Archive for November, 2007

Friday Video Tsunami

Friday, November 30th, 2007

I’ve been compiling various links for a week, and finally the ones that apply to video have reached critical mass, so let’s let off a little pressure and release those into the wild:

Dallas doesn’t doesn’t have a good alternative station. KDGE (the Edge) used to be, but about all they play these days seems to use an orchestra of buzzsaws as their main musical motif. Even the local college radio stations don’t showcase the alternative bands the way they’re supposed to. (If anybody out there knows any different about Dallas college radio, please let me know, but when I researched it a month or so ago, there was diddley-squat in the department.) Oddly enough, where the whole DFW metroplex fails, Lubbock succeeds: Texas Tech’s radio station KTXT-FM is a wonderful source of great new music. Every time I pass through there I come away knowing at least three new bands that I really like; if I could just remember to listen to their online stream more often (or if it would work more often), I wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the quality tunage.

But I digress.

I fully intend to ramble even more aimlessly in the future on that subject, but for now, the point I was trying to make was that another good source of good new music, in the absence of good radio stations, is TV commercials.

I’m serious: Ad agencies these days are freakishly good at finding good new music, and internet users are freakishly good at posting lyrics and videos of the commercials.

Case in point is the new J C Penney’s Christmas commercial, with a catchy little tune by a band I’d never heard of called The Weepies. You can watch the commercial here, or stay on this page and hear the song while you watch this neat little “video Christmas card”:

There are more cool ads I’ve seen lately, but I’m sure you’ve heard your own new favorite songs during commercial breaks, so if a Google search with key words in quotes (plus the words “lyrics”) doesn’t turn up the artist, try going to Splendad and searching for the name of the business running the ad, or just browse the site and you’ll probably find that it’s been requested by others as well.

Next: If you ask me, and I know you would if you could, nobody raps like middle-aged Singapore bureaucrats:

(Via Attack of the Show, as is this next one:)

Next up: What’s the current biggest criminal threat in this country? Junk-food-hungry cross-dressers, of course:

And finally: You might have seen this already, but here’s the wackiest ref call of the year (the funny part starts about 39 seconds in):

Photographic Interlude

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Oil can!  Oil can!

These isn’t a rusty robot graveyard, it’s the decoration above Cristina’s Restaurant in Frisco, where we went for our anniversary a couple of weeks ago. (For some reasons, those Mexican chain restaurants, all seem to be really big on rusty decorations.)

Anyway, I came across this photo this morning, and figured I’d post it; click here for the full size.

And while we’re at it, here’s a shot I took of the chips:

They too look good at high resolution.

The Final Frontier

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

I guess they’ve exhausted the young-gamer demographic for World of Warcraft, so now William Shatner and Mr. T are doing commercials for it, alleging that they actually play.

I suppose it’s possible, but since Shatner does commercials for anything and everything these days, I have to wonder what his endorsement really means these days. Of course, a quarter-century ago last September, when The Shat had only shilled a handful of products, it was his appearance in TV ads that was at least partly responsible for my decision to make the Commodore VIC20 my official vehicle into the rabbithole of geekdom.

I’ll always be grateful to him for that, but now he pushes the trust thing too far.

But anyway, I just happened to find that very commercial on YouTube, so here it is:

“The Wonder Computer of the 1980’s!”

Of Heroes & Hairspray

Monday, November 26th, 2007

We watched Hairspray on Saturday night, and it was pretty good. Like I said about the third installment of Pirates of the Caribbean, this is exactly why Hollywood exists. It’s fun and colorful, the songs are well-made, it’s educational in many ways, no matter who you are or what your age is, and perhaps more importantly (to me, anyway), they didn’t skimp on casting. There are lots of big and medium stars, even in some of the smallest roles, but they didn’t overlook newcomers.

Plus, they took a big risk casting John Travolta in drag AND a fatsuit, but it seems to work — although it’ll come back to bite Travolta when he runs for office.

And you KNOW he’ll run for office someday; it’s all part of the grand plan of the Scientologists, since Tom Cruise’s bizzare antics the past few years have rendered him pretty much unelectable.

But you mark my words: Travolta for Senator in ’12, maybe in ’10 if Hillary gets her claws in the White House and doesn’t screw it up too bad right off the bat.

But I digress.

The point I want to make is this: Brittany Snow was so great of American Dreams a couple of years ago, everybody thought she would go on to great things when the show was done.

So how come nobody has given her a starring role in the two years American Dreams has been off the air? Why is she relegated to tenth billing and villain-sidekick status in Hairspray? Why has her most visible role to date been window dressing for Vin Diesel in The Pacifier?

Whatever the reason, I just hope Hayden Panettiere is squirreling away her paychecks.

And speaking of Heroes and things that tick me off: Thanks to the writers strike, Season 2 of Heroes is ending next week, six months early. Just think of all the storylines that are being prematurely foreshortened, just to wrap everything up in a neat (but gravely stunted) package.

And we’ll be stuck with 10 months of reality shows.

Here’s a reality show I’d like to see: TV Executives vs. Writers Death Match.

Two walk in, none walk out.

Post-Thanksgiving Wrapup

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

Since Thanksgiving’s over, out comes the Christmas-themed bullet points!

We’re not out of leftover turkey yet — not by a longshot! — but we’re a little tired of eating beige after three days, so tonight we froze what was left and I made some chili. It was a nice spicy change.

Another reason my wife was in the mood for chili is that it finally got cold this week. Until Wednesday, the highs had been in the 80s for about a month; not your typical autumn weather, but still fairly normal for Texas these last few years.

Anyway, it’s been downright nippy, at last, though not below freezing where we live. It’s been a nice change. Also, it’s been raining quite a bit today, and it’s been dry for a while, so that was nice too — as long as we can keep Molly and Bristol out of the mud pits in the corners of the yard, which are there because she has trampled all the grass within four feet of the alley totally out of existence.

Ah, doggies: What can you do?

Each Saturday night, G4TV has been replaying the previous Monday’s episode of Heroes, and afterward having a half-hour “Post Show“, where they analyze the show, chat with viewers, and interview cast members. It’s too bad more shows don’t have this kind of audience participation and independent analysis — but notice that it’s not NBC or any of the other big networks doing this, but a relatively minor cable channel (hey, it’s no TBS) that’s making the innovation.

That’s why the majors are going down the tubes.

Anyway, it’s great to get a second chance to see this extremely complicated show, especially because it’s been getting really, really good recently. I won’t spoil it for those who have recorded but not watched it yet, or who are waiting to see the whole season on DVD, or for those overseas that can’t see it yet, but … man oh man! Mohinder is crossing more and more lines he’s drawn for himself … Claire’s dad teamed up with her boyfriend, whom he had “tagged and bagged” for the Company years before … Matt Parkman is expanding his powers …

Anyway, if you don’t watchthis show, and you can, you really really should.

Speaking of G4TV, I saw this on Attack of the Show last week and forgot I hadn’t posted it yet: “Nascargot”!:

And in case snails is not what you wanted to end this post on … here’s Pomeranian puppies — lots and lots of them! And the William Tell Overture!

Gobble Gobble!

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Our Thanksgiving turkey this year was free, courtesy of the fine folks at Kroger supermarkets for their “Plus Card” customers. I was able to pick out a big one — 24 pounds! — by going early on a weekday, more than a week before Thanksgiving.

And it’s a good thing I got it early, because it took that monster almost that whole time to thaw in the refrigerator. Seriously, we weren’t sure it wouldn’t still be frozen by Wednesday night, since also because of the size, we started cooking it the night before.

Ah, good old American excess: What could be more perfect for the first American holiday!

And speaking of which, my wife made an excessively good pie:

It wasn’t even as unhealthy as you might think: The chocolate pudding filling was fat-free and sugar-free, and the Cool Whip on top was sugar-free. Of course, the Oreo crust was just regular Oreo, and there where Hershey’s Symphony bars broken up into the pie, so we didn’t go completely health-nut.

Anyway, it was great pie, and we both had two pieces.

Plus there was all that other good Thanksgiving stuff, like dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, green beans, and whole-cranberry sauce, but I didn’t get pictures of all that, because we were hungry and more concerned with eating that documenting, and besides, except for the green beans and cranberries, that kind of holiday side dish is all beige and tan, and not that photogenic with a point-and-shoot.

The above photos are the good stuff, so I’m satisfied with that.

Anyway, we hope your Thanksgiving (or whatever you celebrate in your country) was as tasty.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Let’s start off the holiday by thanking those who need it most, the ones doing the heavy lifting for the rest of us, by texting a nice Thank You to our fine military personnel. “During this week of Thanksgiving, let our troops know we’re thinking about them through the Pentagon’s America Supports You program. You can send your message of thanks by texting to 89279.”

Read more about the project at www.americasupportsyou.mil.

Next: Here’s a public service announcement warning about a sinister possible use for the traditional Thanksgiving meat dish:

And if you don’t have a Turkey Day food plan by this time, you’re probably down to chicken tacos at The Bell, but that doesn’t mean you can’t live vicariously by drooling over this holiday menu by Alton Brown and other Food Network heavyweights.

And finally this has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, except that it’s today’s (Thanksgiving Eve), and the host wishes U.S. a happy TG weekend.

It’s called Epic-Fu, and it’s like a micro news-variety show for a way-post-MTV world. The host and production values are really professional, there are lots and lots of interesting finds, and if you don’t like what they’re talking about, keep watching and in four seconds they’re on to something else. Check it out:

Apparently it’s been around for a while, so I can’t believe I’m just now finding it (or remembering that it exists). The upside is that I’ve got lots of episodes I can go back and watch at once. I just wish that even 1% of the stuff on YouTube was even half as good as this.

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving, and enjoy your tryptophan coma!

On Long-Term Relationships

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Things keep happening, and there’s never been any time to spell it all out, but here’s the big thing from the past weekend: My cousin from Austin was in town with her husband to see an old school friend on friday, but her husband fell in the hotel shower and hit his head, so he’s been in ICU here locally ever since then.

So I’ve been going up there everyday and just sitting around with them, and catching up with her and her daughters. It’s especially good to see Becca again, who I practically grew up with (during holidays and vacations, anyway), but who lately I’ve been seeing about everyh 6 or 7 years: Last year at Thanksgiving, before that in 2000, and before that in 1993. I’ve got other relationships like that too — Spook, Terry, James — friends that I spent a lot of time with for years, and now I’ll see or communicate with them about once every two presidential terms (or more) , and we’ll catch each other up on our lives in the interim, then we’ll go our ways again. (Except for the Spook, of course, who has been keeping contact by email these past five years.) I think that must be a common experience these days.

It’s like a really good TV series that you used to watch, but now they only make two episodes a year. It’s kind of a weird feeling, but it’s better than no contact at all.

Anyway, this next thing is unrelated, but I saw it today, and if I wait until it’s on-topic, I’ll never remember it so here goes (via Attack of the Show:

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been trying to find something to differentiate himself from the rest of the GOP pack, and it looks like he’s found TWO things: 1) Chuck Norris, and 2) A sense of humor.

Anyway, tomorrow’s another day of job-hunting, and I’ve got a lead on a place that’s only five miles from my house. I can put up with a lot of crap for only a five-mile drive. Wish me luck.

Music, Music, Music, Music

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

My wife has always described me as “eclectic” — that is, when she’s in a good mood; I can’t mention how she describes me when she’s not …

BUT SERIOUSLY: She especially refers to my musical tastes as eclectic — and as if to prove her point to the world, pictured at right are the four CD’s I checked out from the library last Sunday. They are, clockwise from upper left, Days of Future Passed by the Moody Blues (their first post “Mersey Beat” album, and one of the few I don’t have on CD); a faux-exotic New Age compilation double album called Krishna Beats; a fairly new band with their self-titled album Morningwood (Get it?? Get it?? Ha!) — not exactly Chicks with Guitars, just Chick Lead Singer Who Really Rocks; and finally (Texas in the house!), Willie Nelson’s magnum opus from 1977, Red Headed Stranger.

A fine collection, all told. Who says the unemployed can’t have fun?

But let’s go back to Morningwood (heh!) for a bit: The album’s really great, and I’m really, really fond of one song in particular, To the Nth Degree, even though I usually shy away from songs based on cliches.

And now you can hear it for yourself, decorated nicely by this cool album-cover video. Enjoy!

Birthday Girl

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Sweeeeeet! Tomorrow (Friday the 16th) is my wife’s birthday — why don’t you make her day and leave a nice birthday greeting in the comments for her?

Because if you know her, you know she’d do the same for you. And if you don’t know her, trust me: You’d like her because there’s nothing not to like. So she deserves a birthday wish.

Thanks much!