Sunday, December 30, 2007

Every Day is Christmas

Christmas morning, rocking our 13 month old daughter while she sucked down a bottle of milk, I watched television try to make the day a spectacle, and came to a wonderful realization, for me, every day is Christmas. I rarely become emotional, sappy, but there was no getting around that one, wonderful realization.

My daughter is not old enough to understand Christmas, even that she gets presents on that day, but that can wait until next year when Lisa and I can share the morning with her together. This year, it was like every alternate weekend, where I am home alone with my daughter while her mom works. I call them my Mollydays, and I enjoy every minute. In the summer, we bike, with her in the trailer behind me, at first with the big bear that kept her from flopping around. I can only marvel at what we will do on our future "Mollydays," as the world opens up to her, and look forward to every moment.

Now it's too cold for bike rides, but we get along well enough. Christmas morning was like every other day, and this year, that's fine, because my days are exceptional.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Devil in the White City - Erik Larson

I am, at times, a voracious reader. I gobble up everything I can, sometimes with nearly no regard as to quality or genre, but I usually stick in my favorite areas; Sci-fi, Horror, and thriller fiction.

I am always on the lookout for a standout piece of work that I haven't read, and shoot outside of my comfort zones on occasion. So, I heard some guys talking about a book, and got the name of it, Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. I noted the name, and based on a very generic recommendation, I stopped them before they gave me more details, and read the book.

Let me preface this by also saying that as I had a beer with a buddy, telling him about the book I'd just started reading, someone at the bar spoke up to tell me how good it was, and I had to stop them from going on and maybe ruining it for me. Well, that's what I said, I actually just didn't feel like talking to them.

So anyway, on to the book. Devil in the White City is one of those historical drama type of books that have become popular, and usually elicit no interest from me whatsoever. It was solely the person that initially recommended it to me and a few details that got me to read it. Still, the book came highly recommended on all levels.

Read the rest of this review

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tin Man on Sci-FI - is Bad, not Wicked

I had high hopes for the recently released mini-series, " Tin Man," on the Sci-Fi channel. The promo's looked good, and I, if not the rest of the world, was ready, if not eager, for another remake of "The Wizard of Oz."

And so I juggled Time zones and negotiated a compromise in regards to "Project Runway," which seems to always be on record and apparently getting watched by my girlfriend, and managed to watch it. The first episode, like spring training and opening day in baseball, was promising and enjoyable.

Dorothy, cleverly veiled as DG, is a disenchanted teenage girl/waitress that gets pulled away to the land of the O.Z.(outer zone, they are so clever) for an adventure. As with the names I have exampled, the linking to the old story is tenuous and sometimes tedious.

The visuals and style are remarkable, and some wrinkles in the new story are intriguing. DG goes to the O.Z, where she finds that she was raised by robots and that her mother is really the true Queen of the O.Z. . She assembles her crew, the scarecrow is known as glitch, and his brain has been taken, with a big zipper on the top of his head to close the cavity.

The Tin Man, as a character is most interesting. As in the original, he is found early on, a flesh and bone human, trapped in a metal suit, where he was locked and left to die after watching his wife and children hurt and taken away. He is called a "Tin Man' as a nickname for sheriff in the O.Z., and played well by Neal McDonough. This may be the only tie-in that doesn't seem forced.

Glitch, the scarecrow character, stands on his own, the tie-in only holds him back. The cowardly lion is brought in most recognizably, as a human type wolverine, 'feeler'(empath), and doesn't add much to the story. Toto is almost laughable, making a late appearance as DG's childhood, shapeshifting 'tutor' that she called "Toto".

All of these are long reaches to tie the old story to the new story, where the wicked witch possessed DG's older sister as a child, and killed her to be resurrected and sent away by her mother the queen. Still, they are not what makes this series bad, if not a complete waste of time. The story isn't what knocks this series down a notch.

It's the acting.
Zooey Deschanel, who plays DG, mails this whole performance in as if she were sleepwalking. Understated is one thing, reading your lines out loud is another. The good production values, supporting cast, and juicy national time slot should have suggested to this girl that this isn't your old Sci-Fi movie, it's not Anaconda 5, or Vampires in Malibu. They're actually trying to do something quality here and the girl looks like she's bored to death.

It was bad to the point of being hilarious, but not intentionally. Looking over her filmography, she's had some good roles, "Almost Famous," "Big Trouble", and was passable and seemed interested in "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". She mailed this in, plain and simple, taking away any chance this series had of breaking through the pall that keeps Sci-Fi channel movies down.

She had several "Elizabeth Rohm" moments. Rohm, who walked through three or four seasons of "Law and Order" the same way, might've shaken her head at some of the lines they got out of this girl. By the end of the third part I was laughing out loud, mentally putting her in the place of several other famous female leads.
  • Imagine her as Scarlet in GWTW, "uh, Red, can ya just take me back.."
  • I'm not sure anyone would have known Sybil had extra personalities..
  • Erin Brockovich- "They're like called boobs..uh..those things down there..uh, Ed"
Let's not make this all negative though. According t0 Reuters, viewers approved, at least in giving the channel it's biggest rating ever.

"Tin Man," a six-hour special that debuted Sunday to a network record of 6.3 million total viewers, fell 31% with Monday's Part 2 to 4.4 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. However, the second of its three installments aired opposite ESPN's telecast of the undefeated New England Patriots' last-minute victory over the Baltimore Ravens, which set cable viewership records by drawing 17.5 million viewers.

But "Tin Man," a new take on L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," got a boost in its final installment, averaging 5.1 million viewers from 9-11 p.m. Tuesday.


I'd give it a 7/10, it only seem to be getting long at the end. I was disappointed that things seemed to get so sloppy, but it was solid entertainment. I can recommend it for anyone to watch, and if your kids like it, there's nothing too adult for them here. It unintentionally gave me some serous belly laughs, which brings me to my last point.

This is one of those things you might not even notice, but you have to watch it to get this one. Right in the beginning of the third part, as DG comes out of a vision of her mother and her fate, looks at the camera and says: "Who's a homo?" Ya ya, I know she really said," Who is Ahamo(a-Hah-mo), but really, it sounded like Homo in her deadpanned performance.

The teenager that I will never lose snorted after that every time I heard some say that name. Really, some of the lines that followed, whether they pronounced it right or not, like this one especially, " ...every time someone comes here looking for a homo, they go to the seeker."
It could easily devolve into a drinking game.

Maybe I'm insensitive, or just weird, but that was funny, and things like that got me through the last parts. After a while, you just take what you get, I expected a little more out of this after a promising start, but in the end it was just good entertainment.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Toys - as memories and writing tools

Almost every place I ever visited as a child is defined in some ways by the toys that were there for me to play with. Every relative's home, office I visited, restaurant, even schools and churchs, had their own set of toys to play with. Maybe it is part of my generation, or an eye to things to come, but in many cases I remember the toys more than the place, or the people in it.

Let's take both sets of Grandparents, first my mother's side, where I can tell you that she and Grandpa kept a big cardboard cannister of Lincoln Logs and a stack of comic books, handed down from my Uncle and older cousins in the hall closet. I remember nearly as much about those toys, as I can about her holiday dinners, but this is because NOBODY cooked like my Grandma Shaw.

read the rest of this ...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Cubs Magic Number is 4, and thats a good thing

I'm very Sports Oriented. If my teams are doing good, I'm happier, call it immature, okay, but it's reality.

Sooo, the Cubs are doing really good right now, looking like they are going to be in the playoffs, playing good baseball, life is good. Then you have the Bears, who are embarrassing themselves against the cowboys, and this is being written before the end of the game. There is still a part of me that thinks they can win this game.

Rex just keeps giving it away.

I'll just remember, magic number is 4.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Funeral Party

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece out about going to funerals, in a stretch where I am probably beginning to face mortality. Right now, in the wake of several deaths of my peers, I am looking hard at life, and crazy-grateful for the turn it has taken over the last few years. For the longest time, I didn’t really care if I lived. I wasn’t going to go put a bullet in my head, but I wasn’t taking care of myself at all, and I have gotten in the worst sort of shape, but at least am still breathing.

My fitness is coming back, and mentally, I am solid, like never before. I just wish that those that have passed could see me, or know what I know now. Maybe it is my daughter, maybe it’s just some different manifestation of mid-life crisis, but it’s good.

As I’ve alluded too, a little time has passed since this was written, but I found it hiding in my Zoho stacks, and wanted to post it. Since this batch of funerals, there have been more, but the feeling about them hasn’t passed.

Read the whole post, Funeral Party

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jason Kendall - Just in Time.

I've been watching Jason Kendall throughout his career, mostly when he was with Pittsburgh and owned the Cubs. More than once he beat us all by himself, and for some reason he was always out of the Cub's grasp.

Now, this season, on what hopefully is a still rising wave, he has come to the Cubs. Like many Cub fans, I am wary of good signs. Maybe I shouldn't be, they really HAVE made the playoffs, and even advanced a round, but when things are going good, we all look for a shoe to drop. This isn't the shoe dropping, this is us getting a very good catcher, probably past his prime, but with serviceable stats over the last month, much better than what we've been getting. AND, he can catch the damn ball.

Jim Hendry made the announcement during the game this evening, that Jason Kendall had been acquired from the Oakland A's for Rob Bowen, the catcher we got for Barrett, and Jerry Blevins, a relief pitcher that has spent this season putting up decent stats for the Cubs' A and AA teams.

Losing Michael Barrett was a good addition to this team, for whatever reason you want to believe, witness the won-loss record since he left, now filling the hole he left behind with Kendall starts to put this team on the roll that will take them into the post-season.

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Annoying Commercials, Why?

Listen/watch/surf anything, most noticeable for me on the radio, because of my remote and pop-up blockers. I listen to Sports radio in Chicago, usually the Score, because it tends to annoy me the least of what I put on. Apparently, ad execs come up with some template for a commercial, and continue to seel it until everyone is sick of it. Even though they might sell it only a few times, it is amplified by the constant replays. There is some very small amount of time that radio people consider a regular listening cycle, like 30 minutes, and maybe you will only hear the damned commercial one time if you only listen within their tested demographic, but if you sit and listen to the radio throughout the day, or a ball game, well, you find yourself wanting to wring the life out of some disembodied voices.

Which templates am I talking about now? Okay, here's the two commercial types I'm completely csick of:

First, it's the guy calling into the consumer help line. It started out as a beer commercial, where the guy was calling to ask where the taste was, and I got sick of that one quickly and am still often treated to it.ow coke zero has the same setup, you yawn at first, then want to just delete the commercial like a pop-up. But oh no, it's radio, all you can do is switch stations.

Then, it is the couple team, with the doltish husband and the condescending, high pitched wife. If I hear her say, "Tell them about the discount, Herb," , once more, I'll ... I feel like that every time, by the third time she chirps over his voice, and before she does it several more times. They are also everywhere, on several manifestations of that simple, stupid, setup.

I took some media writing classes, and though I don't care to exercise most of what they told me in those classes myself, I also am not spending millions on advertising. One thing I distinctly remember is that you DON'T TRY TO ANNOY THE AUDIENCE. Someone has forgotten that.

Friday, July 06, 2007

American Pie 5 - the Naked Mile - Lowering the Bar

Okay, lets have a show of hands here; Who watches any of the American Pie movies for the plot, writing, or acting? You arean idiot, or liar.

Let's face it, nobody watches them for anything but the gratuitous nudity, if you have any other ideas, you will be disappointed. I luckily missed out on most of the franchise,but rather enjoyedthe first one, thinking that every generation should have it's own version of "Porky's". Sadly,those movies too lost whatever charm they had after only a couple installments.

"The Naked Mile," starring this generation of "B"actors, ranks right down there with Porky's 4 or maybe even that old late night HBO standard, "H.O.T.S." Yes, I am bringing up that movie, one so bad that even eighteen year old boys talked about how bad it sucked, and never missed it when it came around on rotation.Everyone didn't have a DVD playeror even a VCR so you had to count on HBO recycling those old classics. It is one of those movies that follows a theme I've mentioned before, really bad movies that you still end up watching.

Maybe I have finally passed the stage where I can like these movies, but I doubt it. The movie is just lame, contrived, with plotting and jokes backing things up worse than straight to video soft-core porn. Seriously, Ron Jeremy has a better laugh track. If you're just coming to this movie for the obligational nudity, it's also lame,like watching those twilight Girls Gone Wild info-mercials without the little black dots. There's a lot of it, but it's all brief, and scattered.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Studio 60 - Finding New Life or Going out on it's own terms?

When you watch Studio 60 now, nestled into it's fill-in time slot on Thursday nights, you have to ask yourself, where the hell was this earlier in the season? When did the writers decide to quit pandering to whatever forces were put on them from week to week and just start writing what they wanted, because it's a lot better now.

This is one of the few shows capable of working both ends of topics, making you laugh and making you think, and the forces behind it now clearly have an axe to grind. Apparently responding to criticism that it was anti-christian, Studio 60 has ramped up the christian themes, and has also jumped full on the censorship storyline like their once comfy hayride has broken loose, caught on fire and started down a steep, slippery slope.

There has to be some way to keep this show going. I am wondering where all the production money goes? The actors? Well, take a pay cut, lose the cameo by each weeks musical artist, and keep making this show. Take it to cable, whatever, there are a lot of good things that happen in this show and it shouldn't be killed. All of this said, I can't find anything else about the show online. Even a guy with a web site called savestudio60 hasn't written since April, so maybe this will set off a search engine or three.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Who is Trying to Move Cornfest Out of Town?

Here in DeKalb, Illinois, there are few things happening that don't have to do with Chicago. We are close enough to the city that any festing bug we might have, we can get it there at Bluesfest, Taste of Chicago, or even at Summerfest in Wisconsin. All of these are nice venues that can afford bigger acts and not so far away that we can't make a day of getting there. So the local fest shouldn't have to be a big deal. Yesterday in a restaurant I saw a petition against moving Cornfest out of town, and in downtown shop windows there are signs saying Save Cornfest. I can't find a word of any of this in the local newspapers, but am beginning the process of searching out what is happening right now.

Cornfest is what we do in DeKalb. According to the write up on the web site, this is the 30th year, but I remember it when I was very young, then it was just called the Corn Boil. Over the years, the Cornfest sound stage has been the source of ridicule, where many an almost-was and sort-of-been has spent an hour or so of their declining careers entertianing, or just survivng the Cornfest beer garden. Acts like Eddie Money, Greg Kihn, Blue Oyster Cult, Joan Jett, Survivor, Night Ranger, and the Marshall Tucker Band, all past their respective primes, have sported the Sunday afternoon headliner tag. Some of them showed up to play, some just for a check, but they were here entertaining in DeKalb.

Nearby in Sycamore, they spend the summer blocking off the streets and putting on fests since they rebuilt their downtown area. It used to be only Pumpkinfest, now it seems like they are blocking off downtown every month for something, and the storeowners and residents deal with the traffic inconvenience and enjoy the financial boosts and entertainment. It seems to do them good.

In DeKalb, they are wanting to move Cornfest out of town?
I just don't get it. I was only able to skim the petition I signed, but it mostly said what I have repeated here. I thought that I could find answers online, but nothing yet. Any helps and links will be put up, bring them in. I guess I will wait and continue to look for details before writing anymore about it, but since google search brought nothing about cornfest up but some three year old pictures, I figured I'd try to send up a flare.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Is Ted Lilly the secret lovechild of Bill Murray?

I couldn't help myself the other night, watching the Cubs horrible game against Milwaukee. Was it Ted Lilly pitching like a pitcher that has gone around the league once, and his scouting reports are catching up with him? No.

read the rest on my Cubs blog

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Alcohol...Good for the Writer's Soul

Alcohol, and the way we drink it, or don't drink it, or observe it, is one of the most important character traits for a writer to notice.

Is this true? For many years, as I've pushed through troubles caused by alcohol, been forced to get treatement for alcohol consumption, and am still reminded daily of what has happened to me because of it, I still believe it. Sure, there are other things to help outiline people, but certain traits, maybe because they are common, outline the most.

Eating, smoking, gambling, screwing, loving, caring, stealing, lying... everything outlines people ina story, but sit them down at a bar and put a drink or two in front of them, and you begin to get to know your character.

An idiot I use to hang out with use to quote his father, a long dead, once well-thought of person in our small town. "You just can't know anyone enough to trust until you belly up to a bar with them."

I don't completely agree with that, but in the fifties, when it was probably first forged or taken from some other source, it was an indicator.

I spend a lot of time wondering about things like that. I have been told that all my stories are about drinking, drenched in it if you would, but of course it's not that simple. I write what I see and what I know, and know that I have spent a lot of time with some people and hardly got to know them at all, but if you sit down and drink with them, you get some clue. Maybe it is not a true image of the person, but a clearer one than say, if you set next to them in an office for years. At least if they're not talkers.

There are many ways to use alcohol to outline characters, or tell about real people. Alcohol often lets the guards down. Mean drunks, sloppy drunks, smoking drunks, yacking drunks, slutty drunks, etc. Also, what they drink, how they drink it, all of these are the staples and tells that come across a bar.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Mr. North Goes to New York

Okay, New Yorkers, what do you think?

Of all the Chicago radio hosts, Mike North fits in best with what I perceive s the New York mentality. He is purposely in-your-face, he is armed with arguments honed from the bar rails of Chicago, and he is fearless, as shown in his now infamous press conference appearance with Pat Riley.

On the other hand, if you ask around, nobody here likes him. Somehow, some way, he just keeps upping the ante on his radio career, now playing a two day gig in Don Imus' old slot on WFAN in New York. Nobody likes him, but he gravitated to the number one slot on the Score. Nobody likes him, but he gets on TV on a regular basis and has been bringing in some high profile radio lately, thanks to Jesse Jackson and Ozzie Guillen's potty mouth.

Yesterday, I listened to the Score, where his old partner Dan Jiggetts is filling in, pulling in clips from Mike's New York adventure. This morning, I went for the straight stream off of WFAN's web page. What I hear is a Chicago guy going out of his way to step on New York's toes. He is attacking their conventions and beliefs, and not apologizing for it. In an interview last week he said outright that he knows he's not the right guy for the job in New York because he is SUCH a Chicago guy.

By the way, this is not the way Mike North acts 100% of the time on the air. He is on some sort of caffeinated tear. Yes, he often says things just to incite, even in Chicago, yes, he is bombastic, but in the end, after all the production, he is a real guy. Any person on the radio eventually reveals what they are beneath, many of them displaying ugly ego's and tastelessness in the constant conversations.

Chicago's sports radio hosts have all set their own tones, and most of them, all but one, have shown themselves at one time or another to be snobs. I have no respect or time for someone that thinks they are better than their listeners. Mike North doesn't talk down to anyone.

That why I like him, and that must be why he continues to prosper.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Assessing the TriUmvirate of Triquels

I had yet another epiphany, this time it worked it's way into my mind slowly, because I surely always knew it. I always knew that I was being lead by my nose to the theater this summer, back again for the third installments of three different movie franchises, Spiderman, Shrek, and Pirate's of the Carribean. I knew it when I saw the way they were laid out this summer, carefully stepping over each other's toes.

I should have seen it in the careful way things were spun by the movie industry, bemoaning slow weeks early in the spring, as if it is our duty to go see their products in the theaters. Yet it all came together, there waiting to get into Pirates 3. You see, so eager they were to cash in this last chip, they must have had such a short turnover time in their allotted theaters that they couldn't even let us in. Then, the Popcorn was cold.

That was it, treat me like a robot, herd me to the side like livestock, but at least make the popcorn you sell me that is so expensive it should be dipped in gold, warm and palatable. Assholes!

The movie, like I said, it was the last chip, and I'm not a huge fan of that particular franchise. It reminds me of a really bad televison serial called "Danger Island" or something like that. It was on another cartoon show called "Banana Splits" and I am sure I have read the comparison before, as well as to the before-my-time movie serials. The comparison is an accurate one, but the Pirate franchise is born in an era with much better effects, nuch like the superhero genre. Still, with all the effects and the cast which clearly enjoys what it is doing, it's everything disappointing that was supposed to be in Spiderman3.

I imagine Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom sitting around after wrapping up Pirate's 2 and deciding to order another keg and case of whiskey, to stick around another week and film their parts of Pirate's 3.

"Fruck it, let's stay another weeek, film the third part, and then let the CGI crew do the rest. We'll make another fifty bajillion and take next summer off."

Really, the fact that this cast is having a good time filming this comes through clear as a bell, until it gets a bit annoying. Like the sense I got from the Ocean's Eleven-12-13 franchise, you start feeling like you're sitting in on these guy's vacation pics. Fun, but after an hour, anything can get old.

How can I be so into Spiderman and Shrek and fall asleep in Pirate's?

So, to summarize my blind following through the turnstiles for the Summer Blockbuster TriUmvirate of Tri-quels:
Spiderman3 - Not as bad as everyone says, maybe the best of the three
Shrek the Third - Still Funny, and piling it on.
Pirate's of the Carribean - At World's End - Tedious, soon to be a drinking game.

So, I'm done with the theater this year, you hear me Carmike Cinema's? I'm not eating any more shitty $12 popcorn combo's or waiting in line for anything. The most you're getting out of me might be a Tuesday matinee for Fantastic Four, but I'm going to fight the urge for that one too.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Spiderman 3 Doesn't Jump the Shark

I had a moment during the "coming attractions movie previews" of Spiderman 3, in between the multiplying regular commercials. I realized that Marvel is a movie brand name now. Oh, I've seen the Marvel scroll before, I haven't really missed one of the movies about Marvel characters yet,(I did wait until DVD and cable late night to watch The Fantastic Four and The Hulk respectively), but it had always been a novelty to me. When they rolled that Marvel brand scroll during the preview of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, I realized that this whole making my old favorite comic books and characters into movies had outlasted novelty and fad status.

Yeah, I know, so what. Pretty quick on the uptake there, dumbass. This has been going on for a while. Next realization: Pretty soon they're going to screw it up. Maybe calling it Jumping the Shark is behind the times a little too, hell, maybe saying behind the times is out of style now. I can go on...

This movie, Spiderman 3, I've been reading about it for what seems like years now. And it wasn't just the network hype. Now, everywhere on the blogosphere, someone is taking a shot at it for various reasons. Let me name the main ones, plot too cluttered with super-villains and a budget higher than the entire south American peninsula governments combined.

As far as the first complaint, about too many super-villains, I say, so what. Yes, he ripped through most of the great Spiderman plotlines, Green Goblin, Mary-Jane, Uncle Ben's murderer twice, and Venom. So. What.

The script winds around the three different villains just fine. Oh yeah, I didn't mention the Sandman, Flint Marko, because he never really seemed as major a character as some others. Also, I thought that devoting all of Spiderman 2 to Doc Ock was stretching it a bit. This one felt right. Because of the negative comments about this movie, I went in prepared for the worst, for it to be so full of CGI and superfighting as to be unenjoyable, like T3, or Robocop2, losing all the appeal of the first two Spiderman installments, but it was nothing like that. In fact, I think this might be the best of them all.

The effects are ground-breaking, seamless, done so well that you forget they ignore most laws of nature and physics. This movie just doesn't deserve the roasting it is getting from reviewers. Somewhere out there, either being filmed or in planning stages or just in line to be made, is that stinker movie made out of a Marvel character and storyline that are going to soil the name and brand of Marvel so much that they will not be cool anymore, and the kids that make them so lucrative will quit going to see them. Even though movies like the Punisher, Daredevil, Elektra, and the Hulk are arguments that we might have already seen the worst of them and still keep waiting for the next one, because when they get it right, well, it's undeniable fun at the theater.

Sitting at keyboards and sniping at Spiderman3 is almost villainous, but until they make a movie where he comes after the blogosphere, it's unwarranted. Like it or not, Spidey has broken through, the bad reviews had no effect on the record breaking opening weekend receipts. They will make another, and this is not a movie we will look back and laugh at ourselves for enjoying, or watching.

For example, take the Batman series, also highly profitable and popular when it started, bringing in top notch cast and directors, which might have also been it's downfall. After Tim Burton turned the Penguin and Batman into his own personal nightmare, the whole franchise spun out of control. Subsequent movies were silly, unwatchable, and with the George Clooney one, offensive. With "Batman Begins", they might have begun to right the ship, but there are two or three movies there that knocked DC and it's own movie brand on it's heels.

With Spiderman 3, Marvel has yet another success to hang on the wall, and the once nearly bankrupt company is riding high, at least until everyone gets sick of superhero movies, I probably never will, but normal people might.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Guest writing on Moviesnooneshouldsee

I appeared now for a second time on the site Movies No One Should See reviewing the movie Grindhouse , as a guest writer. I even have my own header!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ebay Scumbags trying to Exploit V-Tech

Found this article today, about two college students that purchased tickets to the Peach Bowl 4 months ago on Ebay, from Seung Hui Cho. His Ebay name was released and somebody, apparently many somebodies, back tracked the transaction through his Ebay history. The two students were notified of their connection to the psychopath by these Ebay detectives, and have found themselves in a pinhole spotlight.

The big question now, what do they do with the ticket stubs? Somebody has already offered them $75 for them and want to get in contact. What kind of person wants this?

On their behalf, the two students have mentioned auctioning them off themselves only to donate to charity, but the whole thing stinks. Not to mention the guy poses with the tickets like some big game hunter on his catch Does the bidding start here, this quickly for the droppings of that murdering piece of shit?

My vote: Burn it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

DVR Tragedies

I'm fairly new to the whole DVR/Tivo thing. In fact, I still usually just call it Tivo, and don't much care if it isn't or if that's the wrong thing to say. So what? If you say Tivo, everyone knows you mean recordable TV, right? Yeah, so everyone should get it.

We've had ours now for about a year, and have slowly let it change the way we watch anything. For instance, more than not I will wait for a show to be over or at least several minutes running to start watching it, and be able to scan thru the ads. I've also found that some shows I just let run and inhale like any other television, instead of being bothered to FF thru the ads. Our unit has a glitch that makes speeding thru them a pain sometimes anyways, going into loops so it seems like you are FF-ing forever.

What it's great for is getting the two of us together to watch the stuff we like, but lately, especially Mondays, there are so many programs on at one time that even with DVR getting two stations at a time and two different time zones to choose and record from, we have problems.

So tonight I actually had to go downstairs and watch the Cubs game because the unit had to turn to a station to start recording our late run of programs. I can't help but laugh at myself about that. This has to be some milestone.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Great Turtle Race - it's fun to be Green

I'm thinking of myself as a Green person today. I can blame it on the weather that has let me be outside most of the weekend, getting a garden ready, fence fixing, and landscaping, or just say flat out that I often at least try to be better to the environment. I guess I'm just lazy about it, but if it doesn't involve a lot of extra hassle or money, I will do what's best for the environment.

Online for promotion and fun is The Great Turtle Race, I first read about it on somebody else's feed, can't remember which one, sorry, but have gotten into it enough to be a permanently opened tab for the duration. Sure, it's just a little animated graphic, attached to a lot of literature about why Sea Turtles are endangered, but it's fun, and they're right, if a little tedious. Environmental protection and cleanup is a big snore, but watching this mock race across an ocean by a dozen sea turtles is oddly entertaining.

Someone slapped GPS monitors on these Sea Turtles, presumably while they were wintering in Costa Rica, and they are being followed, supposedly with ten minute updates at times, on the web by the world to promote their cause. You can even register and cheer one of them on, such as Stephanie Colburtle, the current leader.

There are a ton of links and information about the Turtle's plight on the web site, but I feel obligated to share at least this one

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Thank God You're Here - and you don't suck.

Thank God You'reHere - Fill-in programming that doesn't suck

It's once again that time of the television season where we are getting fill-in programming,and luckily it can't all be Deal or No Deal. The first one I've actually checked out is Thank God You're Here.

Thank God You're Here is a mix of What's My Line, and SNL. They write skits, with several actors playing pre-written plots, and drop in an actor who is sworn in before the show as to having seen no script, scene, or costume until they are given them, to wing their own part. Guided Improv, with name actors and celebrities that are either going to make you laugh or stub out what is left of their usually dwindling careers.

They have some near top-shelf names, Jason Alexander for one, and a lot of other character actors and celebrities, mostly B(or C)-list, who you know when you see them. It's hosted by David Alan Grier with Dave Foley as a mock judge ala Drew Carey. He gives lightly weighted comments and picks the best each night to win a token trophy, which I am sure goes up next to the Emmies and Oscars these actors don't have.

To hear the premise, this show sounds like a train wreck, but for the first four episodes it works. Most of these people are really funny, and it shows through. The Malcom in the Middle Dad, Bryan Cranston, was especially good. The skit in the photo on the right, with Harland Williams was one of the best, though I barely recognize the guy. and there have been other standouts too. Even Shannon Elizabeth managed to get some laughs. The supporting cast that they work the skit with is very good and the scenes are wide open for someone to improv through.

I'd love to see this showed ramped up a little bit, say, bring in a spoiler each week, one of the acknowledged pro's at improv, Wayne Brady, Ryan Stiles, or their other cohorts from "What'sMy Line," the change-up could do both sides good.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Felix Pie : A Slice of Optimism

Am I having a Tuffy Rhodes moment?

I don't know for sure, of course it will take a season or more to know, but I am quite happy about what I saw happen for the Cubs yesterday in center field. Felix came in and acquitted himself quite nicely. Though it's been pointed out he batted only .167, those were an important 167 points, helping rally the Cubs to tie. Then, he made a throw from the outfield to home plate that threw out the go ahead run for the Padres and eventually got the Cubs into extra innings.

He didn't throw the Cubs on his back and carry them to victory, but he wasn't overwhelmed. Seeing this kid in uniform, in Wrigley Field, makes me feel all better, and almost able to ignore that our high-priced offensive arsenal went 14 innings without being able to score more than three runs. These are all things that Lou Piniella can and will address, and though I know he can't go over the top about Pie, the performance was not lost on someone as savvy as Lou.

Read the rest

Cho Seung-Hui, Poster Boy for Censorship or Bureacratic Failure?

Cho Seung-Hui, I won't commit his name to memory or learn to pronounce it, but everyone knows who he is, at least for a month or two, the psychopath that killed more than 30 people in Blacksburg Virginia, on the Virginia Tech campus.

As this tragedy is dissected in the national media, including the countless times this man/boy slipped through the grasp of safeguards in place to stop just such a thing happening, one thing jumps out at me; the way his writings are being used to bias a national public.

After this outrage, after the bodies are buried and grieving has been faced, will the only time we hear this sick, murderer's name be when some politician wants to advocate their issue on gun control or on censorship?

I've read the two plays that are up on AOL, they are bad. Yes, they are violent, but mostly they are just bad. In hindsight we can all say that they foreshadowed his actions, but it is not a direct line between violent, demented writing and killing spree.

Read the rest

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bullfighting - Sometimes the Bull Wins

I know almost nothing about Bullfighting, outside of the depiction in childhood cartoons and the occasional clip that appears on TV. This is surely because of what it is and that in general it is purged from the mainstream. The cruelty of it is shielded from the general public and not allowed to be glorified either.

Still, though I knew about it in general, I did not realize that sometimes the Bull wins. There is video of one Bull victory, but yesterday another incident occurred that can have the Bulls chalking up another mark. I don't mean to be insensitive, especially because this time, they got a teenager. Apparently, this 14 year old left Spain to fight Bulls in Mexico at his young age, and nearly got himself killed.

Public outcry has amped up even more, and I wonder, are the animal rights activists cheering for the Bull? It says in the article that the teenager had earned the right through several victories over his two years of bullfighting to cut the ears off of a defeated bull. WTF? Like I said, I knew little to nothing about the sport, but there can be nothing right about this teenager getting "carried several yards with a Bull's horn in his thorax and his lungs punctured." All reports that I have read seem optimistic about his recovery. Does the bull get his ears?

Okay, that was mean. Sorry. It should be his father's ears. Apparently, the Darwin Awards theory missed his father by allowing him to reproduce, to his son's misfortune.

Why I Want the Olympics to be in Chicago

Chicago Olypic IconGrowing up nearly oblivious to Sports, and I guess that is saying that the Cubs don't count, I always knew about the Olympics. Every four years, Winter and Summer, I watched, along with everyone else in the neighborhood. I watched Ray Leonard win Gold with my Grandpa, one of the first and only things I ever got to share with him, and when I went to Germany for two years, I had something to cheer about on the televisions and against my German friends, nothing quite like having something to rub in or get rubbed in to make sure you are actually friends. Being in Europe for that one Olympics also made me realize just how seriously the international community takes it.

Moly's First WalkNow they are trying to get the 2016 Olympics in Chicago, and I am very excited about the prospect, because in 2016 my daughter will be nine years old, and to be able to take her to an Olympics game would be as special as anything I can think of.

Already, the traditional grumps are out. Talking about the traffic congestion, the constant media hype that will not stop, and how it will throw the city into debt. All of these issues are not enough to ruin my thoughts of taking my daughter into the city to see the spectacle of the Olympics. To realize that an entire world has sent it's best to compete. To see the greatest athletes of whatever sport she may admire compete, and to experience this with her Mom and Dad. It beats the Hell out of Disney world or the County Fair.

Hopefully, the Olympic committee will come through next year and make this Olympic bid a reality. Along with my dreams of spending countless precious moments with my daughter, downtown Chicago, watching it all.

The Dresden Files - Season review

Harry and FriendsHarry Potter doesn't wholly appeal to me. It's come around a little later in my life, and though the child in me wants to like it because of the fantastic worlds and magic-themed stories, I just can't help but look at these kids and think that very soon they will be shaving and making bad "coming of age" movies, then playing secondary characters on second-tier sitcoms. Of course, that's a whole different avenue and I'm not here to put down the Harry Potter kid. I'm here to talk about Harry Dresden.

I found a new way of looking at the Sci-Fi channel that has me watching more than a few hours of their porgramming lately, a nostalgic theme. I see the movies they usually offer and am reminded of my afternoons as a youngster, tuning into WFLD ch. 32 in Chicago for the Saturday Afternoon Sc--Fi Block, Godzilla, Gamara, and Kung-Fu. The Sci-FI Updates to that Genre are bearable, but make me realize that I'm tired of that formula.

I got pulled into the Dresden Files pretty easily. Despite being disappointed by most series I saw on the Sci-Fi Channel, I decided to check it out one night. Saving it to the DVR and figuring ti would be better to watch sometime than what I end up scanning through some other times. Now I have it on automatic recording and have developed an opinion about the series itself.

It's fun. I like the constantly grungy Dresden and still appreciate the weekly hot female they bring in along with the other supporting characters. It's not high mission television, it is just good entertainment. It remminds me more of "The Night Stalker," than the actual remake of the Night Stalker, which I could not get into, and it isn't so deeply plotted that you have to get the season on DVD to follow the plotlines. There are some plot strings throughout the series, but mostly you get one story per episode, with the big three, beginning, middle, and ending.

Last Sunday night was the Season Finale. I'm not really sure about the status of this show for next year, but Sci-Fi channel being what it is, they will be airing this season's episodes quite often I am sure, and probably bring it back. They should.

Most Internet buzz I have found so far is about the books, which are of course lauded as superior, but I don'tHarry and Murphy know about that yet. Fans of a book series seem to usually hate the video adaptations, but if the books are so much better, I am checking them out. One things the television series does is bring some orignality to the old cop show formula. Harry's recurring partner in crime-solving, Murphy, is a Police Detective that keeps landing cases that need Harry's special abilities. Slowly she keeps finding out about the world of magic and Harry's place in it, something against the rules of what serves as Harry's governing board, the High Council. This is one of the plot strings and so far Murphy is the only female that Harry is involved with that is recurring.

The tone of the show is just a notch below camp, not taking itself too seriously but not being overly melo-dramatic or throwing out dialogue that just makes you groan with incredulity. It's nice to have something like this that doesn't make you have to deal with Charmed or Buffy and their luggage.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Take Down Imus - Check ...Next?

It was an inglorious process, anybody celebrating the fall of Don Imus has missed the point as mush as he does himself. How it went from a stupid, insensitive comment on an obscure cable show to the nightly, news scrolling, cross platform beating that it was has been well chronicled, even I jumped in a little bit, because I didn't think that dragging his comments out into the public eye was good for anyone.

Am I glad he got fired? I'm indifferent.

He was less than a blip on my own radar, coming into my zone only slightly before the public put him in their cross-hairs. There are much worse people saying worse things out there, but he definitely had no business saying what he did. I'm glad those girls got to show the country they were not what he called them, and I'm glad that has been called to national attention.

Now I see some media people trying to throw others under the bus with them. One is Jay Mariotti(wiki), writer, Chicago loudmouth, and sometimes "Around the Horn" guest/host. I'm really not sure if he is on television anymore, because I definitley don't seek him out. He has a tired act in Chicago, acting like the Rosie O'Donnell of the Midwest by picking fights with everyone. There is a hater web-site that carefully chronicles Jay's misploits. What I did catch, was his Sun-Times column where he tries to lump Chicago radio personality Mike North of Chicago's sportstalk station, 670 the Score, in with Imus and the recently exiled Pacman Jones and Chris Henry. It is an undisguised hatchet-job on North, who didn't ask for or deserve it, but he can take the shots.

Speaking of which, he took another shot in the tribune from Ed Sherman for his Friday morning interview with Jesse Jackson, who wanted to grab one last bit of spotlight before he goes home to wait for the next 'national crisis' he needs to speak about. I nearly changed the station hearing that he was coming on, because I'm tired of the 'Jesse Jackson Show', but I'm glad I listened to most of it.

The interview is available online at the Score's web site if anyone else wants to hear it now, but this is what I took away from it. Jesse came on, I guess he insisted on doing the interview face to face with North, and wanted to talk about how he had helped rid the country of another evil man, and helped the cause of equality, and North made him work for it.

Very quickly, Mike North switched from the topic of Don Imus to that of the Duke Lacrosse Team, and tried to hold Jackson accountable for his condemnation of the accused boys now that they have been cleared. Jackson tried to wiggle of the hook, but North made it stick for a while. Mike North is not Mike Wallace, but he held up for some time.

In the end, we did get some of Jesse's personal agenda over the air, but I have to admit, that once he gets past his sensationalized sound bites, Jesse has valid things to say, if not original. He admitted that he actually felt sorry for Imus, who is now national media roadkill, but never admitted much of what he said about the Duke boys, though it is on videotape.

As for North, he came away even better in my eyes, because rough edges and all, he remained true to the image he portrays, which I really think is actual, and did whatever he could to pin down one of the most slippery politicians of his generation. I don't hold it against him that he didn't quite nail him down.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

SMODCAST - Hanging out with Kevin Smith


I've fallen behind the times, near critically. There has to be a juncture in which a person realizes that he or she is so detached from anything that is current that they give up and content themselves with the way of life they had grown comfortable with. You really don't have to change with the times if you don't want to, to put it in programming terms, going about your business is backward compatible. Sure you can pay your bills online and get just about everything else, but how many people still make sure they mail everything off?

My Dad, now gone, refused to use answering machines, or own a cell phone. How many people are there like that walking around that you don't even give a single thought to? Cell phones themselves are a cultural divide, now compounded with texting, camera phones, and MP3 players. At some point, everyone comes around a little, but it wasn't too long ago that the phone in my grandparents house was so important that we turned down the television and all sat in hushed silence as Grandpa answered.

All this just to say that I just recently discovered Podcasts. Yea yea yea, I know, but I have always and still do listen to a lot of talk radio, sports talk radio. I like music just fine, but after a while the songs start repeating, no matter what station you listen to, and none of them play the off the chart stuff I like. I started listening to Podcasts because I get tired of Sports talk radio too, or at least certain hosts that only grate on my nerves, adn sometimes you can't get good radio reception out here in the sticks.

The first Podcast I've found I can just sit back and listen to, often entertained and rarely annoyed, is Smodcast, with Kevin Smith and Scot Mosier. Everyone knows who Kevin Smith is, Scot Mosier is in his movies too, but I'm not sure who he is. I'm just not enough of a fan I guess, but listening to these two guys talk, I don't think it will bother either one of them for me to write that.

It's not a crazy zoo atmosphere, it's just the two of them talking, and they are funny a lot of the time. Just Kevin Smith's sheer openness helps things along, but he is a little too obsessed with homosexuality sometimes. Every Smodcast, at this point there are 9, at some point covers some homo-erotic episode or comparison, and though there's nothing wrong with that, it gets tedious.

5 Minutes to Kill Yourself - A Game

Found this game on the blog, a Fiend's Folio, looking at sick pictures of a spider bite. Apparently this guy's Dad got bit in his backyard in AZ, and it looks bad.

The game, 5 Minutes to Kill Yourself from Adult Swim, is good old office fun.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Parkour - French for OUCH!!

Parkour - French for OUCH!!

Watching Casino Royale and most of the Jackie Chan movies, I was familiar with what Parkour looked like, but I had no idea there was a name for it. Before reading an article in the New Yorker, by way of, I just thought it was crazy-ass chase sequences and jumping.

Apparently, some french guy named David Belle decided to give a name for his jumping and climbing around on building. The name came from a friend of his,derived from the names for some obstacle courses,and he went on to give names to several maneuvers like climpbing up walls and jumping over railings. There is a very well done Wiki page with a glossary of terms, and if you just want to watch it, click on the videos in the side bar, below, or search Parkour in Youtube believe me, it is entrancing to watch, and I am so very glad I didn't have something like this to encourage my friends and I into doing more of this crazy shit than we actually figured out on our own.

Luckily, I stopped at riding my bike off of garage roofs, jumping off silos and tv antenna towers at the farm. This could have taken me to a whole new level.I guess I just didn't have the imagination for it.

Don Imus and his circus - One Last Time

The media bubble is nearly at his fullest around the ignorance of Don Imus. He has channeled some pathetic, humbled, spirit to make his continuing watered down apologies, once again missing the point.
"I'm not thinking it's a racial insult that's being uttered at somebody at the time. It's in the process of trying to rap and be funny." he said. But he added, "I wish I hadn't said it. I'm sorry I said it."

He has been suspended for two weeks and made a slew of new statements, looking and sounding very defeated. He put himself in the Dunce chair for Al Sharpton. After years of making fun of buffoons in the media, he is one. Am I the only on that sees the justice in this, despite being annoyed with it?

The only way that he really goes away is if people stop listening to him. I have met one person that listens to Don Imus, a hospital patient transplanted from the east coast that had him on MSNBC every morning. I liked the patient but never found enough interesting to listen to or watch Don Imus. So why have I wrote about him three times? Because of the media circus it has turned into, and as I said originally, before, just his viewers knew what he said, now the whole country knows. If I was a parent, I would be asking every media outlet why it is okay for them to REPEAT his comments over and over. Hold him accountable, and move on.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Usual Suspects Gather Up for Imus' head

Nobody can sniff a headline for Jesse Jackson, even if he isn't as quick as he used to be. The Reverend Jackson is planning a protest against Don Imus and his ignorance in Chicago now. The Rev. Al Sharpton has also stepped up, Imus will be on Sharpton's radio program, letting the whole region be a bug on the wall.

Imus' apology misses the point for me, he still doesn't get it.
"Here's what I've learned: that you can't make fun of everybody, because some people don't deserve it,"
- Don Imus on his radio show," courtesy

Sorry Don, to me it's not that they don't deserve it, nobody deserves it. If you can't find a better way to have fun with a subject(s), move to the next topic.

Worse to me is the bandying about that has come in response to him. Does Jesse Jackson have a strategic protest plan laid out in his office, a council that comes in the minute that race gets into a headline? Being from the Chicago area, I'm tired of him jumping on every bandwagon he can find. I'm not black, but I was offended. Now, I'm just irritated with the what was probably inevitable media blow-up around the simple, stupid, wrong comment.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Charlotte's Web - DVD review

Charlotte's Web - A Good Cry (if you're into that)

Some movies you see in such a distorted context that it's unfair to judge them, but I'll do it anyway."Charlotte's web came out last summer, just as I had learned about my child's impending birth. No matter who you are, news like that changes you, at least it better. Six months before, seeing that they were making a live film adaptation of one of my favorite children's books and animated movies, and I would have shaken my head at the thought of another needless remake.

After all, it's been a long time, but wasn't the cartoon enough. I remember that it made my little sister cry, and that it's about Charlotte the Spider and Wilbur the pig, and well, that's been a while ago.It was mostly memorable because it made my little sister cry, in a good way. Then we saw the trailer at another movie, and we both said that we just had to go see that when it came out, and we didn't. We ended up seeing it now as it is just out for rental.

This new version didn't stink or make me rue the day that movie producers realized they can try to do anything with CGI these days, it was enjoyable. It was also puffed out a little bit to be a feature length film,and not hurt by that. The voices behind the animals were adequate, but nobody was really allowed to jump out. The pig was cute,and Charlotte wasn't completely creepy. One thing that was annoying was the rat.It was a little unsettling that he seemed to have free reign over the world, dancing in slop, buttermilk baths(ewww), and cotton candy machines. Are they saying that Rat's are everywhere?

All of that said, it was fun. I laughed a little, wasn't terribly bored, and my girlfriend got in a good cry. That will surely be what I take away from this version of the story. Until I watch it with my daughter.

This is a movie that's worth watching, you can rent it now, but it is one fo those movies that will quickly be in the rotation on cable so you can wait to see it then. Just be careful, if you're trying to set a mood for your date, girlfriend, or other that is not weepy and sad, might want to watch something else. If she makes you watch it, keep the kleenex close and be the big shoulder.

Don Imus Makes A Stupid Comment - Why Do we Have to Keep Hearing It?

Don Imus Makes A Stupid Comment - Why Do we Have to Keep Hearing It?

On the radio this week, radio and sort-of-television morning personality Don Imus made a stupid, sexist, racist, insensitive comment. I won't repeat it because then I am just feeding the machine, even more than writing this column. If you haven't heard it,or read the transcript, a quick search at all the regular media outlets will get it for you. He crossed the line, even with someone like me that completely disdains political correctness. If I'd been listening to him, I might have just shaken my head and changed the station, thinking that once again I should have known better than to listen to him.

That's what everyone should do when they hear something like that coming out of the mouth of people that they allow to clutter their morning sounds. Turn him off, tune him out. More radio disc jockeys get run off for poor ratings than for poor taste. And when he says something like this, though Imus is surely far past being a shock jock in these days, he has achieved the same results.

Now there is buzz about him, ESPN is running a full segment of the clip on Sportscenter, which means that not only did he say it, it is echoing through the halls of todays media. As I said, it is everywhere on the web, it is all over the major news outlets, why is it okay to repeat something that was so offensive in the first place? They cloak it in self-righteousness, yet repeat the offending phrases for millions more to hear.

How about handling it like this, "In other news, if you feel like hearing an ignorant old man display just how little he cares what anyone else thinks is offensive, tune in to Don Imus, but seriously, don't waste your time." Instead, Rutgers head coach Vivian Stringer has lashed back and surely soon the usual suspects will step up to a podium somewhere to get their own names attached to the outrage. Or maybe just start an equally ignorant, low rung rumor to counter.

What he's saying is the kind of ignorant prattle you can get down at the dumpy tavern on the corner or at the drill press in your local sweat shop, and it should be left there.

What makes it okay for ESPN to replay it so many times?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Steve Stone for Cubs (Senior Advisor to the Owner)!!

Throughout this week, after realizing that Mark Cuban owning the Cubs is less than a pipe dream, it took a column in the Sun-Times to make me realize who I was forgetting about that I should want to be in control of the Cubs.
  • Who is the voice that I home in on any time he is on a radio program talking baseball? (Well, this might be a negative because I know he definitely won't be doing that as much)
  • Who is a deep, Cubbie Blue blooded Cubs fan?
    • He would have gone somewhere else after getting run out of the booth if he weren't. You can't tell me there are jobs elsewhere for Andy Maser and not Steve Stone.
  • Who has the baseball and Cubs organization knowledge needed to do the job right?
Read the rest on my Cubs Blog

Thursday, April 05, 2007

American Idol: One more Post

Alright, I can't let yesterday's post go without now commenting on what happened last night. I guess this happens every season, but this time it happened while I was close to a keyboard. Last night they kicked off a girl that I liked, ahead of several others that deserved it much more. So, Gina, tough luck, I'd say good luck when you come back to Illinois and continue singing with your band Catfight, but you made it far enough that you will be touring with American Idol and will get a chance to break through and do your own thing. One thing, you ARE a rocker chick, trying to fit into the AI mold is what hurt you, now welcome back to the real world, at least until the tour starts.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

American Idol: Yes I Watch It

Who doesn't watch American Idol? Like every other pop phenomenon or fad, there are more than a few that say they refuse to watch such a farce, and three-fourths of them actually don't. Simply, if you are skipping this, you're missing out, a little.

For me, it is almost parallel viewing. As something that is on the television that is usually on while I am reading, writing, watching, my computer, American Idol does fairly well. It never gets so annoying that I change the channel, and that is a win. The very first season, coming on after Seinfeld repeats on Chicago's Fox channel, I found myself long minutes into the show without the urge to actually change the channel. If this is the epitome of laziness, so be it, but I ended up watching the whole damn thing, and have missed only two seasons since.

I even promised one blog that I would write about it for them. In hindsight, I'm glad I didn't try to do that, because though it isn't annoying, I don't want to analyze it too much. What is good about American Idol is it's simplicity. It's very often just a karaoke contest, with Simon Cowell saying the things that the country is thinking. Anyone that doesn't admit that Simon is right on most of the time is delusional.

This season, one side plot is the survival of Sanjaya, darling of the teenage set. His bad singing has not overshadowed his appeal to the little girls, and he has outlasted several better singers already. Even the judges have acknowledged his durability, Simon won't criticize him for fear that will feed the flames of the online Vote For the Worst campaign.

In my opinion, Sanjaya highlights what is worst and best about the show. It is not a singing competition, it is a popularity contest. Taylor Hicks winning it last year solidifies that theory. He wasn't the best at all, but the best promoter of himself. At least Taylor could sing. Sanjaya winning this year might completely destroy the show.

Yet I watch. I can partially blame Lisa for this, but I manage to get out of the room when the other reality shows are playing. AI, I can stomach, and even find myself commenting on.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

And the Train Takes Another...

There is a train track running straight through the heart of my hometown. Put there during the steel age it might once have been a center of commerce, a contact to the coast of Lake Michigan and all the wealth it brought to the mid-west through Chicago.
- the start of a the Steel Serpent

If you clicked the link above, or have read the story, or just know me. You know I've written about the Train before. I truly don't obsess about it, but I have observed others who do, and I often just have to stop and think about it as I watch the the story of the train continue.

I'm sure that every town, neighborhood, in every country, has their version of the train. In the Northwest it is the mountains, on the coasts it is the sea, but here in DeKalb, Illinois, it is the train that inordinately often takes away the unfortunate.

read the entire post

Monday, April 02, 2007

Meet the Robinsons - A Good Time

Saw Meet the Robinson's at the theatre this weekend and want to make sure I get this one on record. My first instincts about this movie, from early trailers, was dead-on. I thought, "Good, finally someone is going to put all of the great graphics and designs from "Robots," to better use. This is how this movie felt to me, very "Robots"-ish, but in all the good ways.

Being a connoisseur of kid's movie's, I enjoyed this one a lot. The effects are amazing, so very real looking and yet not crossing the threshold of being too close to real. I like my animated characters to be on the other side of the mirror, thanks. The story, complex for a younger kid, kept me following and there were a lot of neat things to look at. In the theatre, the kids all seemed to be kept interested, no aisle runners, and the adults, especially one lady behind us who laughed so hard that she got me through the slow spots, stayed involved too.

Generally, this one isn't quite as good as Happy Feet or the Shreks, but worth seeing in the theatre. The Shrek ratings system, under no pressure from anyone, has been dropped. It's just not quite as clever as it seemed.

Opening Day! New Manager, new OWNER, new team!

Over the last few years, bandied over the airwaves, blogs, and print media, it has been said that the sweetest four words of the year is the phrase, "PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT." I disagree, though it is a step in the right directions.

Spring training is simply that, training, and after more than a few games you quickly realize that he baseball being played there is as meaningless as minor league. It is the true mirage of the Arizona desert, very nice to look at but nothing when you bend to the fountain to drink. Look! I saw Derek Lee, he's leading the cactus league in RBI's... somewhere some very lonely, disillusioned man keeps track of those stats, but he is not heard from except for those few weeks that the teams return to the desert, or swamps for the east coasters.

Opening Day, Today, is truly when it is time for celebration. Today, everyone is in first place, even the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. This is the sport whose season starts with the actual growing cycle of our continent for a reason. First day of baseball, first days of spring. It's like the beginning of the semester, everyone has an "A", everything is new and nice and never stops making me grin.

I can only wish good luck to all of the other teams starting their seasons, except for Cincinnatti of course, and hope that all the changes in the off-season come to fruition. I have a feeling that Lou will get the job done or else. The Cubs even get a new owner today , as I am typing this they are announcing the sale and I am getting details from the Mike North morning show(uh-oh).

Apparently the new owner, Sam Zell, already has interest in the White Sox and is expected to sell the Cubs right away. How's this for a Cub fan spin on the sale, even a Sox fan knows the Cubs are more valuable and liquid than the Sox. Honestly, I hope he has Mark Cuban on his speed dial.

Even more good news, it really looks like the Cubs are going to give Zambrano his money, enough to make him happy and save face in front of the other overpaid pitching free agents. The numbers being put out are 5 years and 80-85 million, ones that I can swallow much easier than those given to Soriano. I can see us starting to sweat in 3 or 4 years about getting his resigned again because I know "Z" will live up to this one. Soriano, well, I see us wondering why we are paying him so much towards the end of his deal but that is the going rate and he just might make us a great team now.

This post is also posted in my Cubs Blog, which I started because somewhere I read you should have a different blog for each topic, and I'd been writing post-long comments on too many other Cubs Blogs(Crawley's Cubs and BleedCubbieBlue [Check them out for spiffy lineups and better pics, you're welcome guys for all that extra traffic I'm sending your way, hope you have the bandwidth for it!]).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Illinois to Allow Illegals To Drive

I spent yesterday riding my bike around in the rain looking for a FAx Service because I didn't circle the day of the week on a fucking form to allow me extra driving time to go to counseling and AA meetings, holding up the process of allowing me to drive for at least another week, and they are going to ALLOW illegal aliens to drive?
In another example of the anal retentive state department, last week they sent everything back because my Doctor didn't date the medical release signature. which was away from where he signed, and the document was dated on the front already. That was another week lost to bureacratic B.S. I am quite sure they get assessed by the amount of "corrections" they find. It's like they all think they're Freshman English or Coms professors.
A Doctor oversight on a form that is irrelevant or a missed detail on an insignificant form are reasons to screech a regular TAX-PAYING citizen's driving privileges to a halt, but a little thing about sneaking in illegally, using illegal documents to work, drive, etc. are not? I am not against immigration, but it should be legal. Just letting them drive without making them be citizens?
Boggles my mind.

24 - Just Not Doing It For Me This Season

I've been follwoing 24 since the beginning, and throughout. I have brought others on with me to go through the constant adrenaline pumping plot lines, but I'm just not quite into it this year.
It's happened before, nearly every season I tire of the constantly switching back-stabbing, power-usurping, and purposely frustrating scenarios, but hang through. Which is probably what this is. All I know is that if we didn't have a DVR, and if Lisa wasn't waaay into it. I would have missed a few episodes this year.
Don't get me wrong, Jack Bauer, and the way he is written and portrayed, are great, better than most film leading men, but I don't want to spend three hours waiting for the administration to do what they should have done in the first place, listen to Jack. Every year, these are the plot lines that take up so much time, nearly as annoying as the acknowledged bi-episode, hostage crisis. For varied reasons, corruption, evil, whatever, the right thing to do is danced around by characters who know better.
I get annoyed with this, and take a break from the show, usually coming back for the last four hours or so. This year, ahvent done that but maybe I am wishing I had.