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Messages - Bill Binkelman

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Everything and Nothing / Re: Automobile batteries
« on: January 28, 2012, 05:26:04 PM »
I can't offer any advice except to say that I have NEVER heard of factory installed battery failing in so short a time....unless you let it completely discharge numerous times. When a car battery "dies" each recharge brings it up less and less to its "full" strength. Why a dealer would refuse to simply put a new battery in, when the vehicle is under warranty, is a mystery. Dealers are compensated by the manufacturer for warranty repairs. Could they have simply made the mistake and misdiagnosed it? Sure. But I'm more concerned why the battery had zero capacity in so short a time. Out of curiosity, what make and model did you buy? I ask because the service dept. for dealers can vary depending on make as some car companies are more lax in rating their dealerships' service depts.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: December 28, 2011, 07:57:35 PM »
My Brother very kindly gave me an iTunes card for christmas, so I downloaded a selection of some of me favourite tunes:

Trampled Under Foot - Led Zep
Pack it up (and Go) - UFO
The Sails of Charon - Scorpions
Unchained - Van Halen
The Royal Scam - Steely Dan
Billion Dollar Babies - Alice Cooper

Lovely stuff !

Oh THAT is a song!  :D

Computers, Internet and Technology / Re: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
« on: December 28, 2011, 07:54:56 PM »
Do you need a super PC for this game? I only have a modest ASUS laptop that I purchased a few months ago. I suppose to really enjoy a game like this, you need a desktop unit with tons of RAM, a super deluxe sound card and video graphics card, etc etc etc, right?

Are any of the "hot" PC games any good at all on baseline PCs?

I suppose I should hope the answer is "no" so I don't go getting hooked on games again...I can't afford any kind of gamer PC, so if they don't run on my crummy laptop, at least my checkbook is safe.  ;)

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the feedback and suggestions.

Computers, Internet and Technology / Troubleshooting a weird tech problem
« on: December 23, 2011, 12:20:06 PM »
If any of you have any ideas on this, I'd love to hear them...

I have a Samsung HDTV (LCD) and use Comcast cable for my TV. For the last 2.5 years, everything was fine. I used HDMI cables for both TV and my blu-ray player. My Samsung TV has 4 HDMI ports, plus component inputs too, of course. Well, Thursday morning, my Samsung TV read as "No Signal" when I tried to watch TV. There were no power outages or surges that night (all the digital clocks were fine). I re-booted the cable box twice. No luck. I tried switching the HDMI cables, thinking the TV one was bad. Nope. My blu-ray player was fine, so the TV itself still had a picture. I even hooked up the Component video cables and still "No Signal." And yes, I always changed the source on the source menu for the TV. So, Comcast said "Switch out the cable box for a new one" (I use a DVR type box). So, I did that last night and still no luck. I thought "Okay, all 4 HDMI ports can't be bad and at least one of the HDMI cables works because it works for the blu ray player." I suspected signal loss somewhere along the line from where the cable hits the house to the cable feed near the HDTV (the regular TV in the bed room, which is analog, was getting a fine signal, so it wasn't the signal from the pole in the alley to the house).

The Comcast guy came and hooked up his signal meter and the signal strength was better than good. He was stumped too. But when he switched out the blu ray HDMI and routed it to HDMI port 3 and put the cable lead into HDMI 2, then the TV worked...BUT the blu ray didn't...and now it gets weird. See, when you select a source on a Samsung device that has no signal, it displays "No Signal" on the TV screen (duh). But when I selected the blu ray player on the source menu (when it was plugged into port 3), instead of displaying "No Signal" the TV "jumped" and displayed the TV signal instead (which is on HDMI port 2) even though the source menu read "HDMI 3." The Comcast guy said he had never seen anything like it. How can a TV "select" a different source on its own?

With the new cable box, the composite video cables DID end up working (I must have forgotten to check THAT option after I got the new box), so I am running my hi def TV cable signal via composite cables which are nearly as good as HDMI but way clunkier and the one "good" HDMI port is used for the blu-ray player. I'm not keen on this, but...

Here is my question. What is the likelihood that, literally all of a sudden, 3 of the 4 HDMI ports would go bad with no apparent cause? Complicating this is that 3 of the HDMI ports are on the back of the TV (including the one good port) and the 4th HDMI port is on the side (for use with game consoles, I assume). If it's a weird hardware issue with how the ports are wired, or a blown circuit, I would think the one good port would be port 4, since it's not located where the other three are.

The TV in question is 2.5 years old. I was going to get a bigger one soon (this one which is our main set is only 37") anyway and move this to the bedroom were the HDMI vs component issue is moot since the box there doesn't have an HDMI output. But do I bother trying to trouble-shoot it some more with Samsung? I have spoken with them twice in the past but it's that whole "This is Peggy..." thing (outsourced to a non-native English speaking country...sorry to sound ethnocentric but talking tech issues with a non-native speaker is very frustrating, IMO). Do I just say "Fuck it...I have a high def signal and that's all that matters" (although I can tell a subtle difference between the component and HDMI signal, to be honest).

Any advice or suggestions or opinions are welcome.

And that doesn't even address my other tech problem which is that every time there is power surge/power failure, the Netgear box that feeds Wi-Fi to my blu ray player (it plugs into my Ethernet port on the blu ray and receives the 'net signal from my Netgear router) "loses" the internet and I have to reset the entire set-up and restore the blu-ray factory settings (which is weird because my laptop just "re-finds" the router and modem with no reset or reboot necessary). It's frustrating because it makes streaming Netflix a dicey proposition until I reboot, reset, and reprogram the blu ray player after every power loss or if the player gets unplugged for some reason. A Samsung rep said "Yup, every time the blu ray player loses power, you will have the problem"...but come on, really? The reason I didn't buy a "wi-fi built-in" blu-ray player (and opted for one that is "wi-fi ready" instead) is because many reviews of the built-ins got worse consumer reviews...people complained about slow streaming, etc. WHEN this Netgear "booster" is working, I can stream Netflix no problem, but it's a royal pain to reboot the modem, router, and have the router "find" the booster and THEN have to reset all the player stuff, including reauthorizing it to Netflix account, etc.

Well, any suggestions or ideas on this one are also appreciated. I know lots of you forumites are super high tech wizards, and as I wrote, I am NOT tech savvy enough to do all my own setups, installs, etc. for audio, video and computer, but one or more of you may be a LOT smarter than me with these problems - I hope so.

I'm really not technologically challenged, IMO, but these two problems have proven vexing to the say the least.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Movie trailers worth a look
« on: November 21, 2011, 04:09:30 PM »

last chance to bail.....

I am a HUGE fan of the 3-part book series, but I have severe reservations about the film(s) (even before I saw the trailer, but the trailer underscores my fears).


Sorry to be so cynical....because I LOVED the Hunger Games trilogy....but the last book in the series would HAVE to be is simply too dark, too twisted, too pessimistic not to be. We're talking, IMO, on the level of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, again IMO. And they will not make it R-rated so they will gut the very essence of Katniss' story.

Bill, I really liked the Hunger Games stories, especially the first book (I thought the writing became more hurried and sloppy with each new installment). The HG books were surprising for their darkness, considering they were intended for a young adult readership. The Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies showed you can make a mass-market film suitable for an audience including younger people, and address such themes as fear of imminent death, the individual betrayed by authority, unexpected loss of loved ones, making sacrifice for a greater cause, and other aspects important to the HG stories. Does it matter if a character dies in gory detail onscreen, or is it merely important that they die with emotional authenticity (for themselves and those around them) conveyed clearly to the audience?

As for my own tastes, I feel like any literary or storytelling contest between Suzanne Collins and Cormac McCarthy ends in a very quick knockout for McCarthy.

One, agreed on the artistic merits of Collins versus McCarthy...I was merely opining that they share an equally pessimistic and fatalistic view of humanity, IMO. That's my take, though, and YMMV.

Second, I do disagree somewhat about "... Does it matter if a character dies in gory detail onscreen..." because, yes, I do think in this case it makes a huge difference. The manner of death has a lot to do with accurately depicting the depravity of the power elite in how they relish seeing the combatants, especially the youngest ones, resort to cruel inhumane savagery in order to survive. I think the level of violence also helps to explain Katniss' descent into a hell of isolation, bitter cynicism, and despondence. If the deaths are relatively bloodless and/or happen off-screen, I don't know how they have Katniss evolve into what she becomes. Again, that is my take. I think the themes of LOTR and HP are vastly different than HG in tone. I don't know about you, but at the end of Return of the King and HP and the Deathly Hallows, I was relieved, elated, and feeling satisfied. I came away after the last HG installment pissed off, despairing and depressed. I don't doubt they can try to convey the guts of the books in a PG-13 format, but I think it will lose some of the novels' power. I also think they (the studios) will HAVE to raise the age of the youngest combatants, because I believe there was one girl who was, what, 6 or 7 years old yet was an effective killer, yes? I work with a woman who took her adolescent daughter to see "Hanna" and was shocked at the level of violence being perpetrated by the lead character...I thought the movie was actually milder than anticipated.

So, maybe it's too subjective to even evaluate. What I may think as mild you or others might think is brutal enough to convey the message of the books/movies.

Regardless, I will see the first movie and hopefully enjoy it enough to see the next one if it is made. If it's another Golden Compass, I will give it a pass.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Movie trailers worth a look
« on: November 17, 2011, 04:58:24 PM »

last chance to bail.....

I am a HUGE fan of the 3-part book series, but I have severe reservations about the film(s) (even before I saw the trailer, but the trailer underscores my fears).

(1) Hunger Games is a dark and complex novel (and the next two escalate from that starting point). I worry that the film adaptation(s) will fall to the same fate as a similarly dark and complex trio of novels, the first of which was The Golden Compass. Hollywood took THAT book and "Disney'fied" it in extremis! The film had none of the complexities or metaphysics of the book AT ALL. I worry that the same thing will happen here.

(2) Hunger Games, and its two sequels, are dark, cynical, bitter tales and VERY violent, including violence perpetrated ON and BY pre-teen children. How can they possibly do justice to this CRUCIAL element of the story and still get a PG-13? If they soften the violence at all, it totally undercuts the visceral impact of the material and also calls into question the very nature of the emotional chaos that overwhelms the lead character, Katniss.

(3) Based on the trailer, the "stars" they got to play their respective characters are all "too pretty." The world of the Hunger Games, with the exception of when the setting is the "Capitol" is that of dirty, grimy, barely surviving people. The lead characters in the trailer look like they are from "The O.C." or some other post-teen TV show. The only actor who, IMO, I think will fit his character as written will be Donald Sutherland as President Snow.

I WILL see this, just as I did The Golden Compass, but I truly fear that this will suffer the same fate, just as the same fate befell other great SF/fantasy works in the young adult genre, e.g. Madeline L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time," Ursula LeGuinn's "Earthsea" series, and others. When the source material is crafted as an intelligent, dark, and deep body of work, invariably Hollywood gives ITS audience less credit for appreciating that element than the large publishing houses do when they publish the original works.

Sorry to be so cynical....because I LOVED the Hunger Games trilogy....but the last book in the series would HAVE to be is simply too dark, too twisted, too pessimistic not to be. We're talking, IMO, on the level of Cormac McCarthy's The Road, again IMO. And they will not make it R-rated so they will gut the very essence of Katniss' story.

Computers, Internet and Technology / Re: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
« on: November 16, 2011, 03:10:00 PM »
This game certainly looks amazing....but I know all too well what happens with me and immersive computer games. I have not seriously gamed since....get ready for a long time ago... Bungie's Marathon and Marathon 2: Durandal way back in the 90s. I would start playing at 9-10 pm and go until dawn, easily. I realized that I simply couldn't ever afford to get that "into" a game ever again. It was way too easy to just keep playing and ignore everything else - eating, sleeping, etc. So, I've never owned a game console either. I just know myself too well. It would be the end of me! LOL...I have too many other things to do. But, this is the first game, I must admit, that makes me want to pick it up again (well, actually, Riven did that to me as well...but I really sucked at Riven so giving it up was easy). I watched a demo on youtube and I thought "Now THAT is pretty awesome." and then realized "okay, close the youtube clip and back away....slowly!" ;D

Wow....what a lot of fuss about such a little thing. I will admit, A., that these posts of yours sound somewhat atypical from other ones of yours I have read over the years here and elsewheres (no need to be THAT self-deprecating - that's my shtick!)...and it has been years that I have known you. That's fine...everyone changes over time (look at me).

As far as the brouhaha over reviews, while the initial review was a little hyperbolic, I never thought it was a plant. Just a very zealous fan. If you have followed Austere over the years, they you know that they have never been preoccupied with self-promotion and have always been modest to a fault in the face of praise. So thinking they either authored this review or endorsed it is a little nonsensical. Nothing personal to those who criticized it...just that it would be the same as accusing Steve Roach of making overly commercial music or accusing Mike G of being mercenary in how he runs Hypnos. Those are two examples, like Austere, of people who simply are not wired that way, at least from what I can tell from my vantage point (which can be wrong, of course)

Just sharing my's all good, really. Hey, A. Don't be strangers, man. 2 years is "2" long. :-)

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Doin' the right Thing?
« on: October 15, 2011, 01:31:00 PM »
Thanks for the review, Darren. I may see it second run or watch it on DVD, but as someone who LOVES the John Carpenter version (have watched between 10-15 times, probably), I just think I will find this unnecessary and even redundant. But, since reading your review, I will not dismiss it out of hand.

"Oh, I'm a real light sleeper, Chiles."

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Movie trailers worth a look
« on: October 13, 2011, 10:43:03 AM »
I completely agree with you, Mike, about re-boots. I was shocked that the new Spiderman is a re-boot. I mean, WTF? Batman Begins and Casino Royale were good examples of re-boots that worked, IMO.

So many people hated the third X-Men movie and I thought it was "okay" so I'm curious if anyone wants to say why it sucked so bad. Admittedly, I stopped reading X-Men WAY before the whole Dark Phoenix storyline emerged, so maybe I am missing something here. Was it just because of Xavier getting killed? Also, no mention of the Fantastic Four movies, Mike? Probably because they sucked too? As a HUGE fan of the comic in the silver age, I certainly thought they sucked. Talk about abysmal casting!!! And Doctor Doom was supposed to be the FF's Joker, right? They completely missed the point of Doom, IMO. I always thought Lucas was somewhat influenced by Doom when he created the look of Darth Vader.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Movie trailers worth a look
« on: October 12, 2011, 01:11:09 PM »
Yeah, count me interested in this. I LOVED the Iron Man movies so am glad to see that Tony Starkplays a prominent role. I also enjoyed the Thor movie, too, despite myself (I thought the whole "fish out of water" bit when Thor came to Earth would be campy but it played out quite nicely, to my surprise). I never even saw the second Hulk film and isn't this the THIRD actor to play Bruce Banner? I have never been a Hulk fan, though, despite that I "came of age" reading the silver age of Marvel comics in the 60s and early 70s. I still haven't seen the Captain America movie (hope to see it soon as it's still in second run theaters here in Mpls). Can't say I was a HUGE Cap fan in my comic reading days, either, and if he never wears his mask (as it looks like in the trailer), well, it's not really "Cap" then, is it?  ;) And, while I love Samuel L Jackson, I just can't totally buy him as Nick Fury (at least not the Nick Fury who led the Howling Commandos). Speaking of which, no matter how bad Jackson may or may not be, he will NEVER approach the level of badness that David Hassellhoff did in that WRETCHED TV film, Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, which was abysmal.

I also haven't seen X-MEN First is that? Good, "meh," or bad?

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: October 11, 2011, 02:36:41 PM »
Received an gift certificate and picked up the re-mastered and expanded Soft Machine Third CD. I hadn't listened to it in years since all I had was the LP (was waiting for a definitive re-master which this is). Two observations: One, this was WAY ahead of its time in the genre of progressive fusion, IMO. It STILL sounds fresh, exciting, and innovative. Two, HOW THE HELL did I like THIS music when I was only 16 years old (which is when I bought the original double LP)? I remember playing this for some girlfriends in high school - YIKES! What could THEY have thought?

Robert Wyatt's "Moon in June" is one of the most brilliant vocal songs of all time. "Facelift" explores some of the radical jazz fusion territory that King Crimson did on "21st Century Schizoid Man." And the other two long tracks are also startlingly original. The second CD in the package is a live concert which I haven't listened to yet.

Over the last two years or so, I find more and more that I don't take the time to go see movies in theaters much any more, except for blockbusters and even not so much those any more. My TV is modest (37 inch LCD 1080i/120mHz), so it's not like I get that great an experience watching at home. And here in Mpls, you can still see movies on first run, at matinees, for as cheap as $5-$6. I can't really explain what is driving this shift in my behavior.

I am shocked at the big action flicks I haven't seen in theaters recently (which is how these films should be seen, right?), when I used to see ALL "big event" pictures that way. For example, I didn't go see Captain America, or X-Men: First Class, or Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, to name just a few of the summer biggies. I just can't seem to get motivated to get in the car, drive the 20 minutes or so to theater, get there at 10 minutes prior to get a decent seat (I'm picky that way), etc. I'd rather wait and get it at redbox or through netflix. I know when I upgrade the set to a 50 incher, which I hope to do next year sometime, I will be even less inclined, since then my blu-ray player will really make a difference.

I also admit that with how rude people are now (cell phone conversations, talking loudly during the movie, coming in late, bringing bratty kids, talking back to the screen), that also enters into the equation.

So, how many of you here have switched to watching more movies at home and less in the theaters? Am in the minority or are more folks opting for not going out but staying in and waiting until the films get on DVD or streaming?

Projekt was kind enough to send me a review copy of this (I've reviewed Steve's last 3-4 releases on that label, I think) and I am now listening to disc 1...and I have what may be a controversial opinion.

What with the nature sounds, the warm melodicism, the twinkling bell tones that comprise most of this first disc...I can think of more than a few new age music CDs that sound like this. Granted, Steve is operating in a more minimalist vein here than some of the more syrupy n.a. artists, but's not a stretch by any means to call this first disc "classic" new age music. I know I am the resident (here and elsewhere) defender of new age music, and maybe disc 2 and 3 see Steve go in a decidedly different direction, but the warmth and "positivity" in this music (which I find immensely appealing and satisfying) makes me wonder if some "hard core" ambientphiles wouldn't enjoy some new age music that comes mighty close to this classic album.

Just my musings...not looking for anything approaching an argument. Feel free to disagree...but I KNOW there are some folks who are ambient fans who also LOATHE nature sounds set against music (it's one of their frequent bitches about the new age genre) and if you are one of them, avoid this CD (or at least disc 1) 'cause it has bird song and flowing water aplenty!

BTW, the CD (so far) is taking a walk through a forest alongside a brook with sunlight peaking through the canopy of trees now and can really float away with this music.

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Samsara (follow up to Baraka)
« on: October 02, 2011, 09:14:15 PM »
As someone who saw Koyansquatsi (sp?) in a theater when it first came out and did the same with Baraka (and I own that DVD), I am looking forward to seeing this, but I wonder if it's just more of the same, in a way. No doubt it will be visually stunning - after all, Fricke is a genius, but I hope it's not just an amalgam of Koyansquatsi and Baraka, because in a way, that's what it sounds like. Still, I will certainly see it if it comes to the Twin Cities.

I really dislike the latest changes to Facebook in how my friends' news displays. As a result, I might not visit FB for 2-3 days at a time whereas previously, it'd be up to 5-10 times a day. Why they keep changing things is a mystery to me.

Jeff Pearce called me about a half hour ago, Bill, and we talked about you!


I figured it would be Pearce....I've been waiting for that sonuvabitch to invite me to Indiana for a beer for over a dozen years. But no! Well, I'm done being his lackey. He can just get someone else to provide hero worship, admiration, genuflection and worship...

Just kidding, Jeff.....need your car washed?  ;D

Maybe I could have worded it little more artfully, but I think there is more of a danger of the artist's own selectivity (or, to be more blunt, posting only positive reviews) if the reviews are filtered through the artist first.  Who would want to post a negative review of their own work?


Reviews in general are also not a problem for me, but I think it can be tricky when posting reviews of your own work.  As a potential consumer, I'd rather hear from the listeners or reviewers directly.

I was reading this several times and still donīt understand it.

The usual progress is: reviews are made from 3rd persons like website, blogs magazines, it makes a difference for you if a customer or the reviewer post the same review instead of the artist?  ???

True, agree on this point!

On the other hand, critical reviewers are very care in today...actually i got a very "nice" response back after asking for sending demos. I will be "fair" and not mention the name here, even a lot of people know this person and the radio station behind but the answer was...yes, sent me your stuff, but i charge 10$ for each review...isnīt it a great answer? Just imagine what happened if iīve sent 30$?  ;D ;D

Useless to say itīs not worth to support this nonsense.

I hate to say it but I have heard of this practice and it saddens me. I have been paid to write liner notes and press releases and bios, and in fact I actively solicit the opportunity to to do so (in case anyone needs something done) as I think I have a knack for it, as well as layout skills for one sheets. But I have never taken a dime from an artist or a label for a review and never will.

I wouldn't criticize a reviewer if he/she asked for a fee IF they are not being paid to review, and most are not...but it does cast a suspicious light on the nature of the review - obviously.

I also understand that when artists post reviews, it can be the case of hand-picking the best...but on the other hand, some reviewers simply don't circulate their reviews either. Some artists ask me to post my review on CDBaby or Amazon and others do it themselves or don't post it period. I don't mind being asked to do so and am surprised more people don't ask. Sometimes, I think my posting reviews seems, somehow, that I'm blowing MY horn, not the artist's! (okay...poor choice of words on my part  :o ).  So I don't post many any more. I have reviewed some ambient CDs for New Age Retailer, e.g. The Road Eternal, but I guess I'm afraid that since the review is in New Age Retailer, people here wouldn't be interested in what I wrote....guess I've gotten insecure in my old age.


On a totally random tangential note here, and I do mean random and tangential, John's earlier statement: "The people that know me really well... text me - or message me - or google talk me - or facebook chat me - or rM.ning chat me - live and instant. "
prompts me to ask the following:

How many of us IN THIS COMMUNITY (and I also include members who only occasionally or even never post here but are mentioned here frequently, e.g. Robert Rich) ever talk by phone any more? Back in the days of W and W the magazine and even the early days of the website (2000-2002), I FREQUENTLY spoke to folks on the phone. During the magazine, I think Mike and I talked at least once a month. I know I spoke to Howard Givens at Spotted Peccary, Jeff Pearce, Barry Craig (RIP), Lloyd Barde, and many more on a regular basis. But how many here still do that? Do members, who have known each other for years, ever call each other any more or is it all via electronic media? I think the ONLY person I speak to on the phone any more is the promoter Ed Bonk, Jamie Bonk's dad, who runs Lazz Promotions.

Frankly, I miss it. It's ironic (or is it? maybe... after Alanis M, I can never be sure) that I FINALLY got Comcast digital voice with unlimited long distance and now I never have to call anyone!  ::)

Back in the magazine days, my long distance bill was HUGE every month.

Just it all text, email, FB, etc? Do we reserve our personal contact for the rare face-to-face? My last contact face to face with ANYONE in this community was with SunDummy when we had a beer together then attended the Robert Rich concert at the Cedar Cultural Center in Mpls at least 6 or more years ago...hell, it might've been 8 years.

Gee, I'm rambling again...see? You get what you wished Gene Wilder said to Terry Garr in Young Frankenstein...."HAPPY?"

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