Tag Archives: review

Review: “I’m a PC” Commercial – Microsoft & Apple

Microsoft just can’t stop robbing Apple. First, it was operating systems, now it’s commercials.

Back in 2006, Microsoft released Vista to a roar of boos. Not only was it slower than XP, but it had software compatibility issues, questionable security features, anti-piracy technology that detected “counterfeit or non-genuine” software on a person’s computer (college kids loved that) and not to mention, it sapped laptop battery life twice as fast as XP, according to tests by CNET and others.

And other folks claimed Vista’s aesthetic and user-controls were eerily similar to Apple’s OSX operating system which suggested copyright violation.

Check out the new 3-D chess game Microsoft built into Vista.

Look a little like Apple’s?

But that’s little stuff. How about bigger stuff? For instance, for years Mac users enjoyed a quick app built into the operating system that had an address locator, a calculator, weather reports, language translations, among other things. Apple calls them “widgets” and it’s a Mac staple. Here’s a picture:

Well, Vista now has a similar application. Microsoft calls them “gadgets” (or “stolen ideas” for short):

Other applications in Vista that look and feel like Mac’s include: Apple’s iPhoto and Finder.

So, is it any surprise Microsoft’s new marketing campaign is again ripping off Apple?

Apple:

Vista:

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Anne Hathaway

anne-hathawayNot all actresses have talent.

Some land on the cover of Vogue with dress and smile alone. Large breasts. A publicist.

Sure, a stereotype but true—and hard to overcome. Attractive people get the better job, make more money, live it up.

Ever notice how often the hero of a film is handsome and the villain ugly?

Still, good looks in Hollywood doesn’t translate to respect necessarily. Sometimes it’s a problem. Many aren’t taken seriously—just written off as marketing ploys to win at the box office. But there are others…

Anne Hathaway could have retired on a picture deal with Disney. Her beauty, girlish charm and modest smile is a perfect fit with the company. A life-long relationship probably danced in the dreams of company big shots. But then she got naked in “Havoc”, playing a character different  from her wholesome, family image.

Was she a spoiled Hollywood actress whose pretension outweighed her ability? A stomping teenager? Maybe ungrateful?

Turns out she just likes to act. And does it well.

For proof, go watch “Rachel Getting Married,” a family-in-crisis film so poignant and universal that it should run on muted-repeat behind the podium of an AA meeting. Here, she plays an alienated youth fresh out of rehab, recovering from parental neglect as much as drugs.

Of course, she’s beautiful. But she’s more than that. She transcended it and became…what? An artist? Maybe, but that’s better served for off-Broadway acts struggling to pay rent. So, what? How about something more scarce. More elegant. How about credible?

Games of Social Change

iced-1

Call it a social trend or just a liberal gimmick. Nonetheless, new games focusing on social issues are hitting the Internet in fast numbers and are winning the applause of video-gamers and reformers alike.

The latest game is called “ICED” whose theme is immigration. In “ICED” (short for “I can end deportation”) players are one of five characters weaving around a fictitious American city, doing their best to avoid the ICE (the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Each character is different: an illegal immigrant, a visa-holding college student, a green-card worker, a U.S-born son of illegally immigrated parents, and an African American girl who wrote a disparaging college essay about the Patriot Act. 

The game was developed by a non-profit educational organization in New York and is free to download.

http://www.icedgame.com

Austin’s “House of Torment”

Arnold Van Gennep, a 20th century Belgian anthropologist, once wrote that all cultures use similar rites of passage.

In East Africa, the Barabaig tribe shave the heads of their pubescent “warriors-to-be” and cut lines in their scalp with razors. Other cultures circumcise.

In suburbia, we smoke our first cigarette, dance at the prom, or take off the training wheels.

And when we’re brave enough, visit a haunted house. 

There’s always three stages in a rite of passage: separation, liminality, and incorporation. Big words but simple concepts.

In terms of a haunted house, when you pull into that parking lot, buy your ticket and enter through the squeaky, spider-webbed door, that’s  the “separation”—you exit the Old and enter the New.

Tumbling over your friends laughing and pausing to notice that heartbeat of yours slowly pumping back out of your ears at the end is the “incorporation”. 

But the fun part is the middle—the “liminality” phase. It’s where anything goes. And it awaits you at the House of Torment.

www.thehouseoftorment.com

A Longer Review of “Heroes”, Season 3

Poor Heroes. 

First, the actors go on strike and now the muse has too. How did it happen? In the beginning is was all so simple: Save the Cheerleader, Save the World.

Now the show is all over the place, scattered and frantic like Britney Spears at a coke party.

…so what happened? (To save a “!SpOiLEr AlERt!”, I’ll stick with abstracts)

I have two guesses.

First, the strike. It threw off the timing (and plot direction) of the show in mid-flight. The writers were forced to wrap-up it up prematurely (I mean, how else were they to sell the DVD’s over the summer?).

If you watch the bonus features on the DVD set, you know that originally, the bad guys won. The vile containing the virus breaks on the floor of the vault at the paper mill, slips into the ventilation system and spreads to the town. Within hours (or a few shows really) the result is mass death, yelling, screaming, (cats and dog making love) and millions dead, bleeding out of their mouths in cities everywhere.

 

Getting sick of his "oh, golly gee" yet?

Getting sick of his "oh, gooly gee!" yet?

 

But then, the actors walked and screwed the plan, leaving producers tripping over their shoelaces for an alternate ending–one that would make due ’till Fall when a new plot could be drawn in the sand. The result was last year’s nicely-packaged but anti-climatic Disney World finale where (ta-da!) the vile lands–not on the ground–but softly in the palm of the all-around nice guy Peter Petrelli. And the world is saved. For now.

My second guess is the writer’s got lazy (too many off-season piña coladas by the pool).

Part of the charm of Heroes is its balance of fantasy and emotional realism–sure people can fly, but the characters are developed. They have believable investments in the plot. Their reactions to situations are consistent with their background. Their goals are reasonable, etc. 

But now, the fantastical is so far outweighing the realism that viewers with any self-worth are catching on (and tuning out). Character development is a-bye-bye and Coincidence is God almighty. 

The show has lost 20% of its viewers since the premiere a month ago, but luckily for Heroes, TV is bad everywhere. Even with the loss, the show is the fifth-most watched on TV. But it’s still not a reason to care about a cheerleader. If NBC wants a loving audience it’ll have to save the show first.

A Shorter Review of “Heroes”, Season 3

The John McCain Campaign, The Debate – Review

John McCain gives a thumbs-up to his campaign manager

John McCain, giving a thumbs-up to his campaign manager

In case you didn’t read the news on-line, John McCain did what everybody expected.

He smiled, boarded a plane, and headed to Mississippi after all.

His altruistic publicity stunt didn’t help legislators complete the bailout, but it did help his campaign–sort of.

It portrayed McCain as a man (a Leader if you will) so indebted to his country, he’d let his own future go in jeopardy.

Though the story is no story—“Make no mistake: John McCain did not ‘suspend’ his campaign,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton—it was the lead everywhere—the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN and NPR to name a few.

McCain said he suspended his campaign—mind you not off-the-cuff, out-of-breath running to a helicopter, but rather from a carefully penned script off a teleprompter aimed to squeeze as much sweaty drama from his political socks as possible—but really what did he suspended?

Fundraising?

He took 84 million in public financing and the Republic National Committee donates money to his campaign. Not a big sacrifice there.

Advertising?

Is there any better advertising than free advertising? Some news stories even hinted at ideas his commercials trumpet: John McCain: Patriotic, Unselfish, Great Leader.

(I’ll add: Politician).

But you have to give it to him. He snagged a great campaign manager: both stunts—this one and the Sarah Palin hiring—really wooed voters. Or at least tried to.