Saturday, February 17, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
I also think that the cellular phone is a fad and will soon be replaced by cups and string.
We did a lot of work today. We chased the American Greetings people off of their own web site and later, they abandoned the video version of that stupid card from its spot on YouTube. Myself and others received page hits from their headquarters in Cleveland and e-mail from their PR people who tried to spin the card as some sort of comic satire. Once it was discovered that a video version was posted on YouTube by "blmountain" (clever) some noise erupted and it disappeared, like the Monster from the Tar Pits. Nice going.
A doctor removed two moles from President Bush's face on Friday. They were expected to be benign. If they're looking for a malignancy, they should check the Vice President's office.
I got an offer in the mail from Comcast today, promising me that I could have a digital cable upgrade for the same price as my analog for a year, with HBO and Starz included. Right. And my name is Albert Einstein. Testing, one - two...
I tried holding the letter up to a black light to see if there was anything written in yellow ink. Nothing. Then, I waved it over a candle to see if it would spontaneously burst into flame like magician's paper. Nope. I haven't called yet, but I figure that the phone will just ring ... and ring .... and ring.........
NBA star Jason Kidd's estranged wife has charged that he physically abused her and cheated on her throughout their 10-year marriage. Kidd's lawyer said that "the bizarre allegations will be proven false." That's true. The bizarre ones are false. The believable ones however, are true, and that's a bigger problem for him.
Speaking of basketball, there's a so-called "All-Star Celebrity Game" this weekend at the real NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas. I say so-called celebrity because ... well ... dig the names on the list:
Actually, I have no idea who most of those "celebrities" are, and I hope that isn't the best they could do, since ... well ...
...the game is in friggin' LAS VEGAS!
No celebrities there, I guess.
Thursday, February 15, 2007
That's right, it's a truck. This appeared in the Inquirer's sports section on Thursday. That's a man (kinda) standing next to it, reaching up to open the door. Reaching up to open the door. He is reaching up. to. open. the. door.
He's Phillies pitcher Jon Lieber, and he just bought a new house ... er. .... truck.
It's a Ford F-650 (what's the "F" for?). It has 47-inch tires, a 200-gallon gas tank and cost $200,000. It is either a sign of the Apocalypse, or the guy has way too much money. For the record, he makes about $7.5 million a year pitching baseballs that a majority of players find easy to hit. Optimists among us would say that it's a great thing, because we live in a country where people can purchase such things and enjoy the fruits of their labor. It's a status symbol and he has every right to enjoy his life.
The rest of us - heretofore known as The Sensible Ones, would say that anyone who buys or drives something like that needs to have what's left of his head examined. A 200-gallon gas tank? On a passenger vehicle? I cannot imagine the possible utility of such a vehicle, unless he's planning on taking it to Iraq.
There's a small part of the sensible me who is glad that baseball players aren't the role models that they once were. We have come to dismiss them (and many professional athletes) as either egocentric clowns who are only out for their own profit OR phonies, who lie (sometimes) and cheat (sometimes) to get more hits so they can earn more money to use to buy junk like this. Either one.
Whichever you choose, sometimes it's easy to dislike someone. A general rule of thumb is that you can hate them when they show up with a vehicle that could be used to carry my car. It is wretched excess, and it is all too popular. I suppose it will never go out of fashion, because when you pay someone so much money that his children and grandchildren will never know what a "late fee" looks like, they have to find something to do with the money they have left over.
Generally, It's either a huge truck or a case of drugs. I find myself having sympathy for the drug users.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
If you've never seen this movie, do. It isn't that it's a cinema classic, because it's not. It's so utterly ridiculous, and funny in its ridiculousness, that it's fun. It must have wowed movie audiences in 1957.
It features a tiny fishing village in Sicily, where the people are apparently unaware that there is a planet called Venus - hence the continual asking, "The planet Venus?" when they are told that a mission to Venus just returned. I imagine that there is no newspaper, radio or television there, since the United States was able to secretly send up a rocket to Venus right under the noses of Europe. There was no CNN in 1957.
There's a horny, chain-smoking astronaut chasing after a woman who is "almost a doctor", and specializes in dressing patients in clean shirts and neckties for their hospital stays. She has no compunction toward touching the diseased skin of the dead astronaut, then picking up her bag and leaving the room, presumably with the disease ready to spread to Sicily and beyond.
When the ship crashes into the sea, two fishermen pull a survivor out of the wrecked spacecraft. While they're making a fuss over the rescued astronaut, a kid steals an embryo and sells it to a local biologist for 200 lire - for which he pays the kid out of his change purse with something approximately the size of a quarter. Good deal, kid. A shame you didn't have Ebay.
The kid is apparently some sort of sea-urchin/orphan, who hangs with two fishermen and occasionally breaks into a Brooklyn accent while scrounging for alien cocoons. While the U.S. government officials are debating the whereabouts of the cocoon, the kid clues them in, and in rapt amazement, they decide to follow him to the trailer of the local biologist - after the astronaut enjoys a cigarette. Really.
Three days after the ship crashes, the military leaps into action. We are taken to the Pentagon (I know this because the screen says PENTAGON) where a General is saying that the ship has crashed [pointing at a map] "in this vicinity" [waving his arm in an area that takes in everything from the east coast of Africa to Hawaii]. The military is the only thing in the movie that hasn't changed in 49 years.
The creature changes size several times (both intentionally and unintentionally), and after it breaks out of a steel cage, the Italians try to lure it into a rickety wooden cart - the strategy being to contain the creature in progressively weaker structures until it is completely on its own. Gratefully, the film climaxes with a battle with an elephant (that's right) and a death-leap off the Colosseum in Rome. I don't remember how he got to Rome.
All of this takes place in front of two people from the military and fifteen media people. I was barely alive in 1957, but I can reasonably assume that a manned flight to Venus, a crash, rescue and hatching of a Venusian embryo would attract more than 15 people from the news media. My, how the world has changed. I only wish we had such a cavalier attitude toward space-related catastrophes around here. An astronaut can't even drive from Houston to Florida without a thousand people following her.
We stuck with this loser for an hour and a half, waiting for the big moment of sci-fi wisdom that sums up the plot and brings things to a nice thought-provoking conclusion. As the creature is lying dead on the street, the camera cuts to Dr. Uhl for the witty remark that will send movie audiences thoughtfully moving toward the exits ... Ready?
Gee, I don't know. Maybe because you had fishermen in charge of a rescue operation, let a seven-year old run around with Venus embryo, allowed a medical student to treat astronauts, kept a giant lizard in a flimsy metal cage, failed to transport the thing to the United States, sponsored a fight with an elephant and shot away pieces of the Roman Colosseum in an effort to contain a creature that you should have left alone in the first place. I'm just saying.
Immediately, I was ready to start scraping the ice glaze off my car, and meet the challenge of the icy drive home to the future, where I will need costly wiper blades.
The image of
In short, a fair match for the hook-nosed, thick-necked
Not at all like
Does that mean that 2,000 years from now, historians will be debating the image of
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Now, the forecasts are a bit less dire. There's a line of demarcation now. Most of the horrible snow will occur west of Philadelphia (as it usually does) while the rest of us get the freezing rain. However, that doesn't stop them from trying to scare us into running to The Home Depot for bags of salt and shovels.
Over on channel 6, the cartoon is telling me that there's a Major Messy Mix of some sort coming. I really wish they wouldn't use those technical terms. I'm not a scientist! Good thing the little guy is bundled up. What are his eyes attached to?
Luckily, the guy in the suit (with his eyes attached to his head) is also saying major mix.
The 6abc.com logo is covering up his snow-stiffy. It's there, though. Trust me on this.
All of these wonderful forecasts will be followed by scenes of salt trucks getting ready for the onslaught on Monday night's programs. Then, we'll be treated to video of anxious shoppers at local grocery stores stocking-up on eggs, milk and bread. When it snows in the Delaware Valley, we get an uncontrollable urge to make French Toast.
The big chain hardware stores will run out of shovels and salt. And, hey ... where are all those people who bought the snow blowers last year? For the money you spent, you could have gotten blown for real, and enjoyed it a lot more.
It's all part of February ratings sweeps, and the TV news guys are happy to scare us into thinking that the world is coming to an end. They're not all that concerned that they may be causing a mild panic in the streets, as long as we tune in for the latest forecast.
Tonight is the 49th Annual Grammy Awards, and the instrument has not been invented that can measure my indifference to the program. I'm what most people would call a music snob. I've never been interested in popular music - mostly because it's popular. It's easy to turn on the radio and be spoon-fed music that some programmer has been paid to tell us we like. As for me, I prefer to do my own research and find musicians whom I feel are worthy of my attention, time and money.
I came of age during the so-called "progressive rock" era of the early 1970s, and my favorite musicians were bands like Gentle Giant, Focus, Yes, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, King Crimson and Manfred Mann's Earth Band. They were acquired tastes, and the music was challenging to listen to, but to me, that made it so much better.
My Grammy hatred comes from the 1972 Awards show, when "American Pie" was nominated for Best Song of the Year. It was a slam dunk to win, right? I was 15 years old, and awards shows were a big deal. I wanted to see my favorite performers win awards. These days, I couldn't give a crap, but I was a kid. Anyway, the award went to "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", a song that was written in 1957, and appeared on Roberta Flack's First Take album in 1969. I figured that if it was really deserving of a Best Song award, it would have won either in 1957 or 1969. Why was it winning now? Roberta Flack is a pretty good singer, but DAMN - over "American Pie"? It's the landmark song of its time. I figured that the media was pissed at Don McLean because he would never tell people what all the references meant, and they were giving him the shaft by not giving him the award.
The night of the program, he performed "Vincent", and I vowed to never watch another Grammy Awards show. It's 2006, and every year, more nonsense is nominated, and they overlook better music that either is not popular, or is not paying the promoters enough money to play it on the radio. They should just call the show what it is - The Popular Music Awards - The PMAs.
So, The Police are re-uniting? OK, great. Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland can finally stop waiting by their telephones for Sting to run out of creative ideas and start cashing the checks. Just like the Super Bowl last week, this is just another TV show. It is not a celebration of great music.
It hasn't improved any since 1972, and I don't feel like I've missed a thing by missing all those shows. In fact, if a CD has a "Grammy Award Winner" sticker on it, I'm probably going to question my purchase, or figure that the award people have made some terrible mistake. These are the same people who thought Jethro Tull was "Heavy Metal" and created a category called "Alternative Music", and didn't put any alternative music artists in it. If they're popular enough to be nominated for a Grammy, they aren't alternative.
I'm very sensitive about music, and the hard work it takes to do it well. I hate when it is cheapened by stupid TV talent shows or ridiculous awards shows that fail to either award excellence or recognize great music.