Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Gott in Himmel!
That was the first thing I said this morning, which is amazing, as I don't know German. However, I blame my Christmas present. My aunt got me an alarm clock that says the time, but she didn't realize it also said the temperature. What was a nice surprise, turned into a little nightmare this morning. How are you expected to get up when it cheerfully says "The time is 8:00, the temperature is 48 degrees Fahrenheit." That was the INSIDE temp. Outside was supposedly negative 2. I think swearing in another language is the proper response to that. This is actual cold, the first hardcore winter around here in a decade. And I think this morning I moved from "about time one of these happened" to "okay, enough."

I saw where PETA was protesting the naming of PETCO Field. Personally, I just want them to save money on the stadium by making it out of Habitrail. I think human size Habitrail would just be great, though replacing the plumbing with woodshavings would suck.

I feel bad about this now, having seen that something actually was wrong with Barrett Robins, but I have to admit, my opinion of the Raiders is so low that my first response to this story breaking was "He's not going to play? What? Did he cough up a kidney? The TEAM suspended him? Was it someone else's kidney?"

Mike's post today reminds me what I should have said yesterday about the pregnancy test ad. "Brought to you by the ONDCP and the Oceania Junior Anti-Sex League."

Monday, January 27, 2003

Calling "Fraught"

Michael Pittman 29 rushes for 124 yards
If you play fantasy football, someone is going to draft him second or third round, and this is the excuse they are going to give. I'm calling "fraught" on this now and avoiding the rush.
The Loot, The Warrant, SHA-NI-A-TWAIN!!

Wow, for the second year in a row the Super Bowl was better than its trimmings. Only one incredibly good commercial (the horses in a coaches' challenge). And possibly the weirdest halftime in quite a while. To wit:
1. First Shania Twain appears in an outfit that tells us she's turned supervillainess from Lara Flynn Boyle's planet in MIB II, sings her song, then is lifted out of the stadium in her mock futuristic crane. Obviously she is going off to her lair. What bothered me was that she never seemed to come back. And then, in the 3rd quarter, when they use a shot where it looks like the Super Bowl logo is being taken away by a helicopter, I suddenly think she's become Carmen Sandiego.... Wait, that works...
2. No Doubt comes on, and they are apparently joined by the cheerleaders from the Smells Like Teen Spirit video.
3. Sting comes on, apparently forgetting his costume and forced to stitch together two mismatched T-shirts.

Two ads deserve special stupidity awards. The Levi's ad where the couple is being chased by bison. I came up with a much better slogan that what they used. Levi's. Accept your doom. Second, the ONDCP ad. I'd just like to say that when I saw the woman putting down the pregnancy test, I yelled out to the group I was with. "Remember, if you get pregnant, you're supporting the terrorists." I WAS JOKING, I was not expecting that to be the actual message, I thought it was going to be one of those financial planning ads. But no, the people who haven't mastered the logical concept of "if A then B, given C..." strike again, producing a hamhanded warning. When I can mock something unintentionally, but perfectly, you've got to reconsider what you're doing.

And finally, this is the second time I've seen it. WHY are we letting Canadian Celine Dion sing God Bless America?!?!?! Now more than ever, I am convinced that much like the nuclear gap in the Cold War, America is suffering from a Diva Gap. Not only do we have to import from Canada, but that bastard Simon is ensuring that all the ones America produces, will be produced by him. Our current fleet of divas are all in detox, and we're letting the Canadian divas steal our precious bodily logos. Mr. President, we must bomb Canada.

Sorry, had to vent.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Okay, so I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and enjoyed it, perhaps not quite as much as Joe did, but probably about 100 times more than I would have enjoyed it had I not been in NAQT, especially this past week. Sorry that that curve has to hang for you, but I'll explain it later, probably much later.

After the movie, while waiting for the table at the restaurant the following exchange occurred, proving that:
a. I am a geek.
b. I will attempt alpha geekdom wherever possible.
c. I really need some kind of aversion therapy for puns.

Scene: the lobby of a restaurant that likes to put metal things on the wall and call it atmosphere.
Joe: "Actually at this point, to kill time, I'm using my Kaplan training to show that the number on that license plate is divisible by 3, but not by nine."
Joe points to a plate marked 12837.
DEK: (after a moment's pause) "and also by eleven."
Joe: (after a couple moments to run the number through). "Yeah, how'd you do that."

I then explain how you split the numbers into two sets, alternating as you go, so in the above case 1, 8, and 7 are in one set, and 2 and 3 in the other. Sum the sets and subtract one set from the other. If that number's a multiple of 11, so's the original number.

Joe: "Hmm. We don't teach THAT in Kaplan."
DEK: "Yeah, nobody teaches that anymore. That's OLD School. Literally."
Joe: "So should I expect you to be running around wearing a retro Goldbach jersey?"
DEK: (pausing a second to figure if the joke would work.) "No. A retro Euler jersey."

No shame, only puns.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The cold or whatever my sinuses were suffering through since last Friday is only beginning to leave, and I'm only beginning to recover from the weekend. 'Twas blastlike, much thanks to all.

Lessons learned:
Line me up on a team with Mark, James, and Greg, and I will be the four scorer, and I'm cool with that. It does only leave me the scoring lane of "the weird", or fire on the first clue.

Apparently I have a sinus I didn't know about. I'm glad it's a sinus, otherwise my medulla oblongata was hyperpressurized. It's very odd to have a feeling like someone microwaved your head and now your gooey caramel center is all expanded, liquid and runny.

From Tony Packo's we learned that fried pickles aren't bad (though I think their regular pickles were what were really worth keeping.) and that paprikash dumplings and chili, against all odds, work together.

Bet against the Amtrak schedule if there's a hint of precip in the air. And if you have to drive through it the next day, don't stare directly into the snow that your headlights are reflecting. It's like a big, frozen version of the Windows starfield screensaver.

Monday, January 13, 2003

Building on yesterday, because I left a hanging curve out there for you.

Okay, so you understand, the key thing is, my uncle is one of the Skyliners. Not an original, but still. S'anyway, now I see that the Doo Wop tape that WQED had been hawking through PBS stations and running as a special is now a Time Life joint. I wasn't expecting that to come on the air during Hardball.

Meanwhile, on a total coincidental path, I stumble across this site, only to see that my cousin, stepson of the abovementioned, has currently the top personal weblog of the day. Synchronicity, all spooky-like.

Chris Nolte pointed out the similarity between Joe Lieberman and Senator Palpatine. But before anyone accuses me of partisanship, I need to point out that I'm fairly convinced that the president bears a striking resemblance to children's book character The Tangerine Bear. Admittedly the picture I found isn't a good example, the stuffed ones I saw at Half Price Books look a whole lot more like him.

As much as I hate to bring up the idea of theatre of cruelty (because of the chest-thumping obscurity it brings these days), it was the one unshakable notion that filled my head watching Cram. Basic premise, keep people up for 24 hours, make them memorize the most ridiculous data (such as instant messaging abbreviations, and the contents of the Globe tabloid), then force them to spew said data while doing such things as run in a hamster wheel, doing military rifle drills, and balancing on a small pedestal. Any reason to watch? Only to watch people suffer. Any reason to try to get on? Well, if you're a quiz bowler, you might have the memorization down, though it's the kind of thing where, if you value quiz bowl knowledge, you'll find this beneath you. And if you're like me, and look at all quiz bowl knowledge as equally valuable only in the context of quiz bowl, and pretty much useless everywhere else, you'll probably think it would be interesting, but not worth the effort based on the return. Then again, all of these new reality games, I'd really like to see fail. Well, except for Joe Millionaire, that one I want to see be a smashing success. Just so they have to do it again... And then those who create the shows get thrown into theater of cruelty.
At an unheardof level of personal Zen.

They win a close one, and lose a close one. Nothing more can be said for this. I'm really, really fine about the whole season, which I didn't expect to be when the playoffs started. We know the exact reason for the downfall, and we know exactly how to counteract it. All in the execution from here to next season.

I can tell my level of calm is unearthly high when I realized that my uncle can now be seen in an ad for a TimeLife product, and it didn't disturb me.

Things I meant to mention earlier.
A discussion on Baseball Primer, noted the new Blue Jays logo. All I can say is: If your logo looks like it's guesting on Dragon Ball Z, please reconsider.
CNN gave one of the best damning by faint praise lines in the title of this article about the city. I can only hope this doesn't become the new city promotion.
A couple useful 2002 summaries: in physics, in death, in fakery
And finally, break out those Stephen the Dell Guy gets prison raped jokes. We have a grain of truth.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Three shades of eek.

Phrase I was greeted with as my car radio clicked in: "I had been working as a civil engineer for PennDOT, but I figured out I could make more money as a stripper."
Glad I was parked. Given that the Mark Madden Show on ESPN1250 has a sort of "Strippers and Steelers" vibe on occasion I should have expected this sort of thing. But the story was of some woman who had been working for PennDOT in the bowels of Pennsylvania, until she was laid off, and then worked for the Gateway Clipper Fleet and Hooters before going to the local strip club for work. But still, eek.

Inordinately screwed-up disclaimer:
On a package of beef jerky: "The meat contained herein is for personal use only..." I don't want to know why this is here, do I? Still, eek.

I finally figured out why I've had such a viscerally bad reaction to John Edwards as presidential candidate. I finally realized it was because he looked a bit like actor Sam Neill. Then I realized Sam Neill appeared in this film. That explains it, a total coincidence, but just creepy. Still, eek.

Finally after last night's 24, I gotta add another couple things no one's getting from me: Rotary paint stripper, and flare guns. They keep this up, I won't be able to go into Home Depot. Again, eek.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

Over the past season, that Joe and I have been watching football together, we've come up with a shorthand for those times when we think what's about to happen is a really bad idea. For example, when you see Tommy Maddox spin out of a possible sack, then try and run with the ball, and then throwing into quadruple coverage. This is usually greeted with the single syllable "fraught", the short form of "fraught with misadventure, fraught with danger, fraught with difficulty." It's not a word like 'ensuing', as Bill Simmons described it (wrongly), as a word that only has one word which follows it. Many words can follow 'fraught', but always they come with 'with', and none of them are good. You'll never see, "Fraught with puppies" for instance. Football just works very well for this: Randy ratio announced, "Fraught!" Detroit gives the ball in overtime, "Fraught!" Cris Carter guarantees Gary Anderson doesn't have enough leg left to kick a field goal "Fraught!" It does become a bit of a game, to call the exact moment where the wheels fell off, where hubris first meets nemesis, and they exchange phone numbers.

Why bring this up? Simple. I'd just like to officially declare the next season of Maurice Clarett at Ohio State 'fraught'.

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Take that as frustration or release, it fits.

If there's anything about this game worth remembering, it's this, the Steelers got extremely lucky. Joe and I spent most of the first 3 quarters arguing whether this game more resembled the Tennessee game, or the Houston game. Turns out it was neither, it was merely the other halves of the two games that made up the tie the Steelers had against Atlanta. Both games completely changed with about 10-12 minutes to go in the 4th, one for the better, one for the worse. Given we spent most of quarters 2 and 3, trying to plot a draft strategy, it was rather pleasant to suddenly see them put it all together for a while. It was frustrating, because the first quarter looked like typical "How do the Steelers lose? Answer: turnovers, and getting burned deep." Second and third, more of the same. Then, I don't know, it wasn't as if the Browns were complacent, or we suddenly began executing much better, it was just the Steelers slowly putting all the pieces together. I don't know if I'll ever be completely used to the idea of the Steelers basically running a passing offense with a 3-wideout base, but it seems to be working. We like the Hines, we like the Plex, we like the Randle El. But the one I'm amazed at was the Tuman. He is our pass catching TE, but I think he got more catches today than all season.

As for next week, we'll see. If Kendrell Bell's out again, oh boy. But the Titans can't really go 4-wide as well as Cleveland, and we thank them for it. We were down 2 DB's to start this game, and it looks like we'll be down a third. I suddenly wonder if the defense pattern from the final play will hold into next week, as our fifth DB back there was Plex. I don't know if they can do that all day.

About 4 minutes to go, I realized it was one of those games where, while it would hurt the Steelers to lose the game, it was rapidly becoming one of those games that if Cleveland won, they'd be emotionally scarred for years. We can but hope.

The Labatt's bear ads are just cracking me up, mostly in the latest one where the bear converts the bookshelf kit into a beer vending machine. If I could figure a way to keep the beer from sudsing incredibly after its travels, I'd make one of those.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

In which our protagonist braves the tortures of the Moonlighting FAQ

We'll get to the title in a moment, but... Of all the deceptively difficult concepts of physics, the concept of volume just amazes me sometime. I'm sitting here looking at one of my gifts, five airplane bottles of various liqueurs (for dessert manufacturing purposes.) There's simply no way all of these things can all be 50 milliliters. It's not a glass vs plastic thing, I just simply can't wrap my mind around this. The amaretto bottle is just frickin' huge. Next time you buy alcohol, look, and you'll agree; these things can't all be the same size.

Okay, the Star Search ads are annoying me at this point. They're advertising that the original was the place where Ray Romano, Sinbad, and Britney Spears got their start. The parallels between this and North Korea telling us "We have plutonium, so pay attention to us!" are eerie. Also, Arsenio Hall does not look happy to be doing this. Someone please check if he's blinking Morse code: "Am being held against my will. Sammo, bust me out."

The clone baby's parents are apparently not sure if they want to give the kid DNA testing. This basically makes it look EXTRA scammy. I'm personally hoping it's not actually their kid, but the clone of the doctor who impregnated 40-some women with his own sperm. I'd pay good money for irony of that quality.

Does anyone really like Beasley Reece? Matt's accounting for various NFL announcing pairs noted that many Patriots fans have a longstanding hatred of Beasley, and he has a long streak of being alternately incorrect and incoherent on Steelers vs Ohio telecasts. But while hunting around I discovered that he's hated by Browns fans, Colts fans, professional media types, even XFL fans. I was actually starting to feel sorry. It couldn't be that universal. But if his day job is in Philadelphia, maybe he's used to people screaming at his idiocy. Then I saw this on the Moonlighting FAQ, while doing a google for "Beasley.Reece hate" This bit just made my head swivel:
"8.3 What is known about Allyce Beasley?

Allyce's real name is Allyce Tannenberg, but she changed it to Allyce Beasley because an old boy friend thought football player Beasley Reece was tops...."

Well, there's one at least.

If you need me, I'll be blinking secret messages, and smashing myself over the head with the deceptively voluminous bottle of amaretto.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Happy New Year.

By popular request, how Joe saved my family's Christmas.
My one aunt spent most of her life working in the foreign service, and thus she's one of those people for whom everything is better when it comes from somewhere else. For the past few Christmases, she's been questing for a very particular type of cheese for the holiday season. One of her friends in the foreign service had sent he a wheel of this for Christmas for several years, but since he usual method of getting it via her daughter has dried up, there's no guarantee that the cheese would come. S'anyway, on the Saturday before Christmas, Joe accompanied my mother and myself to the Strip District (okay, stop snickering, it's the name for the strip of land along the river where the food warehouses in Pittsburgh are.) While walking around, and picking up the odd gifts (teas, dried fruit, nuts) and Christmas dinner, Joe happened upon a store that was selling Leiden cheese. Now, we've been going down to the strip for years, and have never run across the magic cheese. Joe ducks in a store because it's too cold, and he find it in two minutes. To add to the disturbance in the force, at the next location, Joe finds it again. We now nominate for him the title: Finder of Lost Cheeses.