Kam Wah Chung on OPB on May 14th at 9pm

This looks like an interesting program for all my many[1. I have a surprisingly large number of friends practicing or studying TCM, at least 7 off the top of my head. And, now that I think of it, all of them are connected to the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine here in Portland.] friends working in or studying Traditional Chinese Medicine: Oregon Experience on OPB will be premiering Kam Wah Chung on May 14, 2009, 9:00 pm.

In the late 1800s, thousands of Chinese miners came to Eastern Oregon in search of gold.  Among them were two men  – Ing “Doc” Hay and Lung On – who opened a store and herbal apothecary called Kam Wah Chung.  Though originally catering to their fellow Chinese, over time these two men attended to the medical needs of many, becoming highly regarded members of the community.

The Prisoner dilemma

Two things new in the Village; something old, something new. Apparently, there’s a new Prisoner miniseries being made for 2009.

In 2009, AMC will present The Prisoner miniseries starring Ian McKellen as Two and Jim Caviezel as Six. This site provides you with behind the scenes access to the making of the show.

Ian McKellan as Number Two? Okay, maybe, but, damn, Leo McKern was so good and so much larger. But, there are almost exactly zero actors I can imagine as Number Six other than Patrick McGoohan. As if McGoohan wasn’t sublime enough, the pair of them, McGoohan and McKern … ineffable, numinous times two.

In addition to that, AMC has put up the original, viewable online, and … wait for it … the episodes can be embedded in, oh, I don’t know … maybe a blog post.

Ep 1. The Arrival

You know, I never thought about it before but those melodramatic thunder sounds in the open of episode one as I watched remind me of Hot Fuzz … Anyhow, I don’t know about you, but for me the online episode is almost unwatchable. Bummer.

Now, I don’t know about other online video downloads, but I do notice that AMC has their little niche carved out in iTunes so maybe the miniseries will be available there, and elsewhere.

I knew there were rumours of a remake in the works, I think for quite some time; but, it’s just around the corner. I hope they do well with it.

Update 14jan09 @ 1:13pm:

Well, crap.

Via BBC [also]:

Emmy-winning actor Patrick McGoohan, best known for starring in cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner, has died at the age of 80.

The BBC also has a section of Cult TV about The Prisoner.

Doing digital wrong

So, this morning on the analog channel of the local PBS station is a nice show about eagles. Neat.

And, over on the digital channel of the local PBS station is a show about how to switch to digital stations when the analog stations go off-air.

That’s a fail.

More on the waiting for the tin man

Via SCI FI Wire:

“A sometimes psychedelic, often twisted and always outrageous take on the book, Tin Man is the epic tale of DG (Deschanel), a young woman plucked from her humdrum life and thrust into the Outer Zone (the O.Z.), a fantastical realm filled with wonder but oppressed by dark magic. DG seeks her true identity, battles evil winged monkey-bats and attempts to fulfill her destiny.”

There’s other information, but this sounds strange … a little like American McGee’s Alice kind of strange.

Waiting for The Tin Man

No, not “thin” but “tin” …

Apparently, there’s a retelling of Oz in miniseries form coming in December to the Sci Fi channel. Staring Zooey Dechanel as DG and Alan Cummings as the title role. I hope it’s a good one. Check out more at Slice of Scifi.

I could see someone like Peter Jackson taking on the whole series of books, especially the first 6 of them, as a whole series of movies or shows. That sure would be something to see.

Firefly will virtually rise again

Via Slashdot, Wired News: Firefly Reborn as Online Universe says:

“Like Capt. Mal Reynolds stumbling in after a bar fight, the short-lived but much beloved sci-fi series Firefly will soon make an unexpected return, not as a TV show, but as a massively multiplayer online game.”

Okay, but the FAQ for the Multiverse demo client says Windows only, meh. No Linux or Mac.

And, they’ve only licensed it so they can get someone to develop it using their tools. So, it’s pretty far from being anything.

And, one more thing …

In a previous post, I speculate about some products and topics related to Apple. But, I forgot one of the features I have realized I want in Apple’s iTV product more than anything else: party shuffle of video playlists.

I want to be able to set up playlists or seasons or collections of shows and have the iTV play them like the party shuffle works for music, but output to a TV. So, in otherwords, I want to program my own network.

One idea I had was to watch several shows on the day of the week they originally aired on TV. But, having the ability to set up a playlist of shows and having the iTV shuffle through them indefinitely … now that would be pretty cool.

I haven’t played with Front Row yet, so I suppose this idea could already be in there … This is the major missing feature of the DVR and DVD experience. One of the greatest advantages of setting up a music player with tons of music is not having to futz with changing CD after CD. A replacement for TV and DVD, whatever kind of DVR-like device it may be, needs to have a cool way to program and randomize video content in the same way that music content can be currently.

Freeing the content is only part of the deal. Freeing the user to program their own network is about ordering and making sense with that content.

Speculation on Apples

It’s not just a hobby, but a professional sport. However, I’m going to step up as an amateur and speculate about some things that Apple might be doing, or at least that it should be doing.

So, iTV has an HDMI port. But, no Apple monitor has HDMI or HDCP support, even over DVI, I think, yeah? (Not even to the integrated screens in books and iMacs, right?) Yet. I expect that in the new year. At least one external model will get HDMI with HDCP support. Also, there were comments about the odd size of the iTV, but I think it’s pretty likely that the size was changed so that it would fit under a monitor. Because, until that support is there, there’s not much chance of either HD-DVD or BD-ROM movies on a Mac in HD, and if there’s no HD what’s the point?

I’ll tell you the number one thing I want in the iTV however is that it function as network attached storage. I want to be able to store all my music on the iTV and then sync between that volume and other machines in the house. Frankly, I want iTunes to recognize the iTV on the network and then seemlessly integrate that music into my iTunes library. The iTV should be the consumer level xserve.

(If only an iPod could be a realiable portable home folder, too. But, if you’ve ever mounted one person’s portable to another machine, you’ll see that there’s a clash between unix user IDs … That patent application about portable home folders had what looked like a possible solution, didn’t it?)

Oh, yeah, and about that hard drive. Let us all recall that Disney was testing out a set-top box for content delivery, which they pulled. I’d bet a dollar that the Disney box got a midnight visit from the black mock turtleneck wearing ninjas. The moviebeam service was supported by a set-top box that included a hard drive pre-loaded with 100 movies and would add 4 per month. The specs are surprisingly similar to what we know about the iTV so far. The set-top box was supposed to cost $199, when not rented. Well, Disney’s service was delayed, closed, but was thought to retool and come back again with HDTV support …. as part of the iTV offering, I wonder? Could iTV be one of the target embedded partners? No antenna that we know of, however, is part of the iTV.

And whither Moviebeam itself? Still alive on the web, anyway. They claim they will send me a box for $99, to which I can add an HD kit for another $40. And, do I get this right, there’s no subscription fees, just paying for the movies one wants? Kinda like iTunes music and movies, yeah? I also note that only a few movies are actually available in HD, and then only in 720p, which is … meh, okay.

Back in ’04, CNET quoted someone saying:

“These guys are all hovering about the same space–they’re thinking, ‘How do we push content to a disk drive and get it onto your TV set?'” said Kaufhold, who expects Disney to announce a new partner later this year.

Heh, new partner, yeah. By the prickling of my thumb, something Steve Jobs this way comes …

There’s one feature I want more than anything else in an iPhone: internet connectivity for my laptop. If I could toss Qwest for phone service and get reasonable Internet connectivity for my laptop on an iPhone, I’d jump in a heartbeat, unless there’s some other wild show stopper. If not good for connecting, then I’ll skip it. The only thing cooler than an iPhone would be an iTablet / Newton Unbound device of some kind …

No one seems to have commented on the odd naming of Filemaker, Apple’s database, when the new versions were introduced. If “Filemaker” became “Filemaker Pro” and “Filemaker Pro” bacame “Filemaker Pro Advanced” then what is the new “Filemaker”? I don’t think it dropped off the map. Anyone else think that a basic version will appear in iWork come the new year, along with the expected spreadsheet application?

(Has anyone built yet a wrapper around the CoreData framework to create a face for the built-in data storage now in OS X? Could the entry level FM be just that face?)

The only thing missing, if iWork adds spreadsheet and database and one accepts Pages as both layout and word processor, is the app for creating graphics to match the Appleworks package, I think. With CoreImage and other frameworks now available, a graphic tool might be in the future too.

(Can I hope for support of Openoffice and Open Document formats, too?)

Back in the day, Steve Jobs owned Write Up, a word processor, which ran on NeXT. What happened to that code, I wonder? I’ve wondered that since forever. I vaguely recall it was a nice package, certainly not perfect. I just don’t remember what happened to that.

As far as graphics go, there’s some stellar stuff out there. The whole Omnigroup quite of tools, including the new OmniPlan, have always been amazing. But, I have to wonder about the old Lighthouse apps that Sun swallowed in order to get at the Java code they had. I recall those apps as being quite nice as well, and frankly the inspiration for OmniGraffle is clearly in the lost Draw app.

(I still want to know if anyone has tried to run an old Intel NeXT binary on an Intel-based Mac. Anyone? Mac OS X recognizes apps, fails to show their proper icon, but when run simply compains that the binary is for a different architecture. When I asked someone at the Genius Bar in Tacoma, they didn’t know.) [cf]

Send lawyers, guns and money …

This week’s Boston Legal, which I fear I now have admitted to watching as a guilty pleasure, almost like watching a fiasco or a train wreck, had a moment when William Shatner’s character, Denny Craine, is caught at his own wedding in the coat check with a serving woman. The music played to punch this moment is Warren Zevon’s Lawyers, Guns and Money with his evocative music and voice. Wonderful moment that made my day.

One poll President Bush is winning

Interestingly, as I turned on the TV this morning, the question being asked on Family Feud was: “Who has the biggest ego in America?”

Let us just set aside the fact that it should have been “… in the US?” shall we, for now? This is almost a tabloid wish-list.

The survey says:

President Bush

42

Donald Trump

12

Tom Cruise

9

Bill Clinton

7

Paris Hilton

3

Simon Cowell

3

In fact, President Bush wins this one by a landslide, with only Donald Trump having more than honorable mention.

On a more serious note, this points out something important to me about President Bush’s actual approval rating. He may be under 50%, but if the other 50% are all over the map then he’s still on solid ground. What matters more is whether the other 50% have some kind of coordinating consensus. Otherwise, it’s just a long tail of fringe notions that do not really pose any opposition to be worried about.

But, there’s another interesting point about this. The first family guessed President Bush, the number one answer, first. Then they were unable to get any other answer. They thought of President Bush and could not think of anyone else with a big ego in the US. That’s something there.

Another cancelled show: Night Stalker

Via Sci Fi Wire, “Night Stalker Gets Staked“:

“ABC has canceled Night Stalker, the second time the network has given the axe to a series about reporter Carl Kolchak and his pursuit of supernatural phenomena, Variety reported.”

Why do all the shows I like get cancelled?

Night Stalker is the most recent. Kitchen Confidential is another. Of course, there’s Firefly. Twin Peaks … and, I remember being disappointed when they cancelled Outworld, an odd little sci-fi show back in the late 80’s. So many lost shows …

When I was a senior in high school, I stopped watching TV, even though I had a TV in my room. TV was just so horrid that I couldn’t stand to waste my time anymore. Broadcast TV is just abominable. Not only do they cancel shows most of the good shows and keep vapid, insipid tripe, but networks make their presentation and schedules as annoying as possible. It is as if they believe they will have my unconditional attention.

The fact is that I will not view whatever they put on the air. I’ve given up TV before, and will do it again. It’s a definite sign that I tend to watch old shows that are re-run. And, most of the new shows are available after a short delay. There’s nothing compelling about seeing a show the day it comes out. I’m already weaned from that through liberal use of DVD and Tivo.

That they put annoying banners at the bottom of my recorded shows, which have recently doubled in size they obscure on screen, and futz with starting times, and randomly screw with new episodes by inserting reruns between … these are all reasons that I find TV more annoying. This is not endearing behaviour, but rather behaviour that is more likely to make the break.

When I had DirecTV, I didn’t bother with any local stations, so the ridiculous chanting from cable that “We’ve got local stations!” is just stupid. Local station are getting gutted by the DVD releases of shows and, now, by the networks releasing shows online. There’s nothing left to syndicate for non-affiliates, and the affiliates are just mindless parrots without merit of their own.

King 5, the local NBC station used to have a sometimes funny sketch comedy show that was on Saturdays next to SNL, but that died a slow and painful death. What other local content is there? Local news? Bah. Local news is a joke. It’s fluff, and mostly non-local content anyway. When it is local content, the majority of that is mindless blather about the weather. The weather here is mild. It’s not that big of a deal nor is it really either a surprise or a show-stopper if it’s not great.

I just can’t bring myself to pay for all the cable channels or DirecTV, and I sure as hell am not willing to pay for digital cable as an add-on expense.

So, maybe, the Tivo was a gap-stop that prolonged the life of TV past the point when I stopped being willing to have the networks dictate my life. Now, it’s just not the benefit it was. There just isn’t enough good TV on that I feel I need to watch it broadcast. Why not wait for it on DVD, or just skip it completely. Was Tivo mere my patch, to help me quit?

I’ve mostly given up on going to the movies. Unless there’s a really compelling reason to go, that the movie is somehow going to be so much better on a larger screen … hardly a reason to call them “The Large” screen anymore since they really aren’t … I wait for movies to come to DVD or don’t bother anymore.

So, ultimately, DVD is now my primary source of choice for movies and TV shows. So why not just cancel everything except for Netflix? No, really. Why not? It would have been nice if Netflix and Tivo had gotten the download feature to work. Turns out that’s the reason I finally got a Netflix account in the first place, but it’s a feature they aren’t going to be able to really offer because, at least they say, the studios have exclusive relationships with networks to offer movies, so can’t offer them for download, even protected in some fashion.

Maybe it’s time to go cold turkey?

Not so small now, is it?

Just caught a few minutes of this week’s episode of Smallville. I got a bit bored of the series for a while, but they have really done some great stuff this season. Not only did they introduce Aquaman, but there’s James Marsters as, well, will be Brainiac. Then for this Halloween episode they have a whole vampire thing, which allows Marsters’s character to say, “There are no such thing as vampires.” Ha!

Well, check out the guest appearance by Carrie Fisher. Oh, she has aged hasn’t she? She looks more like Professor Umbridge than Princess Leia. Especially, since she plays a crotchety character … which actually reminds me a bit of her cameo in Jay & Silent Bob.