December 30, 2006


I started uploading pictures to my Flickr account if you want to check it out...

Posted by Fungii at 09:36 PM

December 26, 2006

Portable DVD Player

Mustek MP72

I bought a portable DVD player on the weekend, a Mustek MP72. It has a 7" screen but it's not that portable as it's kind of big and bulky. It must weigh 2 or 3 pounds, maybe more. The dimensions are: 15.5(W) x 4.1(H) x 21.0(D) cm. Note the height, it's rather thick. Also, the battery is seperate and it's this huge, ugly block that attaches to the top edge of the player. The cover that pops up when you eject a DVD is rather flimsy, made of cheap plastic. One good thing about it is that it seems to play Xvid files just fine. It also plays MP3 files and displys photos, although I haven't tested out that functionality yet.

The screen is 16:9 and 4:3 material can be viewed in stretched mode or pillarbox. The screen looks fairly good, although you can see the individual pixels sometimes. I had to turn up the brightness a notch as well, the default settings are a bit too dark. The sound is too low, you need to have it cranked to the max for decent audio. It does have a headphone jack which works a lot better than the tiny, built-in speakers.

The menu system is almost identical to the one on my RJ-Tech DVD player, which was great as I am already familiar with it. Although it is a bit cludgy at times. The unit has only very basic controls on the player, you need to use the supplied remote to do anything more complicated than play or stop. It's a tiny, credit card sized remote powered by a watch battery. This unit can output progressive scan and digital audio, but you would need special cables to do that and they are not supplied with the player.

Despite all its shortcomings, I am fairly happy with the player as it only cost $69.99. My main gripes would be its size and weight.

Update: I tried the audio/video input and it works, although you use the same cord as output. So it can only take output from the back of a receiver or DVD player, not the cord from a Gamecube or PS2. Although you could probably get an adapter of some kind if you really wanted to do that. Battery longevity seems pretty good, I watched a full movie the other day and it still had power to watch some more crap. It should be good, considering the size of the damn thing!

Posted by Fungii at 09:49 AM

December 11, 2006

Three Faces of Torment

Anyways, before I went on my TCM vs. AMC rant, I was going to talk about the three cool flicks I've had the pleasure of watching recently. They are all black and white films.

The first is Eyes without a Face [Les Yeux sans visage], a French film from 1960. I've heard about this one mostly from Billy Idol's song of the same name. I knew the title of the song came from some weird French film and I always wanted to check it out. The story is about a girl whose face is disfigured in a car accident. Her father is a plastic surgeon who keeps kidnapping unsuspecting young girls, with the help of his assistant, only to surgically remove their faces so he can transplant them to his daughter. But the operations always end in failure. It's very much ahead of it's time, but I'm sure it had much more of an impact in 1960 than it does today. Still, it's a pretty creepy, haunting film. The girl looks freaky with her mask on. They show a fair amount of the transplant operation. And it's just too fucking weird to think of these young girls being put to sleep and then waking up with bandages on their heads because their faces have been removed! It reminds me somewhat of the movie Les Diabolique. Not sure why, different stories, although they're both French "horror" movies in black & white from the same period. And good movies, too.

Eyes without a face

The next movie I watched was The Face of Another [Tanin no kao], a Japanese film from 1966. Although I liked Eyes without a Face, I thought this film was even better. Holy crap, it's weird! This guy gets in an industrial accident that disfigures his face. He wears bandages all the time and his wife treats him differently now that he's a freak! He gets a doctor to manufacture a life-like mask that he can wear in public, and incidentally appear as a different person. The guy is weird, the doctor is even stranger and they don't seem to like each other. The doctor keeps talking about how the mask is going to take over his personality and the guy is like "Man, why don't you just shut the fuck up and leave me alone?"

I don't want to post too many spoilers, but he does try out the mask on his wife to see if she recognizes him. There is also a parallel storyline about a disfigured girl that you think is going to intersect with the main storyline, but it never does. This movie was filmed in a real "arty" way with some shots that seem completely disconnected from the story they were telling and other shots freezing into stills with no movement. And they did some shit with the sound, where when the doctor is having a private conversation with his patient, all the ambient sound fades away for awhile, and then comes back when the conversation is over. I could go on and on, there is so much weird shit in this movie, but it never distracts from the story. In fact, it kind of adds to the eeriness of the piece. The endings of both stories get pretty out there too. I definitely recommend this movie, it's a bizarre, overlooked gem. Oh yeah, it has a brief scene of nudity, a woman's breasts. This surprised me, I didn't think TCM was allowed to show any nudity at all. And then there was the scene with the girl and her brother...

The Face of Another

The last, but certainly not the least, movie I watched was The Face behind the Mask, an American movie from 1941. Peter Lorre stars as Janos, an immigrant who comes to New York to start a new life. He's a really nice guy, but shortly after getting to the big apple, he gets stuck in a fire at his hotel and is severely disfigured. Unable to get a job because of his uglyfication, he is driven to suicide, only to be befriended by a small time crook, Dinky. They become friends and eventually partners in crime, with Janos as the boss of a small gang of crooks. But after meeting a blind girl, he has a turn of heart and tries to give up his life of crime and go straight. Oh yeah, he gets a mask so people can be in his presence without being horrifically repulsed.

This picture wasn't as intense or weird as the other two, but it was still pretty cool. Peter Lorre was really good, as well as the guy who played Dinky, George E. Stone. The story was somewhat contrived at times, but it moved along at a brisk pace and came to an interesting, if not predictable, end. It does some unusual things for pictures of the time, like sympathetic criminals. And an innocent person gets blown up. Altogether, a pretty good movie.

The Face Behind the Mask

Films with similar themes:
Ki-re-i? - 2004 Japanese horror flick - plastic surgery.
Face off - 1997 action flick - face transplant.

Any other suggestions?

Posted by Fungii at 07:47 PM


I watched 3 films in the last couple of weeks that had similar themes, namely facial disfigurement/transplants. I think I recorded them all off of TCM, too, which is such a great channel. They show their films in the original aspect ratio, uncensored, without commercials and their "station identifier" only pops up a few times for a few seconds during the show. Not only that, but Robert Osbourne comes on at the beginning [and end] of many showings and gives some background and insight on the film you are about to see. They are obviously great fans of the medium.

Contrast this with AMC, a channel I've grown to despise since it joined Shaw's lineup a month or two ago. For everything TCM does right, AMC finds a way to do it wrong. They have a large, annoying station identifier in the corner of the screen at all times during the film. Their films are almost always pan and scan. Their films are the "edited for TV" versions. I tried watching Exorcist II [III?] the other night and when this girl gets her shirt wet, they actually had the image blurred out so you couldn't see through her wet shirt! Ridiculous. The worst are the "commercials". AMC is actually commercial-free, like TCM, but they break from the film roughly every ten fucking minutes to show you the same crap over and over again. It's so-called "normal people" quoting movies they love or idiotic nobodies talking about how they somehow contributed to dreck like "Gigli". It's so fucking annoying and unnecessary. They also tend to show a lot of recent, mainstream films that I've already seen and have no interest in seeing again. TCM, on the other hand, shows a lot of older films that I've never seen and a lot of smaller art or independent films that never got much exposure. I especially like the films they've been airing on Friday nights on TCM Underground. [flash site] Good stuff.

Posted by Fungii at 07:32 PM

December 10, 2006

Verizon fails math test

I've been following this Verizon math story all weekend, it's hilarious how Verizon has let this thing snowball way out of proportion just because none of their customer support people will admit that they misquoted their rates and adjust this guy's bill. It's been posted on YouTube, the customer's blog, Metafilter, Slashdot and Digg, as well as many other sites I'm sure. The funniest thing yet is this mashup between the call's recording and Pink Floyd's Money.

Posted by Fungii at 09:41 AM