Sunday, 3 August 2008

Days in New York...


For a full explanation, please see the start of the countdown.


The Armstrong & Miller Show
A selection of random sketches thanks to YouTube, including their brilliant WWII RAF and Flanders & Swan spoof ones. Also, an absolutely exceptional one from an older series that you can see here.

At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper
Review of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Respected reviewers Roger Ebert and original collaborator Gene Siskel review the first animated Batman film spun off from the ever-popular animated series in this piece (available for free online) from around 1995, naming it second only to Burton's Batman in the screen Bat-canon (of course, this was a decade before Batman Begins).


Walking With Dinosaurs: The Live Experience
(at Madison Square Garden)
Like the TV show on which it was based, this is theoretically an educational look back at the time of the dinosaurs. In reality, the real attraction is the spectacle of seeing life-size dinosaurs moving about in the real world. Spectacular it is, enjoyable with either a childish sense of wonder that there are dinosaurs right there or a more adult appreciation of the technical skill implemented to achieve this. The scale of the show means it won't be going everywhere, but if you're into dinosaurs -- or have a child who is -- it's unmissable given the chance. (Check out the show's official site for clips.)

Apple TV

My parents just got an Apple TV for their New York apartment, and within a couple of hours I can say it's a lot of fun. Movie trailers from Apple in HD or videos from YouTube load up blindingly quickly -- especially those HD trailers, whose speed beggars belief -- and, while it's slightly awkward to search using the onscreen letter selection, anything that's on YouTube can be found. It's all such fun.

Apple TV also plays music, synced wirelessly with iTunes on your home PC or Mac. It's also fun to browse your music collection on your TV, flipping through the album covers (if you've bothered to acquire them of course) and playing the music out through whatever speaker system you have there -- great if you've got a surround sound setup! This syncing also allows you to get at any videos that are on your iTunes, so whether you've legally bought it or illegally downloaded it, if it's playable in your iTunes you can now play it on your TV.

It also allows you to purchase movies and TV shows from the iTunes store directly from your TV, either as rentals in SD or sometimes HD (for films), or to keep (for either). That's definitely something we'll try out sometime soon. Apparently the quality of HD movies isn't as good as Blu-ray -- it streams them, rather than spending forever downloading a Blu-ray-sized video file -- but should still be impressive. Some of the TV shows are also very reasonable priced, making them seem like fair rentals (with the full-priced ones I often wonder why not buy the harddrive-crash-proof DVD or Blu-ray instead?) You can also buy music and music videos from your Apple TV.

In all, the Apple TV is a lot of fun if you download (or would download) a lot of TV and movies and would like to properly watch them on your TV, or have a good sound setup and would love to hear all your music through it. There are other solutions, of course, but this one integrates seamlessly and works perfectly. But then, it is made by Apple, so what did you expect?