Sunday, November 30, 2008


I wanted to hate the following video. I mean, it's a commercial. It's using a dead celebrity to shill for a product. It's all CG and fake.

But it's Bruce Lee playing ping-pong with nunchuks. So I couldn't not love it.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Easy Scrabble Words

Here's a quick little game for you all to play... easy, but yet somewhat frustrating. You have two minutes in which to name as many... well, I won't say, because I don't want you to start thinking now without the clock running.

Suffice it to say, I thought it would be pretty darn easy, but then I only ended up getting 6 out of 10 in the two minutes.

Good luck.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Not Such a G'Day

The day after Thanksgiving is usually almost as busy at the movie theaters as it is at the malls, but I nevertheless braved the crowd tonight to see Australia.

It was essentially one factor alone that got me to go: the director, Baz Luhrmann. He hasn't made a movie in seven years, since Moulin Rouge. But that movie remains in my top 10 favorites, and I've also enjoyed his other films (Romeo and Juliet, Strictly Ballroom). This was a case where I didn't really need any more than his name attached to the movie to go.

I wish I'd been a little more discerning. It wasn't an awful movie, but it wasn't remotely the sort of movie I think I was looking for. For one thing, it appears that Baz Luhrmann has spent the last seven years deciding he wants to make an entirely different kind of movie. Oh, there were certainly elements of his style peppered throughout the movie (more on that in a moment), but this time he was out to make an "epic."

Australia felt like a movie that, budget and special effects aside, actually could have been made in the time in which it was set, the 1940s. Romance, adventure, separation, heartbreak, all set against a sprawling frontier landscape and a backdrop of war; stylistically, this was Baz Luhrmann's take on Gone with the Wind. And at two hours, forty-five minutes, it was nearly as long.

It looked fantastic. That brand of heightened theatricality that was the hallmark of Moulin Rouge (and to a lesser extent, his earlier films) was present here. Select moments looked "overly perfect," as though they were paintings brought to life. The movie also had very earnest performances from all the actors.

But it didn't have much else going for it. Those performances were in the service of rather shallow characters, and the plot meandered in a way that might be suitable for a multi-night television mini-series, but seemed endless and unfocused in a crowded movie theater.

If "scope" is your thing, you'd probably love this movie; it has scope in every conceivable sense of the word. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. I rate it a C+.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some Bird for Thanksgiving

From artist Brandon Bird comes "the evolution of the leading man." (You'll want to click to view it at a larger size.)

This and other art (nearly all of it featuring celebrities, much of it strangely fixated on Christopher Walken) can be seen at his web site.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Angels We Have Heard On High / Tell Us to Go Out and Buy

Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and after that, the infamous "Black Friday" shopping madness at retail stores.

It's been a decade now (and then some) since I worked retail, but I did get a few Black Fridays under my belt. On the one hand, we were a store front in a mall, and people definitely flocked to the mall for the occasion. On the other hand, we were not one of those big free-standing retailers with flyers in the newspaper advertising their insanity, so we were never that crazy-busy.

Taking all that into account, I gotta say I never thought Black Friday was that bad when I worked it. It's not even the busiest shopping day of the year. From my observations, that honor fell on the last Saturday before Christmas. (Yet was not entertaining as Christmas Eve itself, the day when people show up at your store and will buy pretty much anything you tell them to, out of utter desperation.)

Was I going somewhere with all this?

Only sort of. I was going to make the observation that with the economic downturn, this year's Black Friday ads seem especially desperate. I still TiVo (well, FauxVo) through TV commercials, but I've heard some radio ads, and seen some print ads that came in the mail, and everything has this tone of "please, please, please come shop!!!"

It's not surprising, I guess, but it is a reversal in my mind. Usually, it's the customers desperate to get out there and get whatever the year's cool new Must Have Gift is. This year, it's the retailers extra desperate to get you out there to buy something, anything, please.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One Man's Garbage

Today's random thing found online, the art of Tim Noble and Sue Webster. They have a few more conventional works, but I took note of their garbage sculptures that reveal their true nature in the shadows they cast:

Monday, November 24, 2008


Tonight was another solid episode of Prison Break. Many elements of it were fairly predictable, but a few were not -- and in that respect it reminded me a bit of the first season and what made me start liking this show in the first place. The show was always at its best during the "what's Michael's plan for this?" days, and tonight gave us a small return to that.

I also thought that tonight, Prison Break showed an edge it has over 24, particularly in 24's recent seasons. I watch Prison Break unfold, and I believe that it was planned in advance. Maybe not every single beat, but I do believe some of the big elements were planned for, as opposed to 24 (which the creators themselves have admitted to "winging it" after about the first 4 or 6 episodes of a season).

Why cast Michael Rapaport to play such a wishy-washy pushover? Answer: they didn't. They cast him in anticipation of this mid-season plot twist.

Speaking of casting, I think they did a credible job of finding a woman who looked like she really could be the general's daughter. I believe they planned that in advance as well.

Yes, Prison Break still has its preposterous moments. Hell, multiple times a week, sometimes. But it does feel like they work out the major beats a season at a time, and give us satisfying moments along the way.

Tonight we got to see the smug General dressed down and defeated by Our Heroes as we've long wanted, we got to see a few brief moments of happiness for Our Heroes, we got some fun action sequences, some nice beats of tension.

That's pretty much all you can ask for from this show, I think.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

24: Redemption

It's been 18 long months since last we spent time with Jack Bauer. But at last!!! Jack is back!!!

Welcome to Sangala, a fictitious African country that should in no way make you think of Senegal.

What's this, an intro? The first non-real time moments ever shown on 24!

Fortunately, the soothing voice of Jack comes on moments later to tell us that everthing else from here on will occur in real time.

Little boy tries to steal Jack's stuff... but Jack is there! "WHO DO YOU WORK FOR?!!"

You can't serve Jack a subpeona if he won't let you put it in his hand.

Jon Voight doesn't want his ex-wives to know about his evil transactions. I guess cause then they'd each be legally entitled to a share of a fictitious African country.

On the way out, he runs into pill poppin' money guy. "Hey, aren't you Jon Voight?"

See, we're cutting back and forth between Africa and Washington DC. But you know you're in Africa because everything's all yellow.

Jack apparently has a history with Robert Carlyle's Carl Benton character. They were apparently friends. And as we know everyone close to Jack winds up dead, what do you think his chances are of surviving the next two hours?

Back to Washington and... lingerie.

Lots of lingerie. It's the two guys on the phone, but we're seeing more of the woman in lingerie instead. (They know their demographic, I guess.)

Peter Macnicol is just in quick on loan from Numb3rs to give us some continuity and exposition.

Powers Boothe's Daniels has less than two hours left in office, but dammit, he's gonna be a weasel down to the last second.

Alright, this "Juma" guy in charge of the Evil Coup. I swear, his name changes every time someone talks about him.

Those animals! They shot the soccer ball!

"Tumor" is raising an army?

This conversation is brought to you by Sprint and Nextel. Bringing you service even in places that don't exist.

Jack against eight guys with machine guns? Poor guys with machine guns.

Even if one has a rocket launcher.

This secret hideaway is brought to you by the letter O, and the letter H.

Benton curses, "dammit." Yup, he definitely worked with Jack.

It wouldn't be 24 without Jack torturing or being tortured by someone.

We're only halfway done, and I think Jack and Benton have said their goodbyes to each other three times already.

It's General "Humor" now. And it's the Candyman!

Does anybody in this fictitious African country not speak English?

As all the kids get off the bus, we get a long, lingering camera shot of the one kid playing with the scarf. Anyone think this isn't going to be important later?

"Thank you, Mr. President." Yeah, weasel to the last second.

"Noah Daniels isn't that vindictive." Huh? I know the last season was a year and a half ago, but do you not remember?

They're evacuating "within an hour." Everyone drink!!!

There are about four times as many commercials in the last half of this show as there were in the first half.

Whatever nefarious stuff they had this Chris guy doing, it obviously does pay very well -- he's got a nice place to live.

"Is this everything?" Oh, there is no right way to answer that question.

This second thug doesn't seem very intimidating to me. The worst he can do is smack the guy on the head with a folded up newspaper?

If you're part of an evil conspiracy, you definitely want a limo driver on the payroll.

Jack and Benton try to say goodbye yet again. But then the helicopter comes after them.

Oh, here we go with the scarf.

Kid, I hope you really like that stupid scarf.

Jack and Benton say goodbye yet again. I think this time, it's gonna take.

There's Special Forces training to not move your feet when you get shot.

Between the new President's husband and chief of staff, this next season is shaping up to be a Who's Who of "ooo, I know that guy, but I can't remember from what movie."

"Dammit!" Drink! Here I thought we were going to go the whole time without a single Jack dammit.

"Dammit!" That's two! Huzzah!!!

No perimeters, though.

I should have given the thugs more credit. Apparently, they had quick and easy access to a cement mixer. They're efficient, if not intimidating.

The President speaks of the future. Yes, give me the future now! I don't want to wait until January.

But alas, I have no choice. See you then, Jack Bauer.

Friday, November 21, 2008

How to Make Good Pancakes

I love breakfast. I could eat "breakfast" for any meal of the day. I rarely have time during the week to do much, but on the weekend, I'll usually have pancakes or waffles or some such. And if you know me at all, you'll understand this is a Big Deal, because I don't cook much of anything.

For those who like breakfast as much as I do, tonight's post is something of a public service.

I've been going through a phase where, when I'm driving in the car, I flip between radio stations more than I listen to CDs or what not. (I keep meaning to get a new car stereo that will let me jack in my MP3 player, but I haven't got around to it.) Tonight, the afternoon team on one of the local stations was going on about pancakes.

...for the second time, actually. Last Friday, they spent my entire drive home from work (and presumably more) talking about how pancakes at home never turn out as well as what you can get at an IHOP, Denny's, Village Inn, or such. And they had countless people calling with their wide-ranging tips on how to improve one's homemade pancakes -- things from lemon juice to Cream of Wheat in the batter, to various mixing techniques, and a dozen other things I've forgotten. Basically, a raft of contradictory crap.

Tonight, the DJs took it to the source. They had reps in the studio from all three of the restaurant chains I mentioned, each offering their tips on pancake making. (Though stopping short of divulging any of their companies' actual recipes.) And while the Village Inn rep wasn't terribly helpful (she said they actually make their pancakes from scratch, and actually mixing up ingredients takes the whole thing across that cooking line I hardly ever cross), the other two reps actually agreed on some key secrets to making good pancakes.

Well, I came straight home and tried it for dinner tonight, and I'm telling you: they work! Best damn breakfast-for-dinner I've ever made in my life. So if you're looking to improve your pancake making, but aren't adventurous enough to do more than work with a premade mix, here's what you need to know. This is simple stuff, and it makes a major difference.

1) Stir up the dry mix before you add any water. Whisk it, or use a fork, so it gets sifted out finer than it comes straight out of the box/bag.

2) Use cold water -- as near to freezing as you can get. Don't take it straight from the faucet.

3) Do not overmix it. Stir it by hand, and use the bare minimum number of strokes you can. Like, mixing up some batter just to make pancakes enough for me, it didn't take more than about a dozen good strokes. More than 20, and I'd have officially been "doing it wrong."

That's it. No fancy secret ingredients. If you have pancake mix in your house, you can do this right now. And it's awesome.

So go enjoy your breakfast. No matter what time of day it is.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nicks in Frost

By my measure, winter officially came to Denver today. Today was not the first snowfall; we had that last week (at an unusually late time in the year for Denver). In fact, today it didn't snow down here out of the mountains at all.

But what we did have was that mean overnight frost from the night before. I went out to my car this morning and found one of those impregnable layers of ice on all my windows. If you live in a more northerly locale, you'll know what I'm talking about. This is no mere "scrape the windows quickly and be on your way" ice. I'm talking "put the heater on full blast for several minutes, and still all you can do is make a few nicks and scratch designs in the surface with your scraper" ice. Not fun stuff, that.

We had a good run, but winter is now here, as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The One and Only

This unusual little article I read told me two things -- one I knew, and one I didn't.

First, what I didn't know. There is a condition called "phonagnosia," which prevents a person from being able to distinguish between different people's voices. It ordinarily affects only stroke victims, but this article documents a case of a woman who appears to have been born with the condition. If you stop and think about all the conversations you have in a day where you're not actually seeing the person with whom you're conversing, it seems like a rather unfortunate condition.

Secondly, what I did know. Nobody sounds quite like Sean Connery. (Well, unless the person is doing a Sean Connery impression.) It seems the woman with phonagnosia is able to distinguish one voice -- that of the first James Bond. You've got one voice in all the world you can recognize. Why not Sean Connery?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Bike Hero

I have absolutely no words to describe how frakkin' crazy the following video is:

First of all, I don't think even I love Rock Band half as much as this guy clearly loves Guitar Hero, and that's saying something. I'm not sure I'll ever love anything as much as this guy loves Guitar Hero.

Secondly, I can't even imagine where you'd come up with the idea for something like this. The amount of planning involved makes the whole "I'm gonna write the words to that Daft Punk song on my body in Magic Marker" thing seem playschool by comparison.

Thirdly, the sheer number of takes it must have required to get the lights on the bike to stay in synch with the symbols on the ground makes my head hurt.

Finally, note that he roped his friends into participating puts it over the top. (Shooting off streamers when he hits "star power," holding up the "You Rock" banner at the end, and so forth.)

Nuts! And awesome.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Quiet Riot

Tonight's installment of Prison Break was a good one, but a bit hard to evaluate on its own. More even than usual, this episode set things up to flow right into the next one, with the Scylla heist halfway in progress.

As for the very end of the episode, my assumption is this: knowing that only the General looks at the surveillance camera, Michael deliberately tripped the security alarm as part of the plan. The General comes down personally, which will somehow provide the opportunity to get the sixth and final card from him. But we'll find that out next week.

There were a few weak links in the chain tonight, with some characters behaving somewhat more stupidly than normal to further the drama. Agent Self and his mole at GATE stupidly walked into the ambush T-Bag lured them into. Granted, Self hasn't been all that bright a character, but I'd have hoped for more intelligence than that. And while I believe Michael would insist to go along on the job, despite his health risks, it just seems silly that he was actually the person to cut through the glass and get to Scylla. Any reason not to send one of the other guys (say, Mahone) to do that?

But those were perhaps necessary evils for an episode that otherwise clicked quite well. The tension of the heist itself was very satisfying -- some of the best edge-of-the-seat stuff the show has delivered in many seasons. It left me looking forward to next week's Prison Break more than I have in quite some time.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


You know those Salvation Army bell ringers that stand outside stores in December to get donations in their red kettles?

Well, first of all, I found a very short news story today that informed me some of those bell ringers are already at work, even though we haven't even reached Thanksgiving yet. Yes, they have a good cause worth donating to at any time of the year, but the whole "dress up in a Santa suit and stand outside the grocery" is pure Christmas, and I'm tired of the holiday encroaching ever earlier in the year.

But this was not the focus of the story. It was that a handful of bell ringers are now testing out the ability to run credit cards there at their kettles. Here in Colorado, in fact, though why we're the test bed for this new approach I'm really not sure.

Now this scene is possible:

"I'd like to donate five dollars."

"Oh, I'm sorry, but your card was declined..."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Small Measure of Solace

Today I caught the latest James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. You may recall that I mostly liked the previous installment, Casino Royale, though with a few reservations.

Most of what was good about that film continues to be good here. Daniel Craig continues to play a "weightier" Bond that feels and evokes some genuine emotion, rather than glibly gliding through a fantasy. It's a good tone for the franchise, and meshes well with Judi Dench's incarnation of M (as well as the other returning characters from the previous installment).

This film picks up the story within an hour of where the last film ended, and tells the tale of Bond's search for revenge, and discovery of a powerful and secret criminal organization along the way. It's a pretty good set-up for a fun ride. Given the gravitas Daniel Craig brings to the role, I would have wished for some more examination of revenge and what the quest for it does to a person. Nevertheless, I understand these movies are supposed to be whiz-bang action adventures first and foremost, so I can't hold that too much against the film.

But what I can hold against it is that all said action and adventure was just this side of terrible. The cinematography and editing of this film is some of the worst I can recall ever seeing. It's all shaky, close-up, and visceral in the manner of so many modern movies -- but that alone does not put me off as it would some people. It may make some people motion sick, but I feel this style of filmmaking can be done very well and be very effectively.

That was not the case here. The writers skillfully found logical ways to weave in a car chase, foot race, boat chase, and plane fight, all in under two hours, but not a one of these sequences is comprehensible. There's never 10 consecutive seconds of action in the movie where you can actually follow what's going on. Effects happen with no clear cause. The sense of geography, where everyone and everything is in relation to each other, is repeatedly muddled. Cuts are too quick for the eye to register what's happening, too quick for there to even be a gut response. You lose the very core of what you go to these kinds of movies to see -- I never once thought, "wow, that was cool!" because I was too busy going, "wait, what was that?"

In short, I feel like there was a pretty good script here (and a great cast), but it failed in bringing what was on the page to the screen. I give it a C+. I hope that Bond will do much better next time around,

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Game's Afoot

Good news for fans of George R.R. Martin. No, he still hasn't finished writing A Dance with Dragons, the next book of his incredibly good, yet frustratingly incomplete epic fantasy series. But HBO, who has long held the option to transform the series into a television show, has decided to go ahead and film a pilot episode.

As the article notes, several other pilots will be contending with this potential series (named A Game of Thrones, for the first book) for an actual slot on the air. But it's still reason to be optimistic.

The best thing, of course, would be for the project to actually make it to a full-fledged series. Oh, not just for the prospect of seeing such wonderful books brought to life in a format that actually allows the story to be told well, but because the series should serve to light a fire under the author.

See, the plan is for each season of the show to adapt one book of the series. If the show is successful enough to keep running, that means on the fifth year after it begins, they'll be needing that fifth book to be completed so it can be adapted. A year after that, and book six will be on deck. And one year after that, the seventh (and at this point, thought to be final) book will be up.

George R.R. Martin is a man that has worked in television before. He respects that the writing has to get done in that medium -- you can't just let there be nothing to film next week. So I would hope this finally gives him the push he needs to pick up his writing pace.

I'll be watching for HBO's reaction to the pilot with great interest.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm Batman

Just when I think I've seen the most ridiculous basis for a lawsuit ever, someone finds a way to slide under the bar of my expectations. The mayor of a small city in Turkey is suing Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. Studios for a share of the royalties to the movie The Dark Knight. The basis?

His city is named Batman.

"There is only one Batman in the world," says the nutjob. "The American producers used the name of our city without informing us."

Fortunately, the obvious was pointed out by the writer of the article -- why not make an issue of this some time during the nearly 70 years Batman (the superhero) has already been around? It's not like it wasn't making money before this summer's movie.

I think the citizens of Vulcan, Alberta might be licking their chops for the new Star Trek movie coming next year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Don't Look At Her, She's Hideous!

Here's a horrifying tale of cosmetic surgery addiction gone wrong. A woman pursued procedure after procedure for 20 years, ultimately finding some quack of a doctor who gave her the instruments she needed to self-inject silicone into her own face.

(First of all, note the insanity of someone willing to inject herself in the face with a syringe. Ew!)

When she ran out of the silicone supply, she decided to substitute cooking oil instead.

(Second, note the insanity of a woman who thinks that a bottle of Crisco is safe to shoot into her face.)

And that's how she came to look like Jabba the Hutt. If you haven't clicked the link already, you might not want to do so now. It's hideous.

(Finally, note the insanity of a woman who looked like the photo on the left in the first place seeking any plastic surgery at all.)

I do not get this.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It Wasn't Me, It Was the No-Armed Man

"It's hard to believe that the sight of an armless man walking along with a giant TV clamped to his body did not get anyone's attention."


(Though for the record, who in this day and age considers a 24-inch TV "giant?")

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Legend

I wanted to like this week's Prison Break episode, but when you get down to it, I just didn't all that much.

What I wanted to like was the fact that the writers chose to deal with the death of Brad Bellick. They acknowledged him as a significant character from the very beginning, and didn't simply wash him away (pun intended) without giving the death some weight. They devoted a good amount of time this week to "wrapping things up" for the character.

But while I liked the impulse, I had a hard time with the execution. In short, I just didn't find the emotions expressed by the other characters to be convincing. To Linc and Michael, he was a nemesis most of the time they knew him. He went on to simply be a nuisance by the time of Michael's Panama imprisonment, and a bit of an oaf in their quest for Scylla. I just don't see where along the way they'd grow to like him all that much.

We're told that Sucre developed a good friendship with Bellick, and man did the writing (and his acting, for that matter) try to sell us on that. But the events that bonded the two characters all took place off screen. In the long gap of the writers' strike, between the abbreviated season three and the start of season four, Sucre and Bellick had a series of adventures we've heard about from time to time. But "telling, not showing" is a cardinal sin of writing. It didn't much matter when it was background, but thrust front and center this week, it just rang false.

And why the hell would T-Bag give a damn? The composer tried his best to score T-Bag's speech in the board room in an epic manner, and again, the acting was highly pitched to sell us on the idea of some relationship here. But I can't believe T-Bag would feel anything but joy at the death of Bellick.

Mahone? He used to call Bellick his "dog" back in season two. They've hardly had any interaction since then. Why does he suddenly care?

Basically, Sara's response I believe, because she and Bellick have a history going back prior to Fox River, at the recovery meetings. But then, her reaction was most muted of all, and less focus was given to it than all the other reactions.

So basically, it felt like a misfire all around, with characters behaving quite unlike themselves in the name of giving Bellick his sendoff.

Meanwhile, the plot treaded water this week without advancement. And my disappointment in the Bellick wrap-up spilled over into every other aspect of the episode, unfortunately. The ridiculous double-speak of the bad guys talking about all the goobledy-gook required to move Scylla seemed unusually onerous. The requisite "threatened by Agent Self / counter-threaten Agent Self" scene dragged. Even little details were getting to me.

Like, have you ever really looked at that white board in the warehouse, with all the photos of Scylla card holders attached to it? Card Holder #1's photo is clearly the real life actor's "head shot," and it looks absolutely silly, this supposed evil baddie smiling with a hand on his chin. Every time I saw it tonight, it jolted me completely out of the moment.

I'm hoping things will get back on track next week.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

You Know the Rules, and So Do I

Guess who just won the title of "Best Act Ever" at the MTV Europe Music Awards?

If you just clicked that link, you may think I just Rickrolled you. But no, that is the answer, Rick Astley. It seems the silly people at MTV (you can click that link; it's real) left people the ability to "write in" a candidate when voting, and so it was that Rick Astley received over 100 million votes -- more than everyone else up for the award combined.

Fear the power of the internets!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Coasting Through Life

A little less than 10 years back, I bought myself a vacuum cleaner. I decided at the time that this was the most "adult" purchase I'd ever made, and it made me feel freakin' old at the time. I felt in that moment like it wasn't the size of the expense that made a purchase feel "adult," but rather the level of responsibility to it.

I mean, I'd bought two cars by that point in my life. But basically everybody I knew had bought a car. Friends I'd had during high school had bought their own cars. There's too high a fun factor in cars for them to feel like any kind of badge of adulthood.

But that damn vacuum. Who the hell buys a vacuum, except for a responsible adult who wants to keep his house clean? What fun can be derived from a vacuum cleaner?

When I bought my condo earlier this year, I sort of expected to have another "damn, this is an adult purchase" moment. And I kind of did, but I have to honestly say it didn't make me feel as "old" as buying that stupid vacuum cleaner. Maybe it's because so many of my friends had already bought houses, it didn't seem like as big a step as it actually was.

Well today, I made another purchase that "aged" me. And I didn't even spend more than $20.

Somewhere along the way in life, in one of the shared living situations I've been in, I inherited these coasters I've been carting around. They're these thick marble jobs that look really classy. You'd think, "damn, nice coasters." I mean, assuming you stopped to think about them at all. Hopefully, you don't. But anyway, they look like nice coasters.

But they're complete crap. What happens is, when any kind of moisture collects around the base of your glass, it forms some kind of hyper-suction with this smooth, flat slab of marble. So you go to pick up your drink, and you take the coaster right with it. Except that each one of these things is solid marble, and weighs like a pound. So you get your drink about five inches off the table, and then the water tension gives way, and SLAM!!!! This one pound slab of marble goes crashing into the table.

I'd long since learned to just flip the damn things over, because the "bottom" is a simple layer of cork. But of course with that side up, it defeats the purpose entirely of them looking nice. In fact, they look horrible, because the stupid UPC labels on the bottom of each one never could be peeled off. They just tore against the cork and left this ugly mess.

Now obviously, I can't be much of a conventional "bachelor" if any of this actually annoyed me. But what can I say? It did. Oh, I lived with it for something like five years, so clearly it didn't bug me that much. But today, I could take no more, and I actually bought this nice set of new coasters that isn't crap.

And somehow, this felt like the most adult purchase I've made since that vacuum cleaner. This one almost felt worse. I mean, that vacuum cleaner was a pure necessity. This was totally not. And I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I actually feel a bit happy about these new coasters. It's completely ridiculous.

I had three people come over to my place tonight, and all three actually noticed the coasters. In fairness, I think they all knew the story of the old crap coasters, and the reason they always sat "shredded cork side" up. But I think I maybe had the tiniest fraction of a second of pride over their compliments.

Then, of course, I began silently berating myself for having so lost touch with my inner child that I could derive any sort of happiness from having bought stupid coasters.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Reason #4717 Why I'm Not a Cat Person

This woman may be married, but clearly she is very, very lonely:

Beware the song at the halfway point.

It's no wonder this originally ran on the SciFi Channel.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Bathroom Scales

A few months ago, I marveled at the oddity that is the combination washing machine/toilet. But apparently, inventors are still determined to merge things with toilets:

What next? Foot massager/toilets? Coffee maker/toilets?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Method Acting

Poor Helen Keller:

And what's with the heartless jerk that just casually walks out at :31?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I've been so glad to have a DVR for the last three months, and the ability to skip over the deluge of political commercials.

I feel much better now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Greatness Achieved

Tonight brought us a strong episode of Prison Break. No beating around the bush -- the highlight was of course in the two deaths contained within the episode. Granted that with this show, it seems you can't actually assume anyone is dead until you see their severed head in a box. (And not even then.) But would appear we've seen the last of Company cronie Wyatt, and there-since-day-one Brad Bellick.

William Fichtner once again delivered a top notch performance as Mahone. Even though the character was largely returned this week to druggie-like climbing the wall territory, the emotional impact of the material was still powerful. I'm not necessarily a fan of watching torture in drama, but for this character and this storyline, it was the right place to go.

And said torture wasn't nearly as unsettling to watch as that creepy, creepy kiss between the General and Gretchen. Ew. I have to assume she's just leading him on to get inside and betray him. As I recall, Scylla required six keycards to access and Our Heroes only got five, with the General's still safe. I presume Gretchen is acting on the inside to procure that sixth card. What remains to be seen is whether the General is clever enough to see through the ploy, and to double-double-cross Gretchen.

But the big moment of the hour was for Brad Bellick. Having been comic relief for the show basically since the beginning (and in real earnest since season three), I started to wonder what weirdness was up when he started in with all the serious talk about having nothing in life to be passionate about, wondering how Linc's kid was doing, and such. But it wasn't until he crawled in that pipe that I put together where things were going. And even then, I thought the writers might chicken out.

I say good for them to take this twist in the road. Bellick gave us a few laughs, sure, but in truth his character hasn't truly been served well since season two. Sending him out this way was a great thing for the character and for the story. I only wish they'd laid a little more pipe (pun not intended) in earlier episodes setting up for this grand exit. Still, a minor quibble with what really was a great creative decision.

Speaking of minor quibbles, I'll leave you with this. If I'm ever in a medical emergency, get me Dr. Sara Tancredi. Because just hours earlier, Sucre was suffering a gunshot wound to the gut, and here he was doing all sorts of strenuous physical activities with only an occasional hand to the stomach in an almost "maybe I should take a Tums for this upset stomach I have" sort of mild discomfort.

That woman can work miracles.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


This afternoon, I saw Kevin Smith's newest movie, Zack and Miri Make a Porno. It used to be that I generally enjoyed Kevin Smith movies, but didn't think he wqas fantastic or anything. But I was very pleasantly surprised by his last effort, Clerks II, and I think that raised my expectations for this movie. In some ways, this movie was better. In other ways, it was not as good.

Let's start with the "better." This movie is damn funny; I'd say his funniest movie yet. Assuming your threshold for raunch is sufficiently high, you'll get your money's worth out of this movie.

You could actually even watch just 5 minutes of this movie and get your money's worth: the 5 minutes featuring Justin Long. (For those of you who don't know him by name, he's a "Mac" in the commercials.) Take all the funny of his performances in Galaxy Quest, Dodgeball, and his cameo in Walk Hard, and compress it all down in a five minute period, and you've got his role in Zack and Miri Make a Porno. There's a risk I've just totally oversold this, but I don't think so. It'll live up to my hype; he's that funny in this movie.

And while that might be the highlight of the movie, the rest really does deliver too. It brings more than mere smiles or snickers. I laughed out loud a lot throughout this movie, as did the entire group I went with.

On the down side, the thing that made Clerks II a better movie in my mind, compared to earlier Kevin Smith movies, was that it had a message. I don't believe all movies have to have one, and certainly not comedies, but the fact that Clerks II did (and one so deftly slipped in amongst all the raunch jokes) was really cool to me. It showed a more mature kind of movie making, despite all the surrounding immaturity.

No such luck for Zack and Miri. Oh, it has a plot, to be sure. And it is sweet at times. But ultimately it's a pretty conventional tale of friends at a moment of discovery and change -- are they meant to be more than friends? That's not really making any kind of "statement," if you ask me.

Still, you might well argue that a movie like this should be funny first, and anything else second. Well, it is funny, and so deserves a good mark. I just don't happen to hold it in quite as high regard as Clerks II. And as I gave that film a B+, I think that means Zack and Miri Make a Porno gets a B from me.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Go Cards! (Eat Here at Your Own Risk)

When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

When the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness hands you a "C" grade for sanitation that you're required to post in a public place, you disguise it with sports team pride:

Personally, I don't know why the failblog calls that a fail. I call it pretty damn clever.