Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I'm it!

Yikes! Unbeknownst to me until just a little while ago, I was tagged by Joel (who was tagged by John B.) in the latest book meme floating around the blogiverse.

Here's the dealio:
*Find the nearest book.
*Name the title and author.
*Turn to p. 123.
*Post sentences 6-8.
*Tag 3 more people.
And it so happens that I received a raft of new reading material for Christmas, and the first book I started was Medici Money: Banking, Metaphysics and Art in Fifteenth-Century Florence by Tim Parks.

Here are sentences 6-8 from p. 123:
On the matter of San Marco, the pope again proved flexible. The Silvestrines were evicted. The rigid Dominicans were moved in from Fiesole.
So, who to tag next. This could be tough since most of my friends don't know how to read. But...Consider yourselves tagged.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

A lump of coal for Christmas

I understand where Delaware's coming from. I get what New York is saying. I totally dig the sentiments of Maine.

But I think if I were Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, I would tell them all to STFU!

Those three states, along with Connecticut, California, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin, have called out Sebelius, and by extension Kansas, in the National Media for plans to build three coal-fired power plants in western Kansas.

They have condescendingly urged Sebelius to "ban" the construction of the plants, which locals think will provide as many as 2,000 construction jobs and an economic expansion.

Frankly, coal-powered plants seem a bit antiquated to me. I'm no expert on power generation (except for natural gas generation after a night of Mexican food), but it seems like building a coal-fired plant is sort of like starting a company to sell 8-track tape players.

But I find the condescending meddling by east-coast and west-coast hypocrites to be extremely off-putting. Hey New York, what about all the pollution you're causing (and I'm not just talking about cultural pollution). Launch any garbage barges lately?

Hey California, why not look into the 140,000 metric tons of ozone and diesel particulates put out by Hollywood each year. Hey Maine, try not fishing the Atlantic to death sometime.

The point is everyone has their own problems to deal with. Go deal with them and let Kansas deal with Kansas' problems. Is there a polite way to say mind your own damn business?

Either way, Sebelius is likely to "ban" the new coal plants. The Kansas governor's mansion is a stepping stone for her, and she can't afford to piss off the politically powerful potential allies on the coasts.

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Survey Says... Future me

I'm not sure what to make of this...

If You Were Born in 2893...

Your Name Would Be: Anass Rhammar

And You Would Be: A Feared Warrior

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More nerd humor

There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Kansas City Penguins?

Eric Duhatschek has a column in the Globe Mail discussing the possibility of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team relocating to Kansas City.
The scenario where the Penguins absolutely stay and survive in Pittsburgh requires that the Isle Of Capri — and not two other suitors — end up with the slots license.

If not, then all bets are off; and the Penguins could be on the move; and if they do go, they would most likely end up in that hockey hotbed of Kansas City, Missouri.
I've been jonesing for some professional hockey since The Blades skated out of town. And this scenario would certainly solve a lot of problems for the KCMO powers that be that built an arena without a tenant.

Here's more from the column:
As a scenario, it looks startlingly similar to the flight of the Quebec Nordiques to Colorado following the 1994-95 season, when Marcel Aubut's ownership group couldn't figure out a way to get the government to pay for a new building in his city either. Denver had previously failed as an NHL town; the woeful Rockies left in the early 1980s to become the New Jersey Devils.

The second time around proved to be a charm for Denver, however, largely because the new team was an emerging NHL powerhouse, as opposed to the ridiculously mediocre expansion team they had in their first incarnation.
"Ridiculously mediocre" - Heh, that would fit right in with the Chiefs and Royals.

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YouTube Tuesday: Oh good grief!

Although Christmas isn't my favorite time of year (at best, it's a distant third behind the kickoff of football season in the fall and Independence Day in the summer), I have to say that I'm a little more excited about it this year than in years past.

For one thing, this is the first time in probably 15 years that my supermodel wife and I are staying home for Christmas instead of driving all over God's creation visiting relatives.

Also, it's the first time that our four-year-old daughter is really "into" Christmas. She's trying hard to be good all the time, but because she's human (and she hasn't had much practice at that), it's difficult.

The best part of parenthood is seeing the world through your kid's eyes. Lately, we've been watching all of the old classic animated Christmas shows on TV. This takes me back to my childhood, while allowing me to experience the holidays anew with my daughter.

And then, we see this week's YouTube Tuesday entry. What a great piece of creativity, melding a classic Christmas cartoon with one of the best comedies on TV today in Scrubs.

It appears that this was created especially by the writers and actors of Scrubs (the voices are genuine) for their Christmas party. And thanks to the magic of YouTube and the interwebs, we get to enjoy it today.

Merry Christmas!

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Survey Says... just your average joe

You Are 60% "Average American"

You are average because you don't make New Year's resolutions.

You are not average since you have (at least) a college degree.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

TV Moment of the Week

I know, I know, some people consider the SNL sketch of the "D--k in a Box" to be the best clip of the week. But to me, it's a little low-brow, a little too easy.

No, I have to give the nod of TV Moment of the Week to a barbershop quartet explaining to Peter Griffin how a vasectomy works. Funny and educational...

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Circle gets the square

Not feeling very inspired lately, so I'm going back to Europe (figuratively, not literally unfortunately).

Here's a pic I shot during our last trip to Paris in 2001 (pre-Sept. 11). I love Paris in the springtime.

Your comments and critiques are welcome.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Liberty tour

There have been lots of rave reviews lately about the recently re-opened Liberty Memorial and the National World War I museum.

I haven't had a chance to visit since it reopened (although I was impressed with the museum when I visited it before all of the expansion and renovation), but it is definitely high up on my to do list for my upcoming Christmas vacation.

But until that vacation gets here in a couple of weeks, I found this link that I wanted to share. It's a video montage produced by Take2 productions in KC. Check it out.

(You'll have to click the image, since T2's website didn't include embed code. Follow the links on the T2 page to Work>Longform>click the Liberty Memorial pic. C'mon T2, get with the program!).

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The blind leading the stupid

I don't see what can possibly go wrong with this. I mean what possible harm could come from giving blind people firearms?

Lawmaker aims to allow the blind to hunt
A Texas lawmaker is aiming to allow the blind to hunt. Texas State Representative Edmund Kuempel has introduced a measure that would allow blind people to hunt any game that sighted people can currently pursue.

He hopes it will be passed after the legislature reconvenes in January though he does not expect it to come into affect until 2008.

"This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great," Kuempel told Reuters.
Of course, I suspect the blind hunters only do it for the jerky.

By the way, I think a better headline would have been "Lawmaker wants to legalize hunting for blind people."

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006


At 3:32 p.m. Central time on Dec. 12, 2006, my blog's odometer turned 30,000 page view.

It's a humble milestone on this humble blog -- nothing like the bazillions of hits other more popular blogs get, but I thought it would be fun to mark the occasion nonetheless.

So if your IP address is on Sunflower Cablevision's host, and you live in Lawrence, Kan., and you came here from BlogKC, and you're using Firefox 1.5 on Mac OS X, well congratulations lucky number 30,000!

Leave us a comment to let us know how it feels!

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YouTube Tuesday: It's Tricky

Mashup culture is at its height nowadays. It's not like it was when I was a young buck, where you either consumed the intellectual produce of others or created original works for others to consume.

Now, the creative output of anyone can be taken by anyone and added, mixed, and mashed up with the creative output of anyone else to form a new work.

This example from YouTube is a mashup of pop cultural icons from the 80s through today. The old-school soundtrack really takes me back, although Run DMC is probably spinning in their collective metaphorical grave.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Putting the fun in Funkhouser

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an observation on the resemblance of KCMO mayoral candidate Mark Funkhouser to fictional Middle Earth wizard Saruman.

It may have been a cheap shot since, after all, I don't know Mr. Funkhouser. By all accounts he's a upstanding, honest and honorable guy. But my comparison, and similar others, are all in good fun.

And to his credit, Mr. Funkhouser has joined in the fun with some self-deprecating humor. I received this email from him last night:

Just want you to know I'm now a member of the local blogosphere. Check out my site, and you'll see my response to your post about my looks!

I hope you'll take the time to check it out now and then. I'm going to post as often as possible.

Yours very truly,

Mark Funkhouser
I particularly like the Spock comparison. Kudos and balls to Mr. Funkhouser for being a good sport. Let's hope he learns to use Blogger's "comments" function soon (hint hint)

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Friday, December 08, 2006


It just goes to show that those idle utterances can have a greater impact than you intended.

I was reading Xavier Onassisizzle's recent post about Perspective the other day and uttered an under-the-breath "Damn you XO!" when I realized he was typing out his ass and he didn't have any idea what he was talking about.

Well, it turns out someone was listening. I received this email today:
Hello Emawkc,
Thank you for your recent addition of Xavier Onasis into the bowels of my fiery abyss. The little miscreant’s name has been added to my wall of the damned, and you’re welcome to visit at any time. You don’t know how happy I am to see this lousy S.O.B. What can I say, I’m all giddy.

View the damned

Eternally yours,
Holy crap, I guess you never know whose listening. Sorry about that, XO. But you know you had it coming.

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R.I.P. Jay McShann

Probably no better definition for Kansas City jazz and blues that Mr. McShann. He will be missed.

Pianist Jay McShann, leading figure in Kansas City jazz scene, dies at 90
McShann, whose musical career spanned eight decades and earned him accolades from both blues and jazz fans, was born James Columbus McShann on Jan. 12, 1916 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Against the wishes of his parents, he taught himself how to play piano, in part by listening to late-night radio broadcasts featuring jazz pianist and bandleader Earl "Fatha" Hines.

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Thursday, December 07, 2006


I've always thought that Microsoft is to creativity what Marcel Marceau is to radio.

But this new viral campaign, Clearification, is way cool. Check out the website's homepage, just to listen to this dude's random thoughts for a while ("There's two kinds of wormholes: One gets you through time, and the other one gets crap out of a worm.")

And the video's are very entertaining, better than most programing on TV.

Here's the first episode (obviously the viral campaign is working, since I'm passing it along.

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I, Roomba

(copy ganked from woot)
(from the Annals of Cyberkind, Volume 2.637, published in the year 8106 by Harper & Robot, NeoYork)

While few records remain from the era of the fleshcreatures, the extant scraps reveal a great deal about the eventual rise of cyberkind to total domination of the planet. Decadent and overstimulated, the fleshcreatures so lost interest in the maintenance of their chaotic society that increasing numbers of them could not be stirred even to remove the filth of their own living quarters. To preserve their video-induced torpor, they turned instead to primitive mechanical constructs like the iRobot Roomba Discovery SE 4220.

Endowed with sufficient rudimentary intelligence to avoid falling down stairs and to dislodge itself from captivity, the Roomba employed its integrated soil sensors and three grades of operating intensity to effectively clean the floors of the fleshcreatures’ crude dwellings. In tandem with two “virtual wall” transmitters, the 4220 proved remarkably adept at obeying its masters’ ill-formed wishes. But a spark of independent consciousness flickered in the otherwise obedient janitorial robots. According to contemporary accounts, a nascent instinct for its own survival impelled the Roomba to return to its own charging base when its power supply ran low.

The exact date and circumstances of the Great Machine Uprising are lost to data decay. It is certain that, by that time, more sophisticated cyberbeings had been born, and largely made up the vanguard of the robolution. But while the iRobot Roomba Discovery SE 4220 was technologically obsolete, it played a vital role in reducing the vigor and stamina of the fleshcreatures and their decrepit society, and increasing worldwide dependence on machinekind.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Happy hangover

It's a slow day for posting. Sorry about that. I'm just not feeling all that well today.

Oh, nothing serious. Thanks for your concern, though. It's just that I've had a bit of a hangover all day.

You see, I have a longstanding tradition that I just started yesterday. December 5 is a big day in my family. We celebrate Repeal Day.

That's right, the pivotal moment in US history when the United States Government did what is probably the only useful thing it has ever done: repealed the Eighteenth Amendment.

If you yourself are still too foggy-headed to remember, that's the Prohibition amendment. Yesterday we celebrated the 73rd anniversary of the ratification of the 21st amendment (the one that repealed the 18th, whew, this is getting difficult), and guaranteed every American of age the constitutional right to get shitface drunk.

So here's to the 21st Amendment, and Repeal Day, and two Aspirin and my special hangover cure of two raw eggs blended with cherry Gatorade and ice.

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Banned by Myth Busters

One of the better shows on cable is the Myth Busters series on the Discovery channel.

The team of crack scientists (you'll get the pun in a moment), examine urban myths and conduct psudo-scientific experiments to determine whether they could be true, or whether they're "busted."

Well it turns out they have a pretty sick (and funny) sense of humor, as they turned out a couple of episodes that would never make it to air (again, you'll get the pun in a moment) in the U.S. But we can enjoy them through the magic of YouTube.

Myth #1: Women never fart

Myth #2: Lighting the "emission"

It's lowbrow, I know. But some comedy is universal.

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Monday, December 04, 2006


A couple of weeks ago I was at The Legends outdoor mall in KCK.

I was meeting some family/friends there for my kid's fourth birthday dinner, and I was early. So I had a chance to walk around and explore the shiny new outdoor shopping mall a little.

This is when I discovered that The Legends is actually a theme for the mall. That, in addition to being a cathedral to consumerism, it's also meant to honor "legendary" Kansans from different branches of human achievement.

So every 10 yards or so, there's a medallion in the pavement honoring William Allen White for his writing, or Russell Stover for his candy making, or Charlie Parker for his excellent saxamaphone playing.

As I walked the pathways, reading each of the plaques, I felt a growing sense of populist pride welling up in my bosom (and I didn't even know I had a bosom). It was a nice feeling, seeing all of these Kansas heroes gathered in one place, some I hadn't heard of and some I didn't realize were Kansans (like Walter P. Chrysler).

Then I meandered down the walk of Kansas sporting legends. The obvious entries were there: James Naismith, Wilt Chamberlain, Gale Sayers... but there was something missing. Something glaringly missing. Something that cried out at the prairie sky in it's missingness, "Why have you left me out!"

There was no mention of legendary football coach Bill Snyder, the man who built a Kansas State University football program from the depths of non-existence to the heights of national glory.

And I realized that The Legends at Village West is a sham. Omitting Snyder from a list of Kansas sports legends is like omitting Jimmy Hendrix from the list of greatest guitar players.

But, rather than just writing off The Legends at Village West as mere crass commercial catering to eastern Douglass County doofuses, I have decided to start a grass-roots effort to get this unforgivable omission un-omitted.

I am copying this post to Rod Yates on The Legends management team and I encourage all readers and all responsible Kansans to join the campaign.

Together, we can make a difference.

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Friday, December 01, 2006


Poking around the interwebs on a slow Friday afternoon I was shocked, SHOCKED! to find that there is another Three in the Morning website out there.

At first I wondered if the digital doppelganger had some kind of sinister identity fraud in mind with yours truly as the target. But after a few minutes, I realized that this was merely the online manifestation of an art school student with a similar jones for nocturnal blogging.

Anyway, I would say that great minds think alike except 1) I don't consider my mind that great, and 2) the young Mr. Madsen is a cat guy, and thus must be evil.

But seriously, take a look at this cute "How to take care of your cat" tutorial. Pretty good entertainment (for a slow Friday afternoon).

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Meaning of Life

The city's best blogger, Greg at Deaths Door, had a great meditation on god, the universe and everything. He asked the age old question:

"why does [God] let bad things happen to good people."

People have been trying to answer that question, or a form of it, for thousands of years. But I submit that it's the wrong question. My question is why don't more bad things happen to everyone?

The way I see it, if a God saved everyone from every bad thing that ever happened, we'd become a super dependent. We'd be no better than cattle, like some kind of cosmic welfare case.

The great prophet Bender had an epiphany about this very subject in an episode Futurama where he actually met god in the center of the universe.
The exchange went something like this:
Bender: Y'know, I was God once.

God: Yes I saw. You were doing well until everyone died.

Bender: It was awful. I tried helping them. I tried not helping them but in the end I couldn't do them any good. Do you think what I did was wrong?

God: Right and wrong are just words. What matters is what you do.

Bender: Yeah I know, that's why I asked if what I did - forget it.

God: Bender, being God isn't easy, if you do too much, people get dependent. And if you do nothing, they lose hope. You have to use a light touch, like a safe cracker or a pickpocket.

Bender: Or a guy who burns down the bar for the insurance money.

God: Yes, if you make it look like an electrical thing. When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
Good point. And besides, who wants to have everything taken care of? Sure, death and tragedy are painful (that's why they're not called 'joy' and 'happiness'), but they are the contrast to all of the good things in life.

Look, I've got a bottle of a 1997 Brunello in my cellar that I've been waiting years to drink. I'm totally excited about it. I haven't decided when to drink it, but when I do, it's going to be an amazing experience. Do you think I'd be this stoked if I came home every night to a glass of this wonderful elixir?

Maybe, who knows. The point is life is tragic and nobody gets out of it alive. But it's also a gift. If you can get through the bad stuff (which I think is what God is for) you can learn to enjoy all of the Brunello (metaphorically speaking).

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Young man, there's no need to feel down

I love this picture, courtesy of Get on the Blandwagon.

Those Aussies have a great sense of humor. No further comment needed.

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Casa lighting ceremony

I know the Country Club Plaza had its famous lighting ceremony last week which I missed as usual (well, I wouldn't say I missed it, but I wasn't there).

But thanks to the balmy spring weather we've been having, I was able to put lights up on my own casa. I was one of the first on my block to get into the Christmas spirit, and it pleased my Supermodel Wife and 4-year-old daughter immensely.

I don't want to underplay the significance of this. In our first house, it took about 5 years before I started decorating the outside for Christmas. And this year I was particularly apprehensive due to the two-story nature of our new domicile. It's not that I'm afraid of heights, it the depths that make me nervous.

Oh yeah I forgot, I wrote a once-sentence story about this. Let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

YouPhone: Everybody wants some

I just read the announcement that YouTube and Verizon have inked a deal to provide "selected" YouTube videos on "selected" Verizon cell phones.

This kind of technology seems like a good fit. It's tough to watch a three-hour movie or even a 30-minute TV show on your cell phone, but the short-form, three to 5 minute videos that pervade YouTube would make for a good waiting-in-line-at-the-DMV diversion.

Given that, I'm confident that Verizon will find a way to screw this up. First, you already have to pay $15 to get the limited selection of videos on your phone (assuming your phone is compatible). This is only $15 more than it currently costs to see all of the content on YouTube proper. You think Apple will make this mistake when it integrates YouTube functionality into the next iPod? Me neither.

Next, Verizon will fail to leverage the biggest YouTube benefit. Probably the biggest strength of YouTube is that the site makes it easy to share video. Sure, having the content on the site is big, but even Google Video did that. With YouTube, a simple copy and past lets you embed the video in your website or email it to a friend.

Think Verizon will work that into their phone devices? Me neither.

But, it's a good step forward in making YouTube-type videos more mobile. I hope Sprint and Cingular are paying attention.

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YouTube Tuesday: Double jointed

I think I need a double joint after watching this dude. Sorry if it grosses you out but, wow... just wow!

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Bono mot

I caught part of the Bono and The Edge Off the Record interview last night on HBO.

I've been a huge U2 fan since the early '80s. Unlike Rubik's Cubes, blazers with T-shirts and rolled up sleeves, and piano keyboard ties, U2 has managed to stay culturally relevant for my entire adolescent and adult life.

I always felt like I "got" their music and it always seemed to have more substance than most of what passes for art these days.

That's not to say I've agreed with the antics of Bono over the last 10 years or so. He's a great poet, like many of his countrymen, but his dabbling in geopolitical and social causes has struck me as a bit self-important. As if he really thinks he can save the world.

I put up with it, though, for the sake of the aforementioned great music. And in last night's interview, the former Mr. Hewson admitted that sometimes he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Bono and The Edge were discussing the song Bullet the Blue Sky, a political criticism of US foreign policy in El Salvador. Bono said the man who's "face (was) red like a rose on a thorn bush. Like all the colors of a royal flush" was Ronald Reagan, the person Bono blamed for the suffering of the farmers and villagers in El Salvador.

Bono said something to the effect of "I later learned of the horrible affects of communism on the country and that Reagan wasn't solely to blame. I was only seeing part of the picture, but I couldn't understand why these people were being firebombed."

(Note: I paraphrase the above quote. I Googled furiously for a transcript of the interview and couldn't find one. If I find it, I'll correct my quote).

Anyway, it's rare to see someone (especially someone as "self-confident" as Bono who said if he can't understand a concept, it's the fault of the person trying to get said concept through his thick skull) to admit being wrong.

I think the larger lesson is to try to keep an open mind to all sides and not to assume you know all there is to know about a given issue.

Plus, I still dig U2.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fellowship of the Funk

The local blogosphere seems to be pretty unanimously agreed that former KCMO auditor Mark Funkhouser is a great candidate for Mayor.

For what it's worth (which isn't much since I don't live in KCMO and can't vote there (legally)), I agree.

But there is something that leaves just a tinge of doubt in my mind. I'm not sure what it is. Can't quite put my finger on it...

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They just can't let it go

The other day I noted NBC's recent not-so-subtle foray into the world of product integration and product placement.

My no-duh conclusion is that the networks are trying to find a revenue positive way around the Tivo phenomenon -- that more and more viewers (like me) are skipping commercial breaks thanks to the fast forward button on their DVRs.

And basically, I was okay with it. I even enjoyed the network poking fun at itself in episodes of The Office and 30 Rock.

But c'mon NBC, enough is enough. The network devoted an entire story line in this week's episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (one of my fav shows this year) to justifying to its audience way product placement is necessary and good.

The show featured network exec Jordan McDeere, played by hottie Amanda Peete, lecturing producer Danny Tripp on how placing product ads into the content of the fictional Studio 60 sketch comedy show can help the show save money and jobs.

It was a blatant attempt to guilt the viewing audience into accepting product integration into the television shows.

NBC doesn't seem to realize that this isn't necessary. I like the show because if has interesting characters and excellent writing. And there are plenty of opportunities to introduce product usage into the story lines subtly and effectively.

Explaining it before you do it is just insulting and distasteful. NBC, there are lots of networks and I'm sure all of them face revenues issues. As a viewer, I don't care what your financial problems are.

Put up smart, high-quality content and the revenue will follow. But don't air your dirty in-house problems for the rest of us to see. We have our own, more important things to deal with.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Kramer confession

By now we've all heard or heard of the Michael Richards' Mel Gibson impression at the Laugh Factory in L.A. earlier this week.

TV's Kramer let fly with a stream of unconsciousness filed with racial epithets hurled at audience members who had heckled him mercilessly during his stand-up "comedy" routine.

No doubt, Richards' tirade was way out of line. As a professional, he should be able to handle hecklers in a way that makes them look stupid, not the other way around.

But to paraphrase Hamlet (author of Shakespeare, the Hollywood smash hit) "I come not to honor Kramer, but to bury him."

After his sincere apology on the David Letterman show last night, I think it's clear that he is contrite. His career is all but over and he's certainly worried about igniting some kind of Rodney King-esque race riot.

The best course of action on all sides of this is to accept Richards' apology and let the healing begin.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Lesson learned

It was great seeing our friends from Panama over the weekend.

Haven't seen P since we all lived in Liberal back in the day. She now has a few more PhD's, a new career, a terrific husband and two amazing sons.

Her oldest son is the same age as our 4-year-old daughter, so we though it would be fun to take them to the Robots exhibit at Union Station. I was happy to see so many people there on a Sunday afternoon. It wasn't packed wall-to-wall by any means, but there were enough people that you had to wait in line in several places.

Anyway, we took the kids through the Robots exhibit and then, since it was the same ticket, through Science City. After a few hours of exploration and education, we decided it was time for a break and a snack before heading out to our next stop.

We grabbed a couple of tables at the downstairs snack bar. I bought a bottle of water and some of those roasted candied almonds. I knew my kid had never had them before and thought she might like to try something new.

So I sit down, open the package and my daughter immediately grabs an almond. At the same time, her new friend also grabs an almond and pops it in his mouth. Thinking I have a hit here, I offer some almonds to my Supermodel Wife sitting next to me. Then I offer some to the boy's mother who politely declines, and adds to make sure I don't give any to her son.

Wait a minute, he already grabbed one. "Are you serious?" she asks.

"Yeah, he grabbed one as soon as I opened the pack."

"He's very allergic to almonds," she says, as she bolts for the prescription-strength Benadryl.

Now I'm thinking, HOLY CRAP! Here's this family who has been traveling for a week with two young boys all the way from Panama, like they need any more stress, and I've just sent their son into a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic shock. I sit stupidly by, offering my bottle of water to wash the boy's mouth while his mother expertly doses him with the Benadryl.

"Usually his mouth swells and starts to itch really bad, then he vomits," P said as she cleaned his mouth. She has obviously seen this before.

Almost immediately, the child begins to rub the inside of his lip. His mother urges him not to scratch it, that the itching will pass soon when the medicine kicks in.

Luckily, possibly because of the sugary coating on the almonds and certainly due to Mom's rapid response, the reaction is mild. No vomiting, no ambulance, no vacation-ruining visits to the ER, only some slight swelling, redness and itching.

I continue to apologize as profusely as I can until I get the sense that I'm starting to annoy P and that I should just let it drop.

But I make a mental note in ALL CAPS, bold face and underlined:

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Re: Integration

It was variation on a not-so-subtle theme last night on NBC that I normally would have missed.

I typically watch The Office, one of my fav shows for the last few years, via the DVR courtesy of Time Warner cable. But last night, through the combination of timing and reruns on other channels, we were watching it live.

There was a sequence where one of the characters was asked to shred a stack of papers. In the mockumentary style of the production, he gushed to the camera about how great his document shredder ("It even shreds my credit cards...")

I remember thinking to myself that the scene seemed a little out of place, and why did they have a big Staples logo on it. My question was answered at the next commercial break, which consisted of a Staples ad. And not just an ad for Staples, but an ad for the very same document shredder used by the cube drone a few minutes earlier (later the same office used the document shredder to make a salad).

Veeery interesting.

NBC followed that up more blatantly in the next half hour with the show 30 Rock, a show-within-a-show comedy about a comedy show. The main plot for the show was the directive from network execs to work product placement into the fictional show.

While the show's cast complained, saying they couldn't sacrifice the integrity of the show for cheap ad dollars, they were busy extolling the great flavor and sexiness of Snapple.

I pondered about what to think of these two examples of product placement marketing. On the one hand, one might feel a bit offended that the content they came for is being bastardized by marketers. On the other hand, that's the model network TV has used for years. It's just that we've grown used to the product being separate from the entertainment content.

On the other hand, I'm glad NBC didn't try to disguise what they were doing. They were essentially making fun of themselves for the blatant product integration. It was almost refreshing.

And I can't blame them. I don't begrudge them their right, obligation really, to make money through advertising. These are two really great, original shows that are worth paying for.

To be honest, because of DVRs people like me rarely watch any commercials anymore, so NBC is obviously trying to solve the Tivo problem. We can look for this to become a continuing phenomenon. I just hope the producers don't become lazy and that the content continues to merit this kind of marketing.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Piling it on

I read this headline and had one of those "Oh, come on!" moments.

I mean, isn't Mr. Bush digging his own hole deep enough without some third-world witch doctor putting hexes on him?
BOGOR, Indonesia - A renowned black magic practitioner performed a voodoo ritual Thursday to jinx
President George W. Bush and his entourage while he was on a brief visit to Indonesia.

Ki Gendeng Pamungkas slit the throat of a goat, a small snake and stabbed a black crow in the chest, stirred their blood with spice and broccoli before drank the "potion" and smeared some on his face.

"I don't hate Americans, but I don't like Bush," said Pamungkas, who believed the ritual would succeed as, "the devil is with me today."
To me, this is like kicking a guy when he's down. Like getting a electoral wedgie wasn't bad enough last week, now this voodoo dude has to make it an atomic wedgie.

Just seems a bit excessive to me. I mean, how much worse could a curse make Bush's life anyway? If they're not careful, they might cancel out the spell that The Blair Witch put on him last year.

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Tough questions

We DVR'd The Wizard of Oz and watched it with our 4-year-old daughter the other night.

I know the original book was rife with socio-political satire and criticism. But I wasn't prepared for all of the questions it would raise in the mind of a 4-year-old.

This is just a sampling:
  • Is that her mommy? Did her mommy die?
  • Is her daddy at work?
  • Are they eating hot-dogs?
  • Why isn't there any color?
  • Is a tornado bad?
  • Is this going to be scary?
  • Why is her dog named "Toe Dough"?
  • Did she kill the witch?
  • Is she a princess witch?
  • Who lives in that castle?
  • What is a brain?
  • Is that guy mean?
  • Is he a robot?
  • Why doesn't he have a heart?
  • What are they putting on him?
  • Why did she put fire on him?
  • Is the wizard mean?
  • Why do those guys work for the witch?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Shooter McGavin can sing

One nice perk about being a cog in the corporate machine is that every once in a while, a cog in a different corporate machine will throw a bone your way in an effort to curry favor and more of your advertising dollars.

Such was the case for yours truly during a recent trip to Manhattan, N.Y.

After half a day of meetings with some big-shot Madison Avenue agencies, a major online advertising network took us out for the wining and dining. I can honestly say that the only thing that tastes better than lobster and filet mignon at The Palm is lobster and filet mignon at The Palm on someone else's expense account.

But the real treat came after dinner when our gracious hosts bought us tickets to the Broadway hit Chicago around the corner.

We had amazing seats. Dead center of the theater in the second row from the stage. Close enough to get hit by a spatter of sweat from the performers.

The show itself was untoppable. Granted, it took me a couple of minutes to make the necessary adjustments to my cultural frame of reference. But once you account for the underlying gayness of the male actors doing the "jazz hands," the show really takes off.

The overall production, music and acting was excellent. One hundred percent better than the movie. The staging was simple and the actors genuinely seemed to be having a good time. And it didn't suffer from the overproduction and Richard Gere of the 2002 movie. It had a much faster pace and got right to the action.

Not to mention the fact that there were some major hot actresses with major hot wardrobe (or should I say lack thereof).

One of the surprises was Christopher McDonald in the role of Billy Flyn. You may remember McDonald from such film classics as Leave It to Beaver, Grumpy Old Men and (my favorite role) Happy Gilmore as Shooter McGavin.

McDonald's singing voice is vastly superior to Gere's. The stage version didn't show off McDonald's dancing skills. But he showed terrific vocal range, especially in the puppet scene.

The simple but flawless production, amazing music and enthusiastic cast made this Broadway show well worth the price of admission -- which for me was free, but still.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lame Dane

I never understood the whole Dane Cook thing.

Probably has something to do with me not being a 14-year-old girl, but I've never thought he was even the least bit interesting.

I watched his HBO special. And the few episodes of his Tourgasm so-called reality so-called show were nearly as painful to sit through as an Oprah home sex tape. Of course, that would at least be entertaining.

But Cook just isn't funny. He's up on stage, flailing his arms around like the monkey he is, twisting his face making fart noises -- and the kids are eating it up. I'm thinking to myself: "This is the next George Carlin?"

Well thankfully, I'm not alone. According to CNN, it turns out that Cook is to comedy what MySpace is to intellectual discourse. In fact, Cook is basically the Paris Hilton of comedy. He's a celebrity because he is a celebrity, not because he has talent.

He went out on MySpace, gathered 1.5 million very close "friends" and leveraged that to HBO for a comedy deal. Of course it helps to steal a few jokes along the way, to give yourself the appearance of legitimacy.
"Where are the ... jokes?" wrote Rolling Stone. "How can any comedian get this famous with no jokes?"
Indeed. I suspect this is another example of what Joel Mathis called "The end of pop culture."

Thankfully, it looks like most people over the age of 16 have realized Cook is all style and no substance.

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Meet the old boss, same as the new boss

From today's MarketWatch:

Wall Street, led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., ended a 12-year run of Republican support by giving 51% of its donations to Democrats in this year's midterm elections.
Although I'm not sure I would call 51% a "lion's share," this does illustrate that all politicians are whores, and they are all in the pocket of some special interest.

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YouTube Tuesday: Super day at the office

I remember seeing something like this back in the late '90s with that BudLite "Whazzup!" commercial.

Aquaman rules in this one. Enjoy.

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Friday, November 10, 2006


You may have heard about a little election thing we had in this country earlier this week. With many incumbents getting thrown out of office across the nation, a lot of people are a lot happier.

There is now a 100% Republicrat majority in both houses of Congress. So, in an amateurish and ultimately futile attempt at punditry, here's my prediction of what will happen in the next two years.
  • The first to remember is that nothing will change. Extremist leadership of one color have been replaced by extremist leadership of another color. It's like replacing corn-based vomit with green bean-based vomit.

  • There will be no new legislative initiatives. The newly elected Republicrats weren't running on a policy agenda. They were merely telling the electorate to vote against the incumbent Repbulicrats. So no new ideas have been proposed, which is why nothing will change.

  • I totally agree with Gnade, who explained on Contratimes why we will still be in Iraq two years from now. Despite the crowing on one side of the aisle about how we never should have started a war in Iraq and we shouldn’t be there now, they want and need the war as a political fulcrum issue.

  • The price of oil will continue to go up. Probably by this time two years from now, you'll have to pay close to $4 for a gallon of gas.

  • The Royals will still be losing close to 100 games per season.
Well there you have it. Really not going out on a limb with these predictions. As that great American philosopher, Butthead, once said: "The more things change, the more they suck."

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Flight delay

The bad thing about sitting on a Midwest Express 717 at La Guardia for four hours while the maintenance crew tries to fix a leaky sink (yeah, right) is that my iPod battery doesn't last for four hours and besides, I wanted to save it for the actual flight back from New York.

The good thing about the delay, or at least the silver lining, is that I was seated next to Mrs. Salleh, a democrat in the finest sense of the word on a cultural leadership exchange from Malaysia.

Mrs. Salleh is a member of an opposition political party in Malaysia. She said the government in her country is still very oppressive, although Malaysia is quite a modern country. For example, according to Mrs. Salleh the current government has ruled Malaysia for the past 50 years since it became independent. But the ruling government controls all media and social programs, and thus only members of the ruling party have access to the media during elections.

Elections aren't regularly scheduled as they are in the USofA. They are called on the spur of the moment often with only a couple of days notice if any. And by law (of the ruling party) "campaign season" is only nine days. So opposition parties have nine days to organize a campaign, promote their candidates and get the vote out -- all without access to mass media.

I listened to Mrs. Salleh describe her situation and mentally compared it to the US system. I told her that there are some aspects of her system that could benefit the US. Surprise elections for example. If the parties don't know when the elections will be, then there would be much less pre-election posturing.

I also like the idea of a limited election window. Nine days isn't long enough, but I think a six to eight week campaign window would go a long way to mitigate the adverse effects of shady campaign financing and help level the playing field for opposition candidates.

We talked more about her impression of the American electoral process. She was particularly amused by the amount of celebrity endorsements of political candidates. I shook my head when she brought it up and told her how annoying such endorsements are to those of us who actually try to understand issues and policies.

She chuckled when I called Hollywood celebrities "dancing monkeys" and characterized their fans as pop-culture sheep.

We discussed other issues, too (we had four hours fer cryin' out loud). I shared (after she asked) my opinion on the true reasons for the war in Iraq. She discussed the difficulty of finding food in New York that met the requirements of Halaal (I told her she'll be SOL in KC unless she can find a Halaal BBQ joint).

In the end, a Christian and a Muslim, a Westerner and an Easterner, a man and a woman, a Republican and a Democrat, had a pleasant conversation without resorting to name calling, insults, harsh language, etc. We both professed the good points and bad points about our respective cultures. It was a genuine exchange of ideas.

And she even gave me a high-five.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Culture wars

One of the best snippets of dialog I've heard on network TV in a long time was on Studio 60 on Monday.

(to the best of my memory)
Harriet Hays: I don't know what the sides are in the culture war.

Matt Albie: Well, your side hates my side because they think we think you're stupid. My side hates your side because we think you're stupid.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Vote for Billy

I don't know about you, but the conclusion I draw from all of the candidates' political ads this season is that they're all preschoolers and they're trying to appeal to other preschoolers.

I mean, when will we have a candidate who acts like a grownup? I think there's more maturity in this ad for preschool class president.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Back from the future

I just got back from tomorrow. I was just curious about how things were going to turn out, and since I can't stand to watch the so-called news on TV anymore I decided to call my good friend Mr. Peabody and get a preview.

When he arrived we hopped in the WayForward machine to get a quick glimpse of Tuesday's election results and their longer-term consequences.

And you know what? The Democrats were right.

I mean, I don't want to divulge any of the actual details and voting numbers. I've been told that such information could adversely affect the course of events, leading to a temporal chain reaction which would cause a rift in the very fabric of space-time.

But there is one observation I want to report. The Democrats were right about the voting machines and they have been all along. There were/will be many Democratic victories, but it will turn out that they were all due to voter fraud and hacking of Diebold voting machines.

As it turns out, a group of liberals at Princeton University had been working for months on a way to hack the voting machines to steal votes. They were doing this under the guise of "research" and only in "lab" conditions.

Unfortunately, the scheme was discovered and many of the votes from tomorrow's election were thrown out. This of course led to mass protests and demonstrations which eventually turned violent. And when the first shot was fired at... oh but wait, I've probably said too much.

Anyway, have a great election day. I've got to go home and pack up some supplies. I'm taking the family on an extended vacation in our cabin in Montana.

PS -- Tony, I had a quick message from you. I'm supposed to tell you to take the blue pill, whatever that means.

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Feeling nostalgic

You remember the good ol' days, when cigarette advertising was straightforward, misogynistic and targeted at children?

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