Saturday, February 23, 2008

What's a Fields?

It's nice to back a winner once in a while. Especially when you're a fan of Philadelphia sports teams - or a Democrat.
So there I was, (geeky fan) talking to my TV set - "Don't get down, Paula, there's still 3 holes left." after she parred the 15th and, still a shot down with 3 to play it looked like Jeong Jang was going to win. Screw you, JJ.
Paula birdied the last three holes to win the tournament and make being in Hawaii in February even better than it seemed.
It's especially nice to be a fan of a winner when I had to (didn't have to) listen to a radio debate on WIP between most of their air staff over what is wrong with the Eagles, our football team. Lucky for them, overnight host Big Daddy Graham and morning host Angelo Cataldi were absent, because other than the screaming and over-talking, there wasn't much to listen to. The station and their web site wants us to vote on who was the "winner" in the debate. The real winner was Chickie's and Pete's, who hosted the event. It's a local powerhouse sports bar and they've correctly figured out that the best way to capitalize on the passion of the local sports fans is to suck as much money from them as possible and make the franchise a household word. Nice going, Pete.
By the way, it appears that The Fields Corportation makes video games, so it's no wonder that I don't know who they are. And Pachinko machines. Now, somebody needs to tell me what Pachinko is.
Meanwhile, it's February and I'm jonesing for June, when the girls will be at Bulle Rock and I'll get to spend the better part of a week watching my favorite athletes ply their craft on one of the great golf courses in America that's only an hour from my home. It's the McDonald's LPGA Championship. If you want to join me, I'll be there all week.
I'm such a geek.
Congratulations, Paula.
Now, I'll waste a good Haiku in February that I should save for June:
I am such a geek.
The girls are in Maryland.
I'll be there all week.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fearless Oscar Predictions.

The 80th Annual Academy Awards will be given out on Sunday night, and unlike previous years, this year I've actually seen some of the nominated films. Regardless, it doesn't stop me from having an opinion, because I'm an American, and I don't have to see something to know what I think of it. To wit, here are my predictions:

Performance by an actor in a leading role
George Clooney in "Michael Clayton"
Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood"
Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"
Tommy Lee Jones in "In the Valley of Elah"
Viggo Mortensen in "Eastern Promises"
If anyone besides Daniel Day-Lewis wins this award, there should be a federal investigation. I haven't seen a performance like his that I can remember, and when one recalls great acting performances, it should be about actors who gave us something memorable. His work is far too deep and emotional to ignore.
Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Casey Affleck in "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men"
Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Charlie Wilson's War"
Hal Holbrook in "Into the Wild"
Tom Wilkinson in "Michael Clayton"
Since Bardem has already won the Screen Actor's Guild award, I figure he'll win the Oscar as well. It's a menacing performance, if not a bit shallow. If I had a vote, I would give it to Hoffman, who lights up the screen when he finally appears in "Charlie Wilson's War". The film would be nearly worthless without him, which is what an acting award should represent.
Performance by an actress in a leading role
Cate Blanchett in "Elizabeth: The Golden Age"
Julie Christie in "Away from Her"
Marion Cotillard in "La Vie en Rose"
Laura Linney in "The Savages"
Ellen Page in "Juno"
Page is wonderful in "Juno", but they'll never give the award to a kid. Again, it's a performance that makes the film special. I suspect that Marion Cotilliard will win because the Academy often has its nose up its ass, and likes to remind us that they're more sophisticated than we. Now, we're all supposed to run out and see "La Vie en Rose", whatever that is. The life of Rose? I'd give it to the pregnant kid who wise-cracks her way through 90 minutes, but I'm funny that way.
Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett in "I'm Not There"
Ruby Dee in "American Gangster"
Saoirse Ronan in "Atonement"
Amy Ryan in "Gone Baby Gone"
Tilda Swinton in "Michael Clayton"
Every year, there's a sentimental old-timer who is given an award and the public says, "Oh, is she still alive?" Such will be the case when Ruby Dee wins the Oscar for best supporting actress. Hal Holbrook could be the male version of this distinction, but there are at least two other performances that would cry "foul" if he won. Amy Ryan is great as the drug-addled mother, and Swinton doesn't have much to do until the last 10 minutes of "Michael Clayton", which I didn't like to begin with. Overall, I think this is a pretty weak bunch.
Since the soundtrack for "There Will Be Blood" was not nominated for best music, I have no opinion on the winner for this award. It's a beautiful score by Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead), and I can't imagine any of the other nominees being close. It helps the film build its drama, which is what good music is supposed to do. The "Michael Clayton" soundtrack was nominated and I can't recall a single note.
"Juno" will win perhaps its only award of the night for Best original screenplay, and "There Will Be Blood" will win for Best adapted screenplay.
Pray that "Sicko" doesn't win for best documentary, or we'll have to listen to more inane dribble from Michael Moore. I'll bet you a week's pay he shows up in a tuxedo and a baseball cap. What a clown.
The Coen brothers will likely win for best directing ("No Country for Old Men"), although Paul Thomas Anderson's work in "There Will Be Blood" is hard to ignore. I'm always amazed that there are still places in the world where one can make a film that looks like it was shot a hundred years ago.
Best motion picture of the year
"Michael Clayton"
"No Country for Old Men"
"There Will Be Blood"
I've seen all of these except "Atonement", which I have no intention of seeing. Overall, this is a decent group, and if I had a vote, it would go to "Juno". But the Oscar rarely, if ever goes to a film that has that sort of appeal. Just as "Little Miss Sunshine" lost out last year, so will "Juno" this year. I suspect that "No Country for Old Men" will win, in spite of complaints that the ending is vague. We like our movie endings neatly tied up, and the end of this film leaves one thinking, and we don't like to think. It's a great film and worthy of an Oscar.
I didn't care for "Michael Clayton", and I don't see how a rather ordinary film about corruption, suspense and industrial espionage got nominated for best picture. "There Will Be Blood" is my dark horse, and if it won, I could completely understand.
They also give out awards for best animated short film and best live action short film, but I don't know anyone who has ever seen a short-subject film in a movie theater. Maybe, when they give out the awards, they could tell us where we can go to see them.
I'll be asleep long before the last award is handed out, and may skip the program altogether. I don't care much for the pomp of the TV show. After Jon Stewart finishes his monologue, I start to lose interest. I can read the winners' names in the newspaper and enjoy a good night's sleep, and I suggest you do the same.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Impending Doom

We're surrounded. Resistance is futile. Any minute now - it's 9:25 - the bastard snow will come and make our Friday commute to work a minor disaster. There's nothing more irritating than the overnight snowstorm on a weeknight. It means that I have to get up a half hour earlier than usual, which translates to actually getting up when the alarm goes off rather than rolling over and listening to the radio. Then, it's the slippery trog to the car to enjoy the wonderful experience of sweeping snow off the windshield, headlights and taillights; trying to get the wipers thawed enough to actually sweep a clean line and trying to keep the windows from glazing over with fog or whatever that crap is that starts when the car starts moving.
What adds insult to injury is that during the day it's supposed to change to rain, so the overnight snow is nothing more than a cruel joke played by nature. Clean it up, suckers, I'm going to wash it away while you're at work. The last time a cruel joke like that was played on us was the first time Barbara Bush got pregnant.
We'll be cleaning that one up for years.
Hey, I managed to turn a weather-related rant into an anti-Bush post. This blogging stuff is fun sometimes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oily to bed and oily to rise.

Oil Jumps Back Above $100 on a Texas Refinery Outage and Possible OPEC Production Cut
NEW YORK (AP) - Oil futures shot higher Tuesday, closing above $100 for the first time as investors bet that crude prices will keep climbing despite evidence of plentiful supplies and falling demand. At the pump, gas prices rose further above $3 a gallon.
It's a continual source of amazement to me that we, as a generally progressive thinking people continue to base our economy and life on such a fragile element as the production of oil. It's the infant child of products. Every little issue affects its production. Storms, spikes in production, limits on resources, holidays, seasons, consumer sentiment ... you name it. Did you notice the word "possible" in that headline? I didn't make it up, that was the actual story headline. They can raise prices based on something that they think might happen. If it doesn't happen, do prices decrease? What do you think? HINT: The answer is no.
Producers and price-setters use any and every excuse in the book (and some that aren't yet in the book) to make up a reason to raise prices. We, like the bent-over consumers that we are, accept the increases because we have no choice.
The people in charge of giving us a choice have given us none, because they are so deeply in the pockets of the producers that it doesn't make economic or political (emphasis on political) sense to find a (dare I say) alternative source of propulsion for these vehicles to which we are so encumbered.
Two continuing sources of energy exist. One is above our heads for about 12 hours every day and the other is so abundant that it needs oxygen to filter out its effects, lest we die. Guessed? The Sun and hydrogen.
It can't be the biggest problem in the world. It isn't even an issue to figure out how to use them because we already know. The huge half-million dollar homes that are being built could store enough solar cells to make their own electricity and the automobiles we carry our fat asses around in can be made to run on water-producing hydrogen. I realize I'm spitting into the wind here, but really ... is it the hardest thing in the world?
Those nutty bastards in Norway are building HyNor, a 400 mile road that runs the southern perimiter of the country with hydrogen fueling stations to fill up ... anyone? ... hydrogen powered ... anyone ... cars. Hydrogen powered cars. I know what you're thinking: You like the Goddamned Norwegians so much, why don't you go live there? OK. Who wants to come with? They have hydrogen filling stations in Iceland too, another bunch of crazy bastards.

That's why I scoff at the issue of "change" that is being spouted by the current crop of Democrats running for president. Neither of them are saying anything about real change. The kind of change that might make people alter their lifestyles enough to make the world a better place. God forbid. You don't know what change is, and if they told you what it was, most people wouldn't vote for them - which is why they don't tell us.
We like our giant vehicles because they're supposed to make us feel safer. Really. Do you feel safe when you're pulling out a fifty-dollar bill to partially fill your gas tank? Count the number of these bohemoths that are running around with one person inside. You're wasting your money, people. For all the use you get out of that giant piece of steel you could be running a much smaller vehicle at less than half the cost. Put a set of tires on that thing and tell me how you feel.
It's out of control. My car gets 32 mpg and emits almost zero flurocarbons - and I'm pissed. Why aren't you? Twenty dollars worth of gasoline (in less-than-average priced New Jersey) barely puts 7 gallons in my tank.
Would you like another answer? How about a car that runs on compressed air. You're Goddamned right, thrill seekers. Compressed fucking air. Take that, Arab oil bastards.
The same air you use to fill your tires. The air is compressed and used to power the pistons that drive the car. 200 kilometers (124 miles) on a tank of air. Once they figure out a way to put the compressor in the car, you'll have a perpetual motion machine. A car that runs on its own compressed air and spews out cooled ... anyone? ... cooled air.
Think I'm wacky? Sure you do. Visit the web site.
Watch the video.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Moon over Uranus

I can only imagine the chagrin that comes from the steadfast Google-searcher who, after typing in "Little League Coach pitch tournaments Hawaii 2008" stumbles on this mess. After comparing the current state of Deal or No Deal to coach-pitch baseball, who knows what kind of odd searches could uncover my little rant. I have no idea whether the searcher read through the essay long enough to realize that it would be two minutes of his life he would never get back or whether he found enough to make him a "returning visitor". I'd prefer a comment: Screw you pal. You didn't say anything about the Little League, now I have to do another search. I'll assume he's pissed. My work here is done.

Why isn't my Blogger spell check working?

In my sadder contemplative moments I realize how much I'm going to miss my cat when he eventually meets his kitty maker. I try not to think about it much, but since he's been extra-chummy lately I have little choice. It's as though he realizes his time is coming and he wants to make the most of our time. I'm probably reading too much into it, but I was born with keen analytical skills and a sense of impending doom. That's not a good combination. It's a foregone conclusion, though, since no one lives forever, much as we would like them to.
I don't leave myself to those kinds of thoughts often, but since he just turned 17, it's kind of hard to ignore. Plus, he seems to be enjoying my new mattress as much as I, and I can't help but notice that he spends more time cuddled up next to me in bed than he used to. Of course, I'd prefer a less furry two-legged female companion, but desparate times call for ... a warm cat, and we take what we can get.

Don't miss the last total lunar eclipse in the Western Hemisphere until 2010. You'll never forgive yourself. There's the sky chart for the Eastern time zone. If you're lucky enough to live elsewhere, check the NASA web site and load up your lucky time zone. Lucky for you if it's in Arizona, Southern California or Hawaii and luckier still if your skies are clear.

I can't remember the last time my skies were clear.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Another weak night for television.

That Deal or No Deal show has turned into television's version of coach-pitch Little League. You know the kind, where nobody strikes out and everybody gets a turn at bat. Tell everybody they have a chance even if they suck.
Since they've never given away a million dollars, they're trying every mathematical trick in the book to try to help their contestants get the money. They've tried 7 million dollar cases, cases with more than a million and even as many as 10 out of 26 cases with a million dollar prize inside. Still no big winner.
Tonight, they put 13 million dollar cases in the show and told the contestant that they had a 50/50 chance of winning. Makes sense, right? 26 cases and 13 with a million. The trouble with that fuzzy math is that the contestant only picks one, then whittles her way down to her case and the one remaining. The odds are always one out of 26.
The show was kind of cool when I started watching it, but tonight was the first time I watched it in about 6 months. I wrote about it a couple of times, and its Spanish channel cousin, Vas o No Vas. It reminds me of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire show. When I started watching it, I obsessed over it. I loved that show, but now when I see repeats on the Game Show network, I wonder what I found so fascinating. Every once in a while, I see the new one that Meredith Vierra hosts, and I don't watch it for longer than it takes me to guess one question.
By the time it was nearly 9pm she whittled the cases down to a $200 case and a million dollar one. What do you know, a 50/50 chance. She cracked and took the $490,000 deal and later found out that the case she picked had the million bucks. So, even when they tee it up and slow-pitch, it's still tough to beat human nature.
I suppose it could have been worse. Over on ABC they were running some nonsense called Bruno vs. Carrie Ann. Dancing, I think. Next on NBC, My Dad is Better Than Your Dad, and we're supposed to think it's good because it's "from the producers of Survivor". I don't think that's a good marketing technique.
Damn you, writers strike.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday at home.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania - President Bush on Sunday said Congress should renew his global AIDS program and preserve a requirement that steers money into abstinence efforts.
Ain't that just like Bush? Promote something that is socially impossible while making it look like he's looking out for your best interests? Tell people that they have to resist something that is against their most primal urges, while they would appear to be working toward a global good. That sounds a lot like his war in Iraq. Politically, money thrown at something is a good thing, but throwing it at abstinence is throwing it away.
If you're like me (and I hope you're not) you wonder what happens to those Super Bowl shirts and hats that proclaim the loser as "Super Bowl Champion". You are, right? Well, for a mere $40 (plus shipping) you can have your very own New England Patriots 19-0 T-Shirt. Click here and make your bid. If it wasn't for the sake of the 40 bucks, I'd get one myself, if nothing more than the idea of traveling to Boston to rub their noses in it. So, why would anyone bid $30 for a shirt that wasn't right? I'd do it, but not for 30 bucks. Ten dollars plus shipping, that's my limit. They're supposed to go to third-world countries, where they don't know anything about football. Places where Jim Kelly is a 4-time Super Bowl champion and Donovan McNabb didn't vomit in the last 5 minutes and Andy Reid's precise clock management led to an Eagles victory. Ignorance is indeed bliss.
Believe it or not, I watched the Daytona 500 from flag to flag. I also watched Annika Sorenstam smoke the field on Saturday and win the SBS tournament in Hawaii. What a life, eh?