Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Olympics

I love when it's time for the Olympics. Since I have zero interest in them, for me it's as if NBC is broadcasting a test pattern 24 hours a day. This gives me a fantastic chance to catch up on my TiVo backlog.


I Want One As Soon As Possible

I hope this is the future. It's a demonstration of a very cool, very intuitive computer interface. (It will also, of course, put you in mind of Minority Report.)

I'm So in Love With You

If the Squeezebox 3 truly is the effortless Mac, Windows and Linux solution to playing music from your computer on your home stereo -- along with Internet radio and Pandora and location-free access -- then count me in.

Matchmaker pairs computer and stereo | CNET

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hop on Popups

Here's an incredibly simple, useful site to help you test the effectivness of your popup blocker. The site will try every which way to unleash popups, and with any luck you won't see any of them. At least with my Mac and Firefox, I didn't... I hope you have the same good fortune.

PopupTest - test your popup blocker software and download software

All Kidding Aside, the Best Commercial I've Ever Seen

If you've never seen this rare Honda commercial, here it is. If you have seen it, marvel at it again.

Quote of the Week

"They're newsmen. If Britney Spears gets a cup of coffee they HAVE to cover it."

-- Jimmy Kimmel

It's Not TV... You Can Record TV

From the "How To Make Subscribers Into Former Subscribers" Department comes this news, via Gizmodo:

HBO has filed with the FCC to label its shows with a "Copy Never" broadcast flag. In other words, if you have a VCR or a TiVo, HBO is telling you to suck on it.

You have to wonder sometimes if some parts of the entertainment industry are being run by Bialystock & Bloom. Are they trying to drive the audience away?

HBO Wants No Recording of Shows--Ever - Gizmodo

My New Favorite Ad

Thursday, February 09, 2006

For Your Consideration: Brokeback Sims

Brainless Ad Flopped With Brains

By now you know I loathed the Budweiser "Secret Fridge" ad. You may also know that I was all alone; every poll and focus group seemed to declare it the winner and champeen of all the Super Bowl ads.

Well, an admittedly-hurried study of MRI scans at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center reveals that this crumbum of a commercial was actually the
least effective. Except among those who want to be identified with idiots. (via Adrants)

He Makes a Good Point

"If Mike Scofield from Prison Break were in Oz instead of Fox River, doesn't it seem likely that Ryan O'Reily would have made him his bitch after about a week?... And why doesn't anybody ever clean Gregory House's clock? I keep expecting someone to say, 'Screw the cane, smart-ass, here's a little oral surgery courtesy of my fist.'"

-- Stephen King, Entertainment Weekly, 1/20/06

Dirty Mary

I usually hate it when people give me their short films to watch. In fact, I usually don't watch them. Because they almost always suck.

So imagine my surprise when the short film Daniele Ferraro wrote and stars in,
Dirty Mary, turned out to be really funny, really well-made, and best of all, the first short film I've ever seen that was actually short!

It's been making a successful run of the festival circuit, and now will make its Hollywood debut as part of the D.I.Y. Film Festival at the Egyptian this Saturday night. I'm told no reservations are necessary, and the show starts at 7:30.

No Wonder Apple Always Refused To Call the 5G the "Video iPod"

"February 9, 2006 - Think Secret can confirm recent rumblings that Apple is nearing completion of a completely revamped video iPod that will shed the ubiquitous mechanical click wheel for a touch screen and will sport a 3.5-inch diagonal display.

"This video iPod, which has been in development and on the table since before Apple released the 5G iPod last year with video playback, will feature a display that will occupy the entire front face of the device. Sources who have seen the device report that it features a digital click wheel, one that overlays the touch-sensitive display and appears when a finger touches it and disappears when the finger is removed."

Think Secret - True video iPod to sport 3.5-inch display, touch-screen click wheel

If Dr. Seuss Wrote a Hygiene Film

Say it with me:

"Blue, White, White, Blue,
Blood Comes From an Opening Between My Legs
I Do Not Put It In a Toilet
I Put It In a Wastebasket"

Perhaps most surprising is that everyone in the family apparently agreed way in advance on precisely what language they would use if Jill ever asked about periods. And notice how unsurprised Dad is at the topic of conversation. This guy is centered.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Scary Thing Is? This is From a RIGHT Wing Site!

"The White House has been twisting arms to ensure that no Republican member votes against President Bush in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation of the administration's unauthorized wiretapping.

"Congressional sources said Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president. The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.

"'It's hardball all the way,' a senior GOP congressional aide said."



Surfing the Net on a cell phone can be a maddening experience, as most websites look horrible on that tiny screen. Fortunately, there's Skweezer.

Just thumbtype, and you get a box. Type a website in there, and Skweezer will do its best to make the website phone-friendly. It's been a lifesaver for me many a time, and it's free.

Skweezer: Home

Opera 9 Will Include Widgets and BitTorrent

When Opera -- the other browser you should use instead of IE -- releases version 9, it will include support for widgets as well as allow users to develop widgets of their own. Opera 9 will also include BitTorrent.

Also at the Opera website, you can download a version of Opera that works great on your cell phone. - Opera Adds Widgets to Web Browser

Three Classic Conversations in 24 Hours

If you're very unlucky you get to have one of these encounters in a lifetime. I've just had three of them in 24 hours. Certain names and places have been concealed to protect me from reprisals. Welcome to my life:

With a grocery checkout clerk, while waiting for a price check:

CHECKOUT CLERK: So, what do you do for a living?
ME: I'm a writer.
CHECKOUT CLERK: What do you write? Books?
ME: TV, films.
ME: That's great!
CHECKOUT CLERK: I can help you, you know.
ME: That's okay.
CHECKOUT CLERK: I know everybody in town. I have contacts everywhere.
ME: Thanks, I appreciate it, but I'm okay.
CHECKOUT CLERK: Still, it's good to have an agent.
ME: Thanks anyway. I'm good.
CHECKOUT CLERK: Do you? Have an agent?
ME: Yeah.
CHECKOUT CLERK: "C-A-A"? "C-A-A"? What does that mean?!
ME: Er... Creative Artists?
CHECKOUT CLERK: I'm not familiar with them.

Phone call with Bureaucratic Clerk:

ME: Hi, it says [unidentified obligation] shouldn't happen twice in twelve months? I just got my second [unidentified obligation] in twelve months.
BUREAUCRAT: Says here the last time was in April?
ME: Yes.
BUREAUCRAT: That's more than twelve months ago.
ME: No, it's not.
BUREAUCRAT: Sir, yes, it is.
ME: No, it's not. April was only 10 months ago.
BUREAUCRAT: No, it's-- Oh, right.

At a coffee shop:

CLERK: That will be $5.65.
(I pay)
CLERK: I said $5.65.
ME: Uh huh.
CLERK Five sixty-five.
ME: Uh-huh.
CLERK: This is five.
ME: That's a ten.
CLERK: No it's not.
ME: Yes it is.
CLERK: It's a five.
ME: It's a ten. Look at it.
CLERK: I don't have to look at it to know it's a five.
ME: I think you do. Because it's a ten.
CLERK: No, it's not.
ME: Are you fucking kidding me? Just look down at your fucking hand and you'll see. It's a ten.
CLERK: (rolls his eyes, then looks) Oh, wow, I'm so sorry. I feel awful!

Is it any wonder I long ago swore off leaving the house unless absolutely necessary?

A Modest Proposal

If they euthanize a bull who charges up into the stands, shouldn't they do the same for NBA players?

Never Mind the Super Bowl... I Miss the Golden Globes

Isaac Mizrahi, you magnificent bastard!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Say It Ain't So, Surface! (Spoilers)

Wow. I mean, wow. They did not go quietly.

Sensing perhaps that there would not be a season two, the folks at Surface ended season one with a dow-dow-dilly flurry of hokum. It was katy-bar-the-door time.

When last we left Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, he had decided to break into a high-security industro-milito-black-ops facility. You know the kind: electrified fences, barbed wire, gigantic infinite tunnels filled with hundreds of monorails, and thousands of armed guards in nondescript black uniforms. James Bond's kind of place.

So naturally Cletus stops to change his clothes... something from the When Eagles Dare menswear collection.

Of course, security is apparently notso hotso at Evil Inc.

He actually lies down in the road and pulls the "Ow, my leg" move. (No, I'm not kidding.) When the highly trained evil truck driver gets out to say, "Hey, you okay?" Cletus deploys some expert chop-sockey and lays him out pretty. Now Cletus' outfit is looking like a pretty smart choice, because he could easily pass for an evil truck driver. Or for Richard Burton.

We now go twelve floors below the Earth, to a secret lab. It's a biolab, a clean room, where scientists all wear bunny suits. Yet no one even looks up as a truck driver in Ilya Kuryakin clothes wanders around among them, peeping into every evil nook and cranny and actually making cell calls to Dr. Juggs to report what he sees. (No, I'm not kidding.)

(When he's discovered, the security teams run through looking everywhere for him, presumably contaminating everything in sight. None of the scientists do what I would do: peel off that stifling helmet and say, "What the fuck?! Why do I have to wear this thing every day if no one gives a shit??!")

And then they just threw in some other cliches: the interrogation scene, the school bully scene, the mother denied custody scene, the angry mob confronting the sheriff scene...

Anyway, as we begin this week's show, a tsunami is coming. (No, I'm not kidding.)

So, this week was literally a big chunk of the second half of Deep Impact, but as if Leelee Sobieski had ridden the scooter to save Elijah Wood, and if she hadn't succeeded, and if we didn't care.

Meanwhile, Dr. Juggs is going to save Cletus, but she's going into the tsunami zone, which she doesn't know... and incredibly, no one told the pilot of her plane not to land in the middle of a tsunami evacuation. This is a very relaxed airline, indeed.

So she gets off the plane in the middle of the "Yeah, lady? You need a car? You and everyone else!" scene.

Several cliches later, we come to a cell phone scene. The cell phone scene exists only to get Dr. Juggs to Cletus quickly, because apparently a bunch of episodes were cut out of the order. So he calls her and tells her how to get to him. (No, I'm not kidding.)

Now understand that every time I take Los Feliz past Louise's and The Derby, my cell phone cuts out. But these two carry on a twenty-minute cell conversation, even though he's locked in a bulletproof, tsunamiproof, soundproof cell twelve stories below the Earth's surface. And even though she goes from her car to an elevator to a security room filled with computer equipment. (I won't even tell you how she foils the biometric scanner)

And by the way, she breaks into the facility with even less trouble than he did: she hops a fence (despite the barbed wire), and breaks a window. With a fire extinguisher. Because this facility keeps its fire extinguishers outside. (No, I'm not kidding.)

Anyhoo! The tsunami hits, in a fantastically inexpensive scene set inside a church steeple staircase, because nothing smaller and cheaper was available.

There is quiet, and Faux-lijah Wood says it's over, but Dr. Juggs cautions him that tsunamis come in sets... "There'll be another... and another... and another..." she says ominously. But after one more bit of camera-shaking she looks at the clock and realizes it's almost time for Las Vegas to start so they figure it's all over.

The show ends with them surrounded by a flooded city, stranded atop a steeple, with bloodthirsty monsters swimming around them... then we hear the looped-in line, "It's like a new world."

A note of hope! The four of them will screw each other and repopulate the Earth in that steeple until the monsters eat them!

I love this show! Not one word of it made any sense at all, and they made no effort at all to make it make sense and you have to respect that. Kudos to whoever randomly chose the words the non-actors of this show said! Well played!

Survivor & American Idol (Spoilers)

I don't know who's crazier:

... the "Older Women" on Survivor, for kicking off the only sensible and capable tribe member they have?

...or the judges on American Idol, for rejecting Holly (the nursing home girl), who sang like an angel, and putting through Tatiana, the poodle-haired phony, whose off-key singing sucked donkeys?

The Last Person on Earth to Watch the Super Bowl

I was traveling this week, so I didn't watch the game until this morning. (And by "watch the game" I mean "fast forward to the commercials.")

I didn't think I cared who won the Super Bowl. Then I realized if the Seahawks lost, that idiot from The View and the idiot who married her would be very sad, and I rooted as hard as I could for the Steelers.

I know the Super Bowl always meant a great deal to both Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King. I believe they both face-painted at previous Bowls. So they would have been very moved by the tribute.

Also, they would have embraced the idea of security guards on the 50-yard line to keep the teams from attacking each other due to "trash talk." It really is America's Family Day. I can see why they wouldn't want it sullied by a nipple.


The first time I saw the Blockbuster commercial during the pre-game, I wondered if it was good marketing to have the guy walking through what looked like a Blockbuster store with absolutely no movies on the shelves.

The second time I saw it I wondered what was up with that guy's hair.

By midway through the pre-game, I was staring at him, wondering what was wrong with his
face? if he had been in some kind of accident. Did he go face-first through a windshield or something?

By kick-off, I was so sick of him I wanted to push him face-first through a windshield myself. Along with all those red-chair RadioShack assholes.

But anyway, on to the rest of the commercials. It's old news by now -- and they were mostly uninspiring, I thought -- so I'll go quickly.

I liked Kermit for Ford Escape and
loved Stunt City for Degree. (You can see a "director's cut" of the latter by going to the Degree website, which is NSFW.)

I loved the Clydesdale ad and the MacGyver ad.

I thought the Leonard Nimoy ad was clever, but the direction was off... Why weren't any of the people he passed along the way upset that he couldn't do "the gesture"? It wasn't clear that he had a problem except through his dialogue.

The Burger King ad was great, except I swear I saw it -- or one just like it -- six months ago. Also it needed a punch line.

The ad, which was one of my favorites last year, was a confusing jumble of cuts this year. I frankly didn't even understand it. The ESPN Mobile ad was really well done, I thought, as was the Hummer "baby" ad (though that one was not new).

As always, of course, the real loser wasn't the Seahawks... it was men.

You know you're in trouble when, aside from Nimoy and MacGyver, the most positive portrayal of a guy in the commercials is of a caveman.

The onslaught of negative stereotypes of men was punishing:

A smart capable woman does all the work while three clueless, slackass guys loaf around the office.

Stupid guys put a rotating fridge in the wall, and the stupider guys next door worship it like a god.

A moron saves a beer, leaving his friend to be mauled by a bear.

An idiot tackles a woman, ruining a friendly touch football game. (Don't worry, she gets him back at the end.)

Lazy oafs loaf on rooftops, except a hardworking oaf, who's so stupid he falls through roof. (Wife is seen reading newspaper; message is she's literate... and used to his stupidity.)

And then, of course, the final kick in the balls: the commercial for the Dove Self-Esteem Fund... "because every girl deserves to feel good about herself."

And every boy deserves to look forward to a life where pop culture will characterize him as lazy and stupid and he can fall through a roof and his wife won't even look up.

Are you ready for some disenfranchisement?

A Wallet For Your Laptop

Why didn't I think of this? Stash Card is a PCMCIA card that opens up like a wallet. I just got one, and it's very clever and handy. Of course, it would be even better if the computer could then recognize the card and catalog the contents, but I suppose that's a long way off.

You can order Stash Card from Cyberguys, home of hundreds of "Why didn't I think of this?" products.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Laptop Tips/ScreensavRz

Lifehacker comes through again, this time with handy laptop tips.

One suggestion: Even though they're made for Powerbooks, ScreensavRz from Radtech are great for any laptop. They're sheets of microfiber that you can lay across your keyboard before you close your notebook. That way the oils that even the cleanest among us transfer from our fingers to the keys don't get on the screen.

I think ScreensavRz are a much better choice than the iSkin or shelf liners the article suggests; especially since you can use the ScreensavRz to clean the screen as well. Besides, Radtech not only makes great products, they ship some of them, including ScreensavRz, in really cool containers. If you order one, you'll see what I mean.

Geek to Live: Laptop tips - Lifehacker

ScreensavRz from Radtech

Persistence of Vision

"...Apple's new portable video player will fail miserably...The video iPod was born from arrogance. Apple has been so successful with the audio iPod that it thinks it can't go wrong. But it will this time. This is an example of a technology that is being launched only because it can be, not because anybody wants it."

-- Phillip Swann,, 10/12/05

"I'm really pleased to announce that last quarter we sold 14 million iPods .. that is over a hundred every minute, 24/7 throughout the quarter. And it still wasn't enough. We've now sold over 42 million iPods -- as you can see the curve is going up again... As you know one of the newest things on iPods is TV shows. Since we launched on October 12th we have sold over 8 million videos."

-- Steve Jobs, MacWorld 2006, 1/10/06

"When Apple launched its video iPod in late 2005, I predicted that the video feature would be a failure for two reasons:

1. The 2.5 inch screen is too small for watching a video for more than a few minutes at a time.

2. Americans would not be interested in paying for episode downloads of shows such as Desperate Housewives that they can watch for free on network TV.

Well, a new study from Horowitz Associates and Points North Group seems to confirm my suspicions..."

-- Phillip Swann,, 1/29/06


-- headline in Hollywood Reporter, 2/6/06

Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., which owns Fox, tells Newsweek that he doesn't think that people will watch primetime shows on small TV devices when they could watch them more enjoyably on a big screen.

I don't always agree with Murdoch, but he's right on the money.

-- Phillip Swann,, 2/6/06

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Adorable... Or Terrifying? You Decide!

Apparently this rabbit got into the shed where the Food of the Gods was hidden.

CBBC Newsround | Animals | Herman could be 'biggest bunny'

Guys, If You Never Want To Get Laid Again...

...then just serve dinner to your dates on these whimsical Dirty Dishes by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley. To get away with these takes a very special style ... and if you have cinderblock bookshelves and Ikea plastic chairs you have enough gal-repellent problems to overcome.