BMWfilms – The Hire

Bette is gone for the night, so while eating leftover Chinese, I usually watch something unacceptable to the family. Gotta be short, no time for a whole movie. Some days it’s the lobby scene in The Matrix, some days a Futurama episode or two. Today I found the DVD of BMWfilms.com presents The Hire, 8 short films by big name directors made in two batches between 2000 and 2003 and released to the web. I downloaded them all and tried to write them to DVD, but then the DVD was released directly from BMW and I bought. What a deal!

All of them star Clive Owen as the Driver, who, in each short, drives a suitably equipped BMW either carrying or chasing the main characters at high rates of speed. He is really good. After seeing these shorts, I though HE should be James Bond, not the other losers. Although Daniel Craig sounds OK – haven’t seen the QOS flick yet.

So I watched the zany “Beat the Devil” with James Brown, directed by Tony Scott. Madonna at her bitchy best in ex-boyfriend Guy Ritchie’s “Star”. But the best of the lot, I think, is the emotionally packed “Powder Keg”, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu, set in a Latin American wasteland and with an ending sure to rip the heart out of anyone who has lost a child.

Unfortunately, BMWFilms.com is inactive, although still registered to “Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Munich, DE”. Looks like the marketing didn’t work, but these are really good movies. Try to find a copy. And hope they try again soon in the age of YouTube.

Herrington Hijinks

I get the Herrington catalog. It’s got some neat stuff, I wouldn’t buy most of it, but I did get some great Sun Valley Belts and I have worn the Sailmaker’s Hat so much at volleyball that it looks like hell and Bette wants to pitch it. I also tried the Masai sneaker with the funky bottom — didn’t do much for me, and they weren’t cheap. Back to New Balance…

Anyway, I noticed the Tip and Sip, an anti-scald coffee mug. No good for me – I need a handle I can hook on the Van door. But in an older catalog I noticed the actual brand, Brugo. More info, still not interested. The price at Herrington used to be more, too. Looks like they cranked it down to compete. Plus, they changed all the pictures in the catalogs to remove the logo to prevent you from shopping elsewhere.

I guess I pay too much attention to catalogs.

Pasty Heaven

Anyone who has been up the UP of Michigan should be familiar with the pasty, a pie-crustish pastry blob stuffed with good stuff, typically ground beef, cubed potatoes and onions. Bake it, and it is like a pot pie without the pot. We got them in Ironwood when skiing at Joe’s Pasty Shop. I must say, the kids didn’t care for them, but we brought them home and loved them.

During our last trip to Rhinelander, WI, we found Joe’s Pasty Shop, where Jessica Barbera continues in her Dad Joe’s tradition of pasties, with cool new twists. We bought about 8 to take home, and we just had the Pizza pasty last night. (Diced pepperoni, sausage, potatoes, onions, & mozzarella cheese.) Wonderful! We also had the classic one, but I was full and kept my half for lunch. It was chock full of rib-sticking goodness. Winter food, if I ever had it.

We have yet to try the whole wheat crust pasty, or the Southwest pasty. Looking forward to it.

Check em out when in the Rhinelander area.

Joe’s Pasty Shop, 123 Randall Ave, Rhinelander, WI 54501, (715) 369-1224

JPEG FYI

In my continuing struggle to keep a library of interesting reference materials that I actually may use and to keep my wife around, which implies there is room for her, I have been trying to pitch old magazines. My old mantra is “I might need them someday”. My newer one is, “is it on the web or can I archive it digitally somehow”.

Case in point: a Planet Analog article on JPEG compression. Wonderful article, well written on how it works. It exists on the Planet Analog site here, but I have worried recently that a lot of companies are going out of business, so when the company dies, so does all the material on the website. So how can I save it?

My favorite is print to a PDF using the wonderful and free PDFCreator which pretends to be a Windows printer driver and directs the output into a PDF file. You can also use it to capture projects as image files, text files, etc. Very handy. And then let an app like Copernic Desktop Search or Quicksilver find it.

In this case, though, the images were fuzzy. (At least they had images — a lot of web archived articles are missing illustrations) They were linked, too, so I checked the HTML:
<CENTER>
<A HREF="http://img.cmpnet.com/planetanalog/features/ADI_JPEG/EQ1.jpg">
<IMG SRC="http://img.cmpnet.com/planetanalog/features/ADI_JPEG/EQ1.jpg" BORDER=0 HEIGHT=86 WIDTH=350></A>
</CENTER>

So the image is displayed at some artificial scale factor, but the link displays it at the full resolution.

I saved the HTM file, edited to remove the BORDER=0 HEIGHT=86 WIDTH=350 elements, and reprinted. Nice. Images still a little fuzzy due to the PDFing, but readable. So I set the PDF compression to use ZIP instead of JPEG — lossless. Much better.

How do people live without knowing this stuff?

Studs Terkel, 96, RIP

Heard about Studs Terkel passing away yesterday at 96. I have read a lot of magazines with wonderful articles by him and about him. He seemed like a real great guy, with a big heart and a powerful mind. Just the kind of guy you could have a nice beer with, and the kind we need now. There was a good rebroadcast on Re:sound but it looks like it was taken down.

Rest in peace, fella. Let us know how the agnosticism works out.

Wilton Candy Kitchen

On our way to Amy’s wedding in Kansas City, we stopped for lunch at the Wilton Candy Kitchen in Wilton, Iowa. It is a 5 minute ride off of I-80 (Exit 271), and you are in a small town, looking a bit down on its luck, kind of like some around here.

We found the place, looks like, well, an old fashioned soda fountain. The 85+ aunts were with us, and Bette’s mom, and they were amazed. We walked, in — this is full metal soda fountain. Old machines in the front, wire chairs and tables in the back, pictures of famous visitors (including Presidents and actors) on the walls.

The most fun were George and Thelma, the owners. He is 85-ish, she a bit younger, but they get up every day and open the store — that is 7 days a week. They *might* close on Sundays after the 100th anniversary of 7-days-a-week next year.

We ordered lunch — the article in American Weekend mentioned grilled sandwiches — and had sodas. I had a chocolate phosphate, because someone back when really liked them, but I didn’t like it much. There were a lot of other things I could have had. All looked good…

The place was founded by R.A. McIntire in 1860, and the Nopoulos family has owned it since 1910.

Wilton Candy Kitchen 310 Cedar St, Wilton, IA 52778