November 14th, 2006

technical difficulty

My iPod doesn't even work and it works better than this

Despite my obvious Mac partisanship, I'm not an Apple evangelist. I think that for most users, PCs give them the functionality they need, and they're willing to put up with more complexity of operation and installation in exchange for lower prices and easier access to a wide range of software. But I honestly do believe, as someone who has worked extensively with an awful lot of Macs and PCs over the years, that Apple products are better designed and more user-friendly.

While the Mac's crash-resistence is overrated (PCs have crashed on me more, but it's not like Macs have never done so), and their resistance to viruses, spyware and other harmful stuff is really just a function of them being less popular, I have never used a piece of Mac software that I didn't have up and running within minutes of installation, and I have never installed a piece of Mac hardware (from printers to digital cameras to mp3 players to CD burners) that wasn't plug-and-play. PCs, on the other hand, have innumerable compatibility issues, security conflicts, driver errors and simple problems with software design that have led me to spend a full day or more installing programs or getting peripherals to work, something I've never had to deal with using a Mac. This isn't me trying to bust on PCs or advocate the use of Macs; I don't care what people use. This is simply my experience.

Anyway, all this leads up to this review, at the generally nonpartisan and always useful Engadget site, of the new Zune, which is Microsoft's attempt to dethrone the iPod as America's leading media player. If this is the typical experience of most buyers -- and some first-hand stories from a couple of my acquaintances tells me it is -- then Apple has nothing to worry about.
flavored with age

Please God don't let this become a dream journal

Man, apparently, more of you would enjoy killing people for money than running a labor union. That's upsetting.

So I had a dream last night that I was back in college, at Arizona State, studying law (my classmates were much of the cast of "M*A*S*H", led by MacLean Stevenson) and playing football (my teammates were much of the cast of "The Wire", led by Wood Harris). I kept flirting with the captain of the team's girlfriend, and we get fed sports drinks and sodas by a group of rogue Wesleyan University students who lived in a series of tunnels underneath the school and paid their tuition by covertly supplying contraband to students through a number of cleverly concealed hatches.

From this highly cinematic dream I take several lessons:

1. I am watching too much TV.
2. I am drinking too much soda.
3. I am having too little sex.
4. I am writing too few interesting LiveJournal entries.
stella stella can't you hear me yella

Hatwhorin'!

The new issue of the High Hat (an online magazine of arts and culture, of which I am an editor) is up!

Gary Mairs was the EiC on this one, and he did a terrific job under trying circumstances; thanks also to Paul Hernandez, who ran the thing from a technical perspective and likewise did an amazing job.

Please do take a look at this, our special Robert Altman issue. It's got some great articles in it, including many by LJ stalwarts: thehighhat contributes this piece on Altman's Thieves Like Us, as well as institutionalism in HBO dramas; ninafarina has a terrific perspective on A Prairie Home Companion; our hero calamityjon sounds off on Altman's Popeye and the collected Peanuts; blue_straggler has this on artificial intelligence in fiction; and ezrael has some things to say on the multiverses of DC and Marvel.

There are also plenty of other outstanding pieces: Dana Knowles' terrific Altman overview; Gary Mairs on the new Altmans; the always-worthwhile Phil Nugent on Altman's actors; Scott von Doviak on weird Altman, and plenty more. For those who don't give a shit about Robert Altman but still wanna read good criticism and essays, check out Steve Hicken's piece on Arnold Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire; Phil Freeman on death metal; Phil Nugent's Richard Pryor obituary; and Tom Block's excursis on the Dan Dority/Captain Turner fight in Deadwood, as well as lots more.

I have a few slight little whimsies up there are well: a piece on Altman's underrated Secret Honor, an overview of five great novels about drinking, and my long-promised fluffy whatnot about monkey movies. Read the excellent work of others first before disappointing yourself with these.

Keep checking back; there's more content to come in the weeks ahead. And please do take a look and tell your friends; I think we've got some great stuff up this time around. Thanks!