Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Capsule Review Day

The Tin Princess by Philip Pullman:
This is a spinoff book from the Lockhart Trilogy that uses a couple well-known characters, but otherwise has nothing at all to do with the original stories. It's a definite page-turner, but doesn't have a lot of internal logic to the plot. Pullman needs to work on his endings, because this book just seems to peter out unsatisfactorily, like Ruby in the Smoke did. However, it only takes a few hours to read, and it's fun while it lasts -- just don't expect to get any life lessons from it or plan on reading it again.

Microsoft Wireless Optical Mouse 5000:
I was always one of those computer-using fools that stuck with the original Microsoft mouse that comes bundled with every computer. For years, I used the right-handed mouse shaped like a cul-de-sac and had no problems at all. Recently though, my last mouse started getting squeaky parts which were not fixed after cleaning and such. I went online to look for a new mouse, only to discover that Microsoft no longer makes the mouse style that I was accustomed to. I decided to be adventuresome and try a Microsoft wireless optical mouse (even though I hate replacing batteries). This mouse looks retarded, but fits very comfortably in my hand and reduces a lot of the carpally pain that I normally get from using a mouse. The middle mouse wheel is nearly impossible to click unless you've been exercising your middle finger religiously (so northern Virginian drivers should be just fine), but this negative is balanced by the fact that it scrolls as smoothly as a baby's bottom on vellum. The middle wheel can also be clicked left and right, which you can tie to Forward and Back in your web browser. Finally, there are two tiny buttons between the thumb and forefinger resting points. One button toggles a magnifying mode which enlarges a portion of your screen for detail work. The other I have bound to a middle-button-click, since I am too weak to regularly click the wheel button.

The magnifying button is especially annoying when you're playing a game with lots of frantic mouse clicking (Twice so far, I have clicked it by accident, allowing me to see my character die in close-up), but otherwise the mouse is excellent. Tracking is very nice and the battery shows no signs of premature kaputting. I would recommend this mouse for its comfort and accuracy, even though it looks like a ridiculous space-age trinket from the 80s. All it needs is neon stripes.

Life by The Cardigans:
This is the first major CD from the Cardigans, released in 1995 in the U.S. I picked it up because I enjoy their current works, and I like to hear the evolution of bands. The music pure unapologetic retro pop, but I really like the sound of the arrangements. One of the band members has a background in jazz arranging and theory (although he was also in a heavy metal band) and the selection of chords really feels like a jazz chart. I'd peg this CD as sounding like the Trashcan Sinatras, but with better harmonies.

Many composers like Prokofiev are labelled by listeners as "whimsical" whether the term works or not, but this is one CD that really fits that term to a T. All of the songs are either happy-go-lucky, or slightly melancholy. If you like pop music, buy it for the lead singer's mellifluous voice. Here are a couple samples of the tunes I like:

Celia Inside (483KB MP3)
Gordon's Gardenparty (545KB MP3)
Carnival (515KB MP3)

Chad Darnell's 12 of 12 is coming up this Friday if you're interested in doing it. I'm not sure if I will yet, since most of my weekdays are homogenous, like 2% milk or the population of Falls Church. There's also a new LOST on tonight. Finally, turn in your Name that Tune entries by noon today! The prize is still up for grabs! Loud exclamation points!

The JJ Abrams Pop Machine -- who wants to see MI:3 with me?
Unable to find new employment, the Doughboy hit a low point; he started drinking and taking in shows at a local strip club.
Man reprograms gas pumps for cheaper gas

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