PCR past banners
Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #234  (Vol. 5, No. 38)  This edition is for the week of September 13--19, 2004.

What’s In A Name? A Look at the Origin of Names of Florida’s Towns and Counties J to K....Happy 20th Anniversary, Miami Vice
 by William Moriaty
"Sky Captain and The World Of Tomorrow"
 by Mike Smith
First Look: Rio Carbon MP3 Player....Fanzine Memoirs....Couch Potato Notes
  by Vinnie Blesi
Open Letter from "The Association of Ex-Headbangers Turned Republicans"
 by Andy Lalino
Teachers Aren't In It Alone....Centrist? No For Nader!....Nothing Is Better Than Football Season
 by Brandon Jones
Trib Article Misses The Mark....OOOO, What A Lucky Man--He Was....Bush Speak
 by Matt Drinnenberg
It's Just Emotion Taking Me Over....Love That Bill....Please be Our Friends....The Nominees Are....Just Good Old Boys....Union Rules....Hey, Rowengardner--You Suck!....Happy Birthday To Me....Meet The Beatles, Part 34
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Couch Potato Confessions by Vinnie B.

First Look: Rio Carbon MP3 player
I have wanted a MP3 player for a couple of years now. Not having the money to spend I have had to live with my portable CD player instead. Ultimately I wanted something I could put in my shirt pocket and that would hold enough music. As an anti-Apple guy, there was no way I was getting an I-Pod mini.

Due to the recent sale of my house I had some disposable income, and decided to buy a MP3 player. Falling to the marketing machine of Rio I purchased a Limited Edition of their newly available Rio Carbon MP3 player. Limited to 500 units, I got unit 333, which is only fitting, as that is half of 666. The initial run of Carbons seem to be almost sold out everywhere, as it seems that only Best Buy received inventory besides the 500 LE editions. Basically what we have here is a public beta testing of the new Rio product.

First off the unit is sleek, cool, and small, and will fit in my shirt pocket. The unit sports a Seagate 5GB hard drive in that small container. The best selling point to me is that the unit can be hooked up to a Windows XP computer and it will be recognized as a removable drive. You can then drag and drop your files directly onto the device. The Rio ships with their “Rio Music Manager” which I will not be installing so look elsewhere for reviews of their proprietary software. The unit is also compatible with the new Windows Media Player 10, which I will also not be using. I use the free media player from www.quinnware.com.

So after charging the battery, I loaded up the Carbon to bear with over 700 mp3 files. This took about 15-20 minutes using USB 2. One of the purported advantages to using the Rio software is that you can sync and only upload changes, but I am a software minimalist and will manually manage my files.

Sound Quality: I would rate sound quality in the excellent range. Whether listening through 3 different sets of headphones or through computer speakers, the quality was clear and sufficient to these rock-damaged ears. The built in EQ’s were a bit of a waste, however it does include a built-in graphic EQ, which is quite useful.

Ease of Use: the front controls and menus could not be easier. Now if only digital camera makers could follow suit and make their products as easy to use.

Music control: The music menus lets you choose shuffle or repeat and offers options to Play all, Play artist, Play genre, Play year, or Play newest.

Other features: The unit is also a voice recorder, which I haven’t used yet. But it could capture that hit song that is sloshing around in my head. The unit is also a stopwatch; don’t ask me why.

Note: This is a brand new product featuring new technology such as the mini hard-drive. Whether this product will hold up is something that only time will tell.

Pros: Small size, Wow Factor, Holds 5 GB of music, Sound Quality, Ease of use. Long battery life: Rio claims 20 hours; I have seen claims on the Internet of between 16-23 hours of battery life.
Cons: Initial units have a problem with headphone jacks that have a metal connector at the end of the plug, creating static. The supplied ear buds or most Walkman-type headphones do not have this problem. There are work arounds to this on the web. The Unit only supports mp3 or wma files, but I don’t use ogg so I don’t care. No battery replacement, just like the IPod. Unit is too small to get women (however if any single woman would like to see my Carbon please email).

Conclusion: I have had the Rio Carbon a week now and am having a blast with it. Hopefully, the small form factor holds together. Oh yea, the unit also supports the Audible book format, and as such makes a great addition for anyone into audio books.

Next: Couch Potato revisits legal music websites, Napster and emusic.

Fanzine Memoirs.
In 1977 I published a comic fanzine called Advent. Subsequently I went on to publish Advent #2 and Gazette (with Ben Gregory). This ongoing feature will contain my thoughts and musings of those times.

Part Two: I go to New York and learn what a saddle stapler is.

I had purchased some unpublished early artwork by artist Klaus Janson. The artwork came in an original envelope that had his address (or what turned out to be his mom’s address). I wrote to this address stating that I had purchased the artwork and was going to publish it in Advent. The letter went to Mr. Janson’s Mom who forwarded it on to him. Shortly thereafter I received a reply from Klaus Janson. He was not at all pleased that this early work was going to be published, even though it was excellent work. As a compromise he consented to give me an interview and exchange the unpublished fan artwork for actual comic pages.

Luck was certainly with me, as my Father had a trip planned to visit relatives in the Bronx NY. So a naïve sixteen-year-old who had never been out of his native Tampa Fl. hitched a ride with his Dad to NY to interview Klaus Janson.

I am forever grateful to Mr. Janson for inviting me to his apartment in Greenwich Village and taking me out to lunch in the Village for the interview. It was a dream come true for a teen from the south who was being exposed to real culture for the first time. At the end of day with some original Marvel artwork in tow I made my way back to the Bronx, with my first and only interview with a real comic book artist. This interview also led much credibility to the success of the first issue of Advent.

Now with the editorial contents of Advent number One ready, it was time to go to press. When I started to price printing costs it turned out that the real expense involved was the folding and stapling of the magazine itself. I could afford the printing costs with what I had saved but the collating and stapling charges were a killer and threatened to put an end to the fanzine dream.

After doing a little research I found out that I needed what was called a saddle stapler (a special stapler that is big enough to staple the spine of publications), if I wanted to collate the magazine myself. Back in the pre-Office Depot days, there was a local office supply company named Hook and Holsinger, where I was able to order the above-mentioned stapler.

By this time I had begun making local contacts with other fans, either through the Andromeda Society, a local sci-fi club, or through the now famous original “Book Nook”, where our own esteemed editor worked. My memory is unclear as to who helped, but I had a stapling and collating party to assemble the fanzine. If you remember helping with this please email and share your experiences.

So finally thanks to friends I had met through fan publications, as well as fans locally who physically helped assemble the ‘zine, the first issue of Advent was born in the summer of 1977.

Next: Advent #2, the tour de force.

Couch Potato notes:
I promised to review the new CGI animated series “Father of the Pride”. Unfortunately I felt that the debut episode was such a pile of lion doo doo, that I will not be mentioning it anymore.

Look for the season premiere of “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” the weekend of Sept. 24th.

Until next time, Keep the cathode ray homefires burning.

“I am a uniter, not a divider.” George W Bush

"Couch Potato Confessions" is ©2004 by Vinnie B.  Couch Potato main graphic by Vin Blesi and Nolan Canova.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.