Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Marginalia from the holiday.

1. The Coke holiday ad this year is just annoying me, mostly because I keep wanting to tell people when I watch it, "You see that, that's appeasement. The little penguin will come back and say the polar bears have promised peace in our time."

2. I have a housepet now. I got a Roomba for Christmas, now I have to restrict the urge to mod it with a speaker and chips so it screams "Exterminate!" while it works.

3. Plans to see the ABA Pittsburgh Xplosion fell through on Monday as their holiday games were postponed, because of event competition. They apparently scheduled the game on the same night as the annual appearance of the Harlem Globetrotters.

4. I think I'm becoming overwhelmed by the tyranny of Avenir. Avenir is the sans serif that seems to be everywhere right now. Not quite a Futura, not quite Avant Garde, not really at all Helvetica. And when I say it's everywhere, I mean it. Yahoo's using it for titling, as is USA Network, as is Toyota in an ad, as is one of the books I'm trying to read. It's not so much that it's actually overwhelming me mentally, I'm just struck by the suddenness with which it took over the slot the other fonts took, and the mental association I have with that suddenness is overwhelming whatever messages the text is trying to convey.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

I finished reading Freakonomics, (which is interesting in ways that people wanting to find interesting ways to look at things will love, and for those of you that don't want to find that will hate,) and I got stuck on a passage, in parentheses no less.

"(In Finland, whose education system has been ranked the world's best, most children do not begin school until age seven but have often learned to read by watching American television with Finnish subtitles.)"

Am I wrong in thinking (outside of the obvious correlation does not imply causation issues), that a cheap way to simulate this in America is to turn on the closed captioning on the TV? And how many paranoid parents can I take in with this?
Well, if this doesn't kill the ABA, nothing will. Read this.

I place the odds of a stinging expose at 70%. The odds of a comic novel at 90%.

More here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

This article

Paragraph 2

Cuidado. Cuidado.

That is all.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Somehow, I figured this interesting article titled Iceberg 'sings under pressure' was going to result in the punchline, "no, sorry, we were wrong, it was actually Ice, Ice Baby."

Monday, November 14, 2005


Not the top story. The bit immediately after the top story.
A while back I found an article noting that Pittsburgh has the lowest percentages of immigration from Latin America of any city its size (or even significantly lower). Well, somehow I can't see this plan fixing it, unless they're expecting to capitalize on a massive influx of Aztec-Americans.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

If I were Al Julius, I'd be eating my script right now.

This election result positively shocked me. I had realized there was a backlash against incumbents rolling through the state after the literal midnight pay raise, but this is something else. Even on a 51-49 rejection, we've never had a judge tossed before. If this anger continues, and it probably will, you could see every contested office in the state up for grabs next year.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Okay, with all of this being planned, how long before the Weather Channel follows the long slow path of descent into unwatchability previously traveled by MTV and ESPN.

Incidentally, the last time I heard celebrity weatherman used as a gimmick, it was some failed iteration of CBS This Morning, and their guest was Henry Kissinger. That went well.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

For anyone who ever doubted that data mining occurs, and that the results are untouched by human hands, I give you this proof. If this had ever gone past human eyes it would have been stopped or the person who reviewed this would have collapsed in laughter unable to continue.

Dear Customer,

We've noticed that customers who have purchased Audio CDs by William Shatner also purchased Christmas Album...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Okay that's two "low-cost" airlines that I've flown on, only to see them go bankrupt shortly after. (ATA being the previous, won't count USAir since I hadn't actually flown them in two years.)

So, should I just Priceline myself out, where the lowest bidder is the one I fly on, dooming it?

Friday, November 04, 2005

You know if it's not the zombies, and it's not the robots... It's the deer.

Somebody discussing this on Fark noted that there was a time in the '90s when the city of Pittsburgh declared complete open season on deer. If they were in the city, they were legal to hit. Didn't matter if you had a permit on that weapon, didn't matter what the weapon was, it was a legal hit. I really want to know two things:

-- Was this actually true? Did Murphy just snap one weekend after his rhododendron got eaten or something?
-- Was this before or after the weekend that the bear did a bar crawl down Carson Street, then escaped when animal control came by swimming across the river to downtown? (This would have been about 1996-7ish.)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

While it's a little too possible in a crazy-ass way, I fear we haven't quite made enough fans of ironic football to make this a workable venture. Then again, if we turned it into a reality show, it would probably be less embarrassing than Dick Butkus' turn coaching high school.

1 | 2 | 3

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Craig mentioned the insidious creep of the Christmas season, which I noted this evening already has absorbed the section where the candy was at the drugstore and one rack of CD's at Best Buy, but I caught this article today, and got completely creeped out by this website which tries to map out all the best deals for the Friday after Thanksgiving like it's Ain't It Cool News or something, except it for the circulars you normally roundfile. What got me was the "24 Days Left" at the top. Great... It's only 24 more shopping days before.... SHOPPING DAY! PANIC! Yes, we're now marking Black Friday as the holiday, not Thanksgiving....great....

I think I'll stand down by the door and catch the retailers when they fall from the fourteenth floor.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The things people in Pittsburgh worry about... If it's not the zombies, it's the robots.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Updating our previous story, it appears that the Pittsburgh Xplosion has managed to rent out the Civic Arena for 14 home games.
And now a word problem:
Given their pricing structure, courtside $55, low end D level tickets $12.50, it costs approximately $15,000 an event, and last year they seemed to average about 300, how fast do I have to get to a game to enable me to see it before they fold?

The first game is Sunday, and the Steelers play Monday night. Talk me in to going, folks. I'd bring a camera.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

ABA Mania Returns

We have a new team, the Xplosion, and a new coach, who hopefully won't die on us during the first game, and a new arena.

You know, it would be good if they get the arena contract down and signed before they promote it. Wouldn't you think?
Were I Keith Olbermann commenting on what I had previously written, (And with the whole Michael Jackson Puppet Theater, I'm not sure he doesn't) I'd say that the most recent story out of Minnesota means that Mr. Scrabble Dictionary has failed Mr. Wlf yet again.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

People have been asking me when I'm going to drop FraughtWatch on the Minnesota Vikings. Like this email:

Dear DEK,
when are u going to drop fraughtwatch on the minnesota vikings?


Well, fhqwgads, I was late to the party on this one. I should have seen it coming with the Whizzinator, excuse me, ORIGINAL Whizzinator, thing, I should have seen it when they let Randy Moss go, I should have seen it when something Zygi Wilf bought the team (incidentally, I believe I saw the name "Zygi Wlf" once before. I just returned the rack to the Scrabble bag.) In my defense, I did at one point name my fantasy team "Viking Draft Room", so I wasn't missing the carnival of whimsy that has been the Unfrozen Caveman Ball Coach era. So I won't post them up, because I missed. However, I am not without empathy, but I'm directing it these days to the folks who spent the better part of a year developing "Blitz: The League". After all, not only did they lose their rights to use the NFL franchises, they decided to go with story development from the ESPN show Playmakers, only to have real life become even more, shall we say, richly dramatic. So should we just start calling the Vikings the Cougars?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Even in my darkest and most evil thoughts, I have my limits. And I', just slackjawed at the ability of folks to miss the subtext, or assume the subtext is the actual text, especially in advertising. The latest example occurring in my favorite crazy-ass European country, Belgium. They've decided that the best way to stimulate funding for UNICEF is to firebomb the Smurfs. I'll repeat that for those of you who had cognitive dissonance click in. They've decided that the best way to stimulate funding for UNICEF is to firebomb the Smurfs. (And yes, taken out of context "UNICEF firebombs the Smurfs" DOES sound like some sort of expansion to Rock Paper Scissors gone horribly awry) This shouldn't be funny. This really shouldn't be funny. What they're trying to state is a good idea and all that, but all I get out of this is that the advertising agency really just wanted to bomb the living crap out of the Smurfs. And I now have the image of the inevitable war crimes tribunal, where they're asking Col. Jessup (RET) who ordered the code blue and why all the smurfs were la-la-ing the Ride of the Valkyries. Yeah, I'm messed up, but clearly I learned it from watching you!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My state... Even when the Supreme Court forces them to make it easier, they make it harder.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

In this preview of the Arizona Fall League they note the movement of the Scottsdale Scorpions to Surprise, Arizona, while the ballpark at Scottsdale's refurbished. What's not noted here is the colossal marketing opportunity available in the move. I mean, the logo possibility of a Scorpion lunging out from a gift wrapped package would be absolutely tremendous. SURPRISE! SCORPIONS!

Monday, October 03, 2005

In an effort to avoid the inevitable obsession about fantasy football that the bye week puts upon me, I went out to the final Pirates game of the year. (Let's face it, if I didn't I'd actually have been hanging onto the notion that Neil Rackers is now the most important part of my team, which is alternately a cry for help or the sound of a seal breaking.) Part of the charm of the last home game is Prize day, when items that failed to sell in the regular season were given away. I didn't get anything, but I have to note some of the more intriguing things offered.

A Pirate themed ATV.
The paintings made by all the players as their opening intro cards.
A free buffet at Cici's Pizza
A Danbury Mint model of Forbes Field
A signed bat by pitcher and impending contract albatross Mark Redman.
And best of all, a game used bat by reliever John Grabow. This one amused me because I think, as a situational lefty, he couldn't have had more than 5 at-bats. (Checking... Oh, sweet, he's had 1 at bat in three years!)

While this was fine comedy in and of itself, and the pierogie race featured the return of the long-exiled Potato Pete, who proposed to Jalapeno Hanna, disrupting her race to defeat the obviously juiced-up Sauerkraut Saul, the standout comedy feature of the game was Did You Know... I've been critical of Did You Know... and its many iterations in the past, mostly in the cases when I felt it should have been titled Did You Care?, but for the game yesterday, it was knowing, brilliant self-parody. I neither knew, nor cared to know any of the following:

Craig Wilson never misses an episode of Survivor (This explains the DL this year.)
Tike Redman is planning a trip to Jamaica in December.
Jose Bautista plans on doing nothing during the first week of October. (About right there, Jose, though you did get a hit, screwing up your plans.)
Michael Restovich is a big fan of the Minnesota Vikings.
Rob Mackowiak is thinking about getting a German shepherd puppy. ("thinking" about it?)
Jack Wilson plans on going trick or treating with his son[Darth Vader] and his daughter[a sheep] (Okay, Pittsburghers, if you see Darth Vader, a sheep, and somebody who looks like Jack Wilson, don't be alarmed.)

and finally, the best one by far. The one that was so good they did it when he was a defensive substitute rather than risk that he might not bat:

J. J. Furmaniak will be refereeing high school basketball games in Chicago.

Pirates 2006 -- Because you want to know if he got the puppy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sadly, the joke I've been using about this merger isn't true...yet.

My joke: "USAirways, the nation's seventh-largest airline, and America West, the eighth-largest airline, will combine to become America's twelfth-largest airline."

Actually, they'll be fifth, for now.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Blatant self-promotion**

Just in case you didn't get the memo (and I didn't send one out yet).

Joe and I have begun a new venture, Best Available Blog, so that we can better serve the community of Steelers fans. I think it's a good reflection of where we're at now. It'll enable us to cover the Steelers in an amusing yet informative way. At this point we'll need to see if we can put more bats in the middle of the lineup, while maintaining financial flexibility. Have I mentioned how excited we are to have the All-Star Game?

**Today's message is in accordance with "Talk Like Pirate Management Day"

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Three things from watching a sufficiency of TV.

1. There's an ad for some idiot driving simulation called "Bad Mutha Truckers 2". Now I understand I'm probably not the target demographic for this, but every time I see this ad, I am struck by the fact that the phrasing at the end of the ad is "Bad Mutha Truckers 2. Rated M for Mature." I don't know. Somehow a title like that would be the exact opposite I'd expect for that rating. This is probably because there's no rated I for Immature, which is really something the folks who grade these things could use to great effect.

2. Flipping past OLN, the future home of the NHL, I caught Professional Bull Riding, which I do admit is an enjoyable couple of minutes of television. My enjoyment was broken however, when I realized that they were taking time out of coverage to do an athlete profile story... on the bull.

I really don't have to say anything else there, do I?

3. Flipping through TVNewser, I caught a glimpse of this, regarding Bill Wolff, the new head of MSNBC primetime:
"Wolff joined MSNBC in April from Fox Sports Networks, where he developed the daily talker I, Max. Prior to that, Wolff served at ESPN, where he was creator and coordinating producer of Around the Horn and also worked on signature shows such as SportsCenter NFL Countdown and College Football Gameday."

Wolff was the Disembodied Voice of Around the Horn...

Okay. That explains how Max Kellerman has had a job on three networks without covering any part of his expertise, his remora-like grip on Bill Wolff.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm just going to enjoy the image of Max Kellerman, Goateed Remora, going one on one in an interview with the bull. Rated M for Mature.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sometimes I wonder if my brain just enjoys throwing practical jokes on other parts of itself.

During a meeting this morning, my mind drifted for about 20 seconds, and started on some tack about Captain Pitt, which was the kiddie show host on channel 22 when I was like 7. Now for some reason I was trying to remember the name of the sidekick creature, which I was moderately convinced was Mosey the Sea Monster. I didn't have the Mosey dead on, but I was convinced of the Sea Monster. Here's where the practical joke kicked in. My reaction, which I just barely managed to cover during the meeting with a cough, was "HOW DO YOU GET A SEA MONSTER IN PITTSBURGH?" Sure enough, this started bothering me, and in the internal monologue of my head, this was the equivalent of someone repeatedly screaming that query in my head. What hope I had for a positive meeting went right in the tank. So I started thinking, "Well, 22 wasn't the most prosperous station back then. And really, did they ever actually call him Captain Pitt? They always just called him Captain. And you know, barge captain on the Mon is not exactly the glamour profession that we think kids want to aspire to. Maybe it was taped from somewhere else, somewhere on the ocean, and then did the title boards in Pittsburgh. It's entirely possible that your whole childhood memory here was an elaborate hoax. How d'ya like them apples, brain?" (Yes, this is how my brain works.) So after the meeting, I do some googling, and find this FAQ, and find my brain was right. Now I'm trying to figure out if I knew this a long time ago and repressed it, or if I actually was able to use logic and deduce this.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

As part of the MLB effort to support the Red Cross for hurricane relief, they've started putting the Red Cross logo on the sides of batting helmets, so they show up on broadcast when the batter's in the box. The problem I'm having with this is that where they've put the Red Cross is square on the spot where Sammy Sosa got nailed by Salomon Torres. If I'm a hitter, the last thing I want is crosshairs detailing where exactly one should put a fastball for maximum carnage.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

So in a last gasp to remain relevant in the days before the Steelers consume all the remaining sports news oxygen in town, the Pirates put Lloyd McClendon out of his misery today. The prevailing question people have asked me over email is "Why now?" Since Lloyd was a lame duck at the end of the season, it doesn't make sense to bump him off now. There's two reasons it could matter:
The first is that following the fight between our coaches and the Cardinals coaches, and it was picking up racial overtones, somebody had to be let go to quench it. The irony of this being that once again, Larussa wins. (There's a meme of Larussa hating the Pirates and enjoying screwing them over. Personally, I think it's more like Larussa enjoys screwing everyone over, and the Pirates have just never managed to have an effective way to get the bully off their backs.)
The second reason would be if the assumption is that they want to get a coach in now, bypassing the expected hoops one would get for an off-season coaching search. This would indicate a candidate in hand, possibly that they want to bring back Jim Leyland or bring in Art Howe, as they're the only favorite son candidate not working now. (Macha, should the A's not extend him being the other candidate from the area.) Leyland, though he wants back into coaching, I can't see taking this team around the corner. Howe is either a good thing, given his term with the A's, or a bad thing, given his term with the Mets. The problem is I don't see really anyone who could move this team forward in its current configuration, or anyone who could create a configuration that would lead it out of the basement.

The other curiosity of this is that any candidate carries the possibility of being a short-termer. The other prevailing meme of Piratedom is that the management has telegraphed that a sale of the team will occur as soon as the checks clear for the All-Star Game revenues. If you assume that a systemwide shakedown will occur following that, there's no reason to assume the manager will survive it any more than the GM. So, it's not like anything's improved by this, it just makes it more uncertain.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Okay. I feel like a cat that's now playing with a bunny that's it's cornered: Do I drop the strikethru on him? Or do you think there's another act in this play?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Let's get one thing straight. I had a breakthrough a couple months ago, when I realized that I actually hate phones. I don't hate much in my life, and almost all of it is of the form "I hate that it has to come to this." But somehow I realized that in fact it has come to this. The phone is simply a piece of equipment, a medium of communications I do not wish to associate myself with any more than is utterly necessary. I'd gotten it down to the bare minimums, the occasional explanatory phone call for NAQT, the endless and tedious sessions of telemarketer harassment, the once a week call of "do I need to pick up anything before I get there", and the 3am sound of my cable box calling home. Simple clean minimalism. The phone was not a necessary component. But then I realized the parallelism. I don't like instant messaging either. There was the excuse I had for a long time that because there were three or four different formats, I didn't want the hassle of dealing with three or four ID setups. But it was more than that. IM and phones share the same problems. When I am thinking, when I am at my best, I've got three to four different thoughts occurring at the same time. You can't express that properly in a phone conversation, and as for typing that, forget it. There's an expectation of exchange of information that simply doesn't work there. I can't tell you everything I'm thinking in one sentence. This is why I like email, this is why I like posting here. I can lay out everything, edit my thoughts, keep the slanderous mambos to a minimum. (This has taken an hour to write already.)
I can also see why people are addicted to these forms of communication. And I do mean addicted. The more hooked in people are to these things, the worse it is. And I tend to find that it's about as repulsive to me as it would be to watch you shoot up. It lessens my opinion of you, if you have to take this call. If you can't break yourself off. And with a cell phone it's as if you couldn't even control yourself long enough to get home. On a cell phone, half the time I can't hear you because of the signal cracking up, and the other half of the time, you're phoning from something that I can hear in the background, and frankly, I'm usually distracted to the point that I want to know what that is, and you're talking over it, so your message isn't getting through. Now I know I've got my addictions: irony, a codependent relationship with the Pirates. But I at least think I'm aware of them.
So why is this coming to a head now? Because my birthday came and went, and now I'm sitting here staring at my 'gift'. Somebody bought me a cell phone. And I think it's worse that they did it for what they thought was the best, but for the worst of all reasons. "We worry about you driving by yourself." Great... somebody thought of the children. Given my predilections for being self-motivated, and knowing all my options all the time, if I get to the point where it's necessary to use it, it's going to be "Hi, Mom and Dad. Gonna die now. Nope, all options exhausted, completely doomed. Bye." That's of course pending whether I remember to charge the thing, or put minutes in it, and given my penchants for cheapness, laziness, and minimalism, I don't like my odds. As for getting rid of it, I can't. It's one of those, it was a gift, and I'm stuck with it, because it would break their heart. Or they got it from a cell phone store, which would make for a damn amusing return. This is one of those family things, you can't understand it. Sometimes I don't either. So I'm doomed to keep this thing in my glove compartment, kind of like the OnStar that's even closer to my head, violating my right to privacy, and not allowing me to terminate service until I actually begin being served. I realize I'm not rational on this issue, but I don't really care. I at least realize, I may not be rational, but nobody else is either.
Isaac Newton thought it a great thing that he died a virgin. I wasn't aiming for that, but I was aiming to live my life without having to deal with cell phones. Now I don't even have that going for me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A while back in the days when people were talking about how digital TV and 500 channels were going to revolutionize the world, Joe and I kicked around the perfect notion for sporting events. Since you'd have something like seven different audio channels available for each channel, you should hook up the system with appropriate sound for each side, Audio 1 being the network feed, Audio 2 home radio, Audio 3 away radio. The kicker was setting up audio 4 and 5, drunk guys in a bar (home), and drunk guys in a bar (away). We thought it was genius, the home team fan experience, no matter where you are.** Well, I think someone else has made the connection: OpenTV

Please note the paragraph in the article:
"...Their 2.0 PVR allows viewers to not only choose amoung 4 -8 camera angles on select programming, but even more exciting they are able to choose from 4 - 6 audio streams as well. Recently during a Rugby match they not only miked the tradional commentators, but also hooked up some die hard beer drinking hooligans to their audio streams as well. While FCC regulations might restrict what fans say or do on air in the U.S., because of Austrialia's progressive censorship policies, fans were able to enjoy true color commentary from like minded fans."

**Note we thought of this prior to the FCC getting all tight about such things, so it can't work with the existing technology/legal climate, but it's good to see the theory was sound.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

In the travelogue appearing here this week, you may find reference to a trip to the Carnegie Library to inspect TV Guides from 1975. While it wasn't my quest, it actually got me started on a new one. I had known about Channel 19 in Pittsburgh, excuse me Jeannatte, for a few years, since it had been a Johnstown station, which managed to get its license moved to a location within Pittsburgh's "must carry" radius. I had known that it had started up in the late 80's as an independent, and had been sort of the very low wattage station for that area. What I didn't know was that circa 1975, it had been a CBS affiliate, then sometime between then and the late 80's, it had collapsed. I would have never known this, were it not for Mike's research.

That's why I'm a little disturbed to find this data probably won't be available to researchers in 30 years. In reading this article, I find it simultaneously revealing as to the awareness of TV Guide as to its own fate, admitting to their own failures, and then promising to fix the problem by becoming completely irrelevant. I had earlier been bent out of shape about TV Guide being not much about TV any more, and now it would seem they're not going to be much of a guide to anything either. I feel a tingle... And there it goes.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Reading this article got me thinking... I really have to capitalize on the powerful marketing opportunities of fraught before I die. Look, I don't want to die and be exploited, I want to be right there to enjoy the exploitation. Then I realized that this was the perfect product. It's not hot sauce... No, no, no. It's Dwight Kidder's Original Fraught Sauce. It's hot sauce that reminds you that you're doing the wrong thing. See, it says Fraught, right there on the label. Fraught sauce combines with many things and none of them are healthy for your colon. Make your hot wings fraught wings with Dwight Kidder's Original Fraught Sauce.** Our slogan: You should know better than to use it.

**No, we are not going to see Fraught Sauce with Puppies.

Monday, July 18, 2005

More only in Western PA sports stories: Only in Western PA could someone get away with this. I can understand the first part, but only in a town with a complete love affair with the backup QB could someone claiming to be Brian St. Pierre get action.
I spent all weekend trying to figure out if this story is the worst incident of youth sports in recent memory, sadly par for the course for Western PA, or the side plot of the next Farrelly brothers movie. You decide.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

You will note at no point in this article do they note how they're ripping off the Tick.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Existential joys that I'm probably alone in getting:

"With this, we have the mailing address of every high school in Wyoming! Yeah!"

Friday, July 01, 2005

We tend to be obsessive about answer lines in NAQT, since we know that people have been given liberty to do stupid things in the past, like try and do the full name of Dikemebe Mutombo, and nasty fights break out when they screw it up. But occasionally something pops up where I hesitate to put the full answer down for fear that the moderator will just spend the rest of the round looking back at the answer line going "That can't be right!" and as a result knocking themselves out of rhythm or something similar. This would be an example. [Paragraph 6] It would certainly knock me off stride were an answer line to be the first I'd heard of it.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

While this story is great, in the "why was it even considered as a theory?" vein, the explanation found here for how it happened is even better.
I really didn't even need to look at where this was being done. I had that thought of, "Yeah, they're doing this in Pittsburgh, aren't they" even before I looked at the article. This does explain the whole low-level fraught vibe I've been getting in the city. You know what this means folks...more zombie voters. Frickin' zombies don't pay taxes, they won't buy anything, won't help revitalize downtown. Look, we didn't have to give George Romero tenure. I'm just saying...

Monday, June 27, 2005

As I'm looking at the front page of this morning, I have to think they're losing their marbles, or it's a very slow news morning.

Major headline of the day: Internet transforms modern life

However, I have to think this is just a place holder until they get their research back from the two stories on the side:
Voice of Winnie the Pooh's Tigger dies | Voice of Piglet dies

I realize this will turn the crime beat people away from their Aruba vacation, but get on the stick, people. The Heffalump's turned into a spree killer!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

All I have to say about this: Yes, there had to be testers involved, to make sure they got the flavor and texture right. No, that did not include your favorite stunt carnivore. No, I'm perfectly cool with not being the tester on this one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

We will be without Myron . Admittedly, he was showing the age, and there was that game last year where he called the first half with a concussion, but nonetheless he was the essential component of the Steelers broadcast. I think they'll do the right thing and not try to replace him, but somehow I'm not sure the mix is right there. We'll have to see.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Stopping off at the market tonight, I saw a display with a ridiculous offer. Bag of Marshmallows, 10 cents each. This is the sort of thing that gets my mind rolling in a lot of directions at once, asking questions that really shouldn't be asked, like "Okay, I've got 20 bucks, is that enough to buy this display? How much does this weigh? Could I bench press this? Why are you asking that? Well, mostly because I think it would be harder to bench press, say your weight in marshmallows, versus your weight in weights, just because it would be hard to keep all the marshmallows together. Plus drag, can't forget drag. Does that seem wrong? Horribly wrong, you're only contemplating this for the power trip of being able to say you bench pressed this, and you know that's not even a power trip, that's just being weird on purpose. Besides, do you even know if it would all fit in your car? Well, probably, they're mostly air, but that would take all the fun out of bench pressing, if they got compressed. You do remember that weird on purpose comment?"

So, I only picked up one package. Then I thought. "You know marshmallows, I could buy and sell you, and not give a damn about it. That's only a half-truth, I could definitely buy them, but it is important to display a strong front to confectionery... You DO remember that weird on purpose comment?"

So, I turned away, thankful that I hadn't said any of this out loud. Okay, I turned slowly away, checking if anyone was reacting to anything I might have accidentally said. Then I turned back and got a second bag. Because, hey, 10 cent marshmallows.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Could be Shatner I guess.
To his credit, Paul Anka is a singing legend. To my credit, I only started laughing hysterically at his rendition of Eye of the Tiger. I didn't even flinch at his version of Wonderwall. And well, I was only disappointed his version of Black Hole Sun was a poor second to the Steve and Eydie cover. As for Smells Like Teen, Paul seems a little too interested in telling me about his libido... make him stop, please!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Completely geeky of me, but this article only provoked one response from me: "You FOOLS! That's not the destructive mechanism! It's only playing possum! You're all in danger!"

Meanwhile this story, also in the news from Somerset section pretty much has everything I want in a story: Crappy jobs, after all, who wants to vaccinate a badgerbadgerbadger....blitzkrieg bop. All this needs is a punter and Paraguay.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

So I saw this picture of what's going on in Bolivia during this weeks revolution, and I realized: "You know, were I living in a country where the national costume has been co-opted by Homsar, I'd be rebelling about once a week, too."

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Somehow I can't help but think this is a merely a cunning ploy to convince more people in the Fixin'-to-Die State of the essential need for robot insurance.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Matt inquired of me: Is this why he's Plaxico?

My answer, no, but that's why he's almost about to hit the FraughtWatch. The only reason I haven't at this point is because it would look spiteful on my part as a Steeler fan to jinx him. But I have to figure something's going to go off between him and Tom Coughlin at some point. It's like the two of them should have the Odd Couple music playing whenever they're in the same building.

"On January 23rd, Plaxico Burress was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from Plaxico. With nowhere else to go, he appeared at the home of his childhood friend, Tom Coughlin, some time earlier Couglin's team had thrown him out, requesting that he never return to the AFC. Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

UPDATE: This appears not to have been Plex's fraughting, but the township's corrupt attempts to defraug Plex gone horribly incompetent (given they were trying to tax him for 1998 and 1999, when he was still at Michigan State.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Apparently I was wrong:The fraught was stronger in these two.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Tonight we went to an exhibition game for the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League. (Yeah, this was just an excuse to eat a funnel cake, wasn't it.) During the fifth inning they had a substitution of some guy I didn't recognize as a player, and soon they announced he was actually the winner of a one-day contract with team offered on eBay. So he manages to survive in the field with embarrasing himself, and since the contract states that he gets to bat once, he comes up second in the inning. Now the first guy flies out, and he comes up, and here's where we notice the pitcher's a little wild this inning. So much so that the first two balls are nowhere the strike zone. So the catcher goes out and talks to the pitcher "There's no way you're walking the eBay guy." And then just as the catcher goes back, the coach walks up, saying "There's no way you're walking the eBay guy." So after they leave, the pitcher throws a strike, and then he doesn't walk the eBay guy.

He beans him.

Okay, he hits the guy in the shoulder, but it's not as good a story. But still, nothing like paying good money to get smacked around.

Friday, May 20, 2005

I was watching... You don't trade for a punter. Now then where was I... You don't trade for a punter. S'anyway... You don't trade for a punter.

You know I seem to have forgotten what I was going toYou don't trade for a punter.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Four odd bits from my drive from work to summer practice.

1. For some reason the local golf course which has tried to be the respected PGA Tour Stop has added something they call the "John Daly Learning Center." I'm not really sure if one can applied the Scared Straight metaphor to golf.

2. The election is over here, and we had the odd moment of me considering whether I should vote for former Steeler Dwayne Woodruff for the court of common pleas. Not quite Jim Rooker running for Congress, but then again what is.

3. As bad as that thought, the other option was somebody named, I honestly swear, Robert Downey, Jr. I have to figure that you want to have a Judge of Common Pleas familiar with all the common pleas, so maybe that is bold television on their part.

4. Driving past Parkway Center Mall, I see the following sequence on the mall's flashing annoucement ticker.


In other news....
RIP Frank Gorshin. Be sure to scare the crap out of this guy on your way out. Pittsburgh demands it.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Yes, I know I've been quiet. Suffice it to say, I've had a very busy couple months. The majority of my business fell under the auspices of getting the latest edition of the software done sufficiently that I feel good about its release, so I think we're finally out from under that rock.

The other big bit is that I finally cleared the Reference Desk up. (That is, fully moved it, and checked all the links to remove the dead ones. Really happy about that, and really happy about the Firefox extension that made it easy to check.

More to come, just wanted you to know I'm not dead here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

"The fraught is strong in this one." Also with this, I think I may have a new iron law of things.

The iron law of Community College Parking Lots: Any event worthy of reporting on, which takes place in a community college parking lot, will be a net negative for the subject of the report.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Thoughts while watching the Pirates:

Tomorrow's promotion is Build-A-Bear, everyone 12 and under gets a Build-A-Bear, which appears to have a Pirates cap on it. My question is, are you not getting a build-a-bear as much as a pre-built bear?

Joe's great story about ferreting out "the truth" regarding Calvin Coolidge has finally come to its goal, becoming a meme out of his control. To wit.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Various thoughts from the draft coverage:

Having seen Cedric Benson's interview following his being drafted, I'm convinced that he's either going to turn into Ricky Williams, or kill someone on the field who calls him Ricky Williams. There is no middle ground here.

By Antrel Rolle wearing the "free with drafting" cap slightly back on his head, I now know that the new Cards logo doesn't look fierce when not viewed straight on, it looks hydroencephalic.

In 5 more years, Sean Salisbury will sound exactly like Harry Caray. Unfortunately there's no way to exploit this.

After two rounds, I like the Steelers draft, but I'd like the Jaguars draft picks for the Steelers much better. Nothing against Heath Miller, the Steelers could put Matt Jones in multiple positions, and drive people completely nuts, even while he was learning on the job.

I'm a little concerned that the folks who run Powerball have hired the old rovers from the Village to subtly 'encourage' people to play Powerball.

Okay, After their second pick in the third round, I was wondering what the heck was going on with the Broncos. Taking corners for their first three picks was a little weird, but I figured one was going to become a safety. Still it had that weird vibe of "Oh crap, we set autodraft and forgot it doesn't balance for position." At that I was contemplating a fraught call. THEN, they grab Maurice Clarett. Well, that's steering into the skid.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

All I have to say about this: You're not getting 14,000 without bobbleheads.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

I'm beginning to think that the Steelers should have signed Todd Sauerbrun, if only to ensure that all ex-Steelers have the most bizarre crime blotter stories.
Our latest example.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Levels of weirdness in the story:

Level 1. Realizing that the subject of this article was that a punter was juiced.
Level 2. Realizing that the punter, based on the last two paragraphs, might literally be dumb as a post. And not one of those quality hardwood posts either.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

In terms of what they did, the great engineers of the 19th century may be known for their magnificent achievements. But upon reading this article today, I'm inclined to think this may be the most important fundamental engineering achievement of the 19th century. Managing to convince your pointy-headed pasha through simple cost analysis of the impracticality of their idea...simple genius.

Linant de Bellefonds, we salute you.
(via the always intriguing Laputan Logic)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I'm becoming intrigued by the notion of the most ridiculous single-object/single-focus weblogs. In the past couple weeks I've been exposed to weblogs devoted to:

So do you have anything to top these?
Craig forwarded word of this to me, proving once again, the golden age of corrupt Pennsylvania politicians is not dead. (another article)

I'm still trying to determine the best part of this:
The sudden appearance of his properties on the tax-exempt list.
The putting his COUNTY SUPPLIED cell phone number on a sex site.
The state basically saying "don't impede our investigation by actually calling him on this"
The quote from the local newspaper editor.
The quote from longtime resident Dewey Lutz.
The quote from Commissioner Steve Craig.
The quote from his wife, which basically sums it up.
The fact that he's not really showing up to work much anymore, since he fled to Ohio.
The "How we tally dog licenses" defense.
The "Everything that's been reported is more complicated than it's been made out to be" defense.
The fact that there's an actual act on the books covering this for just a few counties, called the Venango Act, which doesn't include Venango County. (Okay, that's only for me, maybe Joe, but pretty much just me.)
The fact that the Venango Act covers Washington County.

Simply awesome.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Clearly ABC News' headline writers are busy watching the tournament.

Actual headlines on the site today:
* X Chromosome May Show Gender Differences (Ummm, duh?)
# Lucky Charms Leprechaun: 'I'm Not Irish' (This reads way too much like it should be an Onion headline.)

They also have this story, which contains one nugget that I really wish somebody had told me about at the time, namely that Letterman's Montana ranch had a bear break into it twice, and was only captured on the third time. Was this bear a stalker? Did it seek revenge for all those sketches? Can someone who watches more late night TV tell me if they ever did "Can a guy in a bear suit break into Letterman's Ranch?"
More ABA goodness.

Q: Your best team just quit the playoffs, what do you do? (Thanks, James)
A: Lure Oronde Gadsden into your clutches, by promising a bulk rate on teams.

And then there's this which doesn't look fraught at all. After all, in terms of impedances to the league, travel costs are way down on the list, after finding owners, keeping owners, finding arenas, keeping arenas...

(I don't know whether it's true or not, I just like the notion of someone out there who has written on their to do list: "Entice Oronde Gadsden into a costly pyramid scheme." Preferrably on a whiteboard in their office.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

If people want to know:

Thursday, March 10, 2005

From: DEK
To: Kjell Magne Bondevik, PM, Kingdom of Norway
Re: Priorities

Prime Minister,
I noticed your recent statement against IKEA, and was curious as to how this became an issue for you and the Norwegian government. After all, it falls under none of the chief industries of Norway, previously enumerated in an earlier post. After all, the art theft services industry is booming, what with today's theft of decorated cows, and good trade with IKEA can only serve to bring more artwork(mass produced though it may be) into the country. Not that I mean to interfere in Norwegian affairs, I thought it just needed saying.

Sincerely yours,
D. E. Kidder
PS- Have a Nice Day
Things have come full circle up at the parents' place, my dad went and bought a computer, and it was a Mac. I had suspected this was coming for a couple weeks now, my father had been having serious issues with his Windows box, between Microsoft and McAfee both forcing updates and shooting the legs out from under each other's changes, I had a feeling something like this could happen. I had been betting on him bringing in the Mac Mini or mini-Mac or whatever it's called, as a media box/toy, but this was a different model, a little higher function. He's been getting increasingly ticked off at Microsoft, and I've been feeding him things to get away from them (OpenOffice, Firefox, etc.) for some time. I think I may have given him the final straw for pitching the Windows as all but a legacy system this weekend. He's been obsessive about transferring his older media over to digital. Lots of vinyl and reel-to-reel stuff. He bought a special package a couple years back to do high level digital noise reduction and the like so he could put these on CD for storage. Well, I downloaded a copy of Audacity for him. We'll see if screaming follows. (My cheapness is genetic. If I blew that much on software where free software could do equal or better, I'd scream.)

It's not the first time we've had one up there. We had an original edition Mac, circa '84, we even had to have it upgraded to 512k, but never got around to getting a disk drive to run 800k disks. I pretty much spent a good four years with that as my base machine for school work.

It does seem kind of weird to have him zip around me on the tech front, kinda like life before college.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Things that Reuters will tell you that CNN won't.

Compare these two articles:
10points(1|2). You will notice an important detail missing. For the record, I didn't have it either.
The most recent entry has what might be the most easily misinterpreted article title in mathematics history: The Busy Beaver Surprise-in-a-Box. Ironically, the interpretation your dirty mind came up with is not the one mine did. For most of my childhood, the phrase Busy Beaver would be a reference to a home improvement store, so a Busy Beaver Surprise-in-a-Box would probably be some form of washbasin that wasn't the right color.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Two questions about stuff in the news:

1. 10pointsDo we (the U.S.) still have Santa Ana's wooden leg? And if so, does this mean some sort of exchange can be worked out?

2. 10pointsIs the problem in Norway just bad security, or is it in fact that their fourth largest industry IS art theft and art theft services? (After of course, tourism, herring, and the aerosol can.)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

More fun with the spam name master.

Sitting in my junkmail folder:
Marrows I. Salvadorian
Godiva I. Infringement
Stockbroker A. Vamoosing
Shropshire S. Congressman
Ceiling O. Brainwashing
Meagerness O. Gregariously
Crystallography V. Disbelief
Squealed K. Stamping
Initialed H. Psychopath
Cryogenics Q. Scalawag
Propaganda C. Headless
Dishwasher J. Incisiveness
Population G. Breastplate
Lassoed R. Conservatories
Autographs B. Entangled
Pointlessness K. Privation
Thingamajig Q. Spellers
Abjected L. Unicycles
Bodhidarma F. Victor
Soup J. Mildness
Reckons I. Numeracy
Scullion I. Indistinguishable
Outranking B. Sight
Etiologies T. Annulment
Violinists S. Anglican
Subcontract P. Cussed
Smuts C. Applicators
Secede I. Beets

Judges award:
Turban H. Fraughts

And now the top ten:
10. (tie)Gawkiness B. Prickly (Well, typically yes)
10. (tie)Disobedience B. Demilitarizing (Again, well, typically, yes)
9. Burping V. Socrates (Take the Burping and the points)
8. Dogmatically T. Siberia (Middle name To?)
7. Panelings S. Kaleidoscope (The GIRL with KALEIDOSCOPE PANELINGS!!!)
6. Slabs U. Jeep (which sounds like some sort of cockney slang. "You drop your bob, and Slabs you jeep.")
5. Milliners L. Holocausts (winner of the maximum spread in connotative gravitas)
4. Landmass M. Blessedest (Possibly one of those old families that just picked a word at random from the Bible)
3. Effervescence G. Trimaran (Needed when the man for Ty-D-Bowl has to dodge the foaming cleanser)

Our second place winner:
2. Paganini O. Hooters (which sounds like a horrid mash-up of chain restaurants)

And our worst name in my Junk mail folder:
1. Armpits T. Smog
Two bits on ads:

1. Late last night I saw the ad for the Everlife Flashlight, which made what I believe to be a first in advertising. During the ad, they showed how it worked, and displayed Faraday's law of induction, complete with integrals. Now, I'll freely admit that I may not have all the demographics of the America public mapped out, but I'm pretty sure I'm right in saying that actual flashing of integrals on television is a net negative as to what the people want.
2. Again, I could be wrong, but does anybody know if the Take 5 bar originated outside the country, and was brought back in? The reason being, I had always thought that the chocolate covered pretzel was a development out of Pennsylvania Dutch food, and yet the ad contains ad copy so horrible that I really think it was developed in another country where the English language is merely a concept.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Yeah, I did see Olbermann tonight.
Yeah, I did see Jackson Trial Puppet Theater.
Yeah, I'm feeling a little ripped off, but then again, as I said, it does beg to be reenacted with puppets. That I was figuring sock puppets, (the defendant being played by one of my dark socks that's taken one too many trips in the washer) is probably enough to claim independently developed concept. But still, KO, throw us a frickin' bone.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

A wrap up on Bubba. This article covers one aspect that I missed the first time around. PETA was again on the case, making sure I look sane by comparison. They had a standing offer to drive Bubba to the ocean, with their description:

"It's disappointing because people used him as a publicity stunt, and it ultimately caused his death,"
--Karin Robertson, Director, PETA's Fish Empathy Project

As opposed to their plans to use him as a publicity stunt, which had the advantage that the body would be where no one could find it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Somebody who is more familiar with the news business may want to disavow me of this notion, but it seems like a solid observation at this point. In the past 48 hours, we've seen two minor features on Pittsburgh things: first on Joe Grushecky, then one on Bubba the 22-pound lobster

The odd thing I'm wondering is if this is just an annual pattern. The reason being, I distinctly remember articles on CNN a couple years back, right about this time of year, on Primanti Brothers' sandwiches, and then on the stairways that dot the hillsides in the city. I guess it makes sense if you're sending one person around to cover these things, that these would come in clusters, but it would be a bit odd if it's actually keyed to some annual cycle.

UPDATE: This update brought to you by Mutual Life, because you could die tomorrow. Just like Bubba the huge lobster.

Pittsburgh's own Bubba the huge lobster is dead. I'd just like to note that they are performing an autopsy, which means Cyril Wecht will be involved, possibly attempting to shoot down the magic butter theory. I'd also like to point out that my immediate reaction was "Yes, in fact, there is nothing that the city ends up doing that doesn't backfire on it."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

James sends us some more amazing tales of the ABA in which we see it compared to an intoxicated garter snake, and in which we discover that skipping out on the all-star game was merely the tip of the iceberg, when you consider the option of skipping out on the playoffs.

Update: Cue the music from The Sting

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Apparently Steve Blass' attack of his namesake disease has degenerated even further. Now he's unable to reach opposing cities. So for this year they are looking for a replacement for Blass on the Pirates road coverage. While I'm pretty ambivalent about most of the original possibles, from the final four selected, I've really got some issues. While Mike Lavalliere was my favorite Pirate from that era, (short, fat guys have each other's back) I don't know if his first color job should be in the majors. That pretty much leaves me with Kent Tekulve, who at least did an earlier stretch with the Phillies, and IIRC, their minors. What I can't deal with is the option of John Wehner, who basically milked being Pittsburgh's own John Wehner for about two seasons too long. (Best reference I've ever heard about him: Lloyd and Paul Waner were Pirate hall of famers nicknamed Big and Little Poison. As a result we have given John Wehner a similar nickname: Slow-Acting Poison.) And as for the final option, Sid Bream, I have to think that that's just a bad idea. Or perhaps it's a new method to appeal to a new generation of fans... by driving EVERY OTHER GENERATION OF PIRATE FANS TO SUICIDE, BIT BY EXCRUCIATING BIT.

Greg Brown: "Ah, you slid that one past us, Sid. Remember, folks, Sunday is Cutlass Day, all fans 13 and over get an authentic Pirate Cutlass, brought to you by Henckels Cutlery. Remember, you want to do it...with Henckels. And on the next homestand, Mrs. Al Martin Bobblehead night, collect the set."**

** Yes, I am ticked at Greg Brown, but I'm more ticked at the Cubs for not taking the jagoff off our hands.
We've covered Dr. Gene Scott before. (Last day of the California trip.) Well, he passed away yesterday. And somehow I'm wondering if I'm the only one out my way who ever got to see this guy. I can see that California people knew about him (1|2|3|4), but my family had the big satellite dish (since we're still too far out for cable to reach), and so we were able to see this. He became this simultaneously quiet, menacing, and utterly riveting television experience, something completely alien to my existence. I was already immune to the televised evangelism, even at 11, but he was hypnotic, always seemingly about to explode. 24 hours a day, episode edited into episode to look like he never left his chair, and just kept going. It was something that couldn't be explained, certainly not to your friends at school. It was like a two-by-four to the head, an est seminar that you could flip between it and unscrambled Cinemax. For the first time I was sitting there watching TV, disbelieving that I was watching this, utterly enthralled by the absurdity. It was probably the first performance art I've ever seen, and it's still by far the best.

For whatever reason, this particular strain of madman is dying out, and right quick.

Monday, February 21, 2005

If I needed some karmic explanation for my last 48 hours, I got it when I woke up this afternoon. Maybe it was insufficient oxygen, too much mucus in the sinus and lungs, or a bad batch of Sudafed and Vicks, but something was up. The body was lying flat and coughing up a storm, but the brain was running overclocked on some problem unknown. If you're inclined to believe in such things, maybe my brain was picking up a bad broadcast from Colorado.
Ever since I went into my first used book store, I've had this image of an author who finds his own works in the remainders, takes them all home, and lights them on fire. In the accounts today, I found a picture of Hunter S. Thompson shooting his own typewriter. You do have to earn the right to destroy what you've created, and somehow I have to think Hunter figured he had earned the right to shoot his own typewriter.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

It's not part of Monkeys in the News (yet), but this could be the greatest headline you'll see all year, mostly because I have this image of them storming the courtroom, while Pat O'Brien reports.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Almost out of nearly dead from the cold mode.

Found this today, I'm not so much frightened by this story of gorillas gone wild as much as I'm amazed to find that somebody actually keeps a record of Monkeys in the news. Since we know that monkeys remain comedy gold, this is perfect. Especially when they mention laser wielding monkeys.

This also got me thinking about the possibility of running a fraught ticker. Then I realized you can pretty much do this with nothing more than a google news search:

What the media dubs fraught at this hour:
Georgia and Russia
Being Arthur Miller's fiancee
Surprise parties
The Arab League, though that may be a consequence of surprise.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

It would appear that the Pit Bulls are beginning to enter death spiral, based on the reports here. And about as I figured, it's not really their fault. When a team cancels on you because a good bit of the team is going to the all-star game, so you get a replacement team for your gig (that isn't uniform coordinated, or even having the right team name on their jerseys), well you're in the ABA. If nothing else, they've got that right from the old league. Well, at least the new home arena was selling food.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

JQ sends me this article, which begs the question 'can something be fraught with fraught'? I really don't know. It's like staring into the bottomless pit.
The mere notion of the possibility frightens me.
"Don't try to out-weird me, three eyes. I get weirder things
than you in my breakfast cereal." - Zaphod Beeblebrox

Example: this article in slashdot on Elektro the robot. I read the header, and I see the title "Sex Kittens Go to College", and my immediate thought is "Oh, yeah, Conway Twitty's in that." My second thought was "Dear God, that's the strangest connection you could ever hope to make. Historical robots to Conway Twitty via Mamie Van Doren. What is wrong with you, DEK?"

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Altoona Curve, the Pirates' AA affiliate have an updated website, conplete with pictures of Steamer, whom they claim is a model of the K4 Steam Engine. However, I am convinced he looks like something else. Somebody want to convince me I'm putting way too much subtext into this, and that Steamer would be a perfectly fine mascot guest for your school's drug prevention assembly?

UPDATE: If you're very, very lucky, the ad that shows up above Steamer is an ad from the PA Department of Health asking you if you need help quitting smoking. Apparently, it's not just my subtext.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

For those of you who haven't actually seen me in the flesh, you probably don't know I got a new car at the beginning of the year. As we used to say about my dad, when he came home with a car overloaded on the features, they saw me coming. (one of the perks of having car dealers in the family.) And one of the features is OnStar. Now I don't get the whole OnStar thing to begin with, beyond the emergency button. So I was content with the notion of allowing the thing to simply expire after the free trial. Well, today, they called me. More to the point, they called my office. Now I'm ticked off, because now they're trying to sell me on it. I suppose it's the same reason I detest cell phones so much, I absolutely love being disconnected from the world for a few minutes a day, and something that would break into that, AND force me to pay for it...well, that's just beyong the pale.

Friday, February 04, 2005

My mind has been turning around item seven in this list for the past week. I think it's fundamentally correct. I mean, I tend to use this approach, and it works for solving a lot of problems. The problem I've had is that the problems I solve with this are typically small scale. If I could identify more fundamental, larger scale problems, I'd have a better shot of coming up with actual genius stuff. My answers are fine, I just need better questions.

So I think I'm going to ruminate on identifying what are the big problems in quiz bowl. More may follow on this, we'll see how it goes.
Seeing Max Schmeling's death notice caused me to stop by again. While there I noticed their top picks list. I immediately go looking for Abe Vigoda (who is some sort of patron saint of the death pool game), only to find he's outranked this year by Dan Fogelberg. Dan Fogelberg? There's not enough Dan Fogelberg hate in the world to explain that. So I go hunting for the story behind this, and I find this explanation. Yes, 72 people put money down on Dan Fogelberg's prostate. While over at Google news, I saw this headline as a top story:

Jackson says he has 'Rhinoceros Skin,' Blasts 'Mr. Eminem'...

Folks, I gotta confess, the possibility that he was speaking metaphorically was only the third interpretation I could come up with, after medical condition, and adding to the Elephant Man collection. Well at least it would make a good puppet.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Look, it was creepy enough knitted. But in coffin form? Picture 7 of 10.
10points Even with a new look, Cardinals don't eat Eagles.

30pointsAn explanation of how the prestigious single letter stock symbols are about to change.
Idle notion:

Possible Trash prize combo: The Sally Anthony Album and the Ron Artest Album. So what's the other two that need to fill out the four if it's a team prize?
Two bits I saw linked in series:
They're bringing back the Furby. I never got around to my notion to screw around with them the first time: setting five of them in a circle, getting a camcorder, and with judicious editing filming a group of them talking to each other like it was an episode of the McLaughlin Group. The article gives no mention of whether I'll now be able to get them to say "Special K with ba-nan-aas."

Meanwhile. NBC is rapidly approaching the level of Bob's Country Bunker:
"Oh we have both kinds, Law and Order and the Apprentice."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

We're a little lacking in the comedy this year in the Groundhog Day roundup. We lack the pure comedy nirvana that was the picture of Wiarton Willie from a couple years back, which I unfortunately can't find. Willie had gone to the great burrow in the sky, and depending on who you ask, his handlers were either:
a. Forced to announce the tragic news and show pictures of Willie in the casket the day after.
b. Prop him up like an albino groundhog aparatchik for the May Day parade.

Still, there's some good stuff out there:
A groundhog being directed to try the Atkins diet, but instead choosing to eat his door
and a groundhog demanding legal remedy against his rivals.
Just read the headline. I guarantee you fifteen seconds of befuddlement followed the feeling the article's getting crazier and crazier, the deeper you go.

Key quote, taken completely out of context:
Shurden believes it could be incorporated into horse racing
I suppose this is better than the idiots who have gotten ads tattooed on their foreheads, however, I just fear for any Piston fans when somebody upends Richard Hamilton on the court to see if his head's as good as the tread.
Your ABA FraughtWatch continuing coverage continues:

1Nashville's story goes from inexplicable to ridiculously inexplicable. Additional follow up here. Especially note the posting by "Chris" at 9:16 AM Feb 01, about the next game and the reaction on the fan boards.

2 After trying out with the Steelers earlier in the season, Pennsylvania Pit Bulls standout Julius Page has decided to try to take guidance from a third league (the NHL), leaving the team to play in Russia.

3 The Utah Snowbears, arguably the best team in the league, have basically said "It's okay. Have the All-Star Game without us. No, really, we're cool with it."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Wow. Just wow.

Some things, like the ABA are such an easy call, that I don't make them, because you can basically park a fraught call, and really there's no surprise in it. Something was going to hit this league. Bad checks, low flying aircraft, open revolt against the state... Anyone could call fraught on this league.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Those Wacky Japanese!
For reasons unknown to my conscious mind, I went looking in google for "Things made out of aluminum". Top search item (at least until this entry gets spidered): this

I'm really not sure what that's supposed to mean, but it put me off my feed.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Maybe I do have a deep-seated envy of some of the other Ivies, since the most common response I used to have when people would ask me where I went to school, and I said Cornell, was "Oh don't they have a glass museum there!" But this article about Harvard's appointment of a 'fun czar' really plays to my worst expectations. If I had to pick a school that would decide this was necessary over and above Student Activities, and would give it the "drug czar" vibe, yeah, you are appealing to my worst expectations. And then their's the quote from the associate dean: "It's not us: They arrived needing help having fun." Well, you recruit snipers, you're going to get snipers... S'anyway, they'll be looking for a new "fun czar". I'd really like to suggest Jingles.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Serena Southerlyn is a lesbian who lives on Endor.

If you ended up watching Law and Order last night, you got to see it jump the shark.
Now I understand that the structure of Law and Order is to not give that much information about the characters lives outside of their jobs, but there comes a point where you actually have to leave a few crumbs out, usually just when the character is leaving the show. But I guess they can't get around the notion of writing background for two characters and Dennis Farina's new character takes precedence. (Incidentally, I'm figuring since they tried to throw hints about corruption when they introduced Lenny Briscoe, the only explanation they've got left in their quiver that I can think of is that Fontana invented "The Club".) So last night, they throw the notion of logical buildup to the wind, and the final scene just tacks on a LAW AND ORDER TWIST which didn't matter, and just came out of left field. And Fred Thompson looked like he had been given the wrong draft of the script. It was like watching a man forced to respond to the Chewbacca Defense. It makes NO SENSE!
Never has a television show cried out more to be reenacted with puppets. I would guess Spitting Image would be technically ideal, and explain the BSkyB part of this teamup, but really, to avoid the notion of actually having to cast this (When E did this for the OJ civil trial, did anyone cast in that do anything ever again?), it would be far better to do this even with just hand puppets. Of course that assumes that hand puppets don't actually appear in the testimony.(Latest line from the house of wacky prop bets: 3 to 1 against.)
Something I forgot, and How to Sharpen your Fraught-detection skills.

On the way to the ABA game, Joe dropped the following on me. While they were discussing the possibilities of the NFL playoffs, sports radio announced some of the Steelers' plans for the weekend. Now Cowher had given them the day off, repaying the traditional day off that they didn't take off in training camp. This was good for Plex, they announced, because he was going hunting for the first time, and this would give him time to get down to the hunt.

Now, reread that last sentence as if you were a Steeler fan. If you can't feel fraught from that, well, you're not listening. Remember, this is Plex, of "That's why I'm Plaxico" fame. The salient point I have to convey in this is the fact that I stated (roughly) the following sentence structure about two minutes later. "I guess we could take 88 over to Century ...what the hell's IN SEASON?" (Whitetail deer, Virginia, for those of you who wonder.) I wasn't alone in this, this was a story good enough to rouse Mark Madden (the normal ESPN drivetime guy,) call in to his own show on a day off(Plex and Big Ben live in Madden's neighborhood). And what threatened to be a slow day in Stillers news turned into a minor laugh riot.

Now then, did you get that feeling of fraught in your system? Now here's another example. I didn't see this until it actually happened, but think about putting the following together:
Feminist Author Germaine Greer
Britain's Celebrity Big Brother

Feel that, that feeling in the pit of your stomach, the one you felt when you heard Plex started taking an interest in guns. That's your center, the fraught's talking to you. It's saying something's going to go down. A little fear, a little uncertainty of what's about to hit, but no doubt that something's about to hit. Well, see here, your fraught sense was right. You didn't need to know about Jackie Stallone, your fraught sense smoked her out. It's a skill, it's not magic. You can sense fraught just like I can.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Deluxe Subreference implosion.

So I'm sitting here typing, when I happen to catch the credits of some Z-level thing called "Street Corner Justice", and I notice that it's a Steel City Films production. So I figure they shot it in Pittsburgh. And two establishing shots confirm, so I'll watch a little. The first two credits I notice are Marc Singer and Beverly Leech. It's a bad sign when I immediately recognize that as Beastmaster and Kate Monday from Mathnet. I figure I'll watch a little more. The first action sequence consists of Beastmaster chasing rapist Clint Howard, saving his life when dangles off the roof of Le Mont. So I'll watch a little more. Well dangling Clint Howard gets Beastmaster kicked off the force, and we see more money of the Pittsburgh Film Development Office money get spent, which consists of a gratuitous "Jeet Jet?" "No, d'joo", and we're off to LA, specifically a block that looks suspiciously like Koreatown. I began losing interest, until I realized we also had Tiny Lister, and Malcolm's Dad as a priest. Unfortunately, it seems to be one of those films only amusing in a bad polemic sort of way, but wonderfully unintentionally funny at that.

UPDATE: Beastmaster, Hooker Kate Monday, and Born Again Tiny Lister. It's like the fraught Superfriends!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Tonight, Joe and I did something I've been promising people for a while. We traversed the wilds of Pittsburgh's South Hills, and took in a game too tough for the mean streets of McKeesport. Yes, we went to an ABA game.

Along the way we took the worst possible route, driving, as the directions to Penn State McKeesport indicated, through Downtown McKeesport (easily identified by the view from the first stop light, featuring County Holding Center, Family Dollar Store and check cashing), the Industrial Development Center (easily identified by its being half a block wide and heading straight into the river), and the "Cultural and Educational Center of McKeesport" (their word, not mine), consisting of a Donut Connection, a Giant Eagle grocery store, and the entrance to PSU-McKeesport, before the road leads into neighboring White Oak Township. I wish I was kidding.

We got there about 5 minutes late, and were about to purchase tickets, when a woman offered us her two spare tickets. So technically speaking we were part of a crowd of 131, with 129 paid. Yes, Joe counted. We then recieved the our first sports event wanding. Oddly, Joe's session was able to detect the dimes in his pocket, while mine was unable to detect the big mix of metal on my keychain. I suspected that this was because though they appeared to have two metal detector wands, only one of them was real.

Among the luminaries at the game were at least three former Steelers (we weren't able to identify them, so we just called one Rich Erenburg and let it go at that) who were announced by an announcer who couldn't be understood with the background music playing (our only proof they were ex-Steelers being their size and bad knees), and Lynne Hayes-Freeland, host of channel 2's weekly version of Perspectives. ABA action, it's Fan-tastic.

It's sad to say that this was not nearly the sort of laugh riot that some were expecting. Our primary fear had been that the visiting team would fail to show up. We didn't have any fear of the home team not showing up, since they had been the subject of a Tribune-Review article this morning. Given the problems the league's had from the start, the mere fact of two teams arriving established a certain level of mediocrity which we couldn't expect it to fall below. It didn't rise above it either, but hey, free for us.

And now the funny bits:
1. Hardest fall of the night: Joe and I were 90% convinced that the ref was Asa Arons, formerly known as Asa Arons-Channel-11-Troubleshooter, as he was introduced for several years. Further debate will determine whether this is a harder fall than Bob Kudzma, former Channel 2 weatherman, then part time school bus driver, then first chair in the Washington (Pa.) Symphony Orchestra.

2. About midway through the second quarter, Joe, who had been wondering why one of they guys had been given the impossible-to-signal-for-foul number of 97, while another had the number 48, parsed out the clues of a large racecar on their uniform front, and a check pattern down its sides. Yes, the Carolina team had given all their players the same numbers as top NASCAR vehicles. This was followed by me going, "Where's 24?... crap. Where's 8?... crap."

3. About midway through the third quarter, Joe noticed the fact that no two pairs of shoes out on the court were the same. I noted that the ABA was a BYOS league.

4. On our way out, I had quickly turned when I saw a table set up for display of items. I had been hoping to gather some materials for a Pittsburgh sports prize package for TRASHionals (Riverhounds, Wild Things, Nailers, Greyhounds, PitBulls), seemed like a good idea. But by the time I turned, and focused on the table, I found that this was actually a table set up to pitch PSU-McKeesport. Now I know what it costs to rent the gym.

All in all, it was a fine evening, perhaps not comedy gold, but more than comedy silver, and given the comedy value was more derived from its rarity than it's actual value to anyone, we hereby dub the Pennsylvania PitBulls comedy iridium.
So as I post this, the headline for this is appearing on CNN's front page, and I'm trying to figure out what's the mathematics of celebrity here. It's a freakin' land transaction, and yet it's appearing purely because of BOTH people involved. What I want to know is at what point on the celebrity scale does this not appear, and what's the function between the two celebrities that forces this to the top of the page. Is it additive? Multiplicative? Is it some sort of bitwise or operation, appearing because the Hollywood bit and the Washington bit flipped on at the same time? Yes, this is what I think about when I see things like this.
Boingboing linked to this, which immediately struck me as something perfect for my mother to stave off boredom on those upcoming mixed snow/sleet/freezing rain days, while being nice to Gracie. The irony of this being if I send my mother this link, she might wander around and find this, which I had stumbled across wandering through some weblog's links yesterday. Well, this would be pure nightmare fuel. I can't say what exactly makes the notion of a cuddly pink uterus swinging through the trees under its own power so psychologically menacing to me, but it is, and it's not worth the risk of this appearing in my life, in the yarn.

Key quotes:
And, of course, the human uterus is not normally bubblegum pink.

Gently bend fallopian tubes forward into a curve, or however you wish to pose them.

MK has been taking anatomy and physiology classes this year.

In a related notion. I've been openly contemplating a competition, put 64 of the most inexplicable objects I've seen on or offline, and you decide what's the biggest nightmare fuel. We'll continue to contemplate this, but the above might just have gathered a high seed.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

And now we do a small but significant happy dance.

Although this wouldn't be my first choice for an addition to the Pittsburgh Airport (I'm still really wanting JetBlue to come in here), I have to think this is the first break in the stranglehold USAir put on the region. I have to guess this becomes part of Southwest's deal to grab ATA's Midway gates (the majority of ATA flights from Pittsburgh were to Midway, so this only makes sense), so it doesn't completely break the USAir gate lock, but it will help.

(Please note also the gratuitous Murphy slam. They really didn't need to do that, but that sure looks like a leading indicator he's going down.)

Monday, January 03, 2005

For those of you who were at Trashmasters, this would be theNew "New Sandwich Monstrosity."
I'd like to offer my congratulations to the Ducks (I can't bear to call them by their full name) on no longer not just being the dumbest team name in the four major leagues, but now they're not even the dumbest team name in their home city.
2004 is complete and I still don't know about it. I find myself noting this more as the year where everyone else's life changed, and nothing new happened in mine. (An observation: Of the three people I wanted to see in Southern California in the summer, all three are now in new locations.) For some of you, I'm sure this makes me look like an island of stability. Others I'm sure are looking at me like I'm stuck in a rut. More than anything I'm trying to not to fall victim to the illusion of moving sidewalks. I'm trudging along, making progress, and if people look like they're blowing past me, that's okay, because we're still getting there too.

Four things that could have gone differently, and I'm thankful for them not going differently:

1. Lake Elsinore, California. I could have been standing an inch to my right, or turned a couple of degrees more toward the wall. A glancing blow to the back of my neck could have been a lot worse. Similarly, my windshield held in October, and the guy who rear-ended my car in November could was at least trying to stop at the time.

2. I got in on Google the morning of Day 2. As much as I tend to hem and haw on purchases like that, I managed not to talk myself out of it, and not talk myself out of missing my chance. Even better, it finally got my father off of the "what are you doing with your money?" kick he's been on for the better part of a decade with me.

3. I didn't end up buying 10 acres of land in Washington in October. This got taken away from me as an option by one of the neighbors declaring bankruptcy rather than letting foreclosure hit, I really didn't want to be the guy to force him out. I'd have bought the land because it was adjacent to my parents' place, but I wouldn't have the heart to do the necessary followups.

4. I could have just let UPRK not happen. In a way, it's been the best thing I've ever done for myself as a software tester, because it's gotten me thinking about problems that I face at work in completely new ways. The occasional displacement of one's role from creator to destroyer is a worthy thing.