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Television

Journal: Texas Ranch House Musings 2

Journal by mackil
I watched the Texas Ranch House on PBS this past week. I've been fan of the previous House shows, so I was looking forward to it. As a student and lover of history, these shows always offer a unique modern perspective on life in the past. I've always wanted to sign up for these shows, and after watching TRH, I've decided that that was the one for me. Who hasn't wanted to be a cowboy at some point in their lives? I mean honestly...

I think the person I can most identify with is Jared. Not only do we share the same profession, but his approach to the whole experience was always curiosity driven, something I would do myself. If you notice who has the most air time with the diary cams, Jared wins by a huge amount. Probably because he was the funniest.

There was a lot of drama/personal conflict on this show, compared to the others. Some personalities just didn't click. The cowboys didn't have much of a problem gelling, and of course the Cooke's got along fine amongst themselves and Maura, but they just couldn't work together. This was partly due to the somewhat failed leadership of Mr. Cooke.

Mr. Cooke seemed wildly unpredictable at times. He would tell the cowboys one thing, go to the ranch, talk with Mrs. Cooke, then go and tell the cowboys that things have changed. The cowboys seemed to think that Mrs. Cooke ran the roost, but I think its fair to say that it was very much a partnership. Mr. Cooke was trying really hard to be a fair man, but it just came down to a few bad decisions that sank the ship. The only thing that threw me was Mr. Cooke reneging on his deal with Jared over the sale of a horse. Why he decided to do that was totally beyond me. Perhaps he was starting to get vindictive over the cowboys lack of respect for him (though why he took it out on Jared, who seemed to show more respect than all the others, is beyond me). Who knows really.

I know a lot of the conflict is thrown to the forefront by the editor/director, to keep the show interesting. I read a web chat with some of the people, where it was stated that they thought their portrayal on the show was very unfair due to the editing. That is understandable considering they spent around 3 months on the ranch, while the show is only 8 hours long. Still, not all of it can be put down to editing.

In conclusion I thought that this was a masterful show. It showed that living in the past, while romantic and inviting, can be a grueling experience. It showed that a bunch of 21st century people can indeed live in 1867, even if the here and now is better overall. Now all I have to figure out is how can I get on the next House show...
Music

Journal: 10th Anniversary of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness 4

Journal by mackil
October 24th marked the 10 year anniversary of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, one of the greatest rock records of my generation. It's hard to believe that this record is 10 years old. I still listen to it all the time and it never feels dated. It's one of those records where you don't have to be a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins to fully appreciate it.

With 2 discs (or 3 vinyl's, with 6 sides) and a running time of over 2 hours, Mellon Collie redefines the word epic. The songs are so varied when it comes to styles, there is really something for everyone (My wife hates the Pumpkins, but even she likes some of the slower, gentler songs on the record).

My favorite tracks include:
Tonight, Tonight
The best and the most surprising track on the record. Complete with full blown orchestra, drummer boy style drumming by Jimmy Chamberlin and crescendo style ending, this song is one of my all time favorites. I'm not a fan of music videos, but this video is the best I have ever seen.

Thirty-Three
A soft beautifully written song with an amazing video (and I typically hate music videos). Check out the lyrics to this song to fully appreciate it.

Here Is No Why
I love the guitars on this song. This song is a perfect example of the layering technique the Pumpkins used for their guitars.

Galapogos
One of the most touching songs on the entire record.
"I won't deny the pain
I won't deny the change
And should I fall from grace here with you
Would you leave me too?
"

Bullet with Butterfly Wings
The song everyone knows, even if they don't know the Pumpkins. This song makes me tingle every time I hear Billy Corgan scream "Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage".

If you haven't heard the Smashing Pumpkins before, or you have but you can't stand Billy Corgan's voice, just give this record a listen all the way through (a tough thing considering its length, but its worth it, honest). At most you'll love it, and at the least you'll respect it. In this day and age of copycats and generic rock bands who all sound the same, it can get depressing to a rock fan such as myself. If the Pumpkins do get back together, I shall rejoice... until then I'm "just a rat in a cage".
Movies

Journal: Ads in the movie theater

Journal by mackil
I recently attended a showing of the latest Batman movie at the local Regal Cinema. The movie was quite excellent, which is quite the compliment coming from me for I typically loathe comic book movies.

What was far from excellent was the endless advertisements masked as an entertainment feature labeled The Twenty. I won't deny that some of the segments they feature are rather interesting, however most are simply promotional ads for a movie or some new tv show (cable or otherwise).

I frequently find myself making rather sarcastic remarks at the theater (much to the chagrin of my fiancé) and sighing heavily as another bikini clad model guzzles down a bottle of diet Coke. I realize that the theater has to make money somehow since they have a rotten deal with the studios, but surely this is reaching the point of insanity.

Am I wrong to be responding this way? Perhaps I am, but I doubt that it will change my reaction when I see another Fandango ad (which seems to change about once a year). And for crying out loud, please destroy every single Fantana ad that is in existence. The world will be a far better place if at least that is accomplished.
Operating Systems

Journal: Asa Dotzler on Linux

Journal by mackil
Asa Dotzler (of Firefox fame) recently posted on his blog his perceived problems with Linux. He said these things would have to be fixed if Linux was ever to become "mainstream". My question is, do we want Linux to become "mainstream"?

Asa's problems with Linux consist of the lack of migration tools (from Windows to Linux), too many unnecessary options, the complexity of Linux, and some of the stark differences in the Linux GUI compared to Windows.

There is not a single issue there that I can deny. Every single thing he talked about is something that would have to be changed if Linux was to become the dominant OS. The question I want to pose is, do we want Linux the dominant OS? Do we want to give up all the power that we have with Linux so that your typical computer user can use it?

I use both Windows (2000) and Linux (FC4) on my desktop. Would I like games to be developed for Linux so I can get rid of my partition? You bet I would. But if it means castrating a lot of what I love about Linux, is it truly worth it?

To be truthful, I do not know the answer. Merely asking the question. There is a way for Open Source Software to survive out there in the real world with real users. I just hope it doesn't have to be emasculated in order to do so.

Mr. Cole's Axiom: The sum of the intelligence on the planet is a constant; the population is growing.

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