Monday, April 30, 2007

My Old Flame, Mary Jane

Allow me to point out some recent findings by the National Drug Control Strategy. Seems the potency of marijuana is at it's highest since they started measuring such things. As the headline reads, 'This isn't your father's marijuana'. Well, damn, it better not be. It would be all moldy and stale if that was the case.

To quote this press release. 'As of March 15, 2007, the University of Mississippi has analyzed and compiled data on 59,369 cannabis samples, 1,225 hashish samples, and 443 hash oil samples confiscated by law enforcement agencies since 1975.' Now here's a study I would LOVE to be involved in!! 'Dude, this shit is POTENT! Must be some serious THC in this batch'. How about conducting this study within the Vaginal Laser Rejuvenation Institute in DC? Talk about utopia.

A question was asked the other day: If you could live one year of high school over again, knowing what you know now, which year would it be? I didn't even hesitate. Junior year. When asked why, I hemmed and hawed and basically said it was the year I had the most fun. Truth be told, it was the year I discovered pot. And discovered, then rediscovered, and discovered some more. Then investigated, experimented, then prophesied....you get the idea. I still have fond memories of the cops chasing us through North Reading while one friend dumped an entire bag out the window as another shoved his bong down his pants. His explanation for risking jail time, 'I just fucking made this thing. Took me 2 weeks to get it just right.' My response, 'make a new one, cause there is no way in hell I'm puffing on something that's been in your pants'.

Let's keep in mind we were both in the back seat of an Olds Cutlass that was doing 60 and swerving down any side street it could find. We were high, nothing phased us.

We got bagged. Spent time in NR Police Station while they tried to figure out if the weapons my friend had in his car were illegal or not (they weren't) and I tried to make stoned conversation with the cop behind the desk (did marvelously, I must say).

I'm still semi-convinced being high made me smarter. Or at least made me grasp concepts I couldn't have in a standard state. One night I completely interpreted and translated the exact sociological meaning of Pink Floyd's 'The Wall', down to each song. I then did the same with various Black Sabbath songs, only in a religious context. I sounded like a genius to everyone listening and actually had full and complete understanding of what it was I saying. For the life of me, I couldn't tell you one detail of what my point was today. In fact, I had forgotten it less than a week later. As had everyone at the party. The best summation was this: Long pause when asked to recount.....'Man, I can't remember, but it was AWESOME!'

Needless to say my junior year was spent getting well acquainted with Ms. Jane. We had a usual foursome that would smoke a few tokes in the back parking lot in high school. It would make me goofy (well, goofier than usual), it would make Joe paranoid ('the cops are looking at us, man, they can smell it!'), Bill would just chill and Brian would laugh at everything.

Of course being baked the last two periods of school wouldn't always go well. Especially when one of my classes was Spanish. I would often attempt to inject ill advised humor to a hard ass teacher. The highlight being a rambling, incoherent, over long question about how to conjugate a verb. Or something. When I got done the entire class was silent and I had forgotten what it was I was trying to ask. My most valuable lesson from junior year was not to try and understand another language while stoned. Even if it was entertaining to try.

Now I know what you're thinking....ok, actually, I have no idea. Too much pot can do that. But I can guess that you now view me as a space brained, hash smoker who drives around in a 1974 Volkswagen Bus and wears hemp clothing as a form of protest. That couldn't be farther from who I am. Besides hemp making me itch, I never became fully dependant on MJ. I just did it to get through the monotonous daily routine of high school. It was something different and made things funnier. Especially those Health class movies. Man, Bill and I would be dying laughing during 7th period. It got so bad we wouldn't even sit near each other, but it didn't help. We would look at each other and lose it completely. My motto 'It's all about the funny' originated during this era.

It also had the bizarre effect of having everyone view me differently. Just when I stopped caring about the idiots I was cursed to graduate with, they suddenly were interested in who I was and what I had to say. Probably something to do with not being who they thought I was. Or, more likely, thinking I would hook them up with some free joints. Whatever. I stuck with my friends and tolerated the fringe acquaintances. The exception being Kim, but she was an entirely different and completely understandable story.

I still smoked occasionally during college, but never as much and only because I didn't have the connections I had in high school. Plus, I never had as much money to spend on it as I did in high school. Books were too freaking expensive. I also spent much of my time discovering beer. And girls. Loved spending time with the girls.....

What was I saying?

On Saturday my neighbor pulls up and immediately comes walking across the street. 'Look what I just found', she says, and shows me a half empty dime bag. The flashbacks hit immediately. The smell, the look, the way it felt, the scattering of small buds. I was very tempted to 'confiscate' the Glad snackbag. She even offered it to me. Things have changed, however. I'm the father of two great boys who, questionable for them or not, look up to me and watch me to learn how to react to the rest of their world.

I'm done with that part of my life. I might smoke again, but I doubt it. I have highs now, that are legal and give me just as much - often more - satisfaction.

Nothing wrong with reminiscing about good times, though. Especially when I still laugh about them. Bill, Brian, Joe? You are remembered fondly, my friends. As are you, Mary Jane, as are you.

Today's distraction: Visit the site that proposes a 'Second Civil War'! They even have Rosie the Riveter. With a tattoo.

Friday, April 27, 2007

I'm Back!

Did you miss me?

Hello?

Some highlights and lowlights since last we...um....interfaced? What exactly is our relationship? Can we clear that up at some point? Might be helpful.

Away we go.

LAST WEEKEND'S WEATHER
Highlights: All of it. Absolutely perfect. Sunny, 75 degrees, 6 Y.O. gets me out on the baseball field for some practice. Even got some color to my usually fair skin.

Lowlights: Coming to the sudden, sad realization that my hair has thinned to the point my scalp now gets sunburned. Can't wait for it to start peeling and looking like I have runaway dandruff.

FAMILY TIME
Highlights: Plenty. Got to play baseball with my eldest. Had a family birthday party for my nephew that included street hockey, basketball (I was on fire!) and baseball games.

Lowlights: Striking out swinging against my 10 year old nephew. Watching my 75 year old father trying to move like a 25 year old and falling into the mud. This was also sort of a highlight after we learned he didn't hurt himself.

Follow up highlight: Launching a mammoth home run that cleared the house. Brother in law was pitching at this point and it came in my next at bat after striking out. Quote the BIL: 'I knew that was a mistake as soon as I threw it.' Redemption was sweet.

VIRGINIA TECH COVERAGE
Lowlights: So many to choose from, but the overwhelming winner being NBC for airing the video footage the shooter mailed to them. I mean, seriously, what the fuck were they thinking? Was watching Bill Maher's show on HBO and he summed it up perfectly: Stations broadcasting baseball games refuse to show fans that run onto the field during the game because 'they're jerks and we're just giving them what they want. Seems to me this guy was a bigger jerk.'

Highlights: CNN spending an entire morning showing us all the victims from the shootings. Included pictures and interviews with friends and loved ones. Very well done. I do enough complaining about hack journalism and feeding the fetishes of the sick mofos out there, that I was pleasantly surprised to run across this. Kudos, CNN.

SOX-YANKEES
Highlights: Sweep, 4 homers in a row, two friends of mine managing to get tickets to two of the three games.

Lowlights: Yanks still getting to our 3 best pitchers even with a depleted lineup, two friends of mine managing to get tickets to two of the three games. Bastards.

MANNY
Lowlight: Discovering our clean up hitter's average was at .183

Highlight: Launching one during the very next at bat.

COCO CRISP
Highlight: Finally getting in a groove and hurting the Yankees.

Lowlight: On the DL again. Can this guy stay on the field? We've all seen what happens when Wily Mo plays center.

START OF LITTLE LEAGUE SEASON
Highlight: Watching the kids play and being surprised how natural my son looks playing ball now. Last year was all about proper form and not being afraid of the ball. Now he's completely at ease and looking like a pro, even basket catching a few balls thrown at him from about 30 feet away. Show off.

Lowlight: Brat kids on his team and their equally dysfunctional parents.

Amusing sidenote: Some huckster decided to name the park all the North Medford kids play at 'Carr Park'. If you have heard the Medford accent at all, you know why this is a cruel joke. They all say it 'Cah Pahhk'. Every single one of them.

CELL PHONES
Highlights: Just got a new one from work and it kicks ass. The new Blackberry Pearl. Don't like the two letters on one key setup, but it makes texting and emailing much easier.

Lowlights: Parents at Little League talking on the phone the ENTIRE time their kids are practicing. Practice on Tuesday ran 2 hours. So these two mothers talked on the phone for two straight hours. How is that even possible? I don't talk 2 hours a week on any phone. I wonder if they were talking to each other.

TILLMAN HEARINGS
Lowlight: Why are they holding these again? Didn't we already know all of this? The Army lied to the family about how he died. What else?

Highlight: Jessica Lynch. No, not how good she looked (she did look good!), but I'm impressed not only in how she presents herself, but what she had to say. Basically, that she managed to survive an attack that killed others in her group didn't make her a hero. Something I've been arguing for a while now. She also said that Americans are more than capable of choosing their own heroes and don't need them spoon fed to them by the Army PR machine. Add to this that she has kept a low profile when she could have been cashing in on her new found celebrity and that I'm convinced her ordeal was a lot more horrific and traumatizing than anyone knows and I have my new hero. Humble, intelligent, well spoken. Now if she would just take my calls.....

SCHILLING'S SOCK
Lowlight: Why the fuck are we even talking about this? How did this become a story so big that it's all over the sports pages? Who cares?

Highlight: Still waiting.....

BETTERING MYSELF THROUGH EDUCATION
Highlight: How do you improve on perfection?

Lowlight: Monday - Friday of this week.

Todays Distraction: Sorry, none. Still in class and haven't had time. Be back on schedule next week.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Movie Reviews

Since I'm an avid movie buff, I'll be giving you my take on some random flicks I've seen recently. Unfortunately for you, I see nearly nothing but kid movies. OK, that's not true, but that's MAINLY what I watch. Anyway, nothing fancy here.

16 Blocks: I really liked this movie despite it being a complete ripoff of Clint Eastwood's 'The Gauntlet' and Bruce Willis' hairpiece stealing every scene (more on this trend coming later). Just a basic, no nonsense action flick that throws in a few surprises. Good job by Willis, too.

Happy Feet: Pixar has spoiled me. This alternated between being breathtaking and beautiful and completely annoying. Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman and Robin Williams butcher the voice work. Williams mysteriously decided to use a Spanish accent on one of the penguins. That's right, he does multiple voices. Lucky us. Kidman is supposed to be sexy (I think) but uses a breathless, airy voice that just bugged the shit out of me. She couldn't have used her own voice? Jackman plays 'Memphis' as an lame Elvis impersonator. Plus the story veers off into how humans are over fishing the Antarctic and starving the penguins. But it's all made better because one of them can tap dance. If that sounds surreal, then you've got the gist of it. Still, there are scenes that mesmerize: The first swim of hundreds of penguins, the ice slide, the leopard seal chase. Plus, it was directed by the guy that brought us Mad Max. That's got to be good for something.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest: Confession - I was working while watching this, so I completely lost track of the plot. Either that or there really was no plot and I didn't miss anything. Whatever the reason it seemed a bit confusing for what is supposed to be a 'check your brain at the door' type of movie. I do know that this wasn't nearly as fun as the first one. The biggest surprise of the first was Johnny Depp and since that isn't a surprise any longer, the appeal was missing. Slightly amusing, I guess, but seemed to be trying way too hard. Johnny Depp's eyes going wide was funny once or twice, but not the 35 times they use it in this one. Oh, and did they have to end it like that? Don't want to give away too much, but be ready for a sequel.

Note: Before you get all high and mighty on me, I do know they filmed both sequels at the same time, but why is it they can't have movies stand alone anymore? This started with 'The Empire Strikes Back' and continued with the second Matrix movie. As it stands with this one, you can't watch this without watching the third one for the 'conclusion'. Just trim things down and make one movie out of it. Or better yet, tighten up the writing and make the second one good enough to stand alone.

Sidenote to the above note: I exempt the 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy from this as it followed the same path as the books and, shockingly enough, each of the three had a beginning, middle and end and can stand on their own.

This Movie Is Not Yet Rated: If you are a fan of movies at all, you should see this documentary. It takes on the MPAA Ratings Board. You know, the ones that pre-screen the movies before they're released and decide if it's PG, PG-13, R, or NC-17. There are plenty of clips to explain what scenes caused the most controversy and interviews with the film makers and actors. But the best reason to watch is because the film maker, with the help of some private investigators, manages to out the raters. They are supposed to be anonymous, typical American parents (one director asks what, exactly, defines 'typical') with kids between the ages of 5 and 17. I won't ruin the surprise, but the ain't. He then submits his film to the board to be rated and the telephone conversations between the director and the MPAA are hysterical examples of bureaucratic idiocies and lawyer speak. Not only is it entertaining, education, baffling and infuriating, but there are a ton of sex scenes. Gotta love the sex scenes.

City of Industry: Caught this one on the Independent Film Channel over the weekend. It's from '97 and stars Harvey Keitel as a thief who gets screwed over by one of his crew. Yeah, nothing especially out of the ordinary here, other than Keitel's character (Roy Egan) seems to be invincible. Still, it was a nice distraction and I didn't hate it. One thing I did notice is Keitel's presence onscreen. He just seems so natural. Has anyone ever seen a bad performance by him? We got all the Scorcese films from the 70's, we have the 'Pulp Fiction' and 'Resevoir Dogs' Tarantino flicks. Christ, he was even good in 'Thelma and Louise'. And of course 'Bad Lieutenant' and 'The Piano'. He just makes it look easy.

Since we here, actors who make things look effortless:

Gene Hackman
Morgan Freeman
Jack Nicholson
Dustin Hoffman (except for 'Meet the Fockers')
Robert DeNiro (except for 'Meet the Fockers' - man, I hate that movie)
Owen Wilson (recently added after 'Wedding Crashers' and his work in 'Cars', but if you want to see what I really mean, go rent 'Shanghai Noon'. Seriously. Note on this: I have not seen 'You, Me and Dupree' so I maintain the right to remove him if he sucks in that)

Red Sox - Yankees: This one had it all. An excellent villain (A-Rod), a former award winner trying desperately to play the goat (Schilling), another class act unexpectedly mailing in his performance (Rivera), and a twist ending nobody saw coming. Plus the good guys win. Two notes here: First, if you watched Coco risk his body for A-Rod's second home run you know why Boston fans like this guy. Was nice to see him get a key hit, too. Second, Rivera looks hurt. He was grimacing and had the 'deer in the headlights' look for the first time ever. Something is wrong with that dude.

So there you go. If you only have time for one movie this week, choose 'This Film is Not Yet Rated'.

Today's distraction: A tough obscure movie actor quiz. I rated the middle one on it but at least I have names to go with some of the actors I see over and over.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Etha-NOT!!

Hey, you know about Ethanol? That gasoline fuel substitute that is made from corn and other processed veggies and plants? According to the auto industry it's the answer to all our problems. They're even making cars to run on both ethanol and standard gasoline.

Since they found building electric cars cost prohibitive or something (what was the reason for stopping their production?), the car companies have been pushing this ethanol as a cleaner burning, gasoline substitute that will ease our dependency on foreign oil. I won't bore you with the details (for once) so if you're interested you can go here to view the supposed benefits of ethanol.

We already use a ton of ethanol in our current gasoline mixture. About 10% ethanol, 90% gasoline. It's called E10. However, the industry wants to ramp up to E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasoline) which would work with the 6 million Flexible Fuel Vehicles (FFVs) already on the road. Rock on, hippies!!!

But wait, says a study out of Stanford University!! Maybe they said 'Not so fast', 'Hold your horses', or 'Whoa, Nellie!!' (like Keith Jackson). However they said it, they have some results to back up their caution. Mark Jacobson ran a computerized study that simulated the air quality in the year 2020 on the assumption more and more vehicles will be running on E85. Results? Um, yeah, not so rosy.

I will allow Mr. Jacobson to explain: "In our study, E85 increased ozone-related mortalities in the United States by about 200 deaths per year compared to gasoline, with about 120 of those deaths occurring in Los Angeles," Jacobson said. "These mortality rates represent an increase of about 4 percent in the U.S. and 9 percent in Los Angeles above the projected ozone-related death rates for gasoline-fueled vehicles in 2020."

Turns out while gasoline produces increases in benzene and butadiene, two carcinogens we've been breathing since....well...since birth, I guess....ethanol raises formaldehyde and acetaldehyde which increase ozone, which in turn increases smog. I hate smog. Didn't we just clean up L.A.?

Smog and it's chemical byproducts cause about 800,000 deaths a year (according to the World Health Org). I'm no expert, but that seems like a lot of dead people for what is supposed to be a clean burning fuel. So what gives?

Jacobson again: 'we found that using E85 will cause at least as much health damage as gasoline, which already causes about 10,000 U.S. premature deaths annually from ozone and particulate matter. The question is, if we're not getting any health benefits, then why continue to promote ethanol and other biofuels?'

Why indeed, Mr, Jacobson? Again, I know little of this, but I bet there are billions of dollars involved. Some half assed research revealed the following:

April 18, 2006: $84 million invested into Pacific Ethanol by group headed by Bill Gates.

March 9, 2007: CMGI invests a cool $7 mil into Earthanol, a stupidly named company that's trying to create ethanol out of animal waste. Can't wait to smell fuel stations if that ever works.

Or how about a pact between Japan and Brazil to produce ethanol from alternative means that could be worth $8 Billion? With a capital 'B'!!

It seems, like most everything in industry, money is the root of all evil. Well, you can include good and indifferent to that as well. Money is the root of everything in business. So you can be sure this study will be pushed aside, debunked, even mocked. Keep in mind there is something equally valuable on the line: Reputations.

Jacobson once more: 'There are alternatives, such as battery-electric, plug-in-hybrid and hydrogen-fuel cell vehicles, whose energy can be derived from wind or solar power. These vehicles produce virtually no toxic emissions or greenhouse gases and cause very little disruption to the land—unlike ethanol made from corn or switchgrass, which will require millions of acres of farmland to mass-produce. It would seem prudent, therefore, to address climate, health and energy with technologies that have known benefits.'

Anyone listening?

Today's distraction: Solve a global warming word find puzzle. Love these things! And you can rescramble it if you want to try it again.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Text Twist


On August 10, 2006, U.S. District Court judge Ellen Segal Huvelle ruled that text messages taken from the phone of an accused drug dealer could be used as evidence. It seems that Antonio Jones and four of his buddies were arrested in a raid conducted on October 24, 2005 and charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and use of a communication facility to traffic in drugs. 213 pounds of cocaine and six and a half pounds of crack were confiscated in the raid. That no weapons were discovered could mean they were really nice, pacifist drug dealers. Me thinks they may have been just ill equipped and in over their heads. Or just really bad project planners.

Seems the Feds also took their time getting ready for this raid. According to court documents, 'On Aug. 10, 2005, and again on Aug. 18, 2005, Magistrate Judge Alan Kay issued search warrants to two electronic communication service providers for stored text messages that had been transmitted over cellular telephones used by Jones and Maynard'. And here's where we get to the crux of issue. Mr. Jones (or more likely his lawyer) claimed that these searches violated the Federal Wiretap Act.

Huvelle's ruling: 'the Wiretap Act does not apply to the government's acquisition of text messages held in storage at electronic communication service providers'. It appears that wireless phone providers actually keep text messages in storage for a period of time. Something that I find highly distressing for personal reasons. Since these were not 'live intercepts' of cell phone calls, but merely data storage entries, they are exempt from the Wiretap Act. Plus it also appears that they had legitimate warrants and could, in fact, tape his cell conversations.

The trouble for Jones was that he and his partner were texting all of their illegal activity planning instead of chatting about it. Understandably, if they could keep these out of the trial they were home free. Too bad, so sad, for Mr. Jones.

I am proud to announce that I have uncovered the actual text messages of the drug dealers.

Below are the never before seen (or read) messages. That's right!! It's the first ever BeachBum exclusive:

WHER3 TEH H3L R U MAN?? WTF I BEEN WAITENG BY TEH F3RN 4 20 MINS

WHOA, BEEN CHATNG WIT SOM3 HOS DOWN BY SALON!111!1!1 SWEET 1 HEAR 2! B RIGHT THARE

MAN SHOW MORA R3SP3CT 4 LADEIS WIL YA

WTF DUDE??

2TALY MESSNG WIT YA!! FUK THAM BITCH3S

LOL!!1 TAHTS THE PLAN

U C DA FOX DOWN BY DA FLOW3R SHOP???!??!!? SCOPE OUT N3XT 2 TAHT TAN VAN!1!!!

!!11!!, SHE GOT SUM MEET ON THAT AS7! LOVIN IT!

MAN TAT VANS B3N THEIR A WHIEL WTF IS WIT DAT?

PROBLY WATCHNG US DUD3

LMAO!! RMINDS ME, HVE ORDER 4 VIALS OF SWE3T STFF!

WHO 4?

DMPSEY! NEED IT BY 6

THT MOFO HAVNT PD 4 LAST RND YET! FCK HIM!

TRUE DAT BUT HE GETIN AL H3RKY AND JARKY NEED IT SO BAD

ROTFL! SCKER IS WAT HE IS! TELL HM $ UP FRNT NOW ON

K! GRT IDEA TEXTNG THIS SHIT!! PIGS WIL N3VER CATCH US THES WAY

TRU DAT. FCKIN COPS IS DOPES! LOLOLOL! I C U NOW.

Today's distraction: Be your own virtual drug dealer. Much harder than I thought.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hollywood Hotties

Time for a much needed diversion (Hey, look! My blog title works today!) . As promised I have put together my list of my favorite Hollywood babes. Ladies, you can bypass today's entry if you want, but I will not be putting together a list of Hollywood men. For the record, I took in more than just looks. Included were personalities (or perceived personalities as I don't actually know any of them), intelligence, and talent. Just one man's opinion, but I do have great taste in women.


1: Jessica Alba - cream of the crop. If you doubt me, then just watch 'Deep Blue' where she's in a bikini nearly the entire time. I haven't met one guy that doesn't think she's scorchingly hot. I'm convinced she could turn a gay guy.


2: Rachel McAdams - most know her from 'Wedding Crashers', but I fell in love with her in 'Red Eye' playing a woman caught in an elaborate (and implausible) plot to assassinate someone important. Also caught sight of her boob in 'The Notebook'. The most talented actress on this list and probably the one I would give up all the others for. If I had a shot at any of the others. Or her for that matter. Or if I wasn't already married. Let's just move on before I find myself Googling 'cyanide'. Read that she just got engaged to her 'Notebook' costar, Ryan Gosling.

3: Halle Berry - she might have been at the top of the list if not for 3 things:
1: Finally showing us her boobs in 'Swordfish'. While I appreciated the gratuitous display, why did it have to be in this movie? It was so bad, the ONLY thing you would watch it for is to see Berry's Breasts. Yes, they deserve to be capitalized
2: 'Catwoman'
3: The sex scene with Billy Bob Thorton in 'Monster's Ball'. One of the hottest women in Hollywood doing her best acting and they somehow create one of the most uncomfortable sex scenes in cinematic history. Quite a feat.

I'm going to add #4 after I see how bad 'Perfect Stranger' is.


5: Jessica Biel - If you saw 'Blade: Trinity' you know why she's on this list. She was pretty hot in the baseball movie, too. Can't remember the title, but Freddie Prince Jr, played a pitcher in the Cape Cod League. Played it badly, too.

6: Rachel....er....Jennifer Aniston - thought she was more attractive before she became a gym rat. She's still hot, but I prefer the Aniston from the early seasons of 'Friends'.

4: Mila Kunis - she's the girl that played Jackie on 'That 70's Show'. I never watched the show, but caught sight of her on some talk show and was blown away. A definite plus in that she seems to be a jeans gal. Beautiful, seductive eyes. Bonus points if you knew she does the voice of Meg Griffin on 'Family Guy'. That fact alone almost put her in the top 5. Wait: Jeans, eyes, great body and smile, 'Family Guy'. That does it. I'm replacing Aniston with Mila. Sorry, Jen. You know what? Sorry Biel, too. I'm vaulting her into fourth place. I mean, look at those eyes!!


7: Evangaline Lilly - Kate on 'Lost'. Even if you haven't seen the show, you know who I'm talking about. Her hotness trandscends the show.


8: Michelle Pfeiffer - So she's in her mid 40's. So what? She's still more beautiful than most of the up and coming actresses out there. Plus, I'm in my 40's now and I need someone my own age.

9: Beyonce Knowles - Possibly the most natural beauty on this list. Would be higher, but her legs are thicker than mine and she introduced the world to the term 'bootylicious'.


10: Elisha Cuthbert - Jack Bauer's daughter who transitioned seamlessly to playing a high school Lolita in 'Old School' then to a porn star in 'The Girl Next Door'. Plus I'm a sucker for blondes.

Honorable Mentions: Cameron Diaz, Kate Beckinsale, Natalie Portman/Keira Knightly (they look so much alike it's kinda scary), Scarlett Johanson, Naomi Watts and Lucy Liu


Dishonorable Mentions (Appeals I just don't get or did at one time, but no longer) - Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie (ruined for me since Billy Bob and his vial of blood. That's two he's taken down a notch), Kirsten Dunst, Renee Zellweger, Sarah Michelle Geller, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Julia Stiles.

Today's distraction: Take an actor/actress quiz. Only catch is it ends on your first wrong answer. Still I made it 9 questions before missing one. Lesson? I rock!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Inexplicable

Bear with me while I rattle off the top of my head....

Managed to get my ass out of bed this morning and got to the gym where Fox News spent my entire hour and 15 minute workout covering the Virginia Tech shootings. The death toll keeps rising. It was 28 last night, now up to 32 and I fear will be even higher than that when all is said and done. From all accounts the scene was a nightmare.

Confusing matters is an initial shooting of two people in a dorm on the opposite side of the campus about 2 hours before the massacre in the school. Police still aren't sure if the shootings are related and were even interviewing a 'person of interest' when word of the school shootings crackled through their radios.

Now school and police officials are taking flack for not getting out word to the students in time. One student was quoted as saying the school has 'blood on their hands'. Look, we can all agree this was an unnecessary, horrible event, but you cannot blame officials for failing to predict the unpredictable. Officials still weren't sure what was going on after the first series of shootings. How are they suppose to handle something they didn't yet comprehend?

I understand parents are angry and grieving, but don't take it out on the officials that were just as confused and horrified as everyone else when details started filtering through. Just listen to the shaky voice of the Police Chief at his news conference. They're people, too, and let's face it, there is no way to predict this. There isn't any 'proper' way to handle it.

Expect criminologists and other behavioral experts to be all over CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News trying to rationalize the irrational or trying to extract some sanity out of the insane. Simply put, there is no rationalization for this. None. You can try to get inside this kid's head, but there is no human way we can understand what he was thinking, what he was planning, or what he wanted.

Most people want tragedies like this justified in some way, if only to make us feel better about leaving the house or give us the ability to wrap our feeble little minds around it. We don't want to realize that there are people we work with or associate with that could, under the right (or wrong) circumstances take this same drastic turn. We want to know that this kid who lined up and shot more than 30 people in cold blood is a freak of nature or an abnormality.

We'll hear things about the killer like 'he kept to himself', 'he was a quiet kid', or maybe a 'seemed like a normal guy to me'. Truth is, he probably is like just one of us or at least came off that way to most. But that's not comforting enough for us. We need a 'Why?' and not just a 'How or how many?' We want justifications and not just facts.

The news programs will, of course, try to accommodate us, but we'll never know. They'll send Geraldo Rivera to the student union to interview random students. They'll show us the grisly photos of overweight policemen clumsily removing victims from the scene (they don't have stretchers or body bags?). They'll even throw experts at us to tell us what to do if we ever find ourselves in this situation (Run! Hide! Get out!).

I just hope they don't delve too deeply into the psyche of the shooter. I don't want to know about him. I would much rather know about the lives of the victims or what the school is doing to cope with this disaster. Just please do not try to justify this killer. Don't try to explain the inexplicable.

For once any and all sorts of human behavior become understandable, when the worst of human behavior can be explained and rationalized, then just let me off at the next stop. This type of mass murder made no sense in 1966 when that shooter climbed to the top of the University of Texas tower and killed 16 people and it will make no sense in 20 years when it happens in some other yet-to-be-named school.

Questions I hope will be asked during the coverage:

Will anyone question the lax gun laws of Virginia?

Is there a physical fitness requirement for the police in that state? They all looked to be at least 250.

Why are girls letting Geraldo into their dorm at 5 AM?


Today's distraction: Check in on CNN.com for the latest on this. A news conference is scheduled for 9am that should (hopefully) provide new details.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Second Thoughts

Some follow up from previous posts and random links:

Found a fascinating article written by Timothy Noah that reviews other racist/sexist/insensitive remarks uttered by Don Imus. I never listen to the show, so I had no idea this was his brand of 'humor'. When you reading through them (they're at the bottom) let me know if you laugh at any of the comments. Also found Newsweek's take on Imus back in 1999 interesting. Describing him as 'the perfect voice for an age that prizes irony over solemnity.' If the author defines 'irony' as completely lacking in humor, than I wholeheartedly agree.

Glad to see the father of Anna Nicole Smith's baby was finally figured out. Congratulations to...uh....well, I have no idea what his name is, but he seemed happy to be the dad as he jumped up and down and did a fist pump. Wonder if he'll be doing that when he realizes he actually has to take care of the baby? Personally, I was rooting for Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband only because it would have given me a week's worth of material. Oh, well.

I've also reconsidered my take on the comment that Anna Nicole could be considered the American version of Princess Di. If there was one person that epitomized the American way of over indulgence, celebrity without any discernible trace of talent, drug abuse and obesity it was Smith. My apologies.

Those of you not from Boston should know that about 90% of the time it rains here umbrellas are completely useless. That's because it gets so windy they get turned inside out and upside down and like to go skipping down the street free from human hands. It is fun to watch people keep trying, though. Your best bet is to get a rain slicker with a hood.

Boston Marathon is today (Forecast: freakin' hurricane) and I was wondering if all the favored Kenyan runners have ever experienced weather like this before. I'm betting no. I was kind of hoping for 8 feet of snow just to see the look on their faces. Maybe next year.

By the way, if the wind is at the runner's backs, expect a world record to be set. Judging by the gusts, they should finish in about 45 minutes. The wheelchairs in about 10. Now, if the wind is in their faces, figure 6 hours. Good luck, runners!

While I'll enjoy watching the masochists run the marathon in this weather, it also means my favorite Patriot's Day event has been cancelled: The Red Sox day game. Would it be a bad thing to add a retractable roof to Fenway? I say no.

Now that I think of it, would it be a bad thing to add a retractable roof to Boston? Again, I say no. Expensive, maybe, but not bad.

Since it's such a shitty day out, here is something to cheer you up. I particularly like the polar bear cub which everyone thinks is so adorable. I hope they realize this thing will quickly grow into an animal that would be happy to rip them limb from limb. Not that I'm cynical or anything, just realistic.

For the record, here's my happy place.

Check out the picture below. It's the perfect American invention. It's a pill box with an electronic reminder so you never forget when to take you valium or viagra or any other prescription drug you may be addicted to. The tragedy is this comes out AFTER Anna Nicole dies. This thing could have saved her life!!!

I was just looking at the Red Sox schedule and see the SF Giants and Big Head, Steroid Bonds are playing the weekend of June 15th. This means there is a very good chance Bonds could hit the record breaking home run in Fenway. This pisses me off and I am hereby imploring any fan that catches that ball to throw it back on the field. It's a tainted record anyway and would show Bonds we don't believe in his 756.

In fact, this goes out to any fan anywhere that catches said home run. Throw it back!! If you could swing it, stick a hypodermic needle in it, then throw it back. If you aren't able to smuggle in a needle, then put a big glob of cream on it.

And finally, check out the map below on the differences between men and women's shopping habits. Perfect!






Today's distraction: Since the Sox game is rained out, play some baseball yourself. I was actually trying to find one that would let you bean Bonds, but came up empty.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Go Go Gadget.....

Finish off the title with your favorite Inspector Gadget...um....gadget. I was alway partial to the helicopter out of the hat. Never understood why he didn't just use that all the time and get rid of that annoying car.

Some useful, not so useful, strange and downright dangerous new inventions I've run across.

File this one under the dangerous and completely stupid section. It's a laptop that's been designed to fit over your steering wheel. Now you can finish off your reports on the way to work. I know you think I'm kidding, but look here. Just think, with this you can IM, hit Dunkin Donuts drive through and keep up to date with baseball scores while killing hundreds of innocent bystanders.

While we're on the subject of killing people in the course of driving, Volvo is boasting about it's new C30 hatchback (why didn't the throw in the P?). A compact car for the entry level price range that has a center console. Take a look at this (picture below) and tell me how you're supposed to figure out what button to push while doing 75 on the highway. Not that I drive that fast, but I've seen others go zooming by.



Tired of having to leave your desk to get your caffeine fix? Well worry no more. Vroom Foods is offering Caffeinated Breath Mints. One mint = one cup of coffee. They also have Chocolate treats called Buzz Bites. According the their site, one Buzz Bite is equal to 3 cans of Coke. Where were these when I was pulling all nighters in college? By all nighters I'm referring to parties.

Every once in a while you run across an idea so simple, yet so ingenious you wonder why you didn't think of it yourself. Pictured below is one of those ideas. It's the OneGrip. It takes all those plastic bags from the grocery store and let's you carry them in one hand. How great is that? You can buy a pair here for $13.


Heading the pack for most useless idea is paper email. I'll just let that speak for itself.

For you foosball lovers, there is the Good vs Evil table designed by ElevenForty. On the good side are Santa Claus, God, Mother Teresa, Christopher Robin, Mary Poppins, and Ghandi. However, if Ghandi is still on his hunger strike, he'll be fairly useless. Opposing them are Satan, Hitler, Vlad the Impaler, Jack the Ripper, and Idi Amin. Plus, Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde get to face each other. Save your money, though, as only 20 of these were made. If I were rich, I'd be placing the order right now.

'Give dead marriage it's final, proper resting place'. When you're divorce is final you can put your wedding rings in the Wedding Ring Coffin. I already put one on layaway.

Details of the new Zune were 'accidentally' leaked and guess what? The new version will have built in Wi-Fi. And not only is it built into their new standard Zune (which is the same size as the video iPod I use) but it will be built into the new Flash Zune (that plugs into your USB ports). Now if you'll excuse me I need to write a letter to Microsoft suggesting an iPod trade-in bargain price.
Today's distraction: Rules for the Inspector Gadget drinking game. Play it at you next party or next I.G. viewing. Which to me, are basically the same thing. Admit it, you watch!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Devil Dog

I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be the spawn of Satan. Allow me to elaborate. Like you have a choice. My arguments:

- Every Friday the 13th I have ever lived through has been a great day. It's like it's the opposite of bad luck for me. I remember having the best date of my life on Friday the 13th. One of the best nights, too (not the same day). On the flip side, I have miserable days on Good Fridays. Every Good Friday.

- I have a severe aversion to anything religious. In fact, I think all organized religion should be banned from society and could easily make a convincing argument that all of the world's atrocities throughout history stem from religious beliefs.

- I don't believe that Jesus walked on water, that Moses parted the Red Sea, or that oil really lasted for 12 days (or however long) for the Jews. Sorry, just don't.

- Think everything written in the Bible is, at the least, exaggerated and, at worst, out and out lies.

- I don't feel guilt about telling truths to people I don't like (long list, btw). If someone is pissing me off or is acting like an asshole or treating other people like shit, I have no trouble telling them off. In fact, I rather enjoy it. Now that I think about it, I have no guilt doing this to people I do like.

- I like sex and think people should have it often. Even if they're ugly. Although if you are ugly, don't ever mention that you have sex to me. I don't need the visual.

- I think everyone should use birth control for two reasons:
A: It opposes one of the most idiotic tenets of the Catholic Church
B: Most people are idiots and shouldn't reproduce.

- I have violated nearly every commandment and sin. There are a few I'm against, like suicide and murder, but there are exceptions.

- I have openly despised more than a fair share of priests, rabbis and other 'holy men'.

- I don't believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy.

- I think Ghandi was a pussy.

- I can be overtly mean to people and not feel guilty.

- I have wished bodily harm on other people and will do so again. In fact, it tends to happen whenever I see ARod.

- I have my doubts as to whether Satan can be defined as evil or bad. The story goes that Lucifer attempted to overthrow God because he disagreed with the way he was running things. God cast him and his archangels out and they made a nice cozy den in the basement. Still, is disagreeing with God necessarily evil? Maybe they just had creative clashes. Philosophical differences.

I know what you're thinking. If Lucifer were my father wouldn't I be powerful and rich? Or at the very least in politics? Well, that's the thing about being the Prince or Darkness. You only care about yourself. Dear old Dad isn't looking out for me. Just himself. I'm sure if he wanted something he would get in touch. There is the other issue of me not actually believing in God or Satan, but let's not dabble in details.

Because, as they say, the devil is in the details.

Today's distraction: Play Friday the 24th and kill all the cute elves while they're packing for Christmas. That I find this fun and funny should tell you all you need to know about me.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Notes from a G.N.O.



G.N.O. stands for Guys Night Out. I managed to score some primo seats last night (see view above) and took my buddy StevieD, who managed to get trashed (see pic below). Some notes from a fun evening.

- Pervert StevieD decided he wanted to meet me at the Hooters by the arena. I had never been and had the worst buffalo tenders ever and felt like I was in a strip club. All the degenerates from the area were hanging at the bar gawking at girls that wouldn't cut it at the Foxy Lady (um, not that I would know). I just felt strange being there. As I told my buddy, 'My main problem here is where are all the girls to talk to? It's all guys here.' Strange, serial killer type guys at that. We didn't stay long.

- We proceeded to Hurricane O' Reilly's where the following exchange happened almost as soon as we sat down. Blond, semi-cute girl comes up and asks my friend, 'How tall are you?'

'Six eight,' his answer

'Wow, that's tall'

'Yeah, get that all the time'

Pause

'That's really tall'

'yeah', noticing the scrubs she's wearing, 'you a nurse?'

'No, physical therapist. Why you asking?' My thought 'You're wearing surgical scrubs, dummy'

Buddy's answer 'um' and points at her outfit

'Oh, yeah,' her response.......'so, you're really tall'.
At this point I can't help it and have to insert myself. 'You know he was in 'Celtic Pride'. He was the guy that calls Time Out, Ref during the game scene'

She looks at me, looks at him, looks at me, looks at him, me again, him again, me again.

Finally I say, 'I know you don't believe me, but rent it and check it out.'

She says 'Uh huh' and I say, 'no, I mean right now. Go rent it and check it out. We'll wait here until you get back.'

She gives me a dirty look and heads to the ladies room, comes back and starts snuggling up with a guy at the bar. Girls are weird.

- Quick note: this is the friend who's father was diagnosed recently with emphysema and congestive heart failure after smoking for 30 something years. Revelation of the night is he also has bone cancer. Buddy tells me this as he's heading out for a cigarette. Don't get it. I just don't.

- Best seats ever at this game. Directly behind the Celtics bench. Un-freaking-believable.

- Doc Rivers walks like he has a pole up his ass. This means one of two things: He has something up his ass or he has some major back injury from his playing days. I think it's the first one.

- The first thing coaches drill into your head when you start playing basketball is how to properly play defense. The key is to keep your hands up. Not one...and I'm not exaggerating...not ONE Celtic player kept his hands up on defense. Not one. What the fuck??!! This is the basic defensive stance and nobody on the team was using it.

- Two things came to mind when I saw this. 1: Doc doesn't spend nearly as much time as he should having the players practice defense. 2: He told them not to play defense. Quite frankly, it's a toss up.

- Some player impressions from up close:

Sebastian Telfair - Sucks. Always looking for his own shot first and gets burned on defense every time down the court. The only way he becomes a decent player is by putting aside his ego and putting in the work on both ends. At least 2-3 years away from being a solid player IF he has the work ethic. I notice Doc had him and Rondo out at the same time for a while. I'm guessing he thinks ST is a shooting guard first and foremost.

Rondo - (calling him by one name from now on. Like Pele) Love this guy. Constant hustler and someone that just makes things happen. Noticed he hit a couple of mid range jump shots. If he gets consistent with that, he will be dangerous. Quick as a cat, too. He even drove by his guy and slammed one down just after I asked my friend if he thought Rondo could dunk. Question answered.

Ryan Gomes - Solid guy, but one of those that seems to not have a clue on defense. Again, not sure if this was something he needs to work on or something he was coached to do.

Kendrick Perkins - Fucking huge! Just a mammoth guy. At least six eleven and has some nice post up moves. Foot work on defense needs improvement, but could be a monster on both ends if he puts the work in.

Allen Ray - Best outside shot on the team. Needs to work on his defense. This is not a recording.

Pinkney - Don't even know his first name, but when I saw him I said to my friend 'Wait, Ed Pinkney is too old to play anymore. Is this a tribute?' He was as confused as I.

Paul Pierce - Was in streets until halftime at which point he never came back. Two other players disappeared at the same time until there were only seven players left. Five on the floor and two on the bench. I kept wondering if there was an orgy going on in the locker room. Decided they were probably playing NBA Live on XBox 360.

Gerald Green - Unlimited potential. Quick as hell and jumps out of the gym. Needs to work on...say it with me...his defense. Was constantly out of position. Still, has Kobe like moves and make things look effortless. If he has any sort of drive and/or work ethic, he'll be a superstar. We'll know for sure next year.
Leon Powe - No idea what to make of this guy. He busts his ass on the court, but he also wound up with 3 fouls with more than 5 minutes to go....in the first half! Will make a serviceable backup to Gomes if he sticks around.

Bottom line: Both my friend and I agreed that if they manage to get one of the top two picks, they should trade Pierce, keep the young guys and build from scratch. Or even if they don't, use Pierce to trade up. I kept thinking that if either Oden or Durant joined the guys playing, they could be trouble for any other team. As it stands, the Celtics are young, quick and VERY athletic.
Untouchables: Rondo, Gomes, Green. Everyone else use if it can make you better. I would even argue Ray, but he's so raw it's tough to tell.
- Must admit it was strange talking about the team only to realize they could hear what we were saying. Most noticeable when we were talking about trading Pierce, then looking up and there he was about 5 feet away.


- Final note. My buddy wound up getting trashed. See picture below for exact status. When I took this picture, three guys on the platform started laughing. 'What are friends for?', they chuckled. Exactly!



Today's distraction: List of Guy Rules. I know, a bit recycled, but I'm tired. I'll make it up to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Imus Confess


In case you haven't noticed, Don Imus is spinning his mentally impaired tires in a good, old fashioned racial quagmire. I love when an racist prick forgets he's speaking in public and let's his true personality slip out.

If you missed it, on last Wednesday's show Imus called the Rutgers women's basketball team 'nappy headed hos'. Here's the exchange with his producer, Bernie McGuirk:

'That's some rough girls from Rutgers,' Imus said. 'Man, they got tattoos ... .'
'Some hardcore hos,' McGuirk said.
'That's some nappy-headed hos there, I'm going to tell you that,' Imus said.

When the outrage and backlash set in, Imus apologized during his Friday show then went on Al Sharpton's radio program to do damage control and apologize again. Although, during his visit with Sharpton he hilariously uttered that time honored racist 'you people'. Al wasn't too happy about that, as you can imagine.

I'll set aside the obvious racist remarks (surprise! Jesse Jackson's getting involved) and the ensuing editorial riots. I'll set aside that everyone is focusing on the 'nappy headed' part and ignoring the 'ho' part (Shouldn't all women be offended by that?). I'll set aside that Imus is so old and out of date he finds women with tatoos threatening. Instead I'll focus on the counter argument Imus is trying to make in his defense. During the Sharpton show he stated, 'Our agenda is to be funny and sometimes we go too far. And this time we went way too far.'

I might be able to give Imus some slack for this if it wasn't for one glaring problem. He isn't funny. I attempted to watch his show on MSNBC when I was home sick one day and the entire 30 minutes I wasted watching this train wreck I didn't laugh once. Not once. Not even a smile. Meanwhile, his knob sucking boyfriends are howling with laughter at everything he says. If you think I'm exaggerating, try watching it sometime. It's painful and embarrassing and he seems to be making millions off of it.

What happens when you stick a microphone in front of a senile, desperate radio personality that is trying to appeal to the hipster, 20 and 30 something generation? 'Nappy-headed hos' is what you get. Go back and reread the exchange that led up to the offending comments. Is that really an attempt at humor? My bet is his sycophantic male groupies accepting his weekly paychecks were laughing like hyenas.

Imus is an old school radio guy who realized too late that you have to be controversial, radical, and border line obscene to get people to pay attention to you. Hell, it worked for Howard Stern and if Stern can do it, why shouldn't Imus. Well, guess what? It worked! He's all anyone is talking about. I'll bet his ratings went up last week simply because of this. Which just proves his own incorrect point to himself. Be crazy, be racist, be 'out there' and people are going to pay attention. Doesn't matter if it's good or bad, just notice me!! PLEASE!!!

The crux of the problem is we, as a society, can't ignore this sort of ignorant, hurtful talk. But there comes a point where the media (and through them, us) is feeding the monster. If this is the sort of press and attention he gets, you don't think he'll pull this again? Of course he will. No such thing as bad publicity. He may get fired from his gig, but there will be satellite radio or some other station waiting in the wings to pick up his paycheck and provide another forum for his idiocy. Just do a quick background check on Opie and Anthony (two former WAAF DJs that got fired for announcing Thomas Menino died as an April Fool's Joke - now that's funny!).

A tease heading up this morning's SportsCenter asked 'when will the Rutgers team respond?' I thought 'Why do we need a response from them?' Why do they HAVE to respond? Any semi-intelligent person knows what they're going to say. Any or all of the words 'hurtful', 'racist', 'obscene', 'insulting' will be used in their statement. But don't we already know that? Do we need the subject of Imus' bile confirming for us that, yes indeed, Imus is a racist pig?

The team's head coach did respond, of course, with the players dutifully lined up to the right. Turns out I missed 'despicable'. One of the players announced they would meet with Imus, thus putting his name in the news for another few weeks. I also couldn't help but notice that none of the black girls on the team had 'nappy heads'. Is that irony or intentional misdirection with hair straightener by the girls? Either way I thought it was a nice touch.

Then there is CBS Radio's hand slap of a suspension of Imus, which means when he gets back there will be even more publicity. 'Look, Imus is back on the air. Let's listen in'.

Imus, of course, can't keep his mouth shut (he does get paid to talk, I guess) and called himself a 'good person' and that 'you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it.' Wrong again, dipshit. Everyone deserves to be made fun of, just make fun of them for the right reasons.

Keep in mind that 'fun' is the root of 'funny'. Your show is neither.

Today's distraction: Use Scott Pakin's automatic complaint letter generator to show your Imus displeasure. I put my own name in and might print it out to tack on my wall. Like a badge of honor.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You, Robot

I need to bring attention to an alarming development. Forget Google trying to take over the world. Looks like there's no stopping that anyway. I bring you more distressing news.

Robots. Robots are cropping up everywhere. You can be sure they'll be attempting to wipe out humanity in the near future. It's what they do.

Oh, sure, their original intent is to help and serve mankind. Like this snow rescue machine, the T-52 Enryu, that actually prevents avalanches and can dig out a car from under a snowbank. As Tetsuya Kimura states, 'we hope the robot will be useful in removing snow around the entrances to underground shopping arcades or tunnels'. Great. An automated snow shovel that can lift cars and push mountains of snow around. That isn't any cause for concern when the thing goes haywire.

Or how about this freaky thing that European scientists designed after the 'paddle worm'. It's supposed to worm it's way through a patient's intestines carrying a mini camera to help doctors diagnose disease. Any volunteers? Before you raise your hand, they haven't addressed what happens if the thing breaks down inside somebody. Let's just imagine the possibilities.

Of course, scientists are never satisfied with their original creations or those of others. So, they feel the need to 'improve' and 'create'. NEC System Technologies and Mie University in Japan have designed a robotic wine steward. No, really. They have. Hideo Shimazu, director of the NEC System Technology Research Laboratory states, 'There are all kinds of robots out there doing many different things, but we decided to focus on wine because that seemed like a real challenge.' It's also a great way to get funding for top shelf wine. Damn, those Japanese are smart. By the way, a cameraman covering this story put his hand up to the robot and it claimed he tasted like bacon. Remember that when you're being roasted over an open spit by the T-52 while the wine steward robot is recommending which cheese would go good with you.

I'm sure this one will be providing the flame.

Understand, I work with technology on a daily basis which means I see the difference between how things are supposed to work and how they actually work. The end product is never as good as the initial idea or theory. There are always bugs, viruses, patches, updates, configuration changes that need to be undertaken just to get things running properly. The actual product is almost never as good as the theory or idea behind it. Color me skeptical when it comes to these robots.

I'm not entirely against them, mind you. There is this pregnant robot that is being used in medical schools to train students. This is a great idea. Something that doesn't move and can just mimic a birth. Plus, as the article says, 'It's better to make a mistake on a $20,000 robot than a live patient'. No word on what it actually gives birth to.

How about this one? Not sure what purpose it serves other than being the first potentially gay robot ever. It plays the flute while sitting in what looks like a wheelchair. Was really hoping they would call this 'Ironside', but they went with the nerdy and confusing WF-4RIII. That's some bad hat, WF-4RIII.

ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Japan (Again?) have invented a prosthetic hand that operates by thought. 'The robotic hand mimics the movements of a person's real hand, based on real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of their brain activity.' While I have no idea what that means or how it actually works, it sounds like we're one step closer to being able to create a real life Darth Vader. Cool!

Then there is this one. A team at the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology have developed a female android who looks creepishly real. 'She can understand others, speak, blink with her eyes and makes several facial expressions.' Her name is EveR-1 and is designed to look like an early 20s Korean female. Am I the only one that thinks the boys spent too much time designing Evie and not enough time socializing? Article doesn't mention what they do with EveR on the weekends. Frankly, I don't want to know.

But just when I think humanity is doomed when snow and fire robots start running amok or EveR starts seducing then killing men, I run across this robot. Finally life makes sense.

Hit me again, T-Rot. If I'm going out by robot, I can't think of a better way. Cheers!

Today's distraction: Build your own robot. I used the chainsaw for one of it's hands and added cool sunglasses.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Baseball Thoughts

Some random thoughts over the first full weekend of baseball.

- I know, I know it was only his first start but I officially have Dice-K fever. It's not a full fledged man crush. Yet. Talk to me on Thursday.

- Bob Ryan once described Barry Bonds home run record chase as 'a joyless pursuit'. Perfectly phrased, Mr. Ryan. As Bonds closes in on the all time record I can't find a single person who wants him to surpass Aaron. Not one. Everyone hates this guy. Do people in San Francisco even like him? I've never wished a career ending injury on anyone before, but it would be perfect karma if he blows out both knees rounding third on number 754.

- Reason #223 I like Coco Crisp: His reaction after getting his first hit of the season.

- Laughed out loud when one of A-Rod's first plays of the season was a botched pop up in foul ground. I almost felt sorry for him. Nah, not really.

- Speaking of A-Rod, think hitting that game winning grand slam got the Yankees fans off his back? Me neither. I give them 3 weeks before they're booing him again. He's baseball's version of Kobe without the rape charge. They're both gifted, elite athletes who have been so coddled and adored their entire lives they don't know how to relate to average people. It makes them come off as spoiled and condescending. Plus he's a fucking pretty boy.

- Typing this while watching Sox game. Currently 3rd inning and Papi has already hit 2 home runs. Love having Papi. Seriously, can you imagine him on any other team?

- Discussing the early season results with my father who said (and I'm not exaggerating at all), 'Ahhh, they just don't look like they have it this year.' It's fucking five games into the season. FIVE!!! My brother and I just laughed at him.

- Some history regarding dear old Dad. I was (and am) convinced he's a complete jinx on Boston teams. This suspicion was confirmed in all it's ugly glory when I was watching Game 6 (you know which Game 6). Sox are winning, 2 outs and suddenly single, single, single. I was watching at my buddy's house and said to him 'My father is watching. I know it!'. Sure enough after the disastrous finish I see Dad the next morning. He's eating breakfast when I wake up. I say 'You watched?' 'I just wanted to watch the celebration' he answered. I don't need to tell you he watched NONE of the 2004 Series.

- Back to the game: another great defensive play by Coco in center. Line drive heading for the gap which he catches up to. Kenny Lofton, who was on first, was so sure it was a hit he winds up getting doubled off first. Think Shaughnessy was watching?

- Why is anyone surprised that Gary Matthews Jr is implicated in an HGH/steroids scandal? The guys is average for years, then has a breakout year at the age of 31. You telling me there isn't anything suspicious about that? I'm still wondering about Luis Gonzalez hitting 57 home runs for Arizona back in 2001. His highest before then was 31 in 2000. His highest after was 28 in 2002. So in 3 years Gonzalez hit 116 home runs. In his other 16 seasons he's hit 217 (includes the 2 he's hit this year). No point. Just wondering why he's so defensive when people bring up his name when steroids is mentioned. Like he wouldn't wonder the same thing.

- Speaking of steroids, they haven't shown Sammy Sosa run out to the field at the beginning of games yet. Does he still sprint out there? I saw him do that little hop when hit his home run on Saturday and was wondering if he's kept all his trademark moves intact.

- Also noticed some controversy regarding K-Rod from the Angels. Seems they caught some white stuff under the brim of his hat. Now, this may be something, but it looked to me like rosin residue.

- Papi is literally killing this Rangers pitcher. He didn't homer again, but he hits a little squib which the pitcher tries to scoop up, then trips, then manages to shovel to first for the out. Now he's limping around like he's hurt. He should just hit Papi next time up.

- Next batter is Manny, who hits the ball almost 400 feet for an out. He's hit the ball a combined 2000 feet (rough estimate) in 3 at bats but doesn't have a hit.

- Frank Catalanotto is on the Rangers now? Thank you! This guy would kill the Sox every time they played Toronto. Get him out of our division. Holy shit! Just found out the only run for Texas came when Catalanotto hit a homer. More things change......

- Wow, Yankees pitching sucks. They even gave up a homer to Kevin Millar. Who would have thought.

- Love 'Baseball Tonight'. Especially when John Kruk is on. I do miss Harold Reynolds, though.

All done. I'm tired. My sister just called to tell me her 2 year old daughter just ate some deodorant. Her breath should smell great for weeks.

Just realized me, my father and my son have completely different perspectives on Boston sports teams. Think this is an entry later this week.

Today's distraction: Test your Baseball Trivia abilities. I did horribly regarding anything before 1975.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Thank You For Smoking

(Note: Since this is Easter weekend and I have 20 people coming to the house, I'm posting this a day early. I'm keeping Saturday's date on it, just to confuse everyone. Today's entry is below.)

Two things happened last weekend that got me thinking about the smoker's mentality.

First: My father-in-law had to go in for a gastric bypass surgery because it was discovered he has stomach cancer. Wifey was, of course, all upset thinking her father's going to die. We went over for dinner the night before surgery where her mother morbidly kept forcing our kids to sit in his lap for pictures. As if this was the last time they would ever see him. I kept wondering if we would see these pictures perched on the coffin at the wake. Could still happen.

Six year old is very perceptive when it comes to people's behavior and kept looking sideways at me before humoring his grandparents. On the way home he had numerous questions, which I wanted to answer with 'Because Grammy is a bit insane'. Yes, that answer would have sufficed for every question.

Surgery was Monday and all went well. He's already walking around and out of ICU, although he no longer has a stomach. Talk about a quick weight loss plan.

Second: Talked to an old high school buddy who informed me his father just spent the last two weeks in the hospital for congestive heart failure and emphysema.

As you can gather by the theme of this entry, both of these people are long time smokers.

Wifey's father has been smoking for over 40 years. He's 73 and had a quadruple bypass about 8 years ago. He actually quit smoking for 9 months after this operation only to resume once he realized his heart was functioning normally.

My buddy's father has been a smoker since as long as I've known him. That's more than 25 years and counting.

I understand quitting smoking is a tough thing to do. Actually, I don't. I used to smoke occasionally. I was a member of the 'I only smoke when I drink' cult. However, after waking up for the umpteenth time feeling like I made out with an ashtray the night before I was done. Haven't smoked a cigarette since. I do smoke cigars on occasion, but you don't inhale those, just puff on them. And I have smoked other things on occasion, as well, but that's been a long time.

Long time. One sec while I reminisce........

All done.

What I don't understand is the surprise these two (and some members of their family) expressed when the medical conditions cropped up. My father-in-law actually used the phrase 'needless to say we were shocked' when they heard the diagnosis. You've been smoking for 40 years and you're shocked you developed some form of cancer? The only way you should be using 'shocked' is if you didn't get cancer. I told my wife I the only shock I registered was that her father was still alive after all these years. To her credit, she agreed with me.

When my friend's father was released the first thing he did was head down to Foxwoods for a poker tournament. Think he did any smoking while he was there? He's going to be one of these guys who winds up blowing himself up by attempting to light a cigarette while his oxygen tank is still running.

When my buddy (who also smokes) described his father in the hospital bed; hooked up to all sorts of electronic equipment, tubes shoved up his nose, I couldn't resist: 'That's you in 20 years'. 'Fuck, no' he responded, 'I'm quitting tomorrow'. It's always tomorrow.

What is it about certain people that just can't quit smoking? We've all had our experiments with cigarettes. I would bet more than 75% of the population has smoked at some point in their lives. Whether it was a trial run in high school or, like me, the free reigns we first experienced in college. But why are there some people that just can't quit? You know the ones. They always say they're going to quit and even manage to go a few months before it sucks them back in.

Then there are your friends who decide to quit and that's it. They quit. You don't ever see them smoking again. Are there some people that just need it while others are smoking to keep themselves busy? Are the long term smokers chemically dependant on the nicotine or some other ingredient? It has to be more than that, otherwise that gum would be all they need and that doesn't work for everyone. My buddy tried the gum and he said it did 'take the edge' off, but he wound up smoking again once the gum was gone.

I'm guessing it's more simple than that. Most long term smokers are inherently selfish people with highly addictive personalities. Addictive I can understand and, in a way, forgive. It's the selfish that gets me steamed. If you can't bring yourself to quit for your wife so you can grow old together or for your kids because you actually want to see them grow up, then the only reason you are smoking is for self gratification. You are smoking because YOU like it. And you won't give it up for anyone but yourself and only when you're damn good and ready to do so.

Therefore, I have no sympathy for these two. If you willingly participate in behavior everyone knows will, at the least, cause you major health problems or, at the worst, kill you, then you don't deserve my compassion. You knew what you were doing and you knew the risks.

It's their loved ones I feel for. The families who now need to deal with their father's slowly self destructive behavior. The people that love them who now need to watch as they slowly wither away to nothing. That's who pays for all those butts inhaled. The smokers will continue on their way, probably still smoking because they'll now rationalize it with 'Hey, I'm 70 now and already have (fill in your disease here) _________, so what harm is it going to do now'.

Meanwhile, their families are left caring for them, paying the medical bills, emptying the ash trays and cathaders and trying to explain to the grandkids why Grampy needs to walk around with a scuba tank at all times.

Look, I understand the need for vices. I really do. I have a ton of them. I just haven't been able to grasp the need to fill your lungs with poison that, let's be honest smokers, tastes like shit. I dated a girl who smoked, quit for a while, then started up again. I was there when she bummed one off a guy (yes, we were drinking) and the look of absolute disgust on her face when she took that first toke said it all. 'Awww, I forgot how awful these things taste' she said, before sucking it down to the filter.

I'm no medical expert, but it seems strange that some people can casually smoke when they want without becoming a full fledged two-pack-a-dayer while others will smoke until their dying breath. Literally. Why can some drop the habit easily, while others fight (somewhat lamely) to quit even if their lives depend on it?

Answers! I need answers! Sadly, I know there will be none forthcoming.

Today's distraction: 10 reasons you should stop smoking. I would like to add an 11th reason: 'you smell like damp, dirty fireplace 90% of the time'

Friday, April 6, 2007

Kiss Comes Alive!

Just after I graduated college, I wound up working at a video production company in Somerville. The place was right behind a Holiday Inn that provided Tuesday evening Happy Hours which included free chicken wings! Chicken wings!! I hate chicken wings. But a buddy of mine and I managed to drink our share of free beer during the 90 minutes.

I don't bring this up as yet another example of my post graduate study into raging alcoholism. I bring it up, because this same friend of mine used to play drums in a band. He was good, too. One of the best drummers, or musicians for that matter, I've personally known. (Note: This is the same dude who once told me he was glad Buddy Rich and Jon Bonham were dead so they would 'stop inventing shit I can't do') He loved playing so much he was a member of 3 different bands. At one time. He would be playing every night, yet none of the many bands he played in ever made it big.

Another friend, who also happened to be a drummer, played in a band that had moderate local success. When they decided to call it quits, the lead guitarist said to him 'Hey, I'm starting my own band. You want in?'. He declined. Since he was in his late 20s, he figured it was time to get serious and find a real job. The guitarist went by the name Sully and his new band was called 'GodSmack'. My friend is still kicking himself for that one. Although he does take the positive route, 'In a way it's a good thing, because there is no doubt in my mind I'd be dead now if I got to enjoy that kind of success.'

Let's go back to the video production job. The company managed to get hired out to tape the WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble, which I was lucky to get picked for. I got to meet Iggy Pop, whose publicist told me in no uncertain terms that we were NOT to tape any of his performance. So be it. The runner up band that year was 'Talking To Animals' whose lead singer was so good I nearly fell off my stool. The band sounded like '10,000 Maniacs' with a better looking, better sounding lead singer. The term charismatic doesn't do her justice. The reason I remember that band was because I kept expecting to hear them again. Only on a national scale. But that was it. Turns out coming in second to a half assed Metallica ripoff band was their highlight.

I'm sure there are thousands of these stories. Talented musicians who just haven't caught a break, never to be discovered except for a scattered fan base. Local bands that just can't get over the hump.

Well, my musical friends, I know why. You don't have a gimmick. You need something so ridiculous and borderline asinine that people sit up and take notice. Perfect example: MiniKiss a Kiss tribute band composed entirely of little people. No, seriously. Go check out the link. They're HUGE!!! Get it? Huge? Little people? Alrighty then......

Here's a list of credits: Jimmy Kimmel Live, Inside the NFL (there's a clip on the site above), MTV's Damage Control, VH1's 100 Most Metal Moments, and Comedy Central's Insomniac. Not to mention articles about them in LA Times, Maxim, Hustler, NY Post and Guitar Hero and now the greatest blog in the world. Why? Not because they're super talented. Shit, they barely cover the Kiss songs halfway decently. They're popular because they're one of a kind. Simple as that.

Want another example? How about a band that's already made it - SlipKnot, whose members wear Halloween masks. How about Devo. Marilyn Manson. The original Kiss?

Point being you bands wanting to get noticed need to do something to get yourself noticed. Look at the Red Hot Chili Peppers who wore nothing but socks on their schlongs during performances. Even Elton John had his crazy outfits and sunglasses phase early on. The Beatles? Hair. The Rolling Stones? Attitude. Black Sabbath? Decapitated bats. AC/DC? Lead singer drowning in his own puke. Johnny Cash? Black clothes and prison concerts.

Of course, gimmicks will only get you so far. I hardly think we'll be hearing about MiniKiss in 10 years. You need the talent to back it up. It isn't an accident Devo and Marilyn Manson faded into the background while Elton John, Rolling Stones and AC/DC still thrive. The Beatles still sell more records today than most new artists will in their entire career.

Lucky for you, this blog is here to provide solutions, not just point out the obvious (although that is what I'm good at). Here are some attention getting techniques I'm putting out for bid. Good luck and I expect 10% of any royalties.

- All guy naked band. Get yourselves in shape and one up the Chili Peppers. Call yourselves the Nude Dudes or something not nearly as clever as that. Ladies, how about a topless band called The Free Swinging Titties. Please?

- Create an urban legend about one of your songs making some teenager do something stupid. Like a song called 'Kill Your Mama' made one of your fans kill his mother. Doesn't have to be true, just gets you in the news

- Write only songs about '24'. You can name them things like 'Jack's Back', 'China Prison Blues', and 'Chloe, Baby'. This can be applied to any show, really, but make sure you pick a cool one. Picking something like 'Wife Swap' or 'According to Jim' is just asking for trouble.

- Include a band member that has high suicide potential. Someone that can function, but may have some self destructive qualities. Getting this person to destroy a hotel room now and then can help, too. Key note: Make sure that band member isn't a crucial part of the song writing. If you're going to lose a member, make it the drummer, bassist or something equally replaceable.

- Set a trend with your band members. For example, MiniKiss has all small people. Get a band together that are all cancer survivors or vegetarians or Oprah Book Club members. You can figure it out.

- Perform controversial songs with psychotic titles. Examples: 'I Like Iraq, But I Like Your Rack Better', 'I'm In Love With Jenna's Bush', 'Dwight Rules', 'Wikipedophilia' or 'Rape Me'. Wait, think Nirvana used one of those. Probably the Iraq one.

I'm sure I'll come up with more and will post them later when the inspiration strikes.

Remember, 10%! I expect 10%. That includes signing bonuses.

Today's distraction: Pretend you're the drummer in MiniKiss. You can play on your knees if you want the full effect.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Check Mate


I believe everyone needs a 'check' person in their lives. Be it roommate, boyfriend/girlfriend, wife/husband, talking dog, whatever. Everyone needs someone who will give them a once over before they head out into public and say 'Yeah, you know what? That striped shirt with the plaid pants just isn't doing it. Why don't you change into jeans?'

Or 'I know your hair is driving you crazy, but if you shave it you'll look like a lesbian.'

I'm that person for wifey (often to a fault) and she's that person to me. Or at least that was my belief until recently when she came home with some new sweaters for me. Forget that I don't really wear sweaters because I've been scarred for life by watching 'The Cosby Show' or that I just don't feel comfortable in itchy wool. Forget that she's been buying me sweaters for years and I've worn maybe one the entire time we've been married. The problem I have is that one of them looks to be an exact replica of Freddy Krueger's sweater. I'm not even kidding. Red and black horizontal stripes with some grey edging. I know I will be completely self conscious wearing it. And you can be sure my friends will notice the same thing and never let me live it down. My nickname could become Freddy. They may even start singing that Freddy song every time they see me.

To be fair, they all aren't bad looking. One is a dark green and feels ok. I will probably wear that one once or twice before it 'hides' in my closet for the next 3 years. But two of them were cheapos (2 for $20) she picked up at one of her white trash sales events. Probably Christmas Tree Shop or Kohl's. Whatever, I'm not picky. As long as it's comfortable and doesn't hurt the eyes.

But, now I'm questioning my own built in Check Person. What happens when the person who is supposed to make sure you don't look foolish leaving the house, buys you something that you KNOW will make you look foolish when you leave the house? My world is spinning into chaos!! Look, I even used two exclamation points on that sentence.

Granted I'm not the epitome of cutting edge fashion. I have my work wardrobe rotation of business casual outfits. On the weekends I'm a jeans and sneakers guy (during the week if I can get away with it, too!). Or shorts and barefeet if it's summer.

My problem is I've relied on wifey to tell me when things aren't exactly pleasant to look at (clothes, I'm talking about clothes! My looks aren't anything that can be helped). If something doesn't match. If I'm under dressed for an occasion (being over dressed has never been an issue). If I shouldn't be wearing sneakers out. Basically, telling me when being myself isn't appropriate.

But now I've had two instances when I should have trusted my own judgement over hers. First was when we had plans to go out one night. I was going to do the old jeans, sneakers, nice shirt routine. She convinced me to go with slacks, shoes, instead. The shoes (which I hadn't worn in awhile) were uncomfortable and sqeaked loudly when we walked (and wound up in the trash barrel upon arriving home). Then our friends show up and say 'Why are you so dressed up?'. Both of them were dressed in jeans and t-shirts.

Now the Freddy sweater.

Needless to say I'm in a quandry. Do I start ignoring her 'check' advice? Do I just go with what I want regardless of what she says? Do I assume she just had a couple of bad days and give her another chance? Is she losing her 'checking' ability? Is she deliberately trying to make me look like a fool?

That last option is probably closest to the mark, but the joke is on her if that is the case. For I need no help looking like a fool.

Today's distraction: 6 fashion tips for men. I have real problem with the last one which encourages you to buy eyeglasses even if you don't need them. Strictly as a fashion statement. 'Do your best to find a pair of glasses that not only compliment the shape of your face, but also express your personality'.

Ok, how about no glasses. That's suits my personality because I don't like things that serve absolutely no purpose and make me look like an idiot. That work for you, Mr. Fashion Reporter? Putz!