Friday, January 30, 2009

The Unkindest Cut of All

Actually, it's not as bad as I thought. The rumor I had originally heard was that you couldn't get ANY Starbucks decaf after noon. I can wait four minutes for a specially brewed fresh cup.

From USA Today:
Starbucks cuts back on its decaf

Starbucks Corp., the world’s largest coffee chain, hopes to save $400 million by September by stopping its day-long brewing of decaf coffee, Bloomberg news reports.

The Seattle-based company says it will keep a fresh pot brewing every 30 minutes in the morning, as usual, but after noon, customers will have to request decaf. Bloomberg quotes Starbucks spokeswoman Bridget Baker as saying it takes about four minutes to brew up a fresh cup.

Read more!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

My 25 Random Things

Here's a Facebook "thing" that's actually worth the effort:

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose 16 (or more) people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.

  1. I recently discovered that the anniversary of my first date with my wife is either Feb 4th or 11th. Because it was a Saturday just before Valentine's Day in 1984, we both remembered it as being Feb 7th. However, upon checking an actual 1984 web calendar, we found that there was NO such date as Saturday, Feb 7, 1984.

  2. When I wear a tie, I always use a windsor knot.

  3. Of the four, my favorite child is the one that I'm with at a given moment.

  4. I actually enjoy boiled meat (seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper).


  5. If I had to compile a list of the toughest men I ever met, my father would have ranked in the top five.

  6. My mother takes it as a compliment when she's compared to the mom in Everybody Loves Raymond.

  7. If a nuclear bomb went off and I only had time to save one movie, one book and one CD before climbing into the fallout shelter, my list would include: The Birds, 1984, and Evanescence's Fallen.

  8. My wife and I have agreed that if Tricia Helfer proposes marriage to me or Benjamin Bratt does likewise to her, neither of us will stand in the other's way.

  9. Once, after dating my wife for about a year, I was driving while giving her a detailed explanation of my position on a particular topic. I caught her disinterestedly rolling her eyes when she didn't think I was looking.

  10. It kinda bugs me when out of left field people ask me how far I jog each day and, after I tell them three miles, they reply, "Oh, is that all?"

  11. In the late 70's, while my friends and I were playing an early version of paint-ball using BB guns (and no eye gear), I got shot in the neck. Surprisingly, that didn't end the game and, yes, we were very stupid.

  12. I bought my first car in 1980. It was a blue 1977 Buick LeSabre with a Pontiac engine and cost $2700. I loved that car.

  13. My least favorite car was our 1993 Ford Tempo whose transmission failed at 62,000 miles. We had it repaired at American Transmission for about $900. The original estimate was $1600. That was reduced after I asked the mechanic to put the pieces in the trunk so I could have it towed out and dumped in the lake. After getting it fixed, we immediately traded it in for a Plymouth Neon and gladly accepted the dealer's offer of a $3000 trade-in on the Tempo. I lost ten pounds due to the stress incurred during the entire debacle.

  14. My brother is 18 months younger than I and people often thought we were twins. We shared the same bedroom, closet and clothes drawer for 17 years. If I wanted to look stylish, I wore his stuff.

  15. The only movies I've ever REALLY cried at were Brian's Song (of course) and Ride the High Country.

  16. Every time I've been at the drug store in the last three months, I have tried on and priced a pair of reading glasses. However, I still can't bring myself to pull the trigger.

  17. When asked the eternal question: Who's hotter Ginger (Tina Louise) or Mary Ann (Dawn Wells)? I always reply: Batgirl (Yvonne Craig).


  18. I smoke cigars outside in the summer. My "usual" is a Genuine Counterfeit Cuban Robusto from JR Cigars (about 2 bucks each). I order them online because the owners of the only JR Cigar retail outlet nearby are extremely rude.


  19. While working in a restaurant, I once refused to take Chuck Berry's American Express because we didn't accept credit cards. The total came to eighteen dollars and he paid with a hundred dollar bill without bothering to count his change.


  20. In my Senior year of high school I actively campaigned to be voted as "worst dressed" by wearing a thermal shirt every day. I came in second to a guy named Jim who was embarrassed to have won.


  21. I initially asked my wife out after we ran into each other at the library. She wrote her number on one of those pieces of scrap paper that are kept by the card catalog drawers. I lost the piece of paper and couldn't find her parent's listing in the phonebook. So, I sat at a phone and started what I thought would be a series of trial and error attempts to reconstruct her number from memory. I got it right on the very first try.

  22. My favorite beer is Michelob Ultra. NOT because it's low in carbs. It's the only beer I actually enjoy the taste of.

  23. Two of my children are named after family members, one is a name my wife picked because she had always liked it, the other was mainly to keep the lettering pattern of their first names consistent.

  24. It's a major decision for me to choose between using a small sized binder clip or the giant traditional paper clip when trying to group a small stack of papers that is a tad too thick for a normal stapler. I hate the industrial sized staplers.

  25. If I were single today, I would ask my wife out on a date.

Read more!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wild Wild Web

While Sam Adams, the Mayor of Portland not the beer, refuses to step down in the face of a sex scandal, he may be contributing to the economic recovery.

From the Portland Tribune:
Web goes wild with Sam Adams merchandise

Mugs, T-shirts and bumperstickers have a timely tie to controversy

Embattled Mayor Sam Adams now has his own mug shot.

Not the jail kind, of course. This one’s on a real mug . . . a coffee
mug.

You can buy it for $14.95 from Zazzle.com. It has a nice photo of Adams under the catchy phrase “Mayors Gone Wild.”

But wait, there’s more. Want to make a statement while driving? How about a Sam Adams “Mayors Gone Wild” bumpersticker? That’s only $4.95 from the same Web
site.

Read more!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Gore Effect

You can't make this up...

Al Gore will be speaking about global warming on Wednesday morning to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unless a winter storm cancels it.

From the Urban Dictionary:
1. Gore Effect The phenomenon that leads to unseasonably cold temperatures, driving rain, hail, or snow whenever Al Gore visits an area to discuss global warming. Hence, the Gore Effect.

- Australia, November 2006: Al Gore is visiting two weeks before summer begins. The Gore Effect strikes: "Ski resort operators gazed at the snow in amazement. Parents took children out of school and headed for the mountains. Cricketers scurried amid bullets of hail as Melburnians traded lunchtime tales of the incredible cold." (The Age)

- New York, March 2004: "Gore chose January 15, 2004, one of the coldest days in New York City's history, to rail against the Bush administration and global warming skeptics... Global warming, Gore told a startled audience, is causing record cold temperatures." (NY Environment News)

Read more!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Mobbed Up

The winners of The New Yorker "Cartoon Contest #177" must have had paid somebody off.



I thought my entry was pretty good:
"No buttinsky customs agent is gonna nail ME on a metric system rap. "
The finalists had all the appeal of The Godfather III (in other words, they sucked):
  • "It's sloppy work like that that gives the mob a bad name." - mediocre

  • "We are trying to reduce our concrete footprint." - lame

  • "Two weeks ago, this was not considered torture." - fogetaboutit

Read more!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The United Kingdom's New School Dress Code

When you outlaw screwdrivers, hammers and chisels, only electricians, carpenters and sculptors will have them.


Children 'wearing stab vests to school'

Schoolchildren have taken to wearing stab vests to protect them from knife crime Pupils are wearing stab vests to school because of fears of knife attacks, a report warned today.

The study of gang violence found some children were bringing weapons in to school and hiding them in the school grounds.

One school reported students were found with screwdrivers, hammers and chisels.

Read more!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Wikipedia Lockdown

Could it be because I claimed to be Angie Harmon's boyfriend 123 times (Michelle Pfeiffer's too)?
Wikipedia May Restrict Public’s Ability to Change Entries

Stung by criticism after vandals changed Wikipedia entries to erroneously report that Senators Edward Kennedy and Robert Byrd had died, Wikipedia appears ready to introduce a system that prevents new and anonymous users from instantly publishing changes to the online encyclopedia.

The new system, called Flagged Revisions, would mark a significant change in the anything-goes, anyone-can-edit-at-any-time ethos of Wikipedia, which in eight years of existence has become one of the top 10 sites on the Web and the de facto information source for the Internet-using public.

The idea in a nutshell is that only registered, reliable users would have the right to have their material immediately appear to the general public visiting Wikipedia. Other contributors would be able to edit articles, but their changes will be held back until one of these reliable users has signed off, or “flagged” the revisions. (Registered, reliable users would see the latest edit to an article, whether flagged or not.)

The system has been used by German Wikipedia since May as a test case. Introduced slowly, since all that flagging is quite labor-intensive, German Wikipedians report that more than 95 percent of articles have been flagged, though there are delays as long as three weeks before an article’s revision appears on the site to all visitors.

Read more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Happy Silver Anniversary Apple!

Twenty-five years ago today, Apple ran it's famous "1984" Superbowl ad:


Read more!

Power Vacuum?

BEDLAM, BEDLAM!!



From today's The Washington Post:
Obama Sworn In Again, With Right Words

In golf, they call it a mulligan. A do-over.

There's no formal name for what President Obama and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did last night.

After flubbing his one role on Inauguration Day -- administering the oath of office to Obama -- Roberts traveled to the White House to re-administer the oath.

Just to make sure...

...After a flawless recitation that included no Bible and took 25 seconds, Roberts smiled and said, "Congratulations, again."

Read more!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The New Presidential Math

Barrack Obama was wrong when he said: "Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace."

Actually, only forty-three Americans have taken the oath. Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th president.

Geez, that's like the millenium not "officially" starting until after the first year because there was no year zero. What a pain in the ass :)

But, I suppose someone in the Obama camp could have had an historian proofread the damn speech. My god, it was in the first paragraph.
Read more!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I, State Your Name...

Random thoughts Inauguration Day thoughts:

  1. Hillary Clinton must be more than a little pissed to find out she was 2nd choice for Sec of State.

  2. Cheney reminded me of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in his wheelchair (or maybe Charles Foster Kane).



  3. It was Chief Justice ROBERTS who screwed up the oath of office NOT Obama. There's a certain cadence to it, and Roberts threw it out of wack when he didn't pause after "I, Barack Hussein Obama..." That's how previous oaths went and it was off-putting for Obama right from the start. THEN Roberts, who apparently didn't bother to practice, f'd up the placement of "faithfully."

    So now, everytime this historic event is replayed, they're going to have to pick it up at the end. Not earthshattering, I realize, but still irksome to me (AND I didn't even vote for Obama!).


Read more!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Order in the Court

I hold all of the winners for the New Yorker "cartoon caption contest" #176 in contempt.



My entry was okay:

Will the court reporter please read back the defendent's statement starting at "5, 4 3, 2, 1"
The finalists left me wanting to appeal:

  • "This is what I get for convicting the janitor." - groan

  • "For a divorce case, that went smoothly." - comci comca

  • "Sorry about that—new gavel." - I object

Read more!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Legobama

Master brick builder, Gary McIntyre, recreates Tuesday's inauguration ceremonies in Legos. I hear Legos add about ten pounds on you.


Read more!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CSI: Harvard

Just a few days before the death Ricardo Montalban I happened to catch an airing of Mystery Street. This hidden gem of a film noir from 1950 stars the man who would go on to play (and sometimes overplay) Star Trek's Khan as the more grounded Peter Morales, a police lieutenant, who is tasked with solving a murder based solely on skeletal remains found on a Massachusetts beach.

I almost didn't watch it because the title is a bit deceiving and conjured up images of the The Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew. However, I'm glad I was too lazy to reach for the remote. The film stood out for me from others made during that era for a number of reasons:

  • A cast of actors who, without exception, do a great job of delineating their respective, hard-boiled characters.

  • That the lead character, Morales, is a Latin American doesn't enter into the plot and is not a blatant display of tokenism.

  • The murder victim turns out to have been a small time, pregnant hooker who was trying to pressure one of her well-to-do regulars for abortion money. Heady stuff for 1950.

  • The women aren't played as shrinking violets. For instance, one of them calmly shows her landlady the proper technique used to pop a clip out of a .45 automatic (including the often negleted clearing of the round left in the chamber).
For fans of police procedurals such as Law and Order and CSI, Mystery Street may seem a bit dated. Nowadays, detectives who only have a set of bones to work with would employ computers, high tech DNA testing, and a facial reconstruction from the skull in clay.

Instead Morales enlists the help of a Harvard professor, Dr. McAdoo (Bruce Bennett), to get a foothold into the case. Based on the bones in her feet, McAdoo concludes that the victim was a "toe dancer." Later, McAdoo finds a smaller set of bones that indicates the victim was pregnant. All the files for missing women in the area who could be her are collected. Painstakingly Morales and McAdoo use a slide projector to overlay pictures of the various missing persons on top of correctly sized and angled shots of the skull until they find one that fits.

But despite the misleading title, this isn't a "whodunit" as much as it is a "how will they get caught." The murderer is revealed about mid-way through and Morales fights against time to clear a man who may have been wrongly arrested for the crime. Interestingly, Morales is never fully convinced of that man's innocence until the very end.

Montalban, known for his larger than life characters, brings a sense of realism to the part of Morales. There's a great exchange between him and a wealthy snob, James Joshua Harkley (Edmon Ryan). While executing a search warrant at Harkley's residence, a disparaging remark is made about the lieutenant's accent. Montalban doesn't lose his cool and instead flashes a quick angry glance at the man that seems to say "been there done that" as he methodically continues his search.

Still incensed, Harkey points out that he's used to getting respect. Montalban, not missing a beat, replies "So am I Mr. Harkley, and my family hasn't been in this country for even one hundred years!"

I'm also embarrassed to point out a my slight "man crush" for the Montalban after viewing the scene of him playing handball (racquetball wasn't invented yet) with the other cops. The thirty-five year old Ricardo was "buff" before such a term existed.

Elsa Lanchester is another standout as Mrs. Smerrling, the drunken landlady of the apartment where the victim lived. She ends up blackmailing the real murderer after happening upon the very piece of evidence that Morales is looking for.

I did have some problems with Mystery Street. The pacing of a few scenes before the climax is slow. Some of the plot devices are telegraphed a little too early and are a bit contrived. For instance, we know that one of the key witnesses is going to happen to see a crucial newspaper headline that will lead her to call Morales. Likewise, we can predict that a key to a train station locker will be found at the bottom of Mrs. Smerrling's parrot cage at just the right moment.

However, the chase at a train station where Morales and his partner at last corner the real murderer is great. With no avenues of escape left, the killer tries to hold Morales at bay with what everyone except the criminal knows is an empty gun. There's no melodramtic Hollywood fight scene. Montalban calmly approaches the man and smiles as the killer pulls the trigger with a harmless click. Not a word is exchanged. But their respective expressions speak volumes. The murderer knows the chase is over. And Morales is finally convinced that his original suspect is one hundred percent innocent.

Becoming a star based on the "Latin lover" craze was probably a two-edged sword for Montalban. It gave him a leg-up in the business to be sure. But, it also limited the range of roles he'd be allowed to play. Mystery Street along with Battleground are two rare examples of Montalban playing a "real" person. It's worth a look for people who only know him through less substantial characters such as Khan, Mr. Roarke from Fantasy Island, or that guy admiring Chrysler's Corinthian leather.
Read more!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oh, The Humanity!

This isn't exactly new, but still blogworthy. I wonder if there was shrinkage?

From The Smoking Gun:

In a bizarre incident that will surely lead to litigation (or an out-of-court settlement), a skier at Colorado's ritzy Vail resort was left dangling upside down and pantsless from a chairlift last Thursday morning. The January 1 mishap apparently occurred after the male skier, 48, and a child boarded a high-speed lift in Vail's Blue Sky Basin. It appears that the chairlift's fold-down seat was somehow not in the lowered position, which caused the man to partially fall through the resulting gap. His right ski got jammed in the ascending chairlift, and that kept him upended since his boot never dislodged from its binding.


Read more!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage (The Sequel)

The second spot created for "Jones' Big Ass Truck Rental and Storage" was listed on Sports Illustrated "Hot Clicks" page. The first one was funny. But this one's funnier.


Read more!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Will Teach for TP

From the Detroit Free Press:

Detroit School Lacks Toilet Paper, Light Bulbs

A Detroit elementary school is asking for donations of toilet paper and light bulbs to continue functioning.

The principal of the Academy of Americas sent a letter to staff, parents and partners asking for donations of items "that are of the utmost importance for proper school functioning and most importantly for student health and safety."

In the letter, Principal Naomi Khalil cited budget constraints within the district as the reason that the school could no longer stock the items.


Read more!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Flew the Coup

While the drawing didn't provide a lot of inspiration, as usual the results for the 174th New Yorker "Cartoon Caption Contest" were for the birds.

My entry was admittedly mediocre:

"Leftovers again?"

However, it was better than the first two "winners:"

  • "I want to live at my dad's." - ugh...more disturbing than funny.

  • "No, thanks-I only eat them on reality shows." - ZZZZZ

  • "Am I in your dream or are you in mine?" - Gets my vote!

Read more!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Five on the Fifth

Apropos of nothing, I thought I'd note that today is the anniversary of Henry Ford's revolutionary $5 a day wage

From The Detroit Free Press:
On Jan. 5, 1914, Henry Ford unveiled his plan to pay workers $5 a day for eight hours of work. It was an effort to prevent turnover (close to 400% in 1913) and to ensure that his employees could afford to buy the cars they made. The previous wage was $2.34 for nine hours of work. That $5 wage would be worth $106.21 in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The $45 an hour today's non-union autoworker receives totals $360 a day.
Read more!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Don't Stop Believing

Video parody from Tabloid T-Shirts that mixes the Detroit Lions with The Sopranos. One of them had a great last season. The other didn't:


Read more!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Take Me To Your Hummel

As reported in the Daily Mail, this image from a NASA explorer on Mars has many convinced that it's a figurine left by former inhabitants:

As one enthusiast put it on a website: "These pictures are amazing. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what appears to be a naked alien running around on Mars."

Another, dismissing cynicism about the somewhat stony look of the "alien", wrote: "If you show me another rock in another photo from Mars, or Earth, that naturally looks like that, I will reconsider."


Read more!