Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm bringin' sexy feet!

On Friday I found that my Loon shoes had been delivered! Finally, shoes that capture the spirit and majesty of my northwoods home…

Unfortunately, the weekend itself was busier than I thought it would be. Not busy with active things, mind you – but with watching much of the NFL draft and trying to pick up and organize all the detritus that had been accumulating around the house and also trying to spend time outside in the gorgeous weather I didn’t get a chance to take a TOWWAS-esque picture of them on my feet yet.

All right, I’ll admit, it’s only partially due to my busy-ness. The rest is a lingering fear that posting pictures of my feet will bring in wave after wave of foot-fetishists. I mean, I’ve only just lately seen a decline in the number of people searching for more info on my friend’s* Arby’s fishnet Super Bowl commercial. Seriously, I was getting upwards of 60 hits a day for almost 2 months straight. Lord knows I don’t want my little corner o’the web getting swamped by strangers with dubious intentions.

Still, I may not be able to resist. They’re sewper kewl lookin’ - both of the women working at the blood donation center complimented me on them on Saturday, and even the GF’s opinion has changed**. Although, maybe it’s just that they look so much better on me than they do in the box*** due to my overwhelming handsome-ness.

* Those of you still searching for her – her Hollywood name is Meg Wolf and she has her own page on imdb.com. Knock yourselves out.
** After initially dubbing them “the most hideous shoes on the planet”.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Quickie - TIGER ATTACK!

Note to self.

When approached by a tiger, stay away from its butt.

Quickie - Words fail me.

Oh lord...I just...I can't believe...this is so...

(sigh)

I give up. Ladies and gentlemen - I present the most gullible woman on the planet!

Not quite thinking a plan all the way through

Despite the fact that I trumpet the greatness of Minnesota from the highest hill, many people are surprised to learn that I was actually born in North Dakota. I'm pretty sure I've blogged before about how I'm usually the first "NoDak-er" that people have ever met when I'm introduced. It's true that I really reflect more of the personality of a Minnesotan - the whole "where the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average" mystique that Garrison Keillor has revealed to the world really is quite accurate in many ways.

But there are certain stories that, when I read them, take me back to my time on the prairie - where the people were quiet but friendly, honest but polite, and generally featured a "this is my plan and I'm stickin' to it" mindset. Once a NoDak-er sets his mind to something, it's usually pretty difficult to get them to alter course. A good example of this is a recent story that I ran across about a high school kid who decided he wanted to drive his prom date to the dance via tractor. Now, had I taken my senior prom date to the prom in a tractor I'm pretty sure she would have totally gotten on board and made a prom dress uniquely suited to the occasion. Of course my senior prom date was an exceptionally witty person with a great sense of humor. Somehow I am skeptical Ms. Bachmier was so accomodating. Although she did wear a dress that "almost exactly matched" the color of the tractor itself, so maybe I'm not giving her enough credit.

But the real question (no doubt being asked by all the male readers out there fondly recalling their senior proms) is: why would you want to drive your high school date to the prom in a tractor? I mean, where are you going to go make out after the dance if there's no backseat and any cop with half a brain is going to investigate a tractor parked down by the river? I mean, a car - sure the cops know it's prom night and they know what's going on. But a tractor would just attract too much attention...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Totally what I expected...

Thanks to KC for posting this!

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Drama Nerd

You sure do love the spotlight and probably have a very out-going and loud personality. Or not. That's just a stereotype, of course. Participation in the theatre is something to be very proud of. Whether you have a great voice for musicals, or astounding skills for dramas/comedies; keep up the good work. We need more entertainment these days that isn't television and video games (not that these things are bad, necessarily.)

Literature Nerd
Science/Math Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Musician
Social Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Anime Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quizzes for MySpace

Quickie - No wonder Superman never went to Serbia...

Holy crap! Geologists have recently discovered a new mineral in a remote part of Serbia which has been described as "sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide". That is very similar to the name of the mineral "sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide with fluorine" that Lex Luthor steals from the musuem in "Superman Returns". The scientists claim this is all a coincidence, and even had the audacity to name the new mineral "Jadarite" instead of what we all know is its real name - Kryptonite!

Now I don't know about you, but if the Kryptonians protect their trademarks as zealously as we do it's only a matter of time before a fleet of their galactic warships arrives overhead, disgorging thousands of troops, all of whom now feature super-human powers due to the presence of our yellow sun.

Of course, once we figure out how to mix this new mineral with fluorine, we'll be able cut them down like waves of Persians at Thermopylae! Kryptonite-flavored bullets, anyone?

Book learnin!

I've spent the last two days in a large room filled with expensive, large pieces of metalworking equipment as part of training class put on by one of the companies I buy from at work. Two days of doing stuff I hadn't done since junior high shop class back in the last century and I managed to come away with a business card holder made out of aluminum, countless tiny metal chips embedded in my shoes and shirt, and (best of all) all ten of my fingers intact.

Other than that, it wasn't nearly as educational as I had hoped it would be. I did get free lunch though. And a couple shirts I'll never wear again...and a baseball cap I'll never wear. The stuff I will use? Note pads, a couple neat pens, and a stainless steel coffee mug. Of course that last one I just gave to the GF because she'll end up with it anyway. She's the one who drinks coffee on a regular basis.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Good weather + new belt = weekend fun!

Depending on who you ask, spring in the Midwest is typically described as either “unexpected variety” or “utter chaos”. Nothing describes this better than the last couple weeks. A week-and-a-half ago we had a high of 38 degrees, yet this past weekend was marked by our first foray into the 80’s. Just to shake things up though, mother nature coupled that with winds nearing 40 mph just so we’d remember we live in tornado country. The GF and I spent a portion of a lazy Sunday watching my plastic deck furniture get blown about like flakes in a snowglobe before I went out and stacked it up to prevent further shenanigans*.

Other than that the most notable parts of the weekend included:

  • Not getting sunburned on the “first sunny day” for the first time in years. Thanks SPF 40 sunscreen!
  • Buying four new belts that all fit perfectly! And, the related disposal of old belts that had deceived me with illusions of proper size.
  • Making a really tasty dinner out of tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, scallions, and garlic, all mixed together and stewed with some chicken-soup-like** broth. Sure, it was from a cookbook and we used organic tomatoes that cost $1.25 each when canned could have been fine, but it still tasted good.
  • Learning what scallions are.
  • Discovering that clever entrepreneur has developed “herbs in a tube” – mixing various herbs with water*** so they can be squeezed from a tube like toothpaste. No, we didn’t buy any.
  • Finishing dinner with enough time to go see “Hot Fuzz” and totally scoring free street parking right next to the theater.

All in all, a good weekend. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait for my new shoes to show up!

* Or lawsuits in the event it got blown off the deck entirely.
** Vegetarian friendly for the GF, naturally.
*** And freakishly large amounts of preservatives, no doubt.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Quickie - Is this weird?

You know what I really like? The feeling of freshly pulled-up socks. It's like giving your calves a little hug!

Apparently, I write like a girl

Recently I stumbled on the Gender Genie tool, which apparently uses some sort of magical algorythms to examine whether text was written by a male or a female. Since I lurve testing the wits of computers and have plenty of samples of my writing on this blog, I plugged in the last week's worth (or so) to see how it did.

Needless to say, apparently, I'm a woman.

Date Words F-Score M-Score Result
19-Apr 486 860 645 F
18-Apr 357 550 321 M
17-Apr 330 378 366 F
16-Apr 534 806 704 F
13-Apr 402 272 586 M
12-Apr 589 939 831 F
10-Apr 774 1120 936 F

Out of the seven posts I ran through the genie - it only identified me as a male twice. What's more, on the posts with more than 500 words (where it claims to be "most effective") it called me female every time. I'm not sure how to take this. I think I'll just chalk it up to being "in touch with my feminine side", since I'm really not qualified at all to be an actual woman.

[INSERT SEGUE HERE]

Last night a friend and I went to see the Body Worlds 2 exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. Because we did the weeknight showing, it wasn't nearly as packed as it would be on the weekend. While the exhibit itself was amazing there was one part of it that was a little irritating - we were surrounded by medical students. Apparently, some med school cohort had decided to do a group tour at the same time we had our tickets, so while I'm trying to feel smart about what I know about anatomy, I'm surrounded by people talking about how they "hate questions about infarctions on exams" and "there's the first cervical nerve*!".

Show offs...

*While perusing their anatomy textbook which they had just happened to have brought with them

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gatorade tastes like syrup anyway...

Living in Chicago, it’s sometimes easier to follow stories here that get missed out on by the rest of the mainstream media. Of course, it helps when said stories involve people with a more local focus. For instance, the NFL recently fined Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher $100,000 for wearing a hat and drinking water during the Super Bowl media day back in January. Why would the league fine a player for preventing dehydration and skin cancer? Simple – because both the hat and the water were from a company (Vitaminwater) that is not a sanctioned sponsor of the NFL*.

If $100K sounds like a big chunk of change to you, consider it this way. Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was able to finagle his way out of multiple felony assault charges last fall stemming from an incident where he threatened some kids (who he allegedly believed stole some ATVs from him) with a handgun. Despite plea-bargaining his way out of prison, the league still imposed a fine of four game paychecks for violating the conduct policy. The grand total of that fine, given Taylor’s base salary that season? About $106,250.

So the implied message is that promoting a brand that hasn’t signed a contract with the league is essentially just as bad an offense as threatening a few teenagers with a pistol.

Of course if you’re like newspaper columnist Rick Snider, Taylor's offense was actually *less* than Urlachers, because Taylor’s fine was “way too heavy handed”.

Beating up someone to regain stolen property — which started this whole mess — is something many of us would have done. Not that it would have been the right choice. Recovering stolen property is the police’s job, but many men would have
punched the guys for stealing two all-terrain vehicles. And if you wouldn’t, start watching Olympic figure skating instead of the NFL.

If you ask me, this is the problem with America – arrogant blowhards who hide behind their media status** to promote behavior that – frankly – I doubt they would really practice in real life. Sure, Mr. Snider *sounds* like a tough guy, all puffed up full of sound and fury. But if he really believes that watching the NFL should be reserved for wife-beaters and schoolyard bullies then he is probably either one or the other himself. Football only works when both teams follow the rules of the game, and that applies to everyone both on the field and off.

In the end, I’m incredibly disappointed with the NFL on this one. While I’m glad that they have instituted a new personal conduct policy, if the end result is a system that values corporate sponsorship more than the basic social contract then we’ve started down a long road to me caring as much about football as I do about the NBA. And I’m pretty sure Roger Goodell doesn’t want that.

* “Brought to you by Gatorade!”
** Real or imagined

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Call a spade a spade, seedless or not

Oklahoma's state legislature recently passed a bill to name the watermelon as the official "state vegetable". Now (because you are reading this blog) you are one of the most intelligent people in the world, and you probably though thte same thing I did when reading the article: "Wait, isn't watermelon a fruit?"

I thought the same thing - apparently the all-powerful Strawberry Lobby (no doubt led by "Big John" Auffet) has already staked out the claim to being the official state fruit of Oklahoma. Because when I think strawberries - I think Oklahoma!**

So now because there is no official botanical definition of "vegetable"* Oklahoma has now taken liberties with reality to define it as something along the lines of "anything that is even remotely plant-like". One wonders why they didn't try to go for something really cool like naming Swamp Thing as their official state vegetable. After all, they already have a state cartoon character, so why blow "state vegetable" on something your state is barely known for?

And also, it seems that just about every state in America has already laid claim to the title of "watermelon capital" including Cordele, GA; Knox City, TX***; Clyde, KS; Saline, LA; Lincoln, IL; and last but not least Rush City, OK****

Of course, I have to temper my ridicule somewhat, because after all I come from a state that has an official state muffin. But at least we call it a muffin and don't try to sneak it in by calling it a cookie.

* Unlike fruits, which are generally considered the developed ovaries of a flowering plant - usually containing seeds. Examples of which include apples, oranges, and yes - watermelons.
** This post sponsored by the North American Stawberry Growers Association - Getting seeds stuck in your teeth since 1977!
***Seedless, shmeedless - I don't see a difference. Frankly I hate seedless watermelons anyway because they still have seeds, they are just smaller and more likely to be missed when you're eating them, making them more likely to result in a quick death by choking.
**** Obviously, home to the state representative who sponsored the bill in the Oklahoma legislature.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

They'll preserve wherever Lincoln slept, but not where Kennedy slept with Marilyn? That's a double standard

A recent news story I heard yesterday reminded me of one of my pet peeves. Why is it that just because someone famous slept in a particular building or room now justifies the preservation of said place for all eternity? I mean, considering how many hotel rooms I’ve slept in since I started work, and how many houses I’ve lived* this is going to create a serious problem with respect to the sheer volume of buildings that will require historical preservation.

The story that got this in my head was the announcement that a house in Sterling, Illinois where Lincoln slept once is going to be turned into a museum. This seems to border on lunacy, I mean, he stayed there one time! How does that provide enough material to develop an entire museum? “Here’s where he ate dinner, over there’s where he washed his face, there’s where he went to the toilet, and here is the grand finale – the bed where he lay unconscious for almost eight hours!”

Sounds gripping, indeed. Surely the children of Sterling must not be deprived of such a culturally enriching experience…

Maybe it’s just a Lincoln thing. I mean, take the Lincoln Bedroom** in the White House, for example – Why is that the only room named after a president? Why not the Jefferson Bathroom, the Van Buren Kitchen Pantry, and (of course) the Washington Laundry room***.

Maybe it’s because Van Buren doesn’t haunt the kitchen pantry.

* 12 before graduating high school (plus one other that’s since been demolished) plus an additional 4 since I’ve graduated college.
** For the record, when I read about the “holograph copy of the Gettysburg Address”, yes, I did initially think to myself “They have a hologram of it? Cool! But why? It’s not like it’s in 3D or anything…”
*** As in “Boy, I’ve got a *ton* of washing to do this weekend!” I know, roll with me anyway…

Monday, April 16, 2007

America's War on Belts!

For some reason that as yet remains a mystery to me, I have become the unwitting target of some sort of clothing guerilla movement being staged by my belts. After living in peace for years with my belts, I was recently forced to replace all of my normal belts that I wear to work. This was partially because two of them were getting really old and the backing was cracking something fierce, and partially due to the fact that when I packed up for my return flight from Los Angeles a couple weeks back they all conspired to avoid being put in the suitcase*.

So suddenly the only belt I had left was one reversible belt that was, in truth, a little too long, but which I could wear by using the last belt hole. A huge fashion faux pas, I realize, but I figured it would get me through the week until I could go get some new belts. But apparently the pressure of being the only work-appropriate belt in the closet was too much pressure and the buckle started detaching from the belt itself. At this point I realized I needed to pick up some new belts and took advantage of baby-present shopping at Target on Friday to do so.

But here is my problem – no matter what they say, belts are *never* the size that they claim to be. Sure, the tags *read* as though they are for certain specific size ranges, but once you put them on you find that those are not to be trusted, and indeed, are probably all part of the “Down with Grrrbear (and his Pants)!” belt conspiracy. Time and time again, I have wrapped belts around my waist and thought they would be a good fit only to find that when I get them home and actually try them on with pants, they have lengthened or shortened by several inches**. So this time I carefully looked through the rack, found two that I liked, and wrapped them tightly around my waist. They looked like they would be a perfect fit, so I bought them and hung them up in my closet at home. I thanked my last remaining reversible belt for its service, and promptly disposed of it.

Of course, when I went to put on the belt this morning, I discovered that it was actually too big for my pants, and the only way I can wear it is by using the very first hole. So now I’m in the same situation I was before.

At this point I’m afraid now I’ll have to start trying on belts before purchasing them. Either that or go with suspenders, but if they are in league with the belts then they’d probably be too short or too long as well. If they’re too long I look like a clown, too short and I’m parading around with male camel-toe. And neither of those would really be work-appropriate.

Maybe this is why old men go with sans-a-belt pants. They’ve all realized the war cannot be won.

* Hey, it was 4:00 am, am I supposed to remember *everything* that early?
** If not a foot.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Lord only knows what sort of games will be played at the party itself...

Tomorrow afternoon I throw all semblance of masculinity to the wind and attend my very first baby shower. Now, obviously, this is not the first time a friend of mine has been expecting* but it is the first time I’ve actually been invited to a shower. In my mind, this is because the thought of sitting around in a semicircle squealing about the overwhelming cuteness at the unveiling of each new onesie sounds about as much fun as watching a full weekend of “I Love New York” marathons on VH1**.

But the parents-to-be are good friends of mine, and I’ve been informed that a) I won’t be the only guy there and b) there will be lots of free food. So I’m feeling a little more optimistic about the whole thing. I mean, I’m pretty sure that my maxim of “if there’s cake – there’s fun” will hold up, even under such extreme conditions as those present in a baby shower.

Now the only real question is what to get for the kid? Yes, I know I should’ve gone to their registry online and had it mailed weeks ago, but in true “guy going shopping for someone else” fashion*** I’ve been procrastinating. Looks like I’ll be stopping by Target on the way home and frantically searching the baby section for something on the list.

Note to self...make sure whatever I pick up is non-toxic and lacks sharp edges...

* That would have been when I was in high school. Hooray for abstinence-only sex-ed!
** For some reason, the GF loves this show. The last time she turned it on at my house however, I left the room after about 30 seconds. Apparently, this was perceived as me making an ass of myself. That may be true, but at least she changed the channel.
*** There the rule is that if I’m buying something for myself I’ll take weeks to research all my options, visit multiple stores looking for the best price and selection, and only make the actual purchase after a pre-determined amount of time that is directly proportional to the amount of money being spent. Buying something for someone else however usually involves waiting to the last minute and typically picking up something on the way to the party. In this case however, I doubt buying a nice bottle of wine would be appropriate.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

When stupid meets stupid

Despite my frequent exasperated posts regarding the idiots of the world, and despite my inner-rage about Best Buy, I understand that not everyone knows how to set up their own wireless network. I know that there is a market out there for people who need help with computer stuff, I just don’t like how Best Buy overcharges people for it*.

So when I heard that a woman in California is suing Best Buy and Geek Squad because one of their techs secretly recorded video of her taking a shower while on a service call, I was intrigued. Finally, a little karmic justice would come down on those money-grubbing rats! But after reading more about it, now I don’t know who’s the bigger idiot – the service tech or the woman. Bear with me on this….

Okay, say you’ve called someone into your house to fix something – whether it’s an electrician, a house cleaning service, whatever. Seriously, why would *anyone* then proceed to say “Okay, looks like you’re all set up, I’m going to go take a shower!”. Hello! There’s a strange man in your house! Didn’t you ever see Psycho!?!?

Anyway, it turns out that not only is this woman stupid, she’s also blind. Because unless this guy had some sort of invisible phone, she then took a shower with it in plain view. The cameras on camera phones are not the most sophisticated devices in the world. They can’t be detached from the phone itself** and they don’t transmit any signals wirelessly – so he must have went into the bathroom, set it up to point directly at the shower, and then hit “record” before the woman ararived. Then, the woman must have walked into the bathroom, ignored the strange cell phone sitting out on the counter pointing at the shower (I mean how could she miss it?***) and proceeded to get nekkid anyway.

Because hey, who *wouldn’t* want to take their clothes off with a cell phone they’ve never seen before pointing right at them?

Don’t get me wrong, the guy who did it is a douche and he totally deserves to get what’s coming to him****. But it doesn’t sound like this woman has a whole lot of brain rattling around in that skull of hers, either.

[EDIT]: After actually watching the video that accompanied the story, doesn't it also seem a little weird that they had time to go to the Verizon store to see the video on the SIM card, come back and call the police, and then have him still be there to be arrested? Just goes to show the quality of techs that Best Buy is hiring these days. Like I said: technophobes...if you have problems with the "magic box" and the tubes that connect to the "interets"? Call your kid.

* Via their “Geek Squad” subsidiary. I mean, seriously, $48 just to tell you how to turn on the password-protection on your wireless network? $230 just to install virus software? $250 to defragment your hard drive? Seriously, just call your kid, they already know how to do all this stuff…
** At least not yet…
*** Unless of course, the phone really was invisible. In which case expect sales of that model to skyrocket once it gets done once it's released to the public.
**** Boobs are nice and all but really, isn't it better for everyone involved if access to them is gained through legal channels and mutual agreement?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quickie - Entrapment!

Still, I thought this was funny...

If we declare war on War, does he have to kill himself?

The White House has announced that they have created a new position and are currently searching for candidates to fill it. This new position would essentially be responsible for managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and implementing the administration’s strategeries. The thing is they are having a hard time filling the position. One of the candidates they interviewed stated “The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going.”

Obviously, there are many, many questions that one could blog about given a topic of this nature. First, one would have to ask why we would need a new “war czar” or “chief war commander” in the first place? I mean, isn’t that the job of the COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF? Or did he get quietly reassigned to BRUSH-CLEARER-IN-CHIEF over the weekend*?

Second, why stop only at the wars in Afghanistan? Shouldn’t this person also be responsible for dealing with the Wars on Terror, Drugs, and Poverty as well? What about the War on Christmas? Does the administration really believe that Santa has *nothing* to do with the Drug Trade in Afghanistan? How else do they think he makes the little children so happy? Are we really expected to believe that the elves can stay up for weeks at a time purely on the rush of Christmas cheer and not crystal meth?

Please…

* Not that I'd complain. Bush's war on brush has been very effective in clearing much of Crawford of such rogue elements as Leafy Spurge, Nightshade, and Sheep Sorrell bin-Laden.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Quickie - "Wait, I just kicked something floating..."

If you're like this guy and get it in your head that you want to swim all the major rivers of the industrialized world, are you really just telling the world "I like swimming through poo"?.

I mean, sure, maybe the Danube and the Mississippi aren't too terrible, but the Yangtze and the Amazon?

Congratulations Mr Toilet-Swimmer. Here's some news for you, you're not sick from exhaustion - you're sick because you've been swimming in feces for two months.

Living in the Future - Day #1

After standing in line for forty minutes at the Comcast office waiting to pick up the new cable box, I went home, hooked it up, and proceeded to watch nothing for 40 minutes. Well, not “nothing” exactly, but starting for that long at a menu bar that reads “This channel will be available shortly” makes one lose all sense of time and self. So, after trying to call Comcast for another hour* I got someone to actually turn on the service and proceeded to figure out if this whole thing was worth all the effort and expense.

The first thing that you notice about watching HD television is all the details you never noticed before. Naturally, you never noticed them before because you really don’t care about them to begin with – they are the insignificant details that make absolutely *no* difference in what you are watching, but now that you can see them, you can’t stop looking at them. It’s sort of like that day all men recall when the first girl to “develop” showed up at school with boobs. It’s not like you had never seen her before, and it’s not like you were particularly interested** in actually talking to her, but suddenly there were boobs and you couldn’t stop looking at them! It was a whole new dimension to something which had heretofore been relatively unremarkable.

It’s *exactly* the same thing with HDTV. I found myself sitting there watching Rudy Maxa go on and on about traveling in Ireland and all I could really register was “Wow, I can see *every* single strand of hair in his beard…”. Frankly I have no idea what exactly he was talking about because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from his facial hair. Maybe Public television had artfully combed it into some sort of hypnotic pattern that would command me to sit down and keep watching. If they did, it totally worked.

The second thing you notice about watching HD is how crappy anything on the tube that *isn’t* HD looks. Seriously, once you start, it’s really hard to go back. Sure, there are some programs that are still going to be worth my time, but I found myself getting pulled back to network programming, which are the only ones who've really pushed the switch and offer most of their shows in HD. I watched CBS for the first time in years before figuring out where the HD Discovery Channel was hidden. This was the biggest surprise for me because I’d been making do with my old TV for years too and hadn’t ever noticed a problem before. But now that my new screen is bigger, all the bad parts of 480-line resolution that I used to be able to unconsciously sweep under the rug suddenly becomes glaringly obvious in 1080 lines of resolution.

The third thing you notice about watching HD is how light your wallet feels. Because in addition to the TV itself, there are innumerable things you need*** to make it actually work. For example, there is a special cable you have to buy called HDMI cable. Because apparently regular cables don’t have enough bandwidth to carry all the data needed to make a picture and even component cables can’t handle it as well. So you have to go out and spend another $100 for ONE SINGLE CABLE****. Mercifully, Amazon has them on sale for about $60, but still – that’s a lotta change for a single cable. In addition to that you’ll probably have to upgrade a bunch of your equipment. Not just the cable box, but other things like your DVD player. Even if you don’t jump into the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray format war there exist regular DVD players that can use fancy algorithms to “upconvert” regular DVD’s into something closer to high-def playback. They don’t really cost any more than regular DVD players at the moment, so if you’re going to replace yours soon, be sure to get one that can upconvert until they settle which format will win – an argument that will most likely be settled by the porno studios yet again.

Until then, you’re probably fine sticking with what you got, because once you go to HD you’ll never want to go back.

* Half-hour of getting hung-up on by their infernal “Press 1 for English…” voice menus plus another half-hour sitting on hold once I got through
** Or capable
*** As well as some stuff you “need”.
**** And it’s not even made our of unicorn hair or diamonds or anything!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Your mama's so fat when she puts on her BVD's they spell out "Boulevard"!

Over the weekend I finally broke down and made the move to HDTV. This was not so much a surprise shift in my preferences as it was a reflection on the fact that I finally found someone who would take my old television and help me move it out of my living room. You see, my old Sony Trinitron VEGA was about 40” wide overall and weighed in at around 250-300 pounds – making it impossible for me to move by myself. So when my friend showed up with her boyfriend to help me carry it out I was feeling pretty confident. Naturally, my evil television used some sort of mutant power to effect gravity when it sensed that they had come to take it away from me* and even though I thought the two of us could move it pretty easily it still was the most horrific moving experience I’ve been through. I am now sort in places I never knew I had muscles, and am now wondering if I didn’t pull something or possibly even rend my bicep in ‘twain.

Of course, all that was secondary once I had returned from Circuit City with my new 46” Samsung LCD TV. Of course, before I could hook it up, I needed to assemble the “some assembly required” stand that had been on sale. That’s when I discovered why it was on sale – the mounting holes on the back legs had been welded incorrectly at the factory, so they wouldn’t align properly with the shelves on the one side. Being a man, however, I was not going to let a simple thing like misplaced holes get in my way – I got out my cordless drill and re-lived the Industrial Arts glory days of my junior-high youth. Two sorta-well drilled holes later** I had assembled the stand. And it only took me another hour to figure out how to wire everything up. At that point I was all set up with only aching muscles, one pencil-eraser-sized gash on my thumb, and a living room covered with Styrofoam bits and metal shavings. Sure, my living room was a death trap for toddlers, but that was quickly resolved with a few swipes of a vacuum.

So what’s the first program that I watched on the new TV, you ask? Russ Meyer’s “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” - a.k.a. "BVD" to cult-movie lovers. Yes, the picture wasn’t as good as it would be once I get my new cable box*** but in general it was still watchable. And for a first movie to watch, it was pretty guy-awesome: gratuitous nudity, drug use, excessive use of 1960’s catchphrases****, more nudity, crazy hippie-costumes, excessive violence, and boobs on a weird androgynous record producer. Nothing but absolute camp/cult-classic gloriousness. Even the GF loved it!

* What can I say? My electronic gadgetry forms very strong emotional bonds with me – unfortunately for them it’s usually not reciprocal.
** So much for “measure twice, drill once”…
*** Yeah, remember how it took me an hour to wire it all up? I had to undo it all last night because I need a new cable box to get HDTV programming. Friggin’ Comcast…
**** e.g. “This is my happening and it freaks me out!”

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Quickie - Because we men don't always think things through...

"Hey Sally! What did your boyfriend give you for your anniversary?"

"He's the greatest! He gave me
Hepatitis C!"

"Oh, what a sweetheart! You're so lucky..."

"I know...(sigh)"

You just *know* some smart aleck boyfriend/husband out there is planning to give those to his lady with a similar joke in mind...

...and you just *know* she won't think it's funny.

Hope he's got a comfy couch!

This year I registered early so I couldn't get housed with the class of '92 again

During my lunch break today I finally got around to registering for my 10 year college reunion at OAM this summer. I’d been putting it off for a couple reasons: partially because I’ve been kind of busy the last few weeks, and partially because I was waiting to see if the GF was going to come along. It turns out that she has to work that weekend, so I’m all on my own. Frankly, it’s probably for the best. The OAM reunion is a super fun time, but it might be a bit much to ask her to come “run with the bulls” for a full four day weekend and meet *everyone* all at once. Besides, now I can get all drunk and pick fights with people like everybody else! Woo!

Ah, who am I kidding? It’s OAM – the only drunken brawling that’ll be taking place will be spirited debates about how so-and-so is able to afford giving eleventy billion dollars to the class gift, and whether or not to skip reunion convo. After all, sitting in the balcony sweltering in the heat watching other classes revel in how much they’ve raised is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

For me, I think I’ll march in the parade of classes and then bail right before I walk through the door, then run to Sayles and eat the “Give Us Money When You Die” Society’s ice cream.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Like an out-of-body experience, but still in your body

Running across this story all over the internet yesterday made me very grateful that I haven't gone to a company-sponsored event in about three years. A local woman was dancing with her bosses husband at a company party when he surprised her by grabbing her forearms and tossing her in the air, causing her to crash to the floor where she suffered a "broken skull and brain injuries".

My first thought was to see if there was a website of the store where they worked. And it turns out there is. Browsing the site*, I ran across this page where you can see two diferent women modeling the various apparel. Now, given that this is an independant shop, odds are that the throw-ee is probably one of them, and the owner is the other one**.

Then I got to wondering whether Ms. Hindman*** was wearing one of these ponchos on the night of the throwing. I'm doubtful she was though, because if she had it likely would have acted as a small parachute, allowing her to float lightly to the floor unharmed.

Regardless, I think the moral of this story is: never dance with your wife's 22-year old female employee. No matter how innocuous you think you are being, it's going to get you in trouble one way or another - either with your wife, or with the jitterbug gods.

Oh, and also - always wear your poncho when you go dancing. It may just save your life.

* Oh, and by the way all you ladies thinking of going shopping here? How much cred do you give to a clothing store that refers to Beyonce's hips as "small" compared to Liv Tyler's "full" ones? Particilarly when both of them point you at the same pair of jeans? Yeah, I didn't think so much either.
** My bet is that the brunette is the most likely throw-ee, as she looks more like she's 22.
*** You have no idea how hard it is for me not to refer to her as "Ms. Underall"...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How exactly does one go from directing Playboy videos to producing "Armageddon"?

After my rant against re-makes of pop culture of my youth yesterday, I did some looking around to see just how widespread my anti-remake tendencies had spread. After all, the re-make of Hairspray is only one film - and hey, I haven't even *seen* the first one. Maybe my concerns were all overblown.

Admittedly, this whole thing started because I saw this video on Youtube. I was shocked at first, not only because I sort of feel like Alanis has taken a bubble-slut pop song and sort of turned it into a ironic, sorta-feminist anthem simply by slowing it down, but also because I felt no rage-response.

So if I wasn't filled with outrage from remakes of music, maybe television had hope too? Sure, Dukes of Hazzard was a waste of film stock, but maybe hope was on the horizon! I had been looking forward to the new Transformers Movie since I first heard it was coming out several years ago. But after looking over the new Transformers Movie Website, I think I'm slipping back into rage. The producers signed an agreement with GM to include the latest GM models as the new Autobots - meaning that once again, Hollywood has completely screwed up a perfectly good story. The autobot Jazz and Ratchet used to transform into a Porsche and an ambulance, respectively. Now, they will transform into a Pontiac Solstice and a Hummer H2 "Rescue vehicle". Even worse, the character of Bumblebee has been changed from a VW Beetle into an classic Chevrolet Camaro. How ridiculous is that? The whole point of Bumblebee is that he was the geeky transformer-hero for junior-high nerdboys, not some James-Dean-esque mystery sex-symbol robot!

Dammit Michael Bay! First you ruin World War II and now you screw up my childhood on a whim before dashing off to screw up Hitchcock. Nice work, douchebag*.

* Speaking of which, what exactly does one need to do be a "consultant" on Indecent Proposal? Be an expert in soliciting sex from economically disadvantaged married women?

Monday, April 02, 2007

It's official...I'm a grumpy old man.

Historically, I have had no problem with Hollywood re-making movies. I've seen both the new and old versions of lots of films: Sabrina, Charlotte's Web, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Pink Panther. Have I had a problem with this? No. Do I have a preference? Honestly, not really. Sometimes I like the remake more, other times I prefer the original.

But this weekend I learned something that might change all that. I recently discovered that some studio is re-making "Hairspray". You remember, that wacky John Waters flick from 1988 starring Ricky Lake and Divine as the bizarro transgender mom? Well it's back, only now it's starring John Travolta as the bizzaro transgender mom.

The thing that freaks me out about this is that it's a sign that the original movies of my youth are now threatened by Hollywood's re-make hyenas! Re-makes didn't used to bother me because all of the movies that I saw as re-makes were ones where the originals were made before I started watching movies. But if they are re-making movies from the late '80s, how long until some studio executive gets the great idea to re-make Ferris Beuller's Day off, only starring some Hollywood punk kid like Frankie Muniz* or the kid from Spy Kids.

What's next? Re-making Revenge of the Nerds? Weird Science? The Breakfast Club? Can you imagine the dreck that is about to be forced upon us? What about the children!?!? Our kids are going to grow up in a world where the only Karate Kid they know is Johnathan Lipnicki, and "Spacecamp" takes place on some sort of moon colony! It's all wrong...

I'm going to write my Senators and have them introduce some legislation making certain movies illegal to remake - including everything I've mentioned here, and anything directed by John Hughes in the '80s...and...um...well, I'm open to suggestions. I'm sure Obama will take this up, it's a total president-making issue.

In the interest of fairness however, I will have Dick Durbin attach an amendment to the Obama bill making it mandatory that Hollywood re-make the Star Wars prequels every year until they don't suck. It shouldn't be too hard, the first year all they have to do is not let George Lucas near the actors and digitally remove Jar-Jar altogether.

* Ugh...