5/5 stars (I’d rate it even higher but that 110% stuff is overused..)

Excalibur is, quite simply, the best movie in cinematic history.

When I first saw this move way back in the early 1980’s I was stunned. Most of the actors were unknowns or at least unknowns to *me*. This extraordinary movie weaves together all of the major pieces of the Arthurian legend from the sword Excalibur and Merlin through the creation of Camelot to the quest for the Holy Grail to the devastating final battle with Mordred.

One may quibble about the historical accuracy of the costumes (most notably the armour in which respect, I must admit Monty Python’s Holy Grail movie was probably much closer to the period). But the sheer wonder of that epic story being presented as a coherent whole combined with a spectacular musical score and the innocence and growth of the players make this the best film that I have seen to date.

The Aviator

4/5 stars

Who knew Leonardo DiCaprio could act? Like most folks I am intrigued by Howard Hughes. To be that wealthy and powerful and to ultimately be such a victim to your own fears and insecurities. The story is a fanciful portrayal of Hughes’ from his first appearance on the Hollywood scene up until the quasi-victorious flight of “The Spruce Goose”.

Also featured in the film was Cate Blanchett who made quite an impression as Katharine Hepburn. Especially enjoyable was Hughes’ meeting the Hepburn clan. Also taking down Alan Alda’s Senator Ralph Owen Brewster character in Senate hearings was dramatic but exultant.

Be Cool

3/5 stars

A fun romp. Uma Thurman looks very appealing even as she is terribly under utilized in this movie. I’m still swooning over her from her explosive performance in Kill Bill Volume One (not to be confused with the not so good Kill Bill Volume Two).

I think the primary appeal of this movie is that the character played by John Travolta – Chili Palmer – is just (cliche/pun warning) so cool. Nothing fazes him, he has a goal and whatever obstacles get in his way he resolutely engineers his way around or, if necessary, through them.

The movie is far more comedy than action. Best served as a rental with a cold beer.

Bizrate.com and some funny e-tailers

I was attempting to purchase a camera over the Internet. There seems to be a stock issue with this so some of the major e-tailers have already sold out. So I decided to take a look at some of the other offerings out there. In the past, I have encountered bizrate.com after I have made a purchase and thought this would be a reasonably reliable way to determine if some e-companies were trustworthy. I was a little disconcerted when I tried to find a source for this camera:

Working from the Bizrate.com search results :

I then checked out www.dbuys.com. This was a little shakier since I found nothing on them with the bbb and I found some conflicting reports about them in the newsgroups. I eventually decided to go ahead with them but they didn’t do SSL. This doesn’t bode well for an Internet storefront – it means they either couldn’t get a certificate from verisign – a bad sign that – or they are too cheap/naïve to get a certificate which means they don’t have any concern about my data. Sending my credit card info through in the clear just isn’t a good idea. Further checking their site I can see that they have a “VeriSign Secured” logo. This shows that their SSL certificate is supposed to be valid from Nov/03 through Nov/05. But try to access their site via https and you’ll find the connection is refused.

Then I decided to check out . I immediately noticed that, while the site is laid out slightly differently (graphics are modified), the actual deal for the camera was identical, right down to the confusing accessory kit offerings (though the price was different by $1). A quick “WhoIs” check shows that both IbuyDigital.com and dbuys.com are owned by the same company. Further, even though IbuyDigital.com also displays the “Verisign Secured” logo, it is also incapable of accepting https connections.

Next, www.digitalMegastore.com, surprise! same deal again as the previous two, no https ability (even though it also purports to have a valid verisign certificate. This time the WhoIs search yielded a different owner name (though with the same city / zip code) and the price was once again slightly different but the product offerings (the packages and the accessories) were all similar again to the previous two. The difference being that the price now ended in 77 cents.

Then came www.ibuyplasma.com which I didn’t even bother to check using WhoIs since that was listed in the administrative contact information section for the www.dbuys.com site. At least this site didn’t claim to be “Verisign Certified” as the previous ones did.

Checked out www.realdealshop.com. At least in WhoIs it purports to have a slightly different owner (still in Brooklyn, NY with a zip of 11223 instead of 11231), but the offerings on that page still look eerily similar to all of those above. No “Verisign Secured” logo here either and SSL connections were refused. For smiles’n’giggles I went as far into the checkout process here as to create my account and saw that the form is IDENTICAL to the one on dbuys.com.

Checked out www.bestpriceaudiovideo.com and though they had more notes indicating that “Store Pickup Available” as well as being “In Stock” well… they were out of stock..

Finally, with www.pcnation.com I was able to find a seller with both stock and SSL support. But a quick scan of the newsgroups and checking www.resellerratings.com and megapixel.bizrate.com curbed my enthusiasm for this retailer.

As an aside this has greatly reduced my opinion of bizrate.com. Having so many storefronts for a single retailer represented in their results greatly reduced my confidence in using them as a search vehicle for products.


4/5 stars

Just saw the movie “Hitch” with Will Smith.

Largely a chick-flick but enjoyable anyway. I *really* enjoyed some of the earlier scenes where Will was more suave and sophisticated but even the more tortured moments were carried off quite well. Kevin James’ moments on the screen were somewhat more cringe-worthy but then I’m not a great fan of slapstick. Still, you won’t be disappointed that you rented this one.