Sunday, August 31, 2008

College football is here!

I'm always happy when college football season rolls around. Every year, there's some great cinderella teams to follow, and it also means we Phoenicians can start hoping for decent nighttime temperatures. ASU whupped up on Northern Arizona University, 30-13, which proves absolutely squat. But they looked good in doing so, which wasn't true the last time (2 years ago) these two teams met.
It was ditto for my other alma mater, Penn State, who cruised past Coastal Carolina (who??) 66-10.
So let's hear it for patsy week. Down the road, it will be tougher. ASU has to deal with the bullies of USC in a few weeks, while Penn State eventually knocks helmets with Ohio State. And both USC & OSU looked scarily awesome against their designated patsies yesterday.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Been here too...

It was on a business trip, and we stayed through the weekend. Which meant we had Sunday free, and our hosts took us to see this place. Yes, that is a genuine Roman aqueduct in the background.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Perfect Storm

Last night, we got ripped by a storm like I've never seen before. Everything was calm at 5:00 PM, but 3 hours later, when we took the dogs for a walk, it was lightning like crazy to the east and south. The pic above (no, it wasn't taken by me) gives you an idea of the first wave of the storm. All that light to the east isn't from twilight and isn't from the lights of Phoenix. It's from a gazillion cloud-to-cloud lightning bolts.
The sound was incredible. For more than an hour it sounded like a jet plane landing or a freight train going by. What it really was, was constant thunder. I've never experienced that before. The dogs were naturally freaked.
By 10:30 PM, the electrical storm had pretty much passed. That was followed by one heckuva "normal" monsoon storm, where all the lightning is cloud-to-earth. Once again, the dogs freaked.
Somewhere around 3:00 AM, yet another cell of thunderstorms passed thru. You know how you can "count" to five for every mile away that a lightning strike is? Forget about it. I didn't even get to a-thousand-and-one. By now the jack russell was bouncing off the walls.
Ironically, it turns out we got off relatively light. The brunt of the storm passed to the north of us. There were all sorts of knocked-down trees and flooding as we commuted to work today. We'll close this post with a pic someone took this morning.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Subliminal Message

For those who are not adept at subliminality, it says, "Eat Your Veggies".

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sacred Disorder of the Enigmata

I stumbled across these blokes while googling the word "Enigmatist", which I thought I had perchance invented. No such luck, although anymore, it's a matter of "an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters".
They're similar to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which was previously reviewed here. These guys seem place a bit more emphasis on personal zaniness than the CotFSM, who are more about confronting the idiocy of Intelligent Design being presented as Science.
The website of the SDotE is at . Be sure to "Meet The Flock" while you're there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Family

I would be proud, yea verily even honored, to have the Obamas as our next First Family. Their grace and dignity would be a welcome relief from this...
...and this. And no, folks, those images aren't photoshopped.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rembrandt Homer

Something quick tonight while I watch the DNC and work on my next book review.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Izmir 1929 (photos 6-10)

The other half of the 1929 Izmir pics. Awesome, simply awesome.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Perambulating Pinschers

Clovas and Garth, the wayward Miniature Pinschers, are missing. Again. The guy still doesn't know where to look, so yesterday he showed up where Liz works to see if she had found them. Again. Today, he called her to see if she had found them yet. We'll keep an eye out for them (at least Liz will), but dude, they aren't homing pigeons.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I don't have a problem with two redneck yahoos in Georgia having too much time on their hand, and concocting a hoax about finding Bigfoot's corpse. Of course they want me to believe Sasquatch moved for some reason from the Pacific Northwest to Georgia, then died, and that the rednecks fortuitously found the body before it decomposed. No, what I have a problem with is ballyhooing this story for several days in a row, finally concluding today that the yahoos were putting us on. Well, duh, MSNBC. BTW, do you realize that the word "gullible" isn't in the dictionary? If you don't believe me, look it up.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Izmir 1929 (photos 1-5)

Izmir is a major city in Turkey, lying on the western coast on the Aegean Sea. Its ancient name is Smyrna. I have a friend there who sent me these pictures, which are said to be from around 1929. There's another five to go with these, which I'll post sometime soon.
. She also sent me a link to some pictures taken in Izmir in the 1890's. We'll eventually post those as well. I freely admit it - I love old photographs!

Monday, August 18, 2008

In case you were wondering...

These two images kinda sum up my thoughts on "English only".
Personally, I think every American should be required to become bilingual. When you learn a second language, you learn a second culture. Learn another culture, and you'll have a lot more tolerance for other people. Lord knows, dittoheads can use more tolerance.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gold - Silver - Bronze

I finally bowed to Peer Pressure and watched the Olympics all last night. It wasn't as bad as I had feared - no gymnastics-ballet-dance-interpretation (or whatever they call that) and no Greco-Roman wrestling. I even found some compelling stories - one each involving a gold, silver, and bronze medal. The "Gold" story came in some incredibly long swim contest. There were the usual favroites - USA, Australia, etc. Up in lane 2 was a token "who cares about him?" entrant, a Tunisian named Oussama "Ous" Mellouli. Who we decided to cheer for, since one of my personalities is Carthagenian, and Carthage lies in present-day Tunisia. Lo and behold, Mellouli took the gold, which is Tunisia's only medal so far in the Beijing Olympics. Hamilcar had tears in his eyes, and was also pleased that there was no one representing Imperial Rome (Italy to you modernists) in the race. Congratluations Ous Mellouli! All of Carthage salutes you!! The "Silver" story is the American swimmer, Dara Torres. She's 41 years old, a mother, and someone who embodies the concept of Olympic sportsmanship. She encourages everyone around her, and holds up the start of a race so that a competitor can change a malfunctioning swimsuit (instead of forfeiting). And to those cynics who think that a 41-year-old can only compete via illegal performance-enhancing drugs, she offers to give extra blood and urine samples, in case better detection methods are developed somewhere down the road. The score : Confidence 1, Skepticism 0. Congratulations Dara Torres! You make all of America proud!!
The "Bronze" story is the American sprinter, Walter Dix. He's at the far-left in the picture below, showing the finals of the 100-meter dash. Yeah, the Jamaican, Usain Bolt, routed everyone else in this race, even coasting and mugging for the cameras the last 15 meters. That is quite an accomplishment, given that the race is over in less than 10 seconds.
But it's Dix that caught my eye. In a sport where wind-resistance is a compulsive obsession, his dreadlocks were a welcome sight. And he wore his sunglasses, even though it was a nighttime event.
Congratulations Walter Dix! All of us who "march to the beat of a different drum" have a new role model!!
Oh yeah, some guy won a bunch of Gold medals in swimming. Michael Phipps, I think. Or maybe his name was Michael Philbin. No wait, I think it was Michael Pheromone. Whatever.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday cartoons

Yessirreebob, we showed them Russkis who's boss.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Worth1000 fix for the week

Oh yeah, you might talk me into watching this one. Then again, probably not.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Georgia on my mind...

What were those chuckleheads in Georgia thinking when they "liberated" South Ossetia? Has Putin given the impression of being a wimp? Here's the best analogy I can come up with. Suppose Hawaii decides to break away from the USA. (and given the history of our heavy-handed occupation of Hawaii, they have every moral right to do so). Then let's say there is enough tension there to where the whites and natives tend to migrate into separate neighborhoods, a sort of de facto segregation. Now further imagine the Hawaiian national government opening discussion with the Chinese for a mutual defense pact. And last of all, they move against the white settlers in Hawaii, in a Zimbabwe-type "land liberation" grab. At some point, you just sorta expect the US to give those Hawaiian upstarts a forceful military response in order to show them who's who. So it goes with Georgia deciding to force the issue in South Ossetia. They've whopped the bear across the nose a couple times, and now one very p*ssed-off grizzly is on the rampage. I can sympathize with Georgia's present predicament, but for Pete's sake, what did you expect when you slapped Putin's face?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Batman - The Dark Knight

With Christian Bale and (the late) Heath Ledger. 2½ hours. Rating : ****½ (out of 5*). This Weekend We Saw... Actually, it's been a couple weekends. No need to give background on B:TDK, since everyone and his brother has also seen it. We went the second weekend (at 4:30 Saturday afternoon), and surprisingly, the theater was only half-full. What's To Like... Great action. Great acting. Great city shots of Chicago and Hong Kong. A very dark treatment of Batman, but hey, that was true in the previous film - Batman Begins. The 2½ hours went by very quickly. Oh, and the "wannabee Batmen" were a nice touch. Heath Ledger is superb as the Joker. There's nothing funny about him, as opposed to the way Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero played him. He steals the spotlight from Bale's Batman, but then again, that's been happening since the TV series. There are some nice twists, such as when the Joker kidnaps both the promising DA and Batman's ex-GF, and puts them in two widely-separated warehouses with (of course) bombs. Batman (seemingly) only has time to save one of them. Guess how this gets resolved. Wrong! Oh yeah, and there's no Robin. That's a plus. What's Not To Like... It was best not to try and make logic out of the plot. The Joker knocks over a mob-run bank, and offs its mob-manager. The ethnically-diverse (yeah right) mobsters meet, only to find some Chinese guy has inexplicably taken all their money to Hong Kong. For equally obscure reasons, Batman takes it upon himself to go there and recover the money and bad guy. The Chinese miscreant is eventually done in by The Joker. The mob forgives the Joker for robbing them, and agrees to give him half their money. Confused yet? Me too. Who wants to think anyway... Okay, see all those plot problems? Forget about them. Nobody goes to a Batman movie to critique its plausibility. B:TDK is great entertainment. I don't think I'm ready to claim it's the best movie of 2008, and I won't automtcially concede the Oscar & Academy Awards (what's the difference between those two anyway?) to Ledger, although his untimely demise certainly improved his already-good chances. Come the end of December, B:TDK will surely be in the Top Five movies of the year, so we'll give it four-and-a-half stars, only cuz I'm mighty stingy with my 5-star ratings.

Monday, August 11, 2008


This is Rounders. Believe it or not, there are some people who think it compares favorably to major league baseball. Hey, that guy in the light blue shirt in the picture above is about to get whacked right in the.... yeah, well, pretty much anywhere he gets hit is gonna hurt.
Stay tuned. Sometime soon we'll discuss Britain's other baseball-wannabee sport - Conkers.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Perfect Day

Texas Rangers 15 - Baltimore Orioles 7
Arizona Diamondbacks 6 - Atlanta Braves 1
Philadelphia Phillies 6 - Pittsburgh Pirates 3
Los Angeles Angels 4 - New York Yankees 3
It was a perfect day of baseball for me. My Rangers, Diamondbacks, and Phillies all won; and those dastardly Yankees lost. That's Marlon Byrd in the photo, hitting a double in the Texas victory.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

She's a doppelganger!

Or maybe they're twins, separated at birth. Alternatively, they're one and the same, since you never see Cruella and Cindy at the same time.
BTW, the author of this cool association is not me. It was originally posted at a truly awesome website.

Friday, August 08, 2008

I've been here!

Only once, about 8 years ago. It was night when we visited those towers in the background, and drizzling. I'll let you guess this place. At the bottom of one of the towers is a three-story shopping mall that we wandered about in. At the time, IIRC, the public didn't have access to that walkway you see in the picture below. They opened it about a year later.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

More Xkcd

This has been me once or twice. See more at

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Perfect Time for a Breakdown

Artist : Sharon Little
Album : Perfect Time For A Breakdown (2008)
Genre : Blues (White Girl Blues)
Rating : ***** * (out of 10*)
. This Week I'm Listening To... Sharon Little was the opening act at the recent Robert Plant/Alison Krauss concert. As mentioned in the review for that, Sharon gave a solid performance, albeit nothing that would make Plant/Krauss fear being upstaged. Perfect Time For A Breakdown is her accompanying CD, and you can find all her concert tracks on it. This is her debut album, other than a demo, Drawing Circles, issued in 2006. . YouTube Links... You can hear/see Sharon singing Try, which IMO is her best song, here. And Follow That Sound, another good track from PTfaB, is here. There's another half-dozen or so SL clips out there at YouTube, so you can get quite familiar with her. . What's To Like... PTfaB exists to showcase Ms. Little's singing abilities, and it does a good job at that. All the songs are done in White Girl Blues style, but there's a nice variety of sounds within that sub-genre. . PTfaB can be summed up in two words : "Not Bad". The songwriter is not bad. Sharon's singing is not bad. Her stage-show is not bad. . Her publicist is doing a not-bad job. In addition to the YouTube videos, someone has recently (last couple weeks) added a short entry on her at Wikipedia. 12 of Sharon's family and close friends have posted rave reviews at OTOH, the RateYourMusic entry is badly out-of-date, and has no entries. . What's Not To Like... Well, PTfaB can also be summed up in three words : Not Bad, But... The fundamental weakness noted at the concert carries over to the album - Sharon shares the spotlight with the rhythm guitarist, Scot ("one-T") Sax. The CD blurb says he co-wrote a lot of the songs with Sharon. And for all I know he might also be her main squeeze. But folks, the last time I saw a rhythm guitarist in the limelight was REO Speedwagon, and there at least he was also one of the lead singers. . Accordingly, the lead guitar is relegated to the shadows, both musically and personally. Sorry, Sharon, you're not bad, but to make it to the top, I honestly think you need to be complemented by a b*tchin' lead guitar. Hey, maybe you can persuade T Bone Burnett to join you. That would be quite the pairing. Perfect Time For A Wannabee... White Girl Blues is not one of my favorite music types, so I polled a multitude of other people who attended the Phoenix concert. I can't tell you their exact number, but both of them agreed with me - there are other artists who do this sort of stuff better. . Personally I felt Sharon was a Melissa Etheridge wannabee. Liz, who knows this genre far better than I, called her a Tracy Chapman wannabee. My co-worker friend suggested she was a Susan Tedeschi wannabee, who in turn has often been called a Bonnie Raitt wannabee. What does it say about you when you can be summed up as a wannabee wannabee? So we'll give PTfaB six "not bad" stars. And check back with her when her next album comes out. Here's hoping there will be a next album.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Bumper Sticker for the Day

Gotta get me one of these. BTW, my brother who lives in Los Angeles, for many years had a "Support Your Local Police...State" bumper sticker on his car. I wonder how many times he got pulled over because of that.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Where in the world?

This is on Bill Clinton Boulevard, which is in.... well, I'll let you try and guess that. A friend of mine just returned from there and took this picture for me.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Happy Ending

Our miniature pinscher saga had a happy resolution this morning. At 7:00 in the cotton-pickin' morning our phone rang. It was the owner of Mimi and Pepe; whose real names are Clovas (sic) and Garth.

He drove over right away to pick them up, and the resultant tail-wagging confirmed that he was indeed their owner. He lives a couple blocks from where Liz found them. When he came home Wednesday afternoon to find them gone, he said he didn't know where to look. So he didn't look. I think someone's a few fries short of a happy meal.

His mom saw Liz's "Found Dog" signs this morning when she was putting up "Yard Sale" signs. That explains the early intrusion on my weekend sleeping. But the guy has a 9-year-old son, who I am sure is overjoyed to have his puppies back.

All's well that ends well. Our three dogs said they won't miss Clovas and Garth one bit.