The Fallenposters Blog

Because the posters fell down, duh.

Posts Tagged ‘reviews

Book Review: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

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So this week I finished reading Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card.  This was my second time through the book and I have to say it is worth it.  For those who aren’t in the know, Ender’s Game is set in the far future when mankind has already been through two space wars with an alien species known as the Buggers.  It is worried that the Buggers will make a third invasion soon, so possible future commanders are being trained and prepared as early as 6 years old.  This book follows the story of one particular future genius, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin.  The book follows his training through what is called “Battle School.”  The school is a training ground to get children into the mindset of war.  Ender has many troubles through Battle School, but ultimately proves the genius he is and gets the respect he deserves, despite his age.

The one thing about Ender’s Game that I love is how these “children” act.  They aren’t children.  They never have been.  They’ve been born and bred to become killing machines.  They don’t know what its like to go outside and play.  They only know how to fight wars and win.  This image of a humanity that is so desperate to survive a future alien invasion that it will sacrifice the minds and innocence of children is haunting.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the sub-plot involving Ender’s older siblings, Valentine and Peter.  Both of these siblings are just as smart as Ender, yet they were not chosen for Battle School.  But while Ender is training to become a commander of a star-fleet, Valentine and Peter decide to change the course of world politics.  They do so by becoming two political writers known as Demosthenes (Valentine) and Locke (Peter).  Through their writings, published anonymously on the Internet, they slowly change the course of politics on Earth.  This portion of the book sent chills down my spine since this book was written in the 1980s, before the Internet and blogging were prevalent.  I think Orson Scott Card has a good eye for what can happen in the future, lets just hope that it isn’t all true.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

January 13, 2007 at 9:44 am

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My First Wegman’s Experience

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Last night Cheri and I wanted to celebrate the end of the week by making a nice dinner. We already had the pasta and some sauce, we just wanted some good bread and a good dessert to go with it. Since my co-workers are constantly raving about Wegman’s, we decided to go there.

The first thing I noticed was that it was a grocery store that had a parking garage. And on a Friday afternoon, the parking lot was pretty packed. I don’t think I could ever imagine a parking lot that size just for a grocery store.

So we walked in and we were instantly floored by the interior. The produce section was almost as large as a normal grocery store. Plus everything was fresh! We walked up and down some aisles just gawking at the selection. That, and the prices (ouch!). Even though they had an amazing variety of all foods, everything was expensive as crap.

They had an extensive organic section which impressed me (even though I don’t normally buy organic stuff, but the selection was larger than any other store I’ve seen). But what really got us was the cheese section, the bakery, and the fresh meats section. They had an amazing amount of cheeses (all in wedges or blocks, I didn’t see anything grated or shredded). Their meats (both deli and butcher) were impeccable. They had beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, game hens, and seafood. But not only were there freshly cut meats, but there were meats that were prepared to be taken home and thrown in the oven. For example, stuffed meats, seasoned meats, marinated meats, etc.
The bakery was great too. Tons of specialty desserts and breads including cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, baguettes, jewish breads, itallian breads and anything else you can imagine. All the desserts were so beautiful that you could just buy them to admire their looks instead of their tastes.

In the end we just got a loaf of ciabatta bread and some cookies and spent too much money on both. But they were worth it. Wegman’s is the type of store you go to create a special meal. Unless you have money to burn, I wouldn’t recommend shopping there for your everyday grocery needs.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

October 14, 2006 at 9:12 am

Posted in food & drink, shopping

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Podcasts I Enjoy

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Lately I’ve entered the world of podcasts. No, I’m not making a podcast, but merely just listening to some. When podcasts first came out I tried out a bunch but I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to listen to week-in and week-out. But recently I’ve dived back into it and have found some very entertaining podcasts. I would recommend any of the following podcasts. They are great and really do a good job of making the daily commute go by quicker.

Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast

I’ve seen the comedian Jimmy Pardo on sporadic television appearances and have always enjoyed his comedy. While perusing the comedy category of the podcast section in the iTunes music store, I found this lovely gem. Its a weekly, hour-long podcast featuring comedian Jimmy Pardo, comedian Mike Schmidt and producer Matt Belknap. The show has a simple format. The three of them sit around the kitchen table in Jimmy’s house and banter for an hour. They tell stories from their lives, make fun of people, and make humorous observations about everyday things. Its kind of like you and a group of your buddies sitting around shooting the breeze. And it happens that you and your buddies are really funny.

The Relevant Magazine Podcast

I’ve been a fan of Relevant Magazine for a few years now. I was introduced to it by my wife, Cheri, while she was working at a Christian bookstore. It is a great magazine that observes popular culture through the lens of christianity. The greatest thing about the magazine is that it doesn’t try to pander to the ultra right-wing conservative view of Christianity that, unfortunately, is what dominates much of the Christian culture. But instead takes an honest look at culture and the Christian faith.

In the same manner, the podcast accomplishes this as well. It has a very similar format to Never Not Funny. It is a roundtable discussion between four editors of the magazine and website. They discuss the week’s new releases in music and film. Then they proceed to “the weekly slices.” This is where the editors each pick an news story from the week and give their opinions on the subjects. Mostly the stories are strange, off-beat, and hilarious. The show typically then has either an interview or some other type of non-standard bit related to the magazine. Then the show ends with a discussion of listener feedback followed by the editorial question of the week (and yes, there is a little jingle that goes with that). This is a great podcast to listen to and it makes me feel like that there are people out there just like me.

The Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack

If you couldn’t tell by now, I love the TV series Lost on ABC. It should be quite easy to understand that I would listen to a podcast about the show. The only reason I listen to a podcast about Lost rather than other TV shows I watch is because of the geekdom that is associated with the show. There are people that take notes while watching the show. They create theories and look for easter eggs that will help explain what the heck is going on. This podcast is dedicated to discussing these things.

The podcast typically has two episodes a week, each an hour long. One episode is recorded right after Lost airs on television. This episode recounts what happens in the show and then discusses it. Then the other episode looks forward to the next airing of Lost and discusses theories on what will happen, takes listener calls, and discusses other things Lost related. The podcast is full of great discussion and is very entertaining.

All Songs Considered

This podcast is NPR’s online music show. It is hosted by Bob Boilen (who has a very soothing voice) and usually runs between thirty and sixty minutes. The show features music from all genres–and I mean all genres. Boilen will introduce new music from around the country and the world. If you love good music and are willing to open your ears to something you typically wouldn’t listen to, then this is a great show for you. It has given me a lot of new artists to look for when it comes to finding new music. The show also allows you to submit your own music to be considered for the show. There are submission guidelines on the website.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

October 12, 2006 at 12:28 pm

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Lost – A Tale of Two Cities

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Last Wednesday was the season three premier of Lost. Since Cheri and I finished watching season two on DVD (in a rental marathon via Redbox and Netflix) a couple weeks ago, we were itchin’ for some tropical island madness.

Note: If you haven’t seen last week’s season three premier, then quit reading now since I will discuss some major spoilers.

At the end of season two, we found three of the main characters (Jack, Kate, and Sawyer) captured by the questionably hostile group known as The Others. Thus, the third season will probably mostly focus on The Others.

I thought the opening scene to the season three premier was incredible. I loved being able to watch Oceanic flight 815 crashing from the perspective of The Others. The entire scene just set such a creepy and intriguing mood for the rest of the episode and season. Are we finally going to learn about The Others? Who are they? How did they get to the island? How long have they been there?

And with the return of Lost comes the return of my newest favorite character, Ben/Henry Gale. Or, as many have already fondly referred to as Benry. Michael Emerson’s portrayal of Benry is amazing. I loved him in Saw and wonder why this man hasn’t become a cult superstar by now.

In the season three premier, we find Jack, Kate and Sawyer kept separated. Jack is in a glass-enclosed cell. Sawyer is in what looks like a human-sized Skinner box. And Kate is taken to shower and then to dine with Benry.

As I listened to the Lost Podcast with Jay and Jack this week, some of their comments on the season three premier made me think.

  • Oceanic Flight 815 was supposed to land on the island, not crash.

This comment came via speculation that perhaps the people on the flight were meant to come to the island to be new test subjects in the Dharma Initiative. How could this happen? The only conceivable way is if everyone on the flight had someone close to them that worked for the Dharma Initiative and they created situations in the passenger’s lives that led them to taking that flight. This could explain how Juliette had a full dossier on Jack’s life.

It could also explain The Others’ hostility toward the survivors. If the plane was supposed to land, then perhaps The Others were meant to go home after a “shift change.” And since the plane crashed, they are just as trapped as the survivors are. This may be why there are orientation videos at all the stations on the island.

  • Why did Tom say that Kate was “not his type”?

Some of the speculation from Jay and Jack was that perhaps Tom may be an unknown relative of Kate’s–perhaps an uncle or a brother. Could this be why Kate isn’t his type? Or is he just gay? If Tom is related to Kate, it could be another clue as to how the Dharma Initiative is connected to the survivors of the flight.

These are just a few of my thoughts about the season three premier. All I know is I can’t wait to see Benry and Locke duke it out in a balding, middle-aged cage match.

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Written by Eric Spiegel

October 11, 2006 at 9:00 am

Posted in media & arts

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Product Review: Redbox

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This past weekend, Cheri and I got into a Lost: Season 2 marathon of sorts. I got the first disc of the second season of Lost while Cheri got the first disc of the first season of Veronica Mars. So we alternated watching each show (both of which I would highly recommend). We have gotten so addicted to Lost that after we finished the first disc, we ran out to Giant (a grocery store here in NOVA) and rented discs 2 and 3 from the new Redbox that has been installed there.The Redbox is a vending machine that you can rent DVDs from. They currently only have them in select locations across the US (mostly at McDonalds), but they happen to have just installed them in many Giants in this area. The concept is that you look through their inventory, pick a movie you want to rent, swipe your credit card, and it spits it out. It charges $1 per night and after 25 nights, you own the DVD. You can return the DVD to any Redbox (not just the one you got it from).

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I think its a really innovative way to be able to rent DVDs and I think it will come in handy for Cheri and I when we’re in between Netflix movies. The only downside is that it only has new releases that have come out in the last month or two. So if you wanted to rent a gem such as Battlefield Earth, then you would have to go through a traditional movie rental service. Or your local scientology center.

(Photo taken from this article at Boston.com)


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Written by Eric Spiegel

September 11, 2006 at 9:49 pm

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To Bob Ross, With Love

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Bob Ross at his easel.Recently I’ve been watching Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting on PBS almost everyday. There is something about his voice that just soothes me. It helps me calm down, relax, and not stress out about the everyday things. I can just sit down, watch him paint happy little trees and beat the devil out of his paintbrush and I just experience a calm.

And it isn’t that I’m a painter or wish to really become one, I just enjoy his easy-going personality. If I could get audio recordings of him and play them at night then I would probably sleep better.

If you don’t watch Bob Ross, I recommend it. His show is very theraputic.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

September 1, 2006 at 12:41 pm

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Product Review: Linens ‘n’ Things Chrome Plunger

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During a small toilet crisis in our new apartment, Cheri and I realized that we didn’t have a plunger. We had one at the old apartment, but we forgot to bring it with us. (I think it actually belonged to one of the maintenance workers at Price, but I can’t recall its exact origins.) Thus we needed to get new plunger—to fix our current crisis (read: a flooding bathroom) and avoid any new problems.

Walking around the enormous Linens ‘n’ Things in Fair Oaks, I only had one thought in my head: “Why can’t they make this store more user friendly?” There are no signs indicating what items are in what sections. There aren’t even aisles—just large rooms with similar items. But I couldn’t figure out if the plungers would be in the section with the toothbrush holders, or the section with the shower curtains. They’re both bathroom items, but neither uniquely belong in the toilet like a plunger.

After my first attempt to find plungers I only found toilet brushes. Begrudgingly leaving the store, I called up Cheri and she explained to me that the plungers would probably be disguised as toilet brushes. She informed me that people who buy plungers at stores like this want them to be decorative and not look like a plunger. I think this is meant to keep guests thinking that the homeowners are perfect wipers and always use the correct amount of paper.

Re-entering the store, I go directly to the toilet brush section and indeed find plungers disguised as toilet brushes in canisters. Unfortunately this causes the plunger price to well exceed its actual value—but we needed one, and we needed one now.

Arriving in its new home, our Linens ‘n’ Things Chrome Plunger immediately went to work. Its plunger head felt a little small compared to the orifice in the toilet bowl; but after a little cajoling, it performed its function to its fullest capabilities. Now Cheri and I no longer have to worry about an overflowing toilet. Plus its fine etched detail makes the toilet area look posh and sophisticated. But is that what we really need from our toilets? I think that may be asking too much, especially what we use them for. Eww.


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Written by Eric Spiegel

August 3, 2006 at 10:26 am

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