If you are lucky enough to live in the Portland, Oregon area, or happen to have an Internet connection (which I suspect you might if you’re reading this) then you had the opportunity on Thursday May, 6th, 2010 to tune into the Paula’s Picks program on KBOO FM during her program and hear her present “You Have To Be There” performed by Helen Sjöholm from the musical “Kristina.” “You Have To Be There” is written by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA. Paula Small is a friend of mine that I went to high school with and she moved to Portland and one of the fun things she does out there is host a radio program on the first and third Thursdays of every month for KBOO.
The last time I saw Paula was when she was back in town to visit some family at the end of 2008, so I took Paula to see the Xanadu production at the La Jolla Playhouse, and when I saw her online on Facebook and I said hello using the chat feature of Facebook, we ended up discussing some music. I was so excited about the live album “Kristina At Carnegie Hall” coming out and I’d just gotten it in, I sent her “You Have To Be There” to share my excitement about the show. Paula really liked the song and we both commented about how it starts out similar to “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” but ends up being a much more powerful song. Paula thought it might make a great addition to her show the following night.
I was originally planning on spending today at Disneyland with a friend and possibly some others, however my friend had to cancel earlier this week, so since I had my heart set on going up to Disneyland and I was going to be going by myself, I opted to go yesterday instead of today as it would just work out better for me. And while I was there I took the opportunity to play a wonderful iPhone app game designed to be played at Disneyland called “Wishing Stars.”
The concept of the game is that several “Wishing Stars” have been broken up and scattered throughout the Disneyland park. In order to find them, you have to take your iPhone to the location of the clues and hit the “I think I’m standing in front of it!” button. You can’t cheat because the app uses the GPS built into the iPhone to verify that you’re standing in the correct spot. It won’t accept your attempt to stand in front of the correct answer unless you actually are in front of it. Essentially its a GPS based treasure hunt. The game is the perfect addition to Disneyland for an Annual Passholder who finds themselves wanting something more to do within the park besides the rides.
Press Your Luck was one of my favorite game shows from the early 1980’s. As a child I loved all the game shows of the period but one of the ones that always stood out was the short lived Press Your Luck with it’s host Peter Tomarkin. My brother and I used to enjoy the show, probably more for the Whammies than the actual game, as we were kids at the time. We loved to see the contestants hit a Whammy and have their money taken away so we could see one of the animated Whammy graphics come on and make the money disappear. They had so many wonderfully creative ones from ones that blew up a little dynamite detonator, to Whammies dressed like Boy George and the Beatles coming in to sing a little line from a tune before taking the money away. I also loved the sound effect from when the Whammy was hit, it just sounded like a dramatic electronic “Uh-oh.”
The game consisted of a round of questions where three players compete for the right to spin on the big board and earn cash and prizes, then a round of playing the spins followed by one more round of questions and then a final round of spins on the big board. The winner at the end of the game was the player who collected the most money in cash and prizes. Part of the strategy for the big board was to spin a few times to collect enough cash and prizes then to pass on the remaining spins to another player who would have to play those spins in the hope that the passed spins would force that player to hit a Whammy to steal their cash and prizes. It was a fun and high energy show that got quite competitive and a player could hit three whammies and stay in the game. A fourth Whammy eliminated them from the game.
A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation via Socializr.com from Mike Trueblood inviting people to come celebrate the birthday of his partner, Robert Shadbolt at Disneyland. The date was for January 15th, a Friday, which normally I wouldn’t be able to do because Friday nights start my week of work at the casino. But that could be easily fixed with a time off request for a night off. I don’t usually get the chance to use my pass with friends as most of my friends have Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 type jobs and I work the middle of the night inclusive of weekends, so I jumped at the chance to share a day at Disneyland with Mike and Robert.
My requested night off was approved and I changed my “Maybe” to a definite “Yes” that I would be attending and was able to coordinate some details with them ahead of time when I saw them both at the bar on Wednesday night. The rough plan was that the guys would be there at 9 am and that I should call them around that time to coordinate locations. I was planning on being there early, but I was coming from my parent’s home in Temecula instead of from San Diego as they called me for some help setting up their brand new television for use in their home entertainment system. My folks wouldn’t let me leave in the morning without breakfast first, so I didn’t get to leave as early as I wanted.
My good friend Dan Baggett introduced me to a new iPhone/iPod Application called “Words With Friends” by NewToy, Inc. which is a game very much like Scrabble. It’s a crossword game using tiles except I’m sure to legally not infringe upon Scrabble’s copyright, all the spots for Double and Triple letter scores and Double and Triple word scores are in different spots than a traditional Scrabble board. Also the board doesn’t seem to have as many squares as a regular Scrabble board. I’ve not been a big enthusiast of Scrabble so I don’t know if the number of tiles and point values on the tiles are the same or not.
The game can only be a two player game and allows for two ways to play, it can be played on one iPhone or iPod Touch through “Pass and Play” mode or it can be remotely played with someone on another device in what is described as “asynchronous” online game play or “correspondence” play where the players play the game at their convenience, they do not have to be playing the game at the same time in order to play. There are several options on how to play with someone remotely, you can create a game to play with someone on your contact list (I’m not sure how this one works but I would imagine it sends that person an invitation to download the application.) Next, you can search for specific players by user name, which has been how I’ve played with my friends, you just enter their chosen user name and it establishes a game with that person. Lastly, you can also start a game with a random person as well by allowing the application to find you an opponent.
Milton Bradley’s (though now made by Hasbro) classic board game “Battleship” makes it’s way to Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch. Battleship was a game my brother and used to play as kids. I enjoyed the game but after having played the Electronic Battleship at a friend’s house I wanted one of those. In the electronic version the positions of the ships had to be programmed in and then when the game was played, you’d enter the grid location you wanted to strike and then pressed a fire button which would play a sound effect of a missile firing and if you actually hit something then you would hea and explosion and see a panel light up with a little red light to indicate a hit.
Many years later when hand held electronics were becoming quite popular, I bought several of the games including, Yahtzee, Connect Four, Battleship, Mastermind, and several game show games. It was handy in the bring with you and play on trips or have handy. Ultimately, the one I ended up carrying around the most was the Yahtzee game, but Battleship was probably my second favorite of the bunch. It could be played as a one player game or a two player game, but also had the fun of the sound effects of the missile launch and the hit which could be turned off if you wanted to play it in a quiet place. But they ended up being bulky to carry around as single application games. So they tend to sit in a box not being played.
I recently decided to try the Sirius XM iPhone application with their free seven day trial, and I quite liked being able to use my iPhone as an additional Sirius radio in addition to the Stiletto 100 I already use for Sirius. So naturally when the free trial expired, I decided to give Sirius a call to add on the Premium Internet access which is required to take advantage of the iPhone application.
I didn’t really want to pay more money, so I asked the customer service agent if she could just cancel the added on Best of XM package I had added on. I mainly got to hear Oprah Radio from the XM lineup of channels, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the channel very much. I wasn’t listening to any of the programs and none of the other XM stations that were added were of any interest to me, so it was kind of silly to be paying $4.04 a month extra for worthless stations. As the premium Internet add on is only $2.99 a month, it essentially means it should be no problem “downgrading” my account. Since it was all prepaid I wasn’t expecting a refund on the extra already paid.
You know movies are getting to be expensive when it costs about the same to see it on screen as it does to buy the DVD when it comes out. Talk about fleecing the hell out of consumers. In this case, it’s the insanely expensive ticket to see “Star Trek” this Thursday night on an IMAX screen at the Regal Cinema in Escondido.
I’m hoping the experience will be good because this will be the first mainstream movie I’ve seen in IMAX since “Spider-Man 3”, a couple years ago. At the time it was the premiere feature at the Edwards Cinema in Mira Mesa which was just opening it’s IMAX theatre. Basically it converted one of it’s largest theaters into an IMAX auditorium. And I caught a 6 am showing of the movie (the third screening since the midnight premiere showing) and I was a little underwhelmed by the IMAX experience. It could just be that “Spider-Man 3” was a not quite the best film, but I do think the auditorium contributed to the experience, as I felt the screen was just not size wise up to par for an IMAX experience. All my previous IMAX experiences have been at theme parks with these giant larger than life screens, and this screen just felt average. Not quite the sensory overload experience I was hoping for.
April was a phenomenal month, much better than even I could have expected. The month did get off to a slow start with a couple of really painful days that cause a few days off from the running on the treadmill and getting my taxes finished took a couple of days away from the running as well, but the second half of the month, I just stepped it up a notch and finished the month exceeding even my expectations.
As my blog readers already know, I purchased some new Nike running shoes in the last week and they’ve make the biggest difference in the world in my running. I never would have believed what a difference it could make had I not experienced it myself. A friend of mine, Antonio Roderick, recommended getting sized for running shoes and I picked Road Runner Sports to get sized for new shoes. Their evaluation of my feet determined I have high arches and and overpronate when I run, so I should pick shoes from the “Stability” category of running shoes and $70 bucks later, I had some new shoes that feel so much more supportive of my feet, and having done a few runs in them now, have relieved me of all the pain I’ve endured the last couple of months. Sounds like $70 well spent to me.
Skype officially made it’s debut in the iTunes Application Store recently. To say it was a highly anticipated application would be the understatement of the year. Some reports have indicated that the application was downloaded over a million times in the first two days it was available, approximately one download every six seconds to put it in perspective.
What’s so special about Skype? If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone service. It’s major claim to fame is it’s ability to allow users to call one another on their computers for free anywhere in the world. Skype can also be used to dial landline phones all over the globe for incredibly cheap phone rates. Calls to mobile phones can be made as well, but outside of the US and Canada, calls to mobile phones elsewhere costs a little more than calling a landline.
Well now that Skype has officially made their debut on the iPhone and iPod Touch, now there’s another avenue for making calls from these devices. In the case of the iPod Touch (2nd Generation only due to the 1st Generation not having microphone support) it brings the ability to make phone calls over a Wi-Fi network to a device not designed to make calls. I decided to pick up one of Apple’s headphones with a built in microphone that’s supports the recording ability the iPod Touch supports and give it a try.