Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Blogthing: Mad world

This nasty little viral marketing campaign has been super successful for AMC and the producers of Mad Men.

It's not that original, but anytime you appeal to a person's vanity and ask them to "Madmen Yourself" (or Elf yourself, or South Park yourself), chances are you'll get a good response.

It doesn't hurt that Mad Men it probably one of the five best shows currently airing on any network. New season begins at 9 p.m. Central on Sunday, Aug. 16.

That's me on the left, giving fashion advice to Don Draper.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Iron man



The ironic thing is that as I was trying to iron my pants this morning for work, I would iron one side but at the same time I was accidentally ironing new wrinkles into the other side.

I know. Ironic.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: War is hell

Believe it or not something very similar to this happened at a company I used to work for... shortly before it went out of business.


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Friday, July 24, 2009

Police state cometh

There's a lot of hoo-hah and bluster going on right now about how stupidly the cops in Cambridge, Mass. acted for arresting a guy who was breaking and entering his own house.

Every one is all verklempt by the outrageous actions of the police, or the outrageous actions of Professor Gates, or the outrageous comments of the president. In short, everyone is outraged.

Me? Meh. I can't say I'm surprised by the incident. And frankly, as a society we probably deserve it.

For year's we've been told by politicians that we're in huge trouble. We're on the brink of disaster from terrorists, or economic calamity, or illegal aliens, or unfettered gun ownership, or swine flu. Pick your poison, we're dying from pretty much everything these days.

The result, of course, it that we willingly vote for people who say they can protect us. Sure it will cost us about half our annual income in taxes each year. But isn't that a small price to pay for security and the promise of long life?

Well except for those times where our protective golem turns against us. The Gates/Crowley incident is only one recent example.

In Western Australia recently, police used "non-lethal" weapon to subdue a crazy gasoline fume sniffer. Unfortunately, this made the perp a little hot under the collar.
Mitchell's sister told The Australian newspaper that her brother had been sniffing petrol.

"He must have put petrol on his face, then the policeman shot him with the Taser, that's when the flames happened," she said.

Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said Mr Mitchell was a known violent offender, and defended the police officers' deployment of the Taser.
I'm not saying the Taser wasn't justified. Probably it was. Still...

Then there's the case of Boise, Idaho cops who when crazy with their Tasers:
The February incident was captured by an audio recording made by one of the police officers at the unidentified man's home.

"If you move again, I'm going to stick this Taser up your (expletive) and pull the trigger," one of the officers said. "Now, do you feel this in your (expletive)? - I'm going to Tase your (expletive) if you move again."

Police violated the department's use-of-force policy when the officers Tasered the man once in the back before he was handcuffed, and then in the buttocks after he was handcuffed...
Look, I'm not down on cops. I like the police in general.

What I'm sayin' is that we have ourselves to blame. In general we're tending to put too much faith in "the authorities" to look out for us, instead of looking out for each other, keeping each other safe, making sure our neighbors and families aren't starving, or sick (physically or mentally).

If we make the government collectively responsible for everything, then the governed aren't individually responsible for anything.

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Friday Blogthing: All revved up with no place to go

Okay, I admit it. I had to do this quiz a couple of times before my result came up with a Ferrari rather than a lame-ass Mercedes.

I'm a Ferrari 360 Modena!



You've got it all. Power, passion, precision, and style. You're sensuous, exotic, and temperamental. Sure, you're expensive and high-maintenance, but you're worth it.


"Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.



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Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Legend of Dexter, Part I



Let me introduce you to Dexter the Wonder Dog.

No, he wasn't named after Dexter the serial killer of criminals. He's been around much longer than that. He was actually named after Dexter, the boy genius.

Anyway, you may recognize him as a Jack Russell Terrier. Not sure how much you know about dog breeds, but this particular strain of terrier was originally bred back in the days of yore by the Parson Jack Russell, hence the name (this isn't getting too complicated for you, is it?).

It turns out that foxes were a huge problem in England back in Master Russell's day, and he needed a dog that would chase foxes, weasels and the like into their burrows and bring them back out or hold them there until they could be dug out. So the dogs had to be fierce, brave and smart, not to mention very athletic with lots of stamina (If you've ever chased a weasel into a hole, you know what I mean).

Our boy Dexter is all of these things. In fact, it is his superior intelligence and athleticism that allows him to do such things as Sit...

... Sit Up ...
... Lay Down ...... Roll Over...... Play Dead ...
... Stand ...... Dance ...... Take a Bow ...
... And even jump through hoops ...
Dog is smart, is what I'm sayin'. And while he's generally good tempered (he especially likes people (unless you're wearing a US Postal Service Uniform, then God help you...)), he has neither love nor patience for rodents roaming around his backyard.

Rabbits are summarily chase out without exception. And normally ubiquitous squirrels in our neighborhood caused him no end of agita as they taunted him from the treetops.

That is until a few weeks ago.

It was a pleasant mid-summer's day. Dexter was on his regular daily patrol in the back yard when he noticed one of the evil gray squirrels sharpening its teeth on our daughter's swing set.

He immediately gave chase, barking like Christian Bale on crystal meth. In a few seconds he had the quarry treed in one of the river birches we have in the yard.

Dexter barked and chased the squirrel from tree to tree for the next couple of hours. Yes, hours. That's why we sometimes call him The Tenacious D. He doesn't give up easily.

Eventually the squirrel made its way back to the wood-frame swing set. Typically, a squirrel will run back and forth across the top ridge of the swing set, working to get Dexter out of position so that it can make a running jump to the chain link fence and escape to the safety of the neighbor's yard.

But not this day. On this day, Dexter was on his game. He had put too much time and effort into chasing this furry offender, and he wasn't about to let him go.

When the squirrel made the leap, Dexter was ready. The rodent hit the ground and Dexter was on him in a flash. Powerful canine jaws immediately clenched on fragile rodent throat.

A few violent shakes of the head and the snap of a spine and it was all over.

The story was relayed to me by my backyard neighbor, who works from home and saw the whole thing (no doubt highly annoyed by the incessant barking, but entertained nonetheless by the exciting ending). He said he saw Dexter carry the carcass and leave it along the south fence line. I looked but couldn't find the remains of the squirrel.

I assumed that Dexter had devoured his hard-earned bounty. But a few days later I found the dead squirrel as I was mowing. It was undefiled by Dexter, aside from a bit of gnawing on its tail. Yes, it was smelly and maggot-infested, but Dexter hadn't eaten so much as an ear.

It was all sport for him. A killing driven by a deep instinctual need to fulfill that for which he was bred.

I should mention also that I haven't seen a squirrel in our back yard since this incident.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In my head

This post probably falls into that "random thoughts" category that you see so much of when people are feeling particularly uninspired.

Except, this is probably a step lower than that, since these random strains of non-contemporaneous stream of conscientiousness aren't really meant to be cohesive thoughts as such, just a snapshot of the words that happen to have bounced around my gray matter at various moments in the past couple of weeks.

Anyway, submitted for your ennui:
  • Damn, it must be time to get out a new razor blade. It feels like I'm shaving with a rusty Ginsu knife! Shit! I just cut my upper-lip mole. That's going to bleed like crazy.

  • Oh c'mon lady! Who writes out a check these days! We're living in the future now! Fer cryin' gyahhhh!

  • Where the heck is everyone, it's only 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Did I miss the "take the day off early" memo?

  • Ooookay, by the looks of these urinals I guess housekeeping took the day off.

  • It was nice to sleep in. But wait a minute. If you get up at 3:30 in the morning then go back to sleep at 5, then get back up at 6 then go to sleep at 7 and sleep until 9:30... is that really sleeping in? or does it count as an early morning nap?

  • That Peter Sarsgaard is really coming off like a pretentious douche (I was watching him on Conan at the time -- Edit.). "Oh, I live in England and I got married in Puglia and had my honey moon on the Amalfi Coast and I'm soooo much better than everyone." Just take it easy man. We're both from the same side of the tracks here. Orphan is just another lame horror flick. It's not the second coming of Citizen Kane.

  • What the...?! Who the...?! What are you talking about?!

  • I wonder who decided that an ellipsis is three dots and not, say, two or four.

  • Peter Sarsgaard's name is fun to say in a pirate accent. "SAAARSGAAAAHHHHHRRRD!!!"

  • I need to stop intentionally mispronouncing the word nuclear just for laughs. It's getting a little too easy.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Trumpet prodigy

I had a chance to catch this kid playing his cornet briefly over the weekend. Geoffrey Gallante was scheduled to play the National Anthem at Sunday's Royal's game. Not sure if he did or didn't since I wasn't at the game (maybe one of you Royals faithful can confirm).

But I did see him give a brief solo at another venue and I gotta say, kid's got chops. At 8 years old he can stand up and jam with the likes of Phil Driscoll, Arturo Sandoval, Wynton Marsalis and even Maynard Ferguson. He's definitely a talent to keep your eye on in the future.

Here he is crankin' out a little Herb Alpert and the TJB.



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Monday, July 20, 2009

Reconoitering the 'hood

It's been about a month since I checked in with my neighborhood reconnaissance team.

I usually like to get a report every two to three weeks, so I was long overdue (an operative like myself needs to stay informed). So my primary assignment for Saturday was to stop by the intelligence HQ and get a debriefing on activities observed in the community.

Also, I got my hair cut while I was at it.

Anyway, the biggest news in the neighborhood is that local Irish pub O'Neill's is relocating from Prairie Village, across Mission Road, into Leawood. Rumor was that the owners of O'Neill's had been upset with Leawood city bureaucrats due to the difficulty of obtaining a liquor license for the new location. According to my sources, this rumor is just that. A rumor. Good thing too, because what's an Irish pub without a liquor license?

My agents also scoped out the exact location of the new O'Neill's. It's next door to Foo's (FTW!), in the spot at the end of the strip on the northeast corner of 95th and Mission. The storefront was previously occupied by kids' clothing store Chocolate Soup (RIP).

Judging from the reconnaissance photos, though, there's still a lot of work to do before the September opening.

The move is necessitated of course because Walgreens bought the building that O'Neill's and a couple of other businesses currently occupy. Prior Attire, a consignment clothing store, is moving west to 95th and Nall where it will compete with a new store opened by large consignment chain Savers.

The Mission Animal Hospital will move around the corner to the space formerly occupied by a Blockbuster video store (RIP and good riddance). Luckily, this is right next door to our local Planet Sub, so you can grab some snackage while your having your pet spayed or neutered.

As for the Walgreens, well no news yet on them. They are obviously moving into the neighborhood to compete with the CVS, which just opened it's new building across the street in the newly remodeled Ranch Mart shopping center.

The new CVS is an order of magnitude nicer than the old store, which was severely showing its age. I was in there the other day to pick up some allergy meds for the ladies in my life. The store layout, organization and atmosphere are all much improved.But one thing that caught my eye as I was leaving the (newly repaved) parking lot was this pergola-like structure under construction in the back. It looks really interesting, like it would make a nice outdoor park or drinkin' bar. Not sure what it will be though. I'll have to assign one of my agents to look into it.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Blogthing: Harry Potter and the Half Lame Quiz

I'm probably the only person in the literate world that hasn't read a single word from a single Harry Potter book.

That doesn't make me special or anything. Maybe I just don't know what I'm missing. But after seeing some of the movies (I can't remember which ones, they're all the same to me), I just can't see myself investing the time needed to slog through the printed version.

But, in lieu of going to see the latest HP movie (I think it's called "Harry Potter and the Clever Marketing Campaign") I'm doing this lame-ass quiz.

Which Harry Potter Character Are You?
Harry You're a leader and a good friend. You have a tumultuous past, but that doesn't get in the way of your impressive future.
Fun quizzes, surveys & blog quizzes by Quibblo


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bastille Day

I'm a day late with this, so sorry (like you care).

A long-time reader reminded me in an email that yesterday was Bastille Day. So happy prison breaking to all you French people out there.

Also that it was the blogiversary of this blog -- 4 years. I usually don't like to write (or read) blogs about blogging. It's all a bunch of self-referential bunk anyway, tales told by idiots and signifying nothing. So I'll keep this short.

Four years, roughly 1,100 posts, about 1,200 spelling and grammatical errors, lots of friends, acquaintances and comments.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Sorry you had to suffer through some of this dreck.

And now, do commemorate the occasion...



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Moving the bar

When we moved into our current house a couple of years ago, it didn't take us long to discover O'Neill's.

Not like it was hidden or anything. It's just up the street from our house, less than a 10-minute walk.

We quickly became regulars. Not so much for the food -- it's good food, slightly above most "bar food" fare, but not out-of-this-world. And not only because of the proximity, although the quick walk is a definite plus.

I think it has more to do with the atmosphere. There's a full bar, but the place is friendly and very family oriented. And even though a majority of the clientele are, well, let's just say "retirement age," the place has always reminded me of what I imagined the Regal Beagle from Three's Company to be like. So it's got that nostalgic quality.

That's the background for why I felt initially shocked and dismayed when I saw the noticed taped to the front door of the restaurant when we went there for lunch a couple of weeks ago. It was a notice that looked sadly similar to many of the other "damn the economy's tough and we're going out of business" notices that you see a lot of these days.

Fortunately, while I was getting my harakiri knives ready, I read a few more paragraphs and saved myself the embarrassment of public self-disemboweling. Turns out, O'Neill's isn't closing for business, just relocating.

And the even better news is that they're moving across the street to the east -- a bit farther, but still close enough to walk.

Here's the text of the notice (just to put your mind at ease):
After nearly a decade in Prairie Village, O'Neill's Restaurant & Bar has finalized a deal to jump east across Mission Road to Ranchmart North Shopping Center in Leawood.

It will operate at it's current location at 4016 W. 95th St until August 22, ending its tenure there with a big party.

The new location will allow it just one more table in the restaurant/bar area but also enough space for a party room and an outdoor patio.

A mid-September opening is planned with nearly the same Irish pub d├ęcor as the current location and the same menu - from Irish pot roast to Bayou pasta to steak or codfish sandwiches to soups and salads.

"This is one of the best neighborhoods," said Brian O'Neill Schorgle, owner of O'Neill's. "O'Neill's will be the same as before but better."

Walgreens will take O'Neill's current space, going corner to corner with the new CVS pharmacy store under construction at Ranchmart South Shopping Center.
So crisis averted. We get to keep out O'Neill's, albeit another block away, and we get a new Walgreens (whatevs) to boot.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Goldman-Suchs

So Goldman Sachs posted their earnings report this morning.

Thanks to you and the money that was contributed on your behalf by our government in the form of TARP and other bailouts, Goldman-Sachs posted a profit of $3.44 billion (beating analysts forecasts by nearly a billion and a half dinero).

So good job America, we've saved the company that destroyed our financial system.

To commemorate the occasion, here's part of an interview with Matt Taibbi (we've mentioned him before) one of the last journalists with any testicular fortitude. Here he discusses in part how ingrained Goldman-Sachs is in the running of our country (and other countries) with operatives placed high up in the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations.



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Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Blogthing: The Humans Are Dead

One of the things that takes the sting out of the cultural toilet flush we find ourselves in is the knowledge that before we have a chance to self destruct in an orgy of welfare, entitlements and celebrity worship, we will be destroyed by our own robotic creations.

Of course, they'll keep some of us around to perform basic cleaning and maintenance. I for one welcome our new robotic overlords. Consider this my job application.


Electronic Mechanical Assassination and Worldwide Killing Construct

Get Your Cyborg Name





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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Land of the slightly free and the home of the indebted

In our ongoing social/civic/economic discussion, Xavier Onassis, my second cousin twice removed and head of the International Organization of Bald Guys with Sunglasses and Goatees (IBGSG for short), made some valid points showing how the Obama administration is pushing our country closer to what the Founding Fathers had in mind.
The current administration is ...making the painful and expensive, but necessary, investment into the social, legal, political, and physical infrastructure that facilitate our pursuit of the ideals that this country was founded on. ...With Obama at the helm, America may finally become the country it has always aspired to be.
And I can't see how anyone could argue these points.

I mean, the evidence is everywhere. Just look at the domestic spying bill Obama and his Democrats (and Republicans) have continually supported. It hearkens back to the "Spying on our own people is totally cool" clause of the U.S. Constitution written way back in 1787.

Then, of course, there's the babillion dollars we've spent bailing out businesses that, by all rights, should have been buried years ago. This is consistent with Thomas Jefferson's line in the Declaration of Independence where he writes "When in the course of screwing the country out of billions of dollars it becomes necessary to give those parties trillions more dollars for even more screwing activities..."

Also, I know all of the Founding Fathers were big supporters of huge taxes. They all believed that U.S. citizens should pay at least 55% of their annual incomes to the government, which they in turn believed should be the largest employer in the country. This was demonstrated by the Boston Tea Party, where patriots dumped boxes full of Tetley into Boston Harbor because they thought taxes were waaaaaaay too low.

Finally, the Founding Fathers were all about Americans sacrificing liberty for the illusion of security. I think it was Ben Franklin who wrote "If we restrict freedom to attain security, we will totally be able to raise taxes have huge inaugural balls and people will still kiss our asses."

So yes, XO. If the Founding Fathers were alive today, they probably wouldn't have their own blogs trying to call attention to the absurdity that our federal government has become.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: crash

To mark the occasion of this year's Tour de France, in today's edition of YouTube Tuesday we present this totally cool crash montage.



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Monday, July 06, 2009

Out of retirement

Like all of you, I was glued to the television box on Saturday and Sunday, watching the first two stages of this years Tour de France.

This year is notable since it marks the return to the race of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong after a three-year retirement. I know this to be the case because Versus, the network that has the Tour de France broadcast rights in the US (channel 55 on Time Warner Cable in KC) has plastered his face along with overly-emotional and melodramatic montages of his career all over their network.

I'm as big of an Armstrong fan as you'll find. I've followed his career since everyone thought he was the second-coming of Greg LeMond (turns out he made us forget who Greg LeMond was). I have mad respect for his achievements, overcoming cancer to become unquestionably the best cyclist in Tour de France history.

Still.

It feels a little uncomfortable to see Versus hitch their wagon to Armstrong's wheel like they have. I mean, I get why they're doing it. Let's face it, pro cycling isn't as big in the U.S. as, say, watching reality TV celebrity couples disintegrate.

Versus is using Armstrong's Q-factor to drum up interest in the race. They have advertisers and ratings to worry about. That's fair enough. I certainly don't want them to abandon coverage of the race in the future.

But I think they're missing an opportunity here.

There's a really, really good chance that Armstrong is not going to win the race this year. He's not even the second best rider on his own team (Astana) at this point. And if he doesn't win, will he be back next year? To me, he's never seemed like the kind of person to play a support role.

In the meantime, there are plenty of promising American cyclists that should be introduced and give the sport more of a foothold in the states. Armstrong's teammate Levi Leipheimer for example. And riders from the American-sponsored Garmin-Slipstream team Christian Vande Velde, Tyler Farrar, Danny Pate and one of my favorites, David Zabriskie who missed last year's Tour due to an injury.

The fraternity of Americans in the upper levels of pro cycling is still pretty small compared to Europeans. Rather than putting all of its eggs in the Armstrong basket, if Versus should played up all of the Americans in the sports it would encourage more viewership over a longer term.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bullitt list -- 07.01.09






Today's category: Speaking of...

  • So some geniuses at a sex conference in Amsterdam (yeah, big surprise) have announced that having sex every day can increase a couple's odds of conceiving a child. The study was led by Australia's King of the Obvious David Greening of IVF Sydney (IVF stands for "I value fucking").

    The study also had some other surprising findings:
    • The use of alcohol can help lead to daily sexual intercourse.
    • Avoiding the use of contraceptives can significantly increase the odds of conceiving a child.
    • Australian men really, really like participating in these kinds of studies.

  • And speaking of children, I took my kid to go see the new Pixar animated feature UP the other day. Pretty good flick. I liked it. I give it a thumbs up and a recommendation.

    But one thing really stood out to me almost from the beginning of the movie. The character Russell has an amazing resemblance to a local KC blogger. See if you agree. Here's a pic of the character from the movie.
    And here's a pic of someone who, in my opinion, could have been separated from Russell.
    So whadyathink Internet? Am I right or am I right.

  • And speaking of uncanny resemblances (and movies), Sacha Baron Cohen's latest joint, Bruno, is set to open in theaters on July 10. Judging by the trailers, it's pretty much the same thing we saw in Borat, but instead of a fictitious moronic Kazakh journalist making fun of people, it's a fictitious moronic Austrian gay male supermodel making fun of people.

    Pretty derivative, since the whole moronic male supermodel thing was done to death by Ben Stiller in Zoolander eight years ago.

  • And speaking about being done to death, it seems like celebrities are dropping like flies these days. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson (if you believe the media stories) Billy Mays... they all make it seem like being a celebrity is a death sentence anymore.

    The truth is, being a human is a death sentence. And I've got news for you, there are going to be more and more frequent celebrity deaths in the years ahead. You see in our celebrity-obsessed culture we're suffering from a glut of "celebrities." It's getting to the point that, not far in the future, everyone will be a celebrity.

    C'mon people, have some standards. Having an internet video show doesn't make you a celebrity.

  • And speaking of internet video, Bloomberg reported the other day that popular programs like The Simpsons are now commanding higher advertising rates on websites like Hulu.com and TV.com than they are on prime time television.

    It looks like advertisers are getting wise to the facts that a) people just skip through the ads on the DVR/Tivo, and 2) people actively seeking out content online are loyal fans and more valuable as an audience than people passively watching content on TV.
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