Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Job

So I quit my job last month to start a brewery.

My buddy Dustin and I decided that the best place for the brewery would be somewhere between Savannah, GA and England and we named our beer Otter Head. We were set to kick off our new venture at the Rock 92 Brewfest in Greensboro, but the distributor only sent us two cases of beer bottles, co
ntaining less than half an ounce of beer each!

Luckily our
customers at the Brewfest weren't too upset with our lack of spring water fresh brew, and we had many people happily line up for a tiny sip of Otter Piss, I mean, Head.

Anyway, obviously the brewery thing didn't work out so now I have to move to New Jersey to sell toothbrushes. Thanks a lot, England!

Here are some pics from the beerfest, our first and last day as brewers!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Jose Reyes Chant in Greensboro

I have just three days left in North Carolina, and a few of us went to the Rock 92 BrewFest to have a good time during our last weekend in Greensboro. It was a four hour, all you can drink affair, and about three hours into it people were getting a bit drunk. Spontaneously, an Ole! Ole Ole Ole! soccer chant breaks out from these three or four college kids. I chime in, but of course sing it it with "JOSE" instead of "Ole." I did it really loud too, because otherwise you'd never even notice it, right? My buddy Dustin joined me in my Jose chant, while the other frat boys continued with the oles, probably unaware that I was pirating their fun.

I spotted a dude across the room in a Mets cap, eyeing me, wondering if I was a Mets fan, or if I was just some drunk named Jose who was imparting his own name into the song. Suddenly another guy comes running over and starts singing along with the Jose chant. At this point it was pretty even between the guys singing Ole and the ones singing JOSE. I think even one of the guys who had started the Ole chant had changed to Jose, just for the heck of it. Finally after a while we stopped and I asked the guy who had come over if he was a Mets fan. He said no, he's a Nationals fan. "Expos Suck!," I screamed. He said "No, I'm an ASTROS fan." I said, so what's with the Jose chanting then? He gave Jose a Reyes some kind of weird backhanded compliment and then called him an illegal immigrant or something. All righty then. So then I saw the guy with the Mets cap walking by, the one who was confusedly watching us sing. "PAUL LO-DU-CA!," I yelled. His face brightened and he gave me a knowing point.

That's the great thing about Mets fans. You spot a Mets cap in a foreign place and you can bet he's a real Mets fan. You see a dude in a Yankees cap in Greensboro, and odds are he's just a frat boy.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mookie Of The Month August 2007

Idiot vs. Idiot in Atlanta

Atlanta city councilman C.T. Martin has proposed an amendment to Atlanta's indecency laws that would make baggy pants that show boxer shorts or thongs, illegal. The amendment states that sagging pants are an "epidemic" that is becoming a "major concern" around the country.

A major concern of mine is why a city councilman thinks a dress code is a good idea. Do I think that people are dressing badly? Yes. But the phrase "fashion police" is supposed to be a joke. I don't think even the obnoxious hosts "What Not To Wear" would agree that people should be fined based on bad attire. Or maybe they would. Maybe they're behind this.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Anyway, instead of just letting this thing get dismissed by the courts, leave it up to the ACLU to completely overreact.

"This is a racial profiling bill that promotes and establishes a framework for an additional type of racial profiling," said Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

Thank you Debbie, for your brilliant comment that stirs up racial tensions instead of allowing the inherent non-racism related idiocy of the amendment to stand on its own. I'm sure the ACLU really appreciates you clouding the issue. Next time we get a statement from the ACLU I'm sure we'll be listening really closely.

By the way, Paris Hilton is launching a new clothing line. Since she doesn't wear underwear, she doesn't have to worry about breaking this potential law which would outlaw exposed thongs!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mike V on Michael Vick

It's been a few weeks now since the initial story broke about Michael Vick alleged involvement in running a dogfighting operation.  When the allegations first surfaced, Vick denied any involvement and said that he didn't know what was going on at the home but barely visited.  He said he was innocent and looked forward to clearing his name in a court of law!  Harrumph.  I was disgusted by the stories of cruel executions of weak performing dogs and the like, but I was also a little offended about the incessant media coverage.  This was everywhere for weeks!  You're not going to find a much bigger doglover than me, but I thought it was a little ridiculous how much attention was being focused on this compared to the war in Afghanistan, our Attorney General looking like an ass in front of Congress, or even the players in professional sports who had been accused of beating their wives!

Still, I thought it was a heinous crime and agreed with the NFL's decision to keep Vick out of camp until the facts came out. Well, so much for Vick being exonerated.  Vick is set to plead guilty to the crimes he's accused of.  Vick will serve his time and the NFL will have to decide what to do when he's released.

What's appaling me now are the people who are rushing to Vick's defense.   R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP said that Vick shouldn't be banned from the NFL.   "In some instances, I believe Michael Vick has received more negative press than if he would've killed a human being," White said. "The way he is being persecuted, he wouldn't have been persecuted that much had he killed somebody."  You know, I have to agree with White there.  I just wonder why he's so worried about this multi-millionaire's career options when so many other African Americans are struggling to put food on their table?  But White's next comment was worse.  According to the article, White also said he didn't understand the uproar over dogfighting, when hunting deer and other animals is perfectly acceptable. Does this guy really not see the difference between hunting deer with a rifle and "starving pit bulls forced to tear one another apart for hours, and animals beaten to death, shot, hanged and electrocuted when they did not perform well."???  Seems Stephon Marbury doesn't see the difference either.  Marbury, who has also taken heat for donating sneakers to boys teams but not girls, said "You know, from what I hear, dogfighting is a sport. It's just behind closed doors."  I'm sure Knicks fans aren't surprised Marbury would miss the point, but seriously, has our society degenerated that far that we can no longer draw distinctions between levels of cruelty?  I mean, I'm no fan of hunting, but even PETA would agree that Vick's crimes are worse than a deer hunters'.  Right?

Of course this story wouldn't be complete without a dose of irony.  The 53 pit bulls seized from Vick's house are on a deadline.  If no one steps forward to claim the dogs by this weekend, they will likely be euthanized

Friday, August 17, 2007

V Music: Spoon

I stumbled across Spoon recently. I love these guys! The lead singer sounds like he's British, though he's actually from Texas, which not coincidentally is where the band formed. I'll do my best to describe their music - it's fun rock, marked by interesting and catchy rhythms and great lyrics. All Music's Mike DaRonco says that "Their hybrid of indie and punk resulted in a number of Sonic Youth and Pixies comparisons," they are "musically adventurous," marked by "mixed unusual instrumentation and nods to Motown and soul," Good enough a description as any, I guess! I highly recommend you visit their myspace page to sample the music. Then, go to itunes and download some tracks or an album (or two). I've got "Don't Make Me A Target," "The Underdog," "Black Like Me," "Sister Jack," and "The Way We Get By" on my iPod rotation.
Link: Spoon on myspace
Link Official Spoon website

Cool Video of the Week

Have you seen the video on youtube of the bison who save their calf from the lions? Even though it was shot by an amateur on a safari, the scene plays out like a perfectly scripted vignette. Scene opens on lions. Bison enter stage left. Chase ensues. Tragedy! Sudden unexpected turn for the worse! I won't give away the dramatic climax, but even the way the "actors" exit "the stage" is oh so Hollwood! You have to watch this 8-minute video.

Idiotic Lawsuit of the week

So now one of the Rutgers basketball players is suing Don Imus and CBS for defamation of character. I am not going to mention the name of the basketball player, but her opportunistic lawyer said. "She would do anything to return to her life as a student and respected basketball player -- a more simple life before Imus opened his mouth." If she wanted to remain anonymous, why did she go on Oprah to talk about it? Why bring up a lawsuit, all these months later which puts her name in all the papers? Give me a break! No one knows the names of those players! All they know is Imus's quote about the women's Rutgers team. She should sue herself! Imus was wrong for making his comments, and he should have been disciplined, but this lawsuit is beyond ridiculous.

V Politics: Kucinich '08

If you haven't jumped on the Dennis Kucinich bandwagon yet, now is the time. He's the only candidate in the race who gives straight answers to questions, and he's the only one with the nerve to take a bold stance on civil liberties. He has an actual plan for America, and Iraq, and most importantly delivering health care and education to all Americans. He also refuses to take a dime from corporations or lobbyists, so if you like what he stands for, he needs your support. The media is only paying attention to Clinton, Obama, and Edwards on the Left, and Romney and Giuliani on the Right. Why, 14 months before the election, why have the media centered in on these five candidates? Show your support for Kucinich (or even Ron Paul, Chris Dodd or Mike Huckabee) and let the media know that the candidate's stances on issues and policy should be the story, not which candidates are raising the most money, or even who is stacking up in meaningless polls.
Link: Reuters: Democrat Kucinich: long shot who keeps on running

V At The Movies

Netflix delivered "The Queen" this week. Even after watching this film about the British Monarchy's reaction to Princess Diana's death, I still don't get the whole concept of the British Monarchy. Am I even saying right. I looked it up on Wikipedia, and gleaned a little information, but honestly I have to say that the whole monarchy business is the one thing that makes the British people look a little stupid. From what I can gather, the monarchy is essentially just a symbolic leadership figure that saps millions of dollars from their economy. The British public's obsession with the goings-ons of the Royal Family is only slightly less dumb than Americans' obsession with Britney, Paris, Nicole and Hillary. I just don't get it. The movie was pretty much a snoozefest too. Unless you're a Diana-fan, and need to check a box off your list, I say skip this disc.
The Queen Grade: C-
Other recent films on DVD I'd recommend: Zodiac, Knocked Up, Breach, Reign Over Me, Fracture

We were lucky enough to score sneak preview tickets to Superbad. Because Arrested Development is one of our favorite shows of all-time, we were really rooting for "George Michael" Michael Cera to have a hit movie. I think our hopes will come true. This movie is really funny. Although perhaps a little derivative of American Pie (and every other movie about high school teenagers trying to get laid), the banter between Cera and his co-stars was just hilarious. Producer Judd Apatow (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Talladega Nights) has quickly become the comedy producer of the moment, supplanting The Farrelly Brothers. And if they ever get around to making an Arrested Development movie, Michael Cera just upped his salary because this movie is going to make him a pretty big star. Very, very funny.
Superbad Grade: A-
Other films in theatres I'd recommend: The Simpsons Movie

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A Day Trip To Motown

On Friday I transplanted myself up to Detroit. Aside from cruising 8 Mile, the highlight of the day was seeing the Mets play the Tigers at Comerica. The Mets won, 3-0, thanks to homeruns by Wright and Delgado, but mostly thanks to an outstanding pitching performance by Jorge Sosa. The game was a brisk 2 hours and 15 minutes, on a perfect evening in Motown. Here are some photos. Click on them for larger views, and then on this link for the full slideshow of the Mets vs Tigers in Detroit.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Mookie Of The Month - May 2007 Bonus (Meet Maddie!)

Mookie got a late birthday present this year - we've adopted her mom, Maddie! Not sure if Mookie likes her present yet though...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gas Prices Are Rising - What To Do About It?
(Updated and Edited)

Over the last four weeks I have received many e-mails forwarded from friends about how to combat the rising gas prices. The first was a suggestion to not buy gas on May 15th. The next was to not buy gas from Exxon or Mobil. Just by doing some simple research, it's easy to find that these techniques will have no effect on gas prices whatsoever.

To me, these two brilliant ideas are an example of exactly what is wrong with America today. We want change, but we refuse to make any real sacrifice to get what we want. I'll show those oil companies! Instead of buying gas on Tuesday, I'll buy it on Wednesday - that'll show 'em!"

I got a third e-mail from a well-meaning friend suggesting that we all call the media and write to politicians and tell them how unhappy we are with gas prices.

I think my friends' feelings are the same as many Americans. We feel powerless as their fuel expenses go up and up and up. can anything be done about it? Aren't we one of the richest, most powerful countries in the world? Doesn't our government have the power to provide us with gas at a reasonable price? What about E-85 Flex fuel? How can the oil companies get away with making hundreds of billions of dollars in profits every year? Are they using middle east conflicts and hurricanes as excuses to just rip us off any more? Isn't there anything that can be done for us?

Well, I have bad news and good news, America. The good news news is that you do have within your own power to lower your personal fuel expense. And it's actually rather simple:

Instead of not buying gas for a day, or boycotting one gas station over another, neither of which require any actual sacrifice, how about USING LESS GAS?

Use less gas, and you will spend less on gas.

It's not as fun as a boycott of Mobil, and not as easy as blaming governments or OPEC, but it will actually work.

Use less gas, and you will spend less on gas.

The only way we can do something about the price of gas is to actually make sacrifices ourselves. Carpool, drive slower, drive less, take mass transportation... these things might not be fun but they are in our control.

Or, you can buy a hybrid - I got 52mpg on my last tank.

Use less gas and you'll spend less on gas.

You may have heard or read some reports in the news about how long it takes to recoup your money by buying a hybrid vs. buying the standard version of the car. For example, buying a Honda Accord at $ vs a an Accord Hybrid at $25k vs. an Accord Hybrid for $31k. These kind of analysis is a total spin-job. First of all nobody knows how high gas prices to go so it's impossible to figure out how long it would take. And the savings also depends on what you are comparing to. It's only if you are really shopping between a regular Civic or a hybrid Civic that those figures are even remotely relevant. If you are going from a truck to a hybrid it's a lot more savings. Is anyone really trying to decide between buying a Kia Rio or a Toyota Prius? Nowadays when people buy a car they buy the best car they can get for the monthly payment they can afford. Under just about any scenario you will absolutely personally save money on gas every month by buying a Prius or Civic Hybrid over whatever you are driving now.

Anyway, it is completely besides the point. The three reasons to buy a hybrid are:

1. Use less gas - lessening the dependence on foreign oil
2. Use less gas - reducing the amount of carbon emissions into the environment
3. Use less gas - say "f*** you" to the oil companies.

But no matter what, it all comes down to what kind of personal sacrifice are you willing to make - how much do high gas prices really bother you? Bother you enough to not buy gas on a particular Tuesday? Or does it bother you enough to buy a car that doesn't have the same torque as a Mustang or hauling capacity as a Suburban?

Here's an article from Newsday that proves my point, that people are complaining, but not willing to actually do anything about gas prices: Vehicle size, not gas costs, drives U.S.

Some excerpts:

As millions of Americans packed their cars for Memorial Day weekend trips, gasoline prices inched upward again yesterday and a congressional committee contended that consumers could save several hundred dollars a year and thousands of dollars over five years if the federal government raised fuel economy standards.

But, in coincidental timing, Consumer Reports magazine released a survey suggesting that many Americans still are not willing to trade vehicle size, power and amenities to save fuel.

In Washington, meanwhile, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer's Joint Economic Committee of Congress released a report saying the average American household could save about $530 a year and $2,680 over five years if their vehicles averaged 35 miles per gallon instead of 25.4 miles per gallon - the average for new cars and light trucks being sold this year.

"Instead of families sticking a little extra money into their banks, they're sticking lots of extra money into their gas tanks," said Schumer, the committee's chairman.

Yonkers-based Consumer Reports, which polled 1,804 people in late April about gasoline prices, said almost 70 percent would seek a vehicle with better fuel efficiency when they buy their next cars, possibly including a diesel, hybrid or "flexible-fuel" vehicle that can run on gasoline or various gasoline-ethanol blends. But only about half said they were willing to give up vehicle size or capacity, performance or unspecified "amenities."

I am just wondering how pissed we really are when 90% of us won't change our habits. Hybrids are just one part of the solution, true. Bottom line: unless Americans as a whole start drastically changing our attitudes, gas prices aren't going down - they will go up. We're already getting the "bulk discount" because we buy so much, and the oil companies have absolutely no incentive to lower prices. The government will do nothing about it in the short term and in the long term prices will even get higher as it gets harder and harder to find more of this stuff.

And don't sit around waiting for flex fuel. Ethanol is only cheap because corn is subsidized by the government. That's the same reason High Fructose Corn Syrup is in everything - if you can make it out of corn it's cheap. But once it becomes more popular it will be more expensive that regular gas because they won't be able to keep up with demand..

All you can do is use less gas and then you'll spend less. If you already think you're using as little as possible, that you can't possibly be more efficient than you are, then tell your neighbors to do their part. 95% of the time when I see an SUV there's only one person inside.

Tell your neighbor, because the one chance to really affect gas prices is if everyone reduces their demand. If that actually happens, prices will go down for everyone. See, if demand goes down, there will be more supply, and prices will go down too. That's capitalism. Yes, the oil companies are making hundreds of billions of dollars. That's capitalism.

The only way gas prices are going to change in this free market system is if the profiteers and government leaders see a genuine change in public behavior. An article was published last week that said 46% of Americans felt the rising gas prices was causing a financial hardship and that they would consider a hybrid or compact car . However, at the same time, gas consumption for the week increased over the same period a year ago. The oil companies and the government see demand rising against a finite supply - the laws of capitalism say prices increase!

Why should the gas sellers believe us when we say the gas prices are unreasonable when we still keep buying the hell out of the stuff? They are going to keep raising prices until they figure out the true market value of it. That means the highest price they can charge without causing demand to go down.

Think about that: how high will gas prices go before people really start taking drastic measures? $5.00 a gallon? $8.00 a gallon?

That's capitalism.

In the capitalist system, if we want prices to go down we need to reduce demand.

Of course I totally think it's obscene for the oil companies to be making hundreds of billions of dollars a year in profits.

But I'm a liberal socialist!

The sad truth is that until we, as a public, admit that we are part of the problem, we are just barking at the moon if we think someone else will find a solution for us.

Of course you don't need to buy a hybrid or compact car, sell your SUV or race car, or car pool, or turn down your AC, or move to a smaller living space, or do anything at all to reduce your personal consumption. It's your right to live whatever lifestyle you want to live. But there's also no point in complaining about unreasonable gas prices just because you think they are unreasonable.

We have two choices:
1. Keep consuming and accept the fact that gas prices will continue to rise.
2. Reduce consumption and actually affect change.

And reducing consumption doesn't require buying a new car. Driving slower, driving less (car pooling, taking mass transit, riding a bicycle) reduces your personal consumption too. You may not think these things have an effect and are inconvenient, but they have infinitely more effect than not buying gas on May 15th or staying away from Exxon, actions which of course require no sacrifice at all.

But if you're not willing to make a sacrifice, and keep driving a gas guzzler, then stop complaining - be happy you live here instead of in England, where gas currently costs $7.12 a gallon!

By the way, on the subject of price gouging, last week the House approved a bill outlawing price gouging. The White House threatened a veto, saying it amounted to price controls and would lead to long lines at gas pumps.

No one is looking out for us. We need to take matters into our own hands.

I think I may have lost some friends this week...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mookie Of The Month - May 2007

I know, I know... I skipped April, so I will have a bonus one later this month.

Mookie seemed like she might be having some digestive issues for a couple days so I brought her into the vet just to make sure everything was fine. They took some X-rays just for precaution. The first image is yesterday afternoon, the second was this morning for comparison. Everything looks great!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Movies I've Thus Far Seen In 2007

When I first started this blog I intended on movie reviews being a big part of the content. For reasons I'm not sure of, I've posted hardly any reviews this year, even though I've seen quite a few films in theatres, as well as on DVD this first 1/3rd of 2007. Anyway, here are the films I've seen this year, with my letter grade.

Zodiac (A)
Breach (A)
Fracture (A-)
Reign Over Me (B+)
The Good Shepherd (B+)
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theatres (B)
Night At The Museum (B)
Rocky Balboa (B-)
Dreamgirls (B-)

Here are the DVD's I've seen this year, with their year of release, and my letter grade:

Babel (2006) A
Transamerica (2005) A
V for Vendetta (2006) A-
Sarah Silverman - Jesus is Magic (2005) A-
Half Nelson (2006) A-
Capturing The Friedmans (2003) A-
Word Wars (2004) B-
Patriot Act (2005) C-
The Terminal (2004) D
Suicide Kings (1997) D
Seems Like Old Times (1980) D
Rock School (?) D
Breasts: A Documentary (?)F

Maybe I'll get back on the review horse going forward...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fast Food: Ads Vs. Reality

Found this link on kottke:

Someone bought a bunch of fast food items, photographed them, and compared them to the way they were presented in ads. KFC's Famous Bowl is about as disgusting looking as it gets.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Cool Photography

During our weekend gaunt through New York, we had a chance to visit some photography galleries. Photography, like birding, is one of those things I have a lot of interest in but know virtually nothing about. I'm one of those people who goes all in or not at all when it comes to an interest, so since I haven't taken the time to learn virtually everything about the craft, I have had to be content with learning virtually nothing. When I finally finish my MBA my plan is to buy an SLR and take that photography class I've always wanted to. And I want to learn Spanish too.

Anyway, I had bought New York magazine at Raleigh airport and leafed through it on our flight to into JFK. I usually like to fly into LaGuardia so I can catch a glimpse of my church, but I digress... New York had a listing of photography exhibits and I noticed that we could visit over 20 exhibits in a 10 block area. So, we decided to spend our Friday afternoon doing just that. Most of the exhibits one of us liked and the other didn't, and a few we both didn't like at all, but we were both impressed by the work of Abelardo Morell.

Morell's most notable works are camera obscura, where an entire room is essentially turned into a giant pinhole camera, with an upside down image of the outside world reflected onto the walls floors and ceilings of a room though a small opening of a blacked out window. The image is then captured on film with a camera using very long exposure times (8 hours or more). It's more interesting to see than explain:


Tower Bridge

A print of Morell's work will cost you between $3,000 and $20,000 but you can buy a book of his work here for $40 or you can gaze at them online for free here, or here. Visit these prints in person at one of these galleries. As for me, I'm going to borrow a book from the library on the technique and learn how to do it myself.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Hybrid Update - 499.3 Miles On A Single Tank!

OK, my goal was actually 500 miles, but I chickened out as I rolled up to the Texaco Station at 499.3 miles. When it took 10.25 gallons to fill up I was embarrassed to realize I had chickened out with another 2 gallons left in reserve. Still, I had averaged 48.7 miles per gallon on this tank!

After reading about hypermiling on, and a guy who has managed 59MPG in a regular Honda Accord and 189 MPG in a hybrid insight, I was inspired to see how much gas mileage I could achieve in my 2006 Civic Hybrid. Now, I didn't go drafting tractor trailers or any of the other insane tricks Wayne Gerdes undergoes, but was just extremely conscious about throwing away gas. My goal is to top 50 miles per gallon.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Finally, A Reason To Watch American Idol

I don't have Sirius service, and I don't watch American Idol, but I do know who Sanjaya Malakar is because we watched the first few episodes this season to see all the lousy contestants. Once the "real" competition starts, we bail on the show. The reason I don't watch American Idol is simple: I've never seen anyone on the show whose music I'd actually want to buy, so why should I care who wins? I remember seeing Sanjaya audition though, mostly because I thought his sister was hot. I remember they both went "on to Hollywood," but I don't know what happened to her since. We watched The Soup this weekend and Joel McHale was making fun of Sanjaya and how he was so bad, yet somehow he kept getting advanced week to week.

Well, last night at a party a friend was telling me the real reason this clown Sanjaya Malakar keeps getting voted through. There's a website called Vote For The Worst that encourages people to keep voting for Sanjaya. Their reasoning is sound: except for the awful singers that Simon Cowell makes fun of, the show is unwatchable. So, keep the worst contestant on and keep the show entertaining. And it seems Howard Stern has gotten on the website's bandwagon and telling his legions of fans to vote for Sanjaya too.

I intend to cast a vote this week for Sanjaya, the first time I've ever cast a vote for anyone on the show. I might even tune in to watch the show this week. So much for this idiot's theory that Vote For The Worst is destroying the program!

Anyway, if American Idol really wants to kill this campaign, there's a very simple solution: only allow one vote per phone. Allowing people to vote as many times as they want is part of the reason the show is so lousy. It's not whomever the best talent is that gets through; it's whomever inspires enough little idiots to stay up all night on the phone. So, restrict the votes to one per telephone number, make the competition more fair, and at the same time negate the sabotage attempt. In the meantime, I'm all over this Sanjaya campaign. Maybe they'll talk to his hot sister this week too.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Talentless Twit Jessica Simpson Gives Minivan To Orphanage

The Associated Press is reporting that Jessica Simpson personally delivered a new minivan to an orphanage in Mexico. She won a car on the MTV Video Music Awards and traded it in for a minivan to donate. Apparently she's all about benevolence lately, as my wife told me she also is auctioning off some junk on eBay to raise money for the cause.

I'm a bit torn on the whole idea of celebrity-donates-to-charity as a news item. One one hand, it gives me more hope in humanity when I hear about a celebrity doing charitable work rather than talk about In-N-Out Burger as justification for drunk driving (though, she did have a point). I also understand the argument that celebrities should announce when they do charitable things, because they serve as role models to the rest of us. When the rich and powerful donate, it can inspire the less well-off to do so.

On the other hand, it also gets me sick to my stomach when every good deed a celebrity does serves as a photo op and an excuse to mention the projects the celebrity is working on. It just smells of a publicity stunt. I can't help but wonder why if Jessica Simpson wanted to support the orphanage, why couldn't she just write a check or, God forbid, go volunteer there for a few months?

What do you think?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Oh, Deer

Here's a short anecdote that demonstrates how, two years after moving from Long Island to Greensboro, I'm still a bit of a fish out of water:

My coworkers and I are heading to a local Mexican restaurant for lunch. We're driving on a new road, and I'm looking out the window at the remnants of what once been a wooded area.

"Hey look, that's funny. There's a treehouse!"

"Huh? No, I think that's a deer stand."

"A deer stand? That's what a deer stand is? I've heard of deer stands, but I guess I always thought they were something you put up to attract deer. I don't know, like a place were the deer would stand, or something?"

"Heh. No, a deer stand is where you stand, or sit, while hunting."

"It's got a roof, and walls. That hardly seems fair."

"As opposed to everything else about hunting that's fair, Mike?"

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Non-Exotic Animal Photos, Part II

Since I live on a small (tiny) pond, I've built up quite a bit of unhealthy hostility towards Canadian Geese. Yet, they do look rather beautiful in these shots, I must say... Perhaps it's time I called a Goose Truce. I'll make Peace With The Geese?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Non-Exotic Animal Photos, Part I

Never thought I'd pass by cows on my commute home from work... (click to enlarge)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Wesley Willis' Chicken Cow Is Alive and Well

In 1995, Wesley Willis sung about The Chicken Cow, a killer beast who could fly as high as a bird, had killed as many as 100,000 people, and who could also break a glass. Willis has been dead for four years now, but if there is reincarnation, Willis may have come back in India as the chicken cow he sung about. A young carnivorous cow has been discovered eating chickens by the dozens!

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) - When dozens of chickens went missing from a remote West Bengal village, everyone blamed the neighborhood dogs.

But Ajit Ghosh, the owner of the missing chickens, eventually solved the puzzle when he caught his cow -- a sacred animal for the Hindu family -- gobbling up several of them at night.

"We were shocked to see our calf eating chickens alive," Ghosh told Reuters by phone from Chandpur village.

The family decided to stand guard at night on Monday at the cow shed which also served as a hen coop, after 48 chickens went missing in a month.

"Instead of the dogs, we watched in horror as the calf, whom we had fondly named Lal, sneak to the coop and grab the little ones with the precision of a jungle cat," Gour Ghosh, his brother, said.

Local television pictures showed the cow grabbing and eating a chicken in seconds and a vet confirmed the case.

Full Story

Rock Over London, Rock On Kolkata - Blockbuster Video. Wow! What A Difference!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Pearl Jam's Biggest Hit Ever?

If you haven't had a good reason to listen to rock radio lately, I can't say I blame you. The same songs over and over again, new crap by Nickelback, idiot DJ's... Hey, I hear you. But I was listening to a local station (96.1 WWMG I think?) while scanning and came across this amazing version of The Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me." The voice was unmistakeable - Eddie Vedder, with a new Pearl Jam cover of teh Who classic. The song sounds as if it was written for Eddie's voice (Vedder is a huge Who fan), and piano on the song is incredible too.

Turns out this song was recorded by Pearl Jam for the soundtrack of a new Adam Sandler movie called, what else, Reign Over Me
, which is apparently a pretty heavy drama, also starring Don Cheadle, about a guy who loses his family on 9/11 and is trying to cope. There's no plans to release the song commercially at the moment - it will only be made available to Ten Club members as part of their membership fee, but you can bet that if the song has legs it will be sold on iTunes eventually. Remember, "Last Kiss" was a huge song for Pearl Jam. This could be almost as big. Listen for it!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A Night In Minneapolis, With Pictures!

I'm in Minneapolis for the night. I have a business meeting tomorrow, but tonight I had the opportunity Minnesota had to offer. That is, all Minneapolis had to offer on a Sunday night with 8 inches of snow on the ground and when you are by yourself because your coworker is stranded in Dallas.

But, lucky for me, there is a real great jazz club just a few blocks away called Dakotas, and tonight I had the pleasure of enjoying the beautiful sounds of Saxophonist Frank Morgan and pianist Joanne Brackeen perform together. It was a real treat. Here are some pictures I took between the hotel and the club:
(click images for larger views)

Minneapolis with 8 inches+ of snow on the ground

The Wells Fargo Center

Mary Tyler Moore in the snow

Oh, Snap! Isn't That Annoying?

If you visit any websites where when you scroll over a link, a picture of the website it links to is displayed by Snap Preview, and you're like me and find that really annoying, there is a really simple way to disable the feature: Just go to this page and Click Where it says to disable Snap Preview Anywhere. Then, when you go back to the offending site, you'll have to click refresh to get rid of the function.

And there you have it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Helping Hershey

Last week, after reading that Hershey announced plans to cut their workforce by 1,500 people, I immediately posted an angry article on this blog, and called for a boycott of Hershey products.

The next day, I embarked on a business trip, and while at the airport I stopped to grab a magazine and a bottle of water. At the counter, were limited edition Hershey's Dark Chocolate bars with Macadamia and Raspberries called "Mauna Loa." I am a total sucker for limited edition candy bars, and really, any new flavor of junk food. So I impulsively bought the bar, and as I'm munching on it, I suddenly realized I had just bought a Hershey's product, mere hours after I called for a boycott!

"Whatever," I thought,"nobody would listen to me anyway." I caught myself, and realized that was just a defense mechanism, trying to make up for my hypocritical action. Then I thought, that maybe a boycott would hurt Hershey sales, and that would only justify their reason for scaling back U.S. production. And, maybe a boycott was the complete opposite way to go aboput this. Instead, we should persuade everyone to "eat more chocolate," and promise Hershey that we would continue to support the company, if they would in turn promise not to go forward with the layoff plans.

My wife and I have set up a website,, where we've laid out our plans, and set up a petition for people to sign. We plan on sending one Hershey's Kiss to CEO Richard Lenny for every person who signs the petition by July 7th (Chocolate Day). We also hope to start a letter writing campaign, where people send letters to Richard Lenny, pledging our support as a valued customer, enclosing a Hershey's proof of purchase, and asking him not to go forward with the layoffs.

Please check out the site, sign the petition, and tell five friends about this movement. It turns out 3,000 jobs are at stake!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It's Electric! Boogie uggie uggie

The creator of the electric slide, Richard Silver, says that party goers at weddings and bar mitzvahs, etc. are doing the dance, all wrong. He says the dance he created has 22 steps, and that people are only doing 18. Specifically, dancers should be touching their toes twice, in succession, instead of just once, and he's considering legal action! You need to listen to this nutjob get interviewed on NPR. Seeing people at parties dance incorrectly gets him very upset, and he's hired a lawyer to explore all options.

After paying my way through college as a wedding DJ, I am permanently scarred from enjoying "The Electric Slide." I can no longer bring myself to do this dance at parties, in fact just hearing the song gives me painful flashbacks, so news that the creator wants to have people who dance it be fined is actually music to my ears! Ric Silver (official website) is out of his gourd but he's got my support.

Now, what can we have done about that cha cha slide or the chicken dance?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Banks and Post Offices Are Closed Day!

According to an article in The New Yorker, officially today is not President's Day, Presidents' Day, or even Presidents Day, but actually only (officially) is George Washington's Birthday Day. See for yourself: !

Other things I learned from reading The New Yorker on flights to and fro Miami this weekend:

*The creator and driving force behind '24' is a self-proclaimed "right-wing nut job,"

*The former owner of the Detroit Tigers and creator of the Domino's empire is on a Catholic crusade. He sold Domino's, in part so he could build what he envisions as a truly great, Catholic university.

*Grey Goose has a new pear flavored vodka called La Poire.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Milton Hershey Just Rolled Over In His Grave

Hershey Co. is cutting 1,500 jobs over three years as part of a plan to scale back production lines and move some manufacturing to Mexico, the candy maker announced Thursday.

During The Great Depression, instead of laying off workers, Milton Hershey employed workers to build such structures such as The Hotel Hershey, a community center, a theatre, a sports arena and a stadium in the chocolate factory's town in Pennsylvania.

To mark this sad day, I suggest everyone go out and buy an American-made chocolate product, such as from Ghirardelli or The San Francisco Chocolate Factory.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Politics As Unususal

Self-loathing black man? South Carolina state senator Robert Ford, who is black, says that if Barack Obama won the presidential primary, “Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he’s black and he’s at the top of the ticket — we’d lose the House, the Senate and the governors and everything.” Way to fight the power, Bobby.

Meanwhile, Obama issues his first apology of his campaign for the White House. He's also going to have to apologize to Oprah at some point. He promised her he's announce his campaign intentions on her show, and instead chose the Capitol building in Springfield, Illinois, the same place where Lincoln delivered a famous anti-slavery speech. My guess is that Oprah will forgive, but she'll expect a spot in his cabinet.

Stuart Smalley is running for the Senate.

Stephen Colbert is trying to correct the "well known liberal agenda" that exists in desserts, with his Americone Dream ice cream. My wife doesn't think she'd like the flavor, vanilla with fudge-covered waffle cone pieces and caramel. I would love Ben & Jerry's to come out with a mint ice cream with coconut, chocolate and puffed rice.

Speaking of mint, the U.S. Mint will try one more time to get the public to accept a $1.00 coin. These new coins will be the same shape, color and metal content as the last failed version, but apparently the gov't is blaming Sacagawea's image for the failure, and instead they're trusting that presidential images on the coins will be better received. The first coins, available tomorrow, will feature George Washington on the head side. Brilliant. One of the most common complaints about the dollar coin is that it is too similar to a quarter, so the geniuses decided to stick Washington's face on it. That should do it. Every three months though, a new president will be honored (in the order they served) - a series that as of now will run into 2016. Can't wait for that Taft coin. Our leaders prove once again that they've got more dollars than sense.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Update: Billy Joel's New Single To Be Released Soon

Earlier this month I posted news that Billy Joel had recorded a new pop song for the first time in 13 years, and I also espoused my hateful (and, to date, unsubstantiated) theory as to why it's been so damn long. Today we learn that the new song, titled "All My Life," will first be heard on Feb 7th, exclusively and inexplicably on, followed by its release for sale on iTunes on February 20th.

Billy Joel will sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday, kicking off a tour on which he'll perform the pop music he'd become "weary of," I guess until now?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Why Yes, Perhaps the Pen IS Mighter Than The Sword, After All!

From the BBC:

US woman fights off lion with pen

A 65-year-old Californian woman has saved the life of her husband, 70, by fighting off an attacking mountain lion with a small log and his pen.

Jim and Nell Hamm were walking in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park when the cougar wrestled Jim to the ground.

Nell started hitting the animal with the log but it kept hold of Jim's head. She then tried to stick the pen in its eye. The cougar eventually let go.

full story

Hell Cat!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Greatest Inventions Of All Time

The four greatest inventions of all time are, in order:

1. Fire
2. Internet
3. Wheel
4. Sandwich

An excellent website all about sandwiches is The Sandwich Project. If you add it to your Google homepage, you'll get updated on the "Sandwich Of The Day"

Today's Sandwich Of The Day (sounds delicious!):

The Notch

What’s in it? Garlic and herb cream cheese and slices of really rare roast beef, red onion and juicy, ripe tomatoes. Oh, and a liberal sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.

What should we know? This sandwich is sold at the Tailgate Picnic deli across the road from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Variations of the sandwich using ham or turkey (or alfalfa sprouts and cucumbers for a veggie version) are also extremely tasty.

Bread Type? Crusty rolls or baguette

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Gift That Says "I Hate You"

The Staples Easy Button, the gift that says "I Hate You."

I should have posted this during the holiday season, but we were in Staples this weekend buying some cable and they had their "easy button" on sale.

I was trying to think why someone would buy it. Then I realized, it's a great gift to give someone you hate. You spend five bucks, give someone the "easy button," and you instantly tell them you despise them, without doing so overtly. You are telling them, "I know you have a stressful job that you hate, so the next time you are faced with a difficult stressful problem at work, just hit this button, which will say 'That was easy,' and instantly your problems will be exactly as stressful and unresolved as before, but now you will think of me and how much I hate you."


And you thought it was a useless product.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Little Something To Help You Sleep Easier...

Just in case the return of 24 didn't have your heart pounding in fear before you went to sleep Sunday and Monday nights, here's a real world news item that might do the trick. Here's the full article, but here are my favorite excerpts:

Venezuela, Iran to finance opposition to U.S.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- fiery anti-American leaders whose moves to extend their influence have alarmed Washington -- said Saturday they would help finance investment projects in other countries seeking to thwart U.S. domination.

"Death to U.S. imperialism!" Chavez said.

Iran and Venezuela are members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and Chavez said Saturday that they had agreed to back a further oil production cut in the cartel to stem a recent fall in crude prices.

"We know today there is too much crude in the market," Chavez said. "We have agreed to join our forces within OPEC ... to support a production cut and save the price of oil."

Chavez and Ahmadinejad have been increasingly united by their deep-seated antagonism toward the Bush administration. Chavez has become a leading defender of Iran's nuclear ambitions, accusing the Washington of using the issue as a pretext to attack Tehran.

Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, has called Chavez "the champion of the struggle against imperialism."

U.S. officials have accused Chavez -- a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro -- of authoritarian tendencies, and National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said recently in an annual review of global threats that Venezuela's democracy was at risk.

The U.S. also believes Iran is seeking to use its nuclear program to develop an atomic bomb.

OK, if that doesn't want to make you want to run out and buy a hybrid or a thermal blanket for your hot water tank, I don't know what will...

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Review: Rocky Balboa

Caution: Spoilers follow...

Rocky Balboa is not a great movie, or even a really good movie, but it is not a terrible movie, or even a really bad movie, so it is not hard to draw the parallels between the character Sylvester Stallone plays in the sixth installment of the Rocky franchise and Sylvester Stallone himself, a character who was successful in getting this movie made, sixteen years after the last one was released.

Rocky V was an awful, forgettable film. It tainted the legacy of the franchise, and as the years passed, helped turn Sylvester Stallone into somewhat of a joke. Not since 1997's Cop Land has Sly starred in a film of much consequence, and we all laughed whenever we heard rumblings that he wanted to revive Rocky, as he neared closer and closer to age 60.

Sylvester Stallone turned 60 in 2006, and indeed saw the release of Rocky Balboa in the same year. My friends and I made plans to see it, as an excuse to get together and laugh, the same way we laughed at Snakes On A Plane a few months earlier. Tentative plans to see it opening weekend were pushed back, and then firmer plans to see it last week fell apart too. But this Saturday we did make it to the theater. On the way, we talked about how we heard it had surprisingly been met with good reviews.

The dialogue in Rocky Balboa is a bit silly at times - you're never more than a few frames away from an inspirational if comically ineloquent speech by Rocky - and by the time the fight sequence finally came around, you almost didn't care anymore. Rocky doesn't win the fight, but he silenced the peanut gallery and put together a solid, inspiring effort for boxing fans. Rocky Balboa won't take home any Oscars, and may not be as inspirational as Stallone pictured, but the story of Sylvester Stallone defying those who poked fun, creating a solid, credible picture, may be inspiration enough.

Grade: B-

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sign That Wal-Mart Isn't Evil?
They May Go Solar!

It's not often you can write something nice about Wal-Mart, but when an opportunity comes along to give them credit, it's only fair to do so. According to an article in this week's issue of Business Week, the mega merchandiser is taking steps to "go solar," to install solar panels on the roofs of many of it's warehouse stores.

The retail behemoth last month put out a request for proposals to install solar panels at stores and distribution centers in five states, according to people who have seen the RFP. The project could take into account as many as 300 buildings and produce 150 megawatts of power, making the Wal-Mart (WMT ) installation the largest in the world, according to a solar industry executive who is one of the bidders.

installing panels on just 40% of company buildings would... dwarf other corporate solar installation efforts, including the biggest in the U.S.: Google's (GOOG ) 1.6 megawatt project.

It doesn't take much of a cynic to suspect that Wal-Mart's efforts are purely a public relations move, but ulterior motivations or not, this would be a commendable thing to do, and a good example-setter for other corporations. With all the available space on roofs of buildings just going to waste, just imagine all the energy that could be produced if other companies followed suit. Great idea, Wal-Mart. Now all you need to do is follow through and maybe we won't hate you so much!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Meeting The 2007 Mets

I was in a great mood yesterday, because I scored tickets to Opening Day at Shea Stadium. I know in some corners of the world "opening day" refers to something related to shooting deer, but for me it only means one thing: The first day of baseball. The Mets kick off the 2007 Major League Baseball season with a Sunday night game on the road in St. Louis on April 1st (sadly, seeing the Cardinals raise their 2006 World Series Champions banner isn't a joke), and their home opener is Monday, April 9th, hosting the Phillies. I don't even remember the last time I didn't go to Opening Day at Shea.

Opening Day is a hard ticket to come by, and so for the last two seasons my friends and I have had to purchase a multiple-game package, just to ensure getting into the home opener. Yesterday I bought a seven-pack of games called the Opener Pack, a group of seven games pre-selected by the Mets, even though I in all likelihood won't be able to go to any of the other six games (living in Greensboro, and all).

But as soon as I got the confirmation from, I put in my request to HR to take Monday, April 9th as a "Floating Holiday." Not a vacation day, and not a personal day. Opening Day is as big a holiday as it gets for me. And lucky for me Opening Day falls the Monday after Good Friday this year, so I'll be able to make it a four day trip up to New York to see the Mets play the Phillies in Shea Stadium's penultimate home opener.

By the way, penultimate is my word of the year for 2007.

For more on the Mets, please visit my other blog, Tales Of A Transplanted Mets Fan.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wanted: Ideas For Film Title

My buddy Ralphy is making a movie, and he's set up a blog to tell the story of his progress. Thus far the movie has no title, so he looking for suggestions. Help him out by posting a comment! Or, help him out even more by donating some funds! Oh, and tell him I should be in the movie, too!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Kottke: Distant Sequels

Jason Kottke posts a hilarious list of some upcoming and recently released sequels which are released a long time after the previous movie in the series, some real and some imagined. My favorite: Beverly Hills Cop IV. Axel does paperwork at his desk all day. Eddie Murphy does double duty by playing a elderly, sassy, obese black woman.

Men: Get Ready For A Coke Zero Blitz

Attention Men:

Coca-Cola has decided to try and make Coke Zero the cola of choice for us, and they are going to spend big over the next twelve months in advertising to make it happen. Look for Coke Zero ads during shows we watch like 24 and NCAA basketball. They've convinced White Castle to dispense Coke Zero from their fountains, and they've changed the packaging to a male-friendly black with silver accents.

When Coke Zero launched, many people wondered what the difference between Coke Zero and Diet Coke was. What's the difference? The answer is that when Diet Coke was launched, it was flavored to be the diet version of "New Coke." Remember New Coke? Even though New Coke failed and was replaced by Coke Classic, they never changed the flavor of Diet Coke. But now, Coke Zero is the true diet version of Coca Cola Classic. The question for Coke is if they can make Coke Zero the diet soda for dudes. Diet Pepsi has been hitting us pretty hard with their NFL-themed ads. It's Cola Wars all over again.

V at The Movies

This weekend I took my little brother to the movies. I gave him two choices, two kids movies that started at about the same time at the theater: Charlotte's Web or Happy Feet. He didn't seem thrilled with either choice. He said his teacher read part of Charlotte's Web and he would wait for her to finish it next week, and he thought he already saw Happy Feet. I think he was thinking of March of The Penguins, but whatever. I didn't want to see either movie myself, but what options were there for an eight year old?

He wanted to see Eragon, but it wasn't playing until much later. So, we saw Night At The Museum. Turns out we had company, as it was the #1 movie for the weekend. I won't bother giving it a full review (Grade: B), because it was a kids movie, and it was OK as a kids movie but I wouldn't rush out to see it if you don't have a young kid in tow. Ben Stiller and Robin Williams were fine, and it was funny enough, so if you have to see a kids movie, it's not abad choice.

he best part of the experience was something seen in a the previews though. Apparently they are making a sequel to Bruce Almighty, this time with Steve Carell, who we all know is hilarious. It's called Evan Almighty. Morgan Freeman is back again as God, but this time Steve Carell suddenly realizes he is Noah, and needs to build an ark. It looks really funny, especially when he tries to convince his wife that building a giant boat is a good idea. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Got A Fat Dog?

Drug companies are running out of ideas to help us lose weight, but they've come up with a drug that could help your portly pooch.
[The FDA] approved the first drug for obese canines on Friday. Called Slentrol, the Pfizer Inc. drug is aimed at helping fat Fidos shed extra pounds. The liquid drug appears to reduce the amount of fat a dog can absorb. It also seems to trigger a feeling of satiety or fullness

Or, you could take your dog for more walks.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Subscribe To This Blog

Every month or so I send out a "Best Of" newsletter for this blog. If you're interested in receiving it, just send an e-mail.

Headline Of The Month

From Yahoo News, we read this headline:

Bush to name retired admiral as top spy

Isn't one of the requirements of being a spy having nobody know your true identity? Way to blow his cover, President Bush!

SHOCKING News item of the day -
Billy Joel to release new song

My buddy Scott sent me this news item from the New York Post:

January 3, 2007 -- BILLY JOEL fans will be happy to know that on Dec. 29, the Piano Man recorded a new song, "All My Life," with legendary producer Phil Ramone at Legacy Studios here. Joel wrote it for his wife, Katie, for their second anniversary last October. "All My Life" is the first pop song Billy Joel has recorded since "River of Dreams" in 1993. In other Joel news, he will be performing the national anthem at the Super Bowl next month.

The reason I call this shocking, is that Scott and I JUST had a conversation last weekend about how I felt personally insulted as a fan that Billy Joel had not released any new original material since River Of Dreams. At the time, Joel said he was retiring from pop music to concentrate on classical music. However, in the past 13 years he's released just one classical album but gone on numerous tours performing the music he had supposedly retired from. He's also released two box sets, two live albums, and a couple greatest hits collections, all with the songs he'd retired from. No music has been released with lyrics by Billy Joel since River Of Dreams. I have suspected for a long time that there must be some reason for this that we don't know about. The real money in the music business comes from publishing deals, and I suspected that Billy Joel, who'd found himself in a couple really bad management contracts, had gotten himself into a deal where any new Billy Joel material (with lyrics) would earn someone money that he didn't want money going to. A wild theory? Perhaps. But the timing of this announcement is suspicious to me, coming right after the new year. Could the bad publishing deal I theorized about have run out at the end of 2006?

I grew up with Billy Joel's music. I remember listening to the Innocent Man album as a kid, riding in the back seat of my mom's old Chevy Nova on the way to my aunt's house. I'm thrilled to hear that he'll be releasing a new song, and I can't wait to hear what it sounds like. I respect his decision as an artist if he was just "Movin' Out" to another stage of his career, but it is tougher to take if it was all about money, instead of "All About Soul."

Music Find - Regina Spektor

I might be a little late to this party, but I heard this song on someone's myspace page, and thought the song was just terrific. Here's the video on YouTube for Regina Spektor's song, Fidelity:

Check out Regina's website where most of her music streams for free.

I mistakenly thought she must be related to music producer Phil Spector (Ronnie Spector's sister or daughter perhaps?), but it turns out she is a Russian-born songwriter "associated with the anti-folk scene centered on New York City's East Village," who spells her last name with a k.

After hearing her song "Fidelity" on myspace, I thought I had "discovered" someone. Then on my flight back from New York on jetblue Tuesday, I saw the song playing on XM Radio's channel 20, where XM's Top 20 songs play. I guess I discovered something already discovered by many others. It might be new to you, though, like it was for me?

I've never been a big fan of Tori Amos's, but I could see where someone might draw comparisons. Like Amos, Spektor is a pianist who seems to march to her own beat, with a musical range that really transcends any one genre. She's got a wonderful, soulful voice, and while it's difficult to foresee such an eclectic musician really achieve mainstream status, her songs have already been heard on some TV soundtracks. I could almost see her career mirroring Bjork's, another person who is hard to pigeonhole, but whose talent is so massive that she is impossible to ignore. Hopefully Spektor won't show up somewhere dressed like a swan though.

On a side note, Regina Spektor is separated from Tom Petty by just two degrees; his daughter Adria has directed many of Regina's music videos.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Story For Those Of Who'd Lost All Faith In Humanity

Just when we thought humanitarianism was a relic of the past, we read about a true hero, Wesley Autrey, a man who risked his life to save a teen who had fallen onto the New York City Subway tracks.

NEW YORK (AP) — Trying to rescue a teenager in a subway track as a train roared in, Wesley Autrey faced a harrowing choice: Try to pull the young man to the platform, or push him down and hope to find a safe harbor between the rails.

"I tried to pull him up, but I had to make a split decision whether or not to struggle and maybe end up getting us both killed," Autrey said later. "So I just chose to dive on top of him and pin him down."

Autrey's quick-thinking move worked. The train passed right over them, saving the 18-year-old who had fallen, police said.

The teenager had a medical problem around 12:45 p.m. Tuesday and tumbled onto the tracks at a station in northern Manhattan, police said. The tracks are a few feet below the platform.

Autrey, waiting for a train with his two young daughters, saw the teen fall. He jumped down to the tracks and rolled with the young man into the trough between the rails as a southbound No. 1 train came into the 137th Street/City College station.

And you thought New Yorkers had no heart.

Hat tip to Dethroner for the link.