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Wanted
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

Wanted

This movie was a huge disappointment.  We generally enjoy Angelina Jolie in movies but this was just not good at all. If you like a huge amount of profanity and senseless violence then this movie is perfect for you.  The story centers around a boring and dull accountant who suddenly finds he has talent to be a world class assassin.  He is violently inducted into a secret society who carries out covert assassinations at the orders of a tapestry that is magically woven at a huge loom. 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 22 July 2008 )
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The Odyssey -- Homer
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

The Odyssey

One of the books that most students have to read (or at least used to have to read) is The Odyssey.  I believe that in the past most students were required to read this in the original Greek but now we have several English translations available.  Somehow I managed to avoid reading any serious classic literature in my education.  I'm not sure that was such a good idea and so I'm now trying to rectify that situation.  The Fitzgerald translation is supposed to be quite good.  That's the one I read.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
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Get Smart
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

Get Smart

If anyone can reincarnate the great Maxwell Smart it is Steve Carell. Smart is a CONTROL analyst who dreams of one day becoming a field agent in the battle against KAOS.  Due to a series of unlucky circumstances he is given his chance.  The hilarity begins almost immediately with Smart's almost use of the cone of silence.  The cone of silence is a ridiculous contraption that is meant to allow participants in the cone to speak without any danger of outsiders hearing what they say.  Unfortunately it doesn't work well.  Instead of isolating the particpants' conversation from the outside, it isolates the participants from each other.  Invariably the cone session ends with the conversants yelling at each other and ending the conversation in futility.  Somehow Smart is oblivious to the cone's quirks.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
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The Summer Tree -- Guy Gavriel Key
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008

The Summer Tree

Perusing the science-fiction and fantasy section at bookstores as much as I have means that I've seen many books by Guy Gavriel Kay.  These books have always intrigued me and they've been perpetually on my list of fantasy books to read sometime.  A few weeks ago I finally bit the bullet and got The Summer Tree, the first book in the Fionavar trilogy. It wasn't what I was expecting but it wasn't bad. Based on comments I had read about Kay I was expecting something a bit more literary and Tolkienesque.  Instead, I found that the book was rather simple and even colloquial at times.  As I said, not bad, just not what I was expecting.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
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Ironman
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 09 June 2008

Ironman

Ironman continues the Hollywood trend of making movies out of comic book characters. Without a doubt Ironman is the best comic book movie made to date.  Great characters and great story.  It probably helps that the cast includes such accomplished talents as Robert Downey Jr. and Gwenthyn Paltrow.  These two play their roles wonderfully and make the movie a treat.  Normally I'm not inclined to see a movie more than once but I'll be making an exception for this one.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 09 July 2008 )
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Who We Are -- Lifehouse
Written by Mike Noel   
Friday, 29 February 2008

who we are

 Who We Are is Lifehouse's third CD and it is amazing. Lifehouse has always had a distinctive sound which threatened to make all of their stuff sound the same.  In fact, their second CD, Stanley Climbfall, seemed to suffer from this problem. It sounded much like their debut album but without a hit song (Hanging By A Moment) to carry it.  Fortunately, with Who We Are Lifehouse has added new life to their sound.  They still have the distinctive vocals and guitars but there is more range.  The rock songs are rockier and the ballads are smoother.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 08 July 2008 )
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Hyperion -- Dan Simmons
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 01 July 2008

Hyperion

Hyperion is one of those science fiction books that has been around forever (since the mid 80's) and I've never read.  I've seen it sitting on the bookstore shelves many times and it always looked interesting.  For some reason, though, I was led to believe that it was a futuristic retelling of Homer's Odyssey.  That was probably why it took so long for me to get to reading it.  I wanted to read The Odyssey first.  Now I see that the delay was unnecessary.  Hyperion is not a retelling of The Odyssey.  It is closer to a retelling of The Canterbury Tales but even that is not a very good comparison. 

 

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 01 July 2008 )
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XNA Game Studio 2.0
Written by Mike Noel   
Wednesday, 25 June 2008

XNA Game Studio 2.0

The official book title is Microsoft XNA Game Studio 2.0: Learn Programming Now. As the title suggests, this book attempts to teach programming (in C#) using the XNA Game Studio environment.  The book works through several very basic games starting with simply coloring the entire screen a solid color and ending up with a "brickout" type game played with cheese, bread, and tomatoes. Each games introduces one or more new XNA concepts along with additional C# techniques. Already knowing C# meant that I could read through the book fairly quickly (it took me about 3 days) and pick out the XNA related topics.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 June 2008 )
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Scarlet -- Stephen Lawhead
Written by Mike Noel   
Monday, 09 June 2008

Scarlet

Scarlet is the second book in Stephen Lawhead's King Raven Trilogy.  Just as with the first book in the series, Hood, this book is one of Lawhead's best.  The writing is easy going and accessible, the plot moves along at a good pace, and the characters are vivid and lifelike.  

Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 June 2008 )
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