20 December 2006

Those Idiot Bastards at ABC.

Is ABC really telling us that they think reruns of bad sitcoms (and According to Jim and George Lopez are among the worst) are more worthwhile than episodes of Day Break that they've already paid for?

Putting episodes online sucks. Streaming video sucks. Let me at least download it and play it on my TV.

And to top it off, they won't even put the new episodes online until their normal weekly slot.
ABC has only two good shows (Boston Legal being the other), and they just killed one.
Nice work.

I don't know whether to be disgusted or disappointed. Day Break would be better served on FX or pay TV.


Foxtrot going to Sunday-only!

Foxtrot, one of only 3 newspaper comics worth reading these days (the others being Pearls Before Swine and Dilbert) is going to a Sunday-only format at the end of the year.


Guess I'll have to give Get Fuzzy a chance.

STEREO's First Images

The NASA/APL STEREO Spacecraft A has sent back its first pictures of the sun. Eventually Spacecrafts A and B will produce stereoscopic images of solar flares (coronal mass ejections), but for the time being, we have some pretty snappy images of big Sol.

Here's the first montage:

This is a mosaic of the extreme ultraviolet images from the STEREO Ahead observatory's SECCHI/Extreme Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope taken on Dec. 4, 2006, its first day of imaging. These false color images show the sun's atmospheres at a range of different temperatures. Clockwise from top left:

  • 1 million degrees Kelvin (171 A)
  • 1.5 million K (195 A)
  • 60,000-80,000 K (304 A)
  • 2.5 million K (286 A)
Check out the rest here.

08 December 2006

When bad decisions happen to good TV

I admit it, I watch more TV now than I ever did before. Most of it, I think, is because DVR technology makes it so much easier to watch TV on my own schedule, but there's definitely some damned good stuff on the small screen. I posted a year ago about the worthwhile shows on TV, and my list didn't include perennial ratings champs 24, Lost, and Desperate Housewives. It still doesn't. I also avoid all reality shows except The Amazing Race. I'm still watching Boston Legal, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, Scrubs, and Iron Chef America. I've given up on Nip/Tuck, but I'm eagerly awaiting the next seasons of The Shield, Rescue Me, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (which, since they added Danny DeVito, is ridiculously funny). I've also started watching Heroes, Studio 60, and Daybreak, both season-long serials that I typically eschew. Heroes is remarkably well-written, well-cast, and well-done...plus it's tailored for the comic book lover in me. Studio 60 is just captivating enough to make me come back every week, but if it went away, I wouldn't mourn its passing.

Daybreak is another story. The acting isn't always stellar (although the great Adam Baldwin has perfected the endearing asshole character), but the story and the gimmick is just plain good TV. It's far better than the other litany of serialized dramas that have been cancelled this season, but, like the rest, it's going the way of the dodo. And that's a damned shame. The least they could do is air the episodes they've got in the can, but it looks like I'll have to stream them online.


Nate "Dogg" Barlow and Nick "Famous" Cornish for 40% off!

For those out of the loop, Google Checkout is bleeding money to get our business. Nowhere is this more evident than at Buy.com. They're offering $20 off of a $50 order and $10 off of $30, and you can place as many orders as you like. The only caveat is that they have to be in stock.

For this most part, this is a Graphic Novel lover's dream, as most GNs cost around $10, and that's basically a 5-for-3 deal. Pretty snazzy.

But if you're a fan of the great Nate Barlow and Nick Cornish, it works out to a pretty decent deal on their premier DVDs:

Nate: Adam West's Tales from Beyond: $22.08
Nick: Psycho Beach Party: $30.82
Shipping: Free
Google Checkout Discout: -$20.00
Total: $32.90 plus tax, which is zero outside of California (I believe).

Pretty damned good. Now go abuse the deal.

Other Nick options:
Hometown Legend: $13.18
Code Hunter: $9.98

01 December 2006

Why I (for the most part) Stopped Going to the Movies

I love movies. I've always loved movies. It used to be my standard M.O. to go see a movie every weekend. Sometimes several movies. I've seen some of the most divine, divisive, and disappointing films to grace our theaters over the last 33 years.

Now I can't go to a movie without hearing some jackass's phone ringing, or witnessing some kid text messaging on their blindingly bright phone. When I went to see Casino Royale last weekend (my first movie since September), I caught a 2:15 matinee on Friday. I figured the digital set wouldn't be out that early. Wrong. In the row in front of me, some dude's phone rang twice before he actually ANSWERED it. Guess it would've been rude to turn it off.

Then, at one point in the movie the dude and both of his friends were all checking their text messages a the same time. Those phones are frickin' bright in a darkened theater.

And don't get me started on frackin' Vibrate mode. I can hear it when your phone is vibrating. Everyone can hear it. Turn off the damned phone. There is NOTHING, yes I mean NOTHING, that is so important that you can't be out of touch for 2.5 hours.

You might think that's not the case, but you're wrong. You have what's commonly known as an inflated sense of self-importance. Get some perspective. That email doesn't need to be returned ASAP. If it did, you'd be at work. If someone in your family is dying, or deathly allergic to something, I'm sure whomever is with them knows how to use an epi pen, or to call the paramedics. You're not going to rush home to give anyone CPR, are you? No, I didn't think so. Oh, you're a doctor? Well it's a good thing there are other doctors; a whole lot of them. Some are probably more talented than you are.

Give it a rest. Turn off your phone. Or, better yet, leave it in the car. That way when you "forget" to turn it off, only your leather seats have to hear "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor."

And kids, that backlight is BRIGHT. The only reason I'm not saying anything is that the disruption I would cause by calling you out would be worse than the one you're causing. Get out of the theatre.

Only one film I attended this year, Pirates of the Caribbean 2, was interruption-free. The theater had a very nice "zero-strike" policy regarding such things. Your phone rings, goodbye. You're texting, hasta la vista. Guess what? Great moviegoing experience.

Get your act together, theatres. It's already cheaper for me to buy the DVD than it is to buy two tickets to watch the thing on the big screen.

Rant over.

29 November 2006

I give up...

No more fantasy football results. I can't stand the misery, and no one really wants to read about it. Instead...

A movie review!

Casino Royale: 3.25 Stars. If this movie has anything going against it, it's 30 years of megalomaniacal villians. Compared to Ernst Blofield's dreams of world domination, Le Chiffre's debt repayment plan doesn't really measure up, but since this is really a background film, it's forgivable. Having said that, Daniel Craig is one badass Bond. Judi Dench is a magnificent M. Eva Green is lovely. The action was awesome. I'm hoping Jeffrey Wright gets an expanded role as Felix Lighter in the next film. I also wouldn't mind seeing a new Q. Solid film; bring on the next one!

09 November 2006

Weeks 8 and 9: Exercises in futility.

My Eagles lost again. 4-4 does not a playoff team make, but I'm always hopeful.

I was having problems with blogger 2 weeks ago, so you get a twofer today. Hopefully week 10 (a.k.a. the Eagles post-bye victory over the Redskins) will see my teams wallow a bit less in the mire. Barb's still got some promise, but outside of the Phalanx, I'm pretty much done for the year in all leagues.

Week 8
AnyGivenSunday2006: Don't Be Denied denied Philadelphia Phreak (2-6) 65-51
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phalanx (4-4) bombed Old English 117-86
WFL: Heir Jordyn crowned Barbie's Bruins (5-3) 83-41

WFL: The Rockets torched The Senators (4-4) 106-62
farleysfootball: Moshville Lightning struck Philadelphia Fear (2-6) 50-42
farleysfootball: Red Sox beaned Bookworms (3-5) 47-26

Week 9
AnyGivenSunday2006: Philadelphia Phreak (3-6) roased the Dragons 137-113
UIUCAAL: Tusken Raiders gaffi stuck Philadelphia Phalanx (4-5) 91-67
WFL: Barbie's Bruins (6-3) launched the Rockets 80-75

WFL: West Coast Ballers bounced The Senators (4-5) 82-74
farleysfootball: Philadelphia Fear (3-6) d-dayed Slaytanic Whermacht 45-36
farleysfootball: Bookworms (4-5) tined Moshville Lightning 49-41

Nice thing about Week 9 is the Eagles were on a bye, so they couldn't go to 4-5.

29 October 2006

Week 7: Quick and Disappointing

My Eagles lost, but thanks to a miracle 62-yard field goal. Crap like that happens.

What I was actually upset about is going 0-4 in my fantasy leagues this week. Barb, however, continued her tear and went 2-0 again, with one win, sadly, against yours truly.

Week 7
AnyGivenSunday2006: Dragons flamed Philadelphia Phreak (2-5) 80-71
UIUCAAL: Crevasse Shrimp peeled Philadelphia Phalanx (3-4) 91-67
WFL: Barbie's Bruins (5-2) mauled The Senators (4-3) 88-82
farleysfootball: Red Sox edged Philadelphia Fear (2-5) 49-48
farleysfootball: Bookworms (3-4) burned 2006 Skins Bandwagon 50-35

At least things can't get worse.

22 October 2006

Week 6: F*ck Rex Grossman. F*ck Edgerrin James.

So, there I am, 3 points down to the Anchor Bay Assassins, heading into the Monday night Bears-Cards game with Rex Grossman and Edgerrin James ready to go. No way I can lose, right? Grossman's one of the #2 fantasy QB to Donovan McNabb, an Edge, while a disappointment this season, can still rack up 30 yards rushing. Right?

Wrong. By the time I turned the game on, Grossman had a whopping -7 points, having thrown two interceptions and lost two fumbles. Edge had 40 yards, so I was now down 6. Grossman started playing fairly well in the second half, and then he threw his third interception. Minus 2. Arizona, up 23-10, was playing burn-the-clock, just handing it to Edge, so money in the bank, right? Edge fumbles. Minus 2. Grossman gets the ball back. Grossman throws another interception. Minus 2. That's 6 turnovers now on him alone. It suffices to say that I lost. To add insult to injury, I had Brees and his 28 points vs. my Eagles on the bench. Same with Reggie Brown and his 26 while Andre Johnson and his 8 started.

Plus, the Eagles lost after watching Brees burn down the clock for the last 8 minutes of the game (including 3 knees before the winning field goal).


Week 6
AnyGivenSunday2006: Philadelphia Phreak (2-4) denied Don't Be Denied 130-100
UIUCAAL: Anchor Bay Assassins slit Philadelphia Phalanx (3-3) 96-91
WFL: Heir Jordyn rattled The Senators (4-2) 114-88
WFL: Barbie's Bruins (4-2) clawed jazzysnastees 87-66

farleysfootball: 206 Skins Bandwagon mossed Philadelphia Fear (2-4) 50-45
farleysfootball: WVU Mountaineers burned the Bookworms (2-4) 65-48

This week in the WFL, The 4-2 Senators vs. The 4-2 Bookworms. Let the only man win.

13 October 2006

Week 5: Barb's on a roll!

Oh, joy of joys. A nice buttkicking is one thing, but building up someone's hopes and then dashing them against the rocks, that's a thing of beauty. Lito Sheppard returned Drew Bledsoe's interception 102 yards from endzone to endzone to lead the Eagles to a 38-24 victory over O.D. and the Cowboys. A thing of beauty.

Fantasywise, Barb went 2-0 for her second week in a row, while I went 2-2 again.

Week 5
AnyGivenSunday2006: My Opponent Sucks edged Philadelphia Phreak (1-4) 87-84
UIUCAAL: S-Boro Wolverines farnked Philadelphia Phalanx (3-2) 88-81
WFL: The Senators (4-1) censured Jazzynastees 111-78
WFL: Barbie's Bruins (3-2) torched the Benchwarmers 86-29

farleysfootball: Philadelphia Fear (2-3) eroded the WVU Mountaineers 38-32
farleysfootball: Bookworms (2-3) cut off The Third Legge 34-29

I can't believe how bad the Phreak are this year...usually I'm a force in that league. I need Hasselbeck to step up now that he's through his bye.

Also, I predict Eagles over Saints 28-9. Sorry, New Orleans.

05 October 2006

Week 4: Go Barb Go!

My Eagles kicked some Packer butt, but they pulled Westy at the last minute, so I went down in flames in the farleysfootball league. Barb, however, took care of business, and went 2-0 this week. I managed a respectable 2-2.

Week 4
AnyGivenSunday2006: Kona Loves Chargers zapped Philadelphia Phreak (1-3) 128-80
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phalanx (3-1) speared Alabama Hot Pocket 83-61
WFL: The Senators (3-1) splintered the Benchwarmers 100-72
WFL: Barbie's Bruins (2-2) mauled the Diehards 62-56

farleysfootball: The Third Legge spooked Philadelphia Fear (1-3) 50-37
farleysfootball: Bookworms (1-3) shelled the Partyterps 42-36

The only thing that really matters this week is that the Eagles beat the Cowboys. Everything else is static.

27 September 2006

First Jupiter image from New Horizons

A few weeks ago, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on New Horizons took its first pictures of Jupiter. The spacecraft was close to solar opposition, so the moons in front of Jupiter, Europa and Io, were leaving large shadows on the planet's swirling clouds. This picture was released yesterday:

LORRI doesn't have color capability, but Ralph will be sending back color pictures of the gas giant during the rendezvous/gravity assist in January and February. One thing I like about this picture is that it's the first image of Jupiter that I've ever seen that doesn't show the Great Red Spot.

26 September 2006

Week 3: Redemption

My Eagles are back. I stand by my prediction that they'll be 6-1 going into the Jacksonville game on 10/29.

Fantasy-wise, I was running on all cylinders. I went 4-0, and Barb clocked her first win of the sason, against my dear brother, who's now on a losing streak.

Week 3
AnyGivenSunday2006: Philadelphia Phreak (1-2) doubled Natronics 120-55
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phalanx (2-1) edged Underperformer 85-83
WFL: The Senators (2-1) Maclaned the Diehards 95-67
WFL: Barbie's Bruins (1-2) clawed the Beavers 77.1-76.6

farleysfootball: Philadelphia Fear (1-2) shelled the Partyterps 55-36
farleysfootball: Luckydawgs buried the Bookworms (0-3) 48-36

Barb had the misfortune of going against Matt Hasselbeck this week, otherwise she might've pulled out the victory. Still, a respectable showing for the Bushmans.

Online cooking tutorials

While I'm a big fan of my friends Phil and Derek's cooking site, Burnt Fat, I have been known to look elsewhere for inspiration. Today I bring you two examples, from the sublime to the somewhat horrifying.

Sublime: Jeff's Famous Pizza exhaustively shows you how to make a true Neopolitan-style pizza in your own oven. It may require a little engineering on your part, but Jeff talks you through it.

Horrifying: Dishwasher-Poached Salmon. Need I say more?

21 September 2006

19 September 2006

Week 2: Near Armageddon

I'm not even going to discuss the egg that my Eagles laid on Sunday. I'll just focus on the fact that they're tied with the Cowboys and Giants for the division lead at 1-1. Also, looking to the future, they play the 49ers, Packers, Cowboys, Saints, and Tampa Bay before the Jacksonville game on 10/29. They could easily be 6-1 going into the (thankfully) home game against the Jags.

It was again a horrible fantasy week, with Barb and me going 1-5 between us:

Week 2
AnyGivenSunday2006: Kona Blade Runners carved Philadelphia Phreak (0-2) 89-71
UIUCAAL: ChampCandyCorn carmelized Philadelphia Phalanx (1-1) 110-85
WFL: The Senators (1-1) dammed the Beavers 103-101
WFL: Sniveling Idiots stupefied Barbie's Bruins (0-2) 110-102

farleysfootball: LuckyDawgs gnawed Philadelphia Fear (0-2) 51-37
farleysfootball: Mark Brunell Sucks intercepted the Bookworms (0-2) 48-35

Gotta go make some roster moves and try to stem the bleeding. Next week, 6-0!

14 September 2006

Barb sounds off

Barb, on her return to the Olney voting booths Tuesday, was interviewed by the Olney Gazette. She commented on the fiasco that was the Montgomery County elections:

Barbara Bushman of Olney, another returnee, said, "It didn't help to get angry, but I was confused as to how this could happen. How could you can have voting and no ballots for people to vote with?"

Bushman said the morning’s problems made her late for work — and she didn’t even get a chance to vote.

"I feel better now," Bushman said after voting Tuesday night. "But now I'm thinking, how could this be a valid election when people couldn’t cast their vote?"
That this sort of boobery could happen just goes to show you that the only difference between a wealthy county and a poor one is that the idiots are rich.

My favorite quote from this morning's WaPo:

Andrea LaRue, a lawyer volunteering on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Ben Cardin, steps up to the counter with a question for [Montgomery County Election Board President Nancy] Dacek.

"Do you have a chain-of-custody plan for the provisional ballots?" LaRue asks.

"A who?" Dacek replies.

You can't make this stuff up.

12 September 2006

Fantasy Week 1: At Least the Eagles Won

One of the things about being a rabid football fan and a fantasy football enthusiast is maintaining perspective. I'm an Eagles fan. That's the most important thing. (Obviously, in the grand scheme of things, that isn't really all that important either, of course.) So the Eagles won and the Cowboys, Giants, and Redskins lost. It was a good weekend.

Of course for every yin, there's a yang. Between us, Barbie and I went 1-5 in our fantasy leagues. Here's the roundup:

Week 1
AnyGivenSunday2006: SupremeSilverSharpie overwrote Philadelphia Phreak (0-1) 99-86
UIUCAAL: Philadelphia Phalanx (1-0) brandted Captain Fantastic 76-60
WFL: Sniveling Idiots dumbed down The Senators (0-1) 79-76
WFL: The Conservatives taxed Barbie's Bruins (0-1) 94-90

farleysfootball: Todd Collins Sucks passed the Philadelphia Fear (0-1) 58-41
farleysfootball: Lucky Legges punted the Bookworms (0-1) 40-37

A poor record, but not discouraging, as all games were close save the The Fear, who had the misfortune of going against Donovan McNabb and field goal machine Jeff Wilkins. The Fear scored the fourth-highest total in the 14-team league, but they played the highest-scorer of the week. Que sera sera.

Onward and upward!

07 September 2006

NFL Season Predictions

Tonight it all begins. Let's break out the crystal ball...

South: Panthers 12-4
West: Seattle 12-4
East: Eagles 11-5
North: Lions 10-6
Wildcard 1: Giants 10-6
Wildcard 2: Cardinals 10-6

Playoff Round 1:
Eagles def. Cardinals
Giants def. Lions

Playoff Round 2:
Eagles def. Seattle
Panthers def. Giants

NFC Championship: Eagles def. Panthers

South: Colts 13-3
West: Broncos 11-5
North: Bengals 11-5
East: Dolphins 10-6
Wildcard 1: Ravens 10-6
Wildcard 2: Patriots 10-6

Playoff Round 1:
Ravens def. Dolphins
Bengals def. Patriots

Playoff Round 2:
Colts def. Ravens
Bengals def. Broncos

AFC Championship: Bengals def. Colts

Super Bowl XLI: Eagles def. Bengals

Of course, I'm biased.

How will the Eagles win eleven games, you ask? I'm glad you did:

Sep 10 Eagles (1-0) def. Houston
Sep 17 - Eagles (2-0) def. NY Giants
Sep 24 - Eagles (3-0) def. San Francisco
Oct 2 - Eagles (4-0) def. Green Bay
Oct 8 - Dallas def. Eagles (4-1)
Oct 15 - Eagles (5-1) def. New Orleans
Oct 22 - Tampa Bay def. Eagles (5-2)
Oct 29 - Eagles (6-2) def. Jacksonville
Nov 7 - Open
Nov 12 - Eagles (7-2) def. Washington
Nov 19 - Eagles (8-2) def. Tennessee
Nov 26 - Indianapolis def Eagles (8-3)
Dec 4 - Carolina def. Eagles (8-4)
Dec 10 - Eagles (9-4) def. Washington
Dec 17 - NY Giants def. Eagles (9-5)
Dec 25 - Eagles (10-5) def. Dallas
Dec 31 - Eagles (11-5) def. Atlanta

That'll do it.

Dear Mr. Fantasy...it's opening day.

It's my favorite time of the year...football season, and with football season comes fantasy football season. I've got four teams battling it out this season with my various friends, relatives, and associates. Here's a season preview and some brief analyses. Starters are denoted with asterisks, and bye weeks are listed.

League: Any Given Sunday 2006
Team: Philadelphia Phreak
QB1 Matt Hasselbeck* 5
QB2 Jon Kitna 8
WR1 Roy Williams* 8
WR2 Joe Horn* 7
WR3 Derrick Mason* 7
WR4 Drew Bennett* 7
RB1 Stephen Jackson* 7
RB2 Carnell Williams* 4
RB3 DeAngelo Williams 9
RB4 Jerious Norwood 5
TE1 Vernon Davis* 7
TE2 Leonard Pope 9
PK1 Neil Rackers* 9
DEF Philadelphia* 9

This league has a lot of starters (10) and a very shallow bench (4). Usually the ratio is more like 8:7. While I've got very good to great talent at all of the skill positions, due to the league's structure my depth isn't great, and on Week 7, I may have to start players on bye weeks because I can't afford to replace them all.

League: Farleysfootball
Team: Philadelphia Fear
QB1 Jon Kitna* 8
QB2 Steve McNair 7
WR1 Larry Fitzgerald* 9
WR2 Chris Chambers* 8
WR3 Keenan McCardell 3
WR4 Reggie Brown 9
RB1 Brian Westbrook* 9
RB2 Reggie Bush 7
RB3 Frank Gore 7
TE1 Tony Gonzalez* 3
PK1 Mike Nugent* 9
DP1 Lance Briggs* 7
DP2 Brian Dawkins* 9
DP3 Sheldon Brown 9
DP4 Karlos Dansby 9

I'm not all that happy with this lineup, but it's got potential. I've never played in a league with mandated defensive players, so this'll be a learning experience as well. My guess is they don't matter much, but we'll see.

Team: Philadelphia Phalanx
QB1 Drew Brees* 7
QB2 Steve McNair 7
QB3 Jon Kitna 8
WR1 Torry Holt* 7
WR2 Chris Chambers* 8
WR3 Andre Johnson 5
WR4 Matt Jones 6
RB1 Edgerrin James* 9
RB2 Ronnie Brown* 8
RB3 Reuben Droughns 6
RB4 Fred Taylor 6
TE1 Todd Heap* 7
TE2 Chris Cooley 8
PK1 Lawrence Tynes* 3
DT1 Philadelphia* 9

I love this squad. Solid to rock-star at all skill positions. I should be able to do some real damage here.

League: Woodbine Football League
Team: The Senators
QB1 Donovan McNabb* 9
QB2 Steve McNair 7
WR1 Chad Johnson* 5
WR2 Chris Chambers* 8
WR3 Derrick Mason* 7
WR4 Hank Baskett 9
WR5 Isaac Bruce 7
WR6 Greg Jennings 6
RB1 Carnell Williams* 4
RB2 Mike Bell* 4
RB3 Deuce McCallister 7
RB4 Fred Taylor 6
RB5 Jerious Norwood 5
PK1 Lawrence Tynes* 3
DT1 Minnesota * 6

Running back depth could be a concern for this team, but QB and WR are in great shape. If you've not noticed, I'm high on Chris Chambers and Steve McNair this season. I originally had Drew Brees and Warrick Dunn, but since Brees and McNair had the same bye, a change was needed. The wife had Eli Manning and Donovan McNabb and needed some help at RB, so I gave her Brees and Dunn for McNabb and Deuce McCallister. We'll see how well that works out.

Barb's in two of the same league's that I'm in. She did pretty well in the drafts, also. I'll be updating her performance here as well:

League: Farleysfootball
Team: The Bookworms
QB1 Kurt Warner* 9
QB2 David Carr 5
WR1 Terrell Owens* 9
WR2 Roy Williams* 8
WR3 Donte' Stallworth 9
WR4 Eddie Kennison 3
RB1 Lamont Jordan* 3
RB2 DeShaun Foster 9
RB3 Fred Taylor 6
TE1 Ben Watson* 6
TE2 Courtney Anderson 3
PK1 Rob Bironas* 7
DP1 Ronde Barber* 4
DP2 Adrian Wilson* 9
DP3 Deltha O'Neal 5

Personally, I'd like to see T.O.'s hammy bench him for the season and to watch Donte' ascend to the #1 spot in Philly. That'd be good for everyone. Barb got bit by the injury bug early with Dominick Davis bowing out, but since we only start one RB in this league, she was able to replace him easily enough with Fred Taylor.

League: Woodbine Football League
Team: Barbie's Bruins
QB1 Eli Manning* 4
QB2 Drew Brees* 7
WR1 Marvin Harrison* 6
WR2 Antonio Gates* 3
WR3 Jeremy Shockey* 4
WR4 Amani Toomer 4
WR5 Keenan McCardell 3
WR6 Donte' Stallworth 9
RB1 Shaun Alexander* 5
RB1 Warrick Dunn* 5
RB3 Samkon Gado 6
RB4 Derek Blaylock 9
RB5 Michael Pittman 4
PK1 Neil Rackers* 9
DT1 Miami* 8

Najeh Davenport being cut made her pick of Samkon much better, and Donte' as her sixth WR could prove to be a huge steal. I can't say I approve of all of the Giants, but then again I may be biased.

Let the games begin.

06 September 2006

Check out Robbie's Rudebox

Well, it's official. Robbie Williams's 7th studio album, Rudebox, will be released (outside the US, of course) on October 23rd. It will feature 17 tracks including the titular hip-hop tune, which is singularly mediocre. Most of the other tracks (including collaborations with the Pet Shop Boys and Bill Orbit) look promising, though. I've preordered the Special Edition, of course, despite not knowing what makes it so special. I suspect the standard bonus DVD, but who knows?

Since I've got to order from England anyway, I'm having them throw in the Sin Sin Sin DVD-EP I tried to buy in Italy/Greece/Turkey and this little gem I've heard so much about.

Robbie Williams - Me And My Monkey

The aforementioned Me and My Monkey video, for the claymation aficionados among you. The color's all screwy, unfortunately.

05 September 2006

Robbie Williams - A Place To Crash

The lastest video from Robbie's Intensive Care album is a quality claymation effort by Steve Edge, who made the great Me and My Monkey video awhile back. Enjoy.

21 August 2006

The end of my Top 5 Lists

I ported this over from my old Top 5 list page for archival purposes...dated from the day of my last post (Top 5 Fruit).

This was started after I saw High Fidelity. Narrowing any "best of" list to 5 ain't easy, but I've given it my best shot. Maybe some more lists will pop up from time to time.

Top 5 Fruit
1. Plum
2. Avocado
3. Rainier Cherry
4. Watermelon
5. Mango
Honorable Mention: Banana, Pineapple, Grape

Top 5 Movies of 2006
1. Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest
2. Inside Man
3. Little Miss Sunshine
4. Superman Returns
5. V for Vendetta

Top 5 Movies of 2005
1. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
2. Batman Begins
3. The Aristocrats
4. Serenity
5. Zathura

Top 5 Words in the English Language
I'd use these every day, if I could...
1. Ameliorate
2. Defenestrate
3. Exsanguinate
4. Catharsis
5. Diaphanous

Top 5 Awesome Albums I Don't Hear Played Enough
1. No One is Really Beautiful - Jude
2. thirteen tales from urban bohemia - Dandy Warhols
3. Welcome Interstate Managers - Fountains of Wayne
4. Sing When You're Winning - Robbie Williams
5. Drunken Lullabies - Flogging Molly

Top 5 Movies of 2004
1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
2. Sideways
3. Kill Bill (complete film)
4. The Incredibles
5. Finding Neverland

Top 5 Movies of 2003
1. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2. City of God
3. Whale Rider
4. Big Fish
5. Terminator 3

Top 5 Movies of 2002
1. About a Boy
2. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
3. Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens)
4. Y Tu Mamá También
5. Insomnia

Top 5 Movies of 2001
1. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2. Bridget Jones's Diary
3. Memento
4. Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain, Le
5. Black Hawk Down

Top 5 Movies of 2000
1. High Fidelity
2. Two Family House
3. Finding Forrester
4. Quills
5. Gladiator/Almost Famous (tie)

Top 5 Perfect Albums of All-Time
(where every track is a masterpiece)
1. Paul Simon - Graceland
2. R.E.M. - Life's Rich Pageant
3. The Beatles - Abbey Road
4. The Traveling Wilburys - The Traveling Wilburys
5. Chris Isaak - Forever Blue

Top 5 Movies of All-Time
1. The Princess Bride
2. Angels with Dirty Faces
3. The Empire Strikes Back
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark
5. The Godfather, Part 2

Top 5 Comedies of All-Time
1. Ghostbusters
2. Young Frankenstein
3. Annie Hall
4. This is Spinal Tap
5. The Big Lebowski

Top 5 Romantic Comedies of All-Time
1. When Harry Met Sally
2. The Wedding Singer
3. Shakespeare in Love
4. Bridget Jones's Diary
5. High Fidelity

Top 5 Sci-Fi Films of All-Time
1. Aliens
2. 12 Monkeys
3. The Abyss
4. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
5. Blade Runner

Top 5 Animated Films of All-Time
1. The Secret of Nimh
2. Beauty and the Beast
3. The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
4. Toy Story
5. South Park Bigger, Longer, and Uncut
Honorable Mention: The Iron Giant

Top 5 Fantasy Films of All-Time
1. The Dark Crystal
2. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
3. Time Bandits
4. Army of Darkness
5. Yellowbeard

Top Romantic Songs By Decade
(this may be getting a bit too specific, but just something I was pondering today)
1950s: The Sun's Gonna Shine Again, Ray Charles
1960s: (tie) Son of a Preacher Man, Dusty Springfield
Fly Me to the Moon, Frank Sinatra and Count Basie
1970s: Your Song, Elton John
1980s: (tie) In Your Eyes, Peter Gabriel
Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits
1990s: Sandalwood, Lisa Loeb
2000s: Unemployed Boyfriend, Everclear

Top 5 Books of the 20th Century
1. A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
2. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
3. Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
4. Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
5. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Interestingly enough, they all start with C.

Top 5 Literary Characters of the 20th Century
1. Ignatius Reilly, A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole
2. Alex Portnoy, Portnoy's Complaint, Philip Roth
3. Charlie Gordon, Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
4. R. Daneel Olivaw, The Caves of Steel et al., Isaac Asimov
5. Batman (Bruce Wayne), Detective Comics et al., Bob Kane

Top 5 Worst Movies I Ever Paid Money to See
1. In Love and War
2. Dead Man
3. The Avengers
4. The Blair Witch Project
5. Batman Forever

Top 5 Movies I Love, Yet Know Are Terrible
1. Oscar
2. Dude, Where's My Car?
3. The Re-Animator
4. Krull
5. The Phantom

Top 5 Television Comedies of All Time
1. The Simpsons
2. The Muppet Show / Muppets Tonight
3. Monty Python's Flying Circus
4. Seinfeld
5. Scrubs
Honorable Mention: Mystery Science Theater 3000

16 August 2006

Long Overdue Reviews

Miss Niki said she missed my movie reviews. I told her it was because I've hardly seen any movies this year. She said that's no excuse. I'm behind on the following five films (3 of which made it to my 2006 Top 5 List), so here we go...

Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest, 3.75 Stars: This movie was everything I'd hoped it would be: exciting, action-packed, well-acted, great effects, beautiful cinematography, and (assuredly) a cliffhanger. Other than it being a bit long (but not tediously so), I have virtually no complaints about this film whatsoever. I would like to update, however, my original impression of the first Pirates film, which, while positive, was less-than-glowing. After repeated viewings, both are masterpieces of action-comedy. I can't wait for the third. Oh, and be sure to stay till the end of the credits.

Superman Returns, 3.5 Stars: After all the hype, it became fashionable not to like this film. Frankly, I don't get it. This was a great superhero movie. It's not Batman Returns, but since Superman ain't Batman, I wouldn't expect it to be. In fact, as Superman stories go, this was fairly dark. First off, I love that they wrote off Superman III and IV. They sucked and are worthy of dismissal. Brandon Routh was more than able as Supes; Kate Bosworth (lovely, if too skinny, as a brunette) was surprisingly good as Lois Lane, and Kevin Spacey was simply awesome as Lex Luthor. Kayser Sose owns every scene he's in. The only character I didn't get was Parker Posey's annoying moll. She was but a pale imitation of Valerie Perrine's great Miss Teschmacher. Bring on the sequel. Then let's have some Christian Bale - Brandon Routh action in Batman & Superman!

She's the Man, 3 Stars: This update of Just One of the Guys (itself an update of Twelfth Night) was on a cross-country flight, so don't worry that I actually shelled out money to see it. The only reason I put my headphones on was that during the opening credits I saw Vinnie Jones and David Cross, a combination not to be missed. It turns out that it's a pretty darned good teen comedy. Amanda Bynes was quite good as the girl in men's clothing who just wants to play soccer. So was everyone else. The real thing this film was lacking (which JOotG had) is boobs. A movie like this needs boobs. Bring on the boobs.

The Da Vinci Code, 2.75 Stars: Notwithstanding the race riot which almost started when Barbie told the folks in front of us to quit text-messaging with their flashlight-bright cell phones, this was a pretty dull interpretation of Dan Brown's bestseller. Tom Hanks's hair was creepy. Audrey Tautou was wooden. Jean Reno wasn't in enough scenes, and Ian McKellen was, as usual, marvelous. Ron Howard is, as always, capable in his direction, but no more. I wish someone like Michel Gondry could've gotten the job and done the book (which was pretty good, but not a masterpiece) justice.

Annapolis, 2.5 Stars: I saw this on the airplane on the way back. This is a passable boxing film disguised as An Officer and a Gentleman. James Franco is the angry, brooding Brando-in-On-The-Waterfront-type who gets into the Naval Academy off the wait list and somehow manages to pass his classes despite being fairly dim and never studying. The film, overall, is watchable, though predictable. Jordana Brewster is ridiculously hot. Tyrese Gibson is a suitably pissed-off Marine (why a Marine is at Annapolis is never explained), and Vicellous Shannon is given his first decent role since Hurricane.

08 August 2006

Missing: From Dusk Till Dawn Trilogy

Okay, who's got it? I used to have the FDTD Box Set in my DVD collection. Now it's up and disappeared. Did I loan it to any of my regular readers?

Anyone know where it's at?

03 August 2006

It it possible...

...that the mass media of so many western nations, at the mercy of the 24-hour news cycle, has completely forgotten what investigative journalism is?

...that they are incapable of distinguishing lies from truth, and in the interest of being "fair and balanced," simply let representatives of warring factions dictate what is happening?

...that they are capable of distinguishing lies from truth, but are simply unwilling to do the legwork to do so?

...that they are willing to do the legwork, but have let radical terrorists intimidate them into submission?

It's a doozy, to be sure. Woodward and Bernstein may have brought down a president, but they were fairly (not 100%) certain that they were unlikely to come to any real harm in the course of their investigations. That's the difference between the USA and Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon. No reporter wants to be the next Daniel Pearl.

So while journalists have relatively free reign in Haifa, Netanya, and the rest of bombarded northern Israel, the ones in Beirut and southern Lebanon have minders and spinners, and are given carefully orchestrated "tours" of the areas bombed by Israelis.

It makes me wonder why supposed "news" organizations would even bother going to report from Lebanon. I suppose they rationalize that some news is better than no news, but broadcasting what amounts to propaganda is more irresponsible than broadcasting nothing at all. Especially when they could go across the border into Israel and walk around wherever they please. I suppose it all comes down to advertising revenue, which sickens me.

I say to all news agencies of the western world: get all of your useless, terrified, browbeaten, propaganda-delivering "journalists" the hell out of Lebanon, and tell Hezbollah that they're not coming back until they are allowed to report the news. If the world only gets the Israeli side of the story, so be it. At least they'll be hearing unvarnished truth. Maybe that'll finally bring some clarity to this mud.

26 July 2006

It's done.

If you'd like to see pictures from our Italy-Greece-Turkey cruise, head over to our gallery at PicasaWeb.

21 July 2006

This dude is my hero.

There have been many times when I see something particularly clever and thought "I wish I'd thought of that." I've never wished I'd thought've something more than when I was watching Matt's video at www.wherethehellismatt.com.

The place he's at in Ephesus, Turkey is the restored facade of the Library of Celsus. I was there seven weeks ago, and it is as amazing and impressive as it looks.

20 July 2006

I love my CR-V

This might be the best car commercial I've ever seen. I'm sure it's got some CGI in it, but I like to think that it's a total Rube Goldberg design, and since I can't tell the difference, I'll pretend it's the latter.

That Sin City Look

Man, I'm getting truly awful at posting...I want to get a recap of our Italy/Greece/Turkey Trip up (combined with a photo spread at the new Yahoo! Photos), but thus far I've been otherwise occupied.

In the meantime, here's how to give your own photographs the signature Frank Miller Sin City look.

21 June 2006

Watch MiTEx launch

While I'm not involved with the launch in any way, whether or not this spacecraft launches today (6/22) will determine how I spend the first few weeks of July. Watch it on KSC Realvideo Feed One.

You can also get a closer look on Feed Two.

And, while they're not showing anything worthwhile now, there's feeds Three and Four.

You can also do the ol' refresh every few second option at the KSC ELV Countdown Video site.

Also for the textphile among you, there's regular updates at SpaceFlightNow.

09 June 2006


So Barb and I are back from our 2-week cruise of Italy (Rome & Naples), Greece (Athens, Rhodes, Santorini, and Mykonos), and Turkey (Istanbul and Kusadasi/Ephesus). I'll post a trip review with pics soon.


08 May 2006

Stream of consciousness movie reviews...

So I saw a Jonathan Rhys Meyers double feature this weekend, and by the end, it got me thinking. It's clear that a single film can make the careers of several actors (The Big Chill, The Breakfast Club, Trainspotting, etc.), but does that mean that the casting directors of those films were just great identifiers of talent; or is it that there's plenty of competent actors out there, and it's just luck that they end up in a huge movie? I'm guessing the latter.

Match Point: 3 Stars. This film is basically Woody Allen remaking his own masterpiece Crimes and Misdemeanors in upper-crust London, just not as skillfully. The beauty of C&M was how he wove together the disparate storylines of people of various moralities in an exploration of human behavior and its consequences (just and unjust). Match Point turns C&M's Martin Landau into Jonathan Rhys Myers, a former tennis pro who manages to get very lucky in life and doesn't manage to fully appreciate it until he's gotten to the brink of screwing it all up. The first hour and change of this film is dreadfully boring to this American Jew, but my guess is that is because I'm not a WASPy Brit. WASPy folks probably feel the same way about the neurotic Jewish banter in Allen's earlier films. The movie really hits its stride in the last 45 minutes, and it was a pleasure to watch them. Scarlett Johannsen is as lovely as always, but doesn't really show the depth of emotion required for her part. Hopefully Woody can get a better performance out of her in their next pairing, Scoop.

My earlier ponderings was due to the appearance, in Match Point, of the ubiquitous Ewen Bremner, Spud in Trainspotting. The dude's everywhere...he's like the British Steve Buscemi...anytime they need a not-so-good looking skinny Brit, they go get him. Think about Trainspotting, though. In addition to Bremner: Ewan McGregor (world-famous), Robert Carlyle (slightly less so), Jonny Lee Miller (was huge for awhile), and Kelly Macdonald (not really famous, but damned accomplished. And I don't need to go through the casts of Big Chill and Breakfast Club because you know them all already. Rhys Meyers points out in Match Point that not enough people attribute luck as an essential component of their success. He's got a point.

Mission Impossible 3: 2.75 stars. This whole franchise has been a style-over-substance disappointment, and MP3 was no exception. Still, there's a place for nonsensical, big explosion movies. It was parts spectacle, fun, and ludicriousness, but I enjoyed most of it, despite the Bond-bad-guy-esque anticlimax. Anyone else find it funny that Billy Crudup and Philip Seymour Hoffman reversed positions from their performances in Almost Famous? Sort of, anyway. Also, Rhys Meyers, pick an accent, dude. I couldn't tell where the hell you were from.

Bushman out.

04 May 2006

DVD Review - THHGttG the Movie

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005): 2 Stars. So I ordered the original BBC series of THHGttG from Blockbuster.com, and they sent me this. It was in the BBC Series sleeve, but obviously the wrong disc. I told them and they shipped me the real one, or so they said. Yesterday, again, I got the 2005 movie in the BBC series sleeve. Clearly someone wanted me to watch this, so I did. And all I can say is, "Bleah." Lousy everything. Zooey Dechanel, a wonderful and lovely actress, is horribly miscast. Sam Rockwell is just flat-out annoying. Mos Def seems not to have any idea why he's in this film, and Martin Freeman, while actually pretty well-cast as Arthur Dent, has just got nothing else to work with. Skip it.

03 May 2006

In honor of the new player...some DVD reviews

King Kong: 2.5 Stars. Frankly, I thought it was boring. The first hour was really boring. The second hour had some good stuff (the brontosaur stampede was amazing, as were the giant insects). The return to NYC through the end was silly. The last line was awful. Naomi Watts is absolutely, amazingly beautiful, though, so the movie got bonus points for that. Not much more to say, except I expected more.

Mrs. Henderson Presents: 3.25 Stars. There's nothing wrong with a Judi Dench movie with substantial nudity, so long as the twain never meet, and while it was sketchy for a few minutes, they never did, so all was good. MHP is a solid period piece about a nude vaudeville show in London during the blitz. The women are lovely and buxom; the acting is good; the script is excellent; and the story was great. The set directors clearly had some fun, too, as easily half of the "outdoor" scenes are clearly supposed to look like stage sets. While that distracted a bit from the overall immersive effect of the film, it aided in putting things in context. I especially enjoyed the great Christopher Guest and Bob Hoskins, who both turn in excellent performances. Go rent it.

A New Toy

My beloved Cyberhome CH-DVD-500 died the other day. It was a good, nay, a great DVD player. It was progressive scan. It had 5.1 component audio out. It played both NTSC and PAL formats. It was region free (well, it was easily made region free). It played MP3s and displayed Jpegs. It only cost me $90 at Best Buy. It lasted a good 3-4 years and allowed me to play some of my prized foreign DVDs like Nobody Someday and the Australian versions of Serenity and The Dish, among others.

I almost got the same unit again from Amazon, since it's not in stores anymore, but I know there are some quality issues with the Cyberhome line, so I went local. The latest and greatest Cyberhome goody is the CH-DVR 1600, and what a goody it is. Besides having all of the above features (excepting 5.1 component out), it also plays DIVX- and XVID-compressed AVIs (so I can watch The IT Crowd on my TV rather than my computer). And as if that weren't enough, it has a built-in TV tuner and can record straight to DVD at several quality levels. It can also record from a firewire video camera. This makes me happy. It's also only $82.29 at BestBuy.com. You need to order it online, though, as it's $97.99 in-store, but since you can just pick it up locally, it's not really a hassle.

If you do get it, make sure you look at the model number on the box sticker carefully. There are 3 CH-DVR-1600 models: ZU (old), MU (newer), and MU1 (newest). Supposedly only the MU1 will play DIVX and XVID AVI files properly, and I can vouch that it works. As for making it Region Free...go here.

22 April 2006

NJGSS: A new lease on life!

I don't post too often these days, so you can probably scroll down to see what I'm talking about here, or click here and here.

The short of it is that a NJ State summer program for their best and brightest was defunded by Gov. Jon Corzine, and, as an alumnus, I was hoping it would be reversed.

Well it looks like it's going to happen, but not quite as I'd envisioned. According to the Star Ledger, of the $1.9M budget the program needs per year, they've managed to raise $1.7 million in private donations in less than a month, including a $200,000 gift from a 36-year-old NJGSS alumna. There's a lesson here about supporting your best and brightest that will probably be lost on politicians, but it's an immeasurable success for the human race, in my humble opinion.

I'd rather see NJ tax dollars support these kids in the future, but it's a start. Not a very libertarian position, I know, but if they're going to collect taxes, I can at least hope they're going to pay for something worthwhile.

Now, can you find me in this class picture?

21 April 2006

A theater, DVD, and cable review, all tied with a bow for your viewing pleasure

Lucky Number Slevin: 2.75 Stars. For once all the reviewers were right. This elegantly wallpapered mash of Pulp Fiction and Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels is long on style and short on much else. Still, it was a good time with lots of star power. Josh Hartnett turns in is best performance since 40 Days and 40 Nights. Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, Stanley Tucci, and Sir Ben Kingsley (sporting a ridiculous accent) show off their high-caliber talent. The real surprise in this film, though, was Lucy Liu, who, it turns out, can do more than look cute with a blank expression on her face. Kudos to her, and may she find more roles where she doesn't have to kick anyone's ass.

The Constant Gardener: 2.75 Stars. All of those critics out there who called this a "taut thriller" and other such spy-movie accolates need to be beaten. There wasn't much thrilling about this movie, and it certainly wasn't a spy flick (and that's what Barb and I were in the mood for when we rented it). Having said that, it was still pretty good, if dreadfully slow at times. It was a surprisingly English film for the Brazilian director of the phenomenal City of God, and while John Le Carre might find that a compliment, it's not really meant as one. The sort of it is that diplomat Ralph Fiennes's leftist wife, Rachel Weisz, is brutally murdered, and Fiennes tries to find out whodunit. However, it's not much of a mystery (your standard corporate bastards in search of profits above all else). This flick does redeem itself at the end, though, which borders on sublime.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason: 2.75 Stars. Considering how much I enjoyed the original Bridget Jones' Diary, it's surprising that I only managed to catch this on Encore last week, but in the end, I was glad I didn't pay to see this in the theater. The usual suspects are back, and as stereotypical as ever. Renee Zellweger looks far better with some extra poundage on her usually skeletal frame, but for some reason the script has her behave more cartoonish than ever. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are their usual seedy and staid selves, respectively. The real problem with this movie is that they had Bridget getting locked up in a Thai prison. While they made the most of it (it was more a Broadway musical's interpretation of a Thai prison than the real deal), it was still too silly for a purported romantic comedy. They manage to salvage the thing by the end, though, and cap it off with a repeat of the 1st film's Cleaver-Darcy fight to The Darkness's "I Believe in a Thing Called Love." There's also a Robbie Williams tune for your auditory pleasure. Perfect cable viewing.

17 April 2006


On the Netflix page for the Firefly DVD, another cancelled-too-soon TV show, Wonderfalls, was recommended. I ordered the first DVD, and I was totally blown away.

I can't believe that this show was even conceived of, much less produced. The lovely Caroline Dhavernas plays Jaye, a Gen-Y slacker Ivy League grad living in a trailer park and employed in a tourist gift shop at Niagara Falls. She also receives instructions from talking inanimate objects which she must follow to help people, and bad things happen if she refuses. The genius in the show is that everything she does (or doesn't do) causes things to happen indirectly. It's like a Rube Goldberg machine with people. It's also fun to watch a somewhat self-absorbed, semi-nihilist being forced to help people. Plus, it's got the remarkably versatile Bill Sadler as her father!

The dialogue is crisp. The acting is excellent. The camerawork is inspired. The effects are solid. Fox aired it opposite CSI and it lasted 4 episodes. I wish they had moved it to FX and given it a chance.

Fortunately, the 13 that were shot made it to DVD. DVD 2 should be arriving soon!

A giant leap in the right direction.

This Op-Ed in yesterday's Washington Post practically had me doing handsprings in my backyard.

For those who like summaries, Patrick Moore, cofounder of Greenpeace, is now endorsing nuclear power. He's finally come to the realization, as I did more than a decade ago, that nuclear power is a hell of a lot better for the environment than fossil fuel-burning plants. He discusses the zero carbon dioxide emissions, reliability, present ubiquitousness (over 20% of power in the US is nuclear), and, yes, safety. If a green can finally say that "Three Mile Island was a success story," which it was since the reactor contained the meltdown, the world must be moving in the right direction.


12 April 2006

NJGSS Letter - A response!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences being potentially defunded. I mentioned that I wrote letters to NJ Gov. Jon Corzine and State Senator Tom Kean, Jr., whose father founded the Governor's School program, urging them to support the worthy program that I'm an alumnus of.

While there's been no news on the funding status, I did get a very nice letter back from , who, despite his picture, is actually older than I am. It was obviously a form letter, but a very nice one indicating his support. Read it at your leisure:

The Philadelphia Inquirer also ran a great op-ed opposing Corzine's cuts. Jonathan Last makes the same point my dad did when I discussed it with him: within the public school system, "you're only special if you're disabled." It's a bit cruel worded that way, but special ed. programs are funded through the roof while gifted and talented programs like NJGS are few, far between, and one more appears to be gone. Perhaps there's hope, though.

Interesting to me, likely not so much to you...

Clearly I've spent far too much time doing math and not nearly enough chopping trees. I just realized that there are two distinct definitions and pronunciations of "axes."

Well there you have my observation for today.

04 April 2006

Michael Rooker looks terrible!

Slither: 2.5 Stars. My curiosity about this film was piqued when I saw that it (at the time) had a 90% score on rottentomatoes.com. I think this is a classic example of a movie exceeding its expectations, much like it fell short of mine once I saw the glowing reviews. There's a lot of good stuff in this film: fun effects, gory deaths, slimy slugs slithering to and fro, Nathan Fillion. But even Capt. Mal Reynolds couldn't do too much to make this film anything more than watchable. The great Michael Rooker also looked horrible even before he got infected. Fortunately he looks healthier on Thief, so I imagine they wanted him to look like Montgomery Burns, but I can't see why he went along with it. Lastly, Elizabeth Banks is hot. Real hot. So show some skin, this is a horror movie fergoodnesssakes!

31 March 2006

New Jersey Governor's School Program Defunded

For those not in the know (i.e. most of my readers), I attended the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences (NJGSS) 16 years ago. Technically that made me one of the top 100 science students in the state of New Jersey, but it's entirely possible that 1990 just had a weak draft class. Regardless, the New Jersey Governor's School was founded by Gov. Tom Kean back in 1983 as a program for the best and brightest of the Garden State. We attend a state university (Drew U. for NJGSS) for three weeks during the summer between our junior and senior years. At the NJGSS, I took classes in Optics, Forensics, and Quantum Mechanics and did a lab class in High Speed Photography where I took this picture:

It suffices to say that while the whole thing was a bit dorky, we were all dorky, so it was fun. Easily one of the best summer experiences I ever had. I even went to college with the lovely, talented, and now Dr. Jenn Best, whom I am still in infrequent touch with.

Can you find me in these pictures?

I can still probably name at least a third of those people. NJGSS was the last thing I did in Jersey before we moved to Baltimore, and it's always held a special place in my heart.

So imagine my surprise when I got the following email 2 days ago:
Dear 1990 NJGSS Alums,
You may have heard that the Gov School program is not included in the NJ budget. If funding is not received, the NJGSS program will be cancelled. We are asking for your help to rally the NJ legistators. Attached is a list of suggestions from the director of all of the Governor's Schools. We'd appreciate any help you can give us!

Needless to say, I'm very disappointed in Gov. Corzine. So I've fired off the following letter to him:

Dear Gov. Corzine,

While I am no longer a New Jersey resident, I grew up in Morris County and will always consider myself a New Jerseyan. One of the greatest experiences I was fortunate enough to participate in during my youth was the three weeks I spent at the New Jersey Governor's School in the Sciences in Drew University in 1990.

When I heard that the Governor's School program was on the budget chopping block this year, I could hardly believe it. The concentrated New Jersey brainpower at any of the Governor's Schools should be treasured, fostered, and held up on a pedestal as something that New Jersey does really, really right.

I'd hate to have to start referring to NJGSS as a program in the past tense. Your name is already on the school, Governor. Please don't take it off.


Stewart Bushman (Formerly of Flanders, NJ)

I also sent a letter to Tom Kean, Jr., a NJ State Senator and son of the founder which replaced the last two sentences with, "Your father started that school, Senator. Please don't be the one who stopped it."

Maybe a bit melodramatic, but let's see what happens.

A little HTML help here?

Okay, in the post below the form is supposed to query http://thepixiepit.co.uk/cgi-bin/scrab/WordWizard.pl with


Which it does. TESTERS can be of varying lengths, but is normally 7 or 8 letters. However, if you click on it, you'll notice that the perl script redirects you to http://www.thepixiepit.co.uk/scrabble/. The kicker, though, is that if you were to save the html file and run it locally on your machine, it works fine. I can't see how these two things are different, but clearly the perl script is smarter than I am right now.

Anyone know how to resolve this?

This is a test

Of the PixiePit Scrabble Bingo Finder.

New Bingo Search:

30 March 2006

More SoaP

From my dear friend, the lovely flaming redhead Niki, I recieved news of the new Snakes on a Plane FAQ from Cracked, which is much dirtier than it used to be.

The best thing about this film will be when this movie cracks $100M, and the studios have no idea why. They'll think they can reproduce this sort of buzz with similar films:

Spiders on a Submarine with Laurence Fishburne
Lions on a Cruise Ship with Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Wild Boars on a Star Cruiser with Wesley Snipes

Coming soon to a theater near you.

Actually, I'd pay to see Wild Boars on a Star Cruiser.

28 March 2006


To my wife's chagrin, I'm adding "Snakes on a Plane" to my standard conversational repertoire.

27 March 2006

A new joint...

Inside Man: 3.75 Stars. Color me impressed. I've always been ambivalent to Spike Lee's work. I really enjoyed Do The Right Thing way back when, but I guess I'm not really the target audience for the lion's share of his films. I do, however, enjoy a good caper flick -- especially a cerebral one, and this is a very good caper flick. The movie unfolds alot like an episode of Hu$tle, the excellent British con artist drama, in that a whole lot of seemingly unrelated events take place. Then the threads start to intertwine, some subtlely and some not exactly time-linear, as the centerpiece bank robbery unfolds. Really everything about this film is pitch-perfect, from the plots to the dialogue to the sets to the exceptional and sometimes jarring camera work to the truly excellent acting. I've been a fan of Chiwetel Ejiofor ever since Dirty Pretty Things, and I imagine this film will set him up to be the next Laurence Fishburne. Spike Lee also plays with the race card a bit, but it's so deftly woven into the film that it doesn't come off as preachy in the slightest. (Really, who's got it worse than the Sikhs these days?) The only negative I can ascribe to this excellent film is that it starts to drag a bit at times, but I bet come Oscar time, Spike won't be forgotten.

23 March 2006

Snakes on a Plane

Since they decided to add some more gore, nudity, profanity, and general death to this forthcoming cinematic masterpiece, I figured I'd mention it here. Wired had a nice piece on it in January. It features master thespian Samuel L. Jackson, so you know it'll be good.

An imagined scene:

Sheer brilliance. Good luck getting the wife to attend opening night, though.

21 March 2006

Bruce Campbell Marathon

Well I finally finished watching the entire Bruce Campbell movie marathon that led up to the premiere of The Man with the Screaming Brain last summer on the SciFi Network (thank goodness for DVRs). Here's the lowdown:

Tornado: As you might imagine, a bad copy of Twister (and that's saying something). It follows the basic Bruce movie pattern: disaster (Tornadoes), hot chick Bruce gets (Shannon Sturges), and Bruce. Bruce is a washed-out meteorology student turned stormchaser. Saves the day, gets the girl. Not his worst work, but pretty terrible. Nice to see former Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson is still working.

Terminal Invasion: Disaster: Aliens. HCBG: Chase Masterson. Bruce: convicted murderer en route to prison. Tried to be like a very low-budget, present-day Alien or Pitch Black, and failed. Cheesy effects aplenty. Again, watchable, but pretty lousy. Look for a pre-Daily Show Jason Jones.

Alien Apocalypse: Disaster: Bug-Like Aliens. HCBG: Renee O'Connor. The worst of the bunch. Awful effects (watch for the same two-by-four pile falling on like 10 people). Everyone associated should be embarrassed, except Rosi Chernogorova, who is really, really hot. And naked in Shark Attack III: Megalodon.

Boogeymen II: Masters of Horror: Bruce was just the host of this interview show featuring the best horror film directors and effects folks. Pretty interesting stuff, if sort of dry. I miss that horror movies used to have lots of gratuitous nudity. It was, truly, half the fun. Watch Re-Animator if you disagree.

The Man with the Screaming Brain: Disaster: Death/Brain Patch-up. HCBG: Tamara Gorski. This is sort of a SciFi-flavored mash-up of two Steve Martin films: The Man with Two Brains and All of Me. Bruce also wrote the script and directed it from the original comic book material, which he also wrote. For wearing all those hats, things worked out remarkably well. It was easily the best movie of the bunch (although some would call that faint praise), and was both entertaining and worth my two hours minus commercials (again, thank you DVR). Ted Raimi was also fun to watch as always.

Bruce maintains his mastery of the B-Movie genre, and I think he's got no intention whatsoever of attempting to take over the world. In exchange for this concession, I'll watch all of his movies (and episodes of Xena and Hercules) and buy all of his books.

The continuing saga...

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Just finished the eleventh tome in the Wheel of Time series, and I can say that, overall, it was a pretty good read. Or listen, actually, since I chose the 34-odd-hour audiobook route. It makes for a more interesting commute. RJ hasn't lost his touch, and he's finally sped things up a bit, although not too much time passes in the course of this novel. Fortunately, when RJ gets detail-oriented, it's still a fairly brisk read (unlike Dr. Tolkien), so I was able to handle the not-very-intertwined fates of (primarily) Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve (who gets the best scene in the book), and Elayne (as well as several hundred minor characters) as they went about prepping for the Last Battle by fighting a few skirmishes of their own. Precious few plotlines were wrapped up in this novel, but at least things are moving forward towards the finish in his next book, tentatively titled A Memory of Light.

I think it's a requirement of high fantasy that the supporting cast is more interesting than the main character...Bilbo, Frodo, Belgarion, Rand, etc...none of them are as engaging as their buttkickin', swashbucklin', spell castin', wisecrackin' associates. I suppose that's because an entire novel about Mat or Prince Kheldar could get tiresome.

Just an observation.

20 March 2006

Best argument for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray

Out of idle curiosity and a passing interest in the show, I was curious as to how many discs the entire Xena Collection was on DVD. There are 50 discs. That's five oh, fifty. Including the pilot, there are 136 episodes, averaging 44 minutes each, assuming standard length plus commercials. That works out to 120 minutes a disc if the pilot was two hours long. That means they must only use single-sided, single-layer discs, which is bloody insane. Those SSSL discs can hold 133 minutes of video. They make dual-layered discs which can hold 240 minutes of video, cutting us down to 25 discs. They also make double-sided, dual-layer discs which hold about 8 hours each. Now we're down to 13 discs with current technology. So why is it 50? So they can justify the price, which isn't really all that exorbitant. I'd certainly rather have a season on 2 discs (or one HD-DVD or Blu-Ray disc). I won't be buying any full seasons of shows until the companies start using the real capacity technology or the transition to the new formats take hold.

Then, Xena.

19 March 2006

An inauspicious defeat

I knew the Illini would lose as soon as they took the 3-point shot when the game was tied with a minute left. I hate the 3-point shot. I especially hate treys in college ball, where the kids are too dumb to realize that the highest bang for your buck comes from driving to the hoop and drawing the foul. Threes are glamorous, like the home run, but rarely do they help you win games. For every Bryce Drew, there are a hundred idiots who try to drain two three-pointers instead of three two-pointers. More than a hundred.

The game was TIED. Drive, draw, drain. Then make the free throw. Three points: the high-percentage way. Ban the NCAA 3-point line, or at least make these kids run laps in practice when they do stupid crap like that. Maybe that'll learn 'em.

V for Vine-Ripened Tomatoes

V for Vendetta: 3.5 Stars. I always loved the book this movie was based on, and when I heard the Wachowski brothers were bringing it to the big screen, let's just say that I was more than a little excited. Not that I'm a fan of their work, mind you, save Bound, but it's one hell of a story to put up on the big screen. As it turns out, they did a pretty respectable job of it. The story was adapted quite well, with most of the major highlights still there. I would've liked them to have included the remarkable subplot involving Creedy's wife, but you can't have everything. All of the casting was spot-on, especially Stephen Rea as Finch, and it's always nice to see Coupling's Ben Miles getting work. I think the only thing they did wrong was using the Guy Fawkes mask as it appeared in the comic. A still face in the comics is to be expected, but it doesn't work well in live-action. They should've left the lips open, like the original Shadowman mask. I'm sure Hugo Weaving would've appreciated it. Still, great film...likely to be one of the year's best. Go see it.

An apology, for now.

I castigated Battlestar Galactica a few weeks ago for killing off one of their best characters. I accused them of running out of ideas and jumping the shark. Then I caught the Season 2 finale. Too awesome for words. Perhaps I gave up on the show too soon. Let's see what you can put together next year...

16 March 2006

Common misconception...

It always strikes me as odd how few people seem to realize that the United States is not a Democracy, but a Republic. I realize that it matters very little in our day-to-day lives, and further I realize that many of the folks appreciate the difference between a pure democracy and a representative republic, but still it's semantically incorrect.

I suppose it's hard to really differentiate the two in a 10-second sound bite, though.

That's all. Discuss amongst yourselves.

15 March 2006

Takin' on the scammers...

Holy crap this is funny: http://www.ebolamonkeyman.com/soki.htm

I recommend scanning it after the first few exchanges...the pictures are, in the local parlance, off the hook.

14 March 2006


Ultraviolet: Zero Stars. I'm not sure I've ever given out zero stars in a review before, but this one truly earned it. It's putrid. It's awful. It's stupid, insulting, and otherwise indicative of why people (including yours truly) don't go to the movies nearly as much as they used to. When I can Netflix Season 1 of Deadwood and get 12 hours of quality television on an 80-inch 16x9 screen with surround sound, why on earth would I want to pay $10 a head to sit in a sticky-floored, cold, uncomfortable room being shown something as awful as Ultraviolet? Milla Jovovich has made a career of playing the hot buttkicker in the pretty good Resident Evil series as well as the not-so-good Fifth Element and Messenger. She knows better than to be associated with this rotting filth. The distributor should be embarrassed. The director should be flayed. Everyone associated should be embarrassed. Except Bill Fichtner, who can do no wrong.

Live, Free, NCAA Love

Looks like CBS has realized that they can sell advertising around a little streaming basketball game just as well as on the ol' TV. As such, any old fellow can sign up at http://www.ncaasports.com/mmod and watch pretty much any game this weekend (barring local blackout, but if you're local, you can probably catch the game on regular TV).

Sign up now and you can get priority when waiting in the 200,000-person line on Thursday.

Of course, I don't advocate doing this at work, but I'm not saying not to, either...

03 March 2006

NFL, NFLPA, CBA, LTBE, and ther acronyms no one cares about.

With all of the hullaballoo going on in the NFL regarding the future of the salary cap, I naturally wanted to know how my Philadelphia Eagles were fairing, especially with all of the choice free agents being dumped onto the open market.

As it turns out, they're doing pretty well.

26 February 2006

$260 Pierced Tablespoons?

Now I'm as happy as anyone for the newly-engaged couple, but one can learn quite a bit from the items Zach and Mandy have put on their Tiffany wedding registry. Dinner service for 24? No problem with that, I'm sure they've got a lot of friends. It's not even that exorbitantly expensive a pattern, if a bit stark for my taste. Mario Batali would approve, though.

Where I start to wonder is the line-item for 6 decanters. Not even Larry Miller could drink that much, and he's the only Jew I know of who ties one on regularly (yes, I know this will be a mixed marriage, but I don't see Mandy downing single-malt whiskey on a regular basis, either). Then there are the $260 pierced tablespoons. 24 of them. Twenty-four spoons with holes in them. The only use I can think of for spoons with holes is for sugaring your Absinthe. Sounds to me like the home of the happy couple is going to be party central.

So this toast is to you, the future Mr. and Mrs. Braffmoore. Let it be each other, and not the thujone, that drives you both insane.

Anyhoo, I thought that registry was random and entertaining enough to post here. Enjoy.

22 February 2006

Filthy? Check. Obscene? Check. Gottfried? Check!

Clearly Jillette and Provenza read my email (and, I imagine, the emails of many, many others). After seeing The Aristocrats (click to read my review), I had one wish: that the DVD would have the entire, uncut version of Gilbert Gottfried's telling of the titular joke.

The DVD is out. The joke is there, along with Saget's telling and two hours of additional filthy, filthy love.

Now who's going to buy it for me?

18 February 2006

Another solid effort by Berendt

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
Reading Berendt is like reading one of those old hypercard stories. He starts off with a central story, and then he just weaves from tangent to tangential character, occasionally wending back to the main tale, and he does it so skillfully and colorfully that it's hard to believe it's nonfiction. Another solid effort. I hope they get Cusack for the movie, as he did such as good job in the movie of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

12 February 2006

Ten Inches Deep

That's how much of the ol' white stuff we got last night here in Olney. I'll leave my measuring technique up to the reader's imagination. Excepting the icy mix we got about ten weeks ago, this was the first time I've shoveled snow since probably 1991. I can't say I missed it, but at least it was truly the best kind of snow...dry, light, and fluffy...made me wish I was out on skis. Barb's lucky she got to witness a quality snowstorm, as we only get them here maybe once every 3 years. Still, I'm glad we didn't get the blizzard they got up in NYC and Boston.

Roscoe, after some initial trepidation, seemed to enjoy frolicking in it; although not being much taller than the snowline, he took some convincing to get himself out of a few crevasses (admittedly, I tossed him in). Some nice pics:

Tentative Steps

End of the driveway...he ran off down the street right after I took this.

Surrounded by snow, all he could do was turn 'round and 'round.

Now what do I do?

You gonna help me?

Anyone out there?

Screw it! Here I come!

Full speed ahead!

11 February 2006

Glow in the Dark

The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein
This book would've been much better if Richard Rhodes had written it, but it would also have been about 600 pages longer, which is probably more of a treatment than protagonist David Hahn really deserved for his truly idiotic radiation experiments. I'd've liked a bit more hard science in it, but I'm an Atomic Age junkie, so that usually goes without saying. Good book, but I'm glad I didn't buy it. Thank you, Olney Public Library. Now if they only had We Almost Lost Detroit....

Epson loses its luster

My Epson CX6400 died today. I loved that printer. I was an Epson evangelist after I got that sucker, and then it just started printing a whole lot of nothing. Cyan and Black were nonexistent. Yellow and Red were sketchy. Fortunately we didn't have any extra ink cartridges, but these things should last longer than 2 years.

Dumped it in the trash. Gettin' a new one tomorrow. Looks like it'll be another Epson, but only because it's inexpensive, not because of the brand. I'm a printer free agent again.

Battlestar Galactica Jumps the Shark

That's the problem with being the best show on TV...all you can go is downhill. Last night Battlestar Galactica killed off one of their best characters, Presidential Advisor Billy Keikeya, so his girlfriend Anastasia Dualla (the lovely Kandyse McClure of Jeremiah fame) would be freed to romance Captain Lee Adama.

Whatever happened to knowing your audience? You've got a planet full of hard-core sci-fi fans watching a shy, slight dorky dude romancing an hot little petty officer and you kill him off? It was a friggin' low-level subplot from the original movie fercrissake! You worked so hard to set them up to fall in love, and then you replace him with a fighter jock?

I'm not really all that upset about this, mind you, but this sort of tinkering screams that they're quicking running out of ideas on the show. The shark has been jumped. Watch the decline.

07 February 2006

Why, you slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler!

One of these days I'm going to have to add Scrubs to my Top 5 Sitcoms list. The humor, the heart, the music, the acting, and the nouveau Parker Lewis zaniness makes it the best sitcom easily in the last 5 years. I'm glad they didn't cancel it, especially with tonight's Lando cameo.

It's the one that says bad m#ther f#cker on it...

So I read somewhere that Samuel L. Jackson's combined film library now has the highest combined gross (unadjusted for inflation) in history. Apparently someone out there actually went and did the math, and it's true.

I'd've thought Goldblum would've been higher on the list, but numbers don't lie.

Actually, numbers do lie, frequently.

For example, this list is only for domestic grosses, so I contend it's not really authoritative. It's strange, since his dataset includes worldwide grosses, but he chose only to list the domestic and average domestic grosses.

Odd, but somewhat interesting, as Anthony Daniels averages over $311M per film. Not too shabby an average.