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.