Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Musings Addmentum - August 30, 2010

I felt really bad about not including a funny video in this week's Monday Musings. Luckily for me, the comic strip Luann came through with quite possibly the most horrible song/music video in a long time. May I present to you Hey Boy!

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Monday Musings - August 30, 2010

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The contradiction that is Rob Ford

Compare and contrast:
  • Peter Worthington, Sunday: By presenting himself as a blunt-talking, straight-arrow, tell-it-like-it-is guy who radiates honesty, Ford leapt into the lead among Torontonians fed up to the gills with the spending and self-justifying nonsense of our present mayor and many in council.

  • Toronto Sun Editorial, Friday: Rob Ford's honesty in question

Oddly enough, this is one of those rare times when the Toronto Sun Editorial Board gets one right. Ford can be the biggest straight shooter in terms of what the city needs. The problem is, his actions whenever faced with a possibly negative story is to deny first, then admit guilt when faced with evidence proving his guilt? An honest man would own up to his transgressions when first given the opportunity, not deny and hope that it is not followed up on. This is even more troublesome when you are running a campaign with a basis on trust.

Worthington acknowledges that there's an issue with Ford's honesty, but waves it away by saying "There’s a difference in not being blatantly honest about embarrassing incidents in your own life, and looting the public till and not being honest with taxpayers’ money." This doesn't deal with the pattern that Ford is setting, nor does it acknowledge that Ford is actually willing to spend cash that city council identified as a savings.

(In a related note, how bad are things when the city's conservative newspaper calls out the front-running conservative mayor candidate?)

I also have to wonder about Ford's move to not officially comment about anything to the Toronto Star. Aren't you just opening yourself up to even more one-sided reporting due to not giving a response to any story brought by the newspaper?

Rob Ford's ideas might be what the city of Toronto needs. I'm not sure that his other actions are needed though.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Covering all the bases - a photo essay

English and French instructions for earbud headphones

Front of the full instructions for earbud headphones

Back of the full instructions for earbud headphones

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Musings - August 23, 2010

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

JayRo Reads: The Bullpen Gospels

The Bullpen Gospels
by Dirk Hayhurst

This is by far the most interesting book I have read in the last year. It is one of the best baseball books that I have read. It might be one of the best books that I have read.

The book is a recounting of Hayhurst's 2007 season, which was spent in the San Diego Padres' minor league system. In it, you get a great look at what minor league baseball is like, with most of the stories of sex, drugs and alcohol you would come to expect.

What isn't expected is Hayhurst's own story of overcoming his anxiety, his overcoming his family situation, to produce results on the field. Hayhurst approaches this in the same way that he approaches the minor league portion of the book - with honesty. What could have been a book that was filled with the antics of a minor league is instead an honest portrayal of not only the minors, but one man's struggles to exceed at baseball but also determine what his ultimate goal is for his life.

Even if you aren't a baseball fan, you should read this book. I can not recommend it enough.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Musings - August 16, 2010

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Breaking News!

Not only is Polkaroo on Twitter, Polkaroo has a Tumblr account!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

JayRo Watches: Kick Ass

Kick Ass is almost the perfect popcorn movie. You go in, essentially shut off your brain, and enjoy yourself. Yet, there's something distracting while you're watching the movie, especially the climax. That's what happens when you are watching an 11-year old girl get beaten up by a middle age man.

This is the dichotomy of the movie - if you can get past the 11-year old girl - who is admittedly the most threatening fighter in the movie - getting beat up, you'll have no problem with Kick Ass, and you will enjoy it. Otherwise, you might want to take pause; the movie has its merits (especially with the evolution of Kick Ass as a crime fighter), but Hit Girl might end up distracting you from the film and stopping your enjoyment.

(In a related note, if Roger Ebert had just stayed on this line of thought, I would have had no qualms about his review. Instead, he went down the "won't you think about the children" route and the "controversy" ensued.)

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Monday Musings - August 9, 2010

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

JayRo Watches: Salt

I remember when I first watched the Sixth Sense, I figured out the twist almost immediately. I noticed the little things throughout the movie to lay the back story for when they revealed the twist. It was a well produced film that unfortunately launched the career of M. Night Shyamalan to a level that we are still recovering from.

I bring this up not only for the unnecessary shot at M. Night Shyamalan, but also because the Sixth Sense might be the last great movie that had a twist which worked within the context of the movie and as an actual surprise. Salt is the latest to attempt to give the shock twist, and the latest to fail.

It fails because we're conditioned to expect a twist ending out of our thrillers; a misdirection which is supposed to shock us. What saves the movie is that the story itself is strong enough to last on its own, even with the knowledge that something will be flipped on you at the end.

Angelina Jolie stars as Evelyn Salt, a CIA operative. She gets a visit from a Russian operative who claims to have information on how the Russian President will be killed. Salt's interest isn't piqued until he reveals the name of the assassin: Evelyn Salt. This launches the movie into a frantic half hour chase, where the CIA attmepts to bring Salt back into custody. The story is at its strongest here, with Salt escaping not only by outsmarting her pursuers, but by getting lucky as well. We then follow Salt as the story of how we got to this point is unraveled.

Jolie is fantastic playing Salt, being able to balance the kick-ass heroine role with the emotional gravitas of being concerned for her husband's well being. Knowing that the role was first offered to Tom Cruise makes me thankful that he chose to do Knight and Day; if he were to have played the same role it could have come off as derivative of Mission:Impossible.

All in all, I recommend Salt, even if you won't be surprised by the end. The story is structured that it does not depend on the shock factor, and leaves you satisfied with the resolution.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

JayRo Plays Batman: Arkham Asylum

Many comic book franchises produce video games that rely on the name of the comic book to sell the game, and then ignore gameplay all together. (Superman Returns springs to mind immediately.) Batman: Arkham Asylum actually goes the opposite way, producing a game with rich gameplay, multiple modes, replay value and oh, BTW, you are playing Batman.

The story begins with Batman escorting Joker into Arkham Asylum to be locked up. Of course, Joker escapes, and the story then revolves around Batman trying to take down the Joker. Along the way, you learn some things about what was happening at Arkham Asylum, and some come back to haunt you.

Gameplay is interesting. There's the standard brawling which takes up a lot of the game. There's also some puzzle solving, trying to find your way around barriers, etc. But the most intriguing part of game play is the Predator mode, which is a stealth mode. The point of this is to take down the enemies without being noticed. What makes it stand out from the others is the way it uses the Batman character. You are able to not only sneak around silently, but you can use the vents and any convieniently placed gargoyles to sneak around. The gargoyles are especially good, as you can swing from them, and (once you upgrade to it) use them to take out the enemies. There are also "challenge missions" that let you use these predator tactics in as quick as possible. This is the most interesting aspect of the game, and playing the challenges is all the more enjoyable.

Along with the Joker, you encounter some more of Batman's Rouge Gallery. The most interesting is the Riddler, who you never actually see. He leaves you with trophies to find and riddles to solve. These are in unusual places, and involve doing some interesting movements to get to them.

I realize I am late to the game with my praise of Batman: Arkham Asylum. Even still, if you haven't already picked this up, you should. There is enough there to keep your attention for a long time.

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