August 29, 2008

I feel your Palin

Frankly, not sure I have anything to say about today's Election 08 topic du jour that you haven't thought for yourself. But for starters: WTF?

First two thoughts that came to mind:

1) Is this the kind of thing that's going to seal the deal for the Hillary's-women-supporters-who-were-considering-McCain-out-of-spite voting bloc to actually go Republican in November? Sure seems like that's what good-time Johnny was thinking. Either that, or he can check off "Lock up up Alaska's hotly contested three electoral votes" on his Road to the White House checklist.

2) I'm sure Sarah Palin is impressive in her own right and all, but I just circled October 2 on my imaginary calendar. (I guess it was also an imaginary circle.) Biden, who's been in the Senate for 36 years, versus Palin, who for the last 36 years has been... hm... older than 8 years old, I guess. It oughta be a barn-burner on the order of, hmm... well, sorta like this.

August 27, 2008

Here I stand / head in hand

I've had about an assful of people who are Hillary supporters who say they're going to vote for McCain out of spite. If they legitimately think McCain is a better choice than Obama, fine. To each her own. But it's like they think they're in a reality TV show, and this is their chance to reward Spencer for breaking up with Heidi even though they hate Spencer. I don't even know who those people are, but ... aggghhh ... the point is that these misguided morons seem to be forgetting that they're choosing the person who's going to lead the country for the next four years, but they're content to get their jollies playing mind games with people they don't actually know.

But let's move on. Two other quick thoughts on political stuff:

1) Besides those McCain spite-voters, does anyone have a weaker grasp of reality right now than Kwame Kilpatrick? There's no way this guy can keep his job as mayor of Rock City (and if I ever held that job, you can be sure that's what my business card would say), but he keeps dragging out his long farewell, and every new chapter in this weird saga has to be like a bad dream for everyone in Detroit and, well, just everyone.

It seems like one of those strange episodes people will look back on in 10 years and think to themselves, "Christ, that really happened?"

(Similar situation: Is it actually possible that voters in our nation's capital intentionally re-elected a mayor who had recently been convicted for doing cocaine with underage girls?)

At this point, I'd bet the average Michigander (I once met him, by the way - nice guy) doesn't even remember what the hell Kilpatrick did to get in trouble in the first place. But ol' Kwame has certainly made an ass of himself in just about every way possible since then.

2) I thought Hillary did a nice job with her speech at the DNC last night. I even thought her "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits" line was a cute touch - poking fun at herself with a 2008 pop-culture reference - even though it made my beautiful wife groan.

But there was one line that left me a little confused. While she was talking about the regular/sick/uninsured folks she met along the campaign trail (or, maybe, didn't actually meet, but who's counting?), Hillary described the coulda-been-touching story about meeting a woman with cancer.

And I quote: "I will always remember the single mom who had adopted two kids with autism, didn't have health insurance and discovered she had cancer. But she greeted me with her bald head painted with my name on it and asked me to fight for health care."

And I wonder: Why did this woman greet a presidential candidate with her head, instead of just shaking her hand like everyone else would?

August 25, 2008

And, apparently, only one idea

Y'know how the slogan for the just-completed Olympic Games (hmph, now what am I going to do from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. every night?) was "One World. One Dream."?

Yeah, well, I'm starting to think that around August 8 or so, some big-cheese Democrat exclaimed during some fancy meeting, "Hey, the Olympics has its own slogan. We should have one, too, for our big convention in Denver!"

And some other Democrat exclaimed back, "Great idea, Hillary."

And then some other Democrat posed the not-so-hypothetical question: "Anyone know a good slogan?"

Whereupon yet another Democrat rolled his eyes. Because he knew where this was headed.

"It's a shame One World One Dream is taken. That would have been suh-weet. Think we can use it anyway?"

"Nah, I don't think so. But... wait! I have an idea. Well, it's a little crazy. How about... well, how about this?"

August 22, 2008

Dick to Lynne: Sweet! I made the Time magazine list!

... Oh.

... Uh, wait. Never mind.

Lesson learned here: If you're a vice president and you shoot and/or kill someone, whether it's accidental (Dick Cheney) or on purpose (I mean you, Aaron Burr and Richard M. Johnson) - or, now that I think about it, if your first name is Richard and your middle initial is M - you've got a decent chance of being considered one of the worst ever.

August 19, 2008

Maybe only medium rare

This may look like a sports-related post, but it's really not. Non-sportsies, stay with me on this...

Today's installment of Quotes That Almost Made Sense (a new feature!) comes to us courtesy of Ned Colletti, general manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ned is talking about the Dodgers' acquisition of pitcher Greg Maddux, who also played for the Dodgers for part of the 2006 season. Ned, take it away: "It's very rare that you get the opportunity to add a pitcher like Greg even one time, let alone twice."

Yeah, um, it doesn't seem that rare really, since you've done it twice inside of two years.

This reminds me of one of my favorite sports quotes of all time - again, I submit this is funny even if you don't give a damn about sports. While his team was in the midst of a 28-game losing streak in the 1970s, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay was asked what he thought about his team's execution. Good answer: "I'm in favor of it."

Good aim

I feel like I should win something. Just looked at my new cell phone bill and I went exactly one minute over my anytime minutes for last month. One minute. That is incredible accuracy in cell-phone minute usage. Until cell phone companies start counting in 30-second increments, this record will never be broken. Go ahead, try to beat it. You can't. Can't be done.

Unrelated: I'm not sure if this is the ultimate proof that I'm a grammar geek or just shows that anything is funny before you're actually awake in the morning. But just hours ago, KROQ's Kevin and Bean were giving away trips to Las Vegas for listeners who wanted to go to a swingers party. One TF* called up and said that his girlfriend had "never swang" before.


Made me laugh so hard I almost had to pull Al Jr.** over to the side of the road until I could recover.

Yeah, I don't know what I'm doing with asterisks today. Probably just a phase.

* turdface
** my car. He's named after Al Sr., my recently retired 1996 Altima. Al Sr. is living on a farm in upstate New York right now and if you don't believe it, then stick it.

August 18, 2008


Last few things (well, maybe) about Michael Phelps in the Olympics:

1) Was this the best athletic performance you've ever seen? Growing up, I always wondered what it must have been like to watch Spitz do his thing in 1972 - I was just short of a year old, so if I saw it live, I don't recall - and now I don't have to wonder anymore. Feelin' lucky that I got to see the new standard being set. This was one of two sports records I always figured was completely safe. The other? Well, I got to see that one broken, too - in person, no less.

2) He was so focused on his mission that, as he said during a news conference this weekend, he didn't even know what the outside of the swimming venue looked like. I like that. Although he should go take a look - that Water Cube thing is damn cool.

3) The video of his .01 second win over Mike ("Let-me-say-something-stupid-to-fire-up-the-best-swimmer-in-the-world") Cavic was shown ad nauseum over the weekend on NBC, but if you're not sick of seeing it, here's a neat slideshow of still images that shows again how much ground he made up in the last few meters of the race.

4) Wonder what the city of Baltimore is going to name after him, and whether city leaders will do something soon or wait until after London 2012.

5) How about this for the Democratic party ticket: Obama-Phelps '08?

That's probably enough.

August 15, 2008

Bei-jingoism, and a Rose

This has felt like an off week, blog-wise, and I'll just blame it on Olympics-induced lack of sleep.

I admit this is a flimsy excuse, because, well, I'm tired from staying up an hour later than usual to watch Michael Phelps swim, while Michael Phelps, who is actually doing the swimming, is awake enough to keep setting world records. Which seems somewhat more strenuous than being parked in front of a Dell Optiplex, typing stuff all day. Maybe he's in better physical shape than I am.

Still, I want to fight through the pain for your blog-reading enjoyment and/or personal enrichment and/or time-wasting enhancement, so here's what I'm thinking:

1) Olympics-wise, I already posted about the not-cute-enough-pre-teen-opening-ceremony singer whose voice was used but body was replaced in the live show by a cuter-but-less-musical-lip-syncing girl. Which definitely seems like the Olympic spirit. But in the last week, we've also learned that:

(a) the Olympic organizers apparently didn't even think their fireworks were cute enough - turns out that what we saw on TV was computer-enhanced, as though slightly better fireworks would make us all like China a lot more - and that...

(b) for several days after the (apparently fake) smoke cleared, the organizers suppressed the news that one of China's best and best-known dancers was badly injured during a rehearsal for the ceremony and may be paralyzed. The good news is that they must have thought she was cute enough to participate in the first place, so she's got that going for her.

Oh, and (c) the latest kerfuffle is a Wall Street Journal report - really? this is what the Wall Street Journal feels like covering these days? - that the children in the opening ceremony who were supposed to be members of China's ethnic minorities were actually children from the Han majority, just dressed up to look like members of the minorities. Isn't it weird they thought it was worth it to fudge that little detail? I can understand faking the ages of your gymnasts - at least there's something to win; at least you get a medal. But fake fireworks and fake ethnic children? Why bother?

I have this sneaking suspicion we're going to find out soon that the entire ceremony didn't actually take place, and it was all CGIed at Pixar.

2) The younger of my two world-class nephews bears a striking resemblance to NFL superstar Jevon Kearse. For your consideration:

I know, it's startling, right? That's Max in the bib, in case you feel like you're seeing double.

(Thanks to Rose Digital for the Max portrait and to Sports Illustrated for the Kearse cover.)

August 13, 2008

I've cut the dickens out of my finger

I'm too tired to think of any wise-ass comments about today's news - and I guess I'm using the term "news" very loosely - that Julia Child was part of an OSS spy ring during World War II. In fact I'm so tired that I think maybe I just dreamed reading about it. But why would I dream about a long-deceased chef being a part of the precursor to the CIA? This is where my thought process really starts falling apart.

So, yes, I'm tired, but I'm not so tired that I've forgotten my favorite Julia Child pop culture reference: the classic - having just watched it again, maybe "old" is a better descriptor - Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Aykroyd playing Chef Julia. C'mon, you're bored, just go check it out. (Apologies for the 30-second Degree commercial that NBCmorons make you watch first.) To go straight to the passage that gave us today's headline, skip ahead to about 1:39. You're welcome.

August 12, 2008

...and the only cure is more team handball

In a previous post, I professed that I would probably be a casual viewer, at best, of the Beijing Olympics.

Now I fear that I professed incorrectly. Turns out I can't get enough of this stuff. I knew I'd be psyched to watch Michael Phelps chase history - how the heck does he keep setting world records every time he swims? - but it's worse. Much worse.

This is embarassing, but I actually watched a few minutes of (ugh, it hurts to type this) badminton and I might have, uh, not exactly turned off the TV when (ahhhhhhhhhh) women's team handball came on. (In case you're wondering, like water polo but without the water, and not very exciting, unless you like watching women get clotheslined and knocked to the floor every 45 seconds.) And it wasn't even a U.S. match - I think it was Brazil against Hungary, maybe.

I even watched a few minutes of Project Runway because the design challenge this week was to create an outfit the U.S. women could wear during the opening ceremonies. Work it!

Meanwhile, I have to try avoiding ESPN and the news web sites, lest I find out the results of the swimming races before they're aired out here in L.A. Actually, I think I had seen that the U.S. men would win the 4x100 freestyle relay on Sunday night, but it didn't make the race any less exciting - one of the most incredible sports moments I've ever seen, thanks to a mind-blowing comeback on the last leg by Jason Lezak.

I guess all countries that host the Olympics like to "put their best face forward" or some cliche like that. But I think China might have interpreted that idea a little too literally, when they decided a seven-year-old girl who sang during the opening ceremony wasn't cute enough, so they had a (cuter) nine-year-old lip sync. That seven-year-old? She won't be scarred for life by the experience, I'm sure. On the other hand: pretty impressive that the Chinese government has some dude who's an expert on pre-teen girl cuteness, right?

August 8, 2008

Smooth move, ex-candidate

This news would probably have hurt John Edwards' campaign for president a lot more if... what... oh, right: If he were still running for president.

As it is, I think it's actually just an admission by a rich lawyer dude that he stepped out on his wife while she's battling cancer. Very classy.

UPDATE: Here's a kinda interesting blog post from last fall on MediaBistro's L.A. site that sheds light on Edwards' gal-on-the-side. Hint to future presidential candidates: If your potential affair goes by names as unsimilar as Rielle Hunter and Lisa Druck, she might cause trouble down the line.

U-S-A! U-S-A!

No, that spontaneous outburst of patriotism wasn't inpsired by the start of the Beijing Olympics - the opening ceremonies have already taken place but we won't see them until tonight, bleh - but by the conviction of one of the key members of Osama bin Laden's outfit... his... wait, is this right?... his driver?

Nice score, ya' big hunky military tribunal.

I hope "driver" is like supersecret military code for "special vice president in charge of planning evildoing" because otherwise I'm sort of nonplussed by this news. According to the New York Times article, this is their first conviction in a post-9/11 war crimes trial, and it sounds like military prosecutors are breaking out the Freixenet, but, really? His driver?

My other main question here is - and you'll need to click to the story to see what I mean - when did this guy have time to go to Jostens for that snazzy studio portrait, complete with the gauzy salmon-colored backdrop? Do you think Osama hired his drivers based on their 8-by-10s? ("Nah, this one's too... I don't know, too ethnic." "Nah, crappy mustache.")

Lesson learned, though: If I'm ever a chauffeur, it's time to quit when the boss asks me to drop him off just outside his cave.

New topic: Yesterday, I promised you a review of Elegy, which we caught in a sneak preview - actually, it wasn't so sneaky: our names were on the list - a preview, one full day before it opens to you, the general public. I don't mean that condescendingly, I'm just saying.

The movie stars Ben Kingsley as a celeb-among-the-literati college professor who falls for a student - thirty-odd years his junior, as he repeatedly points out - played by Penelope Cruz. (If you're more literate than I am, you might be interested to know that it's based on a short novel by Philip Roth called The Dying Animal.)

It didn't leave me with a lot to say - or at least a lot to say that wouldn't sound pretentious, and lord, I hate prententious movie reviews by amateurs. But I found it somewhat interesting, and although it was definitely a downer, it was pretty good. It's very talk-y, but it also moves right along, and you get quality acting all around, including a great supporting part by Dennis Hopper. A 3 out of 5.

I might have to stop doing movie reviews now.

August 7, 2008

Damn, I'm old

Just got off the phone with the friendly woman at my insurance company. She thanked me for "having been a loyal customer for the past 18 years."

Which was nice of her, but: Good christ, I'm getting up there.

Now I feel bad - well, sort of - for teasing my mom a few years ago because, as I pointed out, she had a son who had fillings that were 25 years old.

Unrelated: If the email-RSVP-that-nobody-ever-responded-to worked properly, I'll be catching a screening of Elegy tonight. If I have anything to say about it, you'll get your mini-review tomorrow.

In the meantime, I did watch The Hammer last night and I highly recommend it. (Just put it on your Netflix list - here's the link, lazy.)

I was predisposed to like it because I'm an Adam Carolla fan, but it was even better than I expected. It's nominally about a aging boxer with a chance to make the U.S. Olympic team, but I'm pretty certain that you don't have to care a whit about boxing to enjoy the hell out of it. The story of his budding relationship with a new girlfriend was sweet, and the story was simple but interesting. I laughed out loud at least eight times, which is pretty good for an old guy.

August 6, 2008

Inefficient bureaucracy can really pay off

It's more than a month past California's deadline for a 2008-09 budget and if there's one thing California does not have, it's a 2008-09 budget.

For some reason, the governator doesn't think that's a good idea, so he's pushing the state to lay off all temporary and part-time employees and - and this is where it starts to piss me off - reduce the salaries of all full-time employees to the federal minimum wage, which is now set at a totally-reasonable-for-living-in-California $6.55 per hour. (The state would issue checks for back pay once the budget is resolved, but, uh...)

Anyway, the fly in the gubernatorial (almost as good an adjective as "avuncular," right?) ointment is that California's state government is so ass-backwards that the computer system is still running on COBOL, which I think is what computer science students studied in the 80s. The 1880s.

So making the adjustments to all of those paychecks - I think they'd have to do it by having mice run on treadmills - would take months, by which time, surely those geniuses will agree on a budget. Or not. Why bother, really? Not like having a budget helped save the state from facing a $15 billion deficit.

I especially liked the state controller's quote, which so beautifully illuminated the oustanding efficiency and decision-making abilities of our elected officials: “In 2003, my office tried to see if we could reconfigure our system to do such a task. And after 12 months, we stopped without a feasible solution.”

All comes back to Wilco

Nice moment this morning after I parked my car in the garage at work. Stuck my earbuds in and cued up Wilco's Summerteeth on the iPod for the five-minute walk to the office.

As the song "I'm Always in Love" came on, I walked past a Benz with this license plate:

I liked that.

On the other hand, apparently Sears' tagline is "Where it begins." (I don't know if this is new or not, but it showed up on an email this morning.) I think companies that are sucking wind should stop investing money in stupid meaningless taglines just because they think they need to have a tagline. Is "Where it begins" going to get anyone to decide they have to hurry out to Sears? Or do anything, for that matter?

August 4, 2008

Free* to be stupid

It must be nice when you can be the chief marketing officer of a company that spends tens of millions of dollars promoting a web site called (note the first four letters, F-R-E-E), make it look like your service is free while you charge unsuspecting customers money to access some jive-ass credit monitoring nonsense, and then profess that none of that seems misleading. Bet he believes it, too.

Marketing is fun.

(* Not actually free.)

August 1, 2008

Lost his head, I guess

I don't really think this story is that interesting, but:

1) Remind me not to ride Greyhound in Canada. Actually, I don't think you'll have to remind me. Nothing about that sounds particularly appealing.

2) I initially read the headline wrong and thought it was going to be truly macabre, but then I realized that it was the decapitation suspect, and not the decapitation victim, who showed up in court.

Which, for a reason that'll be obvious in a moment, reminds me of one of the worst sentences written by a professional journalist that I've ever read.

In December 1994, a New Jersey man was killed by one of the last few Unabomber killings -- about a year and a half before Ted Kaczyniski was finally identified and arrested. Since the victim was in the advertising industry, the tragedy was covered by Advertising Age magazine.

I've never forgotten the offending phrase, but I just looked up the article in Lexis-Nexis to make sure I had it exactly right. I kid you not: It actually appeared in print, precisely as follows: "The bomb, postmarked Dec. 3 in San Francisco, exploded Dec. 10 at [the victim's] home, decapitating the newly promoted exec VP-general manager of Y&R Inc. and severely damaging his kitchen."