Sunday, April 26, 2009

Taken: The Movie * * * * * * * *

If you like a lot of kick-ass action, you have to like this flick. Someone must have deliberately edited all the gratuitous bullshit out of it, because what was left was a tight 91 minutes of thrilling killing. Of course, a few questions are better off not asked, like “How did Bryan Mills and his daughter, Kim, played by Liam Neeson and Maggie Grace, manage to get out of France, seeing as Daddy was leaving behind a trail of bodies a mile long?” Of course, he managed to stop off at Fake IDs R Us and get some official looking paper. Still, despite a few plausibility problems, I liked this movie a lot more than several others I’ve seen lately, Seven Pounds, for example, which took Will Smith to new levels of stress and anguish. I gave that one a 5, while Taken earns 8 stars.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

How Do I Love Me?

Zac Efron’s been making the rounds promoting his latest movie “17 Again.”

Knowing that talk-show hosts are briefed on the direction their guests expect the conversation to go and the questions they’re prepared to answer, one has to wonder about the High School Musical star's desire to present insight into the manner little girls scream at him as he presents himself to them at different locale’s around the world. His imitation of the Japanese teeny bopper scream is precious.

Somewhere in this world, at this exact moment, a monkey is on life support. Maybe, it’s family would consider donating its brain to Zac for a transplant. We can only hope that afterward he would be prepared to discuss something a little more significant, like bananas.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Transition To Digital TV

I haven’t been paying much attention to the messages that have been crawling across my TV screen concerning the transition to digital signals, mainly, because I have cable. There was a time, though, when I lived in northwest Montana, back where cable would not go, that I relied on an antenna and a signal booster from Radio Shack to pull in reception from the distant Black Tail Mountain. My heart goes out to folks in that same predicament.

That’s why I was struck the other day when I noticed among my items sold the Philco TB100HH9 Digital to Analog TV Converter Box. The manufacturer’s description reads as follows: “The Philco TB100HH9 Digital to Analog TV converter plays an important role in the completion of the digital TV transition. Designed to easily receive over-the-air ATSC standard-definition and high-definition terrestrial broadcasts, the DTA800 comes equipped with a remote control unit and the ability to provide on-screen program information sent by local TV broadcasters to easily identify details about TV programming. The DTA800 is designed solely to receive digital TV signals with an over-the-air antenna and converts those signals into analog for display through a TV set's analog connections.”

Here are a couple customer reviews:

Picked up two of these yesterday and I'm very happy with them.

They have one great feature in particular - through the menu you can access a signal strength meter. With the meter on, you can adjust your antenna for the best reception and it tells you the strength as you make adjustments. It takes the guess work out of it!

I have a dvd player with a built in converter on one of our tvs. I temporarily plugged in one of these boxes just to find the best antenna position and now we get several more channels.


For $9.00 after the government rebate (I bought locally not on Amazon), this converter was a good choice for me. In setting it up, however, I got into an enthusiastic hurry and totally neglected to read the manual expecting a Converter Box to work like a DSL box...., i.e., attach the antennae and TV to the converter, plug TV and converter in and its done. NOT SO with the Digital to Analog Converter box. As per other reviewers, the manual instructions need to be followed. After attaching antennae to box to TV, I followed the instructions to scan in the digital channels but none were available, yet, as per the "no signal" message after fully scanning. Then, turning to manual pages 27 through 29, I learned how to "pass through" to analog channels, an additional few easy steps. Finally, with a bit of rabbit ear adjustment for each channel which is usual to pick-up signals in my area, I was done and the stations are coming in clearer with the converter box than with the antennae alone... NO SNOW. SNOW meant I had NOT quite gotten to the "pass through" instructions or had not taken extra time to hand adjust the antennae after "pass through" was complete... I also found (and haven't quite figured this one out) that I might need to "pass through" for an individual channel if the set-up worked for some but not all the analog channels. Follow the manual, take your time, and the Philco works fine (so far!).

The only thing I don't like is the remote. But I plan on programming a universal remote to work the box so I never have to look at their ugly one again.

Hey, if you’re in the same boat as these folks, maybe this box will help you.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Fantasies

No Corey Magette, no Kevin Martin, no chance. I “competed” in (I was tempted to say “played” but I haven’t actually had my hands on a basketball in about 20 years.) 3 fantasy basketball leagues, four counting that Yahoo! league (Philly Basketball, ID# 93185) I was thrown out of for calling out a stupid league administrator, and made the finals in one, Yahoo Public 157437, only to have two of my high scorers on the bench suffering from injuries just when I need them most.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. For one reason or another, teams often fall apart when the playoffs come around. Besides injuries, there’s the resting up for the actual NBA Playoffs phenomenon. If you’re not familiar with the way it works, fantasy playoffs are always scheduled to be over before the actual NBA playoffs begin. That way teams aren’t penalized if their players are on teams that didn’t make the playoffs. For some odd reason, coaches who rest up their players so they’ll be fresh for the playoffs are not worried about your fantasy competition.

To make things worse, my opponent in the finals boasts a team led by LeBron James. Let’s think about this. On one hand, my two high scorers are down, while, on the other, Superman LeBron is storming the backboard like no tomorrow. I’m toast.

Thank goodness, I’ve got distractions. In case you didn’t know, fantasy baseball (real MLB Baseball, too, I’ve heard) starts today. I’m in 4 Yahoo leagues, two ESPN leagues, and one league. The drafts have produced mixed results. Still, I think I’ll be competitive. So, PLAY BALL.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Say It Isn’t So, Sam

To say that the final episode of ABC’s Life On Mars was disappointing would be a gross understatement. It just plain sucked. To think that everything that had transpired thus far in the series could have been wiped away with one fell swoop of the writer’s pen is a lesson for television watchers everywhere - hey, you waste too much time in front of the tube.

Oh, I get it, I get it. All this time the characters had actually been in a suspended state onboard a space ship cruising towards Mars. The events that made up the show were the product of Sam Tyler’s mind and space drugs or a short circuit in the gadgetry or something like that. Bobby Ewing could have dreamed up a better ending. The only thing the final episode justified was the name of the series, nothing more. Viewers, you have been duped. Sorry you wasted your precious time on this one.