Saturday, January 07, 2006

Glarkware Sale

Glarkware is having a post-holiday Clearance Sale on its snarkiest girlie and regular t-shirts.

Project Runway (Possible Spoilers)


This is strictly my opinion, but I think that this past week's Project Runway might have been the rare occasion when the winning dress was equally as hideous as the losing dress.

Also, Nicky Hilton seems like a very nice woman, but for Santino to call her "an amazing muse for making beautiful things" seems like it might be a tad over-the-top, don't you think?

Still, what makes this show great is Tim Gunn. I wish I had Tim as my life coach, advising me on the relative advisability of everything I do before I do it.

Steve Martin Becomes a Blogger


In case you missed it, Steve Martin entered the world of blogging last week with this hilarious entry for the Huffington Post. He also has a surprisingly festive and exhaustive official website.

These Pictures Prove Two Things


1. Sometimes reality producers flip the footage.
2. I watch shows like Beauty And The Geek way too closely.

Elevator Karma

I have never tried this, because it could be perceived as a fairly pricky thing to do...

And some of you may have heard this, because it's been around a while, in Engadget among other places...

But I share this with you as a matter of interest:

Apparently, in Otis elevators, unless it's been disabled, if you press your floor button and "Door Close" at the same time, your elevator becomes an express to your floor.

Let your conscience be your guide.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Question for Pat Robertson

I have a question for Pat Robertson -- you know he probably reads this blog all the time -- and it's really an easy one: Who else deserved a stroke and why?

I mean, did Dick Clark deserve his stroke? Why? Was it because he supported "devil music"?

What about Kirk Douglas? Did he deserve to have his stroke? Was it because he defied the blacklist?

Hey, is it limited to strokes, Pat? I mean, does anyone who dies have it coming to them? What about those miners? Did they do something wrong, too?

Maybe some of them had relatives in Dover, PA, which you said was abandoned by God! Wait a minute... Dick Clark is from Philly... Is that near Dover? Or maybe some of them knew gay people, who you said caused 9/11, so they had to die because of that? That seems like overkill -- literally -- but you know best.

Pat, maybe you should make a list of who deserves strokes or other illnesses, and who deserves to die, and who deserves to be assassinated and so forth. It would really be helpful. You know, for when you're damned for all Eternity in a sea of fire.

What Would You Do If You Had This Much Expertise Gathered In One Room?

You probably heard that President Bush gathered thirteen former Secretaries of Defense and State for a meeting in the White House Thursday morning. What an amazing opportunity to pick their brains. What an awesome chance to avail yourself of their wisdom, particularly in this difficult time.

Instead, according to the New York Times, the President spoke to them for 40 solid minutes, then opened up the floor for 5 to 10 minutes of "interchange with the group" (including testily interrupting Madeleine Albright), then herded them into the Oval Office for the group picture.

Oh, sure, then they got to go back across the hall to meet with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley and General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"But as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings."

Gotta love these people.

Who's Succeeded As Host Of the Oscars

The news that Jon Stewart will host the Oscars is about a day old, and Dana Stevens in Slate has rounded up the three different reactions to the news. She seems to have a fourth reaction: he's unsuited for the job and will probably fail.

Call it an inevitable byproduct of the post-modern age: the pre-post-mortem.

Here's what Stevens writes:

"While I think Stewart is a wit in the true sense, unbelievably fast on his feet, and one of the smartest comedians currently working, for some of those very reasons, he may be temperamentally ill-suited to this gig. As a comic and a pundit, Stewart is inherently unsentimental, and the essence of the Academy Awards—its blessing and its curse—is its unironic embrace of show-business sentimentality. All the show's successful hosts in the past—Billy Crystal, Whoopi Goldberg, Ellen DeGeneres—have had a healthy streak of that quality."

I don't even remember Ellen Degeneres hosting, but maybe that's me. Also, I thought Whoopi Goldberg sucked mightily, but I always do, so maybe that's also me.

The point is, Stevens has an awfully short memory. I would argue that three of the most successful Oscar hosts, no matter what anyone says, were also three of its least sentimental: Steve Martin, Johnny Carson and Bob Hope. All three approached the evening without an ounce of the schmaltz that Dana Stevens seems to think the show calls for.

If Jon Stewart succeeds -- and I hope he does -- it will be because he comes in as Jon Stewart and goes out the same way. But then again, I liked what David Letterman did, so what do I know?

The Next Device You Want


And the next RIAA lawsuit.

For the last six months or so I've been using and enjoying software called RadioLover, that lets you listen to iTunes or other streaming radio, records it, then divides the songs into MP3's automatically. It's pretty cool, and works remarkably well. I don't know why the RIAA lets them keep selling it, but I ain't asking.

Well, fortunately another target has popped up to draw their fire. Engadget reports that a company called TimeTrax introduced the PopCatcher at CES. The PopCatcher does the same thing as RadioLover, but it does it through the air, with FM radio. Just set it down, turn it on, walk away, and when you come back it's broken the songs into up to 50 MP3's.

25 Most Interesting Webcams of 2005


I am a sucker for webcams, and a friend sent me this great collection of cams showing live views from Paris to New Orleans to koalas in Australia. And what's not to love about pandas?

Fark.com's Best Photoshops

Check out these and others and vote for your favorites at Fark.com.



Star Jones on 20/20 Tonight

From John Stossel's e-newsletter:

"Tonight's show lineup is still being developed. We only know for sure that Lynn Sherr talks to the flamboyant and annoying Star Jones, one of the stars of The View."

And when John Stossel calls you annoying, you know you're an asshole.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Real Scoop on the Silent Night Lyric Change

Remember those secular lyrics the Wisconsin schoolchildren were "forced" to sing as the latest salvo in the War on Christmas? It's been Bill O'Reilly's #1 piece of ammo this season.

Well, it's not just that O'Reilly's lying... but how much he's lying is truly hilarious.

How about that the song was written in 1988? How about that it was written by the music director at Ronald and Nancy Reagan's church???

Read the hilarious details at Media Matters.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Clearly I Have Not Been Paying As Much Attention to Everquest II As I Should Have Been


This is Anna Wainscott, winner of the Quest for Antonia, a search for the woman who looks the most like the heroine of the game Everquest II... a game which I am running out in my stocking feet to buy right now.

"I have a feeling about sixty percent of what you say is crap"

If you missed it, David Letterman chopped Bill O'Reilly into little pieces last night. Video Dog has highlights, but Crooks and Liars has the whole delicious segment.

How I'd Make The Super Bowl Better Though I Don't Like Football

I don't like football much. Nothing against people who do like it; I'm actually jealous of how much they enjoy it. I just never got into it much. As a result, I've almost never watched more than fifteen minutes of a football game, including the Super Bowl. (I usually TiVo it and fast forward to the commercials.)

So anyway, here's how football on TV, especially the Super Bowl, can be better.

First of all, obviously, the Super Bowl is wayyyy too long.

They should either play the first quarter before the televised portion begins, or they should play three downs instead of four. Maybe a shorter field: say, sixty-five yards.

And NO TIME OUTS. As a result, that means while we're watching commercials they should keep playing. I'm sure we can be filled in if anything interesting happens.

By now you're probably thinking that I'm an imbecile. Especially if you're a football fan. Of course I'm not serious. Why on Earth would you change an event to please people who don't like the event in the first place?

Yet that's what they do every year with the Academy Awards.

It is rejiggered and reshuffled and restructured and reordered and the rules are changed the categories are eliminated and/or moved to another night and nominees are announced from their seats or from the wings... and why?

So it will fit in 3 1/2 hours.

And why?

I don't know.

The Super Bowl doesn't. It takes all day to play the goddamn Super Bowl and nobody begins their articles about it with "Well it took all day to play the goddamn Super Bowl this year" because they know the Super Bowl takes as long as it takes.

But if the Oscars take fifteen minutes too long, pick up the papers the next day and every critic and columnist pounds the same tom-tom: "The interminable Oscar telecast..." "Went on forever..." "Can't they find a way to shorten it...?" (And if Jon Stewart does host the Oscars this year, they'll probably blame him, too.)

In their zeal to shorten award shows, to please the very people who don't like award shows to begin with, producers have eliminated the very thing that makes award shows fun: the chance for spontaneity. The chance that something really weird and funny or moving or newsworthy will happen.

Instead we get winners rushing to read lists of names at high speed before the music plays them off. And then mini-banter from the next set of presenters, because there's no time for real banter from the presenters. And then no time for clips because we're rushing to meet that phony three hour or 3 1/2 hour deadline some columnist made up.

And if they do anything -- a musical number, a comedy monologue -- it'd better be good, because otherwise the next morning a hundred print wags will say, "They ran ten minutes over for
that???"

And the drumbeat will begin for the next year, and the Oscar (or Emmy, or Grammy, or whatever) producer will be asked, for weeks before the telecast, one question:

"What steps are you taking to make sure you come in on time?

When you read an interview with the producer of the Oscars, and that question is asked -- and it always is -- have you ever once said to yourself, "Yeah, that's exactly the question I'd ask!"?

Well, you know what? Let the Oscars or Emmys come in on time when the Super Bowl does. The producer should say, "The show takes as long as it takes." And any network that isn't okay with that shouldn't broadcast the show. There'll be other takers.

Right now, the networks treat the Oscars like a drug mule. They barely look at its face as they make it swallow condoms full of Revlon ads and then hustle it quickly toward the 3 1/2 hour border before they explode.

The sooner networks start treating award shows like events -- like they do with the Super Bowl -- the more dignified and lucrative the award show business will become. Please the fans of the event, and stop trying to please those that hate it.

HD DVD Trumps Blu-ray

In the hi-def DVD war between HD DVD and Blu-ray, chalk one up to HD DVD.

According to DVD Exclusive, Toshiba has announced it will start selling consumer HD DVD players in March for $500. This is one-half to one-third the price of the Blu-ray models announced so far.

I am, as I've mentioned before, completely wary of this whole technology, so I say stand pat.

DIRECTV Has a Big 2006 Planned

If this press release is to be believed, DIRECTV plans to unveil a host of new features and enhancements at CES designed to make its service more tightly-woven into its subscribers' lives, including PVR portability, A March Madness Mix, dating via personal ads, a music show, and technology that puts cameras inside video games during televised tournaments.

MasterCard Blow Job Ad

If only ads like this fake one really could air, I'd never skip a commercial again.

"The Right To Be Left Alone"

That's what Justice Brandeis called it. He wrote that it was "the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men." He went on to write that no federal official was authorized to commit a crime on the government's behalf.

He didn't say "unless it's really, really important." Or "unless we're confronted with evildoers."

It's not hard to imagine what Brandeis would think of Bush's NSA spying, and the weary defense that what the President does can't possibly be illegal because the President says so. The only mystery would be why Bush would trot out such a wheezy defense that has so consistently failed in the past.

I am no legal mind, but I would ask one question: If the President believes he has such absolute powers of surveillance that he can, at his sole discretion and without court order, decide to wiretap American citizens, then why fight over extending the Patriot Act?

I mean, seriously: If they think what they did is legal, then why are they fighting to extend the Patriot Act? They don't need it. They should just screw it and let it expire.

But they are fighting to extend it. So what does that tell you?

Zazzle

Used to be printing custom postage stamps was PC only, using stamps.com. But now, zazzle.com has gotten in the game, with a very easy-to-use web interface that beats stamps.com's kludgy software all to heck. Ordering your own spiffy stamps with your own handsome puss on them is a breeze... and for a limited time you can get 39 cent stamps at 37 cent prices!

The Box Office and The Buggy Whip

Box office is down this year. A lot. Why?

It's facile to say it's because movies sucked this year.

Roger Ebert says it was a great year for movies. Rotten Tomatoes says it was a teeny bit better than usual, according to an article in The Washington Post. (By the way, while the Post examines the many different possible causes for the slump, the Los Angeles Times, in typical fashion, just kinda stands outside a couple of theatres and asks a couple of people. And no, I'm not kidding.)

But the truth, and we all know it, is just that it's no fun to go to the movies any more. The experience has been ruined. From parking to lines to Fanta girls, it's a miserable experience, and until they fix that it's just nicer to stay home. (And, frankly, in my home I have a more comfortable chair and more reliable projection and sound.)

There's a line I always think of that Danny DeVito said in the movie Other People's Money (I'm sure it was in the play, too, but I could care less about plays). He says, "I'm sure the last company that made buggy whips made the best goddamn buggy whips in the world."

Economic models change. People hate to admit it, but they do.

A few years ago, everyone was moaning about saving the independent, mom-and-pop bookstore. You don't hear that much anymore. While the music industry tries to figure out how to save the CD, the consumer has all but abandoned it. And while the motion picture exhibitors keep downgrading the movegoing experience, attendance plummets.

The Arclight in Hollywood is an oft-cited example of a theatre that bucks the trend and succeeds by doing so. Consumers (myself included) are willing to pay a higher price for softer seats, better food, no ads, and a better all-around experience.

Meanwhile, the multiplexes act like we owe them a living. We don't. There is nothing written in the Motion Picture Code that says going to a theatre has to be part of the movie experience. While theatre owners protest the narrowing of the window, they should be grateful there's a window at all.

Seeing movies on TV or on DVD can and will become 100% of the movie experience. Unless theatres clean up their act -- and I hope they do -- they will go the way of the buggy whip.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Perez Hilton's Photoshoppers Have Worked Their Magic


The results are in. You'll recall I mentioned that PerezHilton.com had called upon his readers to mar, taint, and otherwise despoil the cover of Star Jones' new ass-wiper. (I also said that when Star Jones gets mad she busts through the wall like Kool Aid, and one of the contestants was apparently inspired.) Anyway, here are just a couple of my favorites; catch the rest at PerezHilton.com.



The Google Zeitgeist

Google has its year-end look at what we looked at last year, and it's fascinating.

100 Things Learned From the BBC Magazine

Each week the BBC Magazine prints Ten Things We Didn't Know Last Week. They printed an interesting and at times poetic end-of-year 100 Things. (via Slashdot)

"Cowboys Are My Weakness"


Larry David has some very good reasons not to see Brokeback Mountain, as he explains in this New York Times column.

Can We All Make a New Year's Resolution?

The L.A. Times ran an article on New Year's Day offering a way to save its readers an hour a day.

(I know, I thought the same thing, but no, they didn't suggest you cancel your
L.A. Times subscription.)

No, their genius idea was to cut out one TV program a day.

Of course.

It was mainly an idiotic article. And I mean literally "idiotic." As in "written by an idiot." And I'm using that word in the clinical sense. I think the
Times went to a sanitarium and found an actual idiot and let her write an article.

Two of her suggestions? "Why watch celebrities dance when you can watch them skate?" "
The Sopranos will be back... Why watch anything else?" You can practically hear the slurping of her lips and smell the scented crayons.

But my point in writing this is to call for everyone who reads this to make a New Year's Resolution, or at least to come to a realization.

See, at one point in the article, she writes, "Stop adding more police procedurals to your viewing schedule. Just say no to
CSI: El Paso."

Here's the thing, once and for all: adding the name of a city to the letters
CSI is not a joke.

It does not make you funny. It makes you tiresome.

All you lazy writers need to stop doing it. No more
CSI: Cleveland jokes, no more CSI: Bakersfield jokes, no more CSI: Topeka jokes... Enough.

The Nation Says The Onion Got It Right

In a great colum in The Nation, John Nichols says The Onion might have been the only media outlet to correctly report on the the situation in Iraq:

The headline read: "U.S. troops draw up own exit strategy."

It appeared above an article that began: "BAGHDAD -- Citing the Bush administration's ongoing refusal to provide a timetable for withdrawal, the U.S. troops stationed in Iraq have devised their own exit strategy."

A fictitious Staff Sgt. Cornelius Woods tells the newspaper, "My Marines are the best-trained, best-equipped, most homesick fighting force in the world. Just give us the order, and we will commandeer every available vehicle to execute a flanking maneuver on the airstrips of Mosul. By this time tomorrow, we will have retaken our positions at our families' dinner tables in full force."

Nichols goes on to point out what the evening news failed to show: that when Cheney visited our troops recently, he got a lukewarm response at best.

I've often said that you can get a fairer and more balanced dose of the truth from the "fake" news than the real news. Even Frank Rich of The New York Times noted that Jon Stewart and The Daily Show "were on top of 'The Halliburton Connection' well before much of the media spoke up loudly about the nexus between Dick Cheney's former employer and lucrative government wartime contracts."

(Of course, there was no mention of why The Daily Show has been the lone media voice speaking out about "The Halliburton Connection" since then.)