Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jokebook: Route 66

A cop's on the highway when he sees a car that's going 22 miles an hour. So he turns on his lights and pulls it over. Inside the car are four old ladies, all looking pale and trembling.

The driver manages to look up at the cop and says, "What's wrong, officer? I was doing the speed limit. I swear."

The cop says, "Actually, you were going under the speed limit. Going too slow on the highway is almost as dangerous as going too fast."

The old lady says, "But, officer, I was going twenty-two, just like the sign says."

The cop looks at the sign she's pointing at and says, "Ma'am, that sign is the route number, not the speed limit."

The old lady blushes and says, "Oh, well, that explains a few things."

"Yes. Now are you all right? You all look like you've seen a ghost."

The lady says, "Oh, we'll be fine in a minute. We just got off Route 119."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Quote of the Week: Ninja Products

"I, too, am looking for more ninja based products. More specifically I was wondering if there was a ninja based operating system of some kind."
- Seraph on the topic of a ninja-based MMORG

Friday, December 12, 2008

Flashback Friday: The New Adventures of Beans Baxter

Let's be clear: Spy Kids was a great movie. The idea of little kids becoming super-cool super-spies tapped into the wish-fulfillment of every kid who saw James Bond, and even those who didn't. But in all the accolades that Spy Kids received, it's forgotten that there was a show that plumbed the underage secret agent fantasy long before it. I had almost forgotten this show, too, so much so that I couldn't even remember the name of it. I had to go to a list of every TV show that aired in the eighties and literally go through every title, one by one, until I found it: The New Adventures of Beans Baxter.

The premise of the show is similar to Spy Kids, where a kid's parent disappears and the kid discovers his parent was really a secret agent. In this case, Beans Baxter's father disappears, and Beans discovers that his father isn't a mailman as he claimed, but really a secret agent. Beans becomes an agent in order to locate his missing father. I remember watching this show faithfully, but don't remember much about it.

* Beans' real name was Benjamin Baxter, Jr.
* The creator and director of Beans Baxter was "Savage" Steve Holland, who also created the awesome animated series, Eek the Cat.
* Beans was one of the early shows aired by the newly-created Fox Network.
* The Network (the secret agency that Beans' works for) was intended to be the descendant of UNCLE, the secret agency from the TV show "The Man From UNCLE."
* Beans' nemesis was the evil Mister Sue, played by Kurtwood Smith. Smith later went on to fame playing "Red" Forman on That 70's Show.
* Mister Sue worked for U.G.L.I. (Underground Government Liberation Intergroup), the prototypical evil organization

Wikipedia summary

Related Posts:
Flashback Friday: BAT
Flashback Friday: Caveman Ugh-lympics
Flashback Friday: Life and Death

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Fun in a Call Center: That's My Bush

After advising the patient that there was an error on her prescription...

ME: Sorry about that.
HILLARY: Oh, that's okay. It's not your fault. I don't know whose fault it is. Let's say it's Bush's fault. That's it. It's Bush's fault. D**n Bush!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

11 Things Women Shouldn't Find Sexy But Do

There's a list of things guys shouldn't find sexy but do. But where's the list of things women shouldn't find sexy but do? Here's a start...

  • criminals
  • guys who ignore them
  • sports cars
  • musicians
  • guys with long hair
  • the Hulk
  • doctors
  • billionaires
  • sweat
  • Sean Connery
  • construction workers

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Yuk Times: The Yes Men's Fake New York Times

Almost everybody knows the Onion, a satirical news website that features parodies of news. But the Yes Men have taken satirical news to a whole new level. In order to promote the ideals of liberal reform, they created a fictional version of the New York Times set on July 4th, 2009. Not only did they create an entire website that reads like a Democrat's fantasy utopia, but they also printed and distributed thousands of printed copies of the fictional Times. Very clever.

Speaking of spoofing the New Yuk Times, check out the New Yuk Times.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Jokebook: Moth Man

A guy walks into a doctor's office and says, "Doctor, I think I'm a moth."

The doctor says, "Well, I'm a doctor. It sounds like you need to see a psychiatrist."

The guy says, "Well, I was on my way to a psychiatrist, but I saw your light was on."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flashback Friday: Six Million Dollar Man Action Figure

I loved the Six Million Dollar Man. I couldn't count how many times I ran around my house in slow motion, going "na-na-na-na-na." I remember the day I went to class and there was a kid with the Six Million Dollar Man action figure. That kid was the proverbial Man that day. The one thing I remember most is how the figure had a hole in the back of the head that you could look through, and see through Steve Austin’s eye. Other kids were lined up, and I remember waiting my turn and looking through the hole and seeing the little crosshairs. That feature alone made me think this figure was one of the coolest toys ever. In researching this flashback, I discovered that the action figure was even more awesome than I realized. The Six Million Dollar Man action figure was packed with features. I want one even more.


  • Arms and legs could be removed and replaced with new ones called "Critical Mission" limbs. The limbs had special features like karate chop action or blinking “laser” light. Steve Austin never replaced his limbs in the TV show, but he did in the original novel the series was based on.
  • One version of the action figure came with a “bionic grip” in its right hand. The right arm could raise objects weighing up to two pounds.
  • One version came with a fake steel girder for him to pick up, another had a plastic engine block…just in case he needed to fix his car.
  • An elastic flesh-colored cloth covered the arms, so you could roll back the "skin" and expose his bionic components. In the original figure, the bionic parts could be removed, but complaints from parents' groups about choking concerns made later versions non-removable. Parents…they ruin everything.
  • The action figure also had a Bionic Transport and Repair Station. Essentially combination vehicle and playset, on the outside it was a rocket ship for him to pretend to fly around in. Open it up and you get a bed to lie the figure down in and attach wires so you can "test and repair" his bionic parts. How cool is that?
  • If that’s not enough for you, the cool kids could get a Mission Control Center, an inflatable dome that included a repair station, as well as a communications desk with interchangeable pictures of Steve, Oscar, and other characters, and an emergency escape hatch for him to bust out of.
  • The Six Million Dollar Man action figure was the Tickle-Me Elmo of the seventies – demanded by every child, and hard to find.
  • The action figure’s fragile nature (the arms and legs came off, the bionic components get lost, the fabric covering the arms tore) makes complete and intact figures hard to find.

Hands down, the best link on the Net about this figure is Plaid Stallions, which features photos and scans of the boxes for all the Six Million Dollar Man toys. Feeling Retro has a forum where people post their memories of the figure. There’s also an ebay guide for the completist which describes the different versions in frightening detail…so you know it’s authentic. You can watch the original 70’s commercial for the Bionic Grip action figure on YouTube.

Related Posts:
Flashback Friday: BAT
Flashback Friday: Caveman Ugh-lympics
Flashback Friday: Life and Death

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Ancient Japanese Secret: Fix the problem's origins

"Fix the problem, not the blame." I read this "Japanese proverb" in Michael Crichton's Rising Sun as an example of how much more advanced Japanese philosophies are over Americans. The idea is that, when a problem comes up, the Americans spend time arguing over who's at fault while the Japanese just focus on the solution. I recently decided to post it here as a quote and did a search to find out who originally stated the proverb.

I found one forum discussing the proverb with someone pointing out the fact that this expression only makes sense in English. The saying hinges on the dual meaning of the word "fix," which wouldn't translate in Japanese. Therefore, this is most likely an English expression that someone attributed to the Japanese, maybe because it sounded more ancient and wise that way. It doesn't speak well of Crichton's research that he would make such a bone-headed mistake. Then again, Crichton also wrote State of Fear, which has been widely criticized as being poorly researched, so it's not that much of a surprise. Still a good proverb, though.

UPDATE: In my original post, I called Crichton's novels Red Sun and State of Emergency. Both incorrect. Guess I should have done more research.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flashback Friday: B.A.T.

When I think back to some really cool games I've played, I often go back to "B.A.T." That's short for "Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters." It was an adventure game with a huge scope of things to see and do, set in a gritty, futuristic world. What I remember most is the movie-like opening with a great theme song and the title spinning into place, something that's commonplace for today but very ambitious for a time that often just featured a static opening screen.

I didn't even remember the plot, so I had to look it up. You played a member of an agency called the Bureau of Astral Troubleshooters on his first assignment for the Confederation of the Galaxies. A master criminal scientist named Vrangor has escaped from prison, along with a small-time crook name Merigo. The two of them have hatched a scheme to blackmail the galaxy. Vrangor has hidden nucturobiogenic bombs in Terrapolis, the largest city on the planet Selenia. Vrangor has given the government ten days to transfer ownership of the city to him or evacuate the city. The player's mission is to find Vrangor and stop the bombs from exploding before the ten days is up.

* The game is set in the 22nd century.
* The game was originally released in 1990 in France, where it won "Game of the Year." The game was translated into English.
* The game boasted over 1100 different locations and characters from seven different species.
* The virtual city of Terrapolis had a wide range of services, such as a disco, restaurants, and a strip club. There was even an arcade with a playable mini-game called Bizzy.
* The player was required to eat and drink. Going hungry or thirsty for too long would cause death.
* The game was pure cyberpunk, heavily influenced by Blade Runner.
* The game featured a 3D flight simulator called DRAG to travel from place to place.
* The coolest feature in the game was a programmable computer embedded inside the player's wrist called B.O.B. The screen for B.O.B. actually showed the control panel in the arm with the surrounding flesh visible (Wish I could've found a screenshot for that). The computer could be programmed with a language similar to BASIC to do things like monitor the player's health or translate alien languages.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fun in a Call Center: Mechanically Inclined

ME: Are you calling for yourself or someone else?
MRS BITTER: My husband.
ME: Does he have an email address he'd like us to keep on file?
MRS BITTER: No. He can't even operate a telephone.

Something tells me that marriage is a wee bit strained.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Quote of the Week: Doobie Physics

Chris Taylor: Here's the problem -- although your theory no doubt sounds quite wonderful to you in words when you spark up a doob and run it through your mind, if you actually had bothered to get enough of an education to translate it into actual math that could be used to make predictions about the physical world which could be experimentally verified you would quickly find that it doesn't.
-S.O.G. on the arguments for or against time travel causality

[The idea for this feature was blatantly stolen from Maurice's Blog]

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Joker's on You: Nicholson Mad About New Batman Movie

I think almost everyone would agree that Heath Ledger did an incredible job as the Joker in the new Batman Movie, The Dark Knight. But there's at least one person unhappy - Jack Nicholson. Nicholson is mad because he wasn't asked to come back to play the Joker in The Dark Knight. I have sympathy for him because that was an iconic performance, which is now essentially replaced by Heath Ledger's. Then again, I didn't hear him standing up for Adam West when West was complaining about not being asked to play Batman in the 1988 movie. Nor did I see him saying they should get Cesar Romero to play the Joker in the 1988 version. And why's that? It's called moving on, Jack. The rest of us did it, you should try it sometime.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Quote of the Week: What's Happening!!

A look at urban black life that manages to capture the offensiveness of Amos and Andy while avoiding that program's fun.
- TV Guide's Review of What's Happening

[The idea for this feature was blatantly stolen from Maurice's Blog]

Friday, August 29, 2008

Flashback Friday: Caveman Ugh-Lympics

In honor of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, let's talk about a glorious old game, Caveman Ugh-lympics. The title is pretty much self-explanatory - it's the Olympics set in the caveman era, Summer Olympics meets the Flintstones. That being said, it was very clever. Like instead of just running, you have to run from a saber-toothed tiger. And instead of just doing a pole vault, you have to vault over the head of a carnivorous dinosaur that eats the losers.

One thing I find amazing about this game is that the humor still holds up. The term politically incorrect didn't exist back then, but if it had, features of this game like the mate-toss would be called politically incorrect.

* The game was released in 1989 by Electronic Arts.
* The movie parodies the popular Olympics-themed games by EPYX of the time.
* The game has six events - the matetoss, the dino vault, the dino race, the saber race, firemaking, and clubbing.
* Some of the events allow you to cheat. Like with firemaking, you can hit your opponent to slow him down.

*You can download the game and see screenshots at
*Wikipedia has an extremely brief article with I intend to correct.
* You can also read about and download the game at

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Whatever Knows Fear: The Problem With Man-Thing

I first encountered Man-Thing in the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe. The image of Man-Thing lurching towards me on the page will forever be my image of Man-Thing. I loved him before I ever saw his comic, and was massively disappointed when I read the actual stories.

I think that he's a better character functionally than Swamp Thing. He's also scarier - the tentacles on his face and the large round black eyes would scare the crap out of me coming at me in the night. And the fact that he's drawn to anyone who fears him (which includes pretty much everybody) makes him more terrifying because it creates a cycle - you encounter Man-Thing, you fear him, he chases after you relentlessly until he burns you alive. That, in turn, makes you fear him. But his lack of a mind does make him a poor story engine.

Then again, what's Jason Voorhees or Michael's motivation besides killing anyone they encounter? I think the real problem with Man-Thing is that they try to make him the hero. He's not. His profile and even his motto ("whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing") imply a figure of terror. If I had the series, I would make him the villain, sort of a monthly horror movie. People encounter him, run from him, are destroyed by him. People try to destroy him, but can't. The local town draws Man-Thing to them and he traps them all inside. Maybe even introduce a regular Man-Thing hunter trying to stop him. Oh, to own the rights to that character.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Leapfraud: Amazing Ballgirl Catch

There's an amazing video of a ball girl who makes a pro baseball player look stupid by catching a runaway ball.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Movie Rules - Speaking in Tongues

Rule #56: Non-English speakers will speak English with heavy accents, even in their native country.

Examples: Hunt for Red October, Hotel Rwanda

You ever notice how people in American movies almost always speak English, even if they're not English speakers? They cut to a nuclear bunker in Russia full of Russians speaking to other Russians, and what are they speaking? English. But they do it with an accent. Of course, movies could have foreign characters speaking their own language with subtitles, but Americans hate reading subtitles.

My favorite example of this phenomenon is "Goldeneye," where the Russians in the military research facility are not only all speaking English to each other, but their computer systems display English as well. In fact, a critical plot point is that a hotshot Russian programmer likes to use dirty words as passwords for their high-tech Russian computer system. In English.

It's as if movies are set in an alternate reality where the whole world speaks English, and the only distinction between one country's language and another is the accent. Imagine a movie where a Frenchman character walks up to an American and starts speaking English with a French accent, and the American says, "I'm sorry, I don't speak French." Then the Frenchman starts talking with an American accent, and the American goes, "Okay, that's better." Or they get a translator who starts speaking English with a French accent. I'd like to see that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If the USS Enterprise Had Realistic Voice Recognition

PICARD: Computer.
COMPUTER: [chirp] Welcome to the USS Enterprise Voice Recognition System. If you know the extension of the person you'd like to call, please say it now. For environmental changes, please say "environment." For access to records and documents, please say "records." For entertainment options, please say "entertainment." For information on ship systems and diagnostics, please say, diagnostics." For the replicator, please say "replicator." For--
PICARD: Replicator.
COMPUTER: You said "diagnostics." Is that correct?
COMPUTER: You said, "No." Is that correct?
COMPUTER: I'm sorry. Please state your request again. For environmental changes, please say "environment." For--
PICARD: Replicator.
COMPUTER: You said "replicator." Is that correct?
COMPUTER: Thank you. Please state what you would like to replicate.
PICARD: Tea. Earl Grey, hot.
COMPUTER: You said, "Be whirled whey in a pot." Is that correct?
PICARD: What? No.
COMPUTER: You said, "No." Is that correct?
COMPUTER: I'm sorry. Please state your request again.
PICARD: Tea. Earl Grey, hot.
COMPUTER: You said, "Be pearl day, shot." Is that correct?
COMPUTER: You said, "No." Is that correct?
COMPUTER: I'm sorry. Please state your request again.
COMPUTER: You said, "Need girl gay, hot." I'm sorry, but we cannot replicate human beings. If you wish female companionship, please visit our lounge, Ten-Forward.
PICARD: I didn't say "girl gay," blast you.
COMPUTER: I'm sorry. Please state your request again.
PICARD: Oh, for heaven's sakes. Look, I want a cup of Earl Grey tea. And make it hot.
COMPUTER: You said, "Zero-four Blevin's rakes hook a font couple Curly May pee and naked hot." Is that correct?
PICARD: Oh, forget it. I'll just use a teapot.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Yee-Ha: Country Music While You're on Hold

Companies who use country music as their hold music should be forced into bankruptcy. I hate country music, and I have to listen to country music if I want to talk to you. That's like holding me hostage in some sort of torture chamber where they played heavy metal and the theme song for Barney the Dinosaur (allegedly). I would go insane. People really need to consider the full range of people who might be calling their business. Just because you like country or hip-hop or accordion music, doesn't mean everyone else does. It could even offend potential customers. That's why I like classical music on hold. Even if the caller doesn't like classical music, it's not going to offend them. Unless listening to Beethoven is against their religion or something.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Fun in a Call Center: Jews in Kansas

I got a call from someone in Kansas who said the following:

DOROTHY: Her name is Jew-Wah-Nee-Tah Lewis.
ME: Could you spell the first name for me?

I'm guessing they don't have too many Hispanics in Kansas.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

If Microsoft Made Medication...

If Microsoft made medication...

10. Anyone who took them would be more vulnerable to catching viruses.
9. The drugs would cause you to collapse into unconsciousness at random times. This would be known as a "system crash."
8. It would be hard to tell if you were taking the right drug, because Microsoft would make all its medication look exactly the same - square and gray.
7. Even though Microsoft says their drugs are "Gulp-and-Go" compatible, only certain people can take Microsoft drugs. Anyone else who tries to take Microsoft drugs dies immediately. The only way to tell if you're compatible with Microsoft drugs is to take them and see if you die.
6. You could only buy Microsoft drugs from Microsoft pharmacies.
5. The drugs would have hundreds of side effects, all of which would be identified only by esoteric numbers that no one understood.
4. You would never know when you would suffer the dreaded Blue Spleen of Death.
3. Every time Microsoft released a new batch of the medication, the old pills would stop working.
2. Whenever someone identified a problem with the medication, instead of fixing the medication, Microsoft would release other drugs to take to fix the problems with the first one.
1. No one could take non-Microsoft drugs, because Microsoft would design its drugs to have lethal interactions with other manufacturer's drugs.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Every episode of "House, MD" in a Nutshell

Why sit through endless episodes of House, MD when you can enjoy the entire series all at once? Here's every episode of House, MD in a nutshell.




HOUSE: I'm a genius and everyone else is an idiot. Including the patient. I hate you all.

TEAM MEMBER 1: I think it's a very simple and common disease the viewer's never heard of.
TEAM MEMBER 2: I think it's a complex and rare disease the viewer's never heard of.
TEAM MEMBER 3: I don't know what it is.
HOUSE: You're all idiots.
TEAM MEMBER 1: Do you know what it is?
HOUSE: No, but I know all your ideas are stupid. Let's run a series of tests and give them medications to treat every possible condition they might have until the patient gets better.



HOUSE: Well, that didn't work. Whose stupid idea was that, anyway?
HOUSE: In that case, it was a brilliant idea.
HOUSE'S BOSS: Your actions risked the life of your patient. You've violated every rule and law of the medical profession. By any measure, you should have been barred from practicing medicine years ago. But I'm not going to fire you.
HOUSE: Why not?
HOUSE'S BOSS: Good question.
HOUSE: Wait a minute. My keen and analytical mind has noticed some small fact that escaped everyone else's notice. It turns out the patient has an entirely different disease the viewer's never heard of. Give them this.
PATIENT: I'm cured. Thank you, Doctor.
HOUSE: I hate you.


Flowers in the Attic 2008: The Austrian Incest Rapist

Here's 2008's candidate for parent of the year: Josef Fritzl, a father who imprisoned his own daughter in his cellar for twenty-four years. Not even his wife who lived in the house knew what was happening. During that time, he raped her and fathered seven of his own grandchildren. The story reminds me of the novel "Flowers in the Attic," but taken to a level even that author would never have thought believable. The truly amazing thing about this story is that the more you learn, the worse it gets. You wouldn't think a story like that could get worse, but consider this:
* He forced his daughter to write a note claiming that she was running off with a cult, so no one would question her disappearance. His wife never even suspected that their daughter lived right under her feet for decades.
* Of the seven children he fathered, he arranged for three of them to be left on the doorstep to be raised by his unsuspecting wife as foundlings. Three of them remained underground for their entire lives, never seeing natural sunlight. The seventh child died of neglect when the "father" refused medical care after birth.
* Fritzl never even bothered to name the children born by his daughter.
* The daughter and children were forced to expand and construct their own prison.

This story is still unfolding. You can follow it through Topix, if you dare.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Jokebook: Circular Stampede

POLICE: 911, what is your emergency?
BLONDE: You have to help me. I'm surrounded by wild animals. I've been running for hours, and they're still chasing me.
POLICE: Okay, ma'am, calm down. Tell me what's going on. What kind of animals are chasing you?
BLONDE: There's a zebra behind me, a lion in front of me, a gazelle to my left, and a rhino on my right.
POLICE: Okay, ma'am, here's my suggestion - get off the merry-go-round.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Jonesin' for Heroin: Jury Duty Drop-Outs

I recently served on jury duty, but didn't get selected. I personally would like to serve on a jury...big fan of Law and Order...but apparently some people don't. In fact, two people more than others. They both did the same thing, trying to portray themselves as so horrible that they would not be suitable candidates for jury duty. And both of them went too far.

For example, Daniel Ellis of Cape Cod wrote on his questionairre that he is homophobic, racist, and a compulsive liar. On MSNBC, there's an excerpt from his exchange with the judge that I found hilarious.

Another man tried the same trick by writing that he had a "jonesin' for heroin". He also said that he had killed a man. But at least he didn't try to follow up on it when he showed up in court.

Just sit in the jury box, people. It's not that bad, and your attempts to get out of it could lead to sitting in another seat: the defendant's.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Flashback Friday: Life and Death

Back in the day, I played a game called Life and Death. It was, without a doubt, one of the hardest games ever made. I had a friend who was an actual surgeon, and he said real surgery is easier than this game. If people in the real world died with the frequency with which patients die in Life and Death, the population would be cut in half. In this game, patients can die just from the initial incision, not to mention during the actual operation.

The game is now available for free online as abandonware. Amazingly, I still got it to run with no problems. When someone can explain why a twenty-year old DOS-based game works fine while my ten-year old Windows-based Command and Conquer game from 1995 wouldn't run without patches, I'll understand computers.

* Life and Death was released in 1988 by The Software Toolworks.
* The game apparently had a cult following among medical students.
* The original game came with a surgical mask and latex gloves. I don't remember getting those.
* There haven't been many other surgical simulations since L&D's release. One exception is Trauma Center: Under the Knife (Cadeuceus in the original Japanese version) for the Nintendo DS. Also Adult Swim has a parody game called Amateur Surgeon.
* Though the game claims to be based on actual surgical techniques, it included a warning that it was not a substitute for medical care and should not be used for medical advice. I can just imagine what brought that on - "Honey, my belly hurts. Boot up that 'Life and Death,' see what it says." "Well, according to the game, you got appendicitis. Lie down, I've done this surgery a thousand times in the game. Can't be that hard in real life."
* There was a sequel called Life & Death: The Brain. If abdominal surgery is this hard, I can only imagine what a nightmare brain surgery is like.

* Of course, the go-to on the game is Wikipedia. You can download the game for free at Free-game-downloads has the game and a manual, but you have to pay for them. The walkthrough at GameFAQs is a must-have. Reading what steps are required to pull off a successful operation explains why my patients never lasted long.

Related Posts:
* Flashback Friday: J.J. and Jeff
* Flashback Friday: Robotman
* Flashback Friday: Out of This World

Thursday, May 15, 2008

America's Next Plus-Size Model: Whitney Thompson

I didn't watch America's Next Top Model this season. Partly, it's because I'm tired of the show, but mainly it's because my wife is tired of the show. Married guys know what I mean. So I didn't know who won until I read an article that said a plus-sized model won this year for the first time. The show's always had at least one plus-sized model in the ranks, and it always felt like a token, just like the token lesbian. A lot of people are hailing it as a sign of changing times. I was too until I saw the pictures of the winner, Whitney Thompson. I said "that's a plus size model?" She's a size 10! Maybe in the alternate reality of fashion, Whitney is morbidly obese, but I wouldn't even call her plump in the real world. Now Toccara Jones, that was a plus-sized model.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wanna Buy A Country: Sealand

There's a World War II artillery platform in the North Sea that is the world's smallest country, if you want to call it a country, which the United Kingdom doesn't and has been fighting with since the 1960s. But the owner Paddy Roy Bates has persisted, declaring it the sovereign nation of Sealand, instituting a constitution, printing his own currency, and even designing a national flag. He's now offering to sell the "country" for $977 million. You can check out the ins and outs of this tiny "nation" at their "website" You can also read a first-hand account of "touring" Sealand at London Photos. "I" thought that was "interesting." Always wanted my own "country."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Better Late Than Never: "Gigli" Movie Review

I know this review is a few years too late, but I just saw "Gigli" on TV on Sunday, and had to weigh in. Here's the summary: "Gigli" is a bad movie. It isn't badly made, technically. Some parts are even good. The problem lies squarely with the story, which is what makes this movie so unforgivable. Someone should have looked at the script and said, "You know, this needs work" before they ever started shooting.

The basic premise of two mobsters assigned to watch a kidnap victim and falling in love is fine. One bad idea was making Brian the kidnap victim a mentally challenged person. At its best, the portrayal of Brian is a rip-off of "Rain Man," complete with an obsession with a TV show (substitute "Baywatch" for "People's Court"). At its worst, the portrayal is an insensitive caricature of a serious illness, clearly intended to be comedy relief. Another problem is that Lopez's character is a lesbian. This should be an insurmountable obstacle to the romance, but in the end, the movie falls back on an insulting and archaic "lesbians just need a good man to straighten them out" stereotype.

This certainly isn't Affleck and Lopez's worst performance, but it's not good either. With her thick accent and vapid expression, Lopez is miscast as an intellectual. At times, she's almost struggling to pronounce all the big words the script gives her. As for Affleck, his character is supposed to be a moron, and he plays it too well, giving us no subtleties or complexity to the character other than a bad Italian stereotype. This leaves us with long stretches of Lopez and Affleck arguing with each other while Brian yells nonsensical or inappropriate things in the background.

The ending itself is ludicrous. I don't want to spoil it, so skip this paragraph if you care. Ready? Okay. In the end, they take Brian to the beach, where (surprise) they're shooting "Baywatch." This is equivalent to Tom Cruise taking Dustin Hoffman to "The People's Court" in "Rainman." It's too cheesy for words.

In the end, the movie is not the worst movie ever made. Compared to "Plan 9 From Outer Space," "Gigli" is a masterpiece. If this movie starred Kathy Griffin and Bruce Campbell and cost $100,000 to make, it might even be a great movie. But "Gigli" was over-hyped and over promoted. With this kind of star power and money behind it, there's no excuse for it being this poor. In that sense, it really is a horrible movie.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Heart Attack: Jarvik's Lipitor Ads

I don't take Lipitor, but I admit to being impressed by the ads featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik. After all, I thought, if the man who created the artificial heart endorses Lipitor, who am I to argue? Then I read this New York Times article that raised some serious questions. First of all, he's not a cardiologist, which surprised me since he built a heart. Second of all, he used a stunt double in one of the ads where he appeared to be rowing. Even the replacement ads show him jogging. Clearly they were trying to send a message that Lipitor will keep you healthy enough to be an outdoorsman. If they're that dishonest about the advertising, what's that say about the medication itself?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Newswire Update

This just in from the New Yuk Times: Hip-Hop Artist and Pop Singer Trade Childhood

It Begins: Miley Cyrus Topless

There's been a big uproar over the Miley Cyrus photo shoot. In case you haven't heard, Miley Cyrus (more commonly known as Hannah Montana) did a photo shoot for an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair in which she appears topless. There's been a lot of hoopla about it being in poor taste, offensive, too suggestive for young girls, but it reminded me of controversy over Britney Spears' infamous Rolling Stone photo shoot. I agree with USA Today that this was a deliberate attempt to copy Spears and help Cyrus graduate from tween idol to adult pop star. It just went wrong because Cyrus is under Disney, and Britney wasn't.

On a side note, I don't think it's a very good photo - too much shadow on her face, her expression seems defensive, and her lipstick looks smeared. It looks like kiddie porn shot in someone's basement. Maybe that was the idea?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Movie Rules: Evil Dead

Movie Rule 345: The villain always dies twice

Examples: Die Hard, Terminator

You ever notice that in movies, the villain is never really dead the first time? This is especially true in action movies. You can almost predict it. The hero pumps the villain full of bullets or drops a car on him or strangles him. The villain lies there, dead. The hero and his girlfriend heave a sigh of relief. Suddenly the villain lunges up again or grabs their leg, and they have to put more bullets in him or run him over or drop him off a cliff. That applies no matter how badly the injury. With the Terminator, he was nothing but a severed arm and he still kept going. In Streetfighter, M. Bison wore a vest that literally brought him back to life. It's a classic. I'll bet the villain's henchmen always wish they had what he had - they die instantly.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Adwatch: Sobe Lizards Thriller Dance

I'm sick and tired of the dance from Thriller. It was fun when 13 Going On 30 did it, but when it got to a bunch of prisoners doing it in their yard, I knew the fad was out of hand. And then came this commercial.

The biggest problem I have with it is that it's a bunch of computer-generated lizards doing the dance from Thriller. Nothing more, nothing less. It has nothing to do with the drink, it's not really funny (except when one eats a cricket), and there's no real reason for doing it, other than the anniversary of the video (which Sobe had nothing to do with) and to capitalize on the popularity of the dance in viral video. Naomi Campbell's presence in the commercial makes even less sense. It's been years since anyone mentioned Campbell in any context, let alone a flattering one, so why they decided to intercut her into the video doing vague dance moves is beyond me. They should've had her throwing her cell phone at the lizards, killing them, and turning them into luggage.

Inexplicably, I discovered while researching this post that people actually loved the commercial, so much that there's a billboard featuring the Sobe Lizards in Times Square. No accounting for taste. But at least I'm not alone, thanks to Brandweek.

Friday, April 25, 2008

News Nuggets

United Airlines raised fuel surcharges ten to twenty dollars for round trip tickets. In a related story, anger and frustration among passengers raised by ten to twenty percent.

Texas Child Protective Services raided a Mormon fundamentalist polygamist compound and took over four hundred children into protective custody. The officials believed that the children were being physically and verbally abused, and exposed to inappropriate sexual activity. Early reports indicate the children were being cared for by Britney Spears.

NASA is going to be extending the mission of the Cassini spacecraft that's currently touring Saturn and its moons for two more years. NASA also added tour dates in London, New York, and Sydney, and an opening act by Green Day.

An environmental group found six million pounds of trash on the world's beaches. But they managed to get Rosie O'Donnell back into the water.

The EPA urged residents of the Great Lakes not to flush old medications down the toilet, where they could later contaminate water supplies. Instead, the EPA urged them to sell their old medications to teenagers for a substantial profit.

Scientists warned that a big earthquake is likely to hit California in the near future. California residents filed the warning in the same folder they put the last fifty years' worth of warnings by scientists about a big quake likely to hit California.

Tiger Woods' hopes of completing a grand slam by winning all four major golf tournaments this year were dashed when he failed to win the Masters. Some commentators are worried that Tiger's failed grand slam bid might lower TV ratings for the rest of the tournaments. But a bigger problem would be for viewers to realize there's nothing more boring than watching golf on television.

The Olympic torch was carried through San Francisco on its journey to Beijing. Residents were surprised by the massive protests to the flame, since California usually welcomes Tom Cruise.

See you next Tuesday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I H8 Wiggles

I always felt sympathy for people who had kids and had to endure the nightmare of Barney the Dinosaur and Teletubbies. At the same time, I did think "Cut them some slack." Of course, we don't like kids' stuff. It's for kids. You have to look at it through their eyes. That said, I hate the Wiggles.

It's not that they're annoying and simplistic and silly and repetitive. All kids' shows are like that, really. It's that the Wiggles are all those things, and nothing more. At least Barney had the dinosaur thing going. You could understand how kids could like that. And the Teletubbies are so surreal that even I find it hard to take my eyes off them. The Wiggles, on the other hand, are a bunch of ugly, middle-aged, Australian men who dress like crew members from the original Star Trek. That's it. I've seen two episodes and don't see anything more than that. They do have other characters like Captain Feathersword (weird), Dorothy the Dinosaur (a blatant Barney the Dinosaur rip-off), but that's it. And my kids love them. In doing research for this post, I discovered that the Wiggles incorporate child development research into their performance, which is kind of a relief. At least I understand now why kids find them so irresistible - they're designed to be. But I'm not going to the concerts. No way.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jokebook: Weight Limit

This blonde goes to the pediatrician because her baby keeps getting diaper rashes. The pediatrician asks, "How often do you change your baby?"

The blonde says, "Once a month."

The doctor yells, "What? Why do you only change him once a month?"

The blonde says, "Well, the box says 'good up until fifteen pounds.'"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Destroy Humanity: Pandemic Game

Ever have one of those days where you wanted to just wipe out ninety percent of Mankind, and leave the survivors bleeding from every orifice and facing the prospect of survival in a nightmarish post-Apocalyptic world where they wished they could join the dead? Well, now you can with the Flash game Pandemic. It's sort of a strategy game where you have to evolve (upgrade) your virus to spread as quickly as possible while killing as many as possible before Mankind manages to contain the spread. Some helpful hints:
  • The first few turns, it will look like nothing is happening. Don't worry about it. Just keep clicking to the next turn until people start dying.
  • In the beginning, focus on buying traits that will spread the disease quickly like waterborne contamination.
  • Remember, the quicker people notice your plague, the faster they'll start trying to contain it. So hold off on buying internal hemmoraging until it's already too late.
  • Once the infection has spread to all continents, crank up the lethality.
  • Germany is almost impossible to infiltrate if the pandemic didn't start there. I suspect the programmers are German.
  • This game will leave you feeling like scum. Enjoy it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

How Many Five Years Could You Take In a Fight

It's the age-old question that has perplexed Mankind for centuries, challenged the greatest minds of our age, and set the standards for bravery and physical endurance for our time: if you were attacked by a bunch of five-year olds in an enclosed basketball court with no weapons, how many could you take down? Well, now, thanks to the Internet, we have a simple, effective, and mathematically sound way of finding out without all the tedious rounding up five-year olds and beating them up. It's

And in case you're wondering, here's my score. Beat that. Oh, yeah, I'm bad-axe.


BONUS: Check out the forum post that inspired the widget. It's hysterical.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

5 Phrases That Don't Make Me Feel Better About Gas Prices

1. They pay more for gas in Europe...
Europe built their cities for foot traffic and horses, so everything's close together and you can take public transportation or walk. I can't do that in Phoenix. It takes me two hours to get to work on the bus, and it would take me three or four hours to walk (I'm assuming, I'm not even going to try walking in this heat...)

2. Gas is still cheaper than milk...
But I don't need to buy ten gallons of milk every week.

3. High gas prices will drive us towards alternative energy sources...
If I could buy a car that ran on carrot juice right now, I would. But I can't. I'm still stuck with my gas-guzzling car that runs on plain old unleaded, and will be for the foreseeable future.

4. Gas prices are higher in other parts of the country...
Then I feel sorry for those poor saps, but I still feel sorrier for myself.

5. If you factor for inflation, prices are lower today than they were fifty years ago...
Well, for that to be comforting, I'd have to have my income factored for inflation to match.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Fun in a Call Center: A Girl Named William

I got a call from a woman named William. I cannot imagine what would possess someone to name their girl William. Maybe the parents wanted a boy or the father really wanted to name the child after himself. I also cannot imagine the nightmare William goes through on a daily basis. Is there anyone out there who would look at the name William and not assume it's a man? Everything she does would be affected. She goes to the drugstore and they ask her if she's picking up medication for her husband. She gets married, and people protest, thinking it's a gay marriage. People filling out forms for her accidentally set her gender to "male." People call her on the phone, and they start out calling her "sir." That would wear you down so fast.

Newswire: New Yuk Times Update

This just in from the New Yuk Times: Ugly and Poor Criticize Fashion of Rich and Beautiful

Friday, March 28, 2008

News Nuggets

An old woman was trapped in her closet during a hurricane for twenty hours straight before she finally broke out. Said Tom Cruise, "That's nothing. I've been trapped in a closet for over twenty years."

A tiger escaped from its zoo enclosure and mauled three teenagers in San Francisco. Police believe the teens were drunk and under the influence of alcohol, and may have been yelling and throwing rocks at the tiger, as well as dangling their legs over the edge of the wall before it attacked them. The tiger had to be euthanized, but was given a posthumous award for improving the gene pool of the human race.

The governor of New York Eliot Spitzer admitted his involvement in a high-class prostitution ring. Spitzer apologized and promised that from now on, he'll involve himself in low-class prostitution rings like everyone else.

Meanwhile, Spitzer's call girl was discovered in archival footage exposing herself for the DVD series "Girls Gone Wild." GGW has announced plans to make the footage into a special DVD, "Governors' Hookers Gone Wild." In the announcement, GGW added, "Our plan of filming every young drunk woman in America topless is finally paying off."

Lloyd's has insured the nose of winemaker Ilja Gort for eight million dollars. That gives Gort the most expensive boogers ever.

A new Canadian robot named Dextre was installed outside the International Space Station. The robot is designed to assist astronauts in spacewalks. It also helps the astronauts improve their hockey, eh?

Facebook has added new features designed to protect users' privacy. The best way to safeguard your privacy with Facebook? Don't use Facebook.

Workers discovered the remains of a mummified dinosaur. Steven Spielberg has already bought the fossil for his next movie, "Jurassic Mummy Returns."

See you next Tuesday.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Please Kill Tim: State Merchandise

Well, I've dipped my big toe into the wonderful world of making your own T-shirts at Cafepress. I was shocked to discover a distinct lack of T-shirts for MTV's The State, so I'll be making quite a few of those. The first one is "Please Kill Tim." If you don't get it, you need to check out that sketch. Trust's hilarious in context. And if you wear it, make sure you don't wear it around someone named Tim.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Amazon Women on Mars: The Human Figure From Spirit

Well, first it was a human face on Mars, and now the conspiracy nuts are at it again. It's been reported that a NASA photo from Mars seems to show a humanoid figure. Of course, NASA says it's just a rock, but this one is pretty good. To me, the saddest part of all this (besides the idea of a bunch of geeks scanning photos of rocks for hours on end, searching for human shapes) is the fact that they immediately went crazy over how it looks like a naked woman. I didn't see the breasts at first, but I'm not a geek who stares at a computer screen for hours on end...well, not anymore. Just what they need - the fantasy of naked alien women running around on Mars. If that doesn't put some gas behind the quest to go to Mars, I don't know what will.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Nice Job: O.J. Simpson Lawyer Heckler

When O.J. Simpson's lawyer held a press conference during the trial (not that trial, the non-lethal trial), an amazing thing happened. It turned out a comedian named Jake Byrd slipped into the lawyer's entourage. Not only did he get in, Byrd managed to get right next to the lawyer on-camera. And he made the most of it.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Diaper Duck

The Diaper Duck has a warning, "This product is not a toy. Do not allow children to play with it." I don't have a problem with that. But if you don't want kids to treat the Diaper Duck as a toy, why did you make it toy-shaped?!

UPDATE: I should probably clarify this...the reason I ask the question is that my son has rubber ducks, and I constantly have to take away the Diaper Duck from him, because he doesn't understand the difference and wants to play with it. They just made my life a little bit harder. Might as well have made a samurai sword with a rubber duck on the handle. Or a bottle of rat poison with the Flintstones on the label.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Newswire Update

Breaking news from the New Yuk Times: NRA Supports New Handguns For Babies

Patriotic Colors: Coloring to Support the Troops

It does get boring in a call center sometimes, so people come up with ways to amuse themselves. For a while, some people were using coloring books and crayons. What I found absolutely bizarre is that they would collect up the pages they colored and send them to the troops in Iraq. Why would the troops in Iraq want these? I imagine them opening the envelope and finding all these colored pictures and saying, "Isn't that cute? All these kids drawing us pictures." Not realizing they were colored by forty and fifty-year old men and women.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Jokebook: Future Manager

This guy walks into a bar, slumps into his seat, and orders a stiff drink. The bartender serves the drink and asks, "Why so glum?"

The guy gulps down the drink, then says, "I just lost my job."

Bartender says, "That's too bad. How come?"

The guy says, "Ah, you know how managers are. They just stand around with their hands in their pockets watching everybody else work."

The bartender says, "Sure. But why'd you get fired?"

The guy says, "Jealousy. Everybody thought I was a manager."

Friday, March 07, 2008

Flashback Friday: J.J. & Jeff

Back in the day, when everybody and their brother had a Nintendo, I had a Turbografx-16. Why did I have a Turbografx-16? Because it was supposed to be better than the Nintendo. And it was cheaper. More the latter. Unfortunately, the one thing the Turbografx-16 didn't have was good games. Perfect example: Nintendo had Super Mario Bros, the ultimate platform game. The Turbografx-16 had its answer for Super Mario Bros, and that answer was J.J. and Jeff. Which kind of explains why the Turbografx-16 no longer exists.

Whereas Mario Bros put you in the shoes of a plumber named Mario, J.J. and Jeff gave you two detectives named (wait for it) J.J. and Jeff. They were supposed to look cool, if your idea of cool is sunglasses and toothy smiles. I never really figured out what the game was about, to be honest, because I never played it past the first level. I thought the game was boring, frustrating, and odd, particularly the enemies like birds that would eject large droppings (seriously, like half its size) onto you. Turns out the Japanese version was heavy on toilet humor that was taken out in the American version. Those wacky Japanese.

* As I always suspected, the game is actually a Westernized version of a Japanese game, Kato-Chan and Ken-Chan. That game was based on a popular Japanese comedy show, Fun with Kato-Chan and Ken-Chan. The show had a segment where they would air funny homemade videos. That segment was the inspiration for America's Funniest Home Videos.
* Even though the game was J.J. and Jeff, you could only choose one of them to play. And there was no difference between the two characters at all, other than their appearance. The unplayed character would pop up throughout the game.
* J.J. and Jeff had a spray can they would use on enemies. In the Japanese version, Kato and Ken used their own flatulence. The original game also featured the unplayed character urinating and defecating in the background. That was also cut out. Thankfully.
* The game was recently re-released for the Wii, for some unknown reason. I guess the rights were cheap.
* The game was really hard to play, especially since the characters would build up speed and then glide to a stop, so it was hard to keep from sliding right off of platforms, etc.
* J.J. and Jeff was part of a genre of games that started with Adventure Island. Never heard of it, never played it, but apparently it was quite popular.

MobyGames goes into some of the censored bits of the game. Wikipedia, of course, weighs in on the game, but it needs to be fleshed out. I'll work on that. has a fairly spot-on review of the game. So does CNET. Nintendo Wii Fanboy actually liked this accounting for taste.

BONUS: Check out this video of the original Kato-Chan and Ken-Chan game on YouTube.

Related Posts:
Flashback Friday: The Black Hole
Flashback Friday: Platypus Man
Flashback Friday: Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Side Effects Are Mild: Drug Advertising and Me

It's allergy season and I'm considering what medications to take to relieve the misery. I consider myself a fairly independent thinker. I pride myself in trying not to be swayed by other people's opinions or peer pressure. So why have I been considering taking Zyrtec now that it's gone over-the-counter? Or trying Nasonex? Because I saw advertisements for them. My logical side is telling me to review all my options instead of just going with what I saw on TV. My emotional side is saying, "But the computer-generated bee with the voice of Antonio Banderas says Nasonex could be the drug for me!" I guess I need to follow some more advice - check with my doctor to see if it's right for me. And where did I get that advice? From a computer-generated bee with the voice of Antonio Banderas. I can't win. But at least USA Today says I'm not alone.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Newswire: Updates

Breaking news from the New Yuk Times: Celebrity Weight Loss Secrets Revealed: Plastic Surgery and Eating Disorders and Beautiful Woman Undergoes Face-Reduction Surgery

Not-So-Deep Thoughts: Cactus

You ever notice that if you type a word often enough, it starts to look weird? Like "cactus." It's got that "cac" in the beginning like someone gagging. "Cack! Cack!" And then there's "tus." Which is just weird all by itself. Put them together and it makes you wonder why someone saw those spiny things and decided to call them "cactus."

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fun in a Call Center: Pango

This started when I was spelling out a medication for a caller.

ME: "A" as in "Alpha," "T" as in "Tango. Okay?
OLDIE: I see. Sir, what does "pango" mean in your language?
ME: [pause] "Pango?"
OLDIE: Yes, "pango."
ME: Oh, no, I said "tango." Like the dance.
OLDIE: Oh, "tango." Like a "T."

Believe it or not, there are still a few call centers that are not staffed in India or Bora Bora.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Jericho" Falls: Watch "Jericho"

In the past few years, many TV networks have been featuring TV shows online for free. If the networks want to know the possible dilemmas this could bring, they should look no further than Jericho. According to the New York Times, the network cancelled Jericho because of low ratings, then were shocked when they were flooded with phone calls and peanuts (long story) from fans. Where were all these fans when the show was on, they asked? Turns out they were watching the show online and through DVR. So now that Jericho is set to return in February 2008, the network has two words for the fans: "Watch it." On TV. During its scheduled time slot. I think in the age of TiVo and online streaming video, the networks need to start re-evaluating what television really is. Maybe the age of the TV networks are over. But the good news is, Jericho is back.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Memo to the Wallpaper Guy

This is for the guy (or guys) who keeps putting wallpaper images on the public computers in the employee lounge: Every now and then, you change the wallpaper background on the computer to pictures of sports cars, airplanes, and pictures of your pets. You may be wondering why you come back and the wallpaper is gone, replaced by the generic Windows background. That would be me. The reason is that these are not your computers. Maybe you like to have pictures of Porches and DC-10s on your computer, and that's fine. Put it on your own computer. When you go to the public restrooms here at work, you don't change the wallpaper on the walls. And when you use the computers in the lounge, don't go messing around with them. I'll continue to change anything you do back until you get the message.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Back to Life: Not Paris Hilton's Diary

Well, it looks like my report on the death of Not Paris Hilton's Secret Diary was greatly exaggerated. A recent report that Hilton's grandfather cut off her inheritance inspired a new post, the first one in almost two years. I won't say I'll be updating it as often as I once did, but maybe one or two more. That's hot.

My post announcing the end of Not Paris Hilton's Secret Diary

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Have You Met An SP: The Tom Cruise Indoctrination Video

Yeah, I'm jumping on this bandwagon...because I feel this video needs to be spread as widely as possible. There's a video produced by the Church of Scientology that shows Tom Cruise talking about Scientology. And it is bizarre. It makes you question Cruise's sanity. As put it, "if Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch was an 8 on the scale of scary, this is a 10." I seriously believe that if this video were ever shown on television to a mass audience, it would destroy his already weakened career. But it probably won't because CoS is already suing everybody to keep it from spreading. Still, Gawker's got it right now. Once you've watched it, you can read MTV's handy glossary to figure out what, if anything, Cruise is saying.

BONUS: Like everything else online, people have rushed to make fun of it. A few are actually good, too. Like this video from the Church of Twinkie-ology. And this one starring Darth Vader from the Church of Sithentology, which isn't as funny as it could have been.

Related Posts:
The Bride of Cruise

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cactus League: 2008 Superbowl Coverage Pt 2

This morning, I was watching Mike and Mike on ESPN for the 2008 Super Bowl coverage here in Arizona and there were cactus in the background. And I'm thinking, "Where did all those cacti come from?" And I realized they were fake cactus. Plastic, I think. ESPN brought in fake cactus to put in the background of their TV broadcasts. I think it looks more ridiculous than not having cactus at all. Phoenix is known for cactus, but it's more common in the desert than the city. I would guess ninety-nine percent of the cactus in Phoenix is brought in from the desert or a cactus farm and planted there by landscapers. It's not like we're spraying weed-killer on our lawns, going, "Darn cactus! It grows everywhere! Worse than dandelions!"

Related Posts:
Cactus League: 2008 Superbowl Coverage Pt 1

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cactus League: 2008 Super Bowl Coverage-Part 1

Phoenix likes to pretend that it's a big world-class city like New York or Los Angeles, but it's still a hick town. You can tell because with the 2008 Super Bowl being held here in Phoenix, and world attention focused on Arizona, there's an inescapable attitude from the local news and population of "Look, we're on TV!" It is weird to heard national media saying "We're coming to you live from Glendale, Arizona…" Especially since it's Glendale.

For those who don't live here, let me explain what Glendale is; the middle of nowhere. I'm sure the media won't show it, but the University of Phoenix Stadium where the Super Bowl is being played is surrounded by miles and miles of farmland in all directions. Even I don't go to Glendale that often, and I've lived here for almost two decades. So seeing ESPN set up shop there is surreal.

Related Post:
Top Ten Reasons We All Hate The New Cardinals Stadium Name

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bait and Switch: Regular Food vs McDonald's Food

It's been a while since I bashed McDonald's, but there is more evidence that they are the evil empire. It seems that they did a study where they gave children food in regular bags and McDonald's bags, and children said the McDonald's food tasted better. That's despite the fact that the food was actually identical. The trick even worked with carrots. What does this mean? It means that McDonald's has so programmed children that they come to believe McDonald's is inherently better than any other food, despite all evidence. That makes it harder for parents to deny them McDonald's food, since children will believe regular food isn't as good, even if it's better.

On a side note, while it's easy to say this shows children are gullible, I wonder if the same study would work on adults. I'm not sure, but it does make me wonder if a Jack-in-the-Box Ultimate Cheeseburger would taste as good if I made it at home.

Related Posts:
* The Problem With McDonald's
* McDonalds Suffocates Children...For Safety
* Fruit Buzz?!

McDonald's Logo photo from

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Beautiful Lie: The Truth Behind "A Beautiful Mind"

I decided to use the format of Reel Faces to answer some questions for my most damning example of Hollywood tinkering with history, A Beautiful Mind. I offered this to Kevin Lang, the author of "Reel Faces" and he said he would "try to remember" to give me credit when it's done. Which doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. So here it is.

Q: Was John Nash as cocky and arrogant as he was in the movie?
A: Yes. In fact, many people who worked with Nash disliked him, even before his mental breakdown. They found him arrogant, egotistical, and insensitive, but tolerated him because of his mathematical genius.

Q: Was the portrayal of Nash's delusions in the movie accurate?
A: No. The storyline of a Communist conspiracy to smuggle a nuclear bomb into the U.S. was made up for the movie in order to capture the spirit of his delusions. In real-life, Nash's delusions were even less logical and more chaotic than the movie version.Nash's mental breakdown through schizophrenia didn't truly develop until the 1960s, after he had graduated from Princeton (no phantom roommate) and married Alicia Nash. At the height of his madness, Nash believed that aliens were sending him encrypted messages through the New York Times, and that any man wearing a red necktie was a member of a secret international communist organization. He claimed to colleagues that he was the Pope and the emperor of Antarctica, and feared the government was working with extraterrestrials to destroy his reputation. At some point, he developed a messianic complex and thought he was a messenger from God. Nash eventually came to believe he was on a holy mission to come up with a mystical number that would prove the existence of God.

Nash says he does not recall seeing any visual hallucinations, but heard voices that mocked and argued with him constantly. At times, Nash thought the voices were coming from aliens or angels. Nash would make phone calls to family and colleagues using false names and have rambling conversations about numerology and conspiracies that they would endure until he hung up.

Q: Did Nash stay at home after his first stay in the mental institution, trying to compose new formulas?
A: No. Nash actually left the country after his first release from the mental hospital and wandered Europe for months, declaring himself a refugee and trying to renounce his U.S. citizenship. While there, he mailed postcards containing nonsensical stories and numerical formulas to his old workmates. His wife eventually worked with the State Department to have Nash deported back to the United States.

Q: Was John Nash allowed to return to Princeton, despite his mental illness?
A: Yes. But unlike in the movie, Nash was a more mysterious and disturbing figure on campus. Nash became an almost mythical figure to the students, who called him "the Phantom." He would leave secret codes and mathematical formulas on blackboards and on papers shoved under the doors of teachers, and wander the campus in red sneakers, murmuring to himself.

Q: Was his wife's love and Nash's logic the key to his recovery?
A: No. The reasons for Nash's recovery are a matter of debate. Nash did indeed stop taking his anti-psychotic medication, and never did take any medication again. Nash claims that it was his logical mind that allowed his recovery. The truth is that many people age out of schizophrenia on their own over time.

Q: Was the love story between John Nash and his wife Alicia truly as beautiful as in the movie?
A: No. In reality, Nash was already involved with another woman and had fathered a son out of wedlock with her when he met his current wife, Alicia. She was a student in his class, and they did marry and have a son together, but his illness drove them apart. Unlike in the movie, Nash deeply resented Alicia for having him involuntarily committed. Upon his release, Nash withdrew from her emotionally and sexually. After three years of enduring his mania, Alicia divorced Nash in 1962 and began a new relationship with another man. She continued to help and support Nash as a friend rather than a husband. She even let him stay in her home to keep Nash from becoming homeless, but thought of him as a boarder; they lived separate lives under the same roof. Their romantic relationship was only restarted after Nash won the Nobel Prize. She remarried him in 2001, well after his mental illness had already subsided.

Q: Was a man sent by the Nobel Prize committee to check whether Nash was stable enough to award the prize?
A: Yes. J├Ârgen Weibull was an economics professor sent by the committee to meet with Nash. He did interview Nash and the moment when Nash initially resisted going into the Princeton faculty lounge did happen. In fact, Weibull cited Nash's hesitation as the reason he recommended Nash be given the prize; it showed an obscurity and insecurity on Nash's part that Weibull felt demanded to be corrected.

Q: Was there a moment where Nash was honored by Princeton faculty by their lying their pens in front of him at his table?
A: No. No such ceremony has ever existed at Princeton.

Q: Was John Nash's acceptance speech for his Nobel Prize the same as in the movie?
A: No. In fact, Nash was not allowed to give an acceptance speech at the Nobel award ceremony because they were afraid he was too unstable. He did give a speech afterwards at a party at Princeton, but it was not the one given in the movie. According to his biographer, Nash mainly made jokes about how he hoped the award would improve his credit rating.

* Lycos: John Nash
* Free Info Society: John Nash
* John Nash's Autobiography for the Nobel Prize
* PBS: A Brilliant Madness
* CBS: Beautiful Mind No White Wash

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bio-Hazard: The Truth Behind Movie Biographies

I hate movie biographies. Let's clarify that statement. I think it's a great and enjoyable thing to see someone's story depicted on the silver screen, and they're often fascinating and engaging. The problem is that they are often entirely fictional. I don't know what it is about Hollywood that truth isn't enough for them. Obviously, they find true stories compelling enough to make movies about them, but once they get the rights to the story, the writers feel free to make whatever changes they think will make the story better. As a result, I often finding myself watching "true" Hollywood stories and wondering how much of what I'm seeing is reality or fiction. To aid with this problem comes Reel Faces, dedicated to establishing fact versus fiction.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Rescue 911: "If this is an emergency..."

A post by glomgold reminded me of one of my pet peeves: the phrase "if this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911." Are there really that many people who get into a life-threatening situation and don't know who to call? I've heard the phrase on my doctor's line, which kind of makes sense, but what about the pharmacy? Or my auto insurance company? I imagine somebody lying on their kitchen floor, bleeding to death with a phone in their hand going, "…GEICO." I guess there must be enough stupid people in the world that at some point, someone decided to weed them out. But if you go that far, then shouldn't we make the next logical step? How about these phrases:

10. If you are looking for information, hang up and dial 411.

9. If this is about being angry, hang up until you calm down.

8. If this is about getting a job, then hang up and call a temp agency.

7. If this is about being hungry, hang up and dial Burger King.

6. If this is about dying, hang up and call your lawyer to finalize your will, then call your local mortuary to make funeral arrangements.

5. If this is about being tired, hang up and take a nap.

4. If you are looking for a mate, hang up and dial a dating service.

3. If this is about not being able to see, hang up and open your eyes or turn on the lights.

2. If this isn't an emergency, then hang up and call back when it's important.

1. If this is about chocolate chip cookies, then hang up and mix flour, butter, salt, vanilla, eggs, chocolate chips, milk, and sugar until it forms a soft dough, scoop out with a spoon, place them on a cookie sheet, and bake at 350-degrees for fifteen minutes until browned at the edges.

And if this phrase is so important, when you dial 911, shouldn't it say, "If this is an emergency, you've come to the right place. Stay on the line"?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I'm in Your Base: 2007 Year In Review

I recently discovered the delightful meme, "I'm in ur base, killin ur doodz."
And so we proudly present some of the highlights of 2007..."in ur base"-style.