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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Costly iTunes...

Let's see if I got this right. iTunes finally has TV shows for us 3rd world country Canadians. That's great. And they're adding TV shows as well, including Daily Show and Colbert Report. For a mere $1.99 for each episode, you too can have a DRM encased video file that will only play in iTunes or on an iPod. Isn't that great? But wait...let's just surf a bit further down the netstream...and we land on And guess what? Here I can watch Daily Show and Colbert Report (among a whole lot of other Comedy Network shows) in a streaming video window for FREE! Now granted, they seem to like WMV and MS Silverlight, but all in all, it's FREE. I'm watching full episodes on my MAC with the Flip4Mac plugin enabled in Quicktime. I watched an episode of Corner Gas and Daily Show, and it's not bad. They're broken into four parts and the quality isn't high, but it's watchable and fullscreen. Hook it to a TV out, and you're set. So, why would I pay 2 bucks an episode? Granted, I haven't figured out a way to save the streaming video, but I don't want to either. I just want to watch it once and then move on. I can't imagine paying 2 bucks an episode 4 times a week for these shows. That would cost $32 a month just to have Daily Show in iTunes! Who can afford that? That's as much as my cable bill, and I can just record it to my PC if I want to save it - without DRM! Do they really think we're that gullible?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Here and There...

Rambo came in at #2 at the box office. What was number 1 you ask? The brain cell killing spoof flick Meet the Spartans. That's sad and a pretty terrible yardstick of today's cultural mindset, but I am totally not surprised. The commercials for Meet the Spartans looked like utter dreck and complete crap. Not one laugh, and not even keeping it on track of the movie they were supposed to be spoofing. They threw some pop culture lame quips together on the cheap and made 18 million. Guess the teenager crowd ate it up. The theatre is pretty much the lowest common entertainment denominator now - what else do people do on the weekend? Head over to the Movie Blog for a hilarious R rated review of Spartans by Doug Nagy where he lays into just how bad the flick is and what he thinks of those who pay money to see it. I don't know if Rambo is any better as I haven't seen it yet, but at least he was trying to make a film, not just a blatant money grab from the brain dead.

Elsewhere, the NHL All Star game was this weekend. Did anybody notice? Did anybody care? Yep, that's what I thought. Now we can get back to the Mats Sundin trade watch.

There's rumors of a PS3 price drop coming along and confirmation that GTA IV will come out April 29. Finally a big gun game for the PS3. I don't have one and can't see me getting one either. My PS2 works great and I can't be bothered with a BluRay player yet either (seeing as Serenity is still only HD-DVD and that is going the way of the dodo bird). With the format war winding down, I guess Sony will want to start pushing as many BluRay units as possible to make up for lost time. A PS3 price drop would help, but if they do the same thing as last time for the lowest end model, it won't be worth it. The current 40GB model lacks ports and doesn't play all the PS2 games. You get what you pay for.

Currently listening to Waylon Jennings 1994 album Waymore's Blues Part II. Excellent album.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Drive On

Song been going 'round my head lately. Great song by the Man In Black.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Linux, Another Shot...

Was going to format a hard drive anyway the other day, so for kicks I tried installing some different OS options.

I started with KnoppMyth, as I thought I'd give it a quick go to see if it would work well for my media center options. The Front End does look nice and would probably work well, but not for me. Some head banging later, and I finally got it to scan the channels on my Hauppage 250 card. Only problem was that it missed almost every other channel. Useless. I suppose with enough reading and researching and trial and error it would be a really good media center option. I just don't have the interest when I know I can get that easier ways with options I already know.

So, I formatted again and fired up the Debian 4 install. Thought I'd see how that looks. The install went pretty smooth actually. Fired it up and did the updates and started poking around. There's a lot to like - after installing mplayer, VLC, and ffmpeg, it seemed most of the normal Linux media problems were solved. Ran DVD's and video files. Then Amarok was installed and it's a pretty decent iTunes alternative. Not quite as slick, but certainly usable. aMSN for the IM client, and the included Outlook clone (Evolution?) worked great for email, calendar, task list, etc. And I still really like that Eye of Gnome picture viewer. Somebody knew what they were doing when they made that.

The big drawback once again is the browser. With Debian, their having hissy fits about the Firefox logo I guess, so we get a Firefox clone called Ice Weasel. Not bad, but once again the terrible font problems rear their ugly head. I couldn't find a setting that looked half decent. And that's no good, cause I have the browser open a lot.

So, this little Linux experiment certainly went better than my last one, and the install and usability were a lot better than my Ubuntu 7.4 experience. I haven't tried the latest Ubuntu option, but I could see using Debian without a problem for most things. Just wish they'd find a way to fix the font problem. Still, they seem to be coming along nicely and it's by now a very viable OS option, even for complete Linux newbies like me. Especially considering it's completely free!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Heath Ledger

It's a shock around the newsphere that actor Heath Ledger was found dead today.

His star seemed to be taking off with recent roles, and after Brokeback Mountain a couple years ago, he was drawing attention for his take on The Joker in this years upcoming The Dark Knight. I'll be the first to say I wasn't thrilled when they announced him to play the Joker, but after seeing the trailer it looks like he knocked it out of the park. Going to be a little odd watching the movie after this.

One Yahoo article seems to indicate he'd had major trouble sleeping with some of his recent roles - he couldn't stop thinking he told a newspaper interview. He was reportedly found today in a Manhattan apartment, face down at the foot of his bed and there were prescription sleeping pills close. It didn't appear to be suicide though.

He was just 28.

Back Again...

Back again. Busy few days, but did my quarterly kidney checkup and all seems to be well. Even had the blood pressure in check. So I just keep doing what I'm doing I guess.

In Toronto Maple Leaf land, they fired their GM and brought Cliff Fletcher back in to run the sinking ship. Of course it's all over Leaf Nation, but I don't think the rest of the hockey world cares too much except for the apparent availability of star Mats Sundin. Everybody line up and put your offers in, cause the Leafs are having a fire sale. Everything must go. Well, Leafs fans can only hope.

Finally got my Amazon box I ordered before Christmas. I think it was in before this, but I hadn't been over to my Mailbox place to pick it up till the weekend. Can't wait to get into the the Fall Guy DVD's. Anybody remember that show? I had the ERTL dinky car toy truck when I was a kid too. Also completed my collection of Miami Vice with season 5. Good show which I enjoy even with the dated 80's prevelance, but that's what helped make the show. I liked the Michael Mann modern movie update in 2006 more, as it was darker and grittier, but the show is a good watch too. Plus, at least they did the DVD's right and didn't replace any music or drop scenes (can you say Alf or WKRP in Cincinnati? Stay away from those DVDs). They might cost a little more, but at least they're intact. And if you watch for sales like I did, you can complete the collection at a pretty reasonable price. Bring on the Vice, I say.

And speaking of Miami Vice, I've been having fun with GTA Vice City on my PS2. Got some unlock codes off the web, and it sure makes it more fun. Nothing like tons of ammo and flame throwers and air rockets to add some fun to the mix. Wonder what GTA4 is going to look like on the PS3 - not that I can afford one yet. What's the point of a PS3 if I still have a Tube TV? Saving pennies, saving pennies...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Me Mini Movie Reviews: Too Late For Tears

"Don't ever change, Tiger. I don't think I'd like you with a heart."

The 1949 B&W film Too Late For Tears is a solid noir that looks at the lenghts greed and obsession will go. Lizabeth Scott plays Jane Palmer, a married woman who along with her husband comes into a duffle bag of cash through a sheer fluke one night. They aren't on the same side as to what to do with it, and that one chance happening has quite an effect on more than them.

Lizabeth Scott gives a chilling performance as someone who becomes obsessed with wanting more. Noir regular Dan Duryea shows up as someone looking for that bag of cash and gives an excellent performance as someone who thinks he's tough but hasn't seen anything yet. Then Don Defore shows up as someone who's on another quest, for something else entirely.

Everyone gives a quality performance, but Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea really know what they're doing with their roles. From the first few minutes, you can see where it's going in Scott's eyes. Don Defore gets some great lines too as the pulpy noir dialogue flys along quick and shows once again why I really like the old movies. There's no CGI or big set pieces to distract the viewer - they have to actually act and have solid dialogue, and they certainly do here.

I may be wrong, but I think Too Late For Tears may be one of those public domain films out there. What I watched certainly wasn't the best video quality as many of the older ones aren't, but it was more than worth it. In fact, the screen fades and scratches kind of lent a hand to the noir appeal. Certainly worth your time if you happen to find it or see it playing on TV.

Verdict: Recommended

Just Peachy

This sounded odd to me the other night when watching TV:

"And now, Fire Down Below on Peachtree TV Movie House"

I don't know, but "Peachtree TV Movie House" sounds like a kids network. So showing Fire Down Below on that seems a little odd. Still wonder why switching from TBS to Peachtree TV was the best they could come up with...

Three Years...

Well today (the 16th actually, it's a little after midnight here) is the third year anniversary of Eagle's Roost. Didn't think I'd be at it this long when I launched it as an experiment three years ago. It was more or less an exercise to get me writing - writing anything - and it basically worked.

So I blogged and logged my way through a job change, movie reviews, the switch to Apple, and 13 Tales of a Stranger. And it has been fun. So here's a thanks to those who have dropped by to read and comment over the last 3 years.

Who knows what other stuff I'll be blogging about next, eh?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Oh Yeah...The Track Pad

One thing that skipped my mind as I was focused on all the things the MacBook Air lacked, was the inclusion of one really cool thing. Not enough to make me forget the limitations and high price point, but cool nonetheless.

The multi touch trackpad is the kind of thing Apple does well. Doesn't seem big on the surface, but is a cool time saving feature. Watching the demo video on Apple's website, this is something that is one step closer to doing away with the mouse. Want to go back or forward in a web browser? Drag 3 fingers across the touch pad either way. Want to zoom in or out? Do a pinch move on the pad with your thumb and forefinger. Want to rotate a picture? Use your thumb and finger and rotate it on the trackpad. No more having to slide the cursor around to a corner or a browser button.

It's cool, and something I hope they quickly bring to the MacBook and MacBook Pro line. Probably won't be right away though as they push the MacBook Air. And apparently the battery in the MBA can be replaced for $129 and Apple won't charge extra to do the work. Still, if it dies on the road, there's not much you can do about it. Same for RAM and Hard drive.

The MacBook Air is cool tech, but only appeals to a select few (early adopters and corporate travelers). I'm kinda disappointed that I was waiting for MacWorld for a MacBook update and the new product isn't even affordable or practical for me. Now I have to wonder how long before a MacBook Pro update - with Penryn chips in Februrary and the MBA look, you'd think they could give the ugly overdue heavy weight an update.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MacBook Air? Um, No Thanks.

The more I read around the web and think about the new Macbook Air, I have to wonder "What the?"

Sure, it looks very cool, and the light weight aspect makes it appealing, but there are two very big reasons I would not consider buying one:

1. The $1899 price tag (plus $99 for the external USB DVD Writer). What are you thinking Apple? You priced it out of the ballpark. At that price, you're within spitting distance of the MacBook Pro, which might weigh twice as much, but has a 2 inch bigger screen and WAY more power inside. Not to mention the lowest end MacBook has more power inside, the same screen size, more ports, and is only moderately thicker and only weighs 2 pounds more. Even if you spent the money on upgrading the low end MacBook RAM to 2 GB, you'd still save about $600 from the MacBook Air - and you'd have a DVD player built in and longer battery life. Which brings us to point 2.

2. No User Replaceable Battery. (!) You gotta be kidding. So if I spent $1900 on a laptop and the battery dies or does a slow fading death, I have to send my whole expensive laptop away to get it fixed? And probably pay extra Apple fees for it too? No Way. I can see it on an iPod, but not a laptop, no matter how thin it is.

So, on a comparable low end MacBook, you get better processing speed, a built in DVD player CDWriter, and even factoring in the cost of upgrading the RAM you come out way ahead. Plus, on a MacBook you can replace your own RAM, Hard Drive, and Battery. That's a worthwhile investment that will last you years.

With the new one, your money will be gone into ultra thin Air.

Macworld Stuff = New Toys!

Some cool new stuff coming from the Mac Expo today. How about a quick eyeball on what caught my attention?

- The new MacBook Air. Ultrathin laptop that still has a 13.3" widescreen and full keyboard. Weighs just 3 pounds, and will fit in a business envelope. No optical drive, but an additional USB DVD writer is available. Has one headphone out jack, one USB 2.0 port, and one Micro-DV port for outputting video to various other formats (DVI,VGA, S-Video, etc). DVI and VGA adapters come with. Has the iSight included, and claims to get up to 5 hours of battery life of wireless productivity. Has the Wireless N and Bluetooth in it, and that Wireless would get a workout as it has no RJ45 jack for ethernet (you can buy a USB-Ethernet adapter if you want). It comes with Remote Disc utility to easily use any DVD drive on another Mac on the Network, which is no surprise.

Can't wait to see this thing for myself, but seeing pics of it in use with peoples hands on it, you can tell just how thin it really is. Wonder what bugs it'll come up with (overheating anyone?). The base config comes with 2GB RAM, the X3100 GMA graphics, 1.6 C2D processor, and 80GB HD (or a 64GB solid state HD).

Here's the kicker - base price Canadian - $1899. Ouch, and you've lost me.

- AppleTV got the big push with all major studios on board with renting movies via iTunes. The new AppleTV software will let you access it right from the AppleTV. Only available in the US of course, but I read something about international rollout in the year. Don't know what that means for sure. Prices are $2.99 (library titles), $3.99US (new) for the rental. DVD quality and possibly HD, though I have to read up more on this. From download, you have 30 days to watch it, and 24 hours after watching before it exprires. You can also export to an iPod. How this all works and what the DRM coating is, I don't know. I'm going to wait until I hear somebody hacks it. Oh, and the price came down - the 40GB model is now $249 Canadian, $229 US. This is obviously what they were thinking the AppleTV was designed for all along. A set top box to get your movies without leaving the house. Suppose to be 1000 titles available by February. Again, only in the states.

I'd be a bit more interested if this was in Canada, but even then not a lot. The whole DRM thing makes it useless, but I'm thinking the masses will gobble it up. I'm thinking the big boys in the hi def DVD wars are not enthused, but they only have themselves to blame. They spent the last two years fighting on a format, and if online dowloads take off, they're out of the market before they were in it. People who will pay to go out and buy something that is only moderately better visually than a standard DVD that they can now download without leaving the couch will be a small group.

- The iPod touch gets 5 new apps, including viewing mail, maps, weather, and taking notes. I'm keeping my eye on this one.

- And the one thing I might just buy: TimeCapsule. An Airport Extreme base station and 500GB HD combo that works with Leopard's Time Machine and wireless backs up all the computers in your house. Plus gigabit ethernet and router and USB printer hookup all in one little device. As long as I can manage the volume size (say 400GB for backups, 100GBs for shared HD), this one I'll be getting. I was thinking of getting a refurbed Airport Extreme and an external hard drive anyway. This doesn't cost me any more than that would have, so I'll be checking it out when it ships in February.

That's it for now, back to the web...

Steve-note Tuesday At MacWorld

Around the Mac sites on the web, it's all about MacWorld in San Fran. Tuesday ('round noon ET) Steve Jobs gives his keynote speech that will hopefully end the rampant speculation and rumors going around. Bets are on a slim, ultra thin MacBook, an AppleTV push with movie rentals from iTunes, and probably something to keep pushing the iPhone.

And it's all probably going to be way too expensive and wrapped in DRM. But oh, the fanboys are certainly excited.

Either way, new toys are fun to peruse, and I'm hoping that whatever they come out with thats new in the MacBook line will push the current product to cheaper (say maybe even affordable?) refurbed rates.

Or maybe the big surprise tomorrow will be an Apple laptop for under $800. Yeah, right.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Western Movie - Big & Rich Style

I love the song "Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace" by Big & Rich off their last album. Now they've gone and made a music video for it too, and they turn it into a mini Western movie. Nicely done (John Rich gets a nice 'Hot Fuzz' moment too :). Unfortunately at a little over 5 minutes in length, I can't see CMT Canada playing this one much at all. It would cut into their time for Carrie Underwood, commercials, and Roseanne reruns. Thank goodness we have the internet instead.

Sabertooth Has Been Cast In The Wolverine Movie!

Some interesting news on the upcoming Wolverine movie. Via the Movie Blog, via the scoop at CHUD, apparently Liev Schreiber has been cast as Victor Creed (more popularly known as Sabertooth). He was rumored to be part of the movie for a while now, but as a younger Stryker. Having him as Sabertooth is quite interesing, and should be great to see him and Hugh Jackman play off each other as Wolverine and Sabertooth are bitter lifelong enemies in the comics.

I remember Schreiber playing a small part in the movie Sum of All Fears, which saw Ben Affleck as a young Jack Ryan in the continuing series of movies from the Tom Clancy books. Schreiber played a favorite character of mine from the books - John Clark. A no nonsense government black ops agent that helps Ryan out, if I recall. I would have like to see him as Clark in a movie adaptation of Without Remorse - the book of Clark's story.

He should be great in the Wolverine movie, and with Gavin Hood as director, and Hugh Jackman, and now this casting news, it would seem they are taking a serious approach to the movie and not just a Ratner syle comic book spectacle. As a long time Wolverine fan, can't wait to see this in 2009.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Me Mini Movie Reviews: The Bourne Ultimatum

Finally got to watch the Bourne Ultimatum tonight, and was surprised how good it was. I expected Matt Damon to be great as Bourne, but the plot held up pretty good and Bourne's quiet moments played well against all the action. And there was plenty of action.

In this 3rd installment, Bourne is out to end what the government started, get the truth, and avenge Marie. He becomes an unstoppable force to be reckoned with as he continually drives on in his search for the truth. He globe trots a bit too, and the different locations add to the atmosphere of it all.

What surprised me was that this one was actually watchable. I loved the Bourne Identity, but then they switched directors to Paul Greengrass and the nauseating shaky cam / quick cut editing that he used for the Bourne Supremacy made what should have been a great movie nearly seizure inducing. He still likes the close up shaky cam in Ultimatum, but he's learned something along the way and he toned it down. For the most part, you can actually tell where Bourne is this time in the shot and what he's doing. There are even zoomed out wide shots to give you perspective on the goings on. I still would have preferred the directing style of Doug Liman from the first one, but this third one is bearable and still a great ride.

The pacing is excellent too – it grabs your attention from the start and keeps it right to the end. The tension in the cat and mouse game Bourne has to play just keeps ratcheting up. The sequence at the Waterloo train station and the roof top chase particularly stand out. There's a fight sequence with an imaginative use of a book that is really great – and would have been better without the shaky cam. It's a fight in tight quarters though, so you really get a sense of urgency. There's a car chase too that would have stood up to some great ones on film, but again the quick cuts took away from the action. Overall though, the major sequences in the film were really well done and shot much better than Supremacy.

In the end, I really enjoyed it, and will watch it again. It's a step up from the terrible camera work of the second one, and stands on it's own as a great action/spy thriller. The only downside is that this trilogy of movies should have gone down as a hallmark of well thought out action / spy thrillers. Unfortunately, the camera work of the second and third brings it down, but Ultimatum is still worth the watch.

Verdict: Recommended.

Tales of the Stranger: Episode 10, Epilogue

Here's the end of the Episode 10. It was supposed to be just three parts, but this epilogue came to me one morning, and seemed to fit. Enjoy if you can...

Sunrise by Eaglewing

The sun was coming over the horizon line, blazing through the trees and burning away the last remnants of a cool night. The ground frost scattered to the heat of the fire sent from light years away.

He stood alone, and watched.

A sunrise was always a moment to behold. Same as a sunset, it was one of those moments in a day that should just be given attention and respect. A quiet moment of reflection for what it meant. A sunset meant another day in the books, lost to the cosmos, and God forgive you if you had wasted it. But if you were lucky enough to see another sunrise, then there was another clean slate ahead. Another chance. A day that could be used to do something.


He didn't know what this day would bring, or what he might do with it. However, he needed that morning's gift of reflection at the moment. He'd had a rough couple of days, and watching the sun come up was a blessing of sorts. It was also a curse, but he wasn't dwelling on that for the moment.

He'd recently bore witness to a needless death, and a close call for a couple kids that desperately needed a new sunrise of their own. He'd done what he could, and it was too much and it wasn't enough. But the fates had been decided, and some lived and some died. He never could figure that part out.

Tiny had gone down. If he had listened, he would have been saved the trouble of dying, but stubborn blindness of youth had clouded his judgement until a heart stopping moment of clarity. It had cost him dearly, but he'd made his last stand worth something. His day may have been wasted, but his sunset wasn't. It would have to do.

The sun was a little higher in the sky now, and he watched it's slow ascent as his mind drifted to the others. Bobby and Jamie. They had gotten out, barely, but out was out. He wondered where they'd end up, but something in his gut told him they'd be alright as long as they had each other. There was something strong there. Something that a rough start, stubborn pride, misguided loyalty, bullets and a river of blood couldn't seperate. Their sunrise had been earned, and he knew they wouldn't waste a moment all the way to their sunset.

Then he thought about his own twisted trail. It'd been a long time since he even noticed a sunrise, and he'd burned through a lot of sunsets too. A small part of him still wanted to make them count, to treasure each one. But the rest of him, the majority, couldn't get over that one bad day. The sunrise hadn't been good, and the sunset had been worse. Maybe a person wasn't supposed to waste them, but when you'd lost the reason for enjoying them altogether, the caring just went away and all that was left was a soul covered in ice cold frost that couldn't be burned off with the heat of a thousand suns.

Still, with the regularity of the dawning days, and watching the two kids get out of a hell they should have died in, he thought there just might be a hope left. A miniscule hope, nothing more than a whisper of a thought, but still there.

He looked up at the sun as it kept climbing into a now official morning. Then he shook his head as he started to walk slowly out of the rest area and back to the road to look for a ride. He didn't know where it would take him, but he was determined to keep going.

Maybe if the sun kept coming up enough times he'd someday feel it's warmth again.

Just maybe.

The End.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Shiny! More Serenity...

First I saw of this, but coming in March is a new comic 3 issue mini series from creator Joss Whedon called Serenity: Better Days. It's a prequel to the movie, as the cover obviously tells you, but any Serenity story is a good one. It's from Dark Horse Comics, and Whedon is collaborating again with Brett Mathews and Will Conrad, who also worked with him on the Those Left Behind mini series (also available in a sweet hard cover edition too! Yep, got that one on the shelf :)

This is great news. Sure, I'd rather have the TV show Firefly back, but us Browncoats have to take what we can get. And after apparently selling 85,000 copies of Those Left Behind, plus success in the comic world with both his Buffy and Angel universes, I guess Whedon has found a medium to keep telling these character's stories.

You can check out some previews of Better Days here and here in PDF form. So get to a comic shop near you and pick up issue 1 on March 12th.

You can't stop the signal!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mac vs PC - South Park Version

This should settle the true, so true.

Game On

Nothin' much new today. Watching the hockey game - and a pretty good one at that. Montreal vs Chicago, and its tied at 3 in the second period. Who cares who winds, it's better than watching the Leafs.

Read on Google news via the UK Guardian site that there's rumors of Paramount maybe opting out of their HD-DVD deal and going BluRay. If that happens, the war is truly over with Universal left holding the bag. All I'm hoping for on this is that HDTV's drop in price. I believe the cable networks have until early next year before they have to go HiDef, so between that and a winner in hidef DVD, they're going to want to push the big screen TV's. If only a 52" LCD 1080P TV would come down below a $1000. Then I'd buy one for sure :)

Anyway, back to the hockey game. Then maybe watch a movie...

They're Baaaaack....

So, they're all back on the airwaves tonight.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are back without their writers, and did well. Leno has guests (um, a politician, Christopher Titus, and Shakira), and Letterman shaved his beard and talked to Tom Hanks.

There's a strike going on? Oh right. Just because the late nights are back to blather, doesn't mean the retina scarring reality TV "America Has No Talent" has gone off the airwaves yet.

Not that I care. For entertainment yesterday I listened to Podcasts, downloaded and watched the latest Diggnation episode, and watched the movie Touch of Evil (a classic noir). Who needs Tv?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tales Of The Stranger: Episode 10, Part 3

Well, here it finally is. (What am I, Frank Miller writing ASBAR?). The third closing chapter (although there's an epilogue coming) in the 10th Stranger story. A long one two - something like 3700 plus word count. Anyway, not that anyone cares 8 months after the last story, but here it is. Actually had it written in September, but something was nagging me that it wasn't quite right. Finally came to me at work one night, so I Think I got it. Enjoy if you can. Comments of any kind welcome, good bad or ugly.

Flood by Eaglewing

The ragamuffin gunner is returnin' home like a hungry runaway
He walks through town all alone…
And everybody's wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood
Sticker smiles sweet as gunner breathes deep, his ankles caked in mud
And I said "Hey, gunner man, that's quicksand, that's quicksand that ain't mud
Have you thrown your senses to the war or did you lose them in the flood?"

The night was dark and the air was still. It was as if the very universe itself was holding its breath against the inevitable outcome of two sides clashing for a hopeless cause.

One side, the Two-Two’s, were holed up in their headquarters – a rundown crack house on a forgotten street. Only one streetlight was still working in that area, and it wasn’t enough to make a difference. Crewmembers came to the building in the darkness, smoking cigarettes and flashing the gang signs and colors. There was going to be a war tonight, and the soldiers were getting ready.

In the mix of psyched up gang bangers, was one worried soul by the name of Tiny. He kept looking around for Bobby, who should have been there by now. It was soon going to be time to go, and Bobby had told him to wait. Tiny wasn’t sure if Bobby would even show; he had been hesitant about the whole deal. And Tiny knew Jamie didn’t approve at all, and would try to talk Bobby out of it. Tiny silently cursed to himself, women. They just didn’t understand the meaning of brotherhood. And Bobby had been changing since Jamie had come along. Tiny didn’t like it either. He figured she was getting her hooks into his boy and would be trying her best to get Bobby to take her out of there to a better place. But to Tiny, there was no better place. What was out there, the possibilities and lies were all talk anyway, but this was home and it was what he knew. They needed to protect their own turf, and he’d do it even if she took away his best friend.

Still, he could really use Bobby tonight. Tiny knew he wasn’t the smartest, but he was tough. Bobby was smart though, he always had a plan. They watched each others backs always, and he never needed his back watched more than tonight. Come on, Bobby, don’t let me down. Not tonight.


Bobby tried to put Jamie out of his mind as he raced for the crack house headquarters. It was nigh impossible to do however. She was right, and he knew it. It was a useless fight, and probably a suicide run to go back up Tiny. But to Bobby, loyalty was loyalty, and it had been earned, and needed to be respected. He had to at least try to get Tiny out of there before all hell broke loose. This was one fight they didn’t need to be in. He could convince Tiny of it, he knew. Tiny would listen to him, but he had to get there in time, and time was running out way too fast. Thanks to a dream coming true in Jamie’s arms, he was running late. But if he could get there, get Tiny out, go back and get Jamie, he might be able to pull it off and get them all out in one piece.

He just needed a little more time.


“Time’s up! Let’s go teach those damn GD’s a lesson!”

A chorus of cheers and yells went up to the gang leaders words. Tiny yelled out too. So much for Bobby. He’d made his choice, and it wasn’t with Tiny, so he’d do this without his one true friend. He couldn’t believe Bobby had chosen a girl over their years of friendship. The hell with you Bobby. I hope you’re happy with her.

He grabbed his guns, yelled out with his gang brothers, and got lost in the crowd. Following their leader’s instructions, the heavily armed group of young street soldiers stampeded out into the night, bound for destruction. They headed as one up the road till the leader came to an abrupt stop. He saw something ahead in the middle of the dark road, blended in with the shadows.

It was a lone man, tall, dressed in black, cowboy hat low. It was such a disconcerting and unusual site for those parts that the whole pack stopped up cold, taken off guard.

“Who are you?” yelled out the leader.

A gravelly voice of hardened steel responded from the shadows. “I’m looking for Tiny. Got a message. Where is he?”

“Right here, man.” Tiny stepped forward, always confident, but this certainly was unusual.

The Stranger spoke again. “Walk away. This ain’t worth dying for. Hell and then some is coming down tonight, and you’re in the wrong fight.”

“Says who?” yelled Tiny, cutting off the Stranger.

“Common sense. You’ve got real friends, Bobby and Jamie, and they could use you watching out for them for a change. Especially tonight. This is a war for drugs and money and turf that in the end will just belong to somebody else. Make a choice, fight for your life, your friend’s life and get away from this.” The Stranger’s voice rose as he finished, “Use your head. It’ll be death tonight, and you don’t need to. Don’t follow bad leaders. Walk away from this, on your own, and walk like a MAN.”

At that, guns were raised before Tiny could respond, and the leader shouted out, “Oh you are dead sucker! Don’t be dissin’ the Two-Two’s! Just who the hell are you to be talkin’ smack like that to us?!”

The Stranger never flinched. “Nobody. But you go off tonight,” he paused, and then calmly pointed up into the pitch black sky. “And you’ll wind up dying for that.”

They looked up on reflex, but didn’t see anything. “Nothing! It ain’t nothing!” yelled the leader, looking back to the Stranger, gun high but seeing empty space.

The Stranger was gone.


Bobby saw the crackhouse up ahead. Running up, he cursed out loud. No! It was dark, they were gone, and he was too late. They were already heading for the line. The war was on, and Tiny was in the middle of it. Why didn’t you wait, Tiny? Why didn’t you wait for me? Bobby turned, and started running full out in the direction of the GD’s turf. He had to try to catch Tiny before it was too late. He’d need Bobby at his back on this one, or death would truly be knocking on his door. Maybe for both of them. At the thought, Bobby willed himself to move faster.

No way, Tiny, no way. I’ve always had your back.


Neglected buildings lined the street that led to the line of the turf war. It made a perfect spot for an ambush, and the GD’s knew it and were ready. They knew the Two-Two’s would come up this road to get to the park where they thought they’d throw down with their adversaries, but there was going to be a surprise before that. With a grim stare, the Stranger surveyed the scene from his rooftop location. He had taken some guns and ammo and car keys off a couple gang bangers that hadn't been bright enough to close the back door on their little ambush. Now he waited. Watched. There was going to be a blood bath tonight, and he had made up his mind that he wouldn't try to stop it. Not that he could stop a war by himself even if he wanted to. Memories of Sonny were whispering other thoughts on the subject to him though; but either way he had warned those he could, and it was their choice now. Each side knew death was making an appearance this fateful night, so if they wanted to roll the dice on that score, it was their right.

He still didn't like it though. He wasn't even entirely sure why he was still around, but he was in this far, may as well see it out. He could only hope that no innocents got hurt in the crossfire. And he could only hope Jamie had been successful in keeping Bobby out of it. And he could only hope Bobby had listened, and maybe even Tiny too.

He shook his head. It wasn't looking too hopeful.

So he waited.

And watched.


I wonder what he was thinking when he hit that storm
Or was he just lost in the flood?

The Two’s-Two’s ran up the street ready for war, but it came a little early. Shots rang out, bodies fell, and screams and yells went up. It dawned on them very quickly they had been ambushed, and they scattered to alleys, behind cars, and mailboxes, firing blinding in all directions. They went for anything that could be used for cover as they shot back and filled the night with the bloody sounds of war.

Tiny rolled over the trunk of a rusted out Pontiac and hit the ground behind it as bullets tore through the metal around him. Fear and adrenaline took over regular thought and he raised his guns over the vehicle and fired blindly at the direction the shots had come from. Then more bullets tore into the roof of the car and he realized they had gunners up above yet too.

But dodging bullets can give a certain clarity, and it came to Tiny as he hugged the ground and the bigger realization hit him. He was going to die tonight. And Bobby and Jamie and the cowboy Stranger had been right – it was going to be for nothing. Their turf wasn’t going to be protected anyway. They’d all be dead, and nothing would have changed.

But Tiny wasn’t the type to go down without a fight. He reloaded his guns as bullets rained down around him. He might die tonight, but he’d go out in style. As he tried to psych himself up for a suicide run, he thanked whatever God was watching this mess that Bobby had had the good sense to stay out of it. The hell with me. Good luck buddy, make her happy.

And now the whiz-bang gang from uptown, they're shootin' up the street
And that cat from the Bronx starts lettin' loose
but he gets blown right off his feet


From above, the Stranger saw Tiny’s predicament. From a third story window across the street, GD gang members had positioned themselves for an even better advantage. On a rooftop higher up, the Stranger took careful aim, emptied a clip and evened the odds for those below. He had told himself he wasn’t going to get involved. It wasn’t his fight, and he’d be facing an army on both sides in an effort to save one. Well, bad for them. Fair is fair after all. He checked his guns, and headed for the fire escape trying to ignore the sheer insanity of what he was about to do. And just like old times, somewhere in the back of his mind he could see Sonny smiling that crazy grin.


Tiny took a couple deep breaths, steeling himself for what he had to do. He just needed to wait till they reloaded. Then from out of a dark side alley a familiar face came into view, firing a shotgun into the night air laying down a field of cover as he headed for Tiny. It was Bobby after all, yelling “Get down! Get down!”

Bobby slid down behind the bullet ridden Pontiac beside Tiny, gasping for air and pouring sweat. “I told you to wait, damnit!” he yelled at Tiny.

Tiny just grinned. “I knew you’d have my back man, I knew it!”

“Forget that, we have to get out of here. The hell with the turf war, this is suicide!”

“I know,” responded Tiny. “I finally get that. Man, you should’a listened to Jamie and stayed away from me. From this. We ain’t likely to make it.”

“Oh yes we will,” muttered Bobby, surveying the surroundings. “We’ll take turns covering each other, make our way to that garbage bin over there, then fight our way out down that side alley behind it. Got it?”

Tiny nodded. A quick look around revealed no one was very organized any more, with bullets flying everywhere and bodies strewn across the ground. In spite of himself, he was glad Bobby had shown up – maybe they’d make it out after all.

“You go first,” yelled Bobby, “then you cover me. Ready? Go! Go! Go!”

Bobby came over the top of the car, firing the shotgun as fast as he could to blow holes in turf and flesh. Tiny was up and running for the garbage bin before he had time to think. Bullets hit the pavement around him as he dove behind it, catching his breath. Then he pulled out his own guns and came up firing, yelling at Bobby to move.

Bobby dropped the now spent shotgun and pulled his handguns, making a run for the bin. Then he stopped cold, his heart dropping to his feet as he heard his name called and witnessed his worst fear.


He had no clue what she was doing there, but there she was hugging the side of a building, calling his name and looking around frantically. Everything seemed to slow down as they both saw each other at the same time.



Their eyes locked and Bobby’s mind went blank. The man with the plan suddenly didn’t know what to do. His oldest friend was to his left, and his one true love was to his right. And he froze in the middle, stunned, completely unsure of himself for the very first and possibly worst time. He was too far away to save either one, and he was sure to die where he stood. Looking at Jamie, he realized he had failed them all. He was out of time.

Tiny saw it all happen. Saw Jamie, saw the GD gunner’s coming up into view and Bobby in no man’s land. It had all just gone horribly, horribly wrong, but Tiny didn’t hesitate despite knowing in his gut the cost he was about to pay. Pulling the trigger on his guns as fast he could he yelled at Bobby and dove from behind his cover to tackle his best friend as bullets ripped through the air around them. They rolled behind another car as Bobby yelled out Jamie’s name and reached an outstretched hand in her direction, willing the distance to close in vain.

Jamie screamed as bullets tore into the building close to her, blinding her with cement dust, before a dark apparition knocked her to the ground as more bullets strafed the spot she had just been. She buried her face into her arm in the dirt as the weight on top of her whispered, “Stay down now, you’ll be ok. So will he.” Then it was gone.

Looking back at Jamie on the ground, the Stranger saw someone else. The face that haunted his every moment, and then the sight of Sonny walking out of that cemetery and the reasons for it all came roaring back. And now yet another innocent almost gunned down, another almost lost to a useless fight. The Stranger had had enough. He wasn’t planning on getting involved, but involved he would be. Picking up automatic weapons from fallen gang soldiers, he armed himself and came out firing in a suicidal wave of rage and bullets. If they wanted a war, he’d show them one as he opened fire at both sides. They were used to fighting scared gang bangers and doped up runners and gunners, not an experienced battle hand. Blood spray and screams hit the air as his unerring aim blew holes in anything that moved. Casings flew to the side as he spent round after round to pay down on a costly lesson that had to be taught, driving the point home just how stupid this war was and that there wouldn’t ever be any winners. Just those who managed to live, and way too many that died. He marched forward, clearing the street even as some returned fire. He ignored the pain as something hit his leg, then his arm. He didn’t stop, instead reloading and firing at will. His thoughts were elsewhere – for Jamie, for Bobby, for Tiny, for Sonny, for her, and all those innocents that fell before their time. For those that couldn’t, he would stand here now and let the bullets and gunpowder and smell of cordite in the air speak for them.

And if he didn’t know better, he could have sworn Sonny was right there beside him, making it right.

As the recoil finally stopped and the bolt slid on an empty chamber, he lowered the gun and surveyed the scene. Some were dead, some were bleeding, some were running, but all were hurt. Another minute passed before his shell shocked, ringing ears were able to filter in the sounds of police sirens in the distance. Viewing the carnage, those still standing, or hiding, broke off running into the early morning grayness at the sound. Big Mike had done what he could after all, and the remaining will to fight vanished from both sides. With nothing left to aim at, the Stranger finally let the automatic fall to the ground and assessed the situation. Taking a deep breath to slow his heart rate, he looked at the flood of blood and human wreckage lying wasted around him. He may not have started the flood, but he had blown open the dam. Glancing back to some survivors behind him, he didn't regret it, but he took no pride in it either. There had to have been a better way. Maybe a better man would have found it, and he felt as something less for not doing so. But as usual, he didn't have the time for better, only survival, and it always seemed to come to him to make the hard decisions. Maybe someday he'd make the right one. Grimacing, he registered that he was hurt, cops would be all over the area too soon and it was time to go. But not before he finished one thing.

He went back and found Bobby and Jamie kneeling down beside Tiny. Blood was on their hands and on the ground as they tried to stop the bleeding from the bullet wounds he had taken when saving Bobby. It was an effort in vain.

“I’m sorry, Tiny,” Bobby whispered. “You saved my life, man. Hang on now, we’ll get you help.”

“Nah, I’m not hanging around. ‘Sides, time I had your back for a change.” Tiny coughed up blood as the breath flowed slowly out of him.

“No!” cried Jamie. “Don’t quit, Tiny! This is all my fault. If I hadn’t been here…” She looked at Bobby quickly, “But I had to…”

“Nah, girl, t’ain’t your fault. You couldn’t stay away any more than I could. You was here for him, he was here for me. My fault, really.” Tiny coughed some more before focusing in on something. “You know I never wanted to leave here, and I ain’t. But you two, get outta here. Something else out there, I think.” His eyes drooped as the last bit of life left. He smiled, “I see it now…”

“No way, man, no way. Don’t do this!” Bobby was stunned as he watched his old friend leave the mortal world. Then he suddenly became aware of another presence and looked up to see the Stranger.

“Who are you?!” Bobby exclaimed. “Can you help him?”

“No.” replied the Stranger, quickly eyeing the grievous wounds of the now lifeless Tiny. “But you two gotta move right away. I’m sorry about your friend, but there’s nothing you can do for him now. He made the right choice in the end, so honor him by doing what he asked. Get out of here. But you have to go now.”

Bobby stood, pulling Jamie up as well, keeping her close. “How are we supposed to do that? And I can’t just leave my friend on the street!”

“Yes you can. You can leave him, you can leave it all. Find something better, just the two of you.” He handed Bobby some car keys as he spoke. “There’s an old Mustang down that alley. I’m betting it runs and will get you far enough. I know you want to stay out of loyalty to your friend, but he died to give you this chance, so be loyal and take it. Don’t let him down now.”

Bobby looked down at his friend, then met Jamie’s eyes for a long moment. One was his past; one was his future. Jamie answered the question in his eyes with a nod, and he looked back at the Stranger.

“Thanks.” The Stranger just nodded, then headed off on his own.

Bobby knelt down by Tiny one last time. With his hand, he closed his friend’s eyes, then whispered, “Rest easy now, and thanks, old friend. I won’t forget what you gave us and what you did. What a man can do.” Then he stood, looking at Jamie. “You with me?”

With fire in her eyes, she reached up to pull his face close. “Always. Beyond the end of time.”

With a quick kiss, Bobby grabbed Jamie’s hand and headed for the car. It was time to leave for good. The Mustang roared out of the alley with seconds to spare before the police surrounded the area.

The Stranger lurked in the shadows to make sure they made it, then lifted some first aid supplies from an unguarded ambulance before he slipped away. As he put some space on the scene, he looked back at the result of one bad night. It hadn't gone ideal. He'd managed to get two out, and two out of three ain't bad. It was just a shame, a sad reality, that as another morning came and the sunrise hit the blood stained streets, too many had simply been lost in the flood. The blood ran deep, but there was always more where that came from. He just hoped the two that had made it out of the storm would find some dry land to harbor in.

From a distance, the Stranger watched the yellow police tape go up around the killing ground. Some bodies were being patched up and taken to the hospital. Most others were simply covered where they lay. The cleanup had begun. The blood on the streets would be washed away, but nothing had been gained there that night by the loss of it.

Except for two. Sonny would have been happy to see them get out, to beat the odds. Thinking of his old friend, the Stranger looked at the horizon where the car had disappeared and almost smiled.

Then he simply turned and walked away.

The End.

And somebody said "Hey man did you see that? His body hit the street with such a beautiful thud"
I wonder what the dude was sayin' or was he just lost in the flood?
Hey man, did you see that, those poor cats are sure messed up
I wonder what they were gettin' into, or were they just lost in the flood?

Lyrics from the song:
"Lost In The Flood", written by Bruce Springsteen
Album: Live In New York City

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hi Def DVD Format War Over...Stick A Fork In It.

Head over to The Digital Bits for more on what was a very big deal in the Hi Def Format war. Warner Brothers Studio - the last major studio on the fence who were neutral and putting out movies on both HDDVD and BluRay - has picked a side.

And they are going with BluRay.

This is pretty big for the next generation of movie tech. This gives BluRay a 70/30 studio support in Hollyweird, which should effectively end the war as the year goes on. Consumers will go toward the option which has the most movies available, and now that will clearly be BluRay. Paramount and Universal are still in the HD DVD camp I think, but that'll probably change. Nobody's going to want to be left holding the HD DVD bag as the world goes BluRay.

This had to happen, and the sooner the better. The whole thing was about to implode from lack of interest and just plain confused customers. Not to mention really ticked off retail outlets that have to give precious shelf space to dueling formats. There's a lot of interesting info at the Bits site, but what was intriguing was that there was a trend building that people were starting to hold off on DVD purchases as they waited for a side to win. Not just Hi Def DVDs, but regular DVDs too. That alarmed people in the bizz, I guess. Nothing talks like money.

So those with PS3 units are in the clear, while those with XBox HD DVD add on kits will probably be cursing soon enough, although I would assume most people didn't buy gaming consoles for the movie selection. More cursing will happen as 1080P HDTV prices fall, as do the player prices, and people who shelled out for a new TV in the last two years realize they got hosed and don't have a TV that can do true HiDef, although it'll still look good.

Personally, I still don't care as I watch regular DVDs on a 36" TUBE TV (!) through a PS2 or a computer. However, I have been waiting all last year to buy a new HDTV and now this might just push the prices on big ass screen 1080P TV's down into true affordability as the big money big wigs try to push HiDef DVDs into the mainstream. One can hope anyway, and I'd imagine by spring or summer the push will really be on, because if the whole HiDef DVD thing folds it tents, a lot of people will be out a boat load of money, and they won't let that happen.

Another interesting thing here is that Microsoft backed HD-DVD. If this is the death knell of that camp, then between Vista and HD-DVD, Microsoft is taking it on the chin. The other thing is that Apple has been on the BluRay side, and there have been lots of rumors about BluRay DVD players coming to the Mac computer lineup. With the big Warner announcement coming before the Macworld convention later in the month, we may see something new from Apple sooner rather than later.

One last thing though. Looking at the Hi Def setups at Best Buy, they really do look great. Not that it's remotely worth the cost yet, but I do say seeing Serenity in High Def had me thinking about it. However, it's on HD DVD. Figures.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

2007: Top 10 List of...Whatever...

So, it's 2008 and people have put up Best/Worst lists all over the web of 2007', produce? Well, it is tradition I guess to do top 10 lists at the end of the year. Looking back at the year, I've realized that I wound up reading the web about stuff that was coming up or being reviewed more than I did actually, stuff. That must change. However, as I look around the web, I see all the usual lists - movies, music, celeb moments, etc, etc, etc, all nicely broken down. So I think my list will be something different: a top 10 list of whatever I found intriguing in 2007, in no particular genre. Let's see what we got:

10. The WGA writer's strike in Hollywood. Odd to put this on the top 10, but there's a reason. With or without writers, there doesn't seem to be much good on TV these days. However, the strike just made that point glaringly obvious. As I'd flip through the channels, I found myself asking what am I truly sitting down to watch here? I came to the realization that I'm only keeping my cable for sports, Discovery Channel, and the Food Network. The rest fell off the TV map with the strike, and I found I didn't even miss it. I'm far better off with the internet, TV on DVD, and reading and writing. So thank you - both sides of this greedy Hollywood dispute - for that clarity. You may all come back when the strike is settled, but there's a pretty good chance I won't.

9. Watching the Ron James stand up comedy special on New Years Eve and laughing my ass off for the entire hour. Haven't laughed that much watching something since the movie 40 Year Old Virgin.

8. Finding, at long long last, Chris Ledoux's Tougher Than The Rest music video and the Mike Plume Bland's DiMaggio music video online. Downloaded and saved, thank you very much. Been a long time looking for those two.

7. Moving to the world of Apple: iPod Shuffle, Mac Mini. The shuffle was the best 60 bucks I ever spent, and I'm loving the Mac computer the more I use it. There are the obvious differences from Windows, but it's the little things I find that are like a breath of fresh air for this computer user.

6. Black Snake Moan - movie & soundtrack. How the three-quels, Wild Hogs, and Alvin and the Chipmunks rake in millions while this gem went largely unnoticed is a travesty. Black Snake Moan is an original, thought provoking, heartfelt, and entertaining piece of film. Not to mention Sam Jackson's finest work in ages. Deserved a better fate.

5. Criminal - noir comic series by Ed Brubaker. Shows how the comic medium can easily compete with anything TV or Film has to offer for entertainment and is a great read for any noir fan needing something new. Plus, the extra pages in the individual comics highlight interviews and general ramblings about movies and books in the noir genre are just as good, not to mention an education in noir. Great stuff.

4. Punisher Max - Garth Ennis. I bought the hard cover trade editions of this as I could find them, and reread them too as I wait for each new issue. With the Punisher Max stories, including Born and the one shots, Ennis has put on a clinic on writing involving characters with action, humor, and pathos. Yes, there is over the top lunacy and violence, but it's the quiet moments of the storylines that stick with the reader and rattle around the head long after reading. It'll be a sad day when he pens his last Punisher issue.

3. Gary Allan - Living Hard. After 2005's Tough All Over, this CD continues to show how good Gary Allan is as both singer and songwriter. He's been through a lot in his personal life, but the music that came out of it should be the stuff of country/rock legends. If only country radio played more stuff like this instead of the pop mess that currently permeates the airwaves.

2. Bruce Springsteen - Magic. Particularly Gypsy Biker. One helluva song. It only came out in October, but it's the most played song in my iTunes playcount list. There's a reason he's called The Boss.

1. Reading. This goes back to #10, but as movies and TV proved repeatedly disappointing, I rediscovered the joy of reading. Lots on the internet of course, but novels too, and particularly graphic novels and comics. The entertainment value is better, and it certainly is more mentally stimulating. On more than a few occasions this year, I found myself sitting on the floor reading something only to look up at the clock and laugh at how I had lost myself in the book and time had flown by. Makes me want to write something that would have that effect on somebody else someday...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year

2008 is here, 2007 is toast. Happy New Year All!

Gotta love technology. Tried using my cell to send a text message and make a phone call and nothing worked for a full half hour after midnight. Guess their servers just couldn't keep up with the stress. Maybe take some of that money that I'm getting ripped off paying and build a better backbone.

Anyway, cheers, and may your celebration night be crash free.