Tuesday, August 31, 2010

College Football is here!

First games is this coming Thursday night; then a full slate of games on Saturday. My two alma maters - Arizona State and Penn State - both look to be rather shaky on offense. It threatens to be an exceptionally long season for ASU. .
Everyone is picking Alabama to win it all again - but that's mostly because they finished #1 at the end of last season. Lots of teams have a legitimate shot at the title; it's all a matter of who catches the breaks.
My prediction for the championship game? Let's go with Ohio State 24 - Oklahoma 10. Don't ask me why.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dear Obama

Hey, Obama. Here's a thought. Stop trying to "bring us all together again". It ain't gonna happen. One quarter of this country is a bunch of white, right-wing, dittoheaded, tea-bagging racists. I don't want to be together with them. Frankly, they don't want to be together with you and me. This isn't a matter of "liberal vs. conservative" because they aren't conservatives. This is "equality/tolerance vs. racism/intolerance". . They've got 18% of Americans thinking you're a Muslim, and a few more than that thinking you're a foreigner. And they don't like furriners. And Muslims. And Mexicans. And gays. And women that want to think and speak for themselves. . So let's get the truth out. We're in this economic mess because of Dubnutz and his congressional minions. We're hated by the world because we are illegally occupying two Arab nations. The housing market is a shambles because of Reagan-initiated deregulation. And we're losing jobs to overseas because... well, actually that's kinda inevitable no matter which party is in control. . So speak up, Obama. You're too quiet. Americans have short attention spans. When all they hear is people like Beck-the-Speck and Failin' Palin ranting their bullsh*t, that's what's gonna stick in their minds. Expose their lies and shout them down. Your jittery Democratic congress will thank you.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cop Out

Theater Release Date : 26 February 2010
DVD Release Date : 20 July 2010
Genre : Action; Comedy
Length : 107 minutes
MPAA Rating : R
Overall Rating : 5*/10
Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan (who?) play a detective duo trying to bust a drug lord. Willis' daughter is getting married, and he needs a bunch of cash to one-up his ex's rich, new hubby who's offering to pay for the kid's lavish nuptials.
So Willis pawns his priceless baseball card, but the store gets robbed just as the transaction is going down. The card ends up in the hands of - guess who? - the drug lord, who will trade it back to Willis for his stolen Mercedes Benz, which (it is darkly hinted), contains something very valuable. So our dynamic duo takes to car-napping.
What's To Like...
If you wish they'd make some more Rush Hour and 48 Hours series, your prayers have been answered. If you can tolerate believability issues for the sake of disparate plotlines all tying together somehow, you'll like this. Sean William Scott steals the show as a less-than-perfect cat burglar. Someone named Kevin Smith directed - apparently I should know who that is. There's lots of action, enough laughs, and a chiquita in distress.
Alas, this ain't Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker; nor is it Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy. Willis just goes through the motions, and Morgan just isn't convincing as the funny-but-crazy sidekick. The plot is formulaic - if I see one more case of cop(s) getting suspended then solving the case, I'm gonna scream.
In the end, Cop Out is just entertaining enough to make up for the fact that it has absolutely nothing new to offer. It's worth renting, but don't waste your money buying it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gee but it's great to be back home...

...which is a line from an old Simon and Garfunkel song. First person to identify the song's name and the album it's from wins an incredibly meaningless prize. A book or an LP, maybe. . The business trip to Fresno was extremely productive. And extremely hot. The high on Wednesday in Fresno was 110°F, which was six degrees hotter than Phoenix's 104°F. Lucky us, we got to be outside in that heat for quite a bit of the afternoon. But it was all worth it as we solved some nagging process issues. . I missed all the Arizona Primary hoopla on Tuesday. Not that the trip impacted my voting - both Liz and I have done early mail-in ballots for years. I gather John McCain kicked the bejeezus out of J.D. Hayworth, who can give Sarah Palin a run for the "dittohead with the lowest IQ" award. . And now I'm dead tired from a couple 13-hour workdays and the usual stress of airports and sardine-can-sized airplanes. It's time to read a couple pages in my book and fall asleep. Normal blogging to resume (hopefully) tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Off to Fresno

Light posting for a couple days, as I'm off to Fresno on business. I want to thank the weather gods for making it super hot up there right now. Normal for them right now are highs in the mid-90's. Indeed, this coming weekend, they'll only get up into the mid-80's. But while I'm there, the highs will be 107°, 109°, and 105°F.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meat Loaf Concert

The Meat Loaf concert last night lived up to expectations. Good, honest rock-&-roll; and Mr. Loaf's voice did as well as could be expected. His daughter, Pearl, opened for him with her rock band, also called Pearl. She/They have one CD out ("Little Immaculate White Fox"), and I bought it. Review to follow. . The concert was at the Celebrity Theater, which makes for an intimate setting, but at the cost of lousy acoustics. We were in Row 10, and off a bit to the side. Fantabulous! No cameras allowed, but these two pics come close to capturing the essence of show. . He opened with Bat Out Of Hell and then did his number from Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was a pleasant surprise. He only did the first three tracks from his latest CD, Hang Cool Teddy Bear, which is also a good album. Patti Russo was there, and did her usual superb job on the duets. The rest of his band was excellent as well. . They did all the hits we came to hear - Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, Paradise By The Dashboard Light, I Would Do Anything For Love, You Took The Words Right Out of my Mouth, etc. There were about three songs that I had never heard before. They closed with a rousing rendition of the guitar solo from Lynrd Skynrd's Free Bird. . Meat Loaf is sixty-two years old (or, as he prefers it, "sexty-two"). You gotta figure he's not going to put up with the rigors of touring too much longer. So if he's coming to your town sometime soon, go see him. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mr. Loaf

We're going to see him tonight, in the very cozy environs of Celebrity Theater. Presumably he'll be singing all the songs off his latest album, Hang Cool Teddy Bear. One also hopes he'll sing some of his old hits - Paradise By The Dashboard Light and I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That). We shall see. Those are rough on the vocal chords, and he's had recurring problems in that area. . This will be the second time we've seen him. The other time was about 15 years ago, right after Bat Out Of Hell 2 came out. Cheap Trick opened for him back then. Tonight, his daughter, Pearl, will do the honors.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sometimes the bull wins

These pics are from a bullfight in Spain earlier this week. Evidently one of the toros could fathom what was going on, who was responsible, and where to climb up and get to them. That's some pretty awesome cogitating. .40 people were injured, although I suspect for the most part that was due to other humans stampeding rather than the bull himself. And check out one of the girls in the picture below. She's leaning her elbows on the blue towel, and appears to have neither a care in the world, nor a clue as to what is going on behind her. Of course, she's a blonde. .
Ironically, this was a special kind of bullfight where the bulls aren't killed. Mostly young men just run around, acting brave or stupid (take your pick), trying to avoid the bulls. Alas, our toro was eventually captured, penned up again, and because of his antics (or because of his intelligence and resourcefulness), was put to sleep.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

How to tell if you'd like books by Charles Bukowski

Do you consider "Letters to Hustler Magazine" to be great prose? . If so, then you'll find Buko to be fantastic. Full review here.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I see video game characters wherever I go!

On the walls! In windows! And you have to admit - creating MegaMan with colored Post-Its is just plain genius.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Blog

I should mention I have a new blog up and running, with Capital Punishment as its theme. You can find it at www.cappun2010.blogspot.com. . The purpose of that blog is to have a rational discussion about the Death Penalty. I happen to be in favor of it; my friend Ian is not. . It is a worthy topic, although I can't say it is something I am passionate about. Feel free to leave comments. If they are on-topic enough, I may even put them into a separate post. But keep in mind this is a civil debate, and snarky, inane, and abusive comments will be deleted. We are not out to convert each other; just discuss the reasons for our stances.

Monday, August 16, 2010

It's the Economy, Stupid!

It's incredible to me that people are forgetting whose regime put us in this Recession. The dolts who preach that the way to balance the budget is to cut taxes for the rich, and spend, spend, spend.
To a certain extent, Obama was screwed no matter how the economy fared once he took office. If he fixed it in the first two years, the GOP-heads would say, "See! We really didn't screw things up that bad!" And if Obama didn't work miracles (which is the case), then they'd say. "See! It's all the Democratic Congress's fault!"
In truth, Dubya left the economy on the brink of collapse. It's a delicate process to put it back together again and the way Clinton left it in 2000 - with a budget surplus. It won't be fixed overnight, and it won't be fixed in even four years. And the fat cat Republicans who put us in this mess shouldn't be allowed to screw it up once again.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

How can you go wrong...

...with a title like this?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

2010; 99 minutes
MPAA Rating : R (for Nudity, Alcohol, Drugs, Cussing, Violence, Sex, you name it)
Genre : Comedy (Low-brow)
Theater Release Date : 03/26/10
DVD Release Date : 06/29/10
Overall Rating : 6*/10
. Three middle-aged friends (plus the nephew of one) return to a Colorado resort where they (except the nephew) spent a wild weekend way back in 1986. The hot tub is on the fritz in a most unique way - it transports the foursome back to that weekend. Riotous antics ensue, with each of the trio getting a chance to change the course of their lives, even if it jeopardizes the nephew's existence. The hell with the Prime Directive! . What's To Like... It's got time-travel. It's got T&A (for both the guys and the girls). It's got John Cusack and a very old-looking Chevy Chase. The "what if" scenarios are kewl. Stylistically, it's Dumb & Dumber merged with Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. The ending is great, and has a couple neat twists. . OTOH, it has way, way, way too much cussing. And a bit too much up-chucking. The first 20 minutes or so - until they actually go back in time - is boring. This ain't a film for the kiddies. ."One little change has a ripple effect and it effects everything else. Like a butterfly floats its wings and Tokyo explodes or there's a tsunami, in like, you know, somewhere..." This is strictly for when you're in the mood for low-brow laughs. Since I'm a chrono-hopper, I probably enjoyed it a bit more than I should have. Liz thought it was just plain dumb. . The plusses outweigh the minuses by a bit. We watched this Friday night, after my brain had quit thinking, so it was a good choice. On a Saturday night, I'd probably rate it one less star. 6 Stars.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Scrabble Championship

Congratulations to one Mr. Nigel Richards, who recently won th 2010 National Scrabble Championship. You can read the CNN article about it here. Mr. Richards beat out 400+ challengers from 40 states and 4 countries, using words such as "zarf"; a picture of which is shown at the bottom of this post. . A long time ago, I played in the Phoenix City Scrabble Championship. That's not as impressive as it sounds. Anyone could enter (for a fee), and ISTR that prizes were minimal. It was a 4-round affair, and I finished 2-2. There were about 30-40 entrants, and your score was what counted, not your won-loss record. Belatedly, I realized that this means a defensive strategy is a losing strategy, for both you and your opponent. .
The other thing I remember from that city championship was that sweet little old grandmotherly ladies are tigers when it comes to Scrabble. Which is not to say they are poor sports. It's just that, when you're retired, you can spend all day playing Scrabble with your fellow retirees.
In conclusion - above, you have a "zarf" - a handle-less chalice-like cup used in the Middle East for holding a hot cup of coffee. Above that, is a Scrabble board. If you see Abraham Lincoln in that pic, you probably did drugs at some point in your past.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't mess with her!

She hears voices and kicks butt. See here.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I've been here!

In fact, it is only about 30 miles from where I grew up. And Virginville is even closer, being only about 5 miles away. . No one knows exactly how it got its name. You can read the Wikipedia article about it here. One popular hypothesis, not mentioned by Wiki, is that townspeople called it that in order to offend the surrounding farmers, since this is in the heart of Amish country. I tend to doubt that, however, since you don't find any other nearby towns with "suggestive" names. . I took a photo of Liz beside this sign when we were vacationing back there in 1993. God only knows where that pic is now. If I ever run across it, I will scan and post it.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Just Wrong - World Sauna Championship

It's hard to say who is stupider - the organizers of the World Sauna Championship, or the competitors. Contestants are shut in the sauna room; water is poured over the stove every 30 seconds; and the last one to stagger out of the room under his own power is the winner. . This year's competition turned deadly, with one contestant dead and another in critical-but-stable condition in the hospital. You can read the CNN report about it here. FWIW, this is not your ordinary sauna, which is heated to 60°-70°C. For this piece of competitive lunacy, the temperature is raised to +110°C. That's ten degrees above boiling water, for you non-chemists. . A typical winning time is somewhere around 3½-4 minutes. The two injured 2010 contestants were in the sauna for 6 minutes when tragedy struck. .
You can read the rules and the Wikipedia article on it here. Of note (although the Wiki article fails to mention it) is that the contestants sign a waiver beforehand absolving the organizers of all responsibility in case of physical harm, and agreeing not to bring litigation against them in any event. But I have a feeling that this year's fatality will trump that piece of paper.
. Oh yes, there is also a women's competition in this insanity. It's nice to know that stupidity is gender neutral.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Einstein was right...

I've tried to argue this fact several times in Traffic School class, but the instructors had an absolutely sh*tty attitude towards physics.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Inception (2010 Movie)

Theater Release Date : 16 July 2010
DVD Release Date : who knows?
Length : 148 minutes
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Overall Rating : 10*/10
. Unless you live under a cinematic rock (which I do), you've heard all about this film. Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner Arthur (Jonathan Gordon-Levitt, who once upon a time played the boy on Third Rock From the Sun) specialize in entering into people's dreams to steal information. That's called an Extraction. Now a client wants them to instead plant an idea in a victim's head. And that's called an Inception. . The film has the twists of The Sixth Sense, the special effects of The Matrix, and the teamwork of Mission Impossible. It will inevitably be compared to The Matrix (the first one, not the two sucky sequels), and I think Inception is better, because the storyline is not as murky. Yeah, the first 20 minutes are confusing, but everything after that is easy to grasp, and the film wraps up by resolving the opening scenes. . DiCaprio is superb; and the supporting cast is excellent. Only Ellen Page's Ariadne character seemed meh, and that might have been due to weak dialogue rather than the actress herself. I'd deduct a point for this, but Michael Caine is in it, and that's an automatic "+1". It also has a chemist, and he's not the stereotypical psychopathic madman. Kewlness. . The quibbles (such as, how did they arrange to occupy every seat in the first-class flight?) are minor. There are no "black hats and white hats". Indeed, if anything, our heroes are the ones that are less-than-ethical. There's lots of action, and the special effects are impressive, yet don't distract from the storyline (take a hint, Matrix). There's a romantic subplot for the ladies, but it's kept minimal for us guys. The ending is great, yet there is ample room for sequels. . If the concept of "a dream within a dream within a dream" (and one level lower is a place called "Limbo") doesn't confuse you, and the other movies mentioned here are in genres you like, then you'll enjoy Inception. I really can't think of any negatives. 10 Stars.

Friday, August 06, 2010


Ryan stopped by the other day to show us his new wheels - a b*thchin' black Beemie. A convertible, no less! .
Liz took it for a spin and reports that it has a bunch of Vrroooommmm! Now she wants one too.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

RIP - Mitch Miller

Mitch Miller
b. : 04 June 1911
d. : 31 July 2010
. Mitch Miller passed away last weekend at the ripe old age of 99, and everybody under the age of 55 undoubtedly is saying, "Who??" . He was a musician (oboist), singer, conductor of an orchestra, and record company executive. But his claim to fame was a TV program called Sing Along With Mitch, which ran from 1961 to 1964. You can read the Wikipedia article on him here. . SAWM was your standard early-60's variety show - singing, dancing, comedy skits, etc. except that you could sing along with the muscial numbers because the feed had the technological marvel of lyrics running across the bottom of the TV screen. You even knew how long to hold the note, because of a bouncing ball (that's what I'd call it, but Mitch vehemently maintains it was a dot) that hovered just the right amount of time over each syllable. .
I don't remember ever "singing along with Mitch", but I'm betting that my parents did, since it was a regularly-watched show in our house. I suspect it harkens back to their childhood days, before there were television programs and even radio broadcasts. Once upon a time, the usual family evening pastime was to gather 'round the piano and sing songs. Once upon a time, a song's commercial popularity was measured not by record sales, but by how many copies of its sheet music were sold.
So Mitch Miller was more or less the original karaoke host (although Wiki begs to differ), and also the last gasp of the "good old days" of Pop music. While he was trying to get you to sing show tunes with him, four mopheads from England were preparing to take America by storm, and some fuzzy-haired leftist in New York City was telling people that the times, they are a'changin'.
So farewell, Mitch Miller. When I realize that you were already 50 years old when your show debuted in 1961, and that you were still alive and kicking last week at this time, I am truly and utterly amazed.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Morning Dimness

Neither one of these comics made any sense to me this morning. And let's face it, Beetle Bailey and B.C. are not known for their cerebral humor.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Motivational Monday

While I admire his pluck, I'm thinking all of the imminent hits are going to be to his groin.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Time Traders - Andre Norton

2000 (this "Omnibus" edition); 438 pages. New Author? : No. Genre : 50's Sci-Fi. Overall Rating : 6*/10.
This is actually a bundling of two Andre Norton books - Time Traders (1958) and Galactic Derelict (1959). I loved Andre Norton books as a kid; and they're still fun to read on an occasional basis. This book was on my TBR shelf for more than two years; the oldest one there. That distinction now goes to a Louise Cooper book, The Initiate.
My review in 50 words or less...
The Russkies have time-travel. So do we. But someone or something in the past is giving them additional technological marvels. We need to go back, find the source, and take it down. But the Russians, the indigenous people, and the not-so-friendly aliens all might object!
Allow yourself to be snaffled. Click here for the full review.