31 October 2005

Intensive Care

I got home from KSC on Thursday, and to my delight I saw the package from Amazon.uk sitting perched on our breakfast bar. I knew what lay inside. Three years ago, my exposure to Robbie Williams was limited to the fascinating, if disgusting, banned video for Rock DJ, which I downloaded on whichever P2P software I was using at the time.

In May 2003 I went on vacation to France, armed with my MP3-CD player, cassette adapter, and a dozen discs filled with MP3s. Then I got my rental car, a powder-blue Citro├źn C3 with an honest-to-god CD player. My respect for the French increased measurably, but now I was stuck with a useless audio system. Fortunately, the Toulouse Virgin Megastore beckoned. After wandering around for an hour or so, I found the display containing multiple copies of his relatively new release, Escapology, which was just being rolled out in the US for a whopping $7.99 (he was trying to break into the US market). They however, wanted something like €20 for it, so I decided to purchase both Sing When You're Winning (featuring Rock DJ) and Swing When You're Winning (a collection of standards). I then subjected poor Barbara to about 3000 kilometers of non-stop Robbie, excepting when we were able to get VOA near Monte Carlo.

Damn it was good stuff.

I've since gotten every Robbie album (excepting the Greatest Hits collection), most concert DVDs, about two dozen EPs and DVD-singles, and his documentary Nobody Someday on DVD. Needless to say, I'm a big fan. His style is pretty much pure Brit-Pop, with a bit of Rock and Roll rolled in for good measure from time to time, and pretty much every song he's released is great (no mean feat). He's so good that I actively buy his singles for the bonus songs he invariably publishes on every one. His three Knebworth concerts in 2003 had over 125,000 attendees each, and the DVD from that show clearly shows why. The man quite simply puts on a show like none other. Having said that, he can't give CDs away in America. Reportedly he used to be pissed about that, but then he realized he could walk the streets of LA without being mobbed by fans, something he can't manage anywhere between London and Singapore.

Which brings us to 2005, and his latest effort, Intensive Care, which isn't even being released in the US. That, of course, is what was waiting for me in the cardboard Amazon.uk box. Unsurprisingly, I got the limited edition version (with bonus DVD). Since I was springing for the postage anyway, I had them throw in the first enhanced single, Tripping, and the first DVD-single, also Tripping.

I was going to post a review here, since I've listened to the album nonstop for the last 4 days, but I've yammered on for too long now. Expect one forthcoming.

25 October 2005

Week 7: The Rich Get Richer

...and the Ocelots continue their woeful ways.

AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (7-0) shot down the Starfire Dragons 123-54
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phizz (6-1) cheesed the Mooninites 88-76
WFL: The Senators (5-2) committed sororicide on Heir Jordyn 82-76
WFL Bonus: Barbie's Bruins (4-3) committed fratricide on The Beavers 90-84
NLFFL: Philadelphia Phrenzy (4-3) spayed the Blue Moon Dogs 61-58
asdf: The East Bay Eyeblacks gave a shiner to the Olney Ocelots (1-6) 94-70

It's almost comical how bad the Ocelots are. I still contend they were my best team at the beginning of the season, but with Manning, Westbrook, and Rudi Johnson underperforming nearly every week, it's just not gonna happen. On the flipside, I'd rather they be the weekly loser on my squad than passing the mantle around.

19 October 2005

Watch me work

Well not right now, but come mid-November you should be able to login and watch me in full bunny gear working on New Horizons.

Should the urge strike you to watch now or then, go here: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/gallery/webcam.php

You'll need RealPlayer.

18 October 2005

Week 6: Two and Three

Week 6
AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (6-0) unmanned Valley Valiants 82-68
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phizz (5-1) farnked Dayton Wolverines 101-78
WFL: The Beavers dammed The Senators (4-2) 107-74
NLFFL: The Rogues grifted the Philadelphia Phrenzy (3-3) 125-58
asdf: Cleveland Steamers crapped on the Olney Ocelots (1-5) 121-102

Edge and Reggie Wayne really came through for the Phalanx last night... I needed 30 points from them, got 45. That last TD was gravy. Wish Peyton had thrown a few of the rushing ones, though...the Ocelots could've used the love.

12 October 2005

Life is Good

So there I was the other day...fully badged, cleared, and solo behind the wheel of an XM-equipped Buick LeSabre Custom (with burled wood trim, no less) driving around Kennedy Space Center.

I can honestly say it was one of the biggest "damn I'm glad I'm in this business" moments of my career. Maybe NASA's just got a great PR machine, but something just feels different working there rather than on AF projects.

New Horizons launches 1/11/2006.

11 October 2005

Four and One

How'bout this? Day-after results. I know you're thrilled.

Week 5
AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (5-0) schooled Topless Academy 104-71
WFL: The Senators (4-1) exhaust the Rockets 79-69
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phizz (4-1) circumcised urapns 68-52
NLFFL: Philadelphia Phrenzy (3-2) revolted the Union Jacks 60-49

asdf: Montana Mush Cats declawed the Olney Ocelots (1-4) 150-89

A four-and-one week isn't much to complain about, and if I'm going to lose, might as well be the bottom-feeder Olney Ocelots. I'm in or tied for first place in 3 of 5 leagues now. Joe Jurevicius came to the rescue for the Senators and the Phizz. He may have earned a permanent roster spot while the other Seattle recievers are MIA.

08 October 2005

Fantasy Results -- Weeks 3 and 4

I used to be much better at this, but perhaps I'm doomed to biweekly updates here. Let's catch up...my teams are, as before, in bold orange:

Week 3
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phizz (2-1) deep-fried the Flying Hellfish 91-53
AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (3-0) rusted Balls of Steel 117-84
asdf: Iraqi Freedom liberated the Olney Ocelots (1-2) 124-119

NLFFL: Philadelphia Phrenzy (2-1) squeaked by Dayton Spirit 77-75
WFL: The Senators (2-1) clubbed Barbie's Bruins 98-82

Week 4
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phizz (3-1) resisted Coruscant Sith 109-98
AnyGivenSunday: Philadelphia Phalanx (4-0) penetrated Team Ramrod 117-96
asdf: Diversity Factor desegregated the Olney Ocelots (1-3) 145-114
NLFFL: The Crows crapped all over the Philadelphia Phrenzy (2-2) 105-77
WFL: The Senators (3-1) defused the Bronx Bombers 78-61

So, after four weeks, my five teams are a combined 13-7. Not too shabby. I never really thought Philadelphia Phalanx was all that good, but with Stephen Davis and Willie Parker taking care of business, they've been an undefeated monster. The reverse goes to the Olney Ocelots, who should be much better than they are, but Peyton Manning's early struggles have sunk them in this QB-friendly league. Still, plenty of season to go!

07 October 2005

Robbie defends Kate

The world's greatest entertainer, Robbie Williams, has rushed to Kate Moss's defense after she got shellacked by the British media for getting caught doing coke. Normally Robbie can do no wrong, and for the most part he's right, especially when he says she's never hurt anyone with her habit. I've got no problem with him or her or anyone else doing coke.

Kate's problem is that she just won a libel suit against The Mirror, which reported that she'd abused cocaine.

In an effort to clear its name, The Mirror went out and got some pictures of her nose-deep in happy powder.

You can't have it both ways, Miss Moss.

In other news, Robbie's new album, Intensive Care, goes on sale later this month, but not in the USA. He's given up on trying to break into the market here, and is rather glad he can walk the streets in relative anonymity. I can't say I blame him.

Still, I've pre-ordered the Intensive Care Special Edition with DVD as well as the Tripping 3-Track EP (the 2-Track EP is the same without the extra song) and Tripping DVD from Amazon.co.uk.

A little small screen talk.

Now for my best Larry King impression...

The Amazing Race 8 has begun in fine fashion. They found 10 mildly dysfunctional families of 4 to traverse the nation doing various tasks. I've always been a huge fan of this show, despite loathing the reality genre. It's smart, exciting, and doesn't pander to the audience with some of the more ridiculous of plot twists. They just let the race happen, and we watch. That's probably why they've got every single reality Emmy. As usual some teams are more interesting, likable, and loathable than others. The whole family thing is an interesting new twist, and they've twisted it back by adding a more family-road-trip aspect to the program. All in all, excellent TV.

Is there a better TV acting duo than James Spader and William Shatner? The two of them simply own Boston Legal. I would never consider watching this show without Shatner, and the interplay between Spader's slimy mercenary and Shatner's early-onset-Alzheimer's fading star is probably the best you'll see on TV this year. Shatner's always had trouble finding a niche for his unique brand of acting, and BL is probably the best fit of his career. He deserved his two Emmys (Emmies?) and will likely add a few more to his mantle before this show is through.

I can't believe Battlestar Galactica's on hiatus until January. Someone should be beaten for leaving me with that sort of cliffhanger. Even Adama's getting shot wasn't half as edge-of-your-seat as this one. I can't wait! What a quality TV show.

You know, before I met Barbara, I watched pretty much only The Sopranos on rented DVD and cable news. Now I'm addicted to no less than 3 TV shows (above) and TiVo a couple others, including Iron Chef America, Tripping the Rift, and Nip/Tuck. I contend that, finally, TV has gotten better than movies. It tells great stories about interesting people and has mastered the genre's strength of the long season.

Frankly FX has the best angle, in my opinion. They've got 3 flagship shows, Nip/Tuck, The Shield, and Rescue Me (which isn't as great as the previous two, but Denis Leary's worth watching). When one ends, the next season of the other begins in the same timeslot. What a great way to continue viewership. The Martha is learning the hard way that two concurrent Apprentices is foolish when there's only 13 episodes of each show. They should just run them consecutively in the same Thursday time slot. Not that I watch that dreck, but I can make an observation.

A little action adventure sci-fi western...

Serenity: 3.5 Stars. Caught this gem with Dr. Walters Wednesday night in Wheaton. If you go back 2 or 3 posts, you'll see that I'm horribly biased as I'm a huge fan of the original TV series. This, of course, can be good or bad depending on how the movie is executed. In this case, all was just peachy. Joss Whedon has put together an excellent space western with all the trimmings. It was funny, exciting, tragic, and overall a worthy continuation of the TV series. All the acting was top-notch, and the effects were certainly up to snuff, despite what some reviewers have said. My only concern about this movie is how audiences will relate to the characters, not having already spent some 15 hours with them on the small screen. Not that I care, I was just glad it got made. I'd love to see it return to TV; it's ripe for a sequel.

Rememberin' Sam

How time changes things. It used to be I'd feel guilty for not posting once a month. Now 10 days go by, and I start wondering why I'm ignoring the ol' blog. Not that I think I've got a devoted daily readership, but it's nice to know that folks who do drop by get a new experience with each visit.

Things haven't been all sunshine and roses lately. My great-uncle Sam Bushman passed away almost 2 weeks ago. We found out he'd been admitted to the hospital on Saturday 9/24 after pretty much not eating for two weeks. He was in the late stages of throat cancer and could barely speak. He wasn't conscious when we came to see him the next day, but it was nice to say goodbye while he was still breathing. He lived long enough to catch the entire Eagles-Raiders game, including the thrilling finish when David Akers kicked through the winning field goal with a torn hammy.

Sam was one of the original old-school press agents in Philadelphia. He worked pretty much up until the end, at 91, on his old manual typewriter. His passing got mentions in both the Daily News and The Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's Inquirer blogger Dan Rubin's piece on his passing.

Neat stuff, but I only knew about it all peripherally. Sam and my late grandfather, Lester, weren't very close despite their proximity. I saw Sam once a year or so at Passover or Rosh Hashanah. I was one of the chuppah holders at his wedding to Brenda Freedman (who attended high school with my father). Sam talked about his work as much as Grandpa Les showed off his artwork, which is to say never. He was always more interested in what his nephews and nieces were doing with their lives.

At the funeral, I found out that he had been very close with Brenda's nieces (given Sam and Brenda's age disparity, this wasn't too surprising), but it was very strange to hear tales told about an uncle that I didn't really know. Strange in a good way, that is. I felt a little guilty sitting in one of the dozen or so "mourner's chairs" when these folks who knew the man so much better than I were standing. I wish I'd had longer to talk to the nieces, but I had to get Howie back to the airport. Perhaps another time.