August 31, 2006

Why bear drive car? Don't know!

I haven't the foggiest idea why bear drive car, but I do understand why you might want to give the wildlife some weapons.

We're not always so good to them.

Now, as to why you might want to make action figures of wildlife with weapons, yeah, I dunno.

PS - I already thought back to a commedian on Bob and Tom a few years back who discussed a giant plot by the animals to kill us all, but I can't remember his name or find a link to his routine anywhere. If anybody knows any info that could help me hunt down this obviously relevant screed, I would be much appreciative.

August 30, 2006

Ground ZeRomance

I'm thinking that it just might be a little too soon for this flick, but I might just be being overly sensitive.

On the other hand, the time has clearly come for this flick - speaking of which, what ever happened to Steve Gutenberg?

August 29, 2006

Cult of the Minutia of Life

I'll readily admit three things before dropping my link today:
  1. She's cute. Heck, she's gorgeous.
  2. The interweb was made for taking minutia and creating a practical cult out of it.
  3. The site you're currently reading is no less concerned with minutia than is today's linked site.
With all that out of the way, I have great faith in my ability to point out that Church of the Smoking Hot French Nescaster is an excellent use of the interweb's randomly flying electrons.

The cooler thing than just this cool Church is the entire site Cultspace which allows anyone (even you) to start founding their own religion (I don't like the term cult because it's pejorative) and then trying to build it until you get full tax breaks (which is the goal of every religion, right?).

Plus, they include the following disclaimer at the bottom of each page: Real cults are not cool. This site is just for fun. Please play nice..

It's cute.

And true.

And if you'd like to hear more about religions, feel free to wander over YouTube's way for some edumacation

August 28, 2006

Take a listen

There's a little too much jibber jabber from the NPR DJ between songs and here and there, but the Magnetic Fields' performance on NPR's Creators at Carnegie is still an excellent one-hour listen.

I just happened upon the series's page and am eagerly looking forward to checking out the Randy Newman, Emmylou Harris, and Bill Frisell concerts.

August 27, 2006

Revisionist Fictional History

It is ia question that has long plagued the world of art:

Who owns a piece of art?

Does the original artist own it? He or she created it.

Does the purchaser own it? He or she paid for it.

Does the audience own it? They are the ones who enjoy it.

Do the revisionist historians own it?

The latter does seem to be the case in one recent incident in which British television networks requested that old Tom & Jerry cartoons be edited to remove any incidents in which smoking is portrayed glamorously.

I recognize very easily that certain works of art are a picture of the time of their creation and must be understood within the context of that time. There were a number of movies from the earlier parts of the 20th century that used white men in red paint to portray Native Americans (sorry, almost typed injuns there) and others that were offensive enough to use Mickey Rooney as an Asian man.

Sure, those actions seems comedic and offensive in light of today's politically correct climate, but they bring a more important question to the table.

Who has the right to go back and change a work of art?

Is it wrong for someone to buy a copy of an old movie and colorize just that copy of the movie, leaving the original print in its black and white state?

Is it wrong for the director of Hoosiers to go back and digitally clean up the print for a new DVD release? What if he includes a few previously cut scenes as "DVD extras"? What if they're inserted into the film with a note? What if they're inserted seemlessly?

It's all sort of a sliding scale of right and wrong, isn't it? And where you fall will probably depend a lot on which movie is being tampered with and just how much emotional involvement you have with that movie. But do you have any sort of right to anything more than enjoy a piece of art - in particular, a film - more or less just because the artist, the creator has decided to go back and make a few adjustments here and there?

What if it's Steven Spielberg editing out the FBI agents' guns and digitally replacing them with walkie talkies? What if he changes "don't dress like a terrorist" to "don't dress like a hippie" during the same changes to E.T.?

What if it's Disney snipping out one line from the classic The Muppet Movie? What if it appears those edits might be imagined?

What if we're talking about another great director taking a true masterpiece of American cinema - Apocalypse Now - and reinserting forty-nine minutes into a film that had originally bee over six hours long at the first cut? What if that addition totally polarized critics and fans?

What if it's George Lucas adding in a few extra creatures that he didn't have the technology to throw in the first time? What if he's changing a shooting to make his hero look more heroic? What if he's not changing that really awful tongue-slipping that Lea gives Luke in Star Wars which is so icky in retrospect?

Who are we, the audience, to tell any of the creators of these works of art that they don't have the rights to change their creations?

August 26, 2006

The Muppets get freaky, freaky...

"Jim Henson's Puppet Improv" sounds pretty innocuous, right?

Of course, knowing that it's being performed at the Edinburgh fringe festival might suggest otherwise.

Knowing further that the Henson folks are doing afternoon shows for kids and families and then evening shows that are a little less kid-friendly.

Kinda makes me think back to a great evening with the Madcap folks down at the Aronoff a few years back (check week five and October tenth for the little proof that I have of that evening ever having existed.)

Oh, and let me just mention how hard it was to find a decent picture to go with this post. Apparently searching for adult puppet or dirty puppet provides a lot of stuff that just isn't quite appropriate enough for me to post. Who woulda guessed?

Transbuddha - seriously...

If you're not hanging with Transbuddha regularly, then you're a fool.

Friday's offerings were spectacular:

August 25, 2006

Homer's quote...revised...

It was the subheadline in this CNN article that caught my eye:
Ex-CIA official says cleric sets cap of 10 million U.S. deaths
In more detail:
Michael Scheuer, who once headed the CIA's bin Laden unit, says bin Laden has been given permission by a young cleric in Saudi Arabia authorizing al Qaeda to "use nuclear weapons against the United States ... capping the casualties at 10 million."

"He's had an approval, a religious approval for 10 million deaths?" I asked him.

"Yes," Scheuer responded.
As I see more and more things like that and like what's happening in the Middle East, I begin to wonder if Homer's quote shouldn't have alcohol replaced with blind and fanatical faith.

PS - Sorry to get all serious and issue-y on you. I promise more frivolity tomorrow.

August 24, 2006

You can just go right ahead and back off...

I tend to spend a fair bit of time mucking about with my two fantasy leagues (one for baseball, one for football - I'd link to them, but a lot of the content isn't work appropriate).

But after reading a recent piece on ESPN Page 2 (free reading only for 45 days - check it now, folks), I'm pretty much convinced that my amount of time spent there is still in the okay range.

For more proof, check out the discussion that ensued over on Baseball Think Factory.

Let's not even get into the freakishness that is Madden. To quote Baron Munchausen:
Your reality, sir, is lies and balderdash, and I'm delighted to say that I have no grasp of it whatsoever.
Plus, my league hasn't even bought the big time draft board - yet.

Of course, last night there was a live webcast of the draft lottery for our football league.

That's still okay, though, right?

PS - Just found this article over on ESPN, and I'm thinking there might be more to this fantasy football thing than I'd previously believed.

August 23, 2006

Like manna...but with flavor sprinklin's...

Let's check things out separately first:

White Castle? - yup, like them...

Tabasco? - yup, good with their stuff...

Hidden Valley? - I'm fine with them...not thrilled, but fine...and a little offended that apparently only Mom's will go to their website to print out coloring sheets for the wee tots...

And as you can tell from the picture, I'm clearly a fan of chicken rings, right?

So, when you throw all these things together into White Castle's new flavored chicken rings, there's gotta be a practically orgasmic explosion of flavor, right?

I'll be honest and say that I didn't try the ranch rings, but I went with the Tabasco rings at the recommendation of nice old lady behind the counter (as an aside, how sad is it to see an 80-year-old granny hocking slyders?). Let me just warn you that the Tabasco rings are freakin' hot. Loads and loads of some sort of firey powder coat the outside of the things. My lips were burning for a fair while, and I'm really glad that I had my trusty vanilla shake with me to stem the burning tide.

How ever could they make such a firey concoction, you might be asking? Well, luckily someone did some investigating for us and documented exactly how those firey tastes came to be.
A quick thanks to for helping me out to know that I had to taste the flavored chicken rings before the 19th - wait, I ate them on the 21st. Does that mean that I got past-dated rings? Oh, god, I'm gonna die... also has some neat stories about

August 22, 2006

Get out, you heathens

I've got Reuter's Oddly Enough News's RSS feed on my google homepage and tend to read about half of the stories. Most of them are fairly innocuous. But every now and again an actually semi-important story slips through and gets qualified as odd.

The recent story of an unwed couple of Black Jack, Missouri who are being threatened with eviction because they violate some sort of city statute that says no residence can have more than three unrelated (by marriage, blood, or adoption) people living there. The two adults (who have two children together) have filed a lawsuit against the municipality claiming discrimination.

Okay, I can understand how some people might want to keep their neighborhood the way it is, to keep unwanted influences out, but this really does sound like a pretty obvious form of discrimination. It's not really been all that long since there were cities that wouldn't allow blacks or hispanics to move into certain areas, and (in my view, at least) just about any discrimination is a bad thing.It sounds awfully noble, but it still stinks of discrimination. It's easy enough to say things like this with a wink and a nod when talking about not wanting "the wrong kinds of people 'round here". The problem is that to somebody, every one of us is "the wrong kind of people". Either we've not got enough money, we're too snooty, we're the wrong religion, our skin isn't the right color, or our family isn't enough like the "right kind of people".

August 21, 2006

Let's roll...

C'mon, gutless...let's play...

My personal best at the moment is a -8 over the full 18. Top that, ya Nancies...

And just in case you didn't trust me, here's the screen cap of the scorecard for my low round. Admittedly, I was playing both players, but I don't think that gives much if any advantage.

PS - oh, wait, I destroyed my previous best by both players. September 7, 2006

August 20, 2006

Looking for advice...

Anybody know anything about

I'm looking for a site that would allow me to put a poll on my school website, and this one popped up as a possibility.

Or, does anybody know of another site that would allow me to easily post polls for my website?

Hey, look...the curve...

I know I'm way late in saying this, but Gnarls Barkley seems to be having a lot of fun...

August 19, 2006

A rockin' little tune...

It's almost too easy to mock our current chief executive.

The semi-recent accounts of Bush giving German PM Merkel a backrub are icky - but funny when commented upon by Jon Stewart or when a San Fran Gate columnist likens Bush II to Michael from The Office - but they're too easy.

"Ooh, our president's a buffoon."

There's no challenge there. No skill in smacking that baby in the face.

Now, taking his State of the Union address and recutting it so that he sings a great U2 song, now that's a challenge.

August 18, 2006

Skimming the sports shorts...

Three ESPN sports articles for you to check out...
  • A great piece about simulated baseball junkies - that make my enjoyment of fantasy baseball look like a pittance
  • Jim Caple's sports beliefs - noting yet again that the true value of humanity is in that ability to keep two totally opposite beliefs at our core
  • Summer college basketball preview #30-21 - the first four teams here have to be stunt ranking...back-to-back-to-back-to-back throwdowns of Louisville, Texas Tech, Indiana, and Kentucky...WTF, mate?...just a fluke that those four (who, of course, have no rivalries or ties to each other) just happen to be ranked next to each other?...sure, a total fluke!...and it's also sad to see how much those three (ignoring TT for now) once-mighty programs have faltered in the last few years - Indiana, especially...there was a long while (my childhood, pretty much) when the axis of college basketball was the stretch from Lexington to Bloomington via Louisville...sad...

Bob Dylan skews young...

Somebody please tell me why Bob Dylan has a MySpace page.

I'm just confused.

August 17, 2006

Killing me...

It appears that blogger has been working on a little something lately.

Blogger is currently beta testing a new management system/site to allow for more functionality in the blogs that folks (like me) are running via the blogger site/system/software. There are a bunch of new features through the beta, but there's one in particular that I'm all jazzed about: creating labels. It's something that I've been wanting to do for the blog for a long while now and something that hasn't been supported by blogger until the new beta rollout.

The use of label will allow me to assign each post to a category (or categories) which will then allow you folks to find various posts more quickly if you want to check back through something. For example, yesterday's post about Snakes on Your MoFlinkin Voice Mail ! might get tags of movies and pranks (I dunno, I'd have to think about what tags would be most helpful for my blog, more on that later). Then, on my blog page (probably over on the right hand side, under the archives somewhere) there'd be a list of the various tags I'd used along with how many posts there were for each tag. If you wanted to see all the movies posts, for example, all you'd have to do would be to click on the movies link. And biggity bang, all the movies posts would show up.

The issue here is that blogger is only allowing a small number of folks to switch their blogs over to the beta version - for now. Sure, I could start a new beta blog and lose all the old stuff, of I could just wait a while until they expand their beta rollout to include more and more currently running blogs from blogger.

Lemme just tell you folks, I'm all a twitter with excitement.
So, what tags should I start thinking about using?
  • movies
  • music
  • reviews
  • online games
  • PHS
  • the interweb
  • web weirdness
  • videos
  • personal
  • baseball
  • basketball
  • football
  • politics (little used)
  • science
  • food
  • soapbox
Can anybody think of anything else that I should use when the time comes around?

August 16, 2006

Jason Mewes's got nothing on me

I like the Gilmore Girls.


Oh, it's not like I carve time out of my life to see them on any sort of regular basis, but if I'm flipping around and come upon an episode, I'm probably going to hunker down and watch the full episode.

Thankfully I don't have cable.

A relevant quote from Bill Simmons's recent mailbag
Q: Let's see, in the past two months, you embraced soccer, created an Us Weekly fantasy league for women, were called a "hero" by Mark Cuban and complained about two American institutions: fantasy football and Vegas. What day is your surgical procedure that officially makes you a woman? I want to make sure I send you a card.
-- Bill Simmons, Los Angeles

SG: Just wanted to beat you guys to the punch.

Snakes on Your MoFlinkin Voice Mail !

The interweb phenomenon continues to grow and grow until the movie itself simply cannot possibly be nearly as entertaining as is the advance press and buildup.

But in a highly cool move, their website is offering a chance for you to send a voice mail message (via phone or email) from Samuel L Jackson to anybody you want. There are lots of options and ways to presonalize the message with their name (lots of names available), their job, their hobbies, and a bunch of stuff.


I've already sent two.

Who else wants to send one?

August 15, 2006

Wither the padre?

Why can't I find videos of Father Guido Sarducci online?

He was a funny character (from commedian Don Novello) who had enough appearances on Saturday Night Live that I would've thought that he'd've made it to YouTube by now. But, no...other than one crappy Beatles medley video, he's nowehre to be seen.

There is one other video on the web, a stand-up appearance from the Father in which he discusses his plans for the Five Minute University, and I did find an audio file of the Father singing a Christmas song titled "Santa's Lament".

That's it, though. No more Guido on the web.

I guess I'll have to survive without Guido in my life as he seems to have faded from the internet consciousness.


August 14, 2006

Good times...good times...

Looks like Ikea made the clearly correct choice.

Dig it, folks...

A few more movie reviews

I'd heard that Lord of War was a pretty awful flick. After a viewing, I certainly don't think it should've been nominated for any Oscars or anything, but it wasn't that great flick, but I also didn't think it was all that awful.

There's slick cinematography throughout, begining with the title sequence in which we follow a single bullet from its creation on the factory floor through to its gruesome ending in a bloody African conflict. But the smooth coregraphy doesn't make up for the fact that the films's main character doesn't garner any sympathy from us. He is an amoral man who is doing what he does because it's what he does well. He simply never gives us a reason to care about him. His marriage is a sham; his relationship with his brother isn't a truly caring one; and he passes on his lone shot at redemption. Cage never gives us a way in, so we never care.

The Magnificent Seven, on the other hand, presents us with morally questionable characters but allows us an insight into each one, giving us something to connect to for every man, allowing us to hope against hope that each one will escape the death that he'll certainly have earned by the final gunshot report.

If you've not seen the film yet, I certainly won't ruin it for you by telling who doesn't make it to the end, but know that they all fight gamely and either live or die with honor.

The cast is outstanding - Yul Brenner, Steve McQueen, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Eli Wallach - and are matched note for note by one of the most stirring film scores in the history of the screen. The plot is a simple one - village hires seven gunslingers to defend themselves from banditos - and is an adaptation of Kurosawa's Seven Samauri, but I enjoy the Western version infinitely more than I do the Japanese.

Where many of the great Western films focus on the outsized vistas of the west, pulling back to reveal mesas and canyons dwarfing the heroes, this film stays small, focusing on the characters who are allowed to be flawed heroes for perhaps the first time in a Western film. On the DVD extra documentary, a comment was made stating that this was the beginning of the end for the great Westerns, the palate shifting from the larger-than-life heroes of John Wayne and Gary Cooper to the anti-hero of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti Westerns, and this film indeed allowed for that change - highlighted masterfully in a discussion among the stars explaining the math of the life they've all chosen:
Homes - none

Wife - none

Kids - none

Prospects - zero

Suppose I left anything out?


Places you're tied down to - none.

People with a hold on you - none.

Men you step aside for - none.

Insults swallowed - none.

Enemies - none.

No enemies?

It's a chilling scene and one that sums up their way of life beautifully.

The movie rightfully dseserves its place among the greatest half dozen Westerns ever made.

And then there's the lone new flick of the week - Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. The reviews on this one have been decidedly mixed, but I can honestly say that for this was one of the rare films that I was okay paying full price for (a whopping $18.50 for two prime time tickets at the local Rave).

The movie's hilarious, and Sacha Baron Cohen provided a wonderful foil to Will Ferrell's stereotypical NASCAR driver/fan. The two make for a great constrast in styles - Farrell in cowboy boots, stright leg jeans without a worn spot on them, Garth Brooks shirts to the hilt, and living for nothing more than racing and being an over-the-top ass while Cohen's gay, French, cultured, Formula One import challenged everything about Ricky Bobby's world, right down to his love for pancakes.

The supporting cast all do great jobs - Gary Cole as Ricky's father, Amy Smart as Ricky's assistant, Jane Lynch as Ricky's mom, Michael Clarke Duncan as Ricky's crew chief, John C Rielly as Ricky's best friend, Molly Shannon in a three-minute part, Leslie Bibb as Ricky's wife, Andy Richter in a thirty-second part, and even Ricky's two children - helping carry the film and hitting all the right notes to make the whole thing click. (Thanks to Bill Simmons for help with all the names there, by the way.)

And Will Ferrell continues doing his great George W. Bush impression throughout much of the film - always a bonus.

I'm going to have to say that Talladega Nights has officially surpassed Anchorman as my favorite Will Ferrell flick.

Updated Favorite Will Ferrell flicks:
  1. Talladaega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
  2. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
  3. Elf
  4. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
  5. Zoolander
The following films were exempted because they're not really Will Ferrell films because
  • (a) he just kinda cameos to greater or lesser degrees: Wedding Crashers, Starsky & Hutch, Dick, Austin Powers 1 & 2
  • (b)I haven't seen them: A Night at the Roxbury, The Ladies Man, Superstar, The Wendel Baker Story, Kicking & Screaming, The Producers, Curious George or
  • (c) because the parts I did see stunk: Old School.

Politics affect art? Who knew?

Often, a work of art - painting, novel, film - comes about as a either an overt or a less direct response to a political climate or crisis. If that artwork is then observed at a later time by someone who is ignorant of the original context, much of the meaning of that artwork can be lost.

Instead of being a powerful statement, a Guernica risks becoming a jumble of meaningless images.

The Onion's AV Club - long known for their thoughtful, humorless explorations of media culture - posted an article recently on 11 Films That Responded Well to National Crises, giving a bit of background to these films. Knowing the background to some of the films allows a viewer a much richer understanding of the film, sometimes granting a deeper appreciation of the document.

I can personally recommend #s 5,6,9, and 10 as being outstanding films - though I question just how much of #10 truly was in response to post-9/11 malaise.

My enjoyment of #2 likely would have been improved had I actually considered the context of the film instead of just viewing it through the modern lense of slick, smooth filmmaking.

Remember to think before you watch, folks...

Unless, that is, you're watching Zoolander, in which case you're fully free to shut off your brain.

August 13, 2006

Hilarious...details to follow tomorrow...

Teasing and trailing

Yet more film teasers and trailers that are occupying my time this morning:
  • Night at the Museum - looks like a great family film with a couple of quality leads
  • The Hoax - I always enjoy meta films...stories that tell of the telling of that story...
  • 88 Minutes - I wonder if Al Pacino has ever played a small, shy guy
  • The Fountain - every time I see the trailer or the teaser, I'm sucked in further and further...gotta see this
  • A Good Year - looks sappy and predictable, but it's got Albert Finney and that Aussie guy
  • Stranger Than Fiction - looks like it could've been written by Charlie Kaufman, always high praise
  • Babel - any film that makes me think of Traffic, Syriana, and 21 Grams has my full attention
  • Fast Food Nation - having recently read the kiddified version Chew on This, I'm all in
  • SherryBaby - I'll admit to having a thing for Maggie Gyllenhall, so I'm predisposed to this
  • Man of the Year - this'll be one to see in the theater because I don't think it'll hold up to any'll be out of time as quickly as Wag the Dog was, but it'll be entertaining for those few minutes
  • Borat - I've mentioned Borat before, but this is the second trailer that gives a much better idea of what the movie's going to be like

August 12, 2006

Why must they tempt me?

It's been two releases now since I stopped collecting these, but, dangit, I'm still tempted.

Especially since these come from my favorite Smith film.


Freakish NPR DJ of the Day

We checked into the show with "Cool, Dry Place" by the Traveling Wilburys (lemme mention that the fact that the first Wilbury's album is out of print is an absolute crime). Nothing special there. Good music but nothing spectacular.

After a couple of old standards, we got "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress". Good stuff.

A couple of non-descript songs later, "Everything is Cool" by John Prine.

I still hadn't picked up on the theme.

It was two songs later when "Cool" from West Side Story was followed by "Three Cool Cats" and the "Cool Jerk".

Wait, I think I'm starting to get the theory here. It's cool songs - sort of a Jeopardy category kinda thing.

Then the DJ stops by - having not said a single word in the forty-plus minutes we'd been hanging with the station - drops a list of every single song and artist for the past hour and says that the next hour would be summer songs.

Wait, it's a DJ whose theme is that each hour has a non-genre theme?
He does three hour shows...every week?
From his personal collection of music?

It's like he's my frickin' hero.

And all of his shows are available in streaming format?


August 11, 2006

Throwing the shutters wide

Finishing up the George Perez (anybody know how to make the accent mark over the first e there in Perez?) run of Wonder Woman was Destiny Calling, the fourth volume of the trades. This is one that absolutely has to be read in order since so much of the volume continues storylines that were introduced in the first three volumes. As I've read through the run, I've become less and less enamored with Perez's storyline. He's willing to take risks in the traditional panel-panel-panel style of storytelling, particularly in the first issue here, letting a detective (in very dated, comedic clothing) tell the story through his type-written case report, but I find that the experiments are often more of a distraction than a revalation. The continuing capricious attitude of the Greek Gods - in spite of which, Diana continues to be faithful to them - also becomes more and more of a distraction rather than a boon to the series. All in all, this isn't a great finish to Perez's run, and it makes me more and more impressed with Greg Rukka's run on the series, also available in collections.

Okay, so I'm thinking we need a mini series to sell. Let's take a couple of popular anti-heroes, throw them together for a totally random reason, and let them kill a bunch of people. The fanboys'll love Wolverine/Punisher, right?

I dunno, but I didn't.

The plot's thin at best - but I tend to find most of the Punisher plots pretty thin (um, revenge on the whole world of bad guys, blah) - and the artwork's not nearly revelatory enough to carry things. And it all ends up being based on the most cliched of comic book bad guys behind the bad guy plot - Nazis.

And then there's Promethea Book Two from Alan Moore. I'll let a quote from stand for the opening:
Promethea's the kind of book that, every time you think you should drop it, that you can live without it, that it's so abstract that you'd be better off waiting for the next trade, you get to an undeniably brilliant, medium-bending passage in the issue at hand and realize that you'd be a fool not to read a 24-page continuing panel that loops back over itself, or see Hermes stare at the reader, recognizing that he's in a comic book, as soon as you f$@&ing could.
The second volume of Promethea continues the first's storyline of the former incarnations educating the current incarnation in the ways of magic and dreams as they connect to the "real world", and in typical comics fashion, the current incarnation steps up and shows a few hints that she just might be the greatest incarnation yet.

It's more of the same (which is pretty high level, experimental stuff that works) from Alan Moore until the final issue in this trade. And then it becomes revelatory.



Promethea consults the two snakes of her caduceus, each of whom tell her a slightly different but - of course - entertwining story about the origin of the universe. The slips back and forth between the two stories, all the time illustrated by anagrams of the title of the series makes a truly ground-breaking experience for a comic book reader.

This issue alone justifies the existence of the series, and I can only just barely wait to read the third volume.

Chew on This popped up on the "new at the library" emails that I get each week from PLCH and sounded interesting, so I gave it a go. Halfway through the very quick read, I commented to Karlen that I thought the book was written for kids because the sentence construction seemed a little on the simple side of things. Turns out I was right.
Eric Schlosser, the author of bestseller Fast Food Nation, has just released a version of the book that is aimed at sixth to eighth graders and co-written with Charles Wilson, a writer for numerous publications including The New York Times. Chew on This is a 258-page book that is subtitled "everything you don't want to know about fast food." Schlosser and Wilson explain, "The only real difference between [Chew on This and Fast Food Nation] is emphasis. For this book, we focused on how the industry affects the lives of young people ... Just about every teen in America has some connection to fast food, for better or worse."
So I was reading Fast Food Nation for kids. Simple enough.

The book is an excellent read, one I'd recommend even for adults who have some curiosity about the subject of how fast food has changed our culture over the past half dozen decades. Schlosser looks at how the job market for teens, the farming industry, city planning, school nutrition, and food ingredients have all changed because of the fast food industry. He makes very simple arguments and backs them all up with meticulously end-noted facts. The last part was one of the most impressive parts of the book to me, the end notes. Probably the last fifty pages of the book consists of a chapter by chapter, fact by fact citation of where Schlosser researched each of the facts in the book. He points out the sources that he used to get holistic pictures for each chapter as well as those that are quoted in the text. This allows readers who have a curiosity to learn more (or who might be assigned a paper to write) to find the full details easily, but it also doesn't clutter the prose with endless citations and footnotes on each page. For a book aimed at the teen market, this is a genius choice.

Schlosser's book should be on the shelves of every middle and high school health classroom and library.

If it's a Wilco project, I'll give it a try, particularly if it's got a cool video like this one. Born Again in the USA is the second album from Loose Fur, a side project of Jeff Tweedy (who really has become Wilco as the only permenent member, it seems). I gave their first a listen in the store a while back and wasn't impressed, but I caught a couple of these tunes on the radio and enjoyed them, so...

There are all sorts of pompous reviews of the album, but I'm gonna just throw out that some of it was fun. It seems more thrown off and light-hearted than a lot of the Wilco tunes of the last couple albums (which I love, but which seemed occasionally to have been labored over). The album is a little disjointed as it bounces back and forth between Tweedy and O'Rourke's songs, but it's a fun listen.

It's my second check out of Private Investigations a combined greatest hits from Dire Straits and their leader, Mark Knopfler. In many cases - Tom Petty comes to mind - it's tough to distinguish a band leader's solo and group efforts. In Knopfler's case, however, the work of the man is a fair bit different from that of the group, and this double disc does a nice job of blending the two similar but distinct threads.

The second disc lags a bit when things turn to Knopfler's movie music, works that subvert his musical stylings in favor of being music that actually fits the movie - a radical concept for many modern artists. The two instrumentals break the flow of the rest of the double disc, but the rest of the music is outstanding enough that the whole is an excellent summation of Dire Straits' years and Mark Knopfler's still-ongoing solo career.

Because I'm mental and forgot to bring any reading material to the time in Great Seal, I ended up picking up Julie & Julia when I got up way earlier than the girl. By the time she rolled out of the tent, I was like seventy pages in and hooked.


It's the story of a neurotic, New York, crappy cooking woman who chooses to make her life better by making every recipe in Julia Childs's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I know, it makes ever so much sense. It's a stupid premise for a book, and it's the sort of thing that is probably better suited for a blog, the sort of inanity with a theme that is going to hook people in to reead a few paragraphs every day or two, the sort of thing that could get ya hooked and sucked in to check in every couple of days.

And if the titular Julie wasn't an entertaining writer, it'd be a waste of a book. As it is, she is thoroughly entertaining, and I'm totally sucked in. I'm about halway through now (it's a quick read), and I'll probably finish it up. D*#n that chick lit.

Courtney Cox was just about the only recognizable actor in November, but that didn't stop things from becoming incomprehensible very, very quickly.

By the end of the movie, I had some clue as to what had happened, but it took a whole, whole lot of confusion to get there. I don't know that it was worth the confusion to get to the clarity, but it certainly...well...there wasn't a whole lot fo certaintly in the flick.

The set up is a pretty simple one: Courtney Cox's character isn't sleeping and has headaches because her boyfriend has been shot in a Quicky-Mart when Cox sent him in to get "something chocolatey."

Or maybe he didn't die. Maybe she did. Or maybe he's not dead.

Things start to fall apart when one of Cox's photography students is showing her slides in class and the last slide shows the Quicky Mart at the moment of the shooting, Cox sitting in her car outside. Clearly - well, not so clearly, as I've mentioned - something sinister is afoot. Other things start to slip as well, and then the movie starts over.

Things slip again, and the movie begins again.

And then it ends.

Luckily, I took a return through Zoolander. If ever there's a more mindless reaction to a confused flick like November, then Zoolander is it. It's not a great film, but it's entertaining, and it successfully washed away all the blah.

Currently checked out, Superman: Red Sun, Daredevil: Decalogue, The Magnificant Seven, and some other movie that I can't think of at the moment.

I'll spare you the two graphic novels since they're reviewed somewhere over in ye olde media blog, but you'll get to hear my thoughts on the movies at some future point.

Lucky bastages...

August 10, 2006

I feel like frickin' Tantalus


Big news today related to the breaking up of an apparent terrorist plot involving terrorists bringing liquids onto planes, mixing the liquids to create an explosive mixture, and then blowing holes into large commuter airplanes by triggering either with a key fob or batteries from (apparently) iPods. (Clearly details are sketchy at this point.)

I'm all happy that a terrorist plot got stopped, sure, but as the geektastic chemistry teacher that I am, I wanna know what the two mysterious ingredients are.

I wanna know what sort of reaction's taking place.

I wanna be able to discuss the cool chemistry involved.

Oh, I know I'd have to leave some minor details out if it's that easy to turn two common-looking liquids into an explosive, but I wanna know.

PS - Interesting that two men were detained in Ohio and were reported - on the local news, at least - as possibly having ties to the thwarted plot.

The power of the blogsphere

It appears that a few bloggers are paying attention to what's being reported about the conflict in Lebanon. The photo shown at right - which looks pretty obviously doctored once the fact is pointed out - was exposed by a number of bloggers as being highly doctored, eventually forcing Reuters to withdraw the photo and admit the doctoring though they say that they were not the ones who doctored the photo.

It also appears that a number of bloggers are questioning the veracity of photos used to tell the story of Hizbullah in other ways. The claims are that many of the photos showing the devestation is Lebanon have been either miscaptioned or outrightly staged. The problem seems to be pretty prevelant, and I'm surprised to see that there hasn't been more reported.

Thankfully, some bloggers have chosen a little more sarcastic take on things.

August 9, 2006

To make up...

Since yesterday's post was so interminably long and meandering, I offer you today nothing more than an ad for the film March of the Penguins - only the ad's French and based on a misunderstanding.

Enjoy it...

August 8, 2006

Little parks, needles, and hitting the weights

I was bumbling 'round the web this evening and happened upon an article refuting another article trying to refute the notion that David Ortiz is clutch.

The notion of whether a player is or is not clutch is something that far greater men than I have chosen to look into that fog, and I certainly will not be following them.

It was a comment in the article that caught my eye. In it, the commenter mentions that Manny Ramirez has been better over the past eleven years than has been David Ortiz over the past three seasons - a notion that seems pattently impossible.

This lead me to Manny Ramirez's page, and I'll admit that I'd kind of overlooked Manny's career. He's been a hell of a hitter for a very long time. But even this isn't the thrust of my screed today.

What amazed me is that Manny Ramirez is going to be a 500-HR hitter sometime next year. He currently has 466 HR for his career and will likely end this year in somewhere in the 470's. Over the past twelve seasons, Ramirez has averaged 37+ HR a year, so he should join the 500 club sometime after the All Star game (which he'll likely skip) next year.

I am amazed. Manny Ramirez - a member of the 500 Home Run Club.

The 500 Home Run Club is for the immortals - Ruth, Mantle, Williams, Aaron. Gods among men.

And, apparently, for a few other folks as well.

When I was born (1975, in case you were curious) there were eleven members of the Club, and almost none of them needed a first name: Williams, Ruth, Frank Robinson, Ott, Mays, Matthews, Mantle, Killebrew, Foxx, Banks, Aaron.
In the first twenty years of my life, three more were added: Reggie Jackson, McCovey, Schmidt.

In the last eleven years of my life, we've seen six more added in: Sosa, Palmeiro, Murray, McGwire, Griffey, Bonds.

In the next few years, we'll likely see the Club swell with the following players with the following totals (ages in parenthesis):
  • Frank Thomas - 471 (38)
  • Manny Ramirez - 466 (34)
  • Jim Thome - 463 (35)
  • Gary Sheffield - 453 (37)
  • Alex Rodriguez - 451 (31)
Of course, there was a time when a few other guys were locks for getting their 500th HR (Fred McGriff, Jeff Bagwell, Juan Gonzalez), and I know that odd things happen all the time on the way toward records, but it's entirely possible that we could see four guys join the club next season (I'm thinking it'll take Sheffield two years since he likely won't add to his total this year).

Now, after those guys the most likely candidates are a fair number of years away from joining the club:
  • Carlos Delgado - 395 (34)
  • Chipper Jones - 346 (34)
  • Jason Giambi - 344 (35)
  • Vladmir Guerrero - 327 (30)
  • Andruw Jones - 326 (29)
  • Nobody else with at least 300 HR is on the south side of 34
After that bunch, we'll be waiting a long while until the young pups get caught up:
  • Troy Glaus - 250 (29)
  • Paul Konerko - 236 (30)
  • Miguel Tejada - 235 (30)
  • Albert Pujols - 235 (26)
  • David Ortiz - 216 (30)
  • Derek Lee - 212 (31)
  • Carlos Lee - 212 (30)
And, honestly, I wouldn't bet the farm on any of those other than Pujols. Ortiz even seems like a longshot to me as he looks like he'll age more like Mo Vaughn than like Hank Aaron.

Heck, there's even a shot that we could have a new member of the 600 Home Run Club in another year or so with Griffey having shown signs of life these past couple of years and sitting at 559 career home runs right now. I'll readily admit that I haven't the foggiest idea where he'll end up for a career.

PS - I have no clue where this post was headed, by the way. It just sort of managed to ramble. If you've gotten this far, thanks.

August 7, 2006

Being redundant again

More lists of lists...just for you...

I'm seriously still not understanding McSweeney's, but I'm digging 'em...

Some of JoBlo's stuff isn't right, but it's at least entertaining.

There are the lists of listservs.

Wikipedia has (unsurprisingly) a list of reference tables for you.

Fimoculous continues to feed on itself by chowing down on a list of 2004's lists.

August 6, 2006

When I was a child, I [wrote] as a child

I don't exactly know what I want to say about this editorial in my hometown newspaper.

I stumbled upon the editorial while searching for an obituary for a friend's husband.

The comments that I have bouncing around in my head (in no particular order):
  • "Ben Carmack lives...attends Portland Christian School in Louisville." - really?!?!? I, for one, am shocked to hear that he's not attending a public school!?!?!
  • I've gone back and read some of the things that I wrote in college and a very few of the things that I wrote while I was in high school (thanks, mom, for saving that stuff) and am reminded of how much my positions have matured since that time. I wish Ben the same luck.
  • Um, I think law is exactly what Congree makes up. That's kind of their job.
  • "We cannot “make law” any more than we can craft a cell from scratch or tell the sun to stop shining or make pi be three." - oh, I think Mr. Montgomery Burns just might have something to say about that.
  • "What happens when someone refuses to believe in natural law? This question will have to be answered later." - Why? Why tease us so cruelly, Ben? Or is there a follow-up editorial that I should be searching for?

    All I could find from Ben was this other editorial that makes me think he's one politically messed-up young man: a religiously conservative, politically liberal gent. Good luck with that, Benny-boy.

Catching and throwing links...

I've been out of town for a couple of days - camping in Great Seal State Park (review to follow tomorrow or the next) - and just caught up looking through a bunch of link blogs that I check with some regularity. Thought I'd take a moment and throw some of the links from other blogs to ya...check 'em...

August 5, 2006

And this is art how?

I love hanging out at Pyramid Hill - I think I've mentioned that before.

But some of these sculpture folks take things a little too far.

And do be careful as you scroll downward. Some of the images are probably best left for bio and/or health textbooks rather than made into twenty-foot-high sculptural installments.

August 4, 2006

My web wishlist

For me the two best reference sites on the web are and After that come sites like and

It probably says something about me, I know.

That's not the point, though.

The point is that there's a reference site that I want but that I haven't been able to find. If anybody could help me out, I'd be most appreciative.

I'm looking for an AllMusic kind of thing but for books. I want to be able to type in any author and get a rundown of his/her published books, a little synopsis of each book, a quick review, and maybe a list of other books like that one. Ideally there's also be a listing of "other books/mags that author has published in" - short stories and the like.

The library's website doesn't have enough detail for my tastes, and it only really lists the books that the 'bary in question owns.

So, anybody have suggestions for me other than "start your own site, dillhole"?

August 3, 2006

Truth in advertising

Following fast in the footsteps of Snakes on a Plane, we have another spectacular example of truth in advertising.

Please take a moment to enjoy Cats that look like Hitler.

Oh, and for Brian - this did come from a link on The Hardball Times site from last're not going crazy...

Quick update

Just in case anybody was curious, I was off by a few days on that whole "I'm clearly winning the lottery" thing. I meant the lottery drawing that's this Saturday, the one for over $200 million.

Though I did win $4 on Wednesday's drawing. That's a -60% return on my investment.

So take that...

August 2, 2006

Hope ya like the new me

This is is my final day living a normal life.

Wednesday evening, I will be winning the (currently) $178 million Powerball jackpot.

That's right. The wife and I bought ten (clearly a ridiculous amount considering that I'm sure whatever single ticket we'd bought would've won) tickets on Sunday as we drove back to the Cincy area from our hometown, and - as we always do - we began chatting about the "what would we do with the money".

I figure - since I'm a narcissist - that you'll care, so I'm gonna go through some of the highlights:
  • First off, the house gets paid off (along with the newer siding loan, the cars, the fridge, the computers, all of it - no debt). Easy call.
  • Then it's a million bucks for each of us to spend frivolously. The rest goes into an investment account to make huge bank for us the rest of our lives.
  • Karlen's promised to buy a scooter - either a Stella or a Vespa and a hot sports car.
  • I don't know whether I'd quit my job or not, but there are a few things listed below that might require me to drop the job. I really dig my job, absolutely love it, but I wouldn't want to do the crappy job that might be lead to if I took as much time off as the following wish list would require.
  • I'd buy all the stuff off of my wishlist. Well, maybe not the chemistry stuff since I might not be teaching any more.
  • Karlen says she'd buy a house on the coast near Boston. I dunno about buying another house. Maybe one in Gatlinburg because we go down there with friends every Presidents Day. I could rent it out the rest of the year to make even more bank - 'cause you can never have enough bank, right?
  • I'm thinking that there's gonna have to be a tour of the four tennis grand slam tourneys. This is the one that would likely lead to me quitting my job. It wouldn't be something I'd do all in one year, but I'd see 'em all.
  • And I'd have full-tourney good seats for the Cincy Masters Series. Good seats.
  • There's a niece and nephew whose college educations would be paid for.
  • I'd have a much bigger hardrive on my totally new, freakin' fast laptop. That way I could download just about any song I want.
  • Just about any graphic novel or book that I want to read would be bought. Likely then donated to PLCH if I didn't want to keep it (and I probably wouldn't keep many of them - too much stuff in the house already).
  • I don't know whether I'd get cable or not. It's not just all about the cash.
  • I'd see more movies in the theater.
  • I'd see Ryan Adams live. And Wilco, too - a lot. I just might call up Riverbend or Bogarts or the Taft and see what it'd take to get those guys to play in my hometown. And I'd see what it'd take to get U2 to play an acoustic concert at Bogarts - but only if I could get a soundboard recording.
  • Karlen has said that she'd pay John Mellencamp to play at the Bluebird - but only if he'd play "Jackie Brown", "Jack & Diane", and "Key West Intermezzo" and not play that medley of "Authority Song / Land of 1000 Dances".
  • Maybe I'd buy a plot of land in the southwest and drop in a tiny house.
  • There'd be lots of charitable donations: to Wabash, to the LLS, to PLCH, to the DNC, to alternative energy sources, to PHS, to MTHS, to NAHS.
  • That new computer would have some kickbutt wireless speakers that I could tote around the house to wherever I wanted. And the wireless router would have a way larger range.
  • The tree we're taking down in our back yard would be replaced by a much larger tree than the one we're likely to end up buying without the lotto loot.