Surprises/No Surprises

Back from vacation and the first day back at the office, here are a few quick reviews and observations:


  • Casino Royale: Best Bond ever? Maybe. Certainly a re-invention of the formula, with actual character development and relationships. Frankly, it was awesome. I was marking out the whole time. “OMG he ordered the drink for the first time.” And there was poker — a bit of a modernization from the old Baccarat days, but I’m sure it got the attention of casual ESPN2 viewers such as myself.
  • Firebug: If you’re making any sort of attempt at all to learn anything about CSS and designing/developing pages for the Web, this is the Firefox extension for you. Stop acting like you don’t think you need it and download the thing now.

No Surprises

  • Transcending CSS: Because I have yet to meet a CSS book that I don’t like, it was no surprise to find Andy Clarke’s book a useful and attractive tool and point of reference. He explains how to do a bunch of simple stuff that I figured could be done, plus provides essential bits of workflow organization for those of us new to the business of design, but not necessarily the act of designing.
  • Star-Tribune sold: Knight Ridder was a big whale to swallow, so it’s no shocker to see McClatchy selling off some pieces of their kingdom for cold hard cash. Good luck, Minneapolis.

I was in Boston all weekend, cut me some slack

  1. I was in Boston all weekend. First time really walking around in the city. It felt a lot like New York, except that people in Red Sox hats kept popping up everywhere. Where do these people think they are? Is that guy wearing a Patriots shirt? WTF?
  2. Every time I go to a new vegetarian Asian restaurant, I eat too much. When they say “large platter,” they mean it. But still, nothing is as good as VP2 in New York. No contest, and I’ve tried places in San Jose, San Francisco, and Boston now.
  3. Um, everyone was friendly in Boston. And it was clean. And I saw fewer homeless people than I see in Santa Cruz. And the subway was efficient.
  4. Before I left for the weekend, I helped throw together a podcast and an audio-free week-in-photos Soundslides bit at work. It’s exactly the sort of work I’ve been trying to get around to. I’ll have more time for multimedia shortly.
  5. I’m working on a redesign of this site. Yes, another one. It’s been a few months after all, and I’ve been enjoying developing WordPress blogs for work on top of Chris Pearson’s Cutline theme, so I figured I’d try it out myself. It’s in the works.
  6. I’m making progress with thesis-related bureaucracy. I’m supposed to turn another draft of my proposal in to my adviser tomorrow. It’s not going to have all the additions done, but it should have all the right language in it. Human subjects paperwork is ready to be re-submitted again. I promise not to ask anyone’s boss for permission to speak to them. Sheesh.
  7. Speaking of my thesis, Dana Hull of the Merc has a good newspaper blog round-up in the American Journalism Review. If you’re wondering what your paper should be blogging about, how to come up with guidelines, and whether you’re supposed to edit the darn things, then give it a read.
  8. Am I the only one who saw CNN Headline News this morning showing video of what was clearly not a 757 hitting the Pentagon on 9/11? Um, shouldn’t this be a bigger story? Hoping something about it pops up tomorrow…
  9. Speaking of airport security, my ID got scanned by the TSA at Logan airport this morning. I’m wondering why I got picked. Beard? Last name? Were they checking every tenth ID? I felt a little weird about it, but mostly I just don’t like handing over my ‘papers’ to a guy in uniform with a machine on his lap. Maybe he knew I was a Yankee fan.
  10. Yes, I was in Boston and I didn’t call you. I flew in late Friday to meet my wife there for the weekend, spent all day Saturday walking around town, then flew back with her this morning. And I’m exhausted. So cut me some slack.

Halloween debriefing

With all this talk about the Death of Newspapers going on and on and on, I started thinking, “What about the undead reporters?”

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Best interview of the night?

Dick Cheney: He kept saying “It was a hunting accident, I swear.”

Then he pointed the plastic shotgun at me.

Video of all the chaos and skin that is Downtown Santa Cruz on Halloween is online.

Not that you asked for my opinion*

*In which I make another disingenuous attempt at a regular feature, reviewing several items that have come across my desk/eyes/ears in the last little while.

  • The Departed: Best Scorsese flick since GoodFellas, although some might debate the merits of this one vs. Gangs of New York.
  • This year’s Santa Cruz Marching Band Review: Substantially more peaceful than last year’s, as far as my block was concerned. Also, we left the house for most of the day, which helped. (We live right across from the high school field where the buses start dropping bands off at the crack of dawn. Then they start working through their scales. Even the bass drums get warmed up.)
  • Bay Photo ROES, the online photo printing service my local lab runs: Once you get the Java applet running, it’s simple, relatively intuitive, and most importantly, the prints are perfect.
  • New Morning, an old Bob Dylan record: Contains “The Man in Me,” which you heard in The Big Lebowski. The whole thing is just as good.

That’s all for now. If you have opinions of your own about any of these, drop ’em in the comments.