Saturday, May 31, 2008

A War Diminished

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Watched In The Valley of Elah, starring Tommy Lee Jones (he was nominated for an Oscar for his role), Charlize Theron, and a cast of others including Josh Brolin, Jason Patric, and James Franco. It deals with the disappearance of a soldier just back from Iraq and his father's quest to find him. Powerful, powerful stuff, written and directed by Paul Haggis (Crash). 2007 had to be one of the best movie years in a very long time. All five of the Best Picture nominees were very good and there were so many other fantastic movies like this one, American Gangster, Sweeney Todd, Hairspray, and Gone, Baby, Gone.
    • And last year was the year of Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Casey Affleck. All three were brilliant in a variety of great movies.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Painting today and some other housework. I'm covered in primer, Mediterranean, and Ligonier Tan.
    • The big event is tomorrow with a work day from 8AM to 6PM. It'll fly by and should actually be a lot of fun.
  • Daily Rant:
    • After watching Scott McClellan's interview on "Countdown" and the movie I watched tonight, I can't help but be incredibly, incredibly sad about the state of our country. Nobody denies that we entered this war under illegitimate circumstances, yet the stubborness in "staying the course" is heart-breaking. The government, both parties, has used our soldiers as pawns, sending them to mitigate another country's civil war, being misleading or misguided in their statements about progress. More than 4,000 are dead and many, many more wounded physically and emotionally, yet it still continues with no end in sight. Bush and McCain would honor their service, yet they move the bar constantly on what meant success for the Surge and they deny them a generous GI Bill. The Democrats took Congress in 2006 with the promises of ending the war and have not taken one small step in that direction. You may say that I can't really argue this, that I haven't served so I don't know what it's like or what respect our soldiers get, and therefore take anything I say as just unrealistic negativity. This idea of serving in order to do something positive and not just complain is why Pat Tillman signed up. What respect did he get?

A Tired Friday

  • Not much tonight. Spent the evening painting and putting a grill together. More painting tomorrow and then work all day Sunday. Can't wait.
  • Keep those "Lost" comments coming. It was a pretty packed season finale. Here's a cool little related thing about a name from the episode.
  • One story from last night. We went to a birthday dinner at a hibachi place, or as I like to call it, the redneck's Ruth's Chris. I think they're fun, but I don't totally get into all of the excitement or understand exactly why they're so expensive. Anyway, the way that the staff at this place would sing "Happy Birthday" is that the waitress would come up to the table accompanied by a co-worker carrying a small gong. After every line, the gong would be hit. I'm not sure that my writing skills are developed enough to convey how ridiculous this was. Think about something you might see in A Christmas Story or "My Name is Earl".

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You'll Have To Bring Him, Too

  • With the big season finale, I'm going to stick just to this tonight. I'm holding off on typing questions as they come up for the most part, since I figure a good number of them will be answered or changed by the end of the episode, but here's what I have:
    • Didn't quite expect the flash forward to start the way it did... Great beginning, playing off of the last season finale.
    • Walt's looking a little old.
    • Alright, we know that Sawyer wasn't in the box. Or Michael.
    • "Dr. Marvin Hallowax" on the Orchid video seemed to be pre-stroke. If you remember, in at least one of the other videos, his arm didn't work and his mouth was drooped. Also, I think it's the first Dharma video that had someone else in it.
    • With Sawyer on the chopper, heading for the boat, is it any coincidence that it was he, Jin, and Michael who were on the raft at the end of Season 1, when Tom and the Others kidnapped Walt? Those would be the only 815 survivors off the island besides the Oceanic Six.
    • I feel like I heard Sawyer whisper, "daughter," into Kate's ear before he jumped, but that could be because I was thinking it's what he might say.
    • No time difference between when Keamy (the soldier) died and when the red light turned on on the freighter.
    • Pretty cool how Christian, Jacob/the Island's emmisary, set Michael free to die. But we know that Jin isn't one of the other two that they said died after the crash. So is it Michael and Sawyer? Does Michael count as a survivor any more? Is it Lapidus and Desmond, since they're with the Six? If someone found their bodies, they might not have known that they weren't on 815.
    • Are we assuming that the island has been moved before, since there was that Dharma stuff in Africa before Ben was there? If so, do you think it could have been Widmore and that's why he was trying to find the island and never could?
    • Interesting parallel between the helicopter crash and the pilot episode, where Jack starts out isolated and everything around him is muffled and confusing until he comes out of the water (and until he gained consciousness on the pilot).
    • The scene where the boat finds them is even reminiscent of the end of Season 1 when the raft is found. A lot of throwbacks to the first season in this episode -- is it meant to signify a new beginning for the six of them and a new beginning to the story?
    • Big kudos to my wife for the catch of the night! We were fast-forwarding through commercials and she caught the commercial for "Octagon Global Recruiting," which had a tag line about ABC. It directs you to this site. You can see the commercial and for what positions they were hiring. Of course, the site is very clearly run by a) ABC (in real life) and b) the Dharma Initiative. We'll see where it takes us.
    • Okay, maybe the other two people are completely made up. Just part of the story so that people don't question why those six were the only ones who survived the crash.
    • Didn't see that ending coming. I was sure it was Ben and then Christian and then one of the recruiters, etc. Did not see that coming.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Now That's How You Get Pink Eye

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Starting to catch up on a bunch of "Twilight Zone" episodes that I have on the DVR. We talk about how great the writing is on "Lost" or "House", but nothing comes close to Rod Serling.
    • Didn't comment on the passing of Sydney Pollack, but he's been great in a lot of random things lately. My favorite recent quirky performance: the janitor at Johnny Sack's prison in "The Sopranos".
    • Watched a bit of Knocked Up this evening. Forgot how funny some of the scenes are; that movie captures so well how guys talk to each other when women aren't around. Judd Apatow has a little Nick Hornby in him, in that way.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Took the dog up to the new house today and let him explore. So cute, sniffing around everywhere frantically.
    • Yuck, this lobbyist thing is out of control. And yes, the title of that article is really, really funny.
  • Daily Rant:
    • It's not a super new thing that ESPN hypes albums on their broadcasts, but it ticks me off all the same. They did it really badly during Monday Night Football this year, but I'm watching their Dodgers-Cubs telecast and they came out of the commercial break playing Usher's new song and commenting on it. Usher's new song? Nothing gets me psyched for baseball like sucky R&B. I can't wait until they pump up the NBA playoffs with the new Travis Tritt.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • Maybe you've caught on by now that I do this when I haven't watched/heard/read much pop culture stuff in a day and therefore have no organized comments. Busy day and nothing on TV tonight, which brings up an interesting point: I've only been doing this since October and even with the writers' strike, there's been decent enough TV on since then. With the summer, we start up a period where I'm going to have to go out of my way to find comment-worthy stuff.
  • Settled on a house today; signed all of the papers, handed over a check, and it was done. Wasn't really sure what to expect, but it was quick and easy. A little awkward at first, but once the ice was broken it was even a little fun.
  • JCPenney experience for today: We had to rent a truck to pick up furniture that we couldn't take last night (the manager wouldn't even let us try to put it in our car, like he was the one who had paid for it), so the manager left it for us at the pick-up area. We walked in and security told us to call the catalog department and they would give us the okay to pick it up. I call and tell the woman that Mickey said we could take it. Her response: "Why are you telling me? I don't know anything about it." They paged Mickey, but he didn't come to us. So we just grabbed the stuff and walked out the door. We could have also grabbed everything else there and nobody would have cared, but we would have felt a little guilty. Great store, JCPenney!
  • This is why Clinton using the word "assassination" is so bad. Check out the two paragraphs right above the related links in the middle of the article.
  • I never thought a video game would make me sweat profusely.
  • What's up with paint colors? The color "bone white" is yellow, no white about it.
  • Rambo came out on DVD today. It was realeased on January 25. Seems like a short time, right? It grossed $42 million, less than its estimated budget. I don't know one person who's seen it.
  • Looks like the Lakers may be putting the first nail in San Antonio's coffin. David Stern is happier than a JCPenney clerk when those nasty customers finally leave them alone.

Monday, May 26, 2008


  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Saw Beowulf last night. It's okay, maybe a little boring. I looked up the story of the poem and it was kind of cool that they added some humanity to the hero with a different take on the plot, while showing how the poem's plot was what it was. In that way, it's a cool take on a very old classic.
    • DC101 had the top 500 modern rock songs today and #1 was "Smells Like Teen Spirit", a total no-brainer. Any list like that that doesn't have that song #1 is a joke.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • The dregs of society work at JCPenney. What a miserable, miserable place. If you or family/friends work there, I apologize, but only if you make sure that you or family/friends are not, in fact, a dreg of society. But at least the stores are well-organized.
    • Wii Fit made me explain myself when I gained a pound the other day and it chastised my wife for missing a day. Wii Fit is kind of a bastard, if a lovable one.
    • A very sarcastic congratulations to the Colorado Rockies for showing us that in no way was last year a fluke.
  • Daily Rant:
    • The other day, an Israeli friend marvelled at our "celebration" of Memorial Day. In Israel, Yom Hazikuron (their day to remember soldiers) is a serious observance, a day of mourning. My friend couldn't comprehend how our Memorial Day means shopping and barbecues. Do we, America, truly remember the troops on Memorial Day? We all know the real answer to this.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Week In Review

Random bests from the past seven days:

  • Movie of the Week: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. I'll loosen up a little from my original review and say that it's great. I very, very much enjoyed it and I thought the ending was philosophically challenging. If you've seen it, drop me a line and I'll spew my theory on why I was so intrigued by it.
  • TV Show of the Week: "American Idol". Good season finales of "Grey's Anatomy" and "House", but "Idol" takes the cake with its big extravaganza.
  • Athlete of the Week: Jon Lester. Monday night's no-no was just another feather in his tremendous comeback's cap.
  • Video of the Week: Lord, I hesitate to even link to this, but a friend sent this video in horror after it was forwarded to her in seriousness by a family member. So here are some lies and racism about Obama.
  • Sign That The Primary Season Is Really Over of the Week: How about the fact that Obama didn't jump on Clinton after the RFK remark?
  • Food of the Week: Magnolia cupcakes. When something is considered the best, you know it's good. They are ridiculous and you have to wait in line for like 20 minutes to get them. As a tribute, here are Andy Samberg and Chris Parnell as they hit Magnolia on the way to the movie theater.
  • Person of the Week: David Cook, of course. He was not hurt by the video (at 1:17) of him trying to get Seacrest to say, "Chicks, man."
  • Disappointment of the Week: The Cry-Baby show was decent. Catchy music (written by Adam Schlesinger, the lead singer of Fountains of Wayne, who wrote, among others, "Stacy's Mom" and "That Thing You Do") and good choreography. But the big thing was that the movie took place at my middle school and they eliminated any Franklin references from the musical. So, boo.
  • Coming Attractions for Next Week: Settlement on Tuesday. Big work event next Sunday (you should come if you want to see Regina Spektor for free -- it's on the Mall at noon).

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reprint: The Magic Of The Moment (1/4/2008)

(Note: After a long day in NYC of seeing a show, accidentally finishing a quest to find Carrie Bradshaw's stoop, and getting cupcakes from Magnolia, I decided (after a conversation I had last night with friends) to re-print an essay I wrote back in January.)

This is the most important political year of my lifetime.
I’m not saying that it’s important that any specific candidate or party wins. No matter who becomes President-elect on the evening of November 4th (which we can at this point narrow down to Clinton, Giuliani, Huckabee, McCain, Obama, or Romney), the process of getting to that day will be the watershed election of the last forty years. Here’s why.
At some point since September 12th, 2001, every American (at least 71%, but I say all) has begun to hate the United States in some way. We may not all use the word “hate”, but that’s what I’m calling it. Others may call it “being ashamed” or “disliking the country’s direction” or “not feeling safe” or “wanting a change in the government”. Same may say they don’t hate the U.S. because to them that means hating the flag or the army, but I specifically use the term “United States” because it could mean that one hates the blue states for what they believe in, or the red states. We have all felt negatively about that which we were raised to love. Every school day, from Kindergarten through 12th Grade, at least those of us who went to public school declared our love for the country each morning. But now we question whether we really want to “pledge allegiance to the Republic, for which it stands” or if we truly are “one nation”. This year, the American people will reap the positives from what this hatred has sown.
It began in earnest on January 3, 2008. Remember this day. According to the Associated Press, approximately 239,000 and 115,000 people participated in the Democrat and Republican portions of the political process in Iowa, respectively. 124,000 Democrats and 88,000 Republicans participated in the last contested elections for each party, in 2004 and 2000, respectively. This turnout could partly be attributed to the fact that neither party has an incumbent President or Vice President as a candidate, but that kind of increase does not happen if people don’t flat out care and people care this year because they want to do away with their hatred.
Will it be Hillary Clinton, the first legitimate female candidate, who represents what Democrats loved about the pre-Bush years? Rudy Giuliani, who was the poster boy for the patriotism and camaraderie we felt on the afternoon of 9/11/2001, good feelings that we have most obviously lost? Mike Huckabee, the Republican who fights for the middle class and lives the honesty and values to which people feel Bush only paid lip service? John McCain, the man who was the alternative to Bush in 2000, who represents a patriotic America and a break from the neo-Cons? Barack Obama, the first legitimate African-American candidate, who has rallied the youth like no candidate since Eugene McCarthy and is seen as the biggest change from the ways of the last eight years? Mitt Romney, who is the rare New England Republican and stands for the classic conservative values of a smaller government?
All of these candidates represent a change from the current administration in some way. People are sick of the direction the country is going, they’ve come to hate the United States in their own way, and they will finally come together to decide the future with a passion that I haven't seen in my thirty-one years.
You may say that the people will never be that fired up; that the political machine in this country is pretty broken, a tool of the elite. I can be pretty cynical myself at times. I even wrote about how it’s the smart way to think. However, the danger of cynicism is that you can depart from reality just as quickly as if you are overly idealistic. Sometimes the world really does work well and you’re only hurting yourself by missing the boat, just as an optimist may be setting themselves up for heartbreak.
So look around, watch and/or read the news, open your mind to the possibilities. In one way or another, the last eight years have been horribly dark for America. We, the people, are ready to put it behind us. We, the people, are ready to love the United States again. We, the people, are ready to work towards that “more perfect union”. We, the people, are making history. This year. Last night. Right now.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Why I hate the friendly skies

Over the last few weeks, many airlines have instituted a policy to charge $25 for each bag checked on an airplane. American Airlines took this one step further by announcing that the first bag checked would be an additional $15. This is so wrong for many reasons. Off the top of my head, here are a few.
1) The airline is just being petty. If they just included this amount in the cost of the flight nobody would notice. I’d rather they just call it a gas surcharge like the cab companies do.
2) Suppose you buy a bottle of vodka at the Duty Free shop (Yes, Angie, I said duty). Per TSA regulations, you can’t bring liquid on the airplane so you’d have to check it. Any savings at the Duty Free shop (still giggling) would be essentially given to American Airlines. It's a loophole to slam us travelling alcoholics.
3) People are going to avoid checking bags. Therefore, the security lines at airports will now be just that much longer as people put more bags on the belt. Also, there will be delays at the gate while people try to stuff oversize bags in the overhead compartments. Once the overhead is full, the airline would have to put it underneath anyways so why not save time.

I am flying American Airlines out of the country later this summer. As a customer and a registered frequent flyer, one would think that they would blast a notice of the fee change to all of its customers with confirmed flights or, at a minimum, to its list of frequent flyers. If they have done so, I am still waiting for my notice. They will claim that they released the information via a press release. Therefore, I now am issuing a press release to respond to their press release. American Airlines, you’ve been served.

For immediate release to the press
As a passenger on American Airlines, effective June 1, 2008, I will now be instituting the following fees:
1) For every 5 minutes our plane is late arriving at the gate, I will be instituting a fee of $10. Being on the ground does not count if our plane can not get to the gate and being at the gate does not count unless a representative is there to greet the unloading passengers
2) For every time I get hit with a drink cart, I will charge a $20 fee.
3) For the inconvenience of having a chair that does not lean back, I will charge a $30 fee. The same fee applies if I can not open a laptop on the plane because the person in front of me has put his seat back too far.
4) I will charge a $4 fee if someone has already done the crossword puzzle in the airline magazine.
5) Another $20 will be charged to reimburse for the time I waste reading through the SkyMall catalog knowing that I will never ever buy anything from it.
6) I will charge a fee of $13.99 if the in-flight movie involves a sequel to a movie that I never saw or stars Frankie Muniz.

Mum's The Word

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Pretty good "Grey's Anatomy" season finale. The whole musical chairs ending was funny; everyone jump to the next person that you haven't hooked up with (for the most part). I like how they've started testing the boundaries of having serious same-sex couples on a hugely popular drama.
    • Saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. I'm not going to even mention a single plot point. I won't even go in depth into a review, other than to say, "thumbs up." Looking forward to discussing it after a few more of you have seen it. The only non-plot-related note was that I greatly enjoyed a few references to the old Indy movies and some other Lucas fare. See what you can catch.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • The Wii Fit is awesome. How we went from sitting on the couch playing Madden to sweating and feeling sore is beyond me. It's so beyond anything I've ever seen from a "video game" that it doesn't really feel like one.
    • Glad McCain denounced Hagee. Wish it would have come a little sooner. As opposed to Obama, he didn't have to dance around the sensitive issue of turning on a friend.
    • Here it is, again. Stiller, Black, and Downey are singing about leaving (leaving).
    • Financing went through, stress is pretty much gone. As of Tuesday, I'll have paid approximately 20 times more for something than I ever have in my lifetime, education aside.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I managed to not be at work for most of yesterday, yet this week still seems impossibly long. And it's nothing... Next week is going to stink.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Moment We've All Been Waiting For: The Blessed End

It's the finale of "American Idol"! Here's what happened:
  • A quick note: While waiting for enough of the show to get DVR-ed so that I could fast forward where necessary, I threw on Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Everyone has a movie that they just know cold. Mine is Fast Times. I can pretty much complete any line and after saying all of the lines before the actors did, my wife turned to me and said, "You know, that's pretty annoying." I just couldn't help it.
  • We open with the two Davids looking like they're in the Kryptonian courtroom at the beginning of Superman. Unfortunately, Paula wasn't banished to the Phantom Zone.
  • Matt Rogers! He was the man.
  • Oh my God, I hate the final show. I was pondering just quitting this as soon as the first Final 12 performance started. If this is what the tour is like, where do I sign up... to get the hell out of town as quickly as possible when they come? Get ready for me to start complaining like a Clinton staffer.
  • I actually had forgotten that Amanda Overmyer existed. I'll now hit myself over the head to see if I can re-forget.
  • Nope, didn't work. Crap.
  • What a great song choice for the duet. Seriously, even with the mic level issues, that was really good. But who let the little kid on stage with the rock star?
  • Did you know that Mike Myers was a whore? While watching the show, Elliot Spitzer called him to see what he was up to.
  • Ooh, ooh, which will I do first? Buy a David Archuleta CD, see The Love Guru, or waterboard myself? The suspense is killing me!
  • How about that forced "I'm on camera" smile that Simon had?
  • Dude, Joel McHale was there. Get ready for a weird, paradoxical "Soup" on Friday.
  • Having Jason Castro perform with Afroman and Cypress Hill was maybe a little overkill.
  • You know what, just f*** Ford. Sorry.
  • Good point on the radio today that old man Clive Davis puts all of his old friends on "Idol", so you get Dolly Parton and Neil Diamond and Donna Summers. But hey, none of us were ready to turn to "Farmer Wants A Wife" after what seemed like 20 minutes of Ms. Summers singing, right?
  • Oh, it's time to go back to the Jimmy Kimmel well! He's funny at least, and absolutely unscripted!
  • Did David Hernandez have to give a lap dance during the Top 6 guys song? Did you know that in the summer of '69, David Archuleta was -32 years old?
  • Seriously though, the two finalists are so much better than anyone else this season. Or maybe it's like "The Biggest Loser" where they've just kept on with the better trainers.
  • Oh my, the thought of an "American Idol" ride at Disney... Too many jokes come to mind. I may have to think about it and get back to you.
  • The ride was tested by Corey Clark?
  • Graham Nash? Someone needs to stop Clive Davis before we have a Frankie Avalon sighting. Lord, I hope I didn't just jinx us all.
  • Oh, the Jonas Brothers? Now, we've finally gotten cool!!!!! Do "MMMBop"!
  • Okay, the "Let My People Go" guy legitimately cracks me up every time. They totally should have had the "I Am Your Brother" guy sing the song with a real rock band like Green Day. The marching band just wasn't quite funny enough. It also went on for way too long.
  • It says a lot that Cook got ZZ Top and Archuleta got some one-hit wonder mix station band, right?
  • This might be my longest blog entry ever. It may also be the longest two hours of my life.
  • It was great when they had David Archuleta's mother's sister wives on.
  • The Gladys Knight thing was so funny on so many levels. It might have been Robert Downey, Jr. not trying as hard as the other guys or Ben Stiller looking at the cue cards so much. The best thing on "Idol" all season by far. YouTube gold... The writers of "Saturday Night Live" must be inconsolable at this point.
  • Don't put Syesha next to Brooke during a song where they're dancing. You can't even it out, it just makes Brooke look that much more awkward.
  • It's time (and thank God we didn't have the annual Clive Davis "State of 'American Idol' Speech")... How artficially blown-away will Archuleta look when he wins?
  • Oh... wow... For the first time this season, I'm pleasantly surprised... and speechless...
  • First Parvati and now David Cook? People who deserve to win are winning? Dare I hope for five-and-a-half months from now?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

David Archuleta Wins The Majority Of Pledged Judges

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Olbermann put out a great question to think about in the bit of coverage that I watched while waiting for Obama to speak: Which Kennedy brother has had the longest impact on America? There probably isn't a right answer.
    • The speech, by the way, was a call back to his great ones from early in the season. I don't know if it's because it had been a while since I've seen him speak, especially compared to the maybe four or five a week I'd see back in early February, but I found myself getting a lot more worked up than I have in a while. I won't give tonight, because we gave a couple of weeks ago, but that won't be the last time we give this year by a long shot.
    • Watched Temple of Doom tonight as I continue to get psyched for the new movie on Thursday. As I've gotten older and seen more films, I've become much more aware of style in movie-making and I'm pretty blown away by how classic Spielberg made those films seem. Lucas was shooting for some kind of serial feel and the colors, music, and types of cameras that Spielberg used really make them feel like they were made in the '40s or '50s.
    • I'll probably suck it up and do some sort of running diary of the "American Idol" finale tomorrow night. Yay.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • One of my co-workers, in trying to prove that there are still worthwhile videos on "America's Funniest Home Videos", sent me a link to this one. I admit, it's really funny.
    • Yeah, I may hit Target at about 7:45 tomorrow morning to see if I can grab a Wii Fit. I actually do have a reason why I need to be out that early anyway.
    • Remember how we (not all of us, but you know) used to worry that the superdelegates would steal the nomination for Clinton? Seems so stupid and paranoid now.
    • Did you know that Obama's speechwriter's name is Jon Favreau, but it's not the same Jon Favreau? How weird is that?
  • Ranking The "Idol" Performances (and some Random "Idol" Thoughts):
    • This seriously has to be the best Top Two they've ever had, right? I've only watched the last three seasons.
    • Why do the songwriter contest songs suck so much every year, to the point where both Simon and Randy talk about how bad they are?
    • Which is the better Archuleta facial look? The one when he sings when he has the same head nod and squinty eyes that the President uses when he says a big word? Or the one he gave tonight when complemented, where he honestly looked like he wanted to make out with Simon?
    • I thought David Cook made a huge error in not singing "Hello" with his last song, or anything a little heavier. The Collective Soul song was just too slow.
    • So after all this time, we go to the judges' scorecards (to continue the metaphor). The judge from England scores it 30-27. The judge from Journey scores it 30-27. And I score it 30-27, all for the winner by unanimous decision: David "Babyface" Archuleta. He absolutely blew Cook off the stage. No suspense tomorrow night.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A Random Willie Tyler And Lester Reference

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Nice depressing "House". The ending reminded me a little of the last Harry Potter book and made me think a little of Defending Your Life. How great was the ending montage where Cutner was just eating in front of the TV?
    • Re-watching "Survivor: Marquesas". It's funny to see how aggressive and out of control Rob Mariano was. He definitely learned a lot about politics before "All-Stars".
    • Weirdly enough, I was listening to O'Reilly's radio show (with a guest host) on the way out to lunch today. Weirder, they were saying that Obama is a lot more palatable and reasonable than the Bush administration. What the hell is this world coming to?
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • You have to love anyone throwing a no-hitter, except a Yankee. But Jon Lester, after having survived cancer? Great story.
    • Mets? Still waiting. Sorry, Marissa.
    • The Spurs are champions, period. You know ABC and David Stern are cringing at the thought of yet another San Antonio-Detroit series.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Packing sucks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Week In Review

Random bests from the past seven days:

  • TV Show of the Week: "C.S.I.:". I'll give it props for a well-done season finale that delivered what past finales had only teased us with.
  • Athlete of the Week: Jason Werth. He had quite the game on Friday.
  • Brownie Points of the Week: Went with my wife tonight to see Made of Honor. I'm a good husband. The scary thing? I actually didn't totally hate it. It has a few legitimately funny moments (but some awful ones, too) and it's near impossible to hate Patrick Dempsey.
  • Movie Line of the Week: I watched the end of Raiders on Sci-Fi today. Which is the better line from the very end? "What people?" "Top people." or "You want to get a drink? You know, a drink?" I can't really decide.
  • Overrated Moment of the Week: John Edwards' endorsement. The time when he could make a real difference in the race is long, long past. No endorsement is going to mean anything until Pelosi's.
  • Video of the Week: Kevin Millar remakes the "Orioles Magic" video. Thanks to Roy for passing it along.
  • Misnomer of the Week: The Celtics' Big Three. P.J. Brown was way more important to today's Game 7 win than Ray Allen was throughout this series.
  • Villain of the Week: The White House. Calling out a political opponent from the floor of another country's government is bad enough. Lying about it is even worse.
  • Coming Attractions for Next Week: The new Indiana Jones movie on Thursday. Memorial Day Weekend coming up, including a trip up to NYC for the Broadway adaptation of Cry Baby, which was filmed at my middle school while I was in 8th grade.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The True Ninja Warrior Is Never Appeased

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • All kinds of Indiana Jones stuff on TV this weekend, from the movies to "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" episodes to a special on History tomorrow night. Getting psyched for the movie. I might actually pop in a DVD or two tomorrow.
    • Still reading Walking The Bible and liking it a lot. My favorite story so far: St. Catherine's is the monastery at the base of the mountain that some believe to be Mount Sinai. In the Bible, not only did Moses receive the Torah at Sinai, but it's where he saw the Burning Bush. So at this monastery, they have a huge bush that they say is the same one that Moses saw. They also have a fire extinguisher next to the bush, just in case someone were to set it ablaze. There's some real irony for you, Ms. Morissette.
    • There's also a "Ninja Warrior" marathon all weekend on G4. Here's who wouldn't think "Ninja Warrior" is awesome: dead people.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • This video of what the other side of the O'Reilly rant might have looked like is really funny.
    • Played golf today. Badly. I had a few good shots in there, but playing once or twice a year does not help you with consistent play.
  • Daily Rant:
    • A lot of people talk about the similarities between the world in George Orwell's 1984 and post-9/11 America under the Bush administration. That article is from 2002 and things have only gotten worse since then. Read this wikipedia article on Newspeak, a type of language used by the totalitarian government in 1984 and then watch the video below that shows Chris Matthews' fight with a guest on "Hardball" and a subsequent interview. I haven't seen anything this frightening and well-said and, well, sad in a while:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Aztec Rex Can Win Peace in Iraq

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Pretty good season finale for "C.S.I.:". Nice reference back to the pilot episode. I won't ruin the ending, but I thought the way it would end was fairly apparent with the way they led up to it.
    • Checked out the Inside Out EP, No Spiritual Surrender, that my friend Dan (a link to his blog is on the left) burned for me. Inside Out was the first band of Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack De La Rocha. It's standard LA hardcore, sort of like you'd hear on Metallica's Kill 'Em All (without the blistering riffs on songs like "Seek And Destroy" or "The Four Horsemen"), but the guitars are a little cleaner than you might hear on most thrash metal. Obviously, it's not quite as interesting as anything featuring Tom Morello. De La Rocha mostly just screams, but he attempts to sing a little. He can't really carry a tune, but that's not why we love him. I like the story from their wikipedia page about how, before they broke up, they were about to record an album called Rage Against The Machine.
    • It also drives home, to some extent, how ground-breaking Ride The Lightning was. Metallica could have been just a better-than-average thrash band (especially with Mustaine gone), but their infusion of a little punk here and a little melody there revolutionized heavy metal.
    • Aztec Rex!!!
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • This potential referendum in Colorado is just awesome. Awesome. Best line from an e-mail I saw on a blog: "Does this mean I can apply for Social Security nine months earlier?"
    • You know I love Mike Huckabee, but this wasn't exactly appropriate.
  • Daily Rant:

Check out this article on the history of anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Key quote for me:

As Reconstruction collapsed in the late 1870s, legislators, policymakers, and, above all, judges began to marshal the arguments they needed to justify the reinstatement--and subsequent expansion--of miscegenation law. Here are four of the arguments they used:
1) First, judges claimed that marriage belonged under the control of the states rather than the federal government.
2) Second, they began to define and label all interracial relationships (even longstanding, deeply committed ones) as illicit sex rather than marriage.
3) Third, they insisted that interracial marriage was contrary to God's will, and
4) Fourth, they declared, over and over again, that interracial marriage was somehow "unnatural."

Sixty years ago, in 1948, the California Supreme Court (imagine that!) found these laws unconstitutional. In 1967, a similar decision came down from the U.S. Supreme Court. Alabama, however, incredibly waited until 2000 to strike the anti-miscegenation portion of their Constitution. It's so hard to believe that it took that long for something that we take for granted to become legal. Sixty years from now, people will be saying the same thing about the march to legality for gay marriage. Will history judge those that stand against it the same way that we judge those that stood against interracial marriage? The answer is most likely a soul-searching yes.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Weird TV Season Begins To Wind Down

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • In honor of today's ruling in the California Supreme Court (about which, of course, I am quite happy), I logged a little time with Top Gun on HBO.
    • The first half of the "My Name Is Earl" finale was good, but the second half was great. The key moment was definitely the "C.S.I.: Miami" spoof. How bad is a show when shows on other networks ("Earl", "The Soup") make fun of how cheesy it is?
    • Sort of a blah "Grey's Anatomy". It wasn't bad, necessarily, but it just wasn't funny at all.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Here's that funny trailer based on Top Gun, but I think the movie really is homoerotic enough.
    • It's the old classic story. Man meets woman. Man sleeps with woman. Man insists that woman play with a knife while they're intimate. What could go wrong?
    • Lance Berkman is beyond silly right now. How about .632 over his last 10 games? He's a legit Triple Crown contender this year.
  • "Lost" Comments/Questions of the Week:
    • I hadn't thought about what Marissa said last week, about Jack being sick so he couldn't be the leader, but it makes total sense.
    • The military plane was #1717. They made sure to show that. Add the digits up and it's 16, one of the numbers. I can't think of any other significance.
    • "New Otherton". Nice.
    • Who's the other person responsible for Jin's death? Since he wasn't one of the other two who supposedly died after the crash, I was wondering if he's still alive and on the island, but maybe not.
    • "Jesus Christ is not a weapon."
    • It still kind of cracks me up to see these random extras show up here and there, like on the first raft to the freighter.
    • Obviously a set-up episode, with not a whole lot new or crazy. We'll see where they take us during the finale.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Most Suspenseful Idol Elimination Ever

Random Thoughts and Dumb Jokes:
  • I can't figure out how they're able to fill up an hour on elimination night. We were this close to seeing video of Justin Guarini eating a delicious snack.
  • Overheard quote from the Archuleta concert in Utah: "His songs were great, but why are they only 90-seconds long?"
  • When Syesha was talking to her high school, they flashed to the crowd for a second and you could see someone yawning. No joke, it was a guy on the left side of the screen with a goatee.
  • I'm not saying that the special election in Mississippi was a harbinger, but David Archuleta changed his party to Libertarian just to be safe. Never mind, he's too young to vote.
  • After David Cook didn't bounce the ball in front of the plate on his Royals first pitch, the team told him that if the singing thing doesn't work out, he's their fifth starter. Brett Tomko, I'm sorry to say that you're leaving us tonight.
  • I'm fairly certain that I got a ticket for running Fantasia's hair on Montrose Road last week.
  • Was Archuleta crying at his school because he was happy for the crowd or because he was happy that it was the first time he'd been on campus and not been stuffed in a locker?
  • In other news, who else is excited for John Edwards' plan for the two Americas to join together into one Voltron-like Super America? Form Blazing Gateway Arch!
  • How many votes must Syesha have been behind the guys? Seacrest didn't say once that it was a close one. That by itself took away any suspense there might have been for me.
  • How about Olbermann getting so worked up during his Special Comment tonight that he almost went into tears? What the President said about golf was incredibly stupid (and apparently somewhat of an exaggeration, at best), but I wasn't expecting that kind of emotion about it.
  • In closing, we haven't seen a battle between two Davids like this since the Bible, when in 1 Kings, the evil King David (you could tell because he had a goatee) tried to conquer Jerusalem. You might remember that it came down to Solomon figuring out which was the right one by making them each do the hand signals to "David Melech Yisrael". When the evil David touched his hand to the wrong elbow, it was all over and Solomon got to satisfy his weird slicing-stuff-in-half fetish.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Davids Almighty

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • MSNBC trotted out every one of their usuals, minus Brokaw and Scarbrough, for tonight. It's okay, you can let go guys, it's over.
    • Instead of watching that, I flipped around to HBO and watched what was on. Evan Almighty is a poignant drama about a Congressman who disrespects the environment and is asked by God to build an ark. In doing so, he's forced to examine everything about his life and come to the conclusion that he had lost his way. A movie this serious doesn't usually star so many actors who have been in great comedies, but that may be just what sets this one apart, with Steve Carrell (Anchorman), Lauren Graham (Bad Santa), John Goodman (Raising Arizona), Wanda Sykes ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), John Michael Higgins (Best in Show), and Jonah Hill (Superbad). It starts out with the frightening image of the misguided Carrell being bit in the crotch by a dog, who then proceeds to poop on Carrell's lawn, giving us the stark metaphor of a Washington whose greed has soiled our fine planet. This movie will touch you to your soul with its constant and unflinchingly grim imagery.
    • Wait, it was supposed to be a comedy? Oh... That movie sucked. And the end, where Carrell's son looks upon his father's nakedness? Didn't need that.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Is this the stupidest article ever? Enquiring minds want to know.
    • Consider my cares danced away.
    • God bless Terry McAuliffe. God bless his soul. After his "Meet The Press" performance on Sunday, I can't tell if he a) goes into wild fits of laughter as soon as he's off camera, or b) needs to go through a serious BS-detox program as soon as Senator Clinton finally drops out.
    • I don't know if voters in Appalachia are racist. I suppose there could be economic reasons for why they don't like Obama, but working class whites in other areas of the country have gone for Obama or have been evenly split. Look at this map, which shows all of the counties in the country (before tonight) where Clinton took 65% of the vote. It is eye-opening. Here's the similar map for Obama. Here's the story from Daily Kos that discusses it all.
  • Ranking The "Idol" Performances:
    • 3. Syesha Mercado -- There's almost no way I would put her higher than third, with an inevitable matchup between the Davids coming next week. Even so, I think she was legimately third. It seems like they do "Fever" every season and I thought her vocal on that was a little weak. Her third song was a total mess.
    • 2. David Archuleta -- I thought he was a little better than Cook in the first round, but lost it after that. Him singing, "I need you, boo," was laughable. Somehow, all of his performances make me think of those commercials you see on the History Channel on Sunday mornings for Christian music, where you see the song titles scroll up the screen while people in the crowd close their eyes and hold their arms up. You know what I'm talking about.
    • 1. David Cook -- He was good in the first round, just okay (like everyone else) in the second, and blew the other two away in the third round. Side note: the producers must be on crack. Those song choices were terrible. When Simon said that "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" was one of the greatest songs ever, my wife and I immediately looked at each other in horror.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Random Notes

Long work day today, so I'm just going to throw out a few notes since I don't have much pop culture stuff right now. I try not to write about work too much because it's not horribly appropriate, but I'll just note that I was at an event tonight that featured Sec. Chertoff of DHS. It was quite interesting and you don't get to stand in a fairly small room with a Cabinet member too often. The only reason I'm really mentioning this is that someone asked him how he thinks the President will be judged in history and his answer was nothing short of great. He hedged the tiniest tiniest bit, but mostly talked about how Bush made tough decisions in tough times and stuck by them and how Lincoln and Churchill were very unpopular when they were in office. It was the kind of answer that was well-spoken and even the slightest bit persuasive when he was giving it, but easy to pick apart as soon as you left the room. But hey, I'm going to pick apart anything positive said about the President. Other random stuff:
  • The second Fantastic Four movie just sucks. I guess I just had to see how badly for myself.
  • I fully admit that I made a mistake when I called the post a few days ago, "As Goes Tatooine, So Goes The Nation". The correct joke would have been "...So Goes The Galaxy". Sorry.
  • I picked Rage's eponymous debut for my list, but their second album, Evil Empire, is almost universally regarded as their best. And it is. I just think that by the time it came out, more similar bands were on the scene, so it wasn't as alternative to me. Maybe it's a weak distinction, but I wrote the post, so deal with it.
  • I think I stumbled onto a weird thing with "Survivor". Everybody with whom I've discussed this season so far is a woman and they all, to a person, hated Parvati and liked Amanda. My theory is that it's because Parv was such a flirt and manipulated everyone regardless of gender, while Amanda remained loyal and ended up kicking ass at the challenges. I have no idea if that's true or what it even means, but if you're a woman and you either liked Parvati or know why you hated her, chime in.
  • Wouldn't you be more surprised if O.J. Mayo hadn't been getting money?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

39 Days, 20 Americans, 1 Very Deserving Survivor

I'll scrap the Week In Review in favor of a recap of the season finale of my favorite show. So indulge me as I give my thoughts on what turned out to be a pretty good season (though I still prefer the last one because of the personalities and the fact that it was consistently good throughout):
  • I said a few weeks ago that I thought Parvati may have played the best social game ever. I don't necessarily mean that she was best friends with everyone, just that she built enough strong alliances that she was always safe because other people had her back. In the end, this is what put her over the top. Always emotive, she had friends on the jury and persuaded the rest of the votes she needed, while Amanda's stunning lack of personality (don't forget that she came in third last season behind Courtney!!!) continued to show through. Eliza said as much during her comments. So make no mistake, Parvati absolutely deserved to win this, and I'm very happy that she did.
  • Most of the other things worth comment happened during the jury and the reunion show. Both of the non-final votes tonight were no-brainers.
  • I think that for every season going forward, they need to go split-screen for every tribal council and have Eliza, sitting in her house, reacting to things that people say.
  • I was a bit surprised by who was bitter. I thought Erik seemed angry enough at himself and easygoing enough that he would be pretty cool. Same for Ozzy and James. Not the case. In fact, the favorites seemed to be a little nastier overall, whereas you'd think they'd be a little more nonchalant.
  • Ozzy really seems like a great guy, for as cool as he tries to play it off (and let's also not forget him throwing the challenge in his first season to get rid of "I love you" Billy). He was really nice to Erik and Jason when he didn't have to be and just seems very regular, I guess. But dude, that was the wussiest jury performance ever.
  • What the f*** was up with Natalie's question? Was she trying to figure out if Parvati really liked her liked her? Was she trying to embarrass her to see how she'd respond? What the f***? When Jeff looks confused, you know you're in bad shape.
  • Speaking of, I really think that Probst makes the show. It's impossible for me to imagine tribal council without his great questions and the reunion shows got a heck of a lot better when he started doing them. But the hair, Jeff, the hair.
  • Don't you think Amanda might have won if she was as bubbly on the real show as she was on the reunion one tonight?
  • How about the palpable hatred that Probst has for Fairplay? He didn't even try to hide it.
  • I was excited that Tracy and Alexis got love for being the dark horses. Aside from Parv, they were my favorites.
  • So 16 seasons are in the books and the next one will finally be in HD. Can't wait.

The stars at night are big and bright...

...(clap, clap, clap, clap) deep in the heart of Texas.

A few observations from a few days vacationing in Texas.
1) Everything in the city of Austin is named after LBJ or Mrs. LBJ. I think it is required by law.
2) The Alamo is the most over-rated tourist destination in the United States.
3) Other than a few square blocks downtown around the River Walk, the city of San Antonio is really down in the dumps. Real estate is dirt cheap.
4) One of the baseball players on the AA-level Midland Rockhounds, James Simmons, will be a star in the majors, guaranteed. Even though he was drafted only last year, I feel quite confident that he will make the majors before fellow prospect Ashley Hogan.
5) Valuable advice for everyone when putting suntan lotion on your legs. If you change into shorter shorts later in the day (or in this case a shorter bathing suit), you need to put on more sunblock or you will get VERY BADLY BURNED.
6) It is fascinating how even though you don't talk to a former roommate for 10 years, you still share a special bond with that person that makes it seem like no time has passed in between conversations.
7) Texas cuisine consists of the following: TexMex, German-Mexican, Italian-Mexican, Baja-Mexican, Southern-Mexican and the ever popular Mexican Mexican. (full disclosure: that was not my joke but I thought it was pretty funny).
8) Keeping track of the television schedule on Central Time is a pain the butt. The Daily Show is on at 10PM, not 11PM.
9) Life is different in Texas. We walked in to the State Capital in Austin. There were no medal detectors, no bag checks, not even a security guard posted at the door. It's like DC pre-9/11.
10) I don't want to go back to work tomorrow.

Blue Canary In The Outlet By The Light Switch

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Finally caught up on some Netflix DVDs that had been sitting around for a while.
    • Eastern Promises is a lot better than I had expected. I was looking for it to be pretty weird, but it's much more of a mainstream plot. Mortensen is very good and there's a nice twist or two.
    • Watched Gigantic: A Tale Of Two Johns, a 2002 documentary on They Might Be Giants. I think most people consider The Pixies to be the band that led the way for alternative music, with R.E.M. being the band that took alt rock mainstream, but don't sleep on TMBG. They've been around almost as long and they were actually the first indie band to get play on MTV. One of the great parts of the documentary is the dramatic reading of song lyrics by people like Andy Richter and Harry Shearer.
    • "Deal Or No Deal", while fascinating mathematically, can be annoying at times, but I could never stand to watch it if it was always like the Phillipino version. "Solid Gold" didn't have as much dancing.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I like knowing inside information, especially when it comes to the presidential race. It makes me very happy.
    • If you watched "Real Time with Bill Maher" over the last few months, you know and like Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. He's one funny, hateful guy. In this piece for the magazine (and his new book), he went undercover to a camp run by John Hagee's church to find out more about that brand of Evangelicals. I'll give fair warning that if you consider yourself an Evangelical, you may be more than a little bit offended. Of course, you might not be, if you consider yourself an Evangelical and you're reading my very Jewish/pro-Obama/pro-gay rights blog.
    • Do you think there are other situations out there where people live in a town on the border between two states and feel like they're leaving the country to go into the other state? Made a deep foray today into Fairfax County, VA and it was like another world. I know that most Marylanders feel the same (and vice versa, for the Virginians?). Do you think that people living in Kansas City, MO go into the Kansas side and everything feels a little different?
  • Your List Sucks! -- Top 5 Favorite Alternative Rock Albums (I'm not counting certain grunge albums, because they're a bit more rock than alt)
    • 5. Automatic for the People, R.E.M. (1992) -- R.E.M. has a ton of great albums, obviously, but I'll go with this one almost exclusively because "Nightswimming" is my favorite of their songs. This one also sports "Everybody Hurts" and "Man on the Moon" as the other big radio singles.
    • 4. Rage Against The Machine, Rage Against The Machine (1992) -- Maybe they count as heavy metal, but I'm putting them for myself as alternative because they sounded so different from everything that came before, thanks mostly to Tom Morello's guitar genius. Their brand of pure explosive anger at the government has become a bit more popular over the past eight years. Sidenote: 1991/1992 was a great time for albums. Just off-hand, I can think of the above two, plus Nevermind, Ten, The Chronic, Metallica, Blood Sugar Sex Magic (released on the same day as Nevermind), and Achtung Baby.
    • 3. Ben Folds Five, Ben Folds Five (1995) -- I'm a huge Ben Folds fan, but I think this has to be my favorite one of his albums. It's so raw, from the first driving notes of "Jackson Cannery" to the alt-anthem "Underground". My single favorite Ben Folds moment ever was from when he first toured after the band broke up. At a show in Baltimore, he took requests for a solo portion and people yelled for "Boxing", the last song on this album. He couldn't remember all of the words, so it turned into him playing while everyone sang. Goosebumps.
    • 2. Flood, They Might Be Giants (1990) -- I dare you to put this in when you're in your car and not listen to it at least twice through. It has the huge hits like "Birdhouse in Your Soul", "Particle Man", and, of course, the Jimmy Kennedy-cover, "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)". It also has 16 other tracks that you can't get out of your head.
    • 1. Gordon, Barenaked Ladies (1992) -- Oh yeah, this one came out in 1992 also. I don't think I need to defend or explain this being at the top of the list.

Friday, May 9, 2008

...And They Are Indisputable

These are the facts:
  • Ok, so I missed the big Sam Jackson cameo in Iron Man, though I just caught it on YouTube. I didn't, however, miss the Stan Lee cameo. It has to be the best yet and it's not easy to pick out because it's so fast and unexpected.
  • Charlie Wilson's War is a very good and very funny movie. Phillip Seymour Hoffman didn't deserve the Oscar over Javier Bardem, but his character is one of the great characters of at least recent movie history.
  • Dr. Drew said, "whatnot," on the Mike show today. I love him, but it has to be pointed out.
  • I can't get into the NBA playoffs after that Kansas-Memphis college final. I'm good until Midnight Madness.
  • Mike Huckabee, even though he had no shot at the nomination, didn't constantly attack McCain and play the race card. Just wanted to point that out.
  • My dog knows more about Judaism than even a lot of Jews. He loves challah, and by that I mean he might actually kill people to get to it. He actually recognizes that when we're home on a Friday night and we make Shabbat, the candles coming out mean that the challah can't be far behind. He sees the candlesticks and starts barking and running around in circles even though the challah was still in the bag and he hadn't noticed it before. He loves the bread so much that his barking actually translates to this.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Erik Looked More Lost Than The Oceanic Six

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • There seems to be one great line each week lately in "My Name Is Earl". This week's? "Earl Hickey is going to bag? Earl Hickey is going to bag!" A well-placed Karate Kid reference is the way to my heart.
    • There were some dumb guys this season on "Survivor", but this takes the cake. One would think that Amanda was using sex appeal to get into Erik's head, but it's hard to imagine being attracted to a skeleton.
    • I'm glad James said something after the vote, because all of the argument over which move was dumber between James' last season and Ozzy's this season is moot. That was so moronic that it made me sick to my stomach. Probst always finds the perfect words: "Consider that a life lesson."
    • Has to be either Amanda or Parvati, right?
    • Nice move by "Grey's" to play off of the unbelievable amount of affairs between doctors at the hospital. I've said from the start: in real life, all of these doctors except for Bailey would have been fired about two episodes into the show's run. Of course, that would have made for a boring show. At least, they haven't been held hostage approximately 73 times, like the doctors on "ER". You'd think they'd boost security a little.
    • Nice job by the "Two And A Half Men" writers on this week's "CSI:". You can't go wrong with Rachael Harris and Diedrich Bader in the same show.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I seriously think I hate this blog entry more than anything else I've ever read in my life. I don't know if it's her calling him "JC", talking about how great he was throughout the season, or referring to the show as "AmIdol". Actually, it's mostly the "AmIdol" thing.
    • Apparently a bunch of people who think they look like Amanda from "Survivor" got together to do a line dance. This is what came of it.
    • This is a great opinion piece from a few days ago; it defines exactly why I decided Obama's candidacy was so important.
  • "Lost" Comments/Questions of the Week:
    • Notice that the doctor was still alive on the boat when the chopper carrying the soldiers got there? This is at least a few hours after his dead body washed up on shore.
    • I was kind of missing Richard; the Others hadn't been around since the end of last season.
    • It occurs to me that just like Ben got off the island, Desmond could as well. Since he wasn't on 815, he could have escaped and not been celebrated like the rest.
    • Things and people from the survivors' lives before the crash have shown up on the island, but I think this is the first time that something/someone from the island has shown up in their pre-crash lives.
    • Similarly, this is the first time, with the recruiter (Cedric!) convincing John to go to Australia, that we've seen the island seem to manuever to get one of the survivors there.
    • Why is it that when Farraday ran his tests and had the boat fire whatever it was at the island, the projectile took longer than you would think to get there, but when the doctor died, his body showed up way earlier?
    • So we get payoff on Christian's body disappearing in the first handful of episodes of the first season, but it still leads to a lot more questions.
    • Is Claire dead? I don't think so, but...
    • Definitely not expecting that last line. Not even sure what to say about it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Israel is 60, or 12 Years Younger Than John McCain

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Hey, did John McCain quote Chairman Mao on "The Daily Show" tonight? Between him and Stewart, only one of them was getting laughs. I'll let you guess which one.
    • The funniest moment was when Stewart made a crack about how Al-Qaeda's worst nightmare would be, rather than McCain, if they got to heaven to find out that the 72 women weren't virgins: "These 72 women are whores!" McCain made some kind of weird squealing noise and spun around in his chair, looking uncomfortably off-stage.
    • America finally got one right with Jason Castro gone. How I wish they would have let Simon say one more thing after they announced the vote. You might have seen Simon; when they went to Castro one last time, he was the judge who wasn't clapping. Rewind it, it's obvious.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I present to you the worst movie trailer of the year.
    • There are some scary people out there.
    • Now that the general election race is on, let's go back to a poll from last week. Voters are more concerned about McCain's association with Bush than Obama's association with Wright. Makes sense right? The President has actively done more to harm the country.
  • Daily Rave:
    • Today marks the 60th anniversary, in the Hebrew calendar, of the formation of the State of Israel. It's America's greatest ally in the world. It's the only democracy in the Middle East. Its military persistence helped avoid World War III in 1973. More than anything else, to me, it's a country founded on the protection of people that were murdered and driven from their homes of hundreds of years. It's a true sanctuary for Jews around the world, something that people my age take for granted. We may not face anti-Semitism on a daily basis, but there is a safety net if it pops up again. Many thanks to the struggles of the early Zionists, from Herzl on, and to those that continue to preserve and protect it.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Jason Castro Vs. Hillary Clinton For Loser Of The Night

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • I was thinking about doing a running diary kind of thing for the last big night of the primary season and the last big election night until November 4, but we're all tired of this and I didn't think there would be much humor. So, of course, I had all of these jokes throughout the night that I forgot.
    • While I mostly watch MSNBC, I'll flip over to CNN during a break, especially when a call is imminent or has just been made. John King just looks like the kind of guy that wouldn't be real fun to hang out with.
    • It was almost all politics, with a break to catch the 9th in Gavin Floyd's failed no-hit bid. The only other thing was "Idol", which had a pretty crappy show tonight. This season has fallen apart faster than the pig's house of sticks when the Big Bad Wolf blew on it. I think I'm having a metaphor issue.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Huge night for Obama, of course, but I have a better metaphor for this one. This is the last week of the baseball season, you're from Boston, and the Sox have long clinched home field. Beckett throws a shut-out. You're happy that he's going well and that you have one in the win column, but mostly you're just hoping October finally comes so you can move on to the real deal.
    • This story is totally wacky in a way, but I don't think I can really describe how good it makes me feel. It could be the first sign of the Kasparov test coming to fruition.
    • I listened to Glenn Beck for a second this afternoon. He was talking about the problems with illegal immigration. His quote was something like: "I don't want to hear you talk about slavery, Barack Obama, that happened in the 1600s. I'll tell you what slavery is, it's these illegal immigrants who can barely afford to rent a bed by the hour." Uh, Glenn, pretty sure slaves don't get paid. I won't even touch anything else in that.
    • Does it make me elitist when I think that I'd rather my President not be picked only by people without college degrees? If so, is it bad to be elitist?
  • Ranking The "Idol" Performances:
    • 4. Jason Castro -- See, you stoner idiots should have voted him off weeks ago so we didn't have to go through that tonight. You knew that was coming at some point! I'm surprised he didn't just respond with, "Learning about Cuba, having some food."
    • 3. Syesha Mercado -- You know, I wasn't going to rank her third, but then I looked into the mirror and said to myself, "Josh, you can do this."
    • 2. David Cook -- Yeah, I dropped him to second. His first performance was a little weak and there was an obvious winner tonight. I did think the beginning of his second performance sort of sounded like a Springsteen version of the song. You're not going to get much better praise out of me.
    • 1. David Archuleta -- He was ridiculous tonight. He sounded great, even if he is tough to watch with his awkward arm movement and weird nodding and facial expression. I do not, however, buy that he sits alone in his room and sings "Stand By Me" to himself. What he does do alone in his room I will leave up to your imagination.

Monday, May 5, 2008

As Tatooine Goes, So Goes The Nation

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Finally caught last week's "CSI:". The weirdest moment was also the coolest. Nick is doing a test, succeeds, then looks over to the window where Jamie and Adam from "Mythbusters" are standing and then he gives them a thumbs up. No dialogue, no other acknowledgement of their presence.
    • Nice little nod on "House" to the fact that the show isn't realistic and doesn't need to be. Also, notice how Cameron and Chase are slowly getting more and more screen time each week.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • Had chinese food tonight and my fortune was: "You are surrounded by true friends." This immediately proved to be untrue when my dog, sitting next to me, lunged for the cookie.
    • And finally, after months and months and months (okay, only four, but it seems like twenty), we have the greatest YouTube video of the 2008 campaign!
  • Daily Rant:
    • For a reason that nobody can guess, Tony Kornheiser's radio show is on the same station as Bill O'Reilly's and Glenn Beck's. The same Glenn Beck I listened to growing up when he was part of the cheesy and Don and Mike rip-off Glenn Beck And The Morning Guys on B104 in Baltimore. But I digress. Most days that I drive, I'm listening to Mr. Tony when I get to work and so when I jump in the car in the afternoon, Beck is on. I usually listen to a couple of seconds, just to see what the enemy is saying. The other day he spent his whole show playing one of Jeremiah Wright's most inflamatory sermons. Today, I got in and he was talking about driving an SUV around New York with dead liberals in his trunk. Since he's picking on a minority of Wright's sermons (and frankly, the one Beck was playing about how the USA used its political capital from 9/11 to wrongly attack Iraq and sacrifice our troops is not something I wholly disagree with), I'll pick on a minority of Beck's words. Of course, he'll make a ton of money with a Democrat in the White House to complain about.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Week In Review

Random bests from the past seven days:
  • Movie of the Week: Iron Man. It's really, really good. I'm not sure though that I got across last night how good The King of Kong is. It's not cheesy, which I may have implied. It really is very compelling.
  • Athlete of the Week: Kobe Bryant got his first MVP award. It's about time.
  • Activity of the Week: Went to Mount Vernon today for a work-related (though free time) activity. The new museum there is incredible. Great movies and great insights. The part on Washington's slaves is prominent, though gets a little less space than one might like. Best of all, the views around there are amazing. The GW Parkway has to be one of the top ten prettiest roads in the country.
  • TV Show of the Week: "Survivor". This season has gotten great.
  • Event of the Week: Tornadoes all over the country. My house was hit by a tornado when I was 14 and while I can't say it was a particularly harrowing experience, I saw some of the houses down the street literally obliterated, so I feel for the people in Virginia and the Midwest.
  • Weird Moment of the Week: Paula Abdul messes up just a little bit. One funny thing about this: Yahoo ran some story where the teaser was that the mistake led to a dirty secret being revealed that most viewers suspected. The secret was that the judges watched rehearsal. I honestly thought that it was that Paula is on drugs. We do all suspect it.
  • Villain of the Week: Jeremiah Wright. Why his ego has to get in the way of the ultimate ascendance of an African-American politician is beyond me.
  • Coming Attractions for Next Week: Maybe the end to the primary race? The official one, of course; it's been over since Feb. 12.

At The Movies: A Blockbuster And 100% Awesomeness

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • Okay, three movies today.
    • Went to see Iron Man. It's fantastic. Robert Downey, Jr. makes the movie, but overall it boasts one of the best casts of any comic book movie with Jeff Bridges, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Terence Howard. It's funny with great special effects and it's exciting all the way through. You don't see many movies in a fairly full theater where a certain thing happens and just about everyone exclaims at the same time, "Oh, damn!" I'd put it at just a slight level below Spiderman, but not much.
    • I ended up waking up pretty early this morning and browsing through On Demand until I came upon The Number 23, a "thriller" starring Jim Carrey and Virginia Madsen. This movie is awful. I never gave a crap about any of the characters and I was firmly ensconced as far away from the edge of my seat as possible. It deals with the paranoia that some people have (apparently in real life, even) that the number 23 pops up everywhere. If you add the numerical value of letters, add up license plate numbers, etc. You know what? I've become obsessed with the number two. Not only do you get 23, you get 24, 27, 82, and so on. The number two shows up freaking everywhere! I just wrote about the number two in the last sentence! And in the last one, also. And what's a synonym for also? Too, which rhymes with two! It's blowing my goddam mind!
    • Finally, I used my Netflix Instant Viewing to see a movie I've been waiting to see since I first heard about it last year -- The King of Kong. It's a documentary dealing with competitive video gaming, specifically the battle for the world record in Donkey Kong. I might say, "X is awesome," but the word "awesome" was actually coined so this movie could be best described; true story! Believe it or not, there's a villain with minions who spread out to protect his record and an underdog good guy for whom you root as hard as you can. Even the music is awesome -- it uses both "Eye of the Tiger" and "You're The Best"! Plus, see if you can find the comparisons I easily made between Billy Mitchell and Hillary Clinton.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • I drank just a bit more tonight than I have in a long time. Being your own bartender at a party can be a curse.
  • Daily Rant:
    • Ask me how much I care about a bunch of horses turning left for 90 seconds. It's like NASCAR with cleaner air and mint juleps instead of Bud Light.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sometimes I Can't Believe What A Snob I Am

  • What I'm Watching/Listening To/Reading:
    • I really liked this letter that was printed on The Daily Dish.
    • I had to drive up to Baltimore this afternoon. Why 105.7 airs Ed Norris instead of Mike O'Meara, I can't guess.
  • Random Thoughts/Links:
    • At the bar to which I went tonight, every female looked like Jessica Sierra. If you know what I mean by that, you know what I'm saying.
    • I wrote so much crap last night that I forgot a few things.
    • Had BBQ chicken last night using Gates BBQ sauce. Gates is a famous restaurant in Kansas City and I visited it when I was in town to see a Royals game a few years ago. I'm not prepared to say without a doubt that their sauce is the best-tasting thing in the world, but it is definitely in the conversation.
    • This article made me laugh out loud. I thought of some other jokes to go with this, but I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I wrote them down for perpetuity.
  • Daily Rant:
    • I went back for a party with some ex-coworkers, people I hadn't seen in over three years. I love my job now for a number of reasons and absolutely hated working in the old place for the last few years I was there. Yes, years of misery. They eventually laid me off and it kicked my ass into finding out what I really wanted to do. It's the best thing that ever happened to me professionally; it's why I truly believe that one door closing is a great opportunity to find a new, open one. The people at the party talked about how things are so much worse than they were when I was there. I can't for the life of me imagine why people would put up with that kind of crap for so long. I guess Isaac Newton would say that inertia is just a really powerful force. Being back in Baltimore and talking to random people made me realize that among other things, I take for granted what an intellectual atmosphere I work in now compared to then. Upon hearing my musing on that, my wife simply responded with, "Well, you work with a lot more Jews now." Touche.