Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Long and the Short of NBA All-Star Saturday Night

NBA All Star-Saturday Night didn't begin promisingly.

During the player introductions, there were happy children dancing in front of crazy-hot cheerleaders. I can't have been the only one thinking, "Get those goddamned kids out of the way!"

Then all was forgotten when 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki gave an astonishing performance to win the 3-Point Shootout.

But the best was when Nate Robinson, who is 5'9" if he's lucky, won the Slam Dunk contest. If you saw it, you know what an inspiring and hard-fought competition it was. And I hope you taped it to show your kids that sports can be about skills and hard work and perseverance, and not just spinning rims and thug affectations.

Which Reminds Me...

This is definitely one of my favorite commercials -- and favorite messages -- of all time.





My New Favorite Commercial

Sony DVDirect VRD-MC1

PC Magazine has given an Editor's Choice award and a rave review to the new Sony DVDirect VRD-MC, a DVD burner that lets you plug a camcorder or VCR directly into it AND watch what you're recording on a built-in 2" LCD screen. Pretty cool.

Sony DVDirect VRD-MC1 review by PC Magazine

"Peppering is what you do to a Caesar salad. He shot that dude." -- Jon Stewart

As a fan of Edwin Newman's books on language, I hope Mr. Newman is following the Cheney story. Media Matters has a funny (and horrifying) roundup of the tortured syntax they're using to avoid the words "Cheney shot" someone.

Media Matters - Media employ verbal gymnastics to avoid saying "Cheney shot hunting partner"


"The Great Santino"


In honor of one of the most loathsome creeps ever to ooze across a reality show, Video Dog assembled a tribute to Project Runway's Pricky Prickerson-- er, Santino. If you haven't been watching this awesome show, at least watch this brief montage, so you can join the rest of us in rooting for him and the pizza he combs his hair with to go back to the obscurity that most definitely awaits him.

Friday, February 17, 2006

"Clearly I Couldn't Have Said Anything... Everyone Knows I'm a HUGE Liar."


"Finally, Hume suggested that since this was obviously a national story, Cheney should have informed the national press and gotten the word out sooner. Cheney's reply: 'It isn't easy to do that. Are they going to take my word for what happened?'

"Seriously? Cheney's story is that his own credibility is so poor that a statement from him would have been worthless? Is he really going to stick to that as his explanation?"

The Washington Monthly - "Political Animal" -- 2/15/06

Slut-o-Meter


Finally, a website that gets right down to the one question we all want answered about someone: How big a slut are they?

Slut-o-Meter determines a person's promiscuity by a dazzlingly simple formula: Google results with and without "safe search" enabled. So, for example, while Paris Hilton rates 84.07%, Suzanne Vega rates 2.77%.

If Suzanne or any other women need help raising their number...

Not Exactly C.S.I.

Yesterday. Countdown with Keith Olbermann did a lengthy piece on the woeful nature of the "investigation" into the Cheney shooting.

This morning, The Today Show did a one-sentence "The Vice President apologized and the President is satisified" clip.

In case you saw the latter, which is the tone of most of the media, and not the former, let's review:

The sheriff's deputy who investigated never got to interview the victim about the shooting -- the interview was ended before it got to those events -- and the victim declined to be taped.

He was barred from talking to Cheney for 18 hours. I assume to give Cheney a chance to sober up.

He never visited the scene.

He never interviewed any of the Secret Service detail.

He never interviewed any of the people who served the food or drinks.

He never interviewed any of Cheney's doctors about his medications.

The "witness" whom Cheney designated to speak to the press because she saw everything? She was over 100 yards away.

She saw nothing. By her own admission, when she saw the Secret Service running toward the men -- from the length of a football field away -- she asssumed Cheney had had a heart attack.

And this is the person Cheney picked to be the lone voice of the day.

Cheney told Brit Hume he had a beer with lunch before the hunt. (Fox News cut that line from the interview, of course.) But no one drank the rest of the day or evening.

Mrs. Armstrong, the "witness", says no one had any alchohol before the hunt. They drank Dr. Pepper. But she said Cheney had a cocktail after the shooting.

Either Cheney or his designated witness is a liar.

And to think, they had all that time to get their story straight.


Please Don't Click On Things, People... Please?

Proof positive that no matter what kind of computer you use, if you're dumb enough to install an unfamiliar program, you will be in trouble:


"A rare piece of malicious software targeting Apple's Mac OS X operating system -- instead of the more common victim, Microsoft Windows -- has been spotted online and appears to be spreading. Like many computer viruses, the bug lures people to click on it by posing as something else, in this case a file containing a picture of the next-generation Apple operating system.

"The malicious software causes computer programs to crash and transmits itself through an instant message program for the Mac called iChat. To get infected, users must download the file, called "latestpics.tgz," and install it on their computer...

"'Whoever wrote this isn't particularly skillful,' said Andrew Welch, president of Ambrosia Software Inc., a firm that develops programs for Macs. 'It's not a very viral virus, I'll put it that way.'

"Welch examined the code and tested it on a few computers. He said the 'malware' failed to work on most of the machines he tried to infect with it. Computer security researchers agreed that the threat level posed by this bug is relatively low but said the malicious software could inspire more potent copycats and mark a new era of threats for previously secure Mac users."

Virus Targeting Macs Spreads Via IM Program


Who Needs Another Disc?

Swanni of TVPredictions.com, everyone's favorite pundit-for-hire, is outraged today, because despite his fortune-telling prowess he apparently just woke up to what has been reported on for months: that the upcoming HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players may not be compatible with today's HD televisions and LCD monitors.

This is so widely known that even I wrote about it on December 29th.

But however hilarious it is when those who "predict the future" come late to the party, I'm just glad people are starting to wake up to the lameness of these two formats.

But rather than write another screed about the evils of DRM, I'll just ask a simpler question. It's the one I ask in the title.

Who needs another disc?

You've got a big-ass TV. A kickin' hi-def cable or satellite box. Some kind of TiVo or PVR. And a video-on-demand technology. And if you don't have them, you soon will.

So who needs DVD's?

Just VOD, say, King Kong in hi-def and store it on a hard drive for whenever you get the urge to watch it. Stack three of four of those drives, and do away with the whole concept of discs.

They should price the special features along with the VOD, too. It should all be digital, storable, and transportable.

It's your media. You paid for it.

It shouldn't come on discs, it should come in bits. You should be able to store it as you wish and use it as you wish.

A movie should be stored on a hard drive in your home, and then you can slip it on a PSP or an iPod or on a laptop and take it with you. Like music.

The concept of selling you a tamper-proof silver disc that only works with a special player and a special cable to a special TV and with special firmware is -- I'm sorry -- so pathetically 20th Century it is doomed to fail. And it will fail if we as consumers wise up and make sure it does.

Mazda Uses Google To Stick It To Pontiac


When Pontiac spent a fortune on Solstice commercials that ended by telling us to "Google Pontiac" for more info, they probably thought they were being very cool.

But Mazda was cooler.

They went to Google and bought the search terms "Pontiac" and "Pontiac Solstice" so any Google search would bring up nothing but Mazda MX-5 ads all up and down the right side of the page.

Denied!

Now Pontiac has quickly scurried and outbid Mazda for that ad space, but hats off to Mazda for some nimble thinking.

USATODAY.com - Mazda pulls Web-search switcheroo with Pontiac


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Social Networking Sites Like Friendster and MySpace


"It's a great way to connect with people from all over the world. On the downside, these sites are loaded with sexual predators. On the plus side, they're also loaded with sexual prey."

--Demetri Martin, The Daily Show, 2/15/06

I, Dirt-Sucking Robot


I love the Roomba. I love MAKE. And I love Bluetooth. See what happens when they all come together to make a Bluetooth-controlled robot vacuum cleaner.

Bluetooth: Get Ready to Roomba - Gizmodo


A Whole New World


This morning, Republican gadfly and professional ooze trail Mary Matalin was on The Today Show
and she smirked that there didn't seem to be any outcry about Cheney's behavior after the shooting... that the American people seemed satisfied with his explanation.

Well, I'm putting it in writing: I'm not satisfied.

I'm outcrying.

The media is focusing, as they will, on why they weren't told sooner. Hey, I'm for whatever gets them off their asses.

I can't imagine why they're not focused on why the President wasn't told sooner, but I suppose he's seldom told anything that might upset him.

No, the thing I can't believe no one is outraged about is the fact that Cheney shot a guy and didn't report it to the police until 18 hours later.

Out of respect for the family?

Huh?

I'd love to see you or I try that.

Can you imagine how different, say, Tobias Beecher's life might have turned out if he had waited 18 hours after hittting that little girl with his car before turning himself in?

When they asked him if he'd been drinking he could have said, "Oh, I had a beer with lunch, but no, not really." And the police would have noted that and thanked him for waiting to come in... such respect for the family!

Then they all would have gone out to Beecher's trunk and gotten the little girl's body, and then Toby could have gone home to his wife and kids.

See? It's a fictional example, but thanks to the Vice President, we now live in a whole new world. You no longer have to report crimes or accidents or mishaps until... oh... whenever.

You no longer have to submit to prompt questioning or blood alcohol exams. Just pop by the station a day or so later, whenever you feel it's dignified, and straighten it all out.

Thanks, Dick!

Sony Bravia Commercial


This lovely foreign Sony BRAVIA commercial from last year is worth the download.

Sony BRAVIA - The Advert


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A Quarter of a Loaf for Mac Users From TiVo

There is finally a TiVo Desktop software for the Mac from TiVo... but it doesn't include TiVo ToGo, the ability to transfer shows from your networked TiVo to your computer. And it doesn't work on Intel-based Macs. But it's something, I guess.

Still, there is a logical paradox at work in some of these compatibility issues: If I had a Windows Media PC, say, I wouldn't need a TiVo. I'd use a Windows Media PC as my DVR. I use a TiVo instead of a Windows Media PC because I like TiVo better. Why punish me for that?

TiVo.com | TiVo Desktop


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Who Ya Gonna Call?

So yesterday the hags of The View were supposed to have as their guests Jenna Elfman and Naveen Andrews, but obviously no person in their right mind is going to tunnel through seventeen-foot-tall snow banks just for a few minutes of cheap plugola.

Enter last-minute-sub Kathie Lee Gifford.

Does she have a Batpole to that studio? Or do they keep her in a glass case with an axe next to it?

With Kathie Lee Gifford on The View, I have never prayed so hard for a meteor shower in my whole life.

Anyway, next time you're on line at the checkout stand, leaf through the trash mags and look for the new "Got Milk" ad with the View-lociraptors.

First, because just looking at the ad can make you choke on the clouds of makeup and hairspray coming off it.

And second, because too much dairy really isn't good for you, and seeing it dripping off their cakey lips will put you off milk for life.

Headline of the Week


"CHENEY'S GOT A GUN"

--both The Daily Show and Countdown With Keith Olbermann

No Matter How Much I Beg, Do NOT Give Back My Credit Card

Apple today announced that it will begin shipping the new 15-inch MacBook Pro this week with faster processors than previously announced.

MacNN | Apple's MacBook Pro ships w/faster CPUs


Remember Vincent Foster?

The right wing had a field day dissecting the timeline of Vincent Foster's suicide... down to the millisecond.

Will they be as diligent in examining the 14-hour delay between when Dick Cheney shot a man in the face and when he reported it to the police? (Where I come from, there's only one reason you delay reporting a crime like that: to change your blood alcohol level)

Will they be as tireless in pursuing why Cheney was hunting without the proper stamp on his license? Or how, as Doug Ireland points out in his excellent primer on quail hunting, Cheney wasn't really quail hunting at all? In fact, to me he seems more like just some drunken asshole shooting his gun out his car window.

Will Cheney be made to look as silly for going woo-hoo with a gun and a keg in his pickup as John Kerry was for windsurfing? (And I'm sorry, isn't there a war going on? Can't someone else clear the brush and kill the quail for a few weeks?)

And while we're on the subject of evenhanded investigation, let's get back to Laura Bush for a moment.

Just let me say, if Hillary Clinton had ever killed a guy, no matter how long ago it was, you can bet your ass we'd hear about it every day on Fox News.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Colbert Valentine

Yes, But Jokes About Allende and Geothermal Heating Are Always Fresh


"There are things that should have been popular but were not: the Allende government, geothermal home heating and Arrested Development... Each week, the script kept adding on — almost as if the writers had an inside bet to see how far and wide the parody could stretch. ...The writers seemed so intent on adding arch subplots that the narrative never settled into an even flow. The humor is both deadpan and hyperactive, which wears thin."

-- Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times, 2/10/06



A Quick End to the Cult Series That Lived Up to Its Name - New York Times


"Firstly, Spray Special Healthful Liquid On Bust"

If it were up to me, they'd print that on money.

In this case, it is from the instructions for a device called The Bust Doctor. ("The Bust Doctor" is also, coincidentally, what is airbrushed on the side of my van.) It is an authentically medical-ish aid for those who would like their breasts to be shaped more like Robo-Devilled-Eggs.

The Ongoing Debate: Real or Not Real?




Whenever this video appears on the Net, people debate endlessly over whether it's digital trickery or not. This film has been examined frame by frame like the Zapruder film. I just think they're standing in front of the net and she swipes it with her arm, but hey, what do I know?


If This Amazing Video Doesn't Make You Want To Buy a Toyota Truck, Nothing Will



2/14/06: The video seems to be M.I.A. from Google. Thanks to Nessahead for finding it at the BBC: Broadband or Narrowband

2/18/06: I've replaced the dead Google link above with a live (at this writing) YouTube link. If the player doesn't work, sorry about that... Please click here, then try the BBC links.

Exhibit B: Never Trust Anyone Who Calls Themselves "Insider"

"Though Fox hasn't officially canceled [Arrested Development], producer 20th Century Fox Television already has found two potential takers in Showtime and ABC.... While ABC views its bid as a long shot, the Showtime scenario is plausible.

"'It's an established name. It's critically acclaimed. It's been deemed one of the best shows ever created for this medium,' Showtime president Robert Greenblatt said last month. 'And I think having that in with our other shows has a bit of a halo effect that also could spark growth in paying subscribers.'"

-- USA Today, "Showtime or ABC Could Get Arrested," 2/9/06


"Considering there have been no outside bites since Fox pulled the plug on Arrested Development, it is safe to assume that the critically acclaimed sitcom is officially over."

-- Marc Berman, "The Programming Insider," Mediaweek.com, 2/12/06


It may be very safe to assume Arrested Development is over, but there have definitely been widely-publicized "outside bites."

Exhibit A: Never Trust Anyone Who Calls Themselves "Insider"

"Indeed [Barbara Walters'] late, great ABC News boss, Roone Arledge, advised her not to do The View, saying it would ruin her hard-earned news reputation.

Instead, The View has earned her an also well-deserved reputation as a great broad, with a great bawdy- [sic] and the quick wit and sense of humor that entails. "

-- Michelle Greppi, "The Insider," TV Week, 1/23/06


As with so many other things, Roone Arledge was 100% right. Barbara Walters has zero news credibility left. Does anyone think of her as a journalist anymore?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Hardest Working Man in TV History


Alec Baldwin's mock battle with Steve Martin for SNL host supremacy has been mined to particularly funny effect this season. But let's show some love for the quiet storm: Richard Belzer's Detective John Munch.

Among the many amazing things about the superb Arrested Development finale-thon the other night was when the show became, by my calculation, the seventh series on which Richard Belzer has played John Munch:

Homicide: Life on the Street
The X-Files
The Beat
Law & Order
Law & Order: SVU
Law & Order: Trial By Jury
Arrested Development

I mean... wow.

There could be more that I don't know about, but even at seven that has to be a record... a remarkable one I can't imagine will be challenged any time soon.

My Mac and My Xbox 360 Are As One

Talk about a pleasant surprise.

My favorite PSP syncing software is PSPware, which is made by a company called Nullriver Software. It's a great piece of software, very simple and elegant... I just use it to toss some music or a few podcasts or
Simpsons episodes or Daily Shows on my PSP and I'm good to go.

Anyway, I went to their website to check something out, and found something new and wonderful.

Connect360 (in beta now) allows the Xbox 360 to connect to a Mac as if it were a Windows Media PC, and then play back music and photos seamlessly. I tried it, and it flawlessly tapped into iTunes and read my playlists, streamed my music... and it's only ten bucks!


Nullriver Software ~ Connect360


First Laura Bush Kills a Guy, Now This

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said Sunday.

CNN.com - Cheney accidentally shoots fellow hunter - Feb 12, 2006