Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Where's Prof. X?

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThree-armed baby born in Shanghai:

Doctors in Shanghai on Tuesday were considering surgery options for a 2-month-old boy born with an unusually well-formed third arm.

Neither of the boy's two left arms is fully functional and tests have so far been unable to determine which was more developed, said Dr. Chen Bochang, head of the orthopedics department at Shanghai Children's Medical Center.

Can Magneto be far behind?


An X-review

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingI guess all of my previous posts on the subject were kind of leading up to this.

The wife and I went to see X-Men 3: The Last Grab at Your Pocketbook Friday. Since the movie scored the fourth all-time largest opening weekend box office, I assume a lot of you did also.

You can find plot outlines and all kinds of information about the movie all over the 'net, so I won't go into plot explanation too much. I will, however, address one of the chief complaints that many reviewers seem to have with the movie. Many reviewers claim the movie is too dumbed down and focuses far too much on the action. I emphatically agree with their assessment, but I don't think this is bad thing.

See, this is a very fun movie, and not overthinking what they were doing was probably the best thing these guys could have done. Focus on the action, develop the story only as necessary to advance the movie and have a good time doing it -- this movie does this in spades.

There are some great additions to this movie: Juggernaut being the best and Kitty Pryde being a close second. Colussus was good, but not used quite enough. For those who would argue that they've departed too much from cannon, you might have a point to some degee. But given the story line they've developed, and the fantastic presentation they've given us, I can't see how certain characters, especially Juggernaut, could maintain their comic-book origin.

Overall a good movie. I wouldn't say "best in the series," like some have, but it's definitely as good as the first two. So, if you haven't seen it yet, I recommend it pretty highly.

UPDATE: Oh, yeah, I forgot: Make sure you stay all the way to the end of the credits. There is a bonus scene at the very, very end.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006

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For those who have gone before, we remember.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Is stealing also a form of flattery?

Michael Yon has his famous photo ganked again. This time by Shock Magazine. Click here for info from Blackfive.

Site of the day: Artsick

Good lord this place is funny. Found via this post that offers such great "Did You Know" tidbits as:

The rise in GPS usage worldwide correlates closely to the increase in "Where are they now?" programs.

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Part Pirate, Part Guitarist, All Yngwie

Okay, so the "fookin' fury" episode has soured many (including me) to Yngwie's attitude. However, the guy is still one of the best guitarists on the planet:

Apparently what I have been missing, in my quest to play the instrument better, is skin-tight pants.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Lay and Skilling guilty

Breaking news.

Enron former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling and founder Kenneth Lay were found guilty Thursday of conspiracy and fraud in the granddaddy of all corporate fraud cases.

On the sixth day of deliberations, a jury of eight women and four men convicted the former executives of misleading the public about the true financial health of Enron, whose collapse in late 2001 symbolized the wave of corporate fraud that swept the United States early this decade.

Skilling was found guilty on 19 counts of conspiracy, fraud, false statements and insider trading. He was found not guilty on eight counts of insider trading.

Lay was found guilty on all six counts of conspiracy and fraud.

In a separate bench trial, Judge Sim Lake ruled Lay was guilty of four counts of fraud and false statements.

Both Lay and Skilling could face 20 to 30 years in prison, legal experts say.

Good. I'm a capitalist through and through and the integrity of the system relies on just retribution to people who subvert it.

Finale recaps

Okay, so I'm happy that Taylor won AI, but you know, it really was anticlimactic. Even if Kat had won. By this point of the show, I was just really not into it any more. I don't even know if I'll watch next year. I've enjoyed it, but after the auditions, things went downhill on the old entertainmentometer.

LOST, however, was fantastic. They're still having problems with answering questions. For every one they do answer, they open 10 more. I truly hope the writers take a more active approach next season and stop using so much viewer input.

Today/tonight: I do homework. You may see me around. You may not.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's the final countdown ...

Da-da-da-da, da-da da-da-daaaaaaaaa

What's the scariest thing you've read today? Me? It was this:

Iran conducted a test launch Tuesday night of the Shihab-3 intermediate-range ballistic missile, which is capable of reaching Israel and US targets in the region, Israel Radio reported. The test came hours before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with US President George W Bush in Washington to discuss the Iranian threat.

Military officials said it was not clear if this most recent test indicated an advance in the capabilities of the Shihab 3. They said the test was likely timed to coincide with the Washington summit and with comments made by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah during celebrations in Beirut marking the 6th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

via Drudge.

Nyah, what's up doc?

There's a Bugs Bobbit joke out there that I'm just not clever enough to make.

I think I've heard this song somewhere before ...

Lovely Nivea meter maid,
Sitting on the job, still getting paid.

More X-talk

Take the X-Men quiz.

I missed two, see if you can do better than me. One of them I should have known (#8), but the other (#10) I had no clue and it was a guess.

Oh well, good way to keep the comics mood rolling.

h/t Ace.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

American Idol predictions

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMy before the show predictions:

I predict that there will indeed be no American Idol winner this year. That instead the very fabric of reality will tear back and from the his dimension of damnation, Mephisto will appear ready to battle Ryan Seacrest. Who is, apparently, an impudent fool.

UPDATE: Okay, so Mephisto was a no show. But I'm pretty sure I saw Dazzler in the audience. So you know, Mojo* can't be far behind!

UPDATE 2: People who cared enough to really comment on last night's show: Dean, Tracey, Sarahk.

*Now he, I think, could be Simon.

What's currently in rotation:

Well, I've always had a deep respect and I mean that most sincerely.
The band is just fantastic,
That is really what I think.
Oh by the way ...
Which one's Pink?

Hey, gotta post something today.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Two-list Monday

First off, a list that seems amazingly familiar: Entertainment Weekly's Top 25 worst sequels. Although the article is dated May 22, it seems like I've read this before. It must either be because we've debated this stuff so much or that some of these movies are on other worst-ever lists.

That said, I can't really disagree with any of the entries on the list. There are some movie that didn't make the list that I thought should (Rocky 5 would be up there) and some that regardless of their place on the list, I will always love (Conan the Destroyer). The number one spot is well deserved.

List #2 I'm posting because I have to feed my inner geek: The Top 25 X-men. This, I think is a far more difficult list to make because who you like as an X-man depends a lot on when you read the book, or when you first started reading the book. I take issue with Magneto being #13; he should definitely have been in the top 5. He's right up there with Prof. X. I also have problems with the #1 entry. I do not agree at all and have always found the character to be bland and lifeless. I am quite happy, however, with entry #10: Colossus. He was my favorite X-man when I was young.

So, release your geek and tell me what you think.

The chocolate city further sours

That Ray Nagin was re-elected is old news. And we can all talk about how terrible it is that it happened, or not.

Driving to work this morning, the talk radio guys (Alabama-based Rick and Bubba) brought up an interesting idea (in passing). Bubba said that regardless of how much money they had raised in the past for the victims of Katrina in New Orleans, that he was through. He would never again raise money for them.

My question is this, do you think more people are going to feel this way? Seriously, I have come to feel this way. I can spend my efforts and money in places I think deserve it more (Mississippi, Alabama and Florida) than a city that can't even get rid of a politician so instrumental in its near demise.

I understand that chosing between Nagin and Landrieu was tough -- re-elect the guy who failed or elect the guy from one of the most corrupt families in the state? -- but why couldn't the city field better candidates. Rob, I feel for you, I really do.

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli ...

... we will fight our country's battles
But we won't teach any PE.

Parents get upset, common sense surrenders.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Happy birthday to Bad Ass Baracus

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingHappy Birthday Lawrence "Mr. T." Tureaud. Here's to another 20 years of pitying fools and taking no jibba jabba.

Doctor Who Season 2: Episodes 5 & 6: Cybermen

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingWhile the Daleks were always Doctor Who's greatest enemy, I think it's the Cybermen that were actually the coolest, scariest villians.

The problem in the original series is that they were handicapped by poor storylines and a poorer weakness (gold/goldust). And as time rolled on, Doctor Who apologists argued that the reason the Daleks were greater antogonists is that they weren't handicapped by a lack of emotions and therefore were creative and able to come up with new and imaginitive ways to pester the universe. The Cybermen, devoid of emotion and imagination were always logical to a fault. It wasn't until the new series that we truly see both enemies to their full potential. Awesome as they are.

There is a lot going on in this two part episode. And I can't really talk about any of it without giving something away. Simply put, the doctor faces the Cybermen again, they are awesome, he eventually triumphs.

This season keeps getting better. And I think it's far superior to last season, although I still think Eccleston was a superior Doctor. This season's episodes are just better thought out and written. Both eps get an A+.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Two worthy lists

The Beer Advocates Top 100 beers. No Guinness on this list.

At the other end of the spectrum, Ratebeer.com's 50 Worst Beers. No PBR on this list.

Friday, May 19, 2006

When making a joke goes to far ...

Wife talking on the phone to a friend: "Wow, there sure are a lot of people in the church who are pregnant."

Me being a smartass in the background: "Wasn't me!"

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Photographic Friday

Couple of admin. notes ... I've gotten tired of posting all the links to prior BIAAtG posts at the bottom of each new one -- just ate up too much space. So, if you're interested in seeing a prior installment, just use the search function.

Okay, so, not a couple of admin notes, just one.

I may be all about the guitar, but my personal collection is pretty meager. While I appreciate the fine art of the guitar, I can't afford to buy those models I lust after.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMorgan Monroe Tempest: This is my "baby." It's shaped like a Paul Reed Smith Ten-top 24 but the comparison ends in body shape. The neck is shaped different, the electronics are different and it uses a (far superior IMO) tune-o-matic style bridge as opposed to a PRS's Fender style.

The MM Tempest ran me about $550, which is about half the price of your average PRS. While this is a Korean-made, CNC-routed guitar, I actually far prefer its sound and feel to that of the "custom shop" PRS. While the stock pickups are adequate, I want to upgrade them to Seymour Duncans.

The thing I love most about this guitar is its versatility. I can smash out some great metal sounds, play some soulful souding blues and strum some sweet clean tones. Sadly Morgan Monroe, a small Nashville company, only made the Tempest for a couple of years. Even more sad, they have apparently been bought out and now only make (HACK, COUGH, PUKE) banjos, mandolins, fiddles and resonators (and a bouzouki, which is cool). I can't even find this guitar on Ebay any more. If I wanted to find another one, I'm not sure I could

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThe cheapest guitar I could find at the time: just happened to be this Epiphone Les Paul Jr. Special. You know you're getting a cheap guitar the more adjectives they tack onto the name. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how decent a guitar this is.

I bought this guitar for a very specific purpose. I was deploying to Afghanistan and I wanted a cheap guitar to take with me. If anything happened, I wouldn't sweat it. But when it came in, I like it far more than the Ibanez I had at the time, so I took the Ibanez with me (it survived the trip fine, I wound up giving it to my brother).

If you've ever played a cheap Paul copy, you know the deal. No where near what you get out of the real deal or the mid-range Epiphone models. I was expecting crap though, and this is far from it. If you like punk, this is a great guitar. Not a hell of a lot of range, but it belts out that mid-rangey grind.

My chief complaint is that the tuners absolutely suck. It can't stay in tune longer than 30 minutes. If I decide to keep the think -- and I probably will so my daughters can use it -- I'm gonna replace the tuners and the nut.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDean Playmate: Yeah, I play bass ... poorly. But I love it. Lots of fun. I find it very interesting to switch from playing a standard six string to playing the bass and then back. After playing a bass, the standard six string seems tiny. It's a neat feeling.

I picked this up about 2001 or so. I was asked to play bass in a friend's band. So I decided to go ahead. But I really didn't like the singer and decided to drop out. Now I use the bass for recording. Which means I don't use it at all. Right now. I'm sure I should have shopped around a bit, but I just wanted something that thumped. I got this bass and a Rogue amp (Musicians Friend's brand). Not great, but I can get the two sounds I like and that's all that matters.

Lastly, I have some remnants that I really want to actually make into a playable instrument again.

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Look upon my Heavy Metal face and tremble! Tremble I say!
This guitar body is from the very first electric guitar I owned. It was a Quantum (try finding that guitar company) and I got it for my 16th birthday. The neck is from a cheap Japanese-made Jackson flying V. The funny thing is, I don't have the original neck to the Quantum nor the body to the flying V. Couldn't begin to tell you where they even are.

What I want to do is take this single pickup guitar and make something similar to the old Kramer Barrettas. I do want a Floyd Rose bridge so, my options are to fill the tremolo route with new wood and re-route, or to just buy a new guitar. I don't know what kind of pride of ownership I'd have. I'd love to have a hand in making my own guitar, but I have a feeling that my lack of creative ability would turn out a really crappy product.

To wit, see that funky white headstock with polka-dots? That's a failed project. What I wanted to do was have a white headstock and body and have my kid's finger prints on the headstock and body. Good idea, but it came out looking like that semi-hard candy that was on your aunt's table that you never touched because the one time you tried to it tasted like jellied puke. Back to the drawing board.

So, let me know about the gear you got or the gear you want.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My five under-rated movies

Stolen from Sheila. Here are five movies that I feel didn’t get their fair shake.

eXistenZ: David Cronenberg’s 1999 movie about virtual reality and our perceptions of what’s real and not.

Cronenberg made a name for himself in the ‘70s and early ‘80s making cerebral and just-plain odd horror films. He jumped tracks in 1988 with Dead Ringers, a really bad psychological/horror/mess-with-your-head fest. In 1991, he transposed Naked Lunch to film -- a brave effort that didn’t entirely fail. eXistenZ follows much of the same feel as Naked Lunch but, since it’s Cronenberg’s world and not Burroughs’, it comes off more genuine.

The performances by Jude Law (one of the first movies I took notice of him) and Jennifer Jason Leigh give good performances in some of the weirdest scenes they have ever been in.

IMDB Money Quote:
Ted: It hurts. I think it's infected.
Allegra: No, it's not infected. It's just excited. It wants action.
Ted: But I really don't think I want action! Me, I mean. The bearer of the excited bio-port.

Willow: I would have never thought this movie would have been under appreciated, but I was listening to Glenn Beck today and they mercilessly tore into this movie. I couldn’t believe my ears. Am I alone in liking this movie”

This is, to me, one of the most perfect hero quest movies ever made. It follows the pattern perfectly and provides enough drama and action to fill anyone’s chalice, yet it’s still okay for children. Very entertaining.

IMDB Money Quote:
Sorsha: What happened to "You are my sun, my moon, my starlit sky"“
Madmartigan: It went away.
Sorsha: Went away” "I dwell in darkness without you," and it "went away"“!
Madmartigan: Yeah.

Crossroads: No. Not the Brittney Spears journey to stupidity, this Ralph Macchio vehicle was made in 1986. It’s the perfect celluloid version of The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Basically, the devil plays guitar against a naturally gifted guitarist. His soul hung in the balance.

While generally an okay movie, what catapults this movie into the “amazing” category is the guitar fight at the end. Representing the devil was Steve “the best guitarist on the planet” Vai. Somehow we were supposed to buy that Ralph Macchio could outplay Vai. But the Mach had a secret weapon -- Ry Cooder actually played all of his guitar licks.

Now, a Cooder-Vai showdown is a bit more of a match. Though I still think the match was pretty close to call, as far as actual playing was concerned. What happens though is that Vai messes up while playing and blows the competition.

IMDB Money Quote:
Eugene Martone: Hey Willie, look at this hat. All I need is a Mississippi string tie and I'm ready to roll!
Willie Brown: Yeah, you need a lot more than THAT.
(Ed. Apparently, in the ‘80s, if you had the right kind of hat, you could mystically play guitar. Man, I wish I could find this hat.)

Punch Drunk Love: You know, I want to say that I don’t really like Paul Thomas Anderson movies, but, looking at his list of flicks on IMDB, it’s not true. I like most PTA movies, I just don’t like Magnolia. Anyway, I thought this was a home run.

I like everything about this movie, especially the fact that my sister-in-law gets violently upset if I mention it whenever we talk about good movies. And, really, what more can you say than that.

IMDB Money Quote:
Lena: Oh... I'm sorry... was that like a secret pudding”

Jersey Girl: I do not understand why this movie is so universally despised. I mean, yes, I do understand that both Ben AssChin and J-ennifer Lo-pez are in it, but, amazingly, I actually liked them in this movie.

Part of this, I guess, has to do with the fact that I really like Kevin Smith and was really happy to see him do something outside his standard wacky comedy mold. Secondly, being the father of a couple of little girls, the movie really hit home with me. Being there for your children, putting their needs before your own, really struck a chord with me.

IMDB Money Quote:
Ollie: Do you have any questions about what you saw?
Gertie: [thinking hard] Do you have what Brian has?
Ollie: Yes.
Gertie: [after thinking hard again] Is it as big as his?
Ollie: Sadly, yes.

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Special Thursday Edition

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis is a pretty neat article: The Top 20 strangest guitars. They had some stuff on the list that I hadn't seen before (like #s 1, 8, 12, 16), but many I had. In fact, I've played guitar #2. Machine gun guitars are pretty common in guitar shops in Japan, but they had one at the small music shop in Mountain Home, Idaho, when I was there as a teen. There are some I don't think are all that odd (like #2 for instance), when compared to some of the hyper-wierd guitars I've seen.

So, go check out their list and then compare them to some of the beauties(?) I've posted below:

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Gee, wonder if this guitar was for a metal band?

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Somebody really loves some Formula 1

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I don't even know where to begin. Frog legs, anyone?

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When did H.R. Giger's Alien mate with a Fender?

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I have read that this guitar was custom built for Yngwie "The Fookin' Fury" Malmsteen. Whether or not this is true, it makes you wonder what goes through someone's head while they're making something like this. You have to admire the craftsmanship of something like this -- it is a work of art -- but it's almost masturbatory. Nothing good is ever going to come from someone playing with this thing. Nothing good, ever.

Last, but certainly not least, one of the oddest guitars I have ever seen:
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A guitar that will have you praising the rock gods with your searing leads and crushing rhythms ... all the while allowing you take out any pesky ogres or trolls that may suddenly appear during your performance at Budokan.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pledge drive

I ask that you pledge to kick someone who has pledged to see the movie An Inconvenient Truth.


Make a difference when you pledge to KICK SOMEONE WHO WANT'S TO "SEE THE TRUTH" on opening weekend in your city. Your pledge will send a message to the world that IDIOT MOVIES ABOUT global warming is BEING a genuine threat to our planet ARE A WASTE OF TIME.

Paramount Classics will donate 5% of ticket sales from AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH to the ALLIANCE FOR CLIMATE PROTECTION. I WILL DONATE 5 BEERS TO MYSELF.

To pledge, simply fill out the form below and click SUBMIT AND PLEDGE NOW. Then, keep your promise to the planet and see AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH on opening weekend. If you select "Remind Me", we'll even email you a reminder. For Group Sales, please click the GROUP SALES button below. TO PLEDGE, LEAVE A MESSAGE OR JUST GO OUT AND START KICKING.

h/t Ace.

Blu Ray seals their fate*

I have been a long-time A/V nut. If I didn't have a family, or any financial restrictions, I would probably (heh, probably) have a dedicated home theater that would rival Lucas's at Skywalker Ranch.

However, over time, as sucky things like responsibility, looming debt, and family wellbeing become important, I have tempered my home theater desires a bit. My gear is quite meager, but I do stay on top of the latest technological trends.

I've anxiously followed the HD-DVD and Blu-Ray battles. The next format is going to bring us magnificent advances in picture quality. While nowhere near approaching the quantum leap that VHS - DVD was, it will be substantial and will be very influential in setting up the consumer market for the next technological step.

Reading through the specs of both formats, I've been a proponent of Blu-Ray. The discs seem most like DVD in operation, hold more info than HD-DVD and is being supported by Sony who will utilize the format in their upcoming Playstation 3. This practically guarantees a foothold in the market.

I have spent a lot of time arguing Blu-Ray's merits to friends with similar interests. Until today.

This is an old story, but it's the first I've heard of it. That is, I've heard about the digital watermarking and programmable digital cryptography -- that's no biggie. The days of copying rentals had to come to an end eventually.

The problem is that Sony's considering installing self-destruct codes into Blu-Ray players. So if you play pirated material, the players will cease to function. While that may sound like a wet dream to the industry, that's a consumer's nightmare.

First, consider how often you have problems getting something to work right on your computer. Sure, you may have to reinstall drivers or it may be something trite, but it's still an inconvenience. But you're computer, devices and software are created to work right. And they still have issues. So, if something is created to destroy itself, what do you think the consumer confidence is going to be that it won't happen arbitrarily? I have no confidence in that myself.

Second: How are they going to market this feature to consumers? You better not play pirated material or your player will self-destruct in 5 - 4 - 3 ...

Last: Remember the DivX player fiasco? While DivX has gone on to do some really cool stuff on the downloaded video side of the house, their idea for time-stamped DivX discs didn't sell at all. Consumers had no confidence in discs that only played for select time periods.

So, if you're enticed by Blu-Ray, I say forget it. In fact, as the technology comes closer to being released, I say wait for the next generation of players and discs. Wait to see what the early adopters have to say. I'm thinking it's not going to be nice.

*I wanted to say "jumps the shark" but I've used that in two posts recently and I think that uses up my lifetime quota.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Open flying with fire Idol 5/16

An interesting night and some good performances by all the idols. I'm positive that my assessment is biased, so keep that in mind. Each one sang three songs: one chosen by recording mogul Clive Davis, one chosen by the judges, and one they chose themselves.

Elliott performed well but the best song was the one Clive Davis chose for him. Davis chose Journey's "Open Arms," and it was fantastic. Much better than I thought it would be. Paula chose his song (sorry not familiar with it) and he chose a Ray Charles song for himself. Both were subpar performances for Elliott -- at least at this stage of the competition.

Katharine was in her zone for the first two songs. Clive picked "I Believe I Can Fly" for Kat and she delivered a decent rendition. She oversang a bit, which drew most judge's ire. Simon chose her next song - "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." She rocked it and was very natural, except that she performed it while sitting on the floor. Don't know who decided on that move, but I couldn't get it out of my mind. I was like, "Stand up, dammit! I want you to sell the song to me, not put me to sleep." Anyway, she wrapped up with an Ella song and just jumped the shark. Not good. She just doesn't have the voice for it, you know? Everyone who sang those blues/jazz songs had a really cool quirk to their voice that Kat just doesn't have. But I still think she survives this week.

Taylor was by far the strongest competitor. Clive's choice for him was "Dancing In the Dark," and the moment it was announced you knew it was going to be a home run. I joked to my wife, "Wonder if they got Courtney Cox?" But they didn't need her, Taylor got Paula up dancing with him. It was a great performance, great song choice, very memorable and a lot of fun. Randy chose the Joe Cocker version of "You Are So Beautiful" for Taylor and who wouldn't think that he'd rock that tune? He was as Joe Cocker as Joe Cocker was, but still Taylor. Very good job. Lastly, he chose "Try A Little Tenderness" and closed the show on a HUGE note. One of the best performances of the season -- not the best vox, or dancing, but just the best connection with the audience and those watching. Great, great, great.

I believe Elliott's going home.

UPDATE: Sarahk's got her thoughts up in her typical pedestrian wathcing a trainwreck parlance.

UPDATE 2:Dean's thoughts are up.

Dial Idol predicts that Elliott is going home.

Regarding the below post

This issue has me thinking about elections and how to best get the best candidate elected. And, as contrary to my conservative views as this may be, I am steadily becoming a believer in getting rid of the electoral college.

I think a strict popular vote is the only way third or fourth party candidates will ever have a chance to get elected.


The speech I didn't watch

Okay, so the prez has a plan. Finally addressing the issue de rigeur in America. From what I can gather from the talking heads and blogs politico, it doesn't seem to be a very good plan.

6,000 National Guard that will not be doing any patrolling. They will analyze intel, train the Border Patrol and build fences.

WTF? Train them to do what? What expertise does the National Guard have in Border Protection? The Army doesn't have a Border Patrol MOS.

Now, they talk about building fences and roads to assist the BP. That's probably the best part of the plan. In fact, the best thing to do right now ... the FIRST thing to do, is fix the damn holes in our border. Mine it. Set up machine gun towers. Build a moat. Make the fence electric with acid spraying misters. Crap ... whatever it takes to stop the illegals from simply cutting the damn fence and running through.

All the nice talk about guest worker programs and periods of amnesty are well and good. But until we stop the cause, we can't address symptoms.

And once we do, I suggest that we make it easier for folks from certain countries to immigrate into the U.S. To make up for the lack of illegal immigrants, we should increase our legal quotas.

But that's my $0.02. Nothing that hasn't been said before by people smarter than me. I am glad the administration is finally doing something; finally talking to us about it. I just wish he said something that would have actually made a difference.

Monday, May 15, 2006

So far, so accruate

Ken Summers --

[adjective]: Smelling like unscented lube all of the time

'How will you be defined in the sexual dictionary?' at QuizUniverse.com

This surprise anyone?

h/t Rosemary.

UPDATE: The accuracy continues:

Emily --

[adjective]:100% kinky

'How will you be defined in the sexual dictionary?' at QuizUniverse.com

Friday, May 12, 2006

Because I’m All About the Music: Supergroup

I gots me an idea.

Inspired by some of the really good music posts going around recently and my own BIAAtG posts, I decided to come up with a twist on an old idea: the supergroup. Music fans throughout time have pondered what would happen if certain musicians got together and put out an album or a live performance. Sometimes we’ve seen our wonderings come to life in hit and miss fashion. For every fantastic success that an Audioslave brought us, there are usually five or six Coverdale/Pages.

What I’d like y’all to do is give it some thought and put together your own supergroup. There are some rules though. You can choose musicians from any era, however, all the musicians have to be/have to have been able to perform together in their lifetime. That is, Charlie Montgomery can’t jam with Slash, David Bowie can’t front any Duke Ellington tunes, and Madonna can’t perform.

To make it even more interesting, the individual musicians you choose cannot be or cannot have been in the same band. So, if you choose Geddy Lee, you can’t choose Neil Pert. If you choose Jeff Beck, you can’t choose Jimmy Page. However, special projects or live performances don’t count, so you could choose Eric Clapton and Brian May even though they played together live a few times.

Put together the best combination you can, explain your reasoning for you matchings and hypothesize about what kind of music they’d put out. If you really feel plucky, name the group, name their album and track listings.

You can assume, even though the musicians have to be from the same era, that they are in their musical prime.

My Group: Overload, Aural Secks, Urine Sampler ... one of those, I can't make up my mind.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingSinger: Maynard James Keenan. Currently the frontman for Tool and A Perfect Circle, I believe that Maynard has the best hard rock/metal voice in the industry. He’s powerful, has good range, an amazing capacity to hold notes and can really get harsh when needed. He also writes great lyrics, though that’s not really what I had in mind. I just wanted a powerful, versatile singer. Interestingly, I actually got the idea for this post earlier today when an APC song came on the radio. I thought to myself, “You know, Maynard really does have the best voice in hard rock today. I wonder how much better a band he could get with …”
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingGuitarist 1: John Petrucci. Guitarist for Dream Theater. JP is my favorite guitarist. He’s not the best, but he is one of them. Although Maynard inspired this post, I never doubted that I would pick JP as lead guitarist. I can think of few musicians out there as versatile and prolific as Petrucci.
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingKeyboards/Guitar 2: Tony MacAlpine. MacAlpine produces solo work and plays sessions with many of the best musicians on the planet. A Juliard-trained pianist, MacAlpine picked up the guitar at age 21 and is also one of the best guitarist around today. Every solo album contains at least one classical-inspired piano piece. His skill with both instruments and his potential to blend well with Petrucci is why I choose him.
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingBassist: Frank Bello, bass player for Anthrax. I literally had 10 to 12 bass players written down and I had to think about what kind of music I thought these guys would be putting out. One thing I didn’t want was a bassist with too much of a unique voice – that is, the bass isn’t going to drive the melody or the sound of the music. So, someone like Less Claypool was right out. Also, I wanted more solid bass rhythm lines than intricate lines, so Billy Sheehan was out. I debated Stu Hamm, but thought he’d be underutilized, while at the same time I wanted someone who could play whatever was thrown at him. Bello was always on the list and just fit all the criteria to a tee.
Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDrummer: Nick Menza, former Megadeth drummer. If I hadn’t put in the “can’t be in the same band” rule, I would have chosen Mike Portnoy. I am a real stickler about drums. I can’t stand drummers who pound out simple 4-4 beats and use too many cymbal crashes. I wanted someone who uses odd beat patterns, can play a variety of styles and still just rocks. Nick Menza was one of the best drummers in metal during his heyday.

The way I imagine this coming together is that Petrucci and MacAlpine – having met during the latest G3 tour – decide they’d like to do a project together. It involves into them forming this supergroup. While none of the members give up on their primary band, this would be a reoccurring side project for them.

Man, they would rock.

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Cop Out (again)

This week I was going to post a review of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' new release Stadium Arcadium, but I've barely had a chance to listen to any music, let alone give an album a critical listen. So, no review. From the bit I've listened to, it sounds okay. I'll let you know what I think about it some day.

So, that's why this week's a cop out. I have nothing prepared and am having to take the easy way out -- posting a video. Billy Sheehan is one of, if not the, best bass players ever.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Oh, and Paul Gilbert ain't too shabby either

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Chris Daughtry to get Fueled up?

The scuttlebutt about the net is that American Idol's most recent loser, Chris Daughtry, is going to be offered the lead singer spot for the band Fuel tonight on Extra!

Seems like a good fit as he is a big fan of the band. And it's a spot in an already producing albums band, but not in something so heavily entrenched as a Judas Priest or Iron Maiden (woe be to those who had to follow Halford and Dickenson).

Anywho, here's a link to a Chris Daughtry site carrying info. Okay, that was a dumb site. Here's a news story.

In entertainment news

I'm blatantly stealing stories from FARK today, so I'm combining these two. But they're too good to not post about:

Part 1: Tom Hanks inducted into Guiness Book of World Records. He's the actor with the most consecutive $100 million grossing movies. How awesome is that? Like him or hate him, that's an impressive statistic. Suck it, Tom Cruise.

Part 2: Here's a great story about actors who are facially challenged. There are some great entries on here, but there is one entry in particular that everyone here will agree about and is also an inside joke in my family.

They talk about Jennifer Garner, Kiefer Sutherland, some others, and inside-joke man, David Caruso. Every time my dad, my wife or I see CSI:Miami we enter Zoolander mode. Remember the end of Zoolander and his impassioned cry, "One look!" Well, every time we see David Caruso, we chant, "One look!" Okay, it's not so funny written down, but it's damn funny to us so get farked!

Putin tells Russians to get farked

When Russian President Vladimir Putin tells his people to get farked, he's not insulting them.

New Russion national anthem: Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw? New Russian national coctail: The Slow Comfortable Screw? New Russian national bird: The blue footed boobie? New Russian national pastime ... well you get the idea.

'90s flashback: A way to waste some time today

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingDoes anyone remember the early-to-mid '90s band Veruca Salt? The had a minor hit with a song called Seether and a much larger hit a couple of years later with the song Volcano Girls. They seemed like a typical product of the era -- hardcore, fronted by two girls (which seemed gimmicky in a gimmick-ridden era), and they had angst-ridden lyrics.

What set them apart is that they were actually good, and that one-half of the frontwomen was Nina Gordon.

A little while ago I was wondering what ever happened to the band Veruca Salt, and it didn't take long to find that they had split up a few years ago and that Nina was producing solo albums. In fact she released the very popular song Tonight and the Rest of My Life (used in trailers for movies Chocolat and Captain Corelli's Mandolin among other things).

While all of that is really neat, one of the super cool things is her website. She's very personable there and the sights and sounds section has tons of long and full-length clips you can listen to.

I bring this up because not only is there plenty of her own stuff and stuff from Veruca Salt there, but some of her live covers. She does a passable 18 and Life and a pretty good Nobodies Fool, but you MUST check out her cover of Straight Outta Compton (by N.W.A.). Listen now!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

When did the band jump the shark?

Inspired by Ken's history of stealing cool music-themed posts, I am stealing this idea from The Cosmic Conservative.

The idea is simple, at what point do you believe your heard the end of a band's musical importance? That is, when did they stop making music for the sake of music and start making music for general consumption? Some bands have only ever done the latter. Some bands have maintained a decent grasp on the former.

This concept doesn't, I think, have anything to do with how well accepted they are by the public. There are some bands out there that have been very well accepted by the public that I think are making good music. Of course, there are plenty of bands that are not well received and their only mission in life is to make good-selling music.

Make sure to read Cosmic's post as he has some really good examples.

One of mine would be Metallica's ... And Justice For All. I don't think they completely sold out with this album, but I heard it coming. There was something a little bit more consumer friendly in this offering. The black album, of course, solidified this feeling.

What do you think?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Don't AI my blue suede shoes 5/11

Okay. I'm a huge Elvis fan. Big, big Elvis fan. Like, he's in my top-10, all-time favorite performers. Both in musical ability and for what he did for rock and roll.

So, it was with a degree of anxiety I entered this week's Idol.

Thoughts at halfway: Taylor and Chris both performed as I thought they would. I dug 'em both and they were good. Elliott shocked the heck out of me. He was amazing. Katharine sucked ... I mean, sucked so bad she sucked at sucking. What a way to drop the ball.

Second half thoughts: Taylor gave a real stand-out performance with In the Ghetto. This is actually one of the few Elvis songs I don't like, but I liked Taylor's take. Chris' performance was very weak until the end. Wish he would have added some more fire to the entire song (and Simon agreed with me).

Commercial break: I wouldn't normally blog a commercial break, but a commercial using Tone Loc's Do the Wild Thing came on and it reminded me of how awesome some tunes are. You know, when a musician hits with so strong a song, where can they really go but down from there?

I caught a bit of Remember the '80s 3-D while in Orlando and they made the point about David Johannsen (sp? too lazy to look it up at the moment) releasing Hot, Hot, Hot as Buster Poindexter. It both revitalized and killed his career. Most folks didn't know he was the lead singer of The New York Dolls (if they even knew who the Dolls were). Hmm. No real point here. I just found it an interesting observation.

Back to the wannabes: Elliot is doing the great Elvis tune, Trouble, and is not doing a particularly good version of it. Not that he can't sing and really get those notes. But his voice just isn't right for that song. Of course, it doesn't help that I will forever associate that song with Glenn Danzig (who, like him or hate him, IS an evil bastard). But the judges loved him, and I'm probably just biased about this performance ... I don't know, it was just too vanilla for me, you know?

Kat's closure ... coming up next ...

Gee Kat, why don't you sing the most covered Elvis song ever? You know, the one that everyone, regardless of how big a fan of the King, is sick of? Oh, you are, and you're going to a big, Queen-esque, overblown version and totally drop the last note horribly? Okay, thanks, as long as we have that straight.

In the end: Man. It's sad to say that the last girl delivered the worst performance, but it's true. It's a bit harder to judge who's the winner tonight. I mean, honestly, it's rather gotten to the point where personal preference plays such a huge part of all of this. I think Taylor rocked and he was my favorite of the evening. Going home? Should be Katharine, but she may have the fan support to put her over the top; if that happens, it'll be Elliott because Taylor and Chris are too popular with the fans.

To hell with it, I can second guess myself all night. Katharine's going home dammit.

UPDATE the first: Sarahk's thoughts are up at IMAO. I knew this would be a hard week for her because she hates Elvis. But I won't hold that against her. Seriously though, even with her silly hatred, she called it better than me.

UPDATE the second: Dial Idol has predicted Katharine and Chris as the bottom two with Chris going home. Surprise, surprise. However, they claim their margin of error is about 1.5 which could flip-flop Chris and Katharine as they are very close in score.

UPDATE the third: Dean's thoughts are up and he also calls Chris and Kat as the bottom two.

Glenn Beck and the penny

Did anyone catch Glenn Beck's premiere TV show on Headline News last night? I only caught snippets, but from what I saw, it looks funny. Beck's become my favorite talk radio guy even though because of his time slot I rarely get to hear him.

Anywho, last night he closed the show with a spot concerning the penny. It was, in fact, a topic that I've been tossing around in my head for a while, just waiting for the right time to post about it. A day where I didn't really have anything to talk about. A day where there were a lot of other things going on and I could just type something out real quick (like I do anything else but). A day like today.

The premise, his and mine, is that we should get rid of the penny. It makes no sense to have them. It now costs more to make a penny than they're worth. What would be the problem with rounding up or down to the nearest nickel? At most, you'd lose 2 cents a transaction.

When I was stationed in Okinawa, the U.S. banks there stopped shipping in pennies. It cost them too much money to ship them back and forth. They made a huge transition. Every store began rounding up and down to the nearest nickel. And no one missed a beat.

So, kill the penny. But watch Glenn Beck at 9 p.m. EST on Headline News, well worth it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The vacation

Before this vacation, I had never been to a Disney park. Never. Not even close. So, it was a bit shocking how awesome it was. My cynical side was expecting cheese. I thought that, as an adult, I would easily see through the facade. But those damn Disney folks are amazing. Well worth every penny spent.

But, there is tons of info out there about Disney, so I'm not going to bore you any more with that.

What really shocked me is how close we are to Orlando. It's only about a five hour drive for us for this time of year. I'm sure during peak tourist season it would take longer.

To help defray the costs, we bought into a package deal at one of those timeshare resorts. You know the deal ... you pay a discounted price, they give you a room and two tickets to the local attraction and you have to spend one morning listening to their speil about how awesome their resort is and how you owe it to your kids to buy it.

We didn't buy it. And neither should you. While the rooms are very nice (apartment sized suites, really) they're charging around $28,000 for the timeshare plus a $532 a year maintenance charge. You get to spend one week a year at any of their 1,600 five-star resorts worldwide. Now, that's tempting because we would use it, and man, they are some high-pressure salesmen, but if you do the math, it just doesn't work out.

The payment options they showed us had us putting down nearly $7,000 and making payments of $270 a month for 10 years (and the $532 per year maintenance fee). So, you wind up spending $39,400 over 10 years (monthly payments plus the down payment) and $5,320 in maintenance fees over 10 years for a grand total of $44,720. That's a far cry from that original $28 grand they were selling you. You could spend over $3,000 a year on hotel rooms alone for vacations over the course of 10 years and not pay this off. Crazy, crazy deal. Made crazier by the fact that there are Comfort Inns and similar hotels that offer two-room suites for only $75 a night and less.

That said, it was only 90 minutes long and if you say no enough, they'll eventually leave you alone.

We didn't have the funds to do everything we would have like to (who does?), so we only hit Disney one day and spent the rest of the time relaxing and getting to know Orlando. Fortunately the nearby brush fires weren't having any effect on the area. Pray for rain folks, they really need it.

When all was said and done we had learned that Disney rocks, timeshare suck and had once again confirmed that IHOP is the best. We had long known about IHOP's superiority -- my wife and I met there -- but my 5-year-old summed it up well when she said: "I like them because they fill up your tummy."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

We're back

Okay, so we're back. We had a great time. If you want to buy your kid's affection, take them to Disney World.

More later.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Out of town

If you didn't catch it in the prayer post below, I'm taking the crew on vacation for a few days. So, posting will be non-existent until Sunday, at least. Probably Monday though.

So, I'm gonna post my normal weekly posts, summarized, here.

First, I'll tackle American Idol. While I'll be around tonight, I imagine I'm going to be too busy getting packed, cleaning, etc. to post so I'm going to make my predictions here, now, at 12:45 p.m. EST, without even watching the show, to showcase my awesome.

The five remaining contestants have to sing two songs tonight -- one from the year of their birth and one from this week's Billboard Top 10. Looking at the charts, the "this week's" song is going to be tough for some folks. Wonder who's gonna sing "Bad Day" (cough, Elliott, cough) and I wonder who's going to sing Dani California (cough, Chris, cough). That's if they go with the top 10 from the Power 100. Billboard has so many charts, they'll find a way to increase the options, I'm sure.

As for performance, I am thoroughly sick and tired of these folk's song choices and think they'll, once again, make the worst choices they possibly could. We'll walk away thinking, "Why didn't Taylor sing X song. That would have rocked."

Predictions: Chris will rock hardest and will clearly come out on top. Taylor will stomp out some good stuff, but, like I just said, we'll wish he sang something else.
Elliot will sound great, but his performance will, again, leave us cold. Paris will surprise everyone with great performances vocally and stage-presence-wise. Katharine will fumble or flub, but still have an overall good show.

Going home: Katharine is my first pick, Elliott is my second choice.

Because I'm All About the Guitar: Vacation Package

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingThis is quick and to the point (yes, my wife is tired of hearing that one). This is the currently the object of my lust.

I haven't been to Musician's Friend in a few weeks and they've added a couple of neat things to their guitar search menu. Formerly, their menu allowed you to search by acoustic or electric or by brand. You could further detail your search by price range, type of electric or acoustic and get really detailed results. Well they've added some new search functions: scale length, number of frets, number of strings, pickup configuration and tremolo type. Now you can search via the function that is most important to you. Very, very cool.

A valuable resource

Any man who has been in a committed relationship for a long time knows these definitions, but this is a very good translation resource.

The GIRL to ENGLISH Dictionary.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A simple prayer

So, my five-year-old has an interesting way of saying prayers. Everything is "thank you" even if she is praying for someone to get better, or for someone to have safe travels. For example, if she was praying for Ken to recover from his awful banjo-fondness affliction, she would say, "Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that Ken gets better." (She, of course, isn't allowed to say the "B" word.)

Couple that with the fact that we're leaving for vacation to Orlando on Wednesday and you get:

"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for we have a safe trip to Orlando."

She is, very escited.

Quote of the day

A coworker says after speaking with a Master Sergeant from down the hall:

You're not supposed to pass on stupid.