Friday, December 30, 2005

Happy New Year

This is Ginny, a schnauzer-Siberian Husky mix, and her pal Blondie. Ginny passed away in August, and in her honor, I'll reprint an AP story about what made Ginny so special:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - This will probably be the first time a dog’s memorial service is attended by 300 cats.

A schnauzer-Siberian husky mix named Ginny will be eulogized Nov. 19 at the Westchester Cat Show, where she was named Cat of the Year in 1998 for her uncanny skill and bravery in finding and rescuing endangered felines. She died in August at age 17.

Ginny once threw herself against a vertical pipe at a construction site to topple it and reveal the kittens trapped inside. Another time she ignored the cuts on her paws as she dug through a box of broken glass to find an injured cat inside.

Her owner, Philip Gonzalez of Long Beach, said Thursday that he has tried to train other dogs to rescue cats like Ginny, but “They just didn’t have it.”

“I didn’t train her,” he said. “Ginny was just magical in a way. I adopted her from a shelter, and they said she’s never been with cats before. But she just had this knack of knowing when a cat was in trouble.”

As he used to do with Ginny, Gonzalez still goes out every night to feed stray cats in the area. The cats seem to miss Ginny too, he said.

“They want nothing to do with my other dogs,” he said. “They used to come up to Ginny and rub against her, even if I was putting food out.”

------

I think remembering Ginny is a great way to finish off the year, and in her honor here are just a few of the great pictures available at MSNBC's excellent Animal Tracks section, including a real-life CAT scan, and a blind puppy enjoying his first snowfall.

I hope 2006 brings all of us as much pure fun as that puppy seems to be having.

Thanks for visiting with me here these last several months. I'm going to take a few days off. See you next year.




How To Rock Your New Year's Party With Your iPod

The media would have you believe that if you want to blast the music from your iPod, you have to buy an iPod speaker system. They come in a wide variety of prices, with quality to match. Some of them cost three hundred and four hundred dollars. And make no mistake, some of them work great.

Your other choice, less well-publicized, is to plug a regular ol' set of speakers into your iPod, or plug your iPod in as the "AUX" on your present stereo. But you lose sound quality because the audio that comes out of the headphone jack of your iPod is nowhere near as good as the audio that comes out of the line-out jack on the bottom (that little sync-slot).

Now there's another choice, and it's awesome. The PocketDock Line Out USB is a tiny square dongle, about the size of a silver dollar, that jacks into the bottom of your iPod. It has a USB port on the other side, which is convenient for some people, but I never find myself having to do an "emergency sync."

The important thing is this little baby gives you perfect line-out audio for under thirty bucks. Try a comparison, and you won't believe the difference.

Another benefit: When you play audio through the line-out, the volume control on the iPod itself is irrelevant. So you can leave the volume turned down all the way, which theoretically increases battery life.

Of course, the new iPod docks do the same thing -- and Kensington makes a great dock that comes with a remote -- but they can't be carried on your keychain. Ziplinq, a company that makes very handy retractable cables, makes audio cables that'll go nicely with the PocketDock; they've also just come out with retractable all-in-one solutions, but I haven't tried them.


Blown Away


The Maxell "Blown Away" ad campaign, one of the iconic ad images of the 20th Century, is coming back in the 21st. Maxell is relaunching the campaign in key markets, online, and in print ads in Rolling Stone, Spin, Giant, Wired, FHM, MacWorld and Stuff.

Speaking of Media Matters...


...they've also given out their Misinformer of the Year award, and it will come as no surprise to anyone who follows the site that the "winner" is Hardball's fast-and-loose (and loud) Chris Matthews. Read about his troubling record here.

And no matter which side of the political spectrum you're on, we're very lucky to have people like Media Matters keeping watch on the watchdogs. There is still time to make a tax-deductible contribution.

Media Matters: The Most Outrageous Statements of 2005

The indispensable Media Matters for America has made their list (and fact-checked it twice) of the Most Outrageous Statements of 2005, and it is like a walk down Bad Memory Lane. Here they are, so we never forget:

"[Y]ou could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."
-- Bill Bennett, Bill Bennett's Morning in America, 9/28/05

"If [Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
-- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club, 8/22/05

"[I]f Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. ... You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."
-- Bill O'Reilly to San Francisco, The Radio Factor, 12/8/05

"I think you could probably make an absolutely airtight case that more than 3,000 Americans have been either killed or injured, based upon the 11 million illegals who are here."
-- Bill O'Reilly, agreeing with caller that illegal immigrants are "biological weapon[s]", The Radio Factor, 4/15/05

"Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society."
-- Rush Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 8/12/05

"I'm telling you, folks, there's a part of me that likes this."
-- Rush Limbaugh on the kidnapping of peace activists in Iraq, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 11/29/05

Bill Clinton "was a very good rapist"
"I'm getting a little fed up with hearing about, oh, civilian casualties"
"I think we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the world a warning." -- all Ann Coulter, New York Observer, 1/10/05

"Isn't it great to see Muslims celebrating something other than the slaughter of Americans?"
-- Ann Coulter, Syndicated column, 2/3/05

"[Y]ou know it took me about a year to start hating the 9-11 victims' families? Took me about a year."
-- Radio host Glenn Beck, The Glenn Beck Program, 9/9/05

"Canada is a sweet country. It is like your retarded cousin you see at Thanksgiving and sort of pat him on the head. You know, he's nice, but you don't take him seriously. That's Canada."
-- Tucker Carlson, MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson, 12/15/05

Liberals "don't have the kind of family responsibilities most people have, and certainly not church responsibilities."
-- American Family Association president Tim Wildmon, American Family Radio's Today's Issues, 5/11/05

"It's very hard to have respect for a woman who exploits the death of her own son and doesn't respect her own son's life. ... She portrays him as an idiot."
-- David Horowitz on Cindy Sheehan, MSNBC's Connected: Coast to Coast, 8/16/05

"[T]here will be riots in South Central Los Angeles and elsewhere. ... The rioting, of course, will lead to wide scale looting. There are a lot of aspiring rappers and NBA superstars who could really use a nice flat-screen television right now."
-- Radio host Neal Boortz on the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams, Boortz.com, 12/12/05

"Our guys [in Iraq] have got every right to have good news put into the media and get to the people of Iraq, even if it's got to be planted or bought."
-- Pat Buchanan, MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, 12/1/05

Given EPA-mandated "small-flush" toilets, "[h]ow is it possible to flush a Quran down the toilet?"
-- National Review editor Rich Lowry, Young America's Foundation speech, 8/5/05

"I dare say she could walk out of that hotel and walk 100 yards in either direction on Fulton Industrial Boulevard here in Atlanta and have a job. What's that? Well, no, no, no. ... Well, you know what? [laughing] Now that you mention it ... [i]f that's the only way she can take care of herself, it sure beats the hell out of sucking off the taxpayers."
-- Neal Boortz, suggesting that a victim of Hurricane Katrina housed in an Atlanta hotel consider prostitution, The Neal Boortz Show, 10/24/05

Same-sex marriage would lead to "marriage between daddies and little girls ... between a man and his donkey."
-- James C. Dobson, Focus on the Family radio program, 10/6/05

"Have you noticed that many news organizations, in honor of former ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings, have embarked on a quit smoking campaign? So why don't our media launch a campaign advising people to quit engaging in the dangerous and addictive homosexual lifestyle? ... It appears that the homosexual lifestyle is as addictive as smoking."
-- Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media column, 12/14/05

----

An astounding list, with only a few quibbles:

In fairness to Bill Bennett, he says stupider things than that all the time.

And I would have added three more to the Hall of Shame:

1. The surreal moment when both Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity said "I don't believe it." when told that the mother of fallen American hero Pat Tillman said Pat was against the war in Iraq and intended to vote for John Kerry.

Ann Coulter had quite a time in the last year, exploiting Tillman's memory for the sake of her own cause. She even wrote that "unlike Kerry, he did not write his own recommendation or live to throw his medals over the White House fence in an anti-war rally." Yes, Ann, because he was killed by friendly fire.

2. George W. Bush's deathless "Brownie, you're doin' a heck of a job."

3. When I saw the people stranded at the Convention Center for the first time on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, I believe it was two days later that "Brownie" was on CBS's The Early Show, and Harry Smith asked him about the Convention Center refugees, and Brown said no one in the government even knew they were there until late yesterday. It was a claim Harry found shocking... and so did I, since I'd known for longer than that, and I'm nobody.

Then a half hour or so later, I saw Brown on The Today Show, and Katie Couric asked him about the Convention Center refugees, and Brown said the media reports were untrue, that FEMA has gotten everyone in the Convention Center water and at least one meal a day every day for the last week. Katie found this claim hard to swallow... and so did I since, unlike Katie, I had been watching CBS!

Anyway, Brown obviously realized the first lie was patently ridiculous, so he trotted out a second, even more ridiculous lie. And to my mind, both should tie for most outrageous statement of the year.

What Has He Done For Us Lately???

From Techdirt:

"A homeless inventor has has sent a bill to the New York Yankees, saying that his invention helped the team win the 1996 World Series. He claims that he sent the team prototypes of "a rubber tube that can be frozen and worn around the neck as a personal cooler." According to the guy, these devices allowed the Yankees to get in extra practice time, which was all they needed to end a fifteen year World Series drought."

The Most Nauseating Commercial Ever?

Definitely the one where the American husband and wife are on vacation in Italy, and he loudly professes his love for her, and it's very sweet, but she tells him to keep his voice down and she's embarrassed... but then he pulls out a diamond and she gets all weepy and lovestruck, and you want to hit her in the face really hard.

But we have a new and close second: the commercial for some luxury car where a woman is kissing her husband passionately, and you think it's under the mistletoe, but you find out he's dangling the keys to a new car over her head. Nice.

Sorry, Howard... Yet Another Reason to Love XM Over Sirius

XM has announced it will introduce Voice Command technology. Read more about it in The Washington Post.

Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben Ben


Far be it from me to condemn a show without seeing it, but I'm not getting a good feeling about Four Kings... and not just because I think it stars that guy I hated from Committed.

I mean, I really want to like it. Really want to like it. Because I love Seth Green. And also because I would really like something new and funny to watch.

But it's always a bad sign when the one clip they show over and over gives every punch line ("Ben...Ben... Ben...Ben Ben Ben Ben") to a day player. Couldn't they find one joke told by one of the four kings to put in a promo?

I admit it: NBC has spent a fortune and it worked. I love this woman. She's hilarious. Who is she? When does her show come on? Can Seth Green co-star with her? They work well together. That seems to be the show they're selling, and I'd watch that show every week.

Of course, if I'm wrong and Four Kings is hilarious I will definitely be happy to admit it.

But they still should have put Scrubs on Thursday.

"Windows Security Flaw is 'Severe'"

If you use Windows, please read this Washington Post article and take it seriously.

Clearly I Have Not Been Paying As Much Attention To "Making the Band 3" As I Should Have Been

Peter Travers Needs a New Job. Seriously.

In the most recent issue, Peter Travers, Rolling Stone's movie critic, says he saw 491 films this year and he "struggled to cut down the crap" to make a list of the 100 worst of the year.

Seriously, dude, get into another line of work. If you hate more than 20% of anything you shouldn't make it your life's work, much less review it for others.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Great Night For a Great Cause

On January 12th, Lisa Arch is throwing what is always a fabulous Comedy Night at the Improv to benefit the City of Hope. Drew Carey, Paul F. Tompkins, Patton Oswalt, Paul Gilmartin, Greg Behrendt, and Ralph Garman will be among those performing. For ticket info go to the event website or call 1-866-284-8714.

Protopage: Your New Favorite Home Page

Choosing the right home page can be a challenge and a quest. Every single time you open your browser -- which I hope is Firefox -- this is the page (sometimes known as a "start page") that greets you, so you have to choose wisely.

Some sites -- like USA Today, MSNBC, CNN, cnet, and Sports Illustrated -- make great and colorful home pages. But they can take a long time to load, and the info doesn't change often enough for the price you pay in time... which really adds up.

Some sites -- like The Huffington Post -- offer a wealth of news and -- most important -- a long list of links, and would be great home pages, except all their content is "below the fold." A home page shouldn't make you scroll more than once, and even then it's a pain.

AOL and Yahoo offer a wealth of information, but their design is so madcap and cluttered, they're not to my taste.

Other pages, like Google, are fast but dull. Besides, all browsers now offer Google searches and a whole lot more up in the toolbar, so that's a waste.

If you have a real need for speed, there's a Spartan -- or is it draconian? -- solution: Create a blank web page. You can even do this in Word: just save it as a Web Page instead of a .doc. It'll load instantly, but that's not living, is it?

You can also create a web page with all your favorite links. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose, and it will load quickly... but it will only update when you update it.

Google Homepage and My Yahoo are great, free web services that let you customize your Google and Yahoo portal, with the news, links, and RSS feeds you want. They're easy and fun (try the Google Glasses). There's also the new beta Live, from Microsoft, but I haven't played with it yet.

You can use Bloglines, a free RSS web service, as your home page. It will list the headlines from all your favorite sites and blogs on one page. But it only works with pages that have RSS feeds (like the easy-to-love http://feeds.feedburner.com/ShouldveAskedMe).

But my new favorite home page is one I made through Protopage, a free online service from England. Register and you get a free personal web page with your favorite links, RSS feeds, news, sticky notes... anything you want. And you can make it private or choose to share it with select friends. It's a great way for, say, a family to leave each other notes during the course of a day. (Think of it as a cyber-refrigerator-door.)

And if you can't decide, you're covered there, as well, thanks to the tabbed browsing in Firefox. Just open the one or two or three (or whatever) pages you want all at once, as separate tabs. Then go into Preferences, and choose to use that group of tabs as your home page. (By the way, you can also save a batch of tabs as a single bookmark.)

If anyone has any other great start page suggestions out there, please share them!

Fire, Meet Gasoline

"My TV-watching resolution is to finally get cable!"
-- Diane Neal, actress, Law & Order: SVU, quoted in Television Week

Ms. Neal had better step on it.

You might remember a lot of news coverage in the last week or two about a tied vote in the Senate over a budget package that kind of screwed the poor and elderly, so naturally Dick Cheney took a rare daylight jaunt out of his coffin to break the tie.

Also included in that bill, but virtually ignored by the mainstream media, was the approval of the February 17, 2009 date for the end of analog TV signals. (The ones you pick up with regular TV antennas and rabbit ears and the telescoping one on your Watchman.) On that day, kiss those signals goodbye.

If you don't have cable or satellite, you are S.O.L., unless you buy a converter box. The bill also included spending $1.5 billion on providing for families that need it to receive up to two $40 coupons to defray the cost of those converter boxes. Now the bill has to go back to the House, but it's a huge mess. Can you imagine the education process that will have to be launched to prepare the public for this process? Can you imagine having to fill out a need application to be reimbursed before you can watch TV?

And by the way, in case you were wondering how they came up with the February 17 date, it's actually quite hilarious and sad: Last year the Senate Commerce Committee set the date at April 7, 2009, so TV's wouldn't go dark until after March Madness.

Then the House Energy and Commerce Committee adopted a Republican proposal to move it to December 31, 2008. Democrats, led by John Dingell and Edward Markey, proposed moving it back to April 7, 2009, but no dice.

Ah.... but two magic words: "Super Bowl"... and suddenly the date got moved to a compromise date in February.

So now the poorer half of the nation will at least get their bread and circus-- I mean, Super Bowl.

But that means their TV's will go dark before March Madness, and in the middle of February sweeps. So they never find out who wins on what reality show, who kisses who on what soap, who dies on what cop show, who murders who on what prime-time serial...

Gee, I don't think they'll have a problem with that, do you?

Meanwhile,
if you're shopping for an HDTV in preparation for that fateful day, PC World has a great primer on Ten HDTV Myths.

Oh, and one more bug I'll put in your ear before you go out shopping: You may have heard about HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, the newest attempt by the entertainment industry to reverse engineer a technological solution to foil piracy and pass it off as a better entertainment value for you, the consumer. Essentially, these are two approaches to hi-def DVD's. They'll look like HDTV, but they won't play in your present players, and there'll be two formats, and they won't play in each other's players.

Yeah, it's VHS and Betamax all over again. Except this time there's no clear winner. Just a loser: us.

And here's the thing to remember, as you buy a $20,000 TV:

It probably won't display one or both of these technologies.

Yeah, you heard me. Same with your brand new $2,500 LCD.

When HD-DVD and Blu-Ray come out, you'll not only need to buy two new DVD players with DRM in them, you'll have to buy a new TV with DRM in it. And a new computer. And a new monitor.

I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned they can shove their hi-def DVD's up their asses. I adopt every new technology that comes along, but this sounds like the biggest disaster since that Circuit City DivX debacle.

So what will America be like when its citizens find out that, to varying degrees, their TV's are now hobbled and no one warned them?

The Hippo & The Tortoise, The Dog & The Calf

One year later, a 130-year-old tortoise is still caring for a baby hippo left orphaned by the tsunami in a Nairobi sanctuary.

The AP reports that the relationship between Owen, the hippo, and Mzee, the giant tortoise, has surprised conservation workers and made international headlines.

When massive waves stranded Owen and his family on a reef, fishermen rescued Owen and brought him to land, where he net Mzee and adopted him as a surrogate parent.

The tortoise, having his own problems, at first resisted. But Owen persisted, and within days, the two were inseparable.
(see below for pictures from back then.)

Conservation workers have a mom rhino all lined up for Owen, a 13-year old named Cleo. She's lived without hippo companionship for more than a decade, so Owen should be a sight for upside-down-T-shaped-eyes. A long, delicate process of moving the three animals together is planned, so they can grow to know each other's smell and gain trust. The same way Governor Schwarzenegger is introduced to new staffers.




Meanwhile, in another part of the world -- Maryville, TN, to be exact -- a black angus calf named Maggie, rejected by her mother, has been adopted by a childless Boxer mix named Vegas. The story has moved even the animals' owner, farmer Earl Best, according to WBIR.COM. "As soon as I brought her in, that dog went crazy wanting to be with the calf...If the calf is laying down, a lot of the time (the dog will) stand right over it or she will lay down on it like she's protecting it or keeping it warm."

Maggie was to end up as beef on the Bests's table, but they've decided to keep her as a pet. (Phew!) You can see video of Maggie & Vegas at the WBIR website.



This Story Might Be About Oxygen Giving Janice Dickinson Her Own Reality Show


But really it's about that picture. I mean, Jesus Christ!

Is No One Safe From Property Crime??


If you have any information about the whereabouts of his axe, please contact us. He's heartbroken over it.


Worst... Criminal... Ever!

A Berlin pickpocket decided to take the easy way out, and simply go through the pockets of the coats in the cloakroom of the local pub. Unbeknownst to this unhappy wanderer, his fellow bar patrons were members of the Federal Police criminal investigations unit, which was having its Christmas party there at the time.

According to Reuters, "Confronted with 35 officers, [he] offered no resistance."

(None?? Clearly, they don't yet have Jackie Chan movies in Berlin.)

The Stowaway? The Soundabout?


Believe it or not, those were two of the names considered (and, thankfully, rejected) for the Sony Walkman, selected as #1 in PC World's list of the 50 Greatest Gadgets of the Past 50 Years.

One can quibble with the inclusion of something like the Razr, but overall it's an amazing list, and reading it is fascinating. You'll be pleasantly reminded of devices from the past (the Speak & Spell! Pulsar watches! the Connectix QuickCam!)... as well as learn about gadgets whose present-day versions you might take for granted, like transistor radios and TV remotes.

Meanwhile, the New York Times' David Pogue has a typically informative list of his 10 Greatest Gadget Ideas of the Year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Am I Missing Something?

Why is the guy in the Taco Bell ads doing an interpretive dance about his burrito?

Did no one at
The Book of Daniel notice that their "I get visits from Jesus" gimmick was on Rescue Me all season?

In those Time magazine print ads, where they show you a Time cover, and then they show you that it is only one small piece of a larger picture that you would never have known if you had only looked at the Time cover... Isn't that, like, something you should see in a Newsweek ad?

I'm still wondering: In the Tic-Tac commercial below, is the point that the guy thinks this woman gives amazing blow jobs? And that, frankly, that suits her just fine?





Anus Magillicutty

No, it's not the least popular Ben & Jerry's flavor... It's actually the lowest-rated movie in IMDB's Bottom 100 Movies list. (via FosFor)

It is, like all Internet polling, horribly unscientific. The more negative publicity a movie gets (Glitter, Battlefield Earth, Crossroads) the more likely it is to be rated poorly by IMDB visitors than potentially more horrible movies.

And the list raises the question that will always plague film criticism and spark arguments: Is a movie that aims low (Troll 2 or Police Academy: A Mission to Moscow) more deserving of a break than a movie with lofty ambitions that doesn't realize how awful it is (once again, Battlefield Earth)? Or should the ambitious movie be rewarded for at least trying to aim high?

And should movies like Santa Claus Conquers the Martians or Surf Nazis Must Die be judged at all, since they didn't even try to be good?

And say what you will about Glitter... It sucked mightily but man oh man was it funny. Come to think of it, I may rent it again, if only to see the miraculous cat that never ages.

A Textbook Example of How to Kill a Business

Once there was a channel called TechTV, devoted to technology, computing and gaming. It was successful, fun, informative, hit its audience perfectly, and had 44 million subscribers.

Another channel, called G4, launched. It was devoted entirely to gaming -- a considerably narrower niche -- and it was shitty and they couldn't get it onto cable systems. It had less than 15 million subscribers.

So G4 bought TechTV... and, what...?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Overnight, they replaced almost all of TechTV's good, successful programming with its own shitty, failed programming. Good plan, right?

They made it almost entirely about games. They took TechTV's most popular show, called The Screen Savers, and fired almost all the hosts and made it "young and with-it and proactive and edgy" by renaming it Attack of the Show -- can't you just feel the proactivity? -- and making it shitty.

The new channel, renamed G4, G4TV, or G4TechTV, depending on what day it was, received the lowest rating a channel can get while still consuming electricity.

Meanwhile, the hosts from TechTV went out and founded podcasts with the same content they used to do on TechTV... and they became among the most popular podcasts available. They arguably helped drive the podcast revolution.

The host of two TechTV shows, Leo Laporte (whom I've gushed about here before), is part of several very popular podcasts, and he seems to add more each week.

Leo's flagship podcast, This Week in Tech, stars a rotating cast of former The Screen Savers hosts, along with guests like Steve Wozniak. The audio version, according to TV Week, is downloaded by more than 250,000 listeners each week through iTunes alone. And even though it's free, its audience (myself included) donates more than $10,000 a month to cover bandwidth and equipment.

All the while, Leo continues to do radio and TV, including doing a very popular former TechTV show, Call For Help, in Canada for Canadian and Australian audiences.

Meanwhile, back at G4, flopsweat was everywhere. They bought the rights to run Fox's cancelled show Fastlane. (Not a lot of fans or episodes, but I'm no expert.) Meanwhile, they seemingly got more angry emails from former TechTV viewers than they had current viewers.

So they finally did something smart: they backpedaled. They put the Canadian Call for Help, with Leo, back on G4.

But at 6 in the morning.

Idiots, right?

Well, despite that, it became one of their most popular shows.

So of course they did something stupid: They put it into repeats after two weeks, despite the fact that they had, like, a year's worth of unaired shows. Then they moved it to later in the day. Then they moved it back to 6. More repeats. Then they double-pumped repeats.

Meanwhile, G4 was firing its founder, saying his focus on gaming was too narrow (well, you don't say!)... and they decided the answer was to make G4 into a Cartoon Network knockoff part of the time. And they tried to make it a Spike knockoff another part of the time, spending a fortune to buy reruns of The Man Show. It's doing great for them...except that they spent a fortune.

Anyway, back to Call for Help, being moved and repeated. The ratings fell.

So without telling anyone, they have quietly removed, like, half their original programming from the schedule as of the end of the year, including Call For Help. They're going to replace them with Attack of the Show and Fastlane reruns and Star Trek: TNG (more originality) while they figure out how to drive even more of the audience away.

Don't worry, they'll come up with something.

(By the way, on a side note: Because TechTV was on all day, doing these amazing shows and features and tech reviews, they had built up an awesome website of show notes. Along with cnet.com, I always went to techtv.com to research any cell phone or TV or computer purchase, or just to figure out how to do something better.

(The day G4 bought TechTV, they just shut down the site. Gone. So I wrote an email, of the WTF variety, and got no reply. Several more. I guess they got more and more of them, because eventually they put up a "Looking for TechTV Stuff?" link. Assholes!

(Anyway, to this day, if you go to www.g4tv.com and search for something, you'll get the G4 results, then have to hit "more" to get the old TechTV results. ASSHOLES!)

L.A. Times Runs Made-Up Quote... Admits It!

The Times ran a quote from an April Fools joke press release on its front page yesterday. Oops. Said the author of the joke, "I never thought I'd get this kind of reaction," he said. "But it's got some legs."

L.A. Times Prints Quote From Fake Release


2005 Quotables: America's Next Top Model Edition





"Did you ever see a really pretty, like, flower or something and you just want to step on it?"
-- Cassandra

"My goal is for my name to become a household word."
-- Bre, apparently unaware her name already is kind of a household word, at least in cheese-loving households

"One down, eleven to go! ... Second base is ready!"
-- Kim, the coolest contestant in ANTM history (and a lesbian), after Sarah surprised the others by kissing her in the limo

"You know how sociopaths don't feel emotion and that's why they can kill people without ever, like, feeling bad about it? Only I never killed anybody."
-- Cassandra, who's still young

"I went from working in a boutique to actually sleeping in one!"
-- Bre, apparently unaware this is kind of a step down

"So I walked up to Kim and I poked her in the stomach, I was like, you need to suck in your stomach. She was like, 'What, are you calling me fat?' I, like, gave her this look, I was like, 'Are you crazy?'"
-- Jayla, who is

"If I wouldn't get eliminated for killing somebody, I might just take that step."
-- Kim

"I love Cousin Itt. I feel like me and Cousin Itt are almost the same... What's the secret? No, it's cool, man, you don't have to tell me."
-- Loony, sloppy drunk Lisa, talking about and to a plant by the pool

"God gives us our first instincts. Don't go against it."

-- Bre, confidentially, when Cassandra sought her advice about whether to
leave the competition rather than let them cut her hair one inch

"Cassandra came into this competition knowing that there's a great chance that they were gonna cut her hair. She had a choice. Cassandra chose to say no."
-- Bre, in "whattaya gonna do" mode, after Cassandra made her insane decision to
leave the competition rather than let them cut her hair one inch. (By the way, they had already cut off, like, two feet of hair.)

"I did what I think was right in the long run, and that includes not letting people try and change the way I am."
-- Cassandra, assuring that her personal integrity would remain intact

"I'm going home, I'm gonna go back to Texas, and I'm gonna get some hair extensions, and hopefully you'll see me as a future Miss U.S.A."
-- Cassandra, assuring that her career will involve dancing around a pole

"If anyone should understand a difference of gender expression, she should be the one. I mean, are you kidding?"
-- Kim on Miss Jaye, who manages to be a grotesque stereotype of at least four different groups, after he/she criticized Kim for not being able to adopt a feminine walk

"Why am I still here?"
-- Bre, saying what the audience was thinking

"The contestants of America's Next Top Model, Cycle 5"
-- Tyra Banks, persisting in referring to these women by the name of a dog food

"Ho!"
--Unidentified male voice during the opening theme, as some of the contestants' pictures appear

Clearly I Have Not Been Paying As Much Attention To Tennis As I Should Have Been

How long have you people known about Sania Mirza and not told me? Talk about Bolly Wood!


A Lovely Thought For the Holidays... Or Any Time


I loved this post from What Does Lisa Say About It? so much that I just wanted to share it with you... along with this picture of Lisa's pal Bogie.

I Was Going To Go See This Until They Said It Was Clean


Anyway, if you're not bothered by that sort of thing, here's the info:

THE RABBI AND THE CHEERLEADER

"An NFL cheerleader has a spiritual epiphany while signing autographs at Pep Boys in East L.A. From hot pants, pom poms and boots, she begins a journey that leads her to Judaism and a timely meeting with a special Rabbi. A clean, funny show for everyone!"

Whitefire Theatre, Sherman Oaks, CA, 818-990-2324

If You're Going Through Gervais Withdrawal


He has a weekly podcast (available on iTunes and at its own website) and his own site, RickyGervais.com, which is
full of hilarious stuff, including a very funny video of Ricky and John Cleese swapping awards, Ricky interviewing Chris Martin, and preliminary sketches from the upcoming Simpsons episode he wrote and guest-stars in.

New Year's Rockin' Eve 2006


There seems to be a bit of a humma-jumma within the media echo chamber because an older, pre-stroke picture of 76-year-old Dick Clark was digitally inserted into the publicity photo above. Because clearly this is the first time a celebrity has ever used an older, more flattering photo for publicity. It's a huge story.

What's being lost in all the hubbub is that it's really good news that Dick Clark is well enough to return. And how remarkable it is that he still looks healthier than Hillary Duff.

"Act II: Gesundheit!"


Police Squad! is coming to DVD

(In Color)

TV Shows on DVD reports that Paramount Home Entertainment is looking at sometime in 2006 for the release. Vague, but I'll take it.

I still remember the first time I saw Police Squad!, which was actually the 4th week it was on: "Revenge and Remorse (The Guilty Alibi)." I was in Phoenix during Spring Break, so between preparing for traveling and the traveling itself I didn't even know the Airplane! guys had a show. Imagine my surprise when literally the funniest thing I'd ever seen came on. Never before or since (with the possible exception of MST3K) have I laughed that hard.

Today it's said that it was a ratings failure, but if my memory serves (I may be wrong about some of what follows, but my memory is usually pretty good about useless things like this), it did poorly in the first run because of a lack of promotion, so ABC cancelled it... but then they ran the episodes again.

By the second time through, word had spread and the show was a hit. You may think the quote about Police Squad! being cancelled because it required too much viewer attention is apocryphal, but I'm here to tell you it's true.

In fact, I remember being in my apartment in Chicago and hearing on TV (I think it was Entertainment Tonight) that they had nabbed Tony Thomopoulos, then president of ABC, outside some event, and were asking him why he would persist in axing what was at the time one of the few hits on his schedule.

I turned around just in time to hear Thomopoulos casually explain that research showed that people watched the show too closely to catch all the jokes, which made them tune out during commercials. Ideally, a TV show should be watched at a flatter level of attention.

Obviously, such a startling admission from a network president really stuck with me. Had there been such a thing as TiVo, I would have played it over and over.

Anyway, my wishlist for the DVD extras would include ZAZ commentary, the never-shown John Belushi opening -- shelved because of his death -- and a few episodes of M Squad with Lee Marvin, the real show that inspired it.

And, to this day, my absolute favorite pure, unadulterated joke ever on TV is from the episode where Frank Drebin, undercover as a locksmith, is discovered having broken into a crime boss's office :

Crime Boss: Who are you and how did you get in here?
Drebin: I'm a locksmith... and I'm a locksmith.

Here's How You Know The Black Eyed Peas Are Overexposed

I once registered at a little barbecue joint in Vegas, and ever since then I get emails from them every now and then.

This morning I got one with the subject line "Black Eyed Peas To Ring In The New Year"... I deleted it without reading it, thinking, "Jesus, the Peas have got to choose their bookings more carefully. This is sad."

It was fully a half hour later that it hit me. I went back to my computer and retrieved the email: they meant actual black eyed peas! (Apparently eating them on New Year's Day is good luck.)

"It smells slutty. It smells cheap. It smells like the stuff I wore in fifth grade."

The Washington Post took a bunch of celebrity fragrances out to a mall for blind sniffing and honest reactions. Bad news for Britney Spears. Actually pretty much bad news for all of them. Except for, you know, all the money.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Writely: The Web Word Processor

This is really cool. It's a free, online word processing program. Just go to www.writely.com, register, and you get your own personal online workspace for your documents. Create new ones, or upload your .doc's, .rtf's. or .htm's and work on them, alone or in collaboration with others. And they're totally secure, unless you choose to share them.

This is a fantastic idea -- one that's been tried before and never worked nearly so well... and it's still in beta! Go play with it and see for yourself.

Keith Olbermann Dices Bill O'Reilly, Then Tears John Gibson a New One

It really was a thing of beauty. If you can't catch a rebroadcast of tonight's Countdown on MSNBC then watch the clip on Crooks & Liars. Even watching at home, you'll stand up and applaud.

Is There a "Parents of the Year" Contest?

Actually overheard just now at Starbucks:

A 2-year-old boy is screaming and crying, just miserable. Neither parent has made any attempt to comfort or even touch the child. The mother looked at the father, laughing, shook her head, and said:

"He's so weird! What the fuck is his problem??"

Nice.

I'm no parent, and I'm certainly no expert. But if I had to guess, I'd say he's upset because his parents are sharing a huge chocolate chip cookie with each other but not with him. Or because he just realized his parents are ginormous assholes.

How Nothing Becomes Something in the Internet Echo Chamber


"Everybody knows there's no Santa Claus."
-- Drew, on the Dec. 15th Everybody Hates Chris

"Parents with young children who happened to watch Everybody Hates Chris in the past week had some explaining to do when the character of Rock's brother suddenly told his younger sister that Santa doesn't exist... A blindsided UPN received 'a handful' of complaints about the Santa expose..."
-- AP story, Dec. 22nd

"EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS FOR RUINING CHRISTMAS... It’s one of the workplace hazards of being a sitcom writer: one second, it’s killing in the room, next thing you know you’re hearing the deafening, tearful screams of a generation of children who have just had their childhoods yanked out from under them in the name of some cheap sitcom laughs."
-- Defamer item, based only on the AP story and some imaginary screams, Dec. 22nd

"The network was flooded with letters from irate parents after the latest episode of Everybody Hates Chris."
--HipHopDX.com, Dec. 26th

"Rock Ruins Christmas: Chris Rock has spoiled Christmas for thousands of US youngsters by revealing that Santa Claus doesn't exist."
-- Talking Pish, Dec. 27th, which then linked to a CNN story, which was simply a reprint of the same AP story Defamer linked to (the "handful of letters" one)

When Great Minds Meet


From The Washington Post, actual conversation between George W. Bush and Brit Hume regarding Bush's iPod:

Bush : Beach Boys, Beatles, let's see, Alan Jackson, Alan Jackson, Alejandro, Alison Krauss, the Angels, the Archies, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles, Dan McLean. Remember him?

Hume: Don McLean.

Bush: I mean, Don McLean.

Hume: Does "American Pie," right?

Bush: Great song.

Hume: Yes, yes, great song.

Unidentified male: . . . which ones do you play?

Bush: All of these. I put it on shuffle. Dwight Yoakam. I've got the Shuffle, the, what is it called? The little.

Hume: Shuffle.

Bush: It looks like.

Hume: The Shuffle. That is the name of one of the models.

Bush: Yes, the Shuffle.

Hume: Called the Shuffle.

Bush: Lightweight, and crank it on, and you shuffle the Shuffle.

Hume: So you -- it plays . . .

Bush: Put it in my pocket, got the ear things on.

Hume: So it plays them in a random order.

Bush: Yes.

Hume: So you don't know what you're going to going to get.

Bush: No.

Hume: But you know --

Bush: And if you don't like it, you have got your little advance button. It's pretty high-tech stuff.

Hume: . . . be good to have one of those at home, wouldn't it?

Bush: Oh?

Hume: Yes, hit the button and whatever it is that's in your head -- gone.

Bush: . . . it's a bad day, just say, get out of here.

Hume: Well, that probably is pretty . . .

Bush: That works, too. ( Laughter )

Hume: Yes, right.

My Favorite Comic Take of 2005



Fear of Clowns


I can't decide if Fear of Clowns is a movie I must see or a movie I can never, ever see.

Make up your own mind. Visit the website, or pre-order it at Amazon