Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unable to enjoy a snow day

A few notes while watching the snow come down heavily outside work while my wife rests at home next to a fire while drinking hot cocoa ...
 
Team Valfrey had a great time last night at the home of Val's cousin Jonathan, who hosted with his girlfriend Stephanie, and his brother Josh and wife Cathy came over as well for a night of good food and games. The girls easily beat the guys in Cranium and Catch Phrase, and won again by avoiding having to watch "Battlestar Galactica." I was even able to play with all four of the doggies without any wheezing, so more good times. But really, how was I supposed to get my guys to guess "Spot of Tea" in ten seconds? Or charade "Ticker-Tape Parade" to any success? I know, excuses are like butts. Everyone's got one and doesn't think it's any good.
 
I finally caught up with the Oscars on my sick bed this week ... I liked Hugh Jackman as the host, although he seemed to disappear for long stretches. His opening number, "on the cheap out of his garage," was a hoot. ... The five ex-winners presenting the acting awards was a terrible idea. Only in pompous, self-indulgent Hollywood could they decide that the audience wants to see five people spend ten minutes telling the world how great they are and how great these nominees are, without actually showing a clip of the movie to show us, movies that almost nobody actually saw ... Jack Black's quote of the night: "Each year I do one DreamWorks (animated) project then I take all the money to the Oscars and I bet it on Pixar." He was a winner again, of course. ... There was a lot of boring fluff, and the make-a-movie theme was distracting. I don't remember half the awards being given out. ... Unsurprising, but predictable, that the great Charlton Heston got little applause in the annual death roll popularity poll. ... "Slumdog Millionaire" can't be that good. Either this was a bad year for films or the voters are a bunch of lemmings who saw in Variety that they were voting for it ... Tina Fey and Steve Martin had the best chemistry of the presenters. They should make a movie together. Which would probably be dumb and flop.
 
Thanks, Microsoft, for your new Windows PC ads featuring seven- and eight-year-old computer wizards and making me feel like a moron. Good job on that.
 
I'm really digging the new MLB Network now that baseball season is upon us. I spent Tuesday afternoon laid up sick on the couch watching a Red Sox-White Sox game from April 1981. It was Carlton Fisk's first game to Fenway since leaving in the offseason, with Dennis Eckersley starting for Boston and up in the announcing booth none other than Harry Carrey calling the action. Fisk hit a three-run homer that ended up winning the game for Chicago. It's the type of timelessness that made me wish for a laptop to check baseball-reference.com constantly. Wednesday afternoon I napped on the couch with the Giants-Indians spring training game on as if it were a normal Saturday afternoon in July, and I got way too excited while watching the Red Sox-Twins game that night for it to be only February on the calendar. (But seriously Tim Wakefield, I've got your back. None of those hits were legit. Bunch of weak-a** bloops. You'll be fine by April.)

Friday, February 27, 2009

Six in, six to go

Only one surprise on last night's AMERICAN IDOL results show, and that was Kris of nearby Conway, Ark. He won't last long in the top 12, though I'm not sure Allison or Adam will, either. She seems like she could have off nights, and he sounds and acts like a gay Broadway performer acting like a rocker, which is not really a winning combination. Next week, Lil Rounds of Memphis, a few folks who got a lot of airtime and another eight I've never seen before.
 
Wednesday night in the Finale Part 2: The Reckoning, TOP CHEF went to Hosea, which meant cocky French Stefan got hosed. Yeah, I would normally root against such a French prick, but le dude had won almost every challenge and dominated the season.
 
Jerry was kicked off SURVIVOR last night, which was a surprise only in that an Army sergeant and Afghanistan vet couldn't take being stranded in the Amazon with beans and rice for food. I guess the new MREs are pretty darn good and our military's stomachs aren't as strong as they used to be. Next to go, I'm hoping, is Coach, who while hilariously egotistical and smarmy, could get eaten by an anaconda and I probably wouldn't care much.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Blech, Yech, Ugh, Flirrhghghah

Sorry for the blog silence the last few days. Jeffy's been a big, hacking, shivering, sniffling, sickly bear. Getting up at 2 a.m. this morning to go to work was a challenge, not to mention the minutes it took in the hot, hot shower to scrub clean three days of sweaty stank. I know, yuck.
 
Is it a product of the mind that after just a few days of being in the dumps that I forgot what real life is like to be healthy and not need to lay under two blankets, a heated blanket and a Slanket just to stay comfortable?
 
My symptoms were a who's who of whatever's on the Nyquil bottle, the sniffling, coughing, fever, so-you-don't-drill-a-hole-in-your-head medicine. Except that I can't take Nyquil because of my high blood pressure, which means I'm missing out on the most awesomest of drug cocktails at your disposal.
 
Last week it started with a headache, increased to a sore throat and cough by the weekend, sniffles Monday morning, and then overnight Monday came the fever and chills. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Five blankets. None. Which is probably how I'll react even when I'm feeling better by this weekend while I go through menthol withdrawal after I stop sucking on five Halls cough drops at once.
 
Not that I need illness as an excuse, how about some TV to pass the time ...
 
Last night on Idol, the second group of 12 inspired us even less than the first group. It's tough to pick a top three if only because half of them were terrible on a sliding scale of pitchyness and the other half just outright stunk like last week's fish stuck in the disposal.
 
Can we get this out of the way for Ryan: I don't care how bad they "want it." They ALL want it something fierce. Heck, I want it, but I know I can't sing so I know not to try out.
 
Thank, you, at least, for not continuing the sucktastic idea last week to bring parents to the Coke red room after the performances.
 
JASMINE - Our "local" girl, if you consider Starkville, Miss., part of the Memphis area. I don't, but her coach is from Germantown, so fine. But she was cover-your-ears awful, sorry to say. I've said since her audition that she's nasal, and last night was the perfect example.
 
MATT - Breathy, some obviously bad notes, and yet Paula said it was better than the rehearsal. Egad, how bad was the rehearsal?
 
JEANINE - Who? Ouch. So bad. And in what universe did she think she could sing a Maroon 5 song, written for a very white band of guys?
 
NICK MITCHELL, er, NORMAN GENTLE - What a joke. The judges knew what they were doing, or did the producers force them to do this to us? The whole thing is a farce, an embarrassment, and stupitrocious.
 
ALLISON - The sassy redhead took on Heart's "Alone" and blew the judges away. Definitely the best so far.
 
KRIS - He's from nearby Conway, Ark., so I kind of hope he makes it, even though he never got any air time before this. He has the David Archuletta adorableness but without the awkwardness or the great voice.
 
MEGAN JOY - I spent most of the song staring at her arm full of tattoos and trying not to look at her as she warbled for two minutes. Very weird voice.
 
MATT - a.k.a. The Construction Guy. Didn't stand out, but his vocals were solid.
 
JESSE - Don't know you, never saw you before, and as soon as "Bette Davis Eyes" began I knew she was on the road to Stinkville.
 
KAI - His feel-good story has gotten tons of air time to make him mostly safe, though this so-so performance didn't solidify his spot in the top 12.
 
MISHAVONNA - "Drops of Jupiter?" Really? Another girl singing a song made famous by a group of guys? Are women so afraid of tackling Whitney or Aretha? Why not sing something young and spunky?
 
ADAM - Kind of scary in his screechy "Satisfaction," which is 40 years old and been done over and over again, but after a night of boredom at least he ended with some rockin'.
 
Your guess is as good as ours for the three to advance tonight. My picks would probably be Kai, Allison and Adam,  though I wouldn't mind if Matt The Construction Guy replaced Adam.
 
LOST - Who do you trust? Evil Ben or Evil Widmore? Their power struggle for this island sure is getting a lot of people killed. Here's a time paradox for you: Widmore's now-deceased creepy bald black guy tells Locke to go on the walkabout, whereby Locke crashes on the island, flashes to the past and 50 years ago meets Widmore, who follows Locke's life years later to get him to come to the island in the first place. Are we going to have to deal with a whole new group of people stranded in an airplane crash who only serve to be killed off randomly? We hated the Tailies, didn't the producers learn their lesson?
 
BIGGEST LOSER - After losing their first weigh-in as a team, even with Dane's 13-pound drop and the Black Team not even needing their three-pound advantage from winning the challenge earlier in the week, the Blue Team kicks Dane out anyway. And thus, they just guaranteed trainer Bob his, what, 50th consecutive defeat to Jillian? And based on his overblown emotional meltdown when the teams split up Tuesday night, Bob might quit and go all Ben Stiller at the end of "Dodgeball."
 
Product Placement Watch: Ziploc has bags that zip! Ding! Green Giant has Steamers veggies you can nuke in the microwave! Ding! (Even veggie hater Val loves the one with rosemary taters and green beans, and she just does not do green beans, so thanks Green Giant!)
 
Did anyone but us feel the need for a slow clap after Sione's speech "saved" the 24-hour bike challenge from being stopped with nine hours to go?
 
HEROES - We find out if Noah is working for good or bad, and it turns out he's good but willing to hurt the good ones to make his point. Which we all figured anyway, so that was a wasted hour.
 
24 - I admit to being surprised that Tech Geek's blonde Tech Girlfriend was in on the moleing, and thankful that they caught Tech Geek this episode instead of stretching that story out any longer. How has everyone on the list not been crosschecked with government agencies and the bad guys not been rounded up yet? It only takes them 20 seconds to fly a chopper with Dubaku's chip across D.C. and downloaded by Chloe, but they can't figure out that a Senator's aid trying to blow up the White House is on the take from an African warlord? We still have 14 episodes to go, and the main story line is over. Where to go from here? A two-hour event next week in which the White House itself is infiltrated and attacked by another African warlord. This will surely be ridiculous.
 
THE BACHELOR - The "Women Tell All" never tells us anything except that all 23 women love Jason and wish they'd been right for him, including Megan, engineer of the Crazy Train, and Shannon, who has a restraining order against her. Jason doesn't reveal anything and won't admit he's a mimbo for making out heavily with Jillian even though he told her they were just friends, just as he made out with every girl whose lips crossed the International Date Line in his direction. Next week, the finale, plus a one-hour special afterwards where we will surely see that someone and/or someones are having second-thoughts and regrets.
 
THE AMAZING RACE - The teams leave Switzerland for Germany and Austria, surely tired by now of listening to the deaf guy claim everyone else thinks he's disadvantaged when they're all sure he'll be fine. Proving that confidence comes in tiny packages, the Small Stuntmen go from 3rd to 9th place when they fail to borrow their cab driver's cellphone to make plane reservations at the beginning of the leg. The Gay Father becomes very lucky when he's the only one to wait out the wind to take a paraglide instead of hoofing it down the mountain. The Hick wife should have waited, too, because she gets so lost that she has to hitchhike to the rendezvous and the Hicks get the boot by Phil, who does not give him his trademark tilted eyebrow this time.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Big bro takes it!

Val kept up with the winners and losers tonight, and her count had Scott winning with a whopping 19 correct, way more than anyone else. Which begs the question, Aren't you supposed to be working on your Ph.D.?

I'll count out everything and confirm later.

UPDATE WITH FINAL TALLY:

1. Scott - 19
2. Jeremy - 16
3. Dad - 15
4. Stephanie - 13
5. Val - 11
Bill - 11
Cheryl - 11
Heather - 11
9. Stacy - 10
Jenny H. - 10
11. Jeff - 9
Michael C. - 9
Kimberly T. - 9
14. Karla - 8
15. Amy C. - 7
Erin - 7
17. Randy - 6
Kevin - 6
19. Carol - 5

If you're wondering how you've done year to year:

2008

14 - Val, Jeff
13 - Dad
12 - Scott, Erin
10 - Stacy, Stephanie, Jenny H., Michael C., Jeremy
9 - Steve R., Heather K.
8 - Bill L.
7 - Kevin H.
6 - Amy C., Carol H.

2007

Dad - 16
Jeremy - 14
Jeff - 14
Michael C. - 14
Sydney - 14
Mom - 14
Stephanie - 13
Val - 12
Scott - 12
Stacy - 12
Aunt Lynn - 12
Carol Howell - 11
Jennifer M. - 9
Cyndi - 8
Kimberly - 8
Karen - 7
Amy C. - 6
Amy J. - 4

2006

Jeff - 17
Stephanie - 15
Scott - 14
Jeremy - 14
Karla - 12
Dad - 11
Mom - 10
Stacy - 10
Jenn M - 10
Jenn R - 7
Steve - 7

2005

Jeremy - 13
Aunt Lynn - 11
Jeff - 11
Dad - 10
Scott - 9
Stacy - 9
Steve - 9
Mom - 8
Stephanie - 7
Jenn M. - 7
Amy - 6
Karla - 5

2004

(tie)Scott and Joe - 16
Jeff, Mom, Stacy, Stephanie - 15
Aunt Lynn - 12
Bill - 10

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Our picks, revised

(Sorry Jeremy, I didn't mean to slight a former champ of the contest. I'm at work so without all my resources at the moment. I don't remember getting your email. Did the subject say something like, "Me love you long time?")

Here are the revised comparison picks:

1. Best Picture:

"Slumdog Millionaire" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Val, Amy C, Michael C, Erin, Heather, Kevin H, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"Milk" (Kimberly T, Bill)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Karla, Jenny H)
"The Reader" (Carol, Randy B)

2. Actor:

Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler" (Jeff, Stacy, Scott, Val, Michael C, Erin, Heather, Carol, Bill, Rann, Cheryl B)
Sean Penn, "Milk" (Stephanie, Kimberly T, Karla, Jenny H, Randy B, Jeremy)
Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Amy C, Kevin H)

3. Actress:

Kate Winslet, "The Reader" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Val, Heather, Carol, Jenny H, Randy B, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
Angelina Jolie, "The Changeling" (Amy C)
Meryl Streep, "Doubt" (Michael C, Erin, Kimberly T, Bill)
Melissa Leo, "Frozen River" (Karla)
Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married" (Kevin H)

4. Supporting Actor:

Heath Ledger, "Dark Knight" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Val, Michael C, Erin, Kimberly T, Karla, Heather, Carol, Kevin H, Jenny H, Bill, Randy B, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
Josh Brolin, "Milk" (Amy C)

5. Supporting Actress:

Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (Jeff, Scott, Jenny H, Rann)
Viola Davis, "Doubt" (Stephanie, Val, Karla, Cheryl B)
Amy Adams, "Doubt" (Amy C, Michael C, Carol, Jeremy)
Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler" (Stacy, Kimberly T, Kevin H, Bill, Randy B)
Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Erin, Heather)

6. Director:

Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire" (Jeff, Stephanie, Scott, Val, Karla, Heather, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stacy, Amy C, Michael C)
Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon" (Erin, Kimberly T, Carol, Jenny H, Bill)
Gus Van Sant, "Milk" (Kevin H)
Stephen Daldry, "The Reader" (Randy B)

7. Foreign Film:

"Waltz with Bashir" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Val, Michael C, Erin, Kimberly T, Heather, Jenny H, Rann, Jeremy)
"The Class" (Scott, Carol)
"Revanche" (Karla, Randy B)
"The Baader Meinhof Complex" (Amy C, Kevin H)
"Departures" (Bill, Cheryl B)

8. Adapted Screenplay:

"Frost/Nixon" (Jeff, Karla, Jenny H, Randy B)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Stephanie, Scott, Val, Amy C, Erin, Kimberly T, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stacy)
"Doubt" (Michael C, Heather, Carol, Kevin H, Bill)

9. Original Screenplay:

"In Bruges" (Jeff, Kimberly T, Kevin H, Bill)
"Milk" (Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Val, Amy C, Michael C, Erin, Karla, Jenny H, Rann, Jeremy)
"WALL-E" (Heather, Carol, Randy B, Cheryl B)

10. Animated Feature Film:

"WALL-E" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Val, Amy C, Michael C, Erin, Kimberly T, Karla, Heather, Carol, Jenny H, Bill, Randy B, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"Kung Fu Panda" (Kevin H)

11. Art Direction:

"The Dark Knight" (Jeff, Erin, Karla, Carol, Randy B, Rann, Cheryl B)
"Revolutionary Road" (Stephanie, Kevin H)
"The Changeling" (Amy C)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stacy, Scott, Val, Michael C, Kimberly T, Heather, Jenny H, Bill, Jeremy)

12. Cinematography:

"The Dark Knight" (Jeff, Val, Erin, Jenny H, Randy B)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stephanie, Stacy, Amy C, Carol)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Scott, Kimberly T, Karla, Heather, Kevin H, Bill, Rann, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"The Reader" (Michael C)

13. Sound Mixing:

"The Dark Knight" (Jeff, Stacy, Scott, Val, Michael C, Kimberly T, Kevin H, Rann)
"WALL-E" (Stephanie, Erin, Karla, Heather, Carol, Jenny H, Randy B, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Amy C)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Bill)

14. Sound Editing:

"The Dark Knight" (Jeff, Stephanie, Scott, Amy C, Michael C, Kimberly T, Karla, Heather, Carol, Kevin H, Randy B, Rann)
"WALL-E" (Stacy, Jenny H, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"Iron Man" (Val, Erin)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Bill)

15. Original Score:

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Jeff, Amy C, Erin, Karla)
"WALL-E" (Stephanie, Val, Carol, Kevin H, Jenny H, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Stacy, Scott, Kimberly T, Heather, Rann)
"Milk" (Michael C, Bill)
"Defiance" (Randy B)

16. Original Song:

"Down to Earth" from "WALL-E" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Val, Erin, Kimberly T, Karla, Heather, Carol, Kevin H, Jenny H, Bill, Randy B, Rann, Cheryl B)
"Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Scott, Jeremy)
"O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Amy C, Michael C)

17. Costume:

"Australia" (Jeff, Jenny H, Randy B, Cheryl B)
"The Duchess" (Stephanie, Scott, Val, Amy C, Michael C, Kimberly T, Carol, Bill, Rann, Jeremy)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stacy, Erin, Heather)
"Revolutionary Road" (Karla, Kevin H)

18. Documentary Feature:

"Man on Wire" (Jeff, Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Val, Heather, Bill, Randy B, Rann, Jeremy)
"Encounters at the End of the World" (Amy C, Erin, Kimberly T, Jenny H)
"The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)" (Michael C)
"Trouble the Water" (Karla, Kevin H, Cheryl B)
"The Garden" (Carol)

19. Documentary (short subject):

"The Final Inch" (Jeff, Jenny H, Randy B)
"The Conscience of Nhem En" (Stephanie, Amy C, Kimberly T, Bill, Rann)
"The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306" (Stacy, Scott, Val, Michael C, Erin, Karla, Heather, Carol, Kevin H, Jeremy)
"Smile Pinki" (Cheryl B)

20. Film Editing:

"The Dark Knight" (Jeff, Michael C, Kimberly T, Randy B)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stephanie, Stacy, Val, Amy C, Carol, Kevin H, Rann)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (Scott, Erin, Karla, Jenny H, Cheryl B, Jeremy)
"Frost/Nixon" (Heather, Bill)

21. Makeup:

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Jeff, Stacy, Scott, Val, Michael C, Kevin H, Jenny H, Bill, Randy B, Rann, Cheryl B)
"The Dark Knight" (Stephanie, Amy C, Erin, Kimberly T, Karla, Heather, Carol)
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (Jeremy)

22. Animated Short Film:

"Presto" (Jeff, Stacy, Scott, Michael C, Kimberly T, Kevin H, Jenny H, Jeremy)
"This Way Up" (Stephanie, Carol, Cheryl B)
"Lavatory - Lovestory" (Val, Amy C, Erin, Karla, Heather)
"La Maison en Petits Cubes" (Bill)
"Oktapodi" (Randy B, Rann)

23. Live Action Short Film:

"Manon on the Asphalt" (Jeff, Stacy, Karla, Randy B)
"Spielzeugland (Toyland)" (Stephanie, Scott, Amy C, Erin, Heather, Jeremy)
"Auf der Strecke (On the Line)" (Val, Jenny H)
"New Boy" (Michael C, Carol, Rann)
"The Pig" (Kimberly T, Kevin H, Bill, Cheryl B )

24. Visual Effects:

"Iron Man" (Jeff, Val, Michael C, Karla, Heather)
"The Dark Knight" (Amy C, Erin, Kimberly T, Carol, Randy B, Cheryl B)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Stephanie, Stacy, Scott, Kevin H, Jenny H, Bill, Rann, Jeremy)

Our Picks, A Comparison

(EDITED: Missing someone's picks, as noted above.)

Riverdancetastic!

Christmas is officially over for Team Valfrey. Our gift to Nana was three tickets for us all to see Riverdance Friday night at the Orpheum in downtown Memphis. From the start of the phenomenon Nana's been a big big fan and proud of the Irish heritage that gave her the red hair and sassy spark in her soul, and this was a chance to lay a big kiss on the Blarney Stone from afar.

I've likewise caught several of the performances on TV and been intrigued by the flailing of limbs that seems to defy reality. Billed as the farewell tour this became out last chance to see it live and I knew Val would get a kick out of the show too.

First, we ate down the street from the theater at Spaghetti Warehouse, where I hadn't eaten in two decades, Val nearly as long, and Nana as well. The 15-year lasagne is awesome (so good it's spelled with an 'e' at the end!), though perhaps it's overkill. Really, 13 layers would have been just fine. Show offs. Not that I'm complaining. Alas, we did not get to eat in the train or my dream table, the big brass bed in the middle of the restaurant.

Our seats were in the front row of the balcony section, one floor above the main seats and one below what I respectfully call the Paupers With Nosebleeds section. It was pretty cramped, but the show's only 2 hours including the 15-minute intermission, and the time flies by, so I wasn't too worried about developing deadly blood clots in my legs as they pressed against the concrete wall under the railing.

If you haven't seen the show on any of the seven trillion PBS pledge drives, or only saw a few minutes between being asked to contribute $150 for a special PBS pencil set (erasers extra), it's not all about the Irish stepping, which is the anchor to the show but I guess they feel could get boring after two hours. They would be incorrect.

The choreography has worldwide influences, all styled after the Irish routines.

This includes Russians who can spin and seemingly fly, and a Spanish flamenco dancer whose dress flows as if a liquid around her body. Nana doesn't care for flamenco in general, and Val leaned toward it being boring, but I was taken in, mesmerized by her fluidity, her feet stomping in rhythm as the band and dancers surrounded her clapping to make the beat.


Nana's favorite and a showstopper was a tap battle between two African-American tappers and three Irish steppers that was a real crowd pleaser. Think of it as a dance off, a la "You Got Served!" The crowd really got into much of the performance and came across as very knowledgeable in the show, hooting and hollering and clapping at all the right parts.


In between dance sets, the Celtic singing and instrumentals are at times peppy, mellow and haunting. Being in the balcony we could look into the back of the stage and notice that the drummer looked to have the most fun of anyone, pounding on every instrument he could get his hands on, swinging around these other instruments as if dancing along. My favorite instrument, though, was the fiddle, which, like a violin, can be used to create or accentuate any mood that the show tries to create.

There actually could have been much more Irish stepping, though. It was too few and far between, reserved mainly for a few minutes before the end of act one and the finale. I think they could have made the choreography as such to keep it visually interesting, plus the music gets the audience clapping and bouncing along. The precision of the footwork, the way the dancers interact and still stay in unison around the floor, we could have watched it all night long without getting bored. The lead guy had the swagger, confidence, playfulness and charisma that no doubt was set up by original star Michael Flatley, and could move his fancy feet in ways that seems impossible. This guy, however, reminded me more of Hugh Jackman, who is talented in song and dance as much as in the movies.

It's no wonder that Michael Flatley followed this up with his "Lord of the Dance," which flexed with masculinity and hard hitting steps. While the crowd certainly appreciates the gentle and feminine side of the show, the reactions are obvious in the difference. After the women perform, there's a collective "Aww, that's so sweet. *clapclapclapclap*" After the men do their thing, however, the testosterone flows and the audience is all, "Boo-Yah! *CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP*!"


I equated it to a hard-throwing Major League pitcher. Either you can throw a 100-mph fastball and hit the corner of the plate, or not. Very few people in the world have such talent as these dancers, and it shows. We departed fully entertained and impressed, eager to drink a pint of Guiness, hunt for four-leaf clovers and beat the snot out of leprechauns to take their gold.

Last day to enter!

Before you say it, let me assure you, NO ONE HAS SEEN ANY OF THE NOMINEES. Trust me, besides "Wall-E" and "The Dark Knight," 90 percent of family and friends haven't seen any of the other nominees for any category!

Thanks to all who have entered thus far.

1. Best Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

2. Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

3. Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

4. Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

6. Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

7. Foreign Film: "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany; "The Class," France; "Departures," Japan; "Revanche," Austria; "Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"; Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"; David Hare, "The Reader"; Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire."

9. Original Screenplay: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"; Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges"; Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"; Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, "WALL-E."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Bolt"; "Kung Fu Panda"; "WALL-E."

11. Art Direction: "Changeling," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "The Duchess," "Revolutionary Road."

12. Cinematography: "Changeling," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

13. Sound Mixing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Slumdog Millionaire," "WALL-E," "Wanted."

14. Sound Editing: "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Slumdog Millionaire," "WALL-E," "Wanted."

15. Original Score: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat; "Defiance," James Newton Howard; "Milk," Danny Elfman; "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman; "WALL-E," Thomas Newman.

16. Original Song: "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E," Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Gulzar; "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.

17. Costume: "Australia," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Duchess," "Milk," "Revolutionary Road."

18. Documentary Feature: "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," "Encounters at the End of the World," "The Garden," "Man on Wire," "Trouble the Water."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Conscience of Nhem En," "The Final Inch," "Smile Pinki," "The Witness -- From the Balcony of Room 306."

20. Film Editing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "Slumdog Millionaire."

21. Makeup: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Hellboy II: The Golden Army."

22. Animated Short Film: "La Maison en Petits Cubes," "Lavatory -- Lovestory," "Oktapodi," "Presto," "This Way Up."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Auf der Strecke (On the Line)," "Manon on the Asphalt," "New Boy," "The Pig," "Spielzeugland (Toyland)."

24. Visual Effects: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Feel good sports story of the day

In Milwaukee, high school basketball player Johntell Franklin lost his mother to cancer last Saturday. The senior, team captain, showed up that night during the second quarter to watch his team play and support the team, and, it turns out, to play as well.

When he wasn't on the roster for the night, by the rules his team was given a technical foul and the other team was awarded two free throws.

The opposing team missed the free throws on purpose.

After the game, the teams went out for pizza together. Seriously.

Scandalous!

- HOOCHIES as they were in 1909, courtesy The Commercial Appeal's Memphis Memories:
(Feb. 17, 1909) There is too much billing and cooing, too much hugging and kissing going on in the county schools, Miss Fannie B. Smith, principal of the Capleville High School, explained this week in giving her reasons for expelling a girl pupil 13 years old.
Why, that girl exposed her ankle to the delight of sexually charged boys nearby, that skank!

- HERE'S A STORY you won't see on the network news, mentioned by Democrats or the abortion lobby for fear of hurting one of their money-making causes: "A family desperate to save a child from a lethal brain disease sought highly experimental injections of fetal stem cells — injections that triggered tumors in the boy's brain and spinal cord, Israeli scientists reported Tuesday." Guess those magic stem cell beans might not always be magic after all.

- IN IRRESPONSIBLE ROCKER NEWS: First, here in Memphis the airport was shut down earlier this week for several hours as police tried to figure out what to make of a bike that had a sticker reading "This Bike is a Pipe Bomb." Turns out that's the name of a band from Florida.

Then, in Tucson, a punk rock band called Awful Truth is being sued over a photo of a fallen police officer they used to illustrate their classily named album "Kill a Cop for God."

- HEADLINE: Google Wins Boring Lawsuit

It would be cooler if they lost an exciting one.

- BUSH AWAITS AN APOLOGY FROM THE OBAMESSIAH for playing politics with national security to win the election:
Despite President Obama's promise of more open government, the Justice Department is resisting pressure to release documents the Bush administration kept secret about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists.

In half a dozen lawsuits, Justice lawyers are defending Bush administration decisions to withhold records from the public. They have opposed formal motions or spurned out-of-court offers to merely delay these cases until the new administration rewrites Freedom of Information Act guidelines and decides whether the new rules might allow the public to see more.

- A CALIFORNIA PASTOR was sentenced Thursday to three years' probation and fined $1,000 for protesting at an Oakland abortion clinic. What is his grievous offense? As part of his efforts, he stands in front of an abortion clinic in Oakland with leaflets offering abortion alternatives and a sign reading, "Jesus loves you and your baby. Let us help." A truly dangerous individual.

He wasn't injected with a drug to make him smarter

A-Fraud's "apology" and explanation is just raising more questions, as I giddily watch the press pick apart his every lie:
But wait there's more! Rodriguez also stated that the drug he used was purchased over the counter in the D.R., a claim too good to check—except ESPNdeportes actually did check. (They speak good Spanish, you know.) It turns out that primobolan (the drug he tested positive for) is illegal in the Dominican Republic and was never available over the counter as Rodriguez claimed it was. Cripes.
What a moron. What a prick. What an absolutely delightful story!

Thankfully, teammate Johnny Damon is here to put it all in perspective: "Murdering someone... There’s plenty of things that could be worse than what he did." Indeed, J.D., indeed.

You stupid donkeys!

SURVIVOR - Eddie George's wife should have kept her mouth shut, because her tribemates will be lining up to kick her out now that they figure she's rich. We still don't know half the contestants' names yet. Is that our fault or does the show edit itself to prevent us from giving a crap about anyone until they're about to get the boot? Watch the budding bromance now that the corporate city slicker has a man crush on the Bama country boy.

HELL'S KITCHEN - You'll never believe it, but Chef Ramsey lost his temper and cursed when neither the men nor women could finish their service within two hours. Early on, it's clear that he's kicking off not the worst chefs, but the boring ones, keeping the drama and stress in tact. Could it all be an act? Could it be a big fake? On a reality show? Perish the thought.

Monkeying around with race

America's first black Attorney General, Eric Holder, said in a speech Wednesday that America is a nation of "cowards" when it comes to talking about race.

I doubt, however, that he was referring to Al Sharpton and the race-baiters who are going after the New York Post for an editorial cartoon.

Even the extremist Muslim groups were like, "Come on, that's a stretch."

In absolutely no plausible way can anyone sensible interpret that as a racist cartoon. When you see it would you even think of Obama? My first thought was either Congress or the 500-lb gorilla in the room cliche that you can't stop a rampaging stimulus bill.

Welcome to "post-racial" America, same as the old one.

My favorite quote is from conservative syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin: “Funny. When I think of racial cowards, I think of Barack Obama at Jeremiah Wright’s church, sitting there week after week, year after year, saying nothing about the separatist demagoguery echoing from the pulpit to the pews."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Oscar picks

The Oscars are Sunday! Don't forget to email me or post a comment with your picks for my annual contest!

1. Best Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

JEFF'S PICK: "Slumdog Millionaire"

2. Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

JEFF'S PICK: Rourke

3. Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

JEFF'S PICK: Winslet

4. Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

JEFF'S PICK: Ledger

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

JEFF'S PICK: Cruz

6. Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

JEFF'S PICK: Boyle

7. Foreign Film: "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany; "The Class," France; "Departures," Japan; "Revanche," Austria; "Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

JEFF'S PICK: "Waltz With Bashir"

8. Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"; Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"; David Hare, "The Reader"; Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire."

JEFF'S PICK: "Frost/Nixon"

9. Original Screenplay: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"; Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges"; Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"; Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, "WALL-E."

JEFF'S PICK: "In Bruges"

10. Animated Feature Film: "Bolt"; "Kung Fu Panda"; "WALL-E."

JEFF'S PICK: "WALL-E"

11. Art Direction: "Changeling," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "The Duchess," "Revolutionary Road."

JEFF'S PICK: "The Dark Knight"

12. Cinematography: "Changeling," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

JEFF'S PICK: "The Dark Knight"

13. Sound Mixing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Slumdog Millionaire," "WALL-E," "Wanted."

JEFF'S PICK: "The Dark Knight"

14. Sound Editing: "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Slumdog Millionaire," "WALL-E," "Wanted."

JEFF'S PICK: "The Dark Knight"

15. Original Score: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat; "Defiance," James Newton Howard; "Milk," Danny Elfman; "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman; "WALL-E," Thomas Newman.

JEFF'S PICK: "Ben Button"

16. Original Song: "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E," Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Gulzar; "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.

JEFF'S PICK: "WALL-E"

17. Costume: "Australia," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Duchess," "Milk," "Revolutionary Road."

JEFF'S PICK: "Australia"

18. Documentary Feature: "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," "Encounters at the End of the World," "The Garden," "Man on Wire," "Trouble the Water."

JEFF'S PICK: "Man on Wire"

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Conscience of Nhem En," "The Final Inch," "Smile Pinki," "The Witness -- From the Balcony of Room 306."

JEFF'S PICK: "The Final Inch"

20. Film Editing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "Slumdog Millionaire."

JEFF'S PICK: "The Dark Knight"

21. Makeup: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Hellboy II: The Golden Army."

JEFF'S PICK: "Ben Button"

22. Animated Short Film: "La Maison en Petits Cubes," "Lavatory -- Lovestory," "Oktapodi," "Presto," "This Way Up."

JEFF'S PICK: "Presto"

23. Live Action Short Film: "Auf der Strecke (On the Line)," "Manon on the Asphalt," "New Boy," "The Pig," "Spielzeugland (Toyland)."

JEFF'S PICK: "Manon on the Asphalt"

24. Visual Effects: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man."

JEFF'S PICK: "Iron Man"

Thank you, Puppets!

Team Valfrey was happily 3-for-3 in picking the first of the AMERICAN IDOL top 12 singers: Alexis of Memphis, Michael the oil rig worker and Danny the Robert Downey Jr. look-alike, who was the final confirmation while the show made Tatiana squirm on stage for ten minutes in hopes of turning on the crazy switch. Next week are a bunch of nobodies plus that Nick Mitchell goof who will surely come out in character as Normund Gentle and make us roll our eyes and pray that the shiny shirt catches on fire.
 
Meanwhile, on LOST, Jack, Kate and Hurley are for sure back on the island, but whither Sayid, Sun and Ben? How will Aaron and Desmond end up back on the island? And did Ben mean that he was off to kill Penny when he said he "made a promise to an old friend?" Hopefully when he ended up beaten and bruised it meant that Penny smacked him around with a frying pan and scratched his face off with her keys. Good to see Frank end up as the pilot on the flight back and his realization, "We're not going to Guam, are we?" Did the plane crash? Did the Lostaways vanish and the rest made it to Guam? This was a weird episode, and entirely dependent on our new strategy this season: Let them do their thing and realize that science and reality has nothing to do with it. All the arrangements about getting on the plane and making it look like the original crash, I felt like they were trying to get back to Neverland. Does that make Widmore their Captain Hook?
 

My piece of the pie. Or not, for $100.

- GE IS PAYING SMOKERS $750 to quit. That's not right, it's a clear bias in favor of those who drag. I demand at least $500 to lay off the Krystals!

- YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK:
Wilder Lee always advised his students against joining the Marine Corps.

“They’re just moving targets,” the Memphis high school teacher said as he waited to board an airplane that would take him to see the “targets” up close at Parris Island, S.C., the Corps’ East Coast training facility.

Mr. Lee was among about 80 people invited on an all-expenses-paid, four-day trip to Parris Island in January as part of the Marine Corps’ Educators’ Workshop program. The program runs weekly from January through May, rotating through educators from different geographic districts across the country. Mr. Lee’s group represented schools under the Nashville and Montgomery, Ala., recruiting stations.

Recruiters specifically chose Mr. Lee and others with similar opinions about the Marine Corps in an effort to show them some stereotypes about Marines aren’t accurate.
If you were a student looking for a career in the military and had this guy as a teacher, what would you think? Would your parents be happy?

- SPEAKING OF PEOPLE who try to influence your kids, this is the nonsense peddled on network news shows:
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, on Thursday's CBS Early Show co-host Maggie Rodriguez did a segment highlighting five "...things you may not know about Honest Abe," including his sexual orientation. The segment featured New York University history professor Jeffrey Sammons, who argued: "One of the very interesting stories about Abraham Lincoln is that he might have been gay. Lincoln actually did sleep in the same bed with a gentleman for a four-year period." Rodriguez concluded: "So the question of Abraham Lincoln's sexuality still remains a mystery."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A smorgasboard of TV goodness

HEROES - Tired of Clair, bored with Sylar's sidekick, Nathan's politics bore me and I'm ready for Hiro to get his powers. And yet, I'm still enjoying this season.
 
24 - A big welcome back to Aaron Pierce! Did you know that he's the only other character than Jack to be in every season, after being signed for two episodes? Where's his spin-off? Then again, like they do on "24" they'd make him have to deal with crazy First Families, so maybe not. This wasn't obvious, but the Creepy Tech Guy is, of course, the FBI mole. That wouldn't be easier if they put a stuffed mole on his desk with a neon sign that said "Don't trust him." Again I ask, why would an African warlord care about a neighbor waitress enough to risk his flight out of the country?
 
THE AMAZING RACE - First impressions of our new Racers, keeping in mind that I believe in equal opportunity in stereotyping and making fun of contestants because, hey, they're on my television and it's my right:
 
Stewardesses - Got lucky after making dumb mistakes, which is odd from people who travel for a living and are studied in the ways of fastening seat belts.
The Hicks - Despite looking and sounding like the hick from "The Simpsons," he was the only one to figure out the best way to bring down the cheese, so he may be resourceful enough to make it if his wife would stop whining about having to actually run on a, you know, race.
Black Girls - Barely saw them, so no opinion. But they play basketball AND volleyball, so they must know how to do anything!
Cheer Bimbos - Apparently there were two bottles of that odd red color of hair dye out there, and they grabbed the last two. You won't believe this, but one of them says she won't necessarily play nice. Shocking!
Old And Strong - I wish I had a million dollars for ever reality show where an old couple proclaims they'll show those young whipper-snappers. They almost never do.
Asians - He's kind of an a-hole. 
Small Stuntmen - Fearless, possible comedy fodder.
Like (Gay) Father, Like (Gay) Hollywood Screenwriter Son - Personally trying to end the "it's biological, not learned" argument, though I'm pretty sure that the father still had to have relations with an actual woman for procreation to occur, which also brings up Darwinism as a counter-argument. 
Deaf Son And Mother - He needs to stop harping on the idea that we think he's disadvantaged on the race. Really? I never thought that. Your mom is there to translate, you're a strong young man, you'll make it just fine.
Bickering Dude And Blonde Girlfriend - The kind of couple that usually hangs around way too long and you wish they'd either lose or kill each other, but this time they got the boot in week one, and that can only mean less viewer stress.
Cali Due And Blonde Girlfriend - No opinion, but they are very attractive and belong on the farcical reality show "True Beauty" instead, so I hate them.
 
Classy move by Phil to sign "You are team number one" for the deaf son and his mom when they won the leg. Think he'll also sign "I'm sorry you have been eliminated" when they go? And an hilarious bit from the Hick Wife when she got Phil's trademark at the pit stop, "Love the eyebrow!"
 
THE BIGGEST LOSER - We flipped over from American Idol during a commercial break just in time to watch Tara upchuck during a challenge and see that the pink and brown teams got to use the gym by themselves while the rest used the "Rocky in Russia" technique. And with that, we flipped over once in a while and realized we wouldn't miss much by fast-forwarding through the entire show to the weigh-ins. Pink Shanon gets the heave-ho to go home, tryout for the roller derby (?!), which explains her temper and use of flour power in a recent police incident.
 
THE BACHELOR - The final three head to New Zealand, where Jason makes a "Titanic" reference? Dude, seriously? ABC would have had to edit extra hard to keep out all of my "Lord of the Rings" references. "Hey, Jeff, could you just hold her hand and look longingly in her eyes and stop calling every short person nearby a Hobbit?" Jillian, bless her heart, was stuck in the Friend Zone and thus had no chance to get a rose but she tried her darndest by straddling Jason in a hot tub. (Oh to have a camera on Ty in five years, "Stepmommy, why is that woman in the blue bikini wrapped around Daddy?") I felt bad for Molly for having to pretend that her bungee jump date was as special as Jillian getting a picnic on a cliff overlooking a crystal lake or Melissa's yacht ride to a spa overlooking another crystal lake. Next week is a reunion episode, and the finale is in two weeks. Between Molly and Melissa, bet on Melissa for being the one who looks most like Deanna, who, by the way, is going to show up and create drama. Much screaming at our TV will ensue. During credits the show has been running outtakes or funny moments not seen in the previous two hours (because they couldn't squeeze in everything?), and this week they did little to disprove the idea that the whole thing is an act. We see Molly and Jason in a hot tub in the fantasy suite, and as they kiss the water starts draining and it makes a funny noise. They keep looking at the camera crew and cracking up, but still kissing, as if this was intimate when instead they were just putting on a show for the camera guy, sound guy, producer and gal who brings coffee, all standing in the bathroom two feet from the tub.
 
Finally, last but not least, the first group of 12 performs on AMERICAN IDOL:
 
Did anyone else know that the top three of the group doesn't necessarily make it? What? Last night Ryan busts out with this gem, that the top guy and the top girl make it, then the next highest vote-getter. Meaning, the top four could all be guys, but since they have to have a girl then too bad for the guys. This insistence on diversifying the contestants is how we end up with the Sanjayas and KLCs, so look for more of that in season eight.
 
I thought this would be a tough group since a lot of the most featured contestants were vying for three guaranteed spots in the ultimate top 12, but it didn't turn out that way.
 
JACKIE - She's got a great personality, but once she stepped on stage wearing that outfit (polka dot shirt over pants that Olivia Newton-John wore at the end of "Grease," but with tennis shoes) and started Elvis' "Little Less Conversation," it was all over.
 
RICKY BRADDY - We never heard of you. You have no chance. You have a good voice, though, so good luck with that.
 
ALEXIS - One of our Memphians, and the best-reviewed girl of the night by the judges. She's got a lot of soulful bluesy spunk in that tiny blonde body. Maybe it's the pink highlights that are her power, like Samson's hair.
 
Hey, Neil Patrick Harris and Ted Danson side by side in the audience! Shout out!
 
BRENT KEITH - Country dude, not bad, but sounds like every generic country artist with a video on GAC.
 
STEVIE  - Oh no. Oh golly. Yeek. So bad, so awful, so awkward. I blame the Taylor Swift song, because she stinks live too.
 
ANOOP - I don't want him to make it just so that we don't have to hear "Anoop Dog" anymore.
 
CASEY - Don't know you. Never saw you before, and hey, this is much easier since you can't sing, either.
 
MICHAEL - The oil rig guy. Pretty good, though it seemed he had trouble keeping up with the song. But I'm rooting for him and the judges are really hoping he gets his big break, meaning that if he doesn't get in this week he will when they pick later.
 
ANN MARIE - Her voice isn't big enough for Aretha's "You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman." Put her side by side with fellow Nashvillain Melinda Doolittle's version and Ann Marie would slink out in embarrassment.
 
STEPHEN - He forgot the words in his last Hollywood song and never even finished, and we'd never seen him before that, so really, what's our incentive? None, it turns out, because the judges ripped him to shreds.
 
TATIANA - A total phony. A big fake. After acting all kinds of crazy in the audition and Hollywood she saw herself on TV and realized it wasn't playing well with the viewers, so she became boring instead, and guess what, actually has a decent voice under all that nutjob facade.
 
DANNY - He's a church music director, his wife died before his audition and he looks like Robert Downey Jr. And, oh yeah, dude can really sing, and he's got that star quality, and the judges will literally push him into the top five when it's all said and done.
 
To sum up, 12 singers, two-thirds of which weren't great. We're going with Alexis, the Downey Jr. clone ("I'm just a dude playing a dude, singing about a dude.") and the oil rig guy.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jeff'ville shout out!

It's not often that I expect to get a reference to my sisters' current town of Jeffersonville, Indiana, but in the Memphis Memories page on The Commercial Appeal, here it is for Feb. 15, 1909:
The Peters Lee, largest of the Lee Line fleet, which was proceeding from Cincinnati to Memphis, became unmanageable because of high winds in midstream this week and crashed into an old dam above Louisville. The 25 passengers on the boat were transferred to the dam and later transported to Jeffersonville, Ind.

Blubbering idiots

Chutzpah watch:
SYDNEY (AP) — A group of radical anti-whaling activists said they were pelted with bloody chunks of whale meat and blubber after their boat collided Friday with a Japanese whaling vessel in a dramatic Antarctic Ocean clash Japan condemned as "unforgivable."

It was the second battle this week between the whalers and their foes. No one was injured, but the skirmishes mark the resumption of potentially life-threatening run-ins in a contentious fight that has become an annual fixture in the remote, icy and dangerous waters at the bottom of the world.

"The situation down here is getting very, very chaotic and very aggressive," activist Paul Watson, captain of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's vessel, told The Associated Press on Friday by satellite phone. ...

Watson said Friday's fracas began as his crew tried to maneuver their boat into a position that would have prevented the Japanese from dragging a whale on board their whaling vessel.
That's right, the protesters are whining after they themselves caused the accident by their irresponsible and dangerous wacko actions. They're lucky they were only pelted with whale guts and that the Japanese didn't go all "Thar she blows" on those wackos' butts.

BBQ 101

Why didn't I think of this in college?
- Four college students walk into a smoky restaurant, sit at a table under a blaring TV and order up their class work for the day -- two slabs of spare ribs dripping with reddish sauce, white bread on the side.

But this isn't lunch. It's writing about barbecue for an A.

The four spent January visiting some of the South's best barbecue restaurants for course credit from Birmingham-Southern College in a self-designed class that combines heaping mounds of meat with academics, all spread across five states.

They've eaten sweet sauces and dry rub, ribs and sandwiches, cole slaw, potato salad and banana pudding.
They've got a website to track their visits, southernbbqboys.com. One of the guys is from Memphis, so naturally they came here for the best of pork BBQ, making three stops, although one of them wasn't the Rendezvous since it was closed at the time. Wow, that would be a bummer. It would be like going to Boston in July only to find out that Fenway wasn't open, or Scotland to find that there weren't any tee times at St. Andrew's, or clicking on Thanks For Noticing Me and finding no self-deprecating posts about random nonsense.

A-Hole

A-Fraud is trying to look like the big man by admitting that he's a big fat steroid-using cheater, but as AP columnist Tim Dahlberg points out, it's all still a ruse:
Telling the truth can be liberating, or so Alex Rodriguez would like us to believe.

With his confessional on national television now behind him, he can sleep easily at night without worrying about his darkest secrets being exposed. There will be no more twinges of conscience when he cashes his million-dollar paychecks, no lingering doubts when he visits his trophy room.

Best of all, he won't have to lie to Katie Couric anymore. "The more honest we can all be, the quicker we can get baseball (back) to where it needs to be," Rodriguez said.

Never mind that Rodriguez was only being honest because he had no other choice. Sports Illustrated took care of that when it reported A-Rod was one of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Backed into a corner, he confessed. Sort of. He admitted doing steroids, but said he didn't know what kind they were. He knew he was juiced, but claims he didn't know he tested positive.

He said he had no excuses, then offered them up by the fistful.

He was young. He was stupid. He was naive. Two hundred and fifty-million dollars creates a lot of pressure. It was a loosey-goosey era. They sell a lot of funny stuff at the nutritional store. It was really hot in Texas.

And what about that lady from Sports Illustrated? A stalker at best, and maybe a burglar, too.
Read it all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Can corn dogs end up healing acne?

Miracle foods: Coffee, wine, chocolate, and now cotton candy!
(AP) - Cotton candy has delighted children for a century. Now it may have found a new role: helping scientists grow replacement tissues for people. The flossy stuff may be just right for creating networks of blood vessels within laboratory-grown bone, skin, muscle or fat for breast reconstruction, researchers suggest.
Next year, scientists discover that nachos supreme cure psoriasis and chinese food is good for preventing measles.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Freedom for only those qualified?


- I THINK THE OCTUPLET MOM is probably nutso, but I also have a problem with all the critiques I'm hearing from certain corners, namely those from the Left, and I must concur with Jeff Jacoby:
What does all this criticism mean? Is it once again acceptable in politically correct society to disparage other people's unconventional or unwise reproductive decisions? Have the rules of engagement suddenly changed?

It was only a couple of weeks ago, after all, that the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade was being commemorated with the customary paeans to the right of American women to make their own decisions about pregnancy and parenthood. Haven't we been told for years that society has no authority to second-guess what a woman does with her own body? Haven't the champions of "choice" and "reproductive freedom" repeatedly instructed us that what happens in a woman's womb is between her and her doctor? How is it that so many feel free to pass judgment on the choices made by Suleman and her doctors, let alone to call for new regulations banning such choices in the future?
- DISSENT IS NO LONGER PATRIOTIC WATCH: Republicans are just like the Taliban and thus are the enemy. First from Dem strategist Bob Shrum:
In the closing weeks of the presidential contest, the GOP harped on the prediction that President Obama would be tested in his first weeks in office. Who knew the test would come not from the Taliban in Afghanistan, but from the Taliban in Washington? President Obama is about to pass that test. The experience will arm him for his next engagement with the Taliban Republicans.
Second up, Bob Herbert of the New York Times:
Mr. Obama is like a championship chess player, always several moves ahead of friend and foe alike. He's smart, deft, elegant and subtle. While Lindsey Graham was behaving like a 6-year-old on the Senate floor and Pete Sessions was studying passages in his Taliban handbook, Mr. Obama and his aides were assessing what's achievable in terms of stimulus legislation and how best to get there.
It's only a matter of time before the Democrat gulags open for business!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Candy hearts, Blooming Onions, Song and Dance


To my Wonderful Wife, I can never tell you enough how lucky I am to be married to such a fun, empathetic and snuggle-tastic person. I hope that never a day will pass that you don't feel how much I adore you!

Also, Happy Valentine's Day to all my female family and friends. May you know today just how loved you really are.


Tonight, we settled in after using all of our Weight Watchers "flex points" at Outback Steakhouse (mmmm ... Blooming Onion ... ) and started a roaring fire, baked cookies and watched Singin' in the Rain.

I know it's cliched, but they really don't make 'em like they used to.

What happened to the Hollywood of yesteryear, where movies could be colorful and fun without any brooding back story or filthy language full of sexual innuendo? This is such a fun, entertaining movie, the kind that leaves you with a smile on your face throughout. When's the last time you said that?

Am I wrong that this was the best of Hollywood history, when it seems that there was actually a focus on having class?

Singin' in the Rain came out in 1952, waxing nostalgic for the year 1927. When I thought about that for a second, I realized that for someone my age, that's like a movie coming out today looking way back to my childhood in the mid-80s. Though, in the 25 years between '27 and '52 had such monumental shifts in the ways of life, with movies becoming talkies and then color, the start of TV, airplane travel became widespread and World War II, then the Korean War.

Our advances include computers and cell phones, but that doesn't seem a culture shift so much as an increase in people being able to get ahold of you when you'd rather they didn't. Unless they were looking for a song and dance. Which is probably just a stupid video of a fat guy dancing to Grease on YouTube.

Friday, February 13, 2009

If it's happened before, when is now?

Tonight's BATTLESTAR GALACTICA came right out of Spaceballs. Are the Final 5 from the past? The future? How are they the only five who survived Faux Earth's destruction? At last they may meet again for the first time for the last time:

Dark Helmet: What the hell am I looking at? When does this happen in the movie?
Colonel Sandurz: Now. You're looking at now, sir. Everything that happens now, is happening now.
Dark Helmet: What happened to then?
Colonel Sandurz: We passed it.
Dark Helmet: When?
Colonel Sandurz: Just now. We're at now now.
Dark Helmet: Go back to then.
Colonel Sandurz: When?
Dark Helmet: Now.
Colonel Sandurz: Now?
Dark Helmet: Now.
Colonel Sandurz: I can't.
Dark Helmet: Why?
Colonel Sandurz: We missed it.
Dark Helmet: When?
Colonel Sandurz: Just now.
Dark Helmet: When will then be now?
Colonel Sandurz: Soon.
Dark Helmet: How soon?

My head started spinning from the opening, when we're told that "This has all happened before, and will happen again." And then the show reveals what felt like 100 secrets about the Final 5 cylons, with Ellen playing mind games with evil Cavill, and Anders telling Tigh, Tory and Chief all about how they left Cylon Earth and created the other 8 (?!? Yes, 8?!?) models, not 7 as we thought.

There were several "Whoa! Really?" revelations, and I'm loving how the show is racing to the finish without giving us more questions than answers in the show's mythology.

Bonus points for using the nerdy Microsoft guy from the Apple ads as the brain surgeon.

And a partridge in a pear tree

Life working for a morning news show is certainly never boring. In just my 8 a.m. hour today we had: The national champion Houston High cheerleaders; a 15-year-old harpist; interviews with a guy from the Memphis Redbirds and a choreographer about upcoming "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions; our Movie Lady reviewing "The International"; a live shot from Disney World about the American Idol Experience with an interview with season one runner-up Justin Guarini and an appearance by none other than Mickey Mouse; some local high school kids from Memphis showing off their big robot (though not a battle bot); and then our regular reporter live at the airport about the Buffalo plane crash. Every 8a is busy, but that's the freakiest Frankenstein combination I've ever put on air.
 
In other news, I never mentioned this before, but Val and I started up our diet anew on January 2nd. I didn't mention it in case we crashed and burned after a week like back in the Fall during the holidays. This time, though, sticking with Weight Watchers we're seeing success so we'll keep going. Thus far I've gone from 371 to 352.8 this morning, so almost 20 pounds in six weeks. Val's down five pounds, which is great since she has a lot less to lose and she gets half the points I do per day, and we still haven't exactly picked up an exercise regimen. Oh sure, I bought us a workout step and some weights, and we could walk around the golf course on mild days, but we end up on the couch snuggling up watching our shows. That's the next motivation.
 
In the new SURVIVOR, no surprises last night in Brazil. The opening vote was actually fair, even if it was kind of mean and schoolyard bullyish. Sandy is indeed the oldest of her tribe and could be considered the weakest. She's definitely not the smartest, based on her looking for the immunity idol for four hours and never figuring out where the tallest stick was on the beach and what a "pace" is when it said to walk ten paces. On the other tribe, Sierra was upset to get the most votes, even though she's the typical thin pale blonde who can't cut it, plus she had strep throat. Good call on building the shelter instead of looking for the immunity idol, though. Carolina was the correct choice to go in the end, because she's worthless and whiny. The only person we definitely will root against was the Mormon cyclist naked dude. I don't know anyone else's names, so hopefully the show will find some worthy personalities soon.

Your friendly Academy Awards contest reminder

The Oscars are less than two weeks away. Don't forget to email me or post a comment with your picks for my annual contest!

Who will win Best Picture? A guy aging backwards, a disgraced president, an assassinated gay politician, a former Nazi guard sleeping with a teen or a poor Indian game show winner? Tell me!

1. Best Picture: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

2. Actor: Richard Jenkins, "The Visitor"; Frank Langella, "Frost/Nixon"; Sean Penn, "Milk"; Brad Pitt, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Mickey Rourke, "The Wrestler."

3. Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Rachel Getting Married"; Angelina Jolie, "Changeling"; Melissa Leo, "Frozen River"; Meryl Streep, "Doubt"; Kate Winslet, "The Reader."

4. Supporting Actor: Josh Brolin, "Milk"; Robert Downey Jr., "Tropic Thunder"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Doubt"; Heath Ledger, "The Dark Knight"; Michael Shannon, "Revolutionary Road."

5. Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "Doubt"; Penelope Cruz, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"; Viola Davis, "Doubt"; Taraji P. Henson, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Marisa Tomei, "The Wrestler."

6. Director: David Fincher, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; Ron Howard, "Frost/Nixon"; Gus Van Sant, "Milk"; Stephen Daldry, "The Reader"; Danny Boyle, "Slumdog Millionaire."

7. Foreign Film: "The Baader Meinhof Complex," Germany; "The Class," France; "Departures," Japan; "Revanche," Austria; "Waltz With Bashir," Israel.

8. Adapted Screenplay: Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"; John Patrick Shanley, "Doubt"; Peter Morgan, "Frost/Nixon"; David Hare, "The Reader"; Simon Beaufoy, "Slumdog Millionaire."

9. Original Screenplay: Courtney Hunt, "Frozen River"; Mike Leigh, "Happy-Go-Lucky"; Martin McDonagh, "In Bruges"; Dustin Lance Black, "Milk"; Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon and Pete Docter, "WALL-E."

10. Animated Feature Film: "Bolt"; "Kung Fu Panda"; "WALL-E."

11. Art Direction: "Changeling," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "The Duchess," "Revolutionary Road."

12. Cinematography: "Changeling," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "The Reader," "Slumdog Millionaire."

13. Sound Mixing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Slumdog Millionaire," "WALL-E," "Wanted."

14. Sound Editing: "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man," "Slumdog Millionaire," "WALL-E," "Wanted."

15. Original Score: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," Alexandre Desplat; "Defiance," James Newton Howard; "Milk," Danny Elfman; "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman; "WALL-E," Thomas Newman.

16. Original Song: "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E," Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman; "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Gulzar; "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire," A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam.

17. Costume: "Australia," "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Duchess," "Milk," "Revolutionary Road."

18. Documentary Feature: "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)," "Encounters at the End of the World," "The Garden," "Man on Wire," "Trouble the Water."

19. Documentary (short subject): "The Conscience of Nhem En," "The Final Inch," "Smile Pinki," "The Witness -- From the Balcony of Room 306."

20. Film Editing: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Frost/Nixon," "Milk," "Slumdog Millionaire."

21. Makeup: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Hellboy II: The Golden Army."

22. Animated Short Film: "La Maison en Petits Cubes," "Lavatory -- Lovestory," "Oktapodi," "Presto," "This Way Up."

23. Live Action Short Film: "Auf der Strecke (On the Line)," "Manon on the Asphalt," "New Boy," "The Pig," "Spielzeugland (Toyland)."

24. Visual Effects: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Dark Knight," "Iron Man."

Don't be scared of Friday the 13th. Have a laugh.

(Courtesy Grif.net)

One day when Noah and Grandpa were fishing, he asked, "Grandpa can you make a sound like a frog?"

"Why do you ask?" replied Grandpa.

"Because mom and dad said when you croak, we're all going to be rich!"

========

"Oh Grandma", said Noah, "I sure am glad you came for my birthday. Now maybe Dad will do the trick he's been promising us."

Grandma was curious. "What trick is that?"

Noah replied, "I heard him tell mom that if you came for another visit, he would climb the walls."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tigers not Lost

Tigers update - Memphis put a whoopin' on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane (not sure how a hurricane is golden, or why it's in Oklahoma), having moved into the top ten this week after winning at both Tennessee and Gonzaga the past two weeks. The Tigers (21-3, 9-0 Conference USA)  are undefeated since moving freshman phenom Tyreke Evans to point guard after falling to 6-3 and out of the top 25 in December, which pretty much makes Coach Calipari look like a genius. Or an idiot for not starting the season with Evans leading the offense. Either way, I'm not getting my hopes up for a long run in the NCAA tournament, but it should be a fun March again.
 
Last night we found out the top 36 on AMERICAN IDOL, and as expected, at least half are unknown to viewers. Good luck trying to survive the vote by viewers who don't know your sob story while at least five or six from your group are so well known to viewers that half invited them to Easter brunch. I can only presume that the producers expanded from a top 24 to 36 so that they could include people whom we hate like Tatiana and "Normund Gentle." At least the two Memphis girls, Alexis and Lil, survived and we have someone to root for in the next few weeks. Good call on the "sing off," but it could have been employed a few more times to make it even more dramatic. Besides the Memphis girls, I find myself rooting for the Robert :Downey Jr. look-alike whose wife died, and Jackie the husky-voiced funny girl.
 
LOST has really re-found itself this season by subjecting the Lostaways to time-shifting confusion and the Oceanic 6 to Ben-shifting confusion. I wasn't happy that they killed off Charlotte, however, just as they were building us a connection with Daniel, though the bit about him telling her as a kid to avoid the island is pretty cool. Did Ben really not know until Desmond mentioned it that Eloise Hawking is Daniel Faraday's mother? Interesting. Now let's get back to the island!

This is me being pretentious


Does it make me selfish that I don't like that my alma mater, Union University, has a branch here in the Memphis area now? Every time I see an ad for it, I worry that it makes my school look like a commuter school, like DeVry or something.

So, whenever I tell someone where I went to college, I make a point to tell them that I went to Union, "the main Jackson campus," hoping they'll know that I went to an actual university in a collegiate environment and spent tens of thousands of dollars. And yes, I know that the Union campus here is respectable and has a difficult curriculum of nursing and business. So if that makes me a snot, so be it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why even have a pool on the ranch?

Last night on THE BIGGEST LOSER (Now Joelle Free!), the producer's completely fooled us into believing that the Brown Team would be in the bottom again, only to see the heretofore unbeatable Black guys pick the wrong week to have a low number. And then the show picked this week to split up the teams, so only one of the guys - Blaine - went home. Meaning now it's every fat person for themselves!
 
Meanwhile ... Tara is a daggum weight loss queen ... enough with the discussion of game play, it's ALL game play, it's a reality show, so of course people are playing the game ... I think the Purple daughter drank a gallon of water before she went on the scale and "gained" two pounds. She had immunity, and if she's like me I would have loaded up with water, knowing that the next week I'd be safe by losing all that weight again ... Mandi is my new foil. All that whining about seeing her family, which she just spend the entire day with, she clearly has other issues that only Dr. Philian can address ... The ranch has this big swimming pool, it gets to 95 degrees during the day, and yet none of the Losers is ever seen swimming? It's not just refreshing, it's great exercise, less chance of knee injuries, and you get to see everyone's hot floppy bods ... Subway. Ding! Prevention magazine. Ding! ... The difference in Bob and Jillian. Bob does yoga with his team, Jillian literally beats the crap out of them with boxing.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bow Wow

I can't help but watch the cute wittle doggie woggies in the Westminster Dog Show (concludes Tuesday night), and as always I find myself rooting for the "middle class" dogs. I can't find a kinship with those dogs who have so much hair as to look like mops. Only breeders keep their fur that long, so don't try to fool me. I think that's why I so excited to see the beagle win last year. You can't turn away a dog that knows how cool it is, and is one of the most popular breeds. German Shepherd, Golden Retrievers and Labs are all the most popular, yet they get no love from judges for Best in Show. It's as if the World Series was decided by the commish, and he decided that Kansas City should win because they have that cool fountain behind the outfield fence.

Meanwhile, Val and I have really gotten into watching cooking shows, especially on the Food Network (duh). I don't normally watch, though, the normal cooking shows, because I never have half the ingredients if I even dared try to replicate their recipes, most of which I can't even pronounce. I prefer the contests, especially Chopped and the Ultimate Recipe Showdown (the winner gets their dish on the TGI Friday's menu, not some foo-foo restaurant with unnecessary vowels to prove their Euro worth). We also like Top Chef on Bravo, which is basically Project Runway in the kitchen.

HEROES - This half season looks to be part The Fugitive, part The Incredible Hulk. Lots of running, hiding their powers, trying to prove they're innocent and want to be left alone. I would like to request less Clair, but she is going to be imperative to the story, which means a lot of sulking and whining. I know he's all kinds of evil, but Sylar is still really cool.

24 - Let me get this straight. There are six minutes before a deadline blackmailing the president of the United States threatening the life of her husband, and the African rebel leader controlling an entire secret society of corrupt Americans leaves to take care of a domestic situation involving his girlfriend neighbor's crippled sister? I really like this Agent Walker. I really hope she keeps being a Jack with breasts and doesn't get all squishy under the influence of her wussy FBI boss lover. That would be s darn shame. Now that the CIP is gone and the First Gentleman (which is a stupid designation, by the way; I prefer First Dude) is free but shot, what's left for Jack to prevent? I'm wondering where the sense of urgency will be next week.

THE BACHELOR - After having to acknowledge her crazy hula-hooping dead-dove-burying mother, it was no surprise seeing Naomi get the boot, leaving Jillian (the next to go), Molly and Melissa left to go to New Zealand. In the previews, Jason makes a Titanic reference. Aw, man, come on, nothing referencing Lord of the Rings? Really? I trust Jason won't hold it against Melissa that her parents didn't want to be a part of this week's episode. I mean, what normal people wouldn't want a camera in their face as they meet some guy from a reality dating show who keeps groping their daughter and kisses 24 other women in a search for "true love?"

HELL'S KITCHEN - Have you ever had a drama queen at work who constantly complains, cries, talks about how hard the job is and that no one gives them a chance, and everyone wishes they'd just go way? If you don't know, it's you. So that's Lacey, who incredibly remains on the show. This might seem like common sense, but obviously not. Before you go on The Amazing Race, you'd learn to drive a stick shift, right? Likewise, before incurring Chef Ramsey's wrath and being called a donkey, wouldn't you spend at least a month before going on Hell's Kitchen perfecting scallops, risotto, beef wellington, and the other common dishes on the show?

Yes? We Can?


The Obamessiah is still trying to knock down expectations unless we spend a trillion bucks for, example, a bridge in Des Moines:
Obama painted a bleak picture of the state of the economy as he described scenes "across America" in which job-seekers are standing in long lines for scarce opportunities at employment.

He pointed to such scenes as proof the country is in a "full-blown crisis" and needs a drastic government response. The president warned that a failure to act could "turn a crisis into a catastrophe," and urged lawmakers to get a bill to his desk without delay.
Um ... Hope? Change?

Monday, February 09, 2009

All over the place


As usual, I have very strong opinions about subjects I know little to nothing about ...

- HERE'S THE BIGGEST LOAD of hogwash I've seen in months: Study: Ads make watching TV more pleasurable. Who funded this study, The Advertising Creators Of America?

- I DIDN'T WATCH the Grammys, nor do I particularly care who won. It's a bunch of artists I've never heard of, singing a bunch of songs I've never heard, winning awards I can't figure out. How is "record of the year" different than "album of the year?" Aren't they the same thing? I mean, in my day, singers sang real music, and for love, not money, and doggonit, bring back Monster Ballads already!

- OREGON IS LOOKING to tax drivers based on mileage because hybrid and electric car owners don't use enough gas to pay gas taxes. They will also begin charging people who don't have electricity a tax on what they should be using, and a tax on people who grow their own food and don't go to the grocery store.

- THE DIFFERENCE IN having a Democrat in office than a Republican, blaming America for all of the world's problems and hatred of us: "My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy," Obama says, although "we sometimes make mistakes" and "have not been perfect," and even though "too often the United States starts by dictating" and fails to use "the language of respect."

The message? "It's not the fanatics' fault, we had it coming. And besides, we really just ran into a wall, we weren't hit or anything. We're so clumsy."

Face it, they're just not that into us.

- HEADLINE: "House Approves Whitelist of People Who Aren't Terrorists." - It's about time that Congressional Dems began reaching out to us crackers who aren't evildoers.

- WE WERE CONSIDERING eating a late dinner and coming late for the Rascal Flatts concert on March 5 to skip the Jessica Simpson opening act, but if I can be promised more of what happened this week then I think we should get there when the doors open!

You stay classy, Etta James:
"You know your president, the one with the big ears? He ain't my president—had that woman singing for him at his inauguration. She's going to get her ass whooped...she had no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' president day, gonna be singing my song that I've been singing forever."

- WHAT WOULD JESUS DO with the stimulus? A lot, it turns out. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gives us perspective, "if you started the day Jesus Christ was born and spent $1 million every day since then, you still wouldn’t have spent $1 trillion." You can have your 5,000 loaves and fishes!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It's People!


I did our taxes last night.

So we're not going to be super-sizing anytime soon.

But don't worry, following our government's lead, I'm going to spend my way out of this economic downturn. I figure if I order some remodeling work, borrow extra from credit cards, I should be able to turn this around.

Val's deep in the heart of Texas for her nephew, Aidan's, fourth birthday party, held at that mecca of little kids' parties, Chuck E Cheese. Here's hoping there was much skee ball and wack-a-mole.

She, her mom and brother are beholden to Aidan's mother's schedule (whatever that may be), so there's a lot of lying around waiting in their room at the Holiday Inn Express and jet lagged after Friday’s 10 hour drive. And early this morning they’re turning back around and driving back.

The shame is that the rental car is a Dodge Magnum, which has power out the wazoo, except that Ken has the opposite of a lead foot ("cotton" foot?), so there won't be any vroom-vrooming through flat and straight east Texas, which, as I've noted before, is like driving on a treadmill. You go and go and go, the scenery never changes and it feels like you'll never make it to Arkansas.

The house is awfully quiet by myself and admittedly a little spooky at 3 a.m. I have a long list of little tasks I want to complete, yet I end up on the computer or the couch watching "The Universe" on my DVR. Or, as was the case Friday night, Soylent Green.

Go ahead, say it. You know you want to. Do it loud, do it dramatically.

"Soylent Green is PEOPLE!!!!!!"

And it takes a long, depressing hour and 45 minutes to get to that final line, which Charlton Heston musters with all the power of Marlon Brando yelling "STELLA!" in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Heston is darn good as the cop who likes to solve his cases but isn’t above envy, taking a few items for himself when investigating a murder at a rich guy’s home. As Chuck's partner, this was Edward G. Robinson's final role, which is creepy when you watch his character's death scene.

Not that it isn't a good film, but I wouldn't want to watch it again voluntarily. This is a bleak dystopia of a future (2022) New York City packed with 40 million unhappy people who can't do anything about their immoral and corrupt leadership.

Life is cheap and the sweaty, starving people are treated like cattle, sleeping on stairwells, in broken-down cars, electricity and water is scarce and only for the super rich, the only food is like astronaut food produced by the Soylent company, which are colored chips with nutrition but no taste. (Sort of like Wheat Thins. Hoowah!)

And then, with that famous final line, there's no happy ending, no promise that anything will be done. If little robots rolled around the town I could have sworn this was a prequel to Wall-E.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When science fiction becomes non-fiction


- Police claim that a man used a Klingon bat’leth sword to rob two convenience stores. I doubt it was a Klingon, because survivors were left. I'm guessing it was a ruse by those sneaky Romulans as a way to make Klingons look bad.

- However, zombies are now a confirmed threat on the nation's roadways:


- From Television Without Pity, Battlestar Galactica: The Most Frakking Good Moments. Watching Tom and Felix get the firing squad at the end of last night's mutiny two-parter should now be added. But not after Zarek has the entire Quorum killed. Holy frak that was cold.

Pants on Fire

A-Fraud, indeed:
NEW YORK (AP)—Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in his MVP season of 2003, according to a report by Sports Illustrated.

The New York Yankees star tested positive for two anabolic steroids, four sources told Sports Illustrated in a story posted Saturday on its Web site.

His name appears on a list of 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in a 2003 baseball survey, the magazine said. He reportedly tested positive for Primobolan and testosterone while playing for the Texas Rangers.
...
In a December 2007 interview with “60 Minutes,” three days after George Mitchell’s report on drugs in the sport was released, Rodriguez denied using peformance-enhancing drugs.
...
Rodriguez played for the Rangers in 2003, when he won the AL home run title and MVP award. He was traded to the Yankees in 2004. He is drawing a major league-high $27 million salary after signing a record $275 million, 10-year contract with New York in 2007.
...
Baseball’s drug policy prohibited the use of steroids without a valid prescription since 1991, but there were no penalties for a positive test in 2003.
Cue sports talk shows to freak out .... NOW!

Meanwhile, for the Good Guys, yesterday was the first holiday of the Red Sox season, Truck Day, when overzealous fans gather to ... watch the moving truck transport equipment from Fenway to Ft. Myers for Spring Training. Hey, with football season over and March Madness six weeks away, I need something to latch onto!