Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Newest reality show: "American Schizo"

One of my favorite daily read blogs is Wandering Amylessly. Amy is a beautiful person who is brave enough to let it all hang out (metaphorically speaking, you perverts).

In a recent post, she frankly discusses her recent experience with a depression therapy group where, one by one, the participants quit coming to the sessions over the course of a few weeks.

To her credit, Amy was one of the few to stick with it. It's a great story, and Amy's openness shows that she's more to grips with her emotional baggage than many of the rest of us.

And call me crazy, but I think we've stumbled upon the next great "reality TV" show here.

Stay with me on this: 15 people join a group therapy class and each week we see who comes back and who drops out. In the meantime, we get to hear all about their phobias, neuroses, psychoses and psoriasis.

In the end, there is a winner and we all learn a little bit about ourselves.

Okay, find me a network producer and consider this idea copyrighted. Amy, I'll split the royalties with you.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Magic Moments

I love this time of year.

The days start getting shorter. The summer heat finally breaks. In a few weeks the leaves will begin to turn and the inexorable march of time will beat on.

And football kicks off.

Ah yes, football. In particular, college football. One of the finest metaphors for the human experience. Always striving for a goal, ever having to overcome your own weakness and the strengths of your foes.

I'm really looking forward to this season as my alma mater begins a new era with new head coach Ron Prince. It's been a rough couple of years for the boys in purple, missing out on the last two bowl seasons after winning the Big XII Conference Championship over the OU Cheaters Sooners.

And with only two quarterbacks, a new coach and new offensive and defensive systems, it's looking like it might be another tough year. But right now everyone's undefeated and as they say, hope springs eternal.

And the purples still have a nice record against those jaybirds from Lawrence to hang our helmets on (at least in the modern era).

Which brings us to this week's YouTube Tuesday submission. A terrific music video of some great moments from the recent KSU vs. KU football series. This video offers some great editing for an amateur, and I love the juxtaposition of the music and the video imagery.


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Monday, August 28, 2006

As if being a teen isn't bad enough

Remember how much puberty sucked?

The gawkiness? The awkwardness? The bad hair, greasy skin, and clumsiness? The urge to fit in, the angst and the general state of being pissed at the world because nobody understands you.

I remember it. It was the worst weekend of my life.

Adolescence leaves everyone emotionally scarred and a complete headcase. Then we spend the rest of our adult lives trying to come to grips with all the psychological crap.

If we're lucky, if we've had patient parents and we didn't get busted smoking pot too many times, we might just come through it with the shred of an ability to have some semblance of normal relationships with other people (whatever normal means).

But imagine you have to go through all the typical teenage crap while a the same time being held prisoner by an Austrian freak (the entire state of California notwithstanding).

By now, we've all heard the sickening story of Natascha Kampusch, who was abducted as a child and held as a sex slave by Wolfgang Priklopil in Viena. After her recent escape and his subsequent suicide, she seems to be handling it better than anyone would expect (aside from a raging case of Stockhold Syndrom).

She gave a statement to the press today.
"I realised quite clearly what a strong impression the news of my captivity has made on people, but I ask for understanding in satisfying the tremendous interest of the public."
She seems to have a fairly strong grasp on the reality of what happened to her. If this were the end of it, one could almost call it a happy ending, at least as happy as it could get.

Unfortunately for young Natascha, she's got a huge struggle ahead. Not only will she have to come to grips with the last eight years of her life, she'll have to do so under the crushing pressure of a media spotlight and the severe strain of those trying to get a piece of her 664,900 euros compensation from the Austrian government.

I say good luck to her. I hope money and media don't make her a prisoner the way her captor did.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Wet Blanket Award

There's always that one killjoy who wants to ruin the party for everyone else.

You know, it's that guy in high school who would call you parents when you were sneaking a cigarette behind the stadium. Or the jerk who tells the casino that its slots are paying out way too much money.

Well this week Three O'Clock in the Morning bestows its lowest honor, the Wet Blanket Award, on a Vermont woman who is trying to harsh everyone's mellow.

Theresa Toney of Brattleboro, Vermont, has complained to the burg's elders about the rash of nude teens running around the town. For the past few months, as the summer has grown hotter, the teens have taken to shedding their cloths as a way to beat the heat.

And until now, nobody has really complained? I mean, who's going to object to a bunch of nubile chicks and dudes showing it all. Hey, it's a much needed distraction in this small town, so who would have a problem with it?

Theresa Toney, that's who. According to Reuters:
Nobody, including the police, seemed to take offense until one local, Theresa Toney, went before the town government in August to complain about a group of youngsters naked in a parking lot.

"The parking lot is not a strip club," she said.
The irony is that by the time any legislative action is taken, it will be too cold in Vermont to go around nekid without risking a serious case of shrinkage.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

They prefer to be called "little planets"

The international scientific community threw a slap in the face of the planet Pluto by stripping it recently of it's planet status.

Much like my grade school friends and I did to my little brother, astronomers decided Pluto was too small to be a member of the Planet club and kicked it out, leaving only eight official planets now.
“The eight planets are Mercury, Earth, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune,” said the IAU resolution, passed in a raised-hands vote after what, by the discreet standards of the astronomical community, was a stormy debate.
The scientists threw small planets like Pluto a crumb though, inventing a new term called Dwarf Planet, to describe celestial bodies of Pluto's stature.

Of course, it's important to keep in mind that the decision was made only by scientists who have a star on their bellies. The non-star-bellied scientists weren't allowed to vote.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The smartest guys in the room

I watched an incredible documentary last night on HDNET, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room. It's based on the book by Bethany McLean and chronicles the rise and fall of the infamous energy and weather trading company.

Unless you've been living under a rock on Mars for the past 10 years, you're already familiar with the gist of the story. But it was great to see this movie again with a couple of years' distance since the spectacular implosion.

A few random thoughts from the movie.
  • Former CEO Jeffrey Skilling was a complete bastard.
    Toward the end of the film the characters are describing how haggard and used up he looked (kind of like a guy with no soul?) toward the end just before he retired. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for him. Then you remember the entire previous 45 minutes of douchebaggery and the empathy passes like a case of gas. In the photo, Skilling is seen telling a lie. How can you tell? His mouth is open.

  • Ken Lay was a complete bastard. He was still alive when the movie was released (and maybe he still is???), but his excuse that he "didn't know what was going on" is utterly ridiculous (since all the shenanigans required Lay's approval as well as the approval of countless others) and the documentary pointed this out.

  • There was an amazing amount of complicity throughout the financial community. We bitch about Skilling, Lay and Pai getting off with a handslap, but virtually every major bank, analyst and financial institution had its fingers in the cookie jar as well.

  • Of all the bastard characters, only Andrew Fastow came off as the least bit sympathetic. Fastow, the architect of the "off-balance sheet" accounts, got busted and actually admitted wrong-doing, was fined millions of dinero and is now doing time in federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison.

  • Big balls to Sherron Watkins, the whistle blower who virtually called Skilling a dirty liar to his face during federal hearings.
The film is highly entertaining, but it has a tendency to "angry up the blood" as Grandpa Simpson would say. Some would be tempted to point to this as an example of how evil all corporations are. But that would be missing the point.

Anytime the pursuit of money is placed as the only (not just the most important) priority, there is a risk of this kind of hyper-corruption. It could be a corporation, a communist politburo or a hipity-hop rap crew.

It's all a matter of priorities.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How weird is that?

Former University of Nebraska head football coach and current Ohio University head football coach Frank Solich is trying to withdraw his no-contest plea to a drunk driving charge in an Ohio court.

Solich claims that subsequent tests have shown that he was not under the influence of alcohol last November when he was pulled over and flunked a field sobriety test.

Rather, he said he was under the influence of the date rape drug GHB.
In the lab's report, Benjamin Corpus wrote that, "It is important to note that fortunately, Mr. Solich was not given a high dose of GHB that could potentially cause death" even though the very high claimed amount in the coach's hair would suggest a large dose.
So some irate fan, or trickster bartender slipped the coach a mickey? Makes me wonder what the hypothetical mickey-slipper's true intentions were?

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YouTube Tuesday: The Real World - IKEA

YouTube Tuesday was on hiatus last week but we make our triumphant return with a nifty little piece of hipster irony.

We all know that there's nought but bollocks on network TV these days. The shows that are supposed to be serious (all the different CSIs, Laws and Orders, and other generic lawyer/doctor/cop shows) are a joke, and the shows that aren’t supposed to be serious (the millions of so-called reality shows) are ridiculous.

This week's YouTube special takes the reality genre to the nth degree by filming the original reality show, MTV's The Real World, in an IKEA store.

Watching this, I think the kids filmed the whole thing without the permission of IKEA, for which effort I give them bonus balls points.


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Monday, August 21, 2006

Cicada summer

I think the annual cicada plague is drawing to a close.

Over the past week or so, I've begun to see the bodies of the little beasties laying on the sidewalk each morning in various stages of dead.

So it shouldn't be long before we can sit out on the front stoop again and have a pleasant conversation about the day's events without having to shout at each other to be heard over the chainsaw mating calls of these little critters.

Still, as a learning opportunity these buggers and their molted shells have made a pretty good science lesson for our three -(and a half)-year-old daughter. She has been fascinated with the shells that utterly covered the spruce tree in our front yard.

It all began when, before picking her up from preschool one day, I picked a cicada shell from a nearby tree and had it "grab" the front of my shirt and hang on. I thought it would be funny to walk into a room full of kids with the little hitchhiker stuck to my shirt and see their reactions.

True to form, when my daughter saw it she pointed and laughed "Hey, you've got a cicada on your shirt!"

She grabbed the shell (being careful not to smash it in her three-year-old death grip), and went to show it to some of her friends. The teachers chuckled at my little amusement even as some of the kids squealed in delighted horror.

The More You Know: Fun facts about Cicadas
  • The cicadas commonly found around Kansas City are called annual or dog day cicadas because they emerge in late July and early August, the dog days of summer.
  • Cicadas use special membranes to make their "songs" as opposed to crickets and grasshoppers, which rub their legs together.
  • Some cicadas produce sounds louder than 106 dB, among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds. (Here's a sample courtesy of Happy in Bag).
  • Cicadas are sometimes called "locusts", although they are unrelated to true locusts, which are a kind of grasshopper.
  • Only male cicadas sing.
  • The cicada's long life cycle (anywhere from 3 to 17 years depending on the species) is an evolutionary adaptation to fight the effects of predators
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Friday, August 18, 2006

So you think you love your kids?

I received this story and the link to the video in one of those chain emails. If anyone knows the original source, let me know and I'll credit them here.

It's long, but worth the read. Then watch the video and prepare to have misty eyes.
Maybe the greatest sports video of our time. I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right? And what has Rick done for his father?

Not much--except save his life.

This love story began in Winchester, Mass., 43 years ago, when Rick was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs. "He'll be a vegetable the rest of his life," Dick says doctors told him and his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. "Put him in an institution."

But the Hoyts weren't buying it. They noticed the way Rick's eyes followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was anything to help the boy communicate.

"No way," Dick says he was told. "There's nothing going on in his brain."

"Tell him a joke," Dick countered.

They did. Rick laughed.

Turns out a lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? "Go Bruins!"

And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the school organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, "Dad, I want to do that." Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described "porker" who never ran more than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he tried.

"Then it was me who was handicapped," Dick says. "I was sore for two weeks."

That day changed Rick's life. "Dad," he typed, "when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"

And that sentence changed Dick's life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon. "No way," Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren't quite a single runner, and they weren't quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then they found a way to get into the race officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, "Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?" How's a guy who never learned to swim and hadn't ridden a bike since he was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick tried. Now they've done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii. It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don't you think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you'd do on your own? "No way," he says. Dick does it purely for "the awesome feeling" he gets seeing Rick with a cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together. This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992--only 35 minutes off the world record, which happens to be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the time.

"No question about it," Rick types. "My dad is the Father of the Century."

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries was 95% clogged.

"If you hadn't been in such great shape," one doctor told him, "you probably would've died 15 years ago." So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other's life. Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass., always find ways to be together.

They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father's Day. That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

"The thing I'd most like," Rick types, "is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once."

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Proud pop

I've always given my parents all of the credit for my love of reading and learning. If they hadn't taken time to read every day, both to themselves and to me and my siblings, I might not be the intellectual giant I am today.

That's why my Supermodel Wife and I have made it a priority over the past three and a half years to read to our daughter every day.

Yesterday we received the payoff.

The princess has been interested in letters for a couple of years. About a year and a half ago she had the alphabet song down cold. About a year ago she was able to pick out the individual letters visually.

About three months ago she learned that each letter makes and individual sound, and a month or so ago, she started learning how to "draw" each letter.

Then, yesterday during our nightly reading session, she started to sound out the words phonetically.

We were reading the literary classic Hop on Pop ("the simplest Seuss for the youngest use). It contains words like "pup" and "up". It was amazing to see the young one looking at the individual letter, speak the sound, then put each letter together.

I can't believe how excited and proud I was and am. I really think my daughter is the smartest child in the world (as all parents do).

I can really see after this experience why people become teachers. One of the most rewarding benefits of being a parent is to see this kind of development, to see your child's curiosity and desire for information and education.

I've already bought her a copy of War and Peace.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Book tag

I've been tagged by Joel to do the Book Meme that came from John B. So here goes (prepare to be underwhelmed)...

1. One book that changed your life.

Well, factoring out The Bible (since I think this assignment is meant to reflect "modern" literature), I think it would have to be one of the books that first got me into the whole reading thing. I'll also filter out the books by Theodor Geisel since most of them were read to me before they were read by me (though I think people fail to recognize the emotional breadth and depth of Dr. Seuss' work -- so tragic the way they hopped on pop*).

Anyway, I think I'd have to go back to fifth grade Christmas break when I picked up a copy of CS Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the Chroni(What!)cles of Narnia series.

Sure, it turned out to have all kinds of religious symbolism and subtext, but to my pre-adolescent mind it was just a ripping good yarn. I went on to read the rest of the series, then the Lord of the Rings and others. Then in 1984 I thought it would be cool to read George Orwell’s 1984. Holy crap! Talk about a whole new experience in literature! And the rest, up until now, is history.

2. One book you have read more than once.

Well, there are many, but I'll just go with a small paperback volume called Robert Frost's Poems. It's an abridged anthology of (you guessed it) Robert Frost. It's not an exhaustive retrospective on Frost, but it has sentimental value to me because it was given to be by my grandfather before he died. I've often pulled it off of the bookshelf for a spiritual refresher after a particularly difficult day.

3. One book you would want on a desert island

At first is seemed Miller's Tropic of Cancer was an apropos title, but who needs that kind of frustration? No, I'll go with The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook -- I received it as a gag gift, but I'll be damned if it doesn't have some good tips on how to land an airplane (if the need should ever arise).

4. One book that made you laugh
My first choice would be The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy because Douglas Adams is so freakin' hilarious. But since Joel already has dibs, I'll go with The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book. Let's hear it for the graphic novel!

5. One book that made you cry

Hmm. I'm really not the type to cry at anything, let alone a book (I'm macho, you see). But I have had very strong emotional reactions to some books. Faulkner's Sanctuary is one (I know, some people say it's Falkner's worst work, but there's no accounting for taste). I just couldn't believe that a-hole Gowen would leave the beautiful Temple to be raped and pillaged by a bunch of thugs and bootleggers.

6. One book you wish you had written

Any of the Harry Potter books. I haven't read any of them (yeah, I'm the one), but What's-her-name has made more money than the Queen. Someone tell me, are the books as bad as the movies?

7. One book you wish had never been written

Well, there's value in most literature, even the bad books can show us the errors of our ways. The exception, of course, is anything written by L. Ron Hubbard. No redeeming value whatsoever.

8. One book you are currently reading

Tears and Laughter by Kahlil Gibran -- What a way with language this guy has.

9. One book you have been meaning to read

The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism -- I'm interested in the history and culture of France, and I enjoyed Ross King's Brunelleschi's Dome so much that I'm sure I'll like this one too. King has a great knack for presenting history in an interesting story-like narrative. Truth, after all, is more interesting than fiction.

10. Tag five people.
Amy, Joe, Dan-o, Roldy, Happy In Bag -- you're it!

*Quote attributed to 20th Century American literary critic Homer Simpson.
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Monday, August 14, 2006

On hope (and why I still have some)

JD posted a pessimistic look at the current state of affairs in Israel/Lebanon/Iraq/etc.

Nothing he posted is wrong, and I can't argue with his conclusions. But my Supermodel Wife and I had a discussion on the whole topic, and I came away hopeful that the problem will eventually go away.

My hope stems from the fact that all of the fighting and destruction has at its root oil. Oil is the only reason anybody outside of the Middle East is even interested in the region. Oil is what the warring parties within the Middle East use to fund their machinations (with the possible exception of Israel).

And control of the oil (and thus the source of money and power) is the entire raison d'être for the different warring factions. Sure, we've been told that they're mostly bickering about different religious interpretations of various ancient texts. But obviously in this case, religion is the crystal meth of the masses -- a tool used by those in power to convince people that blowing themselves up with a suicide vest is a good idea.

So, it all comes down to oil. And that's the good news, because sooner or later we won't need oil any longer.

Some people say that we're pretty much out of oil already, that it will only be a couple more decades before oil passes from fossil fuel to folklore.

I think that the last 10 years or so have shown us (particularly Americans) the real danger of being a nation of petroleum junkies, and we're starting to wake up to the importance of finding another source of energy.

Agribusiness conglomerate Cargill, for example, recently announced a plan to build a $40 million biodiesel plant in KC. There are other plans by other companies to build ethanol processing facilities as well.

I know there are doubts about the ability of current biofuels technology to support the current energy consumption of the U.S., and since I'm not an expert, I can't refute those doubts.

But I believe that there will be a confluence of genetic and biofuels technology that will result in the development of genetically modified soybeans or sorghum that will result in greater energy output -- enough to allow us to turn out backs on petroleum oil.

When that happens, nobody will care about the Middle East. The US will have no strategic reason to be there. Without the demand for oil, the power brokers in the area lose their primary source of money. So the warring factions will continue to fight it out amongst themselves, but with less and less money to fund new weapons and violence.

Then we'll be able to move on to different wars and violence.

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Holey Mission

The hole where the Mission Center Mall used to be continues to get bigger and bigger.

In just a few short weeks, destruction crews have taken out two thirds of the Mall at the corner of Roe Avenue, Johnson Drive and Shawnee-Mission Parkway.

I estimate the whole thing will be gone in another two weeks and the end of an era will come to Mission. Not that that's a bad thing.

Anyway, here's what the mall looked like a month ago. As you can see from the series of pictures below, the entire center section that formerly included the atrium and fountains is now gonesville.

I think it's a little humorous that crews put the "Mission" sign outside the big dig. Not sure if it was meant as a joke, but there seems to be some irony there.

Here are the pics.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Dinner with a celebrity

Dinner last night was at Plaza III with some business associates and agency partners.

It's one one of the nicer places in KCMO, so if you're going spot a celebrity in this town, it would just as well be there.

And, since it is rumored to be George Brett's favorite restaurant (I've heard he likes it more than his own restaurant), it wasn't a surprise to see him walk in while we were picking at our hors d'oeuvres.

But that's not the celebrity I'm referring to. The person I met and had pleasant conversation with wasn't a celebrity in the pop culture sense -- not a bubble-headed hotel heiress or a no-neck millionaire jock or a blinged-up, p-diddy hippity-hop pimp from the hood.

Overland Park resident Paul C. Rogers is a bit more unassuming than all of those people. Still, he has contributed more to the good of the world than any of them (and most of us) ever will.

Rogers, a good friend of one of my business associates, is one of the few remaining members of 101st Airborn Division, Easy Company, the famed Band of Brothers documented by the HBO mini series.

Rogers entertained us with stories of the D-Day invasion, including his early morning jump from an airplane into the Nazi-occupied French countryside. On the way down, he lost his jump bag (which contained most of his gear including his rifle and ammunition) and landed in a tree. With only his trench-knife, a few grenades, some water and chocolate rations he managed to evade German troops long enough to catch up with the rest of Easy Company.

All of us at the table were riveted by his stories, even as he told about his interviews for the Band of Brothers production, meeting Tom Hanks and touring France 60 years after the D-Day invasion. We were humbled to be in his presence.

The man is all class. Quite a departure from today's popular so-called celebrities.

As Mr. Rogers left after a long and satisfying dinner, he remarked that "I've dined with movie stars and dignitaries, but I've enjoyed talking to you all more than any of them."

Like I said, all class.

We all know how the war turned out, but it's something special to hear about it from someone who lived through it. So many sacrificed so much for so few.

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother;

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Man grabs a log*

It's been both a slow and a fast couple of weeks. It's been slow, because I haven't been posting much (struggling to post at least once a day). It's been fast because I've been hellabusy in both the work and personal lives.

I hope to elaborate soon on the personal life crap. It's all good news, I just haven't had time to document it.

Until then, I've come up with this little ditty to keep my reader occupied.

It's (cue Monty Python theme song)...

Emawkc's blog anagram game!!!

So here's how it works: I've anagramized (yeah, I don't know if that's a word either) the names of 10 blogs. Your job is to decode them, working out which blog name corresponds to each anagram below. It's fun, see?

Put your answers in the comments section. The winners will receive fabulous prizes worth millions.**

One more thing, all of the correct answers are listed in the blogrolls to the right. That should help out a lot.
Okay. Ready? Here we go...
  1. Bang a hippy (<- updated to be more clever)
  2. Bugling duo loot
  3. Tom's a cretin
  4. A sty contains sky
  5. Cop Joule
  6. Bend a limo rig
  7. Out no evil
  8. Goldmine
  9. Creed for hurt jots
  10. A short fang's hot musk
Over the next few days, I'll link the anagrams to their respective blogs so you can see the answers. Keep checking back.

*Bonus points if you decode the anagram title of this post
**No actual prizes will be given. What, do you think I'm made of money?

Nobody got all of the anagrams, but a lot of people figured out some of them. So you're all winners. I've updated the links to reflect the missing solutions for #9 and the bonus #11, so click the links to find out where they go. As for the title, "Man grabs a log" is an anagram for "Blog Anagrams".

Thanks to everyone who played.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: 12th and life

YouTube Tuesday is usually on the lighter side. Typically I post something I think is hysterical, or at least mildly amusing. Sometimes just entertaining, as in a music video.

Not today.

Sorry to be a downer, but the YouTube video I saw for today is just sad. I'm not sure that the original producers meant it to be depressing. By the tone and style of the production and smiles on the faces, one would think the subjects of this short-form documentary are happy and pleased with the life they lead.

Maybe they are. Probably they know no other life.

But it is sad to see a community that has completely given up on itself. Even the mature adults who should know better seem to glorify the "gangsta" culture of violence and drugs.

"We kill people for tellin'. We kill people for taking a stand. And their mommas and daddies had to go. That was the code."

"Where's my wife and family? What if I die here? Who'll be my role model now that my role model is gone."

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Book it

I just wanted to take a quick moment from this hellabusy day to say congrats to WaiterRant.

The waiter, one of the best bloggers in the blogiverse, announced last week that he has signed a book deal. Presumably, the book will consist of edited versions of his blog posts, which I've been reading for a year and a half or so.

Waiter is absolutely one of the best writers out here. He always seems to have something interesting to say without stooping to petty sniping and partisanship (like many of us do at times).

If you're not a regular reader already, go check it out and you'll soon be a repeat customer.

So congrats Waiter, you deserve it. Now where's my freakin' pudding?

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Out of the corner of my eye

Bill Gnade, the hyperintelligent proprietor of Contratimes, has hosted a discussion about The Greatest Rock Song of All Time. I weighed in last week with my nomination, Springsteen's Born To Run (see the comments section here).

Yesterday, Gnade posted his pick for greatest rock song and a defense thereof. I started to post a reply in his comments section, but I was struck with a serious bout of diarrhea of the keyboard. So I decided to post it here instead.

Read on, if you're not already too bored.


That's a very fine deconstruction of that song. I'm a huge Pink Floyd fan, as regular reader (sic) of my blog would know.

Roger Waters is one of the music world's best lyricists, and your assessment of the guitar solos (not just in this song) is spot on. I could (and have-back in college) listen to The Wall for ages and always hear something new, not to mention Dark Side and Animals. All are very high concept albums, indeed works of art in the finest sense.

That said, I don’t think I can support your assertion that Comfortably Numb, great as it is, is "the greatest rock song of all time."

The only reason I say this is the simple fact that it doesn't rock. It lacks that certain quality that makes me want to get up and move, that certain je ne sais quois that makes my toe tap and my adrenaline rush. Indeed, it makes me want to sit quietly and reflect (which is an important call to action).

But for a song to be the greatest rock song of all time, as Christopher Walken would say, "I gotta have more cow bell."

One other comment on your interpretation of the song: I think I agree about 95 percent with you discussion. But...

It's a bit unfair to discuss this song out of context with the rest of the album, particularly because it comes at such an important point in the story of Pink. It's a bit like just reading about Judas' betrayal and Jesus' crucifixion in the Bible, then stopping. You miss the most important part (resurrection).

However, a very fine point of differentiation is that I think Voice 1 (and indeed the entire first "act" of the album) is really about the amalgamation of "characters" and events in the world that drive us to self-destructive behavior. These people and events (different for everyone) are what cause us all to have our own demons, and to build our own psycho-spiritual walls. It's the very process of adolescence and what makes it so painful (does anyone really want to go through junior high again?)

But I think the point of the album (driven home in the last two tracks), is that we should strive to avoid indulging our inner demons and dragging around the psychological weight of all the crap that everyone goes through. Instead we should look for positive influences (both external and internal). If we can do these things, we stand a better chance of not breaking through the thin ice of modern living, and we will be happier in the end.

Man isn't meant to live inside his own mind. We need to be open to our feelings and the love and kindness of others, and that's incredibly difficult for some of us.

No man is an island, after all.

All alone, or in two's,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and artists
Make their stand.

And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall.

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Back from the Satellite of Love

I was a huge fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 during the '90s.

For some reason there are few things more entertaining to me that (half)witty repartee between a human and three robots during especially bad movies.

That's why I was so excited to read in the Star today (yes, dammit, I still read the Star) that MST3K's head writer/host Mike Nelson is reviving the concept in downloadable MP3 format.

The project/website is called RiffTrax. The idea is that you buy an audio track of Nelson's smarmy comments about, say, Road House, and then play the track in sync with the DVD playing on you home TV.

Check out the sample on RiffTrax, which has chestnuts like "Ah, ya have to irritate an old guy at least once a day, otherwise what's life good for?"

The timing couldn't be better for Nelson to launch this project. Thanks to iTunes and podcasting, audio downloads have become de rigueur. And thanks to the nature of the Internet, Nelson will be able to take advantage of low overhead to capture a long tail market that can't be served by traditional distribution.

And let's face it, there's lots of bad movies to draw material from these days. I mean, how did the black community let the Wayans brothers release Little Man?

Anyway, sign me up for RiffTrax. I have a feeling Nelson is going to clean up with this, especially when he discovers how to sell subscriptions to the service over iTunes so that we get automatic downloads of the latest riffs.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I don't want my MTV

I missed it. A lot of people missed it.

Hell, even MTV didn't want to acknowledge their 25th birthday. That's right, 25 years ago yesterday, MTV launched itself into pop culture with Video Killed the Radio.

In the following years, as the network cut more deals to get on more cable TV plans, it introduced a whole new medium with an entirely new definition of cool. Remember David Lee Roth's "Dave TV! ALL DAVE ALL NIGHT!" Ah, the memories.

For better or worse (I would argue worse), MTV helped video become as much a part of music as audio. And I admit that it was cool to see the artists I'd been listening to on the radio perform on TV regularly.

But then, the network made an interesting discovery. With the trial of its first "game show" Remote Control (the show that made Colin Quinn a household name), they found that they could engage users for half an hour instead of the 5 minutes of a music video. This of course, meant they could charge more for advertising, which in turn bolsters the bottom line leading to nice fat bonuses for the network execs.

Bye bye music, hello Real World.

Anyway, it's a cultural cliche anymore that MTV isn't really MTV. It completely sucks anymore, but that's okay because the entire traditional music industry sucks too.

Of course maybe, like MTV, I'm just getting old.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

YouTube Tuesday: Chad Vader

Chad Vader is one of the rising stars of YouTube. You may have heard of his older brother, Darth, but Chad has a story of his own.

In Episode 2: Day Shift Manager, Chad struggles to find love while keeping his choice gig as day manager at a supermarket...

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