Nostalgic Rumblings
The Ramblings of an Old Man




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7/31/2006


Pinch My Ride

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 1:19 pm

From Wired: Pinch My Ride

From the article: “Ignition keys equipped with signal-emitting chips were supposed to put car thieves out of business. No such luck — but try telling that to your insurance company…”

RFID is going to invade our privacy a whole lot…but you can bet it’s also going to make it easier for thieves to nail us, too.

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7/30/2006


Review: Jericho

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 11:14 pm

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Jericho; CBS, Wednesday 8:00 PM

This is the year of Lost. What I mean is, there are a whole lot of new shows trying to emulate the long-form storyline, without considering what’s going to happen when the shows are canceled or (even worse) allowed to go to pieces by their producers when they are seduced by other projects (anyone remember how good Alias was before the first season of Lost?). Jericho begins another saga, with no bets on whether the story will ever find any sense of conclusion…and I really want to know how it ends.


The beginnings of a very bad day for Jerico

The prodigal son Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich, Miracles) returns home and runs into former girlfriend Emily (Ashley Scott, Birds of Prey and the original Alex Garrett on Joey this time a blond) who has found another, and wonders where Jake has been. He’s home now looking for money left to him by his grandfather, but his father (Gerald McRaney, Major Dad) refuses to give it to him. As he leaves town after visiting his grandfather’s grave with his mother (Pamela Reed, Pepper Dennis), and as we establish a bus filled with school children on the way home with teacher Heather (Sprague Grayden, John Doe), televisions, radios, and other electronics go hinky, and a boy who’s climbed to the roof of his house sees in the distance a mushroom cloud rising ominously into the air.

From here on out, we follow the separate groups searching for answers and loved ones; Jake’s father the Mayor trying to find out how serious things really are, Jake himself in an accident now stumbling injured through the desert, the childrens’ bus stranded without a driver, Emily driving to find her intended, parents apoplectic over their missing children…the script is tight and exciting, the acting well above the average with everyone working to keep the suspense up as it’s discovered there was more than one explosion in the country. Jericho is cut off from the rest of the country, the townsfolk even squabbling among themselves fighting over gas and supplies.

I thought it was a bit convenient that Jake becomes the town hero, but the second bus was a stroke of genius I wasn’t expecting (but did explain the presence of one of the characters met earlier in town), and anything that surprises me in a television pilot is a major plus. I was annoyed by the cardboard-cutout antagonist (Michael Gaston) who’s sole purpose is to undermine the Mayor at every turn to generate artificial tension. The pilot ends on an up, then a down beat, with Emily discovering large numbers of dead birds littering the road, and asking the same question we have: “What’s happening here?”

Those who follow the reviews here may be surprised that this old curmudgeon enjoyed this pilot so, but I did. The only fear I have is the one I mentioned at the outset…what happens when the show is finally cancelled (be it this year, next year, or ten years from now) and we are left with no satisfying answers? I can only hope someday someone on network television follows the example of J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5 - “I have a five year story to tell, no more.Just when I’m giving a guy a compliment, I find this article. It’s no wonder I’m a curmudgeon.

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7/29/2006


Jonathan Thomas - Episode 18

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 11:13 pm

Episode #18 - In the Kingdom of Alice.

(Thanks to Kermyt Anderson for the one-line episode descriptions!)

Edit: Inline player added October 15, 2009.

icon for podpress  Episode #18 - In the Kingdom of Alice. [12:55m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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7/28/2006


Stupid Criminals - Inmate signs real name to bomb hoaxes

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 12:15 pm

From CNN: Inmate signs real name to bomb hoaxes

“‘I think it’s fair to say we were not dealing with a great criminal mind here,’ U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie said in a statement.” Seriously.

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7/27/2006


Last Reminder - “Exploding Heritage” Tomorrow on The Bob Edwards Show

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 7:30 pm

Tomorrow, The Bob Edwards Show on XM Satellite Radio’s public radio channel, XMPR (Channel 133) takes up the controversial issue of mountaintop removal in the south-central Appalachian Mountains in the documentary Exploding Heritage. Note location photos from the recording sessions are available at The Bob Edwards Show Discussion Forum.

(Those not subscribed to XM Satellite radio can hear the documentary this weekend on Bob Edwards Weekend. Check the List of Stations for the station nearest you.)

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7/26/2006


Real Estate Taxes Are Getting Loopy

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 4:47 pm

My school district real estate taxes have been raised a smidge over 6.5% over last year’s; this isn’t by any fudgy pseudo-computations (figures lie, liars figure), but by real-world numbers, what I paid last year vs. what I was billed this year. No matter how you slice it, that’s a whole lot, and my property tax is actually approaching the taxes charged to York City residents (where taxes are higher, home prices are lower).

I admit we’re not alone; a neighboring township wants to stop one tiny little development (compared to some in York Township, including one within a stone’s throw of my house, this under-400-unit development is small), using a website put together by people who think it’s cool to have a Hotmail address and play unlicensed music from someone else’s website using someone else’s bandwidth. But at least they’re doing something, and besides, I digress…

There’s an old article at YorkBlog that suggests a possible solution to the problem. Frankly, I generally ignore the local papers preferring real news to the amateurish local variety, but in this case they almost have a point. They just don’t take it far enough…but then, as part of the establishment, you wouldn’t expect them to.
(more…)

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7/25/2006


Review: Shark

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 8:28 pm

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Shark; CBS, Thursday, 10:00 PM

It’s really fun to watch James Woods work; I think as an actor he is considerably underrated. I’m worried, though, that this show isn’t going to get him the credit he deserves.


Jeri Ryan and James Woods make nice for the camera

Woods plays Sebastian Shark, a high-profile defense attorney constantly crossing swords with and consistently beating District Attorney Jess Devlin (Jeri Ryan, Star Trek Voyager), until the day he gets wife-beater Gordy Brock off on a charge of attempted murder, and six days later the wife is dead.

After weeks of moping, he is offered a job by the Mayor of LaLaLand – leading the high-profile case division of the DA’s office. After the expected balking, he takes the job, and throws himself into the job with the same gusto he devoted to his defense work.

Of course, the juniors in the department, misfits all, are unhappy about working with him, and DA Devlin isn’t happy about having to deal with him, either, so she sends him to the dankest office in the basement. But none of that matters to The Shark…winning is everything, and there are only three rules: trial is war and second place is death, truth is relative so pick one that works, and in a jury trial there are only twelve opinions that matter, and yours ain’t one of ‘em.

Their first case, the Dennison case, goes to trial in forty-eight hours, and it’s a loser. But Shark is determined to triumph; he tells his staff, “Your job is to win…justice is God’s problem.”At the same time he needs to deal with his sixteen-year-old daughter’s (Danielle Panabaker) custody hearing, where he is likely to lose her to her mother and New York.

Most of his discussions with his minions are filled with platitudes and such, but at its core this is a standard procedural, albeit with a somewhat twisted central character. And no one can chew scenery the way Woods can when given decent dialog to tear through like a stampeding locomotive. But throughout the trial, I was way ahead of Shark…for a smart guy, they seem to have made him a dullard when women tear up on the witness stand, to the point where he not only breaks his own rules, but also misses an obvious clue that hits the audience like a two-by-four. It’s never a good thing when your viewers know how it’s going to turn out long before your protagonist has the slightest clue.

And this is where the problem with this pilot rears its ugly head…while his character is written smart, the plot is pretty transparent, as if the writers spent all their time honing his dialog and none on the actual “mystery” of the piece. While it’s great fun to watch Woods work, and his supporting cast is fine, if the producers don’t get their act together and write decent plots for the show, this is going to tank faster than the Titanic.

And that would be unfair to the audience, since it’s really fun to watch James Woods work…

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95 Theses of Geek Activism

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 6:18 pm

From Science Addiction: 95 Theses of Geek Activism

Ok, they aren’t all genius, but overall it’s pretty good.

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7/24/2006


Jonathan Thomas - Episode 17

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 8:19 pm

Episode #17 - The Wall of Doors.

(Thanks to Kermyt Anderson for the one-line episode descriptions!)

Edit: Inline player added October 15, 2009.

icon for podpress  Episode #17 - The Wall of Doors. [12:27m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Lawyer who fights the RIAA speaks out

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:08 am

From Ars Technica: Lawyer who fights the RIAA speaks out

From the article: “Ray Beckerman is one of the few lawyers who has taken a stand against the RIAA, and he recently took part in a conference call organized by Defective by Design, an anti-DRM coalition. Beckerman gave a broad overview of the RIAA’s tactics; not surprisingly, he was opposed to them on the grounds that the group’s investigations turn out very little actual evidence.”

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7/23/2006


NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 9:24 pm

From The New York Times: NASA’s Goals Delete Mention of Home Planet

Registration required - use BugMeNot.
I’m not a fan of politicians of any stripe mucking around with NASA’s mission statement…

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Hacking Digital Rights Management

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 12:12 am

From Ars Technica: Hacking Digital Rights Management

This is a must-read review of past DRM hacks, and a glimpse into the future,along with note on why DRM is a bad thing for the consumer. From the article: “Like a creeping fog, DRM smothers more and more media in its clammy embrace, but the sun still shines down on isolated patches of the landscape. This isn’t always due to the decisions of corporate executives; often it’s the work of hackers who devote considerable skill to cracking the digital locks that guard everything from DVDs to e-books. Their reasons are complicated and range from the philosophical to the criminal, but their goals are the same: no more DRM.”

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7/22/2006


Yahoo! Releases non-DRM Music

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 11:59 am

On the Yahoo! Music Blog, ian c. rogers is touting Yahoo’s personalized version of Jessica Simpson’s new song, A Public Affair. What’s most important, though, is that the copies they are selling are non-DRM’ed MP3 files - that’s right, no jumping through hoops to get this purchased song into your MP3 player, as there is no Digital Rights Management software for you to have to break just to play the song. As the blog says, “even if you’re not into Jessica Simpson, and you’re not excited about spending $2 for a song, let me tell you, this is a bigger deal than you might think.”

And it really is; for the first time, a major label (Sony) is selling music on the Internet that is actually useful, even if it is a pitiful little pop ditty sung by a no-talent “celebrity” with little going for her but her legs and publicity manager. You’d think I’d be shouting to the rooftops that everyone should buy a copy, just to send a powerful message to the industry that DRM doesn’t bother pirates, only causes problems for legitimate users, and non-DRM’ed music can be profitable. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend you bother spending the $1.99, even so…I tried to spend $2 of my own, and discovered there’s something even worse than DRM attached to this song.

See, you need a YahooID to purchase the song. That’s right, before you can give them $2 to get a copy, you have to give them boatloads of personal information.

There isn’t much I like less than the RIAA’s instance that any digital music be crippled…but one of ‘em is companies telling me, “you’re privacy is important to us, because we make lots of money by violating it.” I refuse to sign up for a YahooID, since it costs me my most valuable possession - my personal information. They claim it’s “free!” when in reality it isn’t - it costs me much more than mear money, and I honestly can’t figure why more people don’t realize how much it really costs to give companies a window into who you are.

So nope, avoid this like the plague, too. Hopefully someone who isn’t based in Russia will sell a song as an uncrippled MP3 without asking for my birthdate, favorite food, or how many times I have sex in a year. Then, I promise you, I will scream in this space that you need to buy the song, even if it is by someone without talent.

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Abrams Coy On Next Trek Film

Filed under: Television, News — Charlie Summers @ 9:35 am

From SyFy Portal: Abrams Coy On Next Trek Film

Yeah, the wonderboy who kills off every show he does when he finds another one is now going to muck with the Star Trek universe. “‘We have an incredible story,’ he said.” Sure you do; can’t wait to see the backstory of Kirk being abused as a child, and Spock discovering his father is a plomeek addict.

Bah. I know Paramont sees Star Trek as solely a huge money maker (witness the vastly overpriced DVD sets that this #1 fan refuses to purchase - heck, I’ve given up on any licensed Star Trek product), but it’s time to admit it was great for its time, and for those of us of a certain age it was truly life-altering, but it’s time to let the d*mned thing alone.

Quit screwing with our youth already.

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7/21/2006


Don Herbert, TV’s “Mr. Wizard” on VOA News

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 4:12 pm

VOA News - Our World 15 July 2006

I should have blogged about this long before now; our friend Art Chimes posted this to The Kinescope mailing list last week; Art interviewed Don Herbert on the occasion of his 89th birthday. (The rest of the show is pretty darned interesting, too - well worth adding their podcast feed, http://www.voanews.com/english/customcf/podcastxml.cfm?id=3 to your client.)

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It’s legal to play house in North Carolina

Filed under: News — Charlie Summers @ 10:23 am

From CNN: It’s legal to play house in North Carolina

The ruling itself says it best; “the idea that the government would criminalize people’s choice to live together out of wedlock in this day and age defies logic and common sense.”

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7/20/2006


Jonathan Thomas - Episode 16

Filed under: Old-Time Radio — Charlie Summers @ 6:36 pm

Episode #16 - Saving The Elf King.

(Thanks to Kermyt Anderson for the one-line episode descriptions!)

Edit: Inline player added October 15, 2009.

icon for podpress  Episode #16 - Saving The Elf King. [12:12m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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7/19/2006


Review: Hidden Palms

Filed under: Television — Charlie Summers @ 3:07 pm

Ah, out with the old, in with the new. The television season is dead, long live the next television season. And to prepare for it, I’m going to review new shows as the pilots become available.

Hidden Palms; CW, TBD (Midseason Program)

This opens rather sadly, as math wiz Johnny Miller (Taylor Handley, The O.C.) witnesses his father’s suicide. We immediately flash to a year later, when Johnny’s mother Karen (Gail O’Grady, Hot Properties) and newly-minted rich husband (D.W. Moffett, Book of Daniel) are moving into a house in a gated community outside of Palm Springs where the neighbors are all rich, spoiled, and eccentric, and secrets lay behind every palm tree.


Taylor Handley and Amber Heard frolic in the golf
course sprinklers

Ok, let’s get straight to it. You can almost hear the pitch session; “The show is The O.C. meets Desperate Housewives!” On the kids coming-of-age story side, there’s Greta the beautiful young vamp (Amber Heard), the neighbor (Michael Cassidy, The O.C.) with secrets about a death that occurred in the house Johnny now lives in, and the bookish geek (Ellary Porterfield) who is so smitten with Johnny she puts on makeup for the first time in her life and chases Johnny as he chases Greta. On the suburbia side, there’s the alpha-female - that’s slang for bitch (Cheryl White, Book of Daniel in a wonderfully over-the-top performance), the sex-crazed couple, and the too-too vain plastic surgery addict (Sharon Lawrence, pick a show, she’s been in so many that have failed).

There’s a side-trip that doesn’t really fit in, when Johnny attends his Something-Anonymous meeting; but it’s a chance to see the always-excellent Leslie Jordan (probably best known from his recurring role in Will and Grace, but he did much better work on Boston Public) in drag. Like I said, that whole section of the show sticks out like a sore thumb plot-wise, but it’s great to watch Jordan work. I surely hope his next recurring role is in something more challenging.

The kids side of this show is predictable, and frankly as boring as Handley’s acting style; he’s wooden to a fault, and made me wish he would have off-ed himself instead of his father (played for a brief moment by Tim DeKay, fondly remembered from his role in Everwood). You end up with no sympathy for the kid, because he is so flat and unlikable - this is partially the fault of the writers, who don’t really know where they want to go with him, but mostly Handley just doesn’t have the skill to pull us into the character or carry the show. The adult side brought in a few laughs (I almost liked the whole “property lines have shifted” subplot-of-the-week), but there isn’t really anything you haven’t seen before; scantily-clad jailbait, scantily-clad older women, and young men with their shirts off. Understand, I have nothing against scantily-clad women, but I’d appreciate something a bit more compelling than cleavage in my television viewing.

While a small part of me would like to watch Cheryl White’s character make life a living hell for the neighborhood each week and her inevitable end-of-episode come-uppance, it really isn’t worth sitting through all the contrived teenage angst. Seriously…if you live in a place as beautiful as this, and have this much money, whining about how tough you have it just makes me want to slap you silly.

At the core, this is a run-of-the-mill CW program; it’s success will have more to do with the amount of skin shown than any real interest in characters or plots.

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7/18/2006


Exploding Heritage, Documentary on The Bob Edwards Show

Filed under: Radio Today — Charlie Summers @ 12:52 pm

On Friday, July 28, The Bob Edwards Show on XM Satellite Radio’s public radio channel, XMPR (Channel 133) takes up the controversial issue of mountaintop removal in the south-central Appalachian Mountains in the documentary Exploding Heritage. The method of extracting coal by blowing the tops off of mountains is devastating plant and animal life and causing trouble for the people who live nearby. Edwards explores how mountaintop removal is leveling the oldest mountain range in America — leaving the landscape, the local economy and the local culture ravaged.

Mark your calendars.

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SPAM ALERT: Georgia spammer Eric Martin

Filed under: General — Charlie Summers @ 12:26 pm

Strongly urge Georgia voters to vote against the idiot Eric Martin, running for Secretary of State. He has hired a spammer firm who is blasting messages all over the place to addresses who did not request the information, including non-state-residents.

It’s time to tell political spammers that we aren’t going to take their nonsense anymore. If you spam, you lose. Period.

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