Friday, March 31, 2006

Lost Spoiler

Part of the magic of 'Lost' was spoiled for me this week when an ad for Neosporin was snuck in the script. Jack said his island mate's rash would be helped by Neosporin. Sawyer has all the medicine stashed away, and he's charging two loads of laundry in exchange for a tube. This was so obviously a product placement. What's worse is that most physicians don't even like Neosporin...

Last night on The Office, a logo for Geek Squad was also conveniently placed so that it received considerable airtime during one scene. As TiVo and other DVRs become more popular this may be something we'll have to grow to accept, but I think it really does cheapen shows.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New iPod Feature

Owners of recent iPods will now be able to set how loud their digital music players can go, according to a press release today. Call me stupid, but isn't that what the volume control is for? Why do I need a separate feature to set the maximum volume? If Apple really wants to protect their customers' hearing, they should include an alternate headphone than those buds taht go in your ear. That is the worst kind of headphones for your ears! Personally I rarely use headphones, except on airplanes, preferring to play the iPod through a home stereo, car stereo, or computer speakers.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One Example Of Highly Effective Direct Mail Advertising

Just got this message in my inbox with the subject line, INVOICE:

-Se`nsattional revolution in m`eedicine!

-It's h`erbal sol`ution what hasn't side effect, but has 100% gua`ranteeed results!

-Don`'t loose your chance and but know wiht`out doubts,, you will be i`mpressed with results!!!!

Clic`k h`ere:

I usually don't respond to unsolicited e-mails, but this company's advertising is just so convincing! How can I delete this message without feeling like I'm missing out on an amazing opportunity? I really believe this h'erbal sol' ution will change my life for the better! Plus, the subject line is "invoice," so I must have committed to this in the past and forgotten about it so I had better make good on my promise and order mass quantities!! Don't worry, Craig's Telecom Solutions, my order is forthcoming!!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Career Of Bob Saget

Bob Sagat carried a reputation as the corniest man in show biz with his work as host of America's Funniest Videos in the 1990's. He did a pretty good job voicing over video of animals acting crazy, but it was often so cheesy that you couldn't help but laugh.

He also starred on Full House as the geeky dad, especially compared to the "cool" Uncle Jesse and "funny" Joey. Even though we heard rumors that Bob saget was actually a raunchy stand-up comedian, we couldn't shake the image of him as a cornball.

Last year we finally caught a glimpse of Bob's dirty side when he appeared on The Aristocrats telling a raunch version of the joke. Maybe he wasn't so cheesy after all?

Well, it seems he misses his America's Funniest Videos days a lot, because he's now creating a spoof of March Of The Penguins, where he's going to voice over penguins in the parody. This could be good, but it could also restore is cornball reputation.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Lesson Learned: Buy, Don't Lease.

One problem with renting is that you don't own the place so there are limitations on what you can do. When we moved to North Carolina we lived in an apartment for six months, and I couldn't get DirecTV because the satellite dish would have had to have been mounted to the building. I was real glad to buy a home just so I could free myself from Time Warner Cable!

It seems Prince has been paying NBA Star Carlos Boozer $70,000 a month in rent to live in the basketball player's Los Angeles mansion. But now Boozer is suing The Purple One for making too many alterations. Among Prince's "upgrades":

Painting the exterior with purple striping,
Painting a O(+> symbol on the house's exterior with the numbers 3121.
Installing a purple monogrammed carpet was in the master bedroom
Installing plumbing and piping for "beauty salon chairs."

I didn't see anything about satellite dishes, so maybe Prince likes cable?

By the way, Newsday says Prince's new album is his best since Sign O' The Times. I like what I've heard from the album, particularly 'Fury,' which was performed on SNL, but I have heard that "best since Sign O' The Times" line so many times in the last ten years that I am not sure how much to believe it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Don't Stretch Yourself Thin?

Newsday has an article debunking myths about exercising. Here was the most startling:

Myth: "Before I work out, I should stretch to help prevent injuries."

A 2004 literature review by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed what many studies had shown: Stretching will not prevent injuries. Moreover, stretching is not a warm-up. You're better off performing the exercise you're about to do at a much lower intensity for about 10 minutes - walking or jogging slowly before you run; gently swinging the club before a game of golf.

"There's actually not much data on the benefits of stretching, although it's like God, mother and apple pie - everyone is for it," says Dr. Carl Foster, president of the American College of Sports Medicine.

I love debunking myths, and I have a terrible attention span. I think Mythbusters would be my favorite show, except it's an hour too long. So this combination of debunking an age-old myth and finding a shortcut makes it my favorite news item of the day.

Don't you find it hard to believe though? I honestly don't exercise much, but when I used to run a lot, I would always feel that when I didn't stretch I felt more uncomfortable quicker. Maybe that warm-up technique would have worked better.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Stupid Egg Tricks

Can you really balance an egg at the moment of the Vernal Equinox?

Yes, if you have the right egg. And you should be able to balance that same egg any day of the year. Nobody knows where this urban legend started, but it's been around long enough that we should all be aware that it is an urban legend, and wacky radio DJ's should have something else to talk about today.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hypocrite Of The Month / Hero Of The Month

My pick for Hypocrite of The Month is an easy one - it's Isaac Hayes. He has quit his job of voicing Chef on "South Park"after the show did an episode mocking Scientology. Creator Matt Stone said it best,

“This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology ... He has no problem — and he’s cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians.”

This episode has caused quite a stir among Scientologists. Tom Cruise allegedly threatened to cease promotion of Mission Impossible: 3 unless Comedy Central (owned by the same company that made the movie) agreed to stop re-airing the episode.

Tom Cruise's actions don't surprise me - he's a very talented actor who's many times shown himself to be completely humorless and well out of touch with reality. I'm disappointed that Comedy Central didn't stand up to their parent company, but somehow I'm even more disappointed in Hayes, who looks like a "dish it but can't take it" kind of guy here. I'm sending back all of his albums - as soon as I find one in my collection.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I just read an article about an artist who I am completely unfamiliar with, but who I already hold a great deal of respect for, based on a quote of hers.

Jenny Lewis, who is in an indie-rock band called Rilo Kiley that I've never heard of, is releasing an album with a group called the Watson Twins, who I've also never heard of, called Rabbit Fur Coat. The music on the album is being described as "countrified," "twangy," and "faux-gospel," which is apparently a departure from their indie-rock roots. There is a cover of the Travelling Wilbury's "Handle With Care," on the album, which I think is really cool, but that's not why I am already in love with Lewis, without ever hearing a note from her. It's this statement, about making a different kind of album:

"If some people like it, that's great," says Lewis, on the line from a tour stop in Seattle. "But it's also kind of satisfying to know that some people will totally hate it, because that's a part of expanding your audience."

Brilliant. Just brilliant. It reminds me of a quote made by Tom Petty a few months ago:

Q: Do you think [The Last DJ] did not do well because it was not what people expect from Tom Petty?

A: Well, too bad, you're going to have to take what he gives you. I don't give a damn what you want.

Q: Yes, you do. You have just spent hours talking about the respect you have for your audience.

A: Yes, well, that is respecting them. If I disrespected them, I would pander to them, but I don't. I never have, and I'm never going to. If you just think I'm going to sing "Refugee" every time, I'm not going to do it. I'm too old for that now.

Q: What do you want to do?

A: I'm more interested in what I'm going to leave behind me now than in making a big hit record. I've refined what I do for a long time. If getting better at it means it goes over the heads of those who only wanted to party, then so be it.

Respect for your audience, and respect for your craft. Imagine that. I'm putting Rabbit Fur Coat on my wish list, and so should you.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Pearl Jam is Back (and Tom Petty too!)

Last night I downloaded the new single from Pearl Jam, "World Wide Suicide" off their upcoming album Pearl Jam. WWS is a great track, reminding me a bit of "Satan's Bed," from Vitalogy, which in my opinion is still their best album to date.

I'm real excited about the new release, and hoping their worldwide tour brings them to NC this year. I won't be buying the CD in a record store though. I'm preordering the album here, and for $19.50 (including shipping) I'll get the new album mailed to me, along with a live CD of a 1992 New Years show, and at midnight of the release date (May 2), I'll be able to download the entire album to my computer.

As for the tour, well this could get REALLY interesting. My all-time-favorite artist Tom Petty also has a new CD due out soon (likely in June) and he'll be touring with the Heartbreakers in celebration of the 30th anniversary of their first album. According to an article in Billboard:

"What we're trying to do is a bunch of shows with different artists that either we like or think would be an interesting show," Petty manager Tony Dimitriades tells Billboard. "One of the main things we're doing is a bunch of shows with Pearl Jam. We're also talking to John Mayer about doing some dates, as well as the Strokes."

I have no interest in John Mayer, but a Petty/Pearl Jam combo would be friggin' amazing!

Top O' The Morning To Ya

I never remember it's St. Patrick's Day until I get to work and everyone is wearing green. If I had remembered, I'd at least have eaten Lucky Charms for breakfast or something. If I were still in college I'd at least be heading to the bars this evening to drink some green beer. If I still worked in Manhattan I'd at least be able to go outside during lunch and laugh at the drunks puking all over 5th Avenue.

Instead, all I can do is post "Happy St. Patrick's Day" on this here blog and maybe tonight go see 16 Blocks, a movie starring Bruce Willis, who is probably not Irish, but the film's Director of Photography, Glen MacPherson, probably is.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Juggling Video

I tried to learn how to juggle as a kid, but didn't have the hand-eye coordination (or the patience) to learn. Imagine if I had stuck with it, I could be getting standing ovations for my juggling, like Chris Bliss, in this video:

My NCAA Tournament Bracket

I don't know a darn thing about college sports. Somehow, however, it's inevitable that every March I will get involved in the tournament that determines the national champion. Every year, the one guy at work who actually watches college hoops will rope everyone else into participating in the bracket.

Now that I've moved to North Carolina, it's even worse. They LOVE the college basketball down here. It doesn't hurt that there are four teams (Duke, UNC, NC State, UNCW) from this state in the tournament this year, but these people follow the sport THE WHOLE SEASON.

So I have picked my teams for the bracket, despite the fact that I have never seen one team out any of the sixty four play in my entire life. I picked Villanova to win the whole thing, partially because I actually know the name of their coach, Jay Wright, because he was the coach at Hofstra while I attended.

I was almost starting to care who won the tournament, until while I was reviewing my highly-educated picks, when I saw that the championship game is played on April 3rd. April 3rd! Frickin' Opening Day! Do these people have no shame???

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Davey and Goliath

When I was a kid, there was a claymation show called Davey and Goliath about a kid "Davey" and his dog "Goliath" who would learn some kind of morality lesson in each show. I don't remember if I actually liked the show or not, which originally aired in the 1960's,but I remember watching it all the time because the claymation was cool and I liked the way the dog said "Daaavey,"

There is a new show on Cartoon Networks' Adult Swim block of shows called Moral Orel that is basically a parody of Davey and Goliath. There's no dog, which is disappointing, but the show is a riot. The funniest parts are very subtle. Like AquaTeen Hunger Force, it's on way too late at night, but do yourself a favor and TiVo this show.

Moral Orel

Goliath and Davey

By the way, I have been looking through my recent posts and noticed how many "plugs" I give to products. Believe me, I am not getting paid by these companies. It's funny just thinking about that notion. I just happen to be a fan of "NEW" stuff, and like to pass along information about products and entertainment I enjoy. I think Malcom Gladwell has a name for people like me in his book, "The Tipping Point."

Sunday, March 12, 2006

In and Out

I've been quite lax in posting lately, partially because I've still been recovering from the jet lag I suffered travelling to San Francisco last week, and partially because work has been hectic... But I wanted to make sure I didn't let too much time go by between posts.

San Francisco is a cool city, but one of the highlights of the trip was a quick lunch at In-N-Out Burger. In-N-Out is a great fast-food joint that only has restaurants in California and Las Vegas, so whenever I head out West, I make it a point to stop in and grab a burger. This trip I initiated four co-workers to the great taste of In-N-Out. A trip to Cali just isn't complete without a cheeseburger from that place.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Barry Bonds is Screwed

Just in time for Opening Day, a book titled Game Of Shadows will be released on March 27th written by two San Francisco Chronicle writers which details Barry Bonds extensive use of steroids since the 1998 season. An excerpt appears in the current issue of Sports Illustrated, and the accusations and evidence are damning. Bud Selig has to be praying that Bonds isn't healthy enough to break Aaron's record.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Katrina Catastrophe Still Haunting U.S., Bush

Six months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Mississippi, we are reminded of what a disaster it was, how many people are still reeling from the effects, and how poorly it was- and continues to be- handled.

Last week Oprah Winfrey dedicated a show to the Katrina aftermath, where the images of towns hit look like they were taken in the days after the hurricane, but astoundingly are actually current. People are still homeless, and reconstruction has barely begun. Hundreds of empty trailers sit in lots, inexplicably left undistributed to needy families. USAFreedom Corps and The Red Cross still desparately needs volunteers.

In yet another blow to President Bush and teh Federal government's response to the disaster, today a video was released by the AP that shows FEMA briefing Bush four days before the storm hit, outlining the potential for great loss of life, potential for catastrophe if the Superdome was to be used as a rescue headquarters, and the likelihood of levees breaking. Bush doesn't ask any questions during the briefing, but pledges his commitment to providing support. A clip is then shown of him appearing on Good Morning America after the storm hit, saying that "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." That statement at least was quite apparently a lie.