuff, because I am quite flexible (from minute to minute) in what I listen and how my mood changes. Moreover, I am not interested in purchasing music from them or getting additional info on the songs beyond the title and artwork that I already have in each music directory. Thus, Itunes doesn't cut it at all for me despite its slick & sexy appearance.
In consequence, I started to search for other music players, preferably one that would be close to Winamp's capabilities.
Unfortunately, the Winamp for Mac project was abandoned around 2001; there is a player from that time but only works under Mac OS 9. So, that's a dead end.

Other players (FREE of course) that you might look at:
- Audion- A rather OK player...a bit hard to get around it but decent. Plus:1. it resembles Winamp's interface quite a bit (see the screenshot attached); 2. like Winamp it doesn't need to copy the music files into its library..which is great.
- Media Player 9 for Mac - only if you're a real fan, which I am I haven't check it out. "Sporting a new brushed steel skin for Apple's newest operating system, this new version of our player opens the world of Windows Media 9 content to Macintosh users, enabling them to access the best audio and video on the web." I like the fact that this one is small (only 7 MB). Link:
- Vox 0.2.6 directly from Apple. Available at:

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alice White's Cabernet Shiraz

This is my first trial of Alice White from South Eastern Australia. Is a decent and inexpensive dark red wine with reasonable aroma more towards the cherry like taste due to the composition: the mix is 65% cabernet and 30% shiraz. It has a clean taste, not complex but pleasant. But again, I like shiraz a lot, so I might be biased. Anyways, for $8 is worth trying.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

The Big Showdown Week in the NBA

This week brought some great NBA games that give a small preview for what is about to come in the playoffs.

1. Lakers finally beat Celtics at the Garden (110-109)

After losing in Los Angeles, on Wed the Celtics and their fans were eager for revenge. But Kobe & Co. didn't agree and won in OT. And that even without Bynum, the big body, and lately big scorer, for LA. Boston did commit several faults in this game that went without penalty. Although one might argue that Allen got checked by fisher, to call it a fault (& considering Allen's 90% free throw) would have been a total distortion to the result of the whole game.
Game Recap HERE

2. Spurs also beat Celtics at home (105-99)
A very tactic game between two of the best defensive teams in the NBA. And the Celtics chocked again. Spurs didn't do anything extraordinary, Allen dropped the ball again. Despite the fact that I definitely dislike the Spurs, somehow the result was pleasing since the champs do need a decent dose of modesty in their portfolio.
Game Recap HERE

3. Lakers break Cavaliers' 23 winning home streak
The battle between the two most dominant candidates for this year's MVP title (Bryant and James) was not the spotlight of this game. Both Bryant and especially James had below the average performances while Odom's 28 points made the difference in the 3rd and 4th quarters. And although many do not see the significance of these wins (both in Cleveland and Boston), well, it might make a difference when one reaches game 7 in the NBA finals, where home turf can make the difference.
Game Recap HERE

And next weekend, is the All Star Game...

Tire Commercial

Since now I am doing a paper on the tire industry, this is a pretty funny and relevant (to me at least) commercial for Bridgestone tires. Naturally, it was first time aired during the multimillion Super Bowl commercial breaks.
Take a look:

New (to me) Ninja Music

Although I haven't had much time lately to listen and experiment, I look forward to going over some of these albums and EPs:

1. Mr. Scruff - Ninja Tuna (2008): I have listen to some of his track and there are some nice & interesting collaborations with Quantic and Roots Manuva, among others, but the main musical lines are preserved throughout the album.

2. DJ Kentaro - Trust (2008) In this EP, Kentaro does what he knows best, turn tables, that is. two tracks: Rainy Day and Trust in a couple of versions. Except the first track, which is still hectic mix of beats, I didn't really enjoyed the rest.

3. Blockhead - Music by Cavelight (2004). This is Blockhead's debut album that I have been searching for a while now. It is pretty hard to come by but totally worthy to have. Some great instrumental stuff. If you know "Insomniac Olympics", expect more.

Back at Troy Savings Bank Classical Music Concerts

Well, it has been a while. About 1 1/2 years to be exact, since I haven't been at a concert here in Troy. It almost happened last Fall, but I had to travel to Netherlands and I had to cancel in the last minute. Other than that, again, mostly out of town and sadly, busy with other stuff. So, this was a nice way to remember "the old ways" and I think I miss these "getaways"; after all they are good ways to relax. However, I also usually have some good ideas about various things; and I definitely need to write them down afterwards. But back to the thing, the concert was good but I wouldn't call it exceptional: Les Violins du Roy from Quebec directed by Bernard Labadie. In the program: Telemann-Ouverture des nations anciens et moderne; Handel-Water Music, Haydn-Horn Concerto No.2 (with Louis Philippe Marsolais, very nice horn solos); Purcell - Chaconne from King Arthur; Geminiani - Concerto Grosso in D minor and again, Handel with Suite from Alcina. The first pieces were nice but a bit boring while towards the end of the first half, and again in the second, the tempo built up towards a great end. The encore (Vivaldi's Spring) has naturally received a great welcome from the audience.