22 September 2005

The best show no one ever saw...

Well, it's time. Serenity's coming out next weekend, and I can't tell you how psyched I am to see this film. M. E. Russell in The Daily Standard can give you the details of its genesis and marketing push. I can only say that it's based on Firefly, the short-lived Joss Whedon show on Fox. It was a brilliant show that I actually wanted to watch on TV, but due to its Friday night time slot, I never got around to it. Neither did anyone else, so it got cancelled after 11 episodes. Then it came out on DVD and sold a couple hundred thousand copies, so I figured I'd check it out.

Glad I did.

Nothing like a cowboy space opera where all the cursing's in Chinese. Go see it. Bring a friend. You've got a week to buy the DVDs (only 30 bucks, free shipping, no tax!) and watch all 13 glorious hours of this top-notch sci-fi show. Or, they're airing every episode in order on SciFi next Tuesday. Set your TiVos.

20 September 2005

Too funny...

Ah, The Onion.

Fantasy Roundup

I'm a week behind on this, so let's catch up...my teams are in bold orange:

Week 1
UIUCAAL: Clock Management! clocked the Philadelphia Phizz (0-1) 119-71
AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (1-0) speared Cleveland Steamers 100-37
asdf: Olney Ocelots (1-0) registered a win over Item #40156 109-81
NLFFL: Philadelphia Phrenzy (1-0) worfed the Kileen Klingons 72-66
WFL: The Diehards exterminated The Senators (0-1) 91-81

Week 2
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phizz (1-1) roasted SunburnedCrackMidget 93-80
AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (2-0) sheared the Rams 93-80
asdf: Orange Fanta carbonated the Olney Ocelots (1-1) 102-98
NLFFL: S.C. Angry Drunks raged all over the Philadelphia Phrenzy (1-1) 74-65
WFL: The Senators (1-1) legislated Sloe Comfotable 73-60

So, after two weeks, my five teams are a combined 6-4 and every squad has a win. We've just got to make sure that the best possible roster gets out there every week. Onwards and upwards!

08 September 2005

Literaturally speaking...

Just finished listening to the Jim Dale recording of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince this morning in the car. I read online that Stephen Fry does the British versions of the books...that'd be something to listen to. I've enjoyed his work since Black Adder. I don't think my feelings regarding the book have changed very much, but it's still a great ride. I certainly think that Luna and Neville were horribly shortchanged. My suggestion to Ms. Rowling is to write a short story centered at Hogwart's covering everything from the arrival of the Death Eaters through Snape's flight. Robert Jordan did that once with his prologue to A Crown of Swords, which was a retelling of the battle at the end of the previous book, Lord of Chaos, from a different perspective.

There are worse ways to start a book. Although it'd likely be best as an internet e-book or audiobook (the latter is my preference).

Speaking of Robert Jordan, it looks like the next book in his epic of epics, The Wheel of Time Series, is finally coming out. Book 11, Knife of Dreams, is due to be released next month. I can only hope it moves a little more swiftly than the last book. At the rate he's slowed down the story, it won't be over until book 20.

Not that I mind all that much, but if he's going to tell his story in 800-page chapters, I'd prefer it if he cranked them out a little faster.

One resource I found today that was exceedingly helpful in deciphering the excerpt posted on the Tor website was the Wheel of Time Character Archive. I'd forgotten who Byar was. Hard to believe, I know. Hell of a beginning, though.

Anywhoooo, that's enough for this lovely morning.

Next up in audio: The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis.

06 September 2005

Ugh. Lawyers.

Lawyers, with all apologies to my brother and sister (both esq.), have made everyone in this country so damned scared of making a mistake that they frequently will do nothing rather than the right thing.

I can't blame them, either.

Among the most egregious results of this particular phenomenon is the fact that women who have caesarean sections for their first child (whatever the reason), are virtually barred from having subsequent child normally.

Why do I bring this up? Well, useless and apparantly paranoid Mayor Ray Nagin delayed the mandatory evacuation of New Orleans because he was worried about being sued. Here's the money quote:

"Nagin said late Saturday that he's having his legal staff look into whether he can order a mandatory evacuation of the city, a step he's been hesitant to do because of potential liability on the part of the city for closing hotels and other businesses."

How asinine is that? An effective leader, hell, a competent leader, says "damn the consequences" and does the right thing when life and death is on the line. You'll note in the article that the counties around N.O. had no trouble issuing the order.

02 September 2005

We visited every one of them...

During our cross-country trek, Barbie and I stopped at virtually every casino we passed in New Mexico, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Dad collects $5 chips; we were happy to support his hobby. (It was truly a labor of love.) I don't think we missed a single casino in Biloxi and Gulfport. It looks like they're all gone now.

I wonder if the chips will become collectors items.

It's a damned shame. We actually really enjoyed the Gulf Coast. I hope they rebuild it.

She will rise again...

...but her best part won't have to. My first trip to New Orleans was in college. My buddy Mark went to Tulane, and our friend Ben and I went to visit him for a week. I suppose it was Spring Break 1995, since Mark was scrambling to finish some papers so he would graduate on time. I had to be 21, since I went gambling on the Flamingo Riverboat Casino (which was zoned out of existence shortly thereafter). Ben and I spent the week wandering around, visiting cemetaries, bars, and generally being tourists. I loved the city then.

In 1996 I went back with my friend Steve for, of all things, St. Patrick's Day. I don't think we ever said, "Let's go down there for St. Pat's," but it turned out to be one great big ol' party there. We spent every day in Jackson Square, girl watching and reading under the sun. We spent every night in the bars -- the good ones playing Jazz and Swing and Ragtime and Blues. We went to the Piano Bar at Pat O'Brien's. We saw Matt "Guitar" Murphy play at the House of Blues, where we were treated to free beer by the lovely Suzanne, a Budweiser rep in town for a beer convention. We were served the beer by Rachel, who had a full-back tattoo. We hit every used book store in the Quarter. You can get a street map with just the used book stores on it.

Then in 1998, I went with a contingent of Illini down for Mardi Gras. Now that was some crazy-ass celebrating. We saw a bunch of parades, got a ton of beads, and generally partied ourselves silly for a long weekend. It was a bit more crowded down in the Quarter than I prefer, but I suppose that's to be expected. I tell all those who ask that Mardi Gras was the worst time I ever had in New Orleans, but that's no slight on Mardi Gras...it's a compliment to the remaining 364 days in the city.

The Illini were in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's, 2001. So there I was, down in the French Quarter again for New Year's Eve (with some bonus days on either side). I met up with my friend Ariel and we had a blast for a few days. Mom and Dad came down for the game. We went down in flames to Domanick Davis and the LSU Tigers, and the Tiger fans showed us just how much noise fans can make (they're legendary). Another fine trip, with some seriously good food. We managed to hit K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen and Emeril's Delmonico on that trip. My grandpa Les had insisted, during an IM conversation in November, that I finally get my keester to Brennan's for brunch on this trip. They invented Banana's Foster there, you see. It was during brunch there that we got a call from Aunt Lynn. She told us that Grandpa had collapsed the night before. He never fully recovered and died 8 weeks later. There are worse parting memories of a person, I'm sure. It was really good Banana's Foster.

My most recent trip was 4 months ago. Barbara and I were driving to D.C. from LA. We had to stop in -- she'd never been there before. We stayed at the Marriott at Canal and Decatur. I'd heard mediocre reviews, but they'd just remodeled and the place was just beautiful. I wonder if it remains so. We happened to be there for the 2005 French Quarter Festival. Good fortune on our part. We had a lovely day-and-a-half there. Got covered in powdered sugar at the Cafe du Monde. Took dad's recommendation and visited the Court of Two Sisters. Walked those ancient streets and listened to some really special jazz and blues and zydeco.

It suffices to say that I really, really love New Orleans. It was always a dream of mine to own or rent a little place down in the Quarter where I could visit whenever I wanted to. It still remains so, and it looks like the part of the city I love best has been spared most of the pain of the flooding. If it can survive the looting and disease, it'll be fine. New Orleans' heart still beats. The rest of it will, in time, be better than ever.


Ross Gelbspan needs to be beaten. He's another Chicken Little who refuses to accept the possiblity that climate change isn't caused by humanity. The Earth has been here for billions of years, it'll be here for billions more. There was life before us, and there will be life afterwards. Whether or not it will be human life is what's at issue. Anyone who thinks we can control nature should take a look at New Orleans.

Before you jump all over me, I've said it before, that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to reduce pollution everywhere in the world. What it does mean is that the Earth is NOT fragile. We are.

Have faith, though. We're everywhere. We're equipped to live in virtually any environment. The human race won't be going extinct anytime soon. We may have to move back from the coasts for awhile, though.

01 September 2005

American Charity

We really are the givingist people in this damned world. Forget government aid to foreign nations, which is substantial. Forget welfare, which is counterproductive. When it counts, we dig deep. My favorite donation is a pint of my finest red blood cells, with some plasma thrown in for bouquet. Being B+, I'm a hot commodity, so I took care of that this afternoon. At last count, the Red Cross, exclusive of blood donations, had collected over $21 Million already, $14M from individuals. There will be no less than three benefit concerts this weekend (not my cup of tea, especially considering the cost of putting one of those things on, but such is life). And then here's the kicker. People all over the country are offering up rooms in their homes and beds on their floors to Katrina survivors on New Orleans Craiglist.

I got your free credit report right here!

I'm sure more than a few of you already know about this, but since it started today, it bears a reminder.

Under the FACT Act amendments to the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to one free Personal Credit Report in a 12 month period. To request this free annual report, you may contact the Central Source on-line at www.annualcreditreport.com.

You can also contact the Central Source to request this free annual disclosure by calling toll free (877) FACT ACT or by using the mail request form available at the Central Source Web site.

So we can all get free reports now once a year from each of the big 3. It's recommended that you stagger them every 4 months, so it's Experian on 1/1, Trans Union on 5/1, Equifax on 9/1, and then Experian again on 1/1, etc. They'll try and sell you stuff with the info, but the basic report (without credit score) is free.

I got freaked out a few months ago when some jackass opened an account at an internet auction site in my name with a Colorado address. Looks like he didn't do anything else to mess up my day, though.

Got it? Get it. Do it today. The first is a great reminder day.