Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Simpsons to share stage with Steve Jobs at Macworld?

Steve Jobs may announce Apple's upcoming iTunes video store partnership with FOX, and sources say Jobs will do so via a clip of The Simpsons opening title appearing on the big screen... Initial reports indicate only the first few seasons will be made available at the onset, no next day download like LOST (at least not yet).

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"The War on Christmas"


My favorite card I've received this season has been this video greeting from Lisa and Russell Arch:

http://russellarch.com/media_pages/waronxmas.html

Enjoy.

"Why Are Restaurants So Sketchy?"

That's the question Lisa Arch asked in the first post in her blog, which inspired this blog (for better or worse). Consider this post the sequel to hers.

So I went to a restaurant in Burbank the other day for lunch with a friend of mine. It's not a restaurant I usually like to go to, for two reasons:

1. They have valet parking at lunchtime, which I hate. Plus, this place is definitely not fancy enough for valet parking, so it's doubly obnoxious. Plus when they don't have valet parking, their parking spaces are so narrow that no car but a Mini Cooper can fit in them, so it's triply obnoxious.

2. They have this sadistic policy where if you order a burger, the waiter brings it, then orders you to accompany him to some fixin's bar so you can embellish it. Ask for a burger with, say, onions or avocado? Nuh uh... The waiter will bring your burger bareback, then bark at you, no matter what conversation you're in the middle of, to follow him to the fixin's bar. Fuck that. So I don't order burgers if I go. Or most often, I don't go.

But on this day, I went. And I ordered a Diet Coke, and I was having a lot of trouble with the straw. I mean, I'm working this straw, sucking like [insert colorful Southern "prom night" simile here]... and nothing is coming out.

So before I throw an embolism or something, I give up on the straw and pull it out of the drink.

And it's closed at the other end.

As in bitten down.

Chewed on.

EWWW!!!

So before I vomit in the fixin's bar, I signal to our waiter that a confab is called for. I point out that my straw was chewed shut, presumably by a previous customer.

He rolls his eyes in a sort of disaffected way and says, "Oh, I'll get you a new straw."

W...

T...

F??

I stop him. "Boy, I really would like a new Diet Coke."

He shrugs. "Oh." This possibility never occurred to him. "Okay."

Now, of course, the word, "Sorry" never crosses his lips.

One has to wonder where this guy gets this much attitude, by the way, considering he's slinging seven dollar burgers. I mean, he literally had an attitude of "I manage one of the finest restaurants in Paris" instead of "I refill ketchup bottles and put sawdust in the men's room puddles until I get enough for new headshots."

Needless to say, I was left asking Lisa's magical question: Why are restaurants so sketchy?

And I would encourage you all to make your burgers -- and pile on your fixin's -- elsewhere.

Defensive Moviegoing

So I don't get to the movies nearly as often as I like to, because I work a lot. (And because I'm busy tracking Japanese women's flatulence statistics.)

But this morning I had to go see King Kong, which was fun. Don't worry, I won't give anything away. And when I say that, you can bet on it.

Because, you see, I had to go see King Kong.

Had
to.

Even though I really didn't have time, I had to engage in what I like to call "Defensive Moviegoing."

D.M. is the necessary shields-up protection against a mass media that seems hellbent on telling you each and every key plot point of every new movie before you have a chance to see it.

Never mind the trailer that tells the whole story. That's the trailer's job. We have to live with that.

I'm going to focus on the critics and reviewers. (And yes, there is a big difference.) They ruin movies for no reason other than... I don't know what it is. Sadism?

I first noticed it when I saw Siskel & Ebert review The Crying Game. Now before I tell this story, remember two things:

1. I'm telling this from a very old memory, so it may not be exactly right, okay, Comic Book Guy?

2. Revealing that there IS a twist in a movie IS THE SAME AS REVEALING A TWIST.

Okay, so: Roger (an actual critic) reviewed the movie, careful not to mention that there was a twist at all. Good for Roger.

Then Gene mentioned that there was a shocking twist. (D'oh!) Roger -- I like to think a little exasperated -- admonished him not to tell what it was. Gene assured him he wouldn't, but "suffice it to say, it's a twist that will make you question your beliefs about sexual identity."

Gee, thanks, Gene.

Here's a typical, modern-day example. It's made up, but I'm sure you've read sentences like this one all the time in reviews:

"Sinise is fine for much of the movie, but it's only in the last act, when a plot twist calls upon his character to take a darker turn, that he really gets to let loose."

WTF??!

Or the more subtle variation:

"Hackman is effective, as a cop apparently helping Jackman track the missing gold."

Now what on Earth would motivate the reviewer to add the word "apparently"? Is it to prove to us that he's smarter than we are? That he really saw the movie?

Is he afraid that if he didn't add that word, that we'll see the movie, be surprised that Gene Hackman turns out to be the bad guy, and then write a mocking letter, "Hey Reviewer Asshole! Didn't you see the whole last half hour? Gene Hackman was the bad guy!!"

Trust us, Reviewer Asshole. If anyone writes that letter, you don't have to print it.

Maybe -- and this more likely -- someone just held Reviewer Asshole's head in the toilet in high school, and he swore then and there that he'd never let anyone ever have fun ever again.

I swear to you, I am going to start a "burning torches" club. And I need your help.

The next time a reviewer mentions that an actor is excellent as a "doomed" character, let's go down there with burning torches.

The next time a reviewer says any movie "has an ending reminiscent of The Sixth Sense," let's go down there with burning torches.

The next time a reviewer mentions how delightful such-and-such is in a "surprise, unbilled cameo," let's definitely go down there with burning torches.

Until then we'll have to practice Defensive Moviegoing.

He Changed the World, Two Ears At a Time


"They all said they didn't think people would be so crazy as to run around with headphones, that this is just a gadget, a useless gadget of a crazy nut."

-- Andreas Pavel, on the initial reaction when he showed his invention, which later became the Sony Walkman.

Today's New York Times has a profile of Pavel, who had to wage a decades-long legal battle for his place in history (and the royalties that go with it).

I would argue that the liberation of content from media -- freeing, say, music from CD's, as MP3's did, and as myspace continues to do -- will turn out to be a cultural development as transforming as the invention of the printing press. And the invention of the Walkman was a
huge first step in that process.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

In the picture above, the Project Runway contestants are told they will have only 30 minutes to sketch their designs, and Marla checks a watch only she can see.

I'm watching the show now, and every time they say "My Scene Barbie" all I hear is "Miocene Barbie" and I imagine a terrified Barbie being chased by wolves and rhinos. (Which I believe could be the next successful playset environment for Mattel.)

Did Budget Hire Carrot Top As a Spokesperson?

Sneaky Problem, Sneaky Solution


Okay, so the new video iPod (which you can tell that I love) has a proprietary video-out cable. Meaning, if you want to play your videos from your iPod onto your TV, you have to use Apple's $20 cable.

Except, as it turns out, no you don't.

You can use any camcorder AV cable you have on hand. (see the picture above; the key is those three black stripes on the plug) It seems all Apple did to make its cable "proprietary" was reverse the red and yellow plugs!

Those magnificent bastards...

Just switch those when you plug in and you're good to go and twenty bucks richer.

See the O'Reilly MacDevCenter for the original story and step-by-steps.

I Can Bring Peace to the Internet

And really that's what I'm all about.

Since there seems to be so much controversy about whether Rebecca should have been named co-Apprentice -- an idea that seems silly to me -- let me suggest the answer that will make everyone happy, so we can all go back to getting along. (or at least go back to arguing over Homer Simpson's ability to compute advanced mathematical equations)

Here's the solution:

If you think Rebecca should have been named co-Apprentice, then from now on, every season of The Apprentice, you should stop watching after the second-to-last episode, since for you there is no difference between coming in first and coming in second.

There. No need to thank me.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What I Love Most About The Apprentice: Martha Stewart


No, not fantastizing about Martha's daughter Alexis, who's sexy and quiet and funny, but also a little bit mean... which is hot.

No, I mean I love my new Tassimo Hot Beverage System, which I confess I bought as a result of seeing the infomercial-- er, I mean, episode of The Apprentice which featured this cool machine.

I've tried every pod and cartridge coffeemaker out there, and hated them all until now. Tassimo is different. (By the way, it's a lot smaller than it looks in pictures, because for some reason they always photograph it with teeny cups. It's actually the most compact unit I've seen.)

Tassimo is well-made, easy to use, the cartridges are clean and contained, and the variety of beverages is huge. In fact, I'm enjoying a delicious hot chocolate right now.

And imagining Alexis scolding me for some infraction.

Apprentice Finale (Semi-Spoiler)

What the winner did in the last seconds of the show was so historic and heroic in this namby-pamby age of everyone-gets-a-trophy soccer leagues that this person is even more my hero than he/she was going into the evening. I agreed with what was said 100% and I loved that the person said it instead of pandering. Fantastic ending.

I Blame the Wasabi


According to a poll by current affairs show
What Japan Thinks (cited in the Tokyo Times, via Boing Boing) 43% of Japanese women fart in front of their husbands in the first year of marriage.

What is most remarkable is that 12% of Japanese women never fart in front of their husbands. Never?? I have a feeling there are some cities in America where 100% of couples don't make it through the wedding without a couple of butt trumpets.

When People Tell You Movies Were Better in the '70's...


...they're forgetting about Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Now you can remind them, as this week the Sundance Channel is running this cinematic stinkburger for a generation that really needs to learn why I have never, ever made fun of Gigli.

This movie is a rare bird indeed: every single decision involved in its making is misguided and/or disastrous. One awful idea after another. Even the law of averages dictates that a few good things should have slipped through. Nuh uh. Watch this and be baffled at how so many things can go so wrong... so very, very wrong.

Even Steve Martin (in his feature debut), Aerosmith, and the great George Burns (who's saddled with ten minutes of non-stop exposition at the beginning of the movie alone) can't flap their arms fast enough to make this turkey fly.

And there is one more thing to remember as you watch this, if you've never seen it:

This was a BIG movie.

Back in the day, this was like King Kong or Harry Potter. In terms of hype, this was a huge movie. An event movie. A blockbuster, line-up-for-tickets, all-you-heard-about-for-weeks movie.

And when you see it now, you'll be amazed at how small a big movie can be. It looks cheesy, and the sets look dusty and underpopulated. The whole thing feels like it was made for roughly eight bucks in Bed Bath & Beyond coupons.

Watch this (preferably baked with some friends), and then tell your Easy Rider/Raging Bull friends that they can keep the '70's. There was a lot of crap in theatres back then.

In Case You Needed Hunky Santa Closure


Remember back in October when I posted about the Hunky Santa event at the Beverly Center? Yeah, me neither... A pumpkin bong is a wondrous thing.

Well, anyway, turns out they really did have this event. And someone won. And he's hunky. And he's Santa. And there he is.

Words You Never Want To Hear One Of the Giggly Fifty-Year-Old Women In Front Of You In Line At Starbucks Say To Her Five Equally Giggly Friends

"It's so exciting! What have you heard is good?"

Apparently He's Not a "Word Saying Stuff Good" Insider

"Why NBC chose to air two additions of The Apprentice in one season is beyond me."

-- Marc Berman, 12/15/05, Mediaweek.com's Programming Insider (who, as everyone in television knows, is neither in programming nor an insider)

I Know They're Happy To Be Voting, But...

"Polls opened at 7 a.m. across Iraq, and voters came in a steady stream."

--Richard Engel, The Today Show

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Naywatch


Remember when I wondered how NBC would handle the spicier ingredients of Elton John's Red Piano concert in preparing their telecast?

Well, when it came to Pamela Anderson, it turned out they cut her out at the last minute.

NBC promoted Pam's appearance, and according to the AP they sent the special to critics with the number intact. But at the last minute they took one last look and, well, snip.

Probably for the best. Sixty of Brent Bozell's assholes might have written an email about it. Can't have that.

Besides, a show airing at 8:00 should be family friendly. And a sexy woman dancing would detract from the inherent family-friendliness of a show peppered with promos for The Four Kings and The Book of Daniel... Now those were family friendly, right?

Look, let's face it, do the math: Elton John + Vegas + Pamela Anderson + Justin Timberlake + Easily Offended = DON'T FUCKING WATCH!

For the rest of us, click on the pictures if you'd like to watch a clip of the offending number, courtesy of theDigested.com (not work safe).

It Worked For Adam Sandler and Pudding


Apparently a lot of people are dumpster-diving for Wendy's cups, because if you collect enough of them you can trade them in for airline tickets. I was thinking those people were semi-losers... but the hotness of this girl tells a very different tale.

The Consumerist has been all over this story. Go there for details.

If You STILL Didn't See Last Night's Daily Show...

...you also missed an awesome and scathing report on the insane and time-wasting campaign the right wing has been waging against the phrase "Happy Holidays." Go to the Daily Show website and click on "Christmas With the Kranks."

And then do whatever you have to do to see tonight's show, which will repeat tonight and tomorrow, where they show footage of Bush's first-ever encounter with unscreened citizens asking unplanned questions. It is PRICELESS.

America OnMine? Yougle? Ask Meves?

Ever want your own search engine? Can't imagine why you would? Well, apparently you've never fantasized about women searching for "sexiest man alive" and having only your name come up over and over.

Anyway, Amazon is now making the personal search engine dream a reality, according to eweek. All for as little as $1 a day.

Remember: Saddam Hussein is On Trial For Crimes He Committed Starting in 1982

And this picture of him and Rumsfeld was taken in December, 1983. Just always remember that.

"Just To Reiterate: America is Now Less Progressive Than South Africa"

If you didn't see The Daily Show's hilarious take on Elton John, gay marriage and Ford Motors, you can still TiVo it... otherwise Crooks and Liars has you covered.

Novak Cracks, Fingers Prez, I Tell Ya, Yeah, See

Robert Novak, long known to be a scumbag, can now add twitchy rat and weasel to his resume. It will be interesting to see if George W. Bush can be obliged to sit in jail as Judith Miller did, and if executive privilege trumps a reporter's.

From Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

Newspaper columnist Robert Novak is still not naming his source in the Valerie Plame affair, but he says he is pretty sure the name is no mystery to President Bush. "I'm confident the president knows who the source is," Novak told a luncheon audience at the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh on Tuesday. "I'd be amazed if he doesn't." "So I say, 'Don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is.' " http://www.newsobserver.com/722/story/377675.html

And Yet When I Steal Someone's Bra It's a Big Deal

A Chinese man who fell in love with his neighbor and repeatedly broke into her home, on one occasion stealing her bra, has been pardoned by a Chinese court.

In fairness to the lovestruck fool, while he was in there, he also washed her dishes, did her laundry, left her snacks and even fixed her computer, according to Reuters/Yahoo.

By the way, when he was caught by police, the man admitted that although he was secretly in love with the woman, and could not muster up the courage to speak to her, he still had placed a bet with his roommate that he would win her heart.

Yes, that's right: China, apparently, is a gigantic Kate Hudson movie.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Arrested Still Developing


Variety reports that ABC and Showtime are both in "serious" talks to pick up Arrested Development.

Lucille and Buster Weaver?

I'm in the middle of watching The Amazing Race and I'm starting to think the relationship between Ma Weaver and that repulsive son of hers, Rolly, is sicker than we thought.

She keeps talking about how he fills the role of "man of the house" and how he succeeds at everything he tries and how he shits ice cream and farts rainbows, and how it was his idea to slice the bread before they put it in the wrapper, and how he raced a locomotive and rassled a dinosaur and--

Well, you get the idea.

She just seems a little unnaturally over-the-moon, doesn't she? Especially given that he's a sociopathic little creep who thinks "Montreal" is "Montel"?

Konfabulator is All Yahoo Now

A couple of weeks ago I raved about Konfabulator's Widget software for Mac and Windows, which Yahoo had bought. Well, apparently Yahoo has updated it and rechristened it "Yahoo Widget Engine 3.0"... which isn't a terribly catchy name, but the good news is that Konfabulator's kludgy website has been cleaned up by Yahoo to make widgets easier to find and try.

It's fun and it's free. Check it out at widgets.yahoo.com.

Am I the Only One Who Remembers Bush Sneering at "Nation-Building"?!

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a different reality from everyone else.

For example, I have that feeling every time I see Bush taking credit for the free elections in Iraq, and saying the war is worth it, because people there are voting... because Democracy is spreading. When he points with pride at the image of Iraqis with their ink-stained fingers in the air.

Thank goodness someone somewhere actually transcribes events and writes them down, so we have a record that they actually did happen.

Remember the first Gore-Bush debate? Where afterward everyone made fun of Al Gore talking about a "lockbox"?

Funny. I didn't make fun of Al Gore.

I was instead struck by Bush's creepy grin, as he whined about nation-building.

Here's the pertinent part of that night's transcript, from CNN.com:

BUSH: But let me say this to you [regarding Serbia]: I wouldn't use force. I wouldn't use force.

JIM LEHRER: You wouldn't use force?

BUSH: No.

LEHRER: Why not?

BUSH: Because it's not in our national interest to use force in this case. I would keep pressure. I would use diplomacy. There's a difference between what the president did, who I supported, [that's a lie] in Kosovo and this. And it's up for the people in this region to figure out how to take control of their country.

LEHRER: New question. How would you go about, as president, deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force? Generally.

BUSH: Well, if it's in our vital national interests. And that means whether or not our territory -- our territory is threatened, our people could be harmed, whether or not our alliances -- our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force.

Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear, whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be.

Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win, whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped.

And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy.

I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops.

The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation-building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders...

[I]f we don't do something quickly, we don't have a clearer vision of the military, if we don't stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we're going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I'm going to prevent that. I'm going to rebuild our military power. It's one of the major priorities of my administration.

--

Now, obviously the boldface was added by me.

This was supposed to be about WMD. No, it was about 9/11. No, it was about Saddam torturing his people. No, it's about spreading Democracy. That's it.

I want you to remember all of this tomorrow, when they show you those inky fingers and ask you to be proud of our accomplishments.

Our accomplishments in nation-building, all at a terrible cost in American and Iraqi lives.

And I want you to remember: it's easy to score a touchdown when you keep moving the goalposts.

A Blog Moral Dilemma

So I wrote a scathing post for the blog about something people do that I
hate... But before I could post it, coincidentally someone I know DID it on
his/her blog!

So I spiked the post, rather than appear to be slamming this person, even
though I legitimately DID write my post without having seen this other
post... And even though this thing this person did really DOES irritate me.

Oh well...

Anyway, I wonder if anyone reading this is a blogger who's run into a
similar situation, on either side, and how you've handled it?

They Could Have Called It "RadioCastle" or "RadioPalace"...

...but as a friend of mine used to point out they called it "RadioShack."

Which tells you something about their lofty goals for the place.

Which is why I generally avoid it. I think the last time I spent more than two minutes in a RadioShack was -- I swear to you -- the day of the O.J. Simpson Bronco chase.

I'd gone in to buy something, and there it was, on ten TV's. Ten shitty TV's. But I stood there, mesmerized, waiting for it to end. When it became clear this was going to go on for some time, I hightailed it to my own apartment to watch in full, glorious, non-Shack color.

We all know why you go into RadioShack: to buy something odd. A strange cable, or unusual battery.

Or just to marvel at the Soviet-era gizmos on display. Phones with dials! Crank-up-dolls! Asbestos toys! It's the Land That Tech Time Forgot.

Today I needed an odd piece of hardware for an odd project (don't ask). RadioShack part number 274-298.

I walked into my local Shack and asked the smiling dunderhead behind the counter for part number 274-298. He, of course, being a trained RadioShack employee leaped into action and said, "What?"

I said, "Do you have part number 274-298?" I explained that it was a cell phone headset jack. Part number 274-298.

He nodded and led me to a nearby shelf and handed me a set of headphones. I explained that this wasn't even close.

I resisted the impulse to point out that RadioShack had gone to a great deal of trouble to number these parts, and that his seat-of-the-pants approach to inventory couldn't possibly be in the Shack handbook.

Instead I just offered the part number again, and looked hopefully at the computers... As if to say, there must be a way to put these numbers into that machine and find out if you have this product... Right? Please?

He just stared. So I repeated the numbers: 274-298

Now those of you who know me should know that I am not someone who blows his own horn. So when I say that I have been blessed with a loud, clear speaking voice, you can take me at my word.

Still, those of you who guessed that his next word was "What?" can go to the head of the class.

So I repeated the part number, which by now had become my shibboleth: 274-298.

And here's where things get really Hunter Thompson. Or Kafka.

He turns to a guy on the other side of the store and yells, "This gentleman is looking for part number 302-303?"

And I quickly go, "274-298!"

And he corrects himself: "272-303!"

And I swear to you, Thing Two looks up from his hoagie at Thing One and goes, "Headphones? Right behind you."

(Now in fairness to all concerned, if I didn't have a blog, I would have walked out long before this. But I was memorizing the whole demented experience for you, gentle reader.)

The point is, after involving all of Team Shack, it was determined that the part I was looking for wasn't in this store's carefully-catalogued inventory... which as any RadioShack shopper knows consists of several torn cardboard boxes on the floor of one of the aisles which you are welcome to paw through if you like.

And, in a final little Shack fillip, as I left I realized there was one thing in this world I needed that was slightly RadioShacky:

A 9-volt battery.

So I asked my dunderhead for one.

And he reached, of course, for the RadioShack brand. I stopped him and said, "Yeah, um, no offense, and I'm sure there's no difference, but do you have any, like, Energizer or Duracell batteries?"

He nodded and smiled. "No problem, I understand completely."

And handed me (I swear to you) a RadioShack brand EnerCell battery.

For the Victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita

Amazon has made it easy to give this holiday season to charities like Habitat for Humanity, The American Red Cross and Unicef. Visit Amazon's Holiday A-List site for ways you can help and holiday messages from celebrities like Paul McCartney, Elton John, Faith Hill, and the man himself, President Clinton.

Note to the News Media: GET TO IT!

Hector Salazar of La Canada likes to eat pudding. Chocolate is his favorite, but he also likes vanilla or butterscotch.

"It's like, something I enjoy for dessert, or just as a snack. I don't know, it's like it's sweet, but it's also filling, you know?" says Salazar, who sometimes shares the pudding with his children, but as often as not sneaks down for a late-night pudding fix. "I just love pudding."

Hector Salazar is not alone. A recent survey by the National Pudding Retailers and Growers indicates that Americans are consuming more pudding than ever before...

--

The paragraphs above are made-up, but ones just like them seem to begin half the stories in the L.A. Times.

They're the ones you skip through to get to the part of the story you want to read. (Of course you pause to wonder how on Earth the reporter decided to focus on Hector Salazar, out of all the pudding-loving schmucks in the world.)

Then there's the following scenario, which is played out every morning on every morning show and then every afternoon and night on every local news show.

Here's a completely fake news story which will, unfortunately, sound all too familiar:

--

ANCHOR: And now a story we've made you wait for long enough. [chuckles] It's about sitting on the phone, on hold, waiting for the person you want to talk to to come on the line. Everyone hates it, everyone complains about it. But one man has had enough, and he's doing something about it. Here's Kai Fong Morales with more:

KAI: It's something we all hate:

SHOT OF PHONE: "Please hold. Someone will be with you shortly."

KAI: Something we are all sick of.

SHOT OF PHONE: "Your call is important to us."

KAI: Sitting...

SHOT OF PHONE: "Hold on..."

SHOT OF PHONE: "Your call is next..."

SHOT OF PHONE: "Please hold..."

KAI: ...on hold.

SCHMUCK ON THE STREET: It's so annoying!

GIGGLY GIRL SCHMUCK ON THE STREET: I hate it, you just sit there and sit there...

OLDER BLACK WOMAN SCHMUCK ON STREET: It's a waste of my valuable time.

KAI: But now there's one man who says he has the answer.

---

Okay, see what just happened there? It took Kai all that time to tell us WHAT THE ANCHOR ALREADY TOLD US!

It is, after all, the reason we started watching the report in the first place.

Chances are it's the reason we watched the stupid news to begin with: the promo we saw about the guy who has a way to not sit on hold. (It definitely was NOT to see the usual crap the local news does: an overturned tractor trailer and a woman who's teaching gang members to do puppet shows.)

So can we all, as a society, finally and conclusively stipulate that stories no longer need to explain things that we already understand, or we wouldn't be watching or reading? That the only bigger waste of time than, say, sitting on hold is watching B roll of people sitting on hold?!

Please, I'm begging you. Cut out the beginning of every single news story in the newspaper and on television and just GET TO IT!

Thank you.

One Day Only: Simpsons Sixth Season for $9.99

This is a great deal on one of my favorite box sets, but it's today only. If you buy The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season at fye.com you can get it for $29.99, and print out a $20 rebate.

Monday, December 12, 2005

My Favorite Insight of the Week

"It's amusing to hear people claim Ms. Jolie has a limited range or bemoan her choice of projects when the sheer, breathtaking, abundant fact of her is the embodiment of everything that draws us to movies in the first place. To announce that you prefer Joan Allen or Laura Linney is to reveal that in your fantasy life, you're Ashley Wilkes."

-- from the excellent best-of-the-year's-DVD's article "Killer Couples, Killer Saucers and 'Kiss of Death'" by Stephanie Zacharek and Charles Taylor, The New York Times. (Okay, it's from November 6th, but I didn't read it until today, so it still counts.)

And On Tomorrow's Show, The World Champion Boston Red Sox

Republicans' Hearts Are TEN Sizes Too Small


What could be more heartwarming than a picture of one of our brave fighting men, taking a break for some Christmas cheer... a reminder of home?

Nothing... unless you've seen the doctored version.

Then it's less heartwarming than bloodboiling.

Slate.com's John Dickerson reports that the RNC's new web video "Retreat and Defeat" shows Howard Dean, Barbara Boxer, and John Kerry speaking out against the war.

"Then the camera pans back, and we learn that we've been watching these clips over the shoulder of a U.S. soldier dressed in desert camouflage, his semiautomatic rifle strapped to his back. Candy canes hang on the wall just above the screen, which flashes the message: 'Our soldiers are watching and our enemies are too.'


"The video conveys the impression that somewhere in Iraq, a soldier is having his mission and Christmas tarnished by weak-willed Democrats. Here is a frame from the ad and the actual picture of the soldier, taken two years ago. [T]he soldier was really watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

As Dickerson points out, web ads are a low art form which both parties produce. But:

"What neither party has done—until now—is inject the idea that the other party is undermining our troops overseas. The RNC is pimping a mute and unnamed soldier not just to defend the Iraq war but to imply that Democrats are white-handkerchief-waving cowards who want the United States to lose."

In other words, just when you think a lower low of scumbaggery isn't possible...

Ever Wonder What This Thing Is?

You've probably seen it dozens of times on the shipping labels on your packages, but never thought much about what exactly it is.

It's called a QR Code. It's a matrix code (whoa), which is like a bar code, but with way more information stored in it. In Japan, marketers have been putting them in the corners of posters and ads for years. Point your QR-enabled cell phone at the code, take a picture, and your phone scans the data and sends you to a website for an offer or coupon or sweepstakes or whatever.

Well, Adrants reports that QR is coming to the USA, under the name Semacode. So if you see these things popping up in the corners of ads, try taking a picture. Couldn't hurt.

And in the meantime, now that we've solved that shipping mystery, I'll leave some of you to wonder how is it you've never noticed the arrow in the FedEx logo.


Salon's New Dog

Salon.com has a new feature: Video Dog, to collect in one place "the best video clips from TV, the web and our readers." Great idea.

For more video, if you haven't tried blinkx yet, try it. It's like Google for video.

Making Shot Glasses Out of Ice


From Elephant Staircase (via Digg) comes this tutorial on how to make shot glasses out of ice. I just know this will make vodka (or hurt-go-away-juice, as I call it) taste even more fantastic. And it's an excuse to drink faster.

I Finally Realized Who Lydia From Survivor Reminds Me Of


It's been bothering me all season... It finally hit me tonight: She's Mojo!

Remember Mojo, the maid character Andrea Martin played on "The Days of the Week" on SCTV?

If you don't, she was like Lydia, except Mojo was lovable, whereas Lydia is grasping and irritating and probably mildly retarded.

(By the way, how funny was it that Lydia's only questions of the two finalists involved why each didn't carry her along to the final two? Jesus, what a parasite.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

When Oh When Will Someone Please Beat This Woman With a Bag Full of Oranges?


"I love to engage in repartee with people who are stupider than I am."
-- Ann Coulter, 12/7/05, cutting off her speech at the University of Connecticut when she was shouted down by hecklers. (CNN)

These far-left Nazis -- and that's what they are, okay? -- came in, not only insulted Miss Coulter, but violated the rights of the people who came to hear what she had to say. This is unacceptable on every level. And it's unacceptable to do what they do on their websites: to defame, to lie, to do whatever sleazy thing they can think of to people with whom they disagree.
--Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/8/05

Bill is apparently unfamiliar with the following Coulter quotes, from Washington Monthly's The Wisdom of Ann Coulter


"[Clinton] masturbates in the sinks." ---Rivera Live 8/2/99
(I heard her spew this one on Politically Incorrect, too, and then vouch, "It's true!")

To a disabled Vietnam vet: "People like you caused us to lose that war."---MSNBC

"Women like Pamela Harriman and Patricia Duff are basically Anna Nicole Smith from the waist down. Let's just call it for what it is. They're whores."---Salon.com

On Princess Diana's death: "Her children knew she's sleeping with all these men. That just seems to me, it's the definition of 'not a good mother.' ... Is everyone just saying here that it's okay to ostentatiously have premarital sex in front of your children?" MSNBC 9/12/97

"Let's say I go out every night, I meet a guy and have sex with him. Good for me. I'm not married."---Rivera Live 6/7/00

"Anorexics never have boyfriends. ... That's one way to know you don't have anorexia, if you have a boyfriend."---Politically Incorrect 7/21/97

"I think [Whitewater]'s going to prevent the First Lady from running for Senate."---Rivera Live 3/12/99

"My track record is pretty good on predictions."---Rivera Live 12/8/98

"I think there should be a literacy test and a poll tax for people to vote."---Hannity & Colmes, 8/17/99

"I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote."---Politically Incorrect, 2/26/01

"If you don't hate Clinton and the people who labored to keep him in office, you don't love your country."---George, 7/99

"The swing voters---I like to refer to them as the idiot voters because they don't have set philosophical principles. You're either a liberal or you're a conservative if you have an IQ above a toaster. "---Beyond the News, Fox News Channel, 6/4/00

"My libertarian friends are probably getting a little upset now but I think that's because they never appreciate the benefits of local fascism."---MSNBC 2/8/97

"You want to be careful not to become just a blowhard."---Washington Post 10/16/98

The National Radical has a great transcript of a Coulter appearance on Hardball when the usually-Republican-friendly Chris Matthews eviscerates her. She had named her book Treason, accusing the Democratic Party of the titular charge, but would not name a single person, despite Matthews' hammering, to support her "thesis." But she would never lie or defame someone with whom she disagrees.

Well, As Long As He Qualifies It At the End, It's All Good

"If you don't know that the ACLU is an anti-American organization by this time, you're never gonna know. Nevertheless, I will list its agenda once again. The ACLU opposes virtually every aspect of the Patriot Act, which is designed to give U.S. authorities more latitude to stop terrorism. The ACLU wants more photos from Abu Ghraib released. The organization is suing the CIA, opposing the Defense Department over detainees at Guantanamo, and objects to coerced interrogation of high-ranking terrorists...

"In my opinion the ACLU puts all of us in danger, wants to tear down traditional America and replace it with a so-called "progressive society" and worst of all, worst of all, is aiding worldwide terrorism by opposing virtually all U.S. attempts to combat it. I say the ACLU leadership are traitors. But that's solely my opinion."

Bill O'Reilly, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/8/05

So I Wished For...

...Apple to come out with a video iPod and got it.

And I wished for my Xbox 360 to come and got it.

And they're building a Grove in Glendale, which will be great for me.

And I got my drive-through Starbucks, and TV shows came to iTunes, and Jon Stewart really made Bill O'Reilly look like a horse's ass.

And CompUSA
finally sent me that return label for that cell phone battery.

And just a couple of days ago I wrote that I wished they'd put The West Wing out on single-sided discs, and now the new set is out... on single-sided discs.

I think it's time for me to renew the Jennifer Love Hewitt wish.


Sprint to Offer Full Length Movies, TV Shows and Specials for $6.95 Flat Fee

News.com reports that Sprint Nextel is expected to announce Monday that it will allow users to download full-length movies, TV shows, concerts and comedy specials to their cell phones, possibly bookmarkable, for a $6.95 monthly fee.

How To Be Nice

From one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, comes this list of small, simple ways to do kindnesses for family, friends, and even strangers. Do just a couple of these things and I promise you'll feel better.

I can prove it. Arriving at the drive-through at the same time as another car, the other driver waved me in first with a smile. Nice person, right? Remembering my Real Simple, I paid for their order. Both the smile from the cashier and imagining the other driver's reaction gave me a great feeling all day long.

Just a few of the other Real Simple suggestions include:

When a store clerk or customer service rep does something nice, send an email or (even better) a letter to their supervisor praising so. It will mean so much to them, maybe even at salary review time.

Stop by your local police station or animal shelter or firehouse with a plate of brownies or some donuts and say thank you. Or bring donuts for the maintenance staff at your office building.

Overtip your breakfast waiter, who probably makes less than dinner waiters for the same work. (Which ties into a rule of mine: waiters in inexpensive restaurants work harder than waiters in expensive ones, so overtip the ones in the inexpensive ones. They shouldn't be penalized because you saved money on the food.)

Keep a list of the best shops in the neighborhood. That list, in a binder with addresses, phone numbers and maps, is the best housewarming gift you can give a new neighbor.

Wave someone else into a parking space instead of taking it yourself. Wouldn't kill you.

When an elderly person is crossing the street, walk at the same speed they do. It'll take you a few minutes longer, and they won't be as self-conscious about being stuck when the light changes as if they were alone.

Trade your low ticket number at the deli with someone who looks frazzled. (I would add that it's always good karma to let someone with fewer items cut in front of you at the supermarket.)

And I'll add one more of my own, predictable if you know me: Please, please don't buy a dog or cat from a pet store or breeder. Be a really nice person and good citizen and adopt one from a shelter. Trust me, I swear to you, you will get a healthier animal, a hardier animal, a happier animal, a better feeling, and you will save a bundle of money (in the initial purchase and in medical costs through the years).

And if you have a chance to do the right thing, get a better result, and save money? Jump on it.

I Have 20/20 Vision

Now, I'm not telling you this to brag. I can't brag anyway: since I had lasik in 1999, my eyes are surgically-enhanced. My eyes are like Pamela Anderson's breasts. Only no one fantasizes about touching my eyes. Or if they do, please don't tell me.

But anyway, I'm telling you about how good my eyesight is because I have trouble making out those "Word Verification" characters you have to type before you can leave a comment on someone's blog. It sometimes takes me two or three tries. I mean, is that a "1" or an "L"... a "7" or a "2" or a "5"...? Or a "Z"?

So imagine how hard it is, say, for a blind person. It really doesn't seem fair that a blind person can't ever leave a comment on this blog. I mean, the sight-challenged should have the same right to tell me I'm fascinating as anyone else.

Some sites, I know, have audio options, where you click to have someone read you the letters. (I confess, I use those, despite my bionic eyes.) It's such a simple courtesy to the disabled to have that feature. Why doesn't blogger.com?

"A Camera That Has It All? Well, Almost"

The New York Times' David Pogue has a review of Sony's revolutionary new R1 digital SLR camera. If anyone wants to buy me something to celebrate Kwanzmaskah, this could be it.