Monday, August 10, 2009

Don’t be blue, we have blu-ray

Dan drooled over Blu-ray first, Sallie just commented in Italics. 

Blu-ray I believe is French for “Looks better than real life.” I’m not even joking, some of these movies, I take my glasses off and they adjust for me. 

Blu-ray and HD DVD were in a short-lived war. Microsoft was pulling for the HD DVD whereas Sony wanted Blu-ray. 

Here’s the breakdown. A 3 ½ inch floppy hold about 240 MB (megabytes) of information. A CD ROM holds about 1,047 MB worth of information. Then an average DVD holds about 4,700 MB worth of information. The main competitor of Blu-ray, HD DVD, packed on a whopping 30720 MB worth of information. Still following? Boring I know. 

None of this actually matters that much. But the pictures sure are purdy.

Then there’s the Blu-ray. This disgusting piece of technology holds 25 GB, or for those without a converter (or any idea what a byte is) that is 25600 MB. That means, one Blu-ray disk can hold as much information as 106.67 floppy disks. That’s a lot of floppy!

And Dan loooooves his floppy.

So rational people argued that there is nothing that is going to be able to fill a Blu-ray for many years to come and we should just go with the cheaper option of the HD DVD. 

Screw those people. The masses want bigger and better even if we can’t use it. Hell yeah give me a Terabyte of hard drive. That car can go 150 mph, I’ll take it. This meal comes with two sides! Pack ‘em on.  

We’re Americans. We love the best, brightest, and largest. Microsoft should’ve known that because they’re Americans! 

What does this mean? Well for those of us that have plunged into the High Definition Television market and have a Blu-ray player, that means we are getting ridiculous amounts of data shoved on one disk for our movie enjoyment. We get better picture, better sound, and more features. Hell, sometimes they throw in a copy of the normal DVD with the Blu-ray just so you can compare how crappy you never knew your life was before. 

A few days after we got our blu-ray player and first few discs, I also got new glasses. My mind was doubly blown by the clarity.

Now that’s not saying by default every Blu-ray you have looks better than the original. It all depends on what cameras were used when filming, how large the budget was, etc. 

For instance, 28 Days Later is one of my favorite horror movies of all time. We bought the Blu-ray hoping to see high definition blood and guts and Britons on our screen. Instead, it looked exactly how it did on DVD because this movie was filmed on an Indie budget, with just OK cameras. 

But then you get a gem like The Dark Knight or I Am Legend and you swear that you are cruising through the empty streets of New York with Will Smith and his dog. 

My personal favorite, so far, is the Planet Earth series. The wide shots, expansive scenes and vibrant colors are almost a little too much in high def. I’m constantly saying “is that real?!” whenever I watch a disc. And the animals are cute.

Now the issue is: How long will Blu-ray last. More than likely, within the next five years, the format won’t be supported for movie and will go to full downloads in high definition. I don’t want it to happen because I care about having the hard disk in my hand, but I suppose if the Blu-ray Swan Song must happen, then it will be replaced by bigger and better.  

Check out this blog in five years, when I rant on about how Blu-ray doesn’t look good enough. 

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Obviously, this blog has been slumbering for quite some time.It takes something pretty overpowering to wake the beast up. This time? Californication.

This isn’t your Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication. Let’s say the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a PG-13 blockbuster. Their hits are great, don’t get me wrong, but definitely geared toward all audiences. The Californication we’re talking about is so raunchy that if you watch it with people you aren’t completely comfortable around, you’ll be begging to be the person who makes the popcorn just to get out of the room.

As a kid, my brother and I played The X-Files. We’d run around New Orleans collecting dirt samples in old film canisters for evidence, climb trees to observe our foes and tune our walkie-talkies perfectly so we could pretend that we were on the same wavelength as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. 

No one is on the same wavelength as Scully and Mulder, although high five for trying. There were many times when I was Mulder and had no Scully. Essentially, I was a lonely guy in a basement office that searched for UFOs and ghosts. Sad face. :(

The closest I ever got was my red hair. The closest my brother ever got was…Frank Moody.

The closest I ever got was Sallie Hickle. Wait a minute… I’m married to a Scully… and a Ginny Weasley in one. I win!

Frank Moody, Californication’s protagonist, is a whiskey-drinking, pack-a-day-smoking fuck-up of writer with a serious (unintentional) inclination for underage girls. In the first season of the show, we meet Frank in quite the state. His ex-lover/never-quite-wife is seemingly happily in love with the whitest of white bread, a stark contrast to Frank’s rich rye. We find out soon enough that Frank and his ex-lover, Karen van der Beek, have a 12-year-old daughter named Becca who is wise beyond her years. To add insult to injury, Frank’s hit a bit of a dry spell in his writing and his agent is so entrenched in the affair that he’s having with his Suicide Girl secretary that he hardly has the time or attention span for anything else.

Really Frank’s dry spell lasts about two episodes and about a half a dozen girls. Then he pretends to have a dry spell out of spite. Really he’s just a drinker with a badass problem. If I weren’t married, I would gladly be a Frank Moody. God forbid I ever get divorced, because Frank Moody just isn’t as cool of a character when he’s a divorcee. 

There are a variety of things that make this show great, not least of which is the fact that Fox Mulder is gracing the public with his televised glory once again. 

I don’t understand why his big-screen career never took off. He’s just so great. Honestly, I wish I could put him in a cage, take him for walks, and love him forever. 

But seriously, Californication is an incredible show that takes precious time in developing its characters. Each person is entirely more complicated than his or her character would leave the audience to believe on first impression, which makes the season finale even more shocking. If you have a soft spot in your heart for Fox Mulder, underage sex, rampant alcoholism, drug use, witty banter, bi-curiosity, diamonds in the rough, unsung heroes or people vomiting on fine art, add Californication to your must-see TV list.

Well hell, with that description, I’d say this is the family television show of the decade. 

Dan's comments are in bold, Sallie's are normal text. 

We're Back

Yeah, that's right. For the first time since 2008 Inexperienced Popculture is coming back.

We've been disgusted by the lack of knowledge within the world of pop-culture so we're back to educate and make the world a better place. 

We're going to hit you up once a week starting tomorrow. Be ready, Sal and Dan are about to kick some pop-culture a$$. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let’s get some shoes.

Sallie's idea; Dan's comments in bold type

Every now and then, a trend (or 20) comes along that just doesn’t make sense and is totally unjustifiable (at least, to me). These kinds of trends come along pretty frequently in the fashion world: brightly-colored satin in summer (hello, pit stains), ridiculously high platform shoes, cartoon characters on otherwise respectable clothing. However, when it comes to footwear, I can honestly say I’ve seen few things more horrible than Crocs.

I have yet slip into these “crocs” as they are called, mostly because it’s like strapping evil onto your feet.

Never in my life have I ever seen a more ill-fitting, inappropriate-to-wear-in-public pair of shoes. They are bulky, they are rubbery, they are tacky and they have holes in them. Not that I know from experience, but it also makes sense that they would make your feet sweat a lot; like jellies (which are also unfortunate). In my research, I discovered that they were invented for boaters. However, it’s become obvious that their jurisdiction is no longer limited to bodies of water. I can see running around on a boat (where nobody but pirates would see you, anyway) wearing the foam-like shoes, but the grocery store? Come on. Get a pair of loafers or some sandals, for crying out loud. Velcro shoes would be more appropriate.

I wonder if there are some boaters somewhere bragging that they were the first to wear these shoes.

Earl: “Hey Bob, remember when you got your first pair of those boater loafers?”
Bob: “Hell yeah, Earl. Back when I started wearing them they came in two colors, grayish and almost white. Now these Croc things the kids are wearing come in all the colors.”
Earl: “I think they were just dirty Bob. I think they only came in white.” Earl spits on the boat deck and rubs it in with his bare feet. “Remember when you started wearing those rubber “live strong” bracelets Bob?”

Both Crocs and Uggs (remember those?) suffer from some of the same problems:

1) They make your feet look bigger than they actually are.

2) People wear them when they are (very) seasonally inappropriate.

3) They are incredibly ugly.

Why has it become socially acceptable to wear floatation devices on your feet? The thing that boggles my mind most is that these “shoes” aren’t typically worn by those who appear to be fashion-challenged upon first glance. Many times, I’ll see an ADULT woman wearing a button-down shirt, fitted jeans, great jewelry and expensive handbag round her outfit out by wearing a color-coordinated, but still terrible, pair of Crocs. Why? WHY?! Who told these people that this is OK?

The Greek culture surrounding The Place (my place of residence during college) was filled with the polo shirt-expensive jeans-Croc combo for the boys. Then the girls roamed the streets in a cleavage-showing tops, miniskirts and giant Ugg boots lined at the top with fake fur.

When it comes to shopping for clothing, or really anything, one of the best guidelines a person can follow is this: If it’s sold at a kiosk in the mall, DO NOT BUY IT. You’re probably getting ripped off, making a bad decision, or both.

That goes for cell phones and cell phone cases too. Think about it, what else are in kiosks: those helicopter things, Vietnamese massages, body jewelry and men trying to sell lotions. All essential to any modern mall, but all fairly annoying.

Don’t forget the fake hair clip-ins, Dan.

I was hopeful that the Croc trend would end soon, but it appears that the company making them is constantly coming out with new styles. These shoes make me long for the bodacious styles of the early ’90s. Scrunch socks, anyone?

$50 cash reward for every severed foot still wearing Crocs turned in at my house.

Friday, September 5, 2008

“It’s a small price to pay for self-esteem, Michael.”

Sal's idea, Dan's comments. Sorry for the delay...

When it comes to most personal hygiene and cosmetic purchases, I am a reasonable person. I buy a fairly limited number of good- to high-quality products and stick with them. I don’t have drawers full of makeup I’ve used once then forgotten about. I’m pretty good about buying face wash or soap and using it all before I try something different, but there’s one area where I falter and go beyond being reasonable: Hair care products.

Dan: I falter as well.

I don’t know why, but I am constantly tempted to buy new shampoos, conditioners and styling products, no matter how happy I am with my current products. Sometimes my hair needs volume. Sometimes it needs moisture. Sometimes it needs detangling. Sometimes it needs curls or to be straightened. You get the idea. I like to have products appropriate for my needs, and I frequently find that the drugstore varieties don’t all do the trick, which means I have drawers full of hair products from salons. That adds up.

Dan: For 18 years of my life I was perfectly happy using the $2.50 bottle of Suave. You know the one. It’s the 70s green bottle on the bottom shelf. It wasn’t until college, when I had long flowing hair. (Yes, I did have long hair freshman-sophomore year.) I bought into the Herbal Essences commercials (and was disappointed when it wasn’t as orgasmic as advertised) so my hair would smell great.

I know that a lot of this stuff is unecessary, but I don’t really care. You can tell me all the reasons why I shouldn’t buy this stuff and it probably wouldn’t change my mind. Using the proper products for your hair can have a serious effect on how healthy it is. It drives Dan crazy that I have all of this stuff, but clearly I know something he doesn’t, as he’s bald and I still have all of my hair. (Sorry.)

Dan: Some of you might have known that not only am I bald, but I’m bald in weird patches. I was always going to be bald eventually, but I went through a yearlong phase where I wanted to be with the in-crowd, and the in-crowd was bleaching their hair. I couldn’t afford the $40 hairdo, so off to Wal Mart I went. $3.50 for two doses of bleach was, in fact, too good to be true. Hair started falling out soon after.

I like to have a set of volumizing shampoo and conditioner, a set of moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a bottle of Head and Shoulders (sometimes my head gets itchy), a deep conditioner, volumizing spray, smoothing serum and hairspray. I don’t use all of these at the same time, of course, but it’s nice to always have what I need in stock.

There’s an episode of ‘Arrested Development’ where Michael yells at Lindsay for paying $60 for a bottle of conditioner. In her words, “It’s a small price to pay for self-esteem, Michael.”

I’m not saying that I base my self-value on hair care products, but having a fragrant, shiny, healthy head of hair certainly doesn’t hurt.

Dan: Although my shower is filled with 400 bottles of products, (3 of which are mine) I guess I let it go without much of a fight. My wife looks good, I can live vicariously through her hair, and every now and then my scalp needs a bit of pampering too.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

­Going Green… to spend less Green?

Dan's idea.

Sallie and I have been watching Degrassi: Jr. High (We’ll write a blog on this classic Canadian melodrama soon to explain its greatness.) and one of the episodes was about animal rights. Fifteen minutes of the episode were devoted to pseudo-hippy elitist junior high students disgusted with the treatment of animals. (Who in junior high cares about this stuff?) Then one of the girls discovers her epilepsy medicine was tested on animals and diseases like polio and smallpox were destroyed thanks to animal testing. Proved there are two sides to every story, no matter how noble a cause is.

Sal: Not that this has much to do with going green, but I totally predicted that the character would find out her medicine was tested on animals. Score.

Animal testing was the big hot button issue of the late 80s, but today it’s melting ice caps, emissions, fossil fuels and global warming.

Sal: Uh, that’s ‘climate change.’

High gas prices have prompted a nationwide call to go green. Americans are wondering where the heck we went wrong as they put $80 in their Hummers. Suburban soccer moms and suburban gangsters idiotically bought into the SUV craze five to 10 years ago and are now screwed. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m also forced to pay $4 a gallon, I’m sure I would be laughing at them.

Sal: It’s actually well over $100 to fill a Hummer these days. A 32-gallon tank at $3.89 a gallon is nearly $125. Gross. At nine to 11 mpg, that’s a lot of gas and money. Ouch. Environmental issues aside, there is no need, whatsover for that kind of vehicle. If you need to haul a bunch of stuff, get a truck. If you need to haul a lot of people, get a van. Hummers are some of the dumbest, ugliest vehicles I’ve ever seen, and the only place they belong is in war zones, not in the Starbucks parking lot, as I highly doubt you’ll have to endure warfare to acquire your nonfat, sugarfree, extra-hot, venti mochaccino with no whip cream and extra sprinkles.

I graduated from college less than a year ago, so I still have the taste of incense and pseudo-hippy in my mouth. Just like every era of college students, our university was filled with do-it-yourself, don’t-bathe-in protest-of “insert cause here,” Che Guevera T-shirt-wearing, dreadlocked kids. (I’m really just jealous, I wish I had hair like that.)

Sal: I don’t. One of my roommates in college had dreads. I’ve seen what can live in those things, and it’s not pretty. It’s a whole ecosystem on your head and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

I had a friend who could afford to be a hippy in college. His parents were well off and supported his anticapitalist sentiment. He would argue that we should live in a village system where we all grow our own food, help each other, abolish governments, get rid of currency and live under these happy rainbows of sunshine. This was coming from a guy that had an $800 sleeping bag. I thought that sounded nice, but naive. My argument was, that’s all great, but what about when a guy in the neighboring village decides he wants more land to farm and he comes over with a club and takes over your village? It will happen. It’s just human nature.

Sal: Plus, not all environments are capable of supporting people’s needs. You can’t just grow corn and rice in the same field. Not all fruits grow in the same climates. And people are greedy and like to shower.

But back to my point. I feel like this newest surge of “let’s go green” is being organized by these former suburbanite pseudo-hippies. They only want to save the environment because their bank accounts became endangered. Is this a bad thing though? Now the streets of suburbia are lined with SUVs and trucks for sale by owner for extreme discount prices. Hummer dealerships seem almost abandoned. McCain is desperately trying to distance himself from “Smiling” George Bush. People are actually making a concerted effort to save their wallets by saving the environment. I guess all in all, it isn’t a bad thing.

Sal: Perhaps the poor economy is actually a conspiracy to force Americans to live simpler, less consumer-driven lives. The housing market was manipulated to fail so people would quit building houses they don’t need and can’t afford. Gas prices are sky-high to encourage people to cut back on driving. Jobs are being cut so people don’t have extra money to buy products they don’t need.

Al Gore tried to get people to change with his almost annoyingly award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.” There was a murmur throughout the world about saving penguins and the ice caps, but no one did much. I would say conservative opponents of Gore trying to prove that everything is alright stirred more people than not. “Keep driving those six miles to the gallon monster cars, it makes the penguins happy. Trust us. Global warming is a myth, just ask our friends over there.”

Now that the economy has caused businesses to close, people to default on loans, and every politician to point fingers elsewhere, everyone wants to trade in their designer clothes for ponchos. I think it’s hilarious. I wish I were exempt from getting hit by the economy, but at least I’m entertained whilst I go poor.

Sal: I’m telling you, it’s a conspiracy!!!! The environmentalist whackos are on the loose!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I want to make money: Disney, please have your way with me

This was Sal's idea.

It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday, and I’m surrounded by a sea of screaming, not-quite-teenaged girls. Where am I, and how did I get here?

Dan: You see, when a mommy and a daddy love each other…

To answer the first question, in brief, I’m at an Avril Lavigne/Jonas Brothers concert. The ‘how did I get here’ part take a bit more explanation.

Dan: You’d hope we took drugs and forgot the half-hour drive to the concert venue. But there we were, sober as can be.

This whole thing started innocently enough; I have blamed my younger sister (a solid 10 years my junior) for my love of all things ‘tween’ for entirely too long. When were both younger (and possibly wiser), we’d watch “Even Stevens,” “Lizzie Maguire,” “Kim Possible,” and a variety of other shows together after school. I would like to think that this era (the late ‘90s, early 2000s) is when the solicitation of young stars by the Disney Channel became commonplace.

Dan: You can’t forget the “Boy Meets World” repeats. I found these much better at 1 a.m.

Lizzie Maguire, played by Hilary Duff, was always a popular character. She was sweet and bubbly, with a definite charisma. She was also a little chunky in that average pre-pubescent stage. Then one day, she decided that on top of her TV career, she wanted to take a stab at superstardom via music. Don’t get me wrong; I loved me some Lizzie Maguire. I even liked the movies and volunteered to take my sister to see them in the theater.

Dan: I actually skipped a college class for the Lizzie Maguire movie. I’d waited long years for Gordo and Lizzie to kiss and I thought this was my best chance. Plus the soundtrack was bangin’.

Little Ms. Duff decided to drop Lizzie Maguire, drop a bunch of weight and start a career as a singer. She had a few hit singles, including “So Yesterday” and “Come Clean” but nothing particularly awe-inspiring. She had some OK music videos, and that was pretty much it. Oh, and then there was that one time when she teamed up with her particularly schnoz-endowed sister, Hayley, for an upbeat rendition of “Our Lips Are Sealed.”

Dan: “Beat of My Heart”… solid gold, co-written by then boyfriend Benji Madden of Good Charlotte fame.

There’s Shia Lebeouf, who was initially known on “Even Stevens,” but was most recently featured in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” I admire the fact that he never attempted a music career. He’s an actor and he knows it, and that’s what he’s sticking to.

Dan: I tried to hate the kid, but he’s surprisingly a good actor. He just picks bad scripts.

Now on to today’s Disney stars. We’ve got Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana, The Jonas Brothers, Zac and Codey, and all those yahoos from “High School Musical” one through infinity. These kids are being pimped out by the Disney channel like nothing I’ve ever seen, and believe me, I’ve had some experience with pimps.

You absolutely can’t walk into Wal-Mart, Target or pretty much any department store without seeing their faces on something. You can’t watch TV without seeing a commercial for one of their CDs, shows or movies. They are always staring at you. There is no escape from their bottomless, soulless eyes.

There’s hardly anything respectable about them. It’s highly likely that their parents shoved them into stardom like chubby little kids down cheeseburgers. They have no control over their images and I doubt the get a whole lot of free time. They (or more likely their parents) are willing to put their images on absolutely anything. There’s no discretion whatsoever.

Dan: Stage parents crack me up. I hope to one day shove a young Dan onto the stage to set off traps to take down Christmas burglars, play the now-loved, soon-to-be-replaced young kid on a sitcom, or whore him out to Disney channel where he will hit the trifecta of singing, dancing, and acting. It’s a true sign that you and the devil have been in negotiations. I’ve already written about this here.

Hannah Montana shirts, shoes, dolls, watches, dishes, cereal, CD players, TVs, lunchboxes…it never ends. I’m just waiting for the day I go to the store to grab a box of tampons or condoms and see the Jonas Brothers’ shining faces staring back at me.

Dan: I want Jonas Brothers deodorant so I can smell like Rock and Roll. Maybe vacation at Camp Rock. Or go to the beach in my official Hannah Montana banana hammock. Just kidding, I don’t wear thongs to the beach… I wear nothing.