May 20th, 2007



Santa brought The Girls little USB-drive/MP3-player combo units in December, and we (being slow-adapting folks) just got around to trying to put music on these last night. Now (and I know this is going to be shocking), I had never attempted to "rip" any music, so my first task was figuring that out, fortunately, the latest version of Windows Media Player (v11), is pretty much idiot-proof, and I was amazed at how fast and easy it was to get the files onto the computer.

We, unfortunately, then made the mistake of trying to "figure out" the MP3 player rather than just going into plug-and-play mode (well, that's not quite the whole story, but p/p wasn't working at first) and tried the typically rather radical "RTFM procedure". I suspect that one of the reasons that it takes me forever to get new equipment installed is that I'm not "comfortable" with it until I've read and understood the manual that comes with it. Anyway, I get into the "manual" for this little MP3 player and I encounter:
• Battery
This player adopts 9 class amount of electricities supervise and control.

When battery electricity measures to 1.5V show all and full, when you use for a long time, electricity will reduce.
When battery uses up almost, diagram the mark is central to change into the blank, at this time should on time replace the battery.
Now, if that's explaining how to read the battery gauge (and I'd like to point out that there was no diagram or instructions for where/how to actually install a battery ... which at least the outer box informed us was a triple-A), you can imagine what the various operation instructions sounded like!

Anyway, we have a couple of albums dumped onto Daughter #1's player (which holds 1gig, so there's a ton of room) and now that we've worked out most of the bugs, we'll attempt to load some stuff onto Daughter #2's. I just hope they can figure out all the functions of the player by messing around with it, because Daddy's not interfacing well with the "let's pretend this is in English" manual!

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A mixed bag ...

I picked this up on one of my Amazon shopping expeditions earlier this year, and, frankly, I'm not sure exactly what triggered my purchase, except the I might have just "been in a mood" to get some more Vine Deloria, Jr. in my library. Deloria is one of the major modern voices of the Native American rights movement, and has penned some really remarkable books over the years (such as God Is Red, reviewed here a few years back). I was saddened to find that he had passed away back in 2005, as he was a very substantial American writer.

This volume, Spirit & Reason: The Vine Deloria, Jr., Reader is not, however, his best work. Rather, this is a collection of bits and pieces on various topics, some being excerpts from his various (a dozen plus editorial projects) books, others being articles originally published in assorted magazines and journals, and suffers from the realities of that structure. Also, Deloria is most powerful when writing about subjects like religion, politics, and historical realities. While these subjects are included in Spirit & Reason, they are intermixed with other materials that one feels are not his strong suit.

I will admit that some of the parts that I felt were "stretching" could have just been my own reaction to points of view that I find based on highly unlikely premises (such as the suggestion that certain types of dinosaurs were co-existing with native tribes in North America within historical times), but that could simply be my inability to detach from particular archaeological or anthropological orthodoxies. There were also some bits where I had the reaction that he was over-stating certain elements for the specific audience for which a given article was initially written, but those could likewise be simply my biases conflicting with his reality.

The book is structured in five "thematic" segments, Philosophy, Social Science, Education, Indians, and Religion, with a good deal of variety of subjects within each of these. Again, the "quality" rises and falls chapter to chapter, but that is to be expected in a collection of this nature. Personally, I would not recommend this for an introduction to Deloria, but would suggest if one has not read him, to start with God Is Red, which is a remarkable book.

This does still appear to be in print (in the paperback edition), so could be found via "brick & mortar" channels, but the Amazon new/used vendors currently have "new" copies available fro as little as $5.75 (on an $18.95 cover price book), so if you were wanting to add it to your library, I'd say go with that!

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Went to the movies ...

I knew it was only a matter of time before we went to see Shrek The Third, but I was surprised that it was opening weekend. Being as we got there at the last of the discount matinées, I was surprised that the theater wasn't packed, not a good sign for the continuing box office muscle for the Ogre.

The general outline of the plot is that Fiona's dad, the Frog King, is dying, and Shrek does not want to be the new King, and he goes off in search of Arthur, some vaguely-defined "next in line" to the throne (in fact, there may be some sequel set-up in this, as his Artie's dad is mentioned, as having left him at a boarding school and then disappeared, but also never put "in context" of the Far Far Away royal house). While Shrek (with Donkey and Puss) are off on this mission, Prince Charming (who has been doing back-street dinner theater), plots a take-over of the kingdom, lining up the help of all the various villains, as well as a "mole" in Fiona's inner circle. Of course, Shrek & crew return and eventually put things right.

Now, I don't usually agree with the Tribune's reviews of things, but they hit a few things dead on, especially noting that, in the funeral scene for King Harold, the soundtrack has a nearly verbatim version of McCartney's Bond theme Live And Let Die ... aside from the obvious death reference part, it neither adds anything to the plot, nor is particularly appropriate to the mood of the scene ... the only plausible explanation was they were going for some "the king is dead, long live the king" sort of thing, but hitting way off the mark. There were other fun musical references, though, like where Snow White (who seems to get birds landing on her whenever she puts up her arms), does a sweet little song that calls all the woodland creatures and then suddenly slips into the intro howls of Led Zeppelin's classic Immigrant Song, launching them all on the attack. This then segues into a version of Heart's Barracuda that sounded like it might have actually been done by the Wilson sisters!

Hey, if you liked the earlier two Shrek movies, there's really nothing not to like in this one. There were, perhaps, fewer "fun references" to everyday stuff, but that is counterbalanced by another Monty Python alum joining the cast, Eric Idle voicing the Merlin character (I guess they needed one since they killed off John Cleese's Harold!).

The coolest thing we saw at the theater today, however, was a life sized statue of the Silver Surfer as a promo for the new Fantastic Four movie. I wish I'd been able to get a shot of it without the red light all over it, but I just had to grab a pic of it! The was also a "life sized" statue of the Simpsons on their couch (with enough room to sit on the end and take a picture), but it didn't occur to me that it might have been fun to have had a shot of me sitting there with Homer & Co. to post here until we were already out of the theater. Bummer. Maybe if I go see Spiderman 3 with Daughter #1, I'll get a shot on that.

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