Home Movie Watching Poll

So I saw in the newspaper last Sunday that Best Buy was running a sale on the awesome Jeff Bridges country music movie Crazy Hearton Blu-Ray. Now, I don’t necessarily want to watch it right now, but it’s definitely a movie I could see myself wanting to watch and/or inflict on others in the future. So there’s some temptation to go ahead and buy it now to have when that day comes.

The problem with that is this that I’m beginning to fear that I made a mistake. I watched the format wars between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD with great interest, planning to upgrade from DVDs the moment there was a clear winner. By Christmas two years ago, it was obvious Blu-Ray had one, and I got a Blu-Ray player.

I wanted to switch as early as possible because I buy a decent number of movies, and didn’t want to keep investing in DVDs, which at that point were clearly an obsolete format. But now I’m wondering if I’ve done the thing I was trying to avoid doing. I was so focused on which format was going to come out on top that I never stopped to consider that the issue of which physical medium would win was beside the point.

Online digital streaming and downloads are becoming increasingly common. To be honest, even after investing in Blu-Ray, I probably watch more television shows that I download from iTunes than I do movies that I buy on disc. And it sounds like Apple is about to take things further with Apple TV (iTV?) soon, which could further the balance.

So, yeah, if I buy Crazy Heart on Blu-Ray this week, am I doing exactly what I tried to avoid doing with DVD two years ago? By the time I want to watch it, will I be wondering why I was still investing in physical media in late 2010?

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the matter.


I started this blog a year ago Saturday with the idea it would be a companion to the one I’d been writing for about six years at that point. Since this one was going to be a little more intimate, a little smaller in scope, I was content to just use an off-the-shelf blogging system, without the customization tools that I had with the old one. By and large, it’s served me just fine. But every now and then, I find that I miss something about the old system.

At the moment, it’s the linkdump. My old blog let me set up a sub-blog in the sidebar, where I could post links that I found interesting. If I read, for example, that you can now buy iPod Touch bedsheets, that obviously doesn’t merit a full post on this blog, but there’s no convenient way to post just that link like there was on the old one.

So how do I handle things like the fact that NASA has selected 15 finalists for its patch contest marking the end of the shuttle program? Things like this I might have just e-mailed to interested parties, but I think what I’m going to try doing is hanging out to the links until I have enough to do a post gathering them up together. Kinda like this.

Which gives me a place to say that if you’ve seen Avatar, you really should read this, which is kind of funny.

Theoretically, it also gives me a place to post links like this story about McSweeney’s newspaper project, which should merit some discussion but, since I’ve had the link for almost a month and haven’t done anything with it, apparently I’m not going to say anything about. Ironically, I read that story about an interesting deconstruction of how newspapers could when my coworker Heather sent me a link. The irony was that she wasn’t trying to share this story, she was trying to share a story about the death of Editor & Publisher.

I will say that the McSweeney’s project plays into what I think should be the two main focii of the newspaper industry today — localization and depth. These are the two things newspapers can do better than anyone else, and, taken together, that no one else can do. Stop trying to compete with CNN and the internet. You’ve already lost those battles. It would be like Five Guys or Red Robin deciding they needed to make a cheaper burger than McDonalds. Leave low-quality and fast to the people who do it well.

And while I’m ranting about newspapers, I’m also going to take issue with this story Heather sent me about 10 things you shouldn’t buy in 2010 because they’re obsolete. I agree with it completely about DVDs, which is why I upgraded to Blu-Ray a year ago. No point sinking more money into a format that’s going away. I agree somewhat about landlines, but am not quite ready to make that leap myself. I’m unsure about external hard drives; I need to look into that one some more.

I disagree with them about compact digital cameras. I don’t have one, and don’t need one — I have a DSLR for one end of the spectrum and my iPhone on the other. But I can understand why, for a lot of people, a compact is far more useful than an SLR. I disagree with them about CDs. Sure, digital may be the future. But if a CD is the same price as digital; buy the CD, and make your own digital version. And that way, if you lose the files, or want to listen to the CD in your car, or want to loan it out, you have it. Why would you not buy the CD?

So the fact that they’re wrong about those things makes it easier to not take them seriously about the newspaper. In fact, their own argument belies itself, and reflects the biggest problem people fail to realize about the decline of the newspaper. They point out that you don’t need the newspaper anymore because you can access the same content online. The problem is this, folks — when the newspaper goes away, so does the content. And the day we go online and there’s no more news generated by investigative reporters is going to be a sad one indeed.

On a completely different note, one of my over-Chapman-Mountain friends asked me a while back what they did at the Agribition Center. While I still have no idea, I can now say that apparently the answer includes monster trucks, which will be there Friday and Saturday, but unfortunately not on Sunday! Sunday!! SUNDAY!!!

(I’d originally planned to use this post to do a Weekend-Update-type catch-up, but this is long enough as it is. That’s coming at some point. I will say that I promised one of my readers a depressing entry the other day, and that’s not coming. More on that later.)

Random Recent Pics

It’s been a while, so “recent” is relative.

I Need Better Titles For These Weekend Updates

When life offers you a dream so far beyond any of your expectations, it’s not reasonable to grieve when it comes to an end.

OK, yeah, that’s part of the weekend update in a way. Ten blogpoints to the person who can identify the source (without Googling). I totally need to bring back the blogpoint prizes from my old blog. Hmmm …

This weekend saw three or four firsts, which always makes me happy:

— I watched Top Gun for the first time. The fact that I’ve never seen it has come up in conversations with different people over the last year, and so in June I bought it for Blu-Ray, and finally got around to watching it this weekend. Good stuff.

— A lesser one, but for readers in the Huntsville area, I went to The Coffee Tree in Jones Valley for the first time. It’s a combination of an impressively versatile coffee shop and a used bookstore, which makes it rather cool in my opinion. They also have live performers on a regular basis, which is also rather neat.

— I accidentally played my first game of disc golf this weekend, or at least most of one. My pastor (hmmm … I’m going to have to figure out a way of distinguishing between my pastors now — for the time being, Greg remains MY pastor, I think) had mentioned that he was going to be playing. He talks about it a good bit, and a few other friends are into it, so I wanted to go see what it was all about, planning on doing nothing but watching for a few minutes. Greg insisted that watching wasn’t allowed, and had my join them the remaining fourteen holes(?). I was horrible. I mean, impressively bad. Considering that all I was doing was throwing a frisbee, you would think it would have gone closer to where I wanted it to more often. I mean, like, in at least the right general direction sort of thing. Being a guy, I decided that clearly the solution is I need to go spend money on equipment. As a result, I also went into a big-box sporting goods store this weekend for the first time, though decided I needed to go somewhere with a larger selection before buying anything.

— I went hiking again, briefly, and only got rained on a little. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but it really sort of defeats the purpose to hike somewhere that has such a great cellphone signal. That said, Sunday evening I was grateful for a good friend, and, if I really wanted to, I could just turn the phone off.

— I watched (500) Days of Summer, but I’ve already written about that. I also watched the shuttle launch, which I’ve at least alluded to.

— I’ve had the discussion recently with friends about music at church. Basically, the opinion had been expressed that contemporary praise choruses are inferior to traditional hymns because they lack substance, that hymns generally have solid theology while the choruses focus on an empty emotional high. At church Sunday, we sang one of each. The hymn was “Jesus Paid it All / All to Him I Owe.” I’m not sure how it would be ranked, but it does at least talk about sin and Calvary. The chorus of one of the praise songs, on the other hand, was “I’m begging You to help me see / You’re all I want / You’re all I need / Oh, satisfy me, Lord.” And, you know, even if the song lacked the same depth, I think there’s enough just in those lines there that I could spend the rest of my life on just getting that part and never really master it.

Blu Vinyl

My mighty home entertainment center

My mighty home entertainment center

One of my favorite mental exercises is finding answers to the question, “OK, we know David’s a geek, but exactly what sort of a geek is he?”

Post-Christmas, my home entertainment system definitely answers that question. I’m quite proud of the fact that the stack now includes everything from a Blu-Ray player (center shelf, top) to a LP turntable (very top). I don’t think the VHS player still works, but, even if not, I can still play vinyl records, audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and Playstation games, along with whatever other formats those players support (mp3s? VCDs? jpg? Who knows.)

I’ve not had too much opportunity to play with the Blu-Ray player yet, but — so far, so good. I’ve been watching the copy of Independence Day my youngest brother gave me, and, yeah, with the surround sound turned up, it’s a rather enjoyable experience. I’m noticing, though, that Independence Day is probably the best movie in my collection right now for really showing off what the set-up is capable off. I can’t wait for Star Wars or Lord of the Rings to be released on Blu-Ray. I’d be tempted to get the Matrix set, but even on a good DVD player the flaws of the special effects, especially in Reloaded, begin to be apparent.

And let me just say, I’m enjoying having my turntable set up again. It’s completely a pointless indulgence; having to get up every three songs and flip the thing over is archaic in the day of the plays-for-days-without-repeating iPod. But I’m loving it just for the sake of doing it. And, you know, despite having heard about it, I wasn’t really expecting music to sound much different on vinyl. I used to listen to vinyl, and didn’t remember it sounding any different, or remember noticing music sounding different when I started listening to tapes or CDs or mp3s.

But one of the first times I listened to a record — my new copy of Joshua Tree, to be specific — it just sounded kind of weird. I thought maybe something was wrong with the record or player, but it wasn’t really wrong, just … different. Almost like there were sounds that were somehow outside the song, if that makes sense. And I think that’s basically what it is. I’m used to highly compressed music, with very little audio range. Freed from that constraint, the music takes on greater depth, and, indeed, there are sounds outside the relatively flat range I’m accustomed to. Right now, it’s still just a trifle for me, but I’m enjoying it. And when I was at Barnes & Noble the other day (along with Best Buy, one of two chain stores that I’ve discovered have started stocking records again) I noticed that they have some records that come with free mp3 downloads of the songs. If I could buy vinyl without missing out on the option of ripping the album to my iPod, that suddenly becomes very tempting, and makes LPs competitive with CDs. Interesting …