WordPress Resources at SiteGround

July 28, 2010 in Uncategorized by pacejmiller

WordPress is an award-winning web software, used by millions of webmasters worldwide for building their website or blog. SiteGround is proud to host this particular WordPress installation and to provide the following resources, which facilitate the creation of WP websites:

WordPress tutorial
The WordPress tutorial at SiteGround shows how and where to actually start creating your blog site. It includes installation and theme change instructions, management of WordPress plugins, upgrade and backup manuals, and more.

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The WordPress theme gallery at SiteGround contains a rich collection of free to use WordPress themes. The themes are suitable for any type of blog and are easy to customize for the particular use the webmaster might need.

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SiteGround servers are fully-optimized to accommodate WordPress-powered websites. Free installation of WordPress is also included in the hosting services provided by SiteGround.

YouTube Movie Review: Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell

July 28, 2010 in Basketball, Movie Reviews, NBA, Sport by pacejmiller

Move over Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs The New York Knicks. Move over More Than A Game.  Move over Hoop Dreams (okay, maybe not Hoop Dreams, but definitely the other two). Hooked: The Legend of Demetrius “Hook” Mitchell is now my favourite basketball documentary.

I first heard about the legendary Hook Mitchell several years ago when the film was released (around 2004), but I had totally forgotten about it.  Last night, I somehow re-stumbled across this sad but redemptive documentary on YouTube (the entire film is there in 7 parts) and ended up watching the whole thing.  If you ‘ve ever watched an entire movie on YouTube, you’ll know that the movie has to be really good to sustain your attention.

Hook Mitchell is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player never to make the NBA. His talent and ability on the basketball court is considered unparalleled by some of the all-time greats of the game.  When guys like future Hall of Famers Gary Payton and Jason Kidd and multiple NBA champion Brian Shaw all say that there was no question that Hook was better than them, that’s saying something.  Hook has won countless dunk contests.  He’s dunked over cars and groups of kids.  He’s done 360 dunks over motorcycles.  And he’s only 5’9″.  (Hook started dunking at 5’3″ and was dunking in games at 5’5″!)

So why isn’t Hook Mitchell, the playground legend from Oakland, dominating the NBA right now?

Well, for starters, when the documentary was filmed (around 2003), Hook was serving time in prison for armed robbery.  This is a guy who had all the talent in the world but threw it all away because of a bad environment, bad influences and bad decisions.

For every Gary Payton and Jason Kidd, there’s a Hook Mitchell out there.  Hook could have played for millions in the NBA but didn’t have the self-control and discipline to stay away from all the negative things in his life.  Watching the documentary, you really do feel for him.  Hook’s mother was shooting up in front of him when he was just a toddler, and she was out of his life before he could remember.  His brother was a drug kingpin in his neighbourhood.  He grew up surrounded by crime, gangs, pimps and drugs.  He hardly went to class but his teachers falsified his records so he could play basketball.  Drug dealers gave him a gram of coke for every dunk he performed in a game.  It was as though he never had a chance.

Having said that, Hook had no one to blame but himself.  He had plenty of opportunities to turn his life around.  Others in similar situations (such as Payton and Kidd) have managed to do it.  People that cared about him all tried to straighten his path, but Hook pushed them away.

This documentary by William O’Neill and Michael Skolnik is very impressive.  It’s pieced together by extended interviews with Hook himself (in prison) and those who have shaped his life — including NBA stars Payton, Kidd and Shaw, as well as Drew Gooden and Antonio Davis (one of my favourite players growing up).  There are plenty of highlights of Hook tearing up the courts and throwing down one insane dunk after another.  The footage from Hook dominating the prison leagues is particularly riveting because even at 35 he was doing some amazing things on the court, not just throwing down ridiculous jams but also making even the most difficult moves seem natural and easy.  It makes you wonder the type of beast he could have been had he not been perpetually stoned and instead continued to work on his game.

The film is only 65 minutes and has very little repetition (unlike most other sport documentaries out there).  The interviews are candid and the basketball footage is exciting.  Watching Hook reflect on his life with that deep regret and sorrow in his eyes was particularly moving.  The documentary has a strong message and is ultimately a story of redemption.  Do yourself a favour and watch it now!

4.25 stars out of 5

Here’s the trailer:

PS: For those wanting to find out more, here are a couple of interviews with Hook following the release of the film (IGN and TLChicken) and a SI article.

Update: Buying more books than I can read!

July 28, 2010 in Blogging, Book Reviews, On Writing by pacejmiller

Recently I’ve been enjoying the idea of reading books more than actually reading the books themselves.  I don’t know why that is.  I love the feeling of browsing a bookstore for hours, randomly picking up books with interesting covers, those recommended by staff, or those classics that I’ve never had the chance to read.  It makes me feel motivated and makes me want to write (though I rarely ever do anything worthwhile as a result).

Today I bought another couple more at this cheap bookstore (selling “specials” only), bringing my total book purchases for the year to more than 20.

But the problem is, I’m not reading nearly as much as I want to or should be. Including books I’ve borrowed off others and the free ones I’ve received for review, I’ve only read a dismal 12 books for the year (according to the reviews I’ve got on this blog).  I’ve still got 3 or 4 books borrowed from others that I am yet to read.

It’s not like I don’t have the time.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I used to read more when I was working full time.  Every day I’d get at least half an hour on the train, sometimes a whole hour if I didn’t work late (rare, but it happened).

Another problem is that I’ve been having trouble getting into books lately.  I’d be stuck on the first chapter for days and only read sporadic chunks every second or third day.  I’m not sure if it’s because I had been reading too many short stories and extracts of novels for my writing course over the last few months and it’s put me off long stories.  Or perhaps I’m starting to realise what good writing is like and I’ve become too picky with the stuff I’ve been reading.  Either way, it’s frustrating.  Perhaps I need a really good book to help me get back into the swing of things.

Nevertheless, class recommences next week.  This semester is all serious, non-fiction stuff.  Lots and lots of non-fiction reading.  Maybe that’ll help me redevelop my interest in fiction.

I was reading Anne Rice’s autobiography at the same bookstore today and she said that she was a horrible reader until later in life, even though she acquired a masters in English literature.  So maybe there’s hope for me.

PS: I’m finally starting to submit stuff for external publication.  Nothing substantial, just short reviews, etc, but at least it’s a start.

The Last Lunch: Yung Kee Restaurant

July 28, 2010 in Food, Hong Kong, Travel by pacejmiller

And so we’ve come to our last meal in Hong Kong, a quick lunch near Central before we had to take the Airport Express to head back to Australia.  It was our intention to leave the best for last, and Yung Kee‘s glowing reputation as one of the top places to eat in Hong Kong (and it’s one Michelin Star) made it a prime candidate.  It’s roasted goose, in particular, is apparently world famous.

We arrived at the well fitted restaurant on Wellington Street (near the popular Lan Kwai Fong district in Central) at just after 2pm, and were starving for a meal.  The place was not quite as crowded as we had imagined (it was a week day) and it appeared most of the lunch patrons had headed back to work.  Nevertheless, the hostess led us into an elevator (and there was another hostess in there) who took us up to the second floor.

We took a seat and began flicking through the menu.  We decided to go with the roasted goose of course, the specialty, but didn’t want to be too full for the flight so we didn’t get one of the set meals.  We asked the waitress if the roast goose plus rice along was sufficient because we weren’t very hungry and she said no.  We then asked what she recommended and she said the fried prawns.  We agreed before realising that the dish was insanely expensive!

Following a short wait, the waitress arrived with the two dishes we ordered, the roast goose and the fried prawns.

Yung Kee's famous roast goose

The very expensive fried prawns

The verdict?  Both very disappointing.  I think it might be because it was after lunch and we looked like obvious tourists, so they didn’t exactly give us their best stuff.

The roast goose was surprisingly tough to chew and as evident from the photo, way too oily.  I think we could have asked for better parts of the goose perhaps?

As for the fried prawns, they were cold and the batter was soggy.  Again, I think if we came during peak hour and got the fresh stuff it would have been hot and crispy.  Alas, it was not to be, but I was not happy about the recommendation from the waitress because: 1. it wasn’t very good; 2. it was very expensive; and 3. we didn’t need the dish.  The goose alone was more than enough for two.

Yung Kee wasn’t horrible, but given its reputation and for the price (I think it was more than 600 HKD), totally not worth it.

5 out of 10