Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Best Darned Radio Station Ever

Ok, I know. It's just radio.

Still, after a long history of listening to decent radio stations go down the crapper when they go "corporate," radio means a lot to me. (WEBN in Cincinnati is the poster child for how Clear Channel can wreck a good station).

I've been listening to satellite radio for a few years now, but I swapped cars with the wife and had two days of driving with just the FM band. WXRV 92.5 in Boston is the best radio station I've heard in a long long time. They broadcast over the internet, so do yourself a favor and listen.

Geeking with Survivor

Tonight on Survivor, it looks like they're gonna catch a shark. Just as long as Survivor doesn't jump the shark by replacing Jeff Probst with Ted McGinley, I'm ok with that. It's a great show.

I overdosed on television as a kid and as a result didn't watch much tv for several years. (Sports doesn't count as "watching tv" by the way). I caught an episode of Survivor in its first year, and I was hooked. I've seen most of the episodes since. In honor of this season being the best season in a while, here's the first in what could be a series of discussions of Survivor topics.

My favorite Survivor People: Part 1.

Rupert Boneham is definitely on the list. I'm not organized enough to make an actual list because that would involve thought and stuff like thought, so I'll just say he's on the list somewhere near the top. We first met him when he was stealing the other tribe's shoes. He immediately rocked and he kept on rocking. He was in Survivor Pearl Islands and All-Stars. He was voted a million bucks by the audience.

Big Tom and Boston Rob. Big Tom was on the show in Africa and Rob was from Marquesas. I hated Rob and his fake cocky Boston act, but he's grown on me, especially for his performance on The Amazing Race. Big Tom made kind of an ass of himself on the All-stars show, but it made for good tv. They seem like guys the Village Idiot could spend some beer time with.

Ami Cusack from Survivor Vanuatu makes the list simply because she's so frickin hot. I know, I know, she's nice and smart and all that too, but she's also hot. (yes, we here at KickedPuppies know that she's gay. She's still hot).


Gotta go, Survivor's almost on.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

For Those About to Grok...

The Grokster case hits the Supreme Court today. Here at Chez Village Idiot, we are big fans of music and listen to it every once in a while. All our music is 100% legal, though. It’s not because we lack the technological prowess to steal music like all the hip kids do. It’s not because we are so upright and law-abiding that we shun peer-to-peer file sharing on principle. Nosireebob, here at the Chez, we’re full blooded scaredy cats and don’t want the RIAA to sue us. We’re also quite afraid of getting some hellacious virus that causes our computer to spit files and documents all over the internet. With those two possible consequences looming, we shut down our beloved Napster way back when and deleted all those songs we’d downloaded. After experiencing free mp3s, it was hard to get used to the idea of paying .99 a song at iTunes, but now that we’ve been at it for a while I’m happy to say that it’s nice to be able to enjoy my Wang Chung without worrying about going to court about it.

While I’m too chicken to become a music, software and movie pirate, I kinda cheer those people who are, as we speak, trolling the waters of peer-to-peer networks for freebies. When I was an impressionable youth, the record industry impressed on me the fact that they totally suck, and as a result I cheer the efforts of anyone willing to take them down. I bought one too many greatest hits LP’s only to learn that the newly minted bonus songs at the end were awful, paid a few too many dollars for the double live record that sucked, and generally was used and abused by an industry that seems to care more about the rich Corinthian leather of its office chairs than the people that make and buy the records. Avast yee pirates, I hope yee blast them fatcats to Davey Jones’ locker, gar.

What do record executives do? I mean, let’s say that Dave Matthews gets an idea for a song. He writes it and gets his chums to come over and play it. They hire some people to help them record it, someone designs some art for it, someone else runs a machine that makes the actual cds. An advertising agency might get some promotions going and truck drivers will deliver the cds to market. How is it that “executives” from the record companies earn a cent of that money, let alone the kinds of cents that these executives pull down? I’d love to see music, particularly rock and roll, get out from under corporate America and get back to being something that corporations wouldn’t touch. With digital recording equipment, peer-to-peer file sharing, and the internet, it’s very possible for bands to create good recordings of themselves and get those recordings out to the people without an executive ever knowing. Let’s hail hail rock and roll via the internet, shunning the craptacular programming that Clearchannel has brought to American radio, and leave the fat cats looking for honest work.

The Supreme Court is today deciding whether the developer of a technology can be held accountable for what people do with the technology. It seems obvious to me that you can’t hold the inventor of the fork accountable for the kid who stuck the fork in a light socket, but as I discussed in a previous post, I get most of my legal acumen from Law and Order episodes. I personally hope that the Supreme Court does the right thing and lets Grokster, Morpheus and all the rest of them rock on. Here’s hoping that Antonin Scalia is still ticked off about having to pay $23.00 for his Run-DMC.

Monday, March 28, 2005

That darned cat...

LONDON (Reuters) - The owners of a cat trapped for a week in the home of a vacationing neighbor have been pushing ice cubes and cat food through the letter box to keep their pet -- named Lucky -- alive.

We went on vacation for a week a couple of years ago and returned to find that our cats were not turning up. We used to leave them outside with a pile of food in the garage, and when we got back from vacation there they were, usually, waiting, mad as hell. This one time, however, we returned, a couple of days passed, and there were still no cats. A couple of days after that, our youngest child happened to spot one of them sitting in the front window of the house next to ours. We investigated, found the back door unlocked, and let them out.

The house was empty, and apparently the wind had blown the back door open. The cats went in, and another neighbor had thoughfully closed the door, unaware that the idiot brothers were inside. I guess maybe there is something to the whole curiosity killed the cat thing, eh?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Duke Chaps My Ass Again

I've hated Duke since 1992, the year they beat Kentucky with that last second shot by Christian Laettner. Actually, hate is too strong a word. I hate the Yankees. I hate the Lakers. I guess I merely dislike Duke. Last night I was actually pulling for them because a win could have helped my bid to win the office pool. Of course, they lost. Krzyzewski makes Bob Knight look like an amateur when it comes to screwing up my brackets. How the hell does Krzyzewski wind up being pronounced Cha-Cheff-ski?

New Logo for Duke?

Some more thoughts on the tournament:
-Taquan Dean- For those of you not up on the hoops scene, this guy plays for Louisville and his name is pronounced Tie-Kwan, as in Tie-Kwan Doe, except it's Tie-kwan Dean. It's like what you'd call the head of the school's martial arts department. He's got the best name in the tournament.

-Taste Loss- These commercials might be funny if they'd show them once a week, said my wife. I'm thinking she's a little optimistic there.

-How the hell is Krzyzewski pronounced Cha-Cheff-ski?

-I can't believe how much Wisconsin's Kammron Taylor looks like Chris Rock.

Kammron Taylor

-The Zoom Zoom Zoom Ringtone Guy- You all know these commercials. Schleppy Guy works for company A but actually has a thing for the "Zoom Zoom Zoom" company. (Mazda?) The ninja I hired to take out the guy from the enterprise rent-a-car company really needs to visit this freak too.

-Cialis- Actually, these ads are pretty inocuous and run infrequently enough that I don't mind them. I just want to point out that whoever wrote the bit about the side effects is an absolute genius: "Erections that last four hours or more, though rare, blah blah blah..." You know they've got scientists working on more side-effects like this one.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Finger Lickin' Good

This story caught my eye: The Italics represent the actual story, the rest is my own addition.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A diner at a Wendy's fast food restaurant in San Jose, California, found a human finger in a bowl of chili prepared by the chain, local officials said on Wednesday.

“Quick!” said the newsmen, “Let’s get hold of a spokesman, any spokesman, for a good quote!” The reporters scrambled and hit the phones, looking for someone who could comment on the chili story. They found their man in the county department of environmental health.

"This individual apparently did take a spoonful, did have a finger in their mouth and then, you know, spit it out and recognized it," said Ben Gale, director of the department of environmental health for Santa Clara County. "Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited."

“Some kind of emotional reaction?!”
“They had some kind of emotional reaction?”

Holy Crap! I guess the heck I’d have an emotional reaction! Shrieking something like “YAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGH” would be my warm-up for the mother of all emotional reactions.

I will forever be a fan of the Santa Clara County department of environmental health Ben Gale.

How does God feel about being Invoked?

This article, which just appeared on Yahoo!, is well worth sharing. The original article is in italics, my comments are in bold.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In helping lead the charge to keep brain-damaged Terri Schiavo alive, House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay has invoked God, diverted attention from his own ethical woes and again become a lightning rod for critics of his party's conservative agenda.

Well, I guess that that’s better than provoking God, especially around Easter, and especially if there’s a nearby lightning rod.

DeLay told a conservative Christian group that the Schiavo case was a gift from God for their cause. "One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo to elevate the visibility of what's going on in America," the Texan congressman told a meeting of the Family Research Council.

Uh, yeah. The other day he said this was just about saving a woman’s life.

DeLay, admonished last year by the House ethics committee for three separate matters, now faces questions about foreign trips funded by outside groups. While he denies any wrongdoing, some fellow Republicans have voiced concerns about an ongoing investigation in his home state of Texas of allegedly illegal fund-raising that last year resulted in indictment of three of Delay's top associates.

But how can he be crooked? He knows God’s will!

DeLay, in addressing the Family Research Council, said, "The other side has figured out how to win and defeat the conservative movement, and that is to go after people personally, charge them with frivolous charges."

This is my favorite part of the whole article. Apparently Mr. Delay has forgotten the zillions of dollars we spent to impeach President Clinton for Monica-gate. This is why I love politicians, they’re more predictable than an episode of the Brady Bunch and yet it’s still fun to watch them scurry.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Remember putting off your homework?

Remember when you were in school, and the teacher gave you a term paper to do? They always said “Get started on it now, you don’t want to put this off till the last minute!” The good students always got started on the project and did a great job. The rest of us slapped it together at the last minute because we were lazy screw-offs with better stuff to do. Terri Schiavo has been in a vegetative state for something like fifteen years, and her case has been in the courts for at least ten years. Something like 19 different judges have heard this case, and the Supreme Court, which we know moves like greased lightning, has declined to hear it twice. Congress finally swung into action this weekend, just after the feeding tube was removed. Do you get the sense that our Congressmen are the lazy screw-offs that sat in the back of the room? And we’re talking serious procrastination if we can measure it in decades.

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said: "This is not a political issue. This is an issue about saving a life." House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said. "We're here to help a dying woman." Gosh, I would think that they could have done that any time in the last ten years. Trying to get some legislation passed now that things are desperate and there are people demonstrating and the media is all over the case seems a little like grandstanding to me. Certainly our super-smart and super-enlightened Congressmen would never resort to something so tawdry as turning this family’s tragedy into a cheap political ploy to curry favor with conservatives and right to life groups, would they?

Maybe the fact that last week they dragged a batch of baseball superstars out of spring training and into a hearing to find out about steroids that has me wondering if Washington D.C. is in some strange time zone we don’t know about. I mean, Mark McGwire’s big season was like seven years ago now, and Barry Bonds had his monster 73 homer year in 2001. Congress is looking into steroids now? Why? Didn’t baseball just enact a system to deal with the issue? What am I missing here? I just hope that soon Congress with get around to dealing with the real issues, like that wall the Soviets built in Berlin and finding out who really sank the Battleship Maine.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

If I were king, basketball edition

I watched a lot of basketball this weekend, with some more yet to come, and I thought I'd take a break to jot down some thoughts I recently had as to how the world might be improved if I were king. As I've had basketball on the brain lately, I'll stick to the realm of basketball and related topics.

1. Bobby Knight- Every year he manages to screw up my brackets. Either his team goes too far, or not far enough. This year, Texas Tech went too far. Fortunately for Mr. Knight, this year other teams (notably Bucknell for winning and Wake Forest for losing) have screwed up my pool entry far worse than his Red Raiders did. Thus, Knight, who was going to be recommended for annual public spanking, gets off the hook.

Instead, we need to bring out that punk kid from Indiana that started the mess that got Knight fired and spank him. While we're at it, let's get the American kid who was supposed to get caned in Singapore all those years ago and whip the hell out of his whiny ass too*.

Bob dreams of new ways to screw up my brackets for March Madness '06.

2. Commercials- This is really a holdover from the Playoffs and World Series. Whenever there's a sporting event that takes multiple days to finish, it should be law that the same commercial can't be shown more than once during a game. If it's March Madness, with games going all day, commercials can't be shown more than twice during that viewing day on that channel.

Some thoughts on the commercials currently in heavy rotation:
-The "No Hassle Rewards" ads with David Spade. They are funny once, sometimes. Certainly they are never funny more than once, and I'm only giving him credit for them being funny because he made fun of them on Saturday Night Live last week.
-The fat guy (who is also in one of the No Hassle Rewards ads) who rents a luxury car to get to the class of '94 reunion should be killed soon after winking into the mirror. Really, a ninja should suddenly drop into the picture, silently strangle the guy and skulk away. I'd rent cars from that company for the rest of my life just in thanks for ridding us of that guy's fat ass. As it is, I can't even remember which rent-a-car it is.
-The commercial for the Pontiac G6 where the woman peels out of the driveway for work? It bugs the crap out of me because of the lady's pointy shoes. It looks like she's headed for a convention of elves. (that same commercial bugs the crap out of my wife because apparently the lady has some horrendously expensive purse and is driving a piece of crap like a G6).

3. Luke Walton, and all subsequent Waltons, would not be allowed to be Lakers. I hate to see the son of Bill Walton jeopardize his soul by playing for them.

4. Gonzaga's Adam Morrison would be required to show that he can play at least one Led Zeppelin song on guitar (excluding Stairway to Heaven) before being allowed to sport that Jimmy Page haircut. Utah's Andrew Bogut would be required to show proof that he has recently washed his hair.

5. Wake Forest's Chris Paul was recently suspended for a game for punching an opponent in the groin. I'm a groin owner, and as such am offended greatly on behalf of male groin owners everywhere. Combine that with his sloppy play in the loss to West Virginia, which cost me dearly in the pool, and I think we've found this year's guy who's taking Knight's place at the spanking post.

*[For readers not up on the obscure bits of trivia, the author has subscibed to an editing service to fill in details. This particular reference is to Michael Fay, an American teen who was to be caned in Singapore after having been caught vandalizing cars. Mr. Fay and his family made such noise over the sentence that it because international news and the sentence was lessened].

Saturday, March 19, 2005

It's the most magical time of the year....

I picked Vermont,
and I picked them to win again on Sunday.
(Though the team I picked them to beat on Sunday has now gone home).
Go Catamounts

Some other thoughts:
-Frickin' Bucknell.
-Why is it pronounced Chacheffski?
- UC and UK tonight should be a great game.
-What will Bobby Knight do to screw me this year.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005 the hobgoblin of little minds

Among the assorted rubbish and rumination in my mind is this absolute gem. My eldest this morning wondered aloud why we say “penny for your thoughts” but when we speak our mind we say we’re “putting our two cents worth in”. Brilliant child. Missed the bus this very same morning, which was not a problem as it gives me someone to share my daily Dunkin’ Donuts experience with.

March Madness starts this week and I can’t wait. If the brackets shake out at all like I think they will, then there will be some great games coming up. Cincinnati and Kentucky should be a good one right off the bat. I picked Utah to cause problems and be the upset team. Hopefully that will play out, though I would like to see Kentucky go further than I have them going. The team I really want to do well is Vermont, who I have winning a couple of rounds. I dragged some people to watch them play against UNH earlier this year. Since they had him double-teamed for most of the game and even triple teamed at times, Taylor Coppenrath didn’t dominate, but it was still impressive to watch him play. I think he still managed to score 15 or so and grab maybe 8 boards.

We moved to Cincinnati and the Reds won the World Series that year. We moved to New England this year and the Red Sox won the series. My wife pointed that out to one of our friends. “Where you gonna move to get his fantasy team to win?” was his question. For me, Fantasy Baseball will begin next week with my league drafting on the 27th. I look forward to this season with my usual goal of finishing anywhere except last place.

Last night’s episode of The Amazing Race was up to its usual high standards. I love the fact that all of the teams are obsessed with beating Rob and Amber and I can’t believe that Rob was able to plot and scheme a way out of completing a challenge without any major ramifications. When he was first on Survivor I disliked him a lot. On Survivor All-stars I disliked him a little less simply because he played so well, and now he has just plain grown on me. He and Amber make a good team, though a seemingly odd couple.

Finally, for now anyhow, I offer a link to Rosie O’Donnell’s Blog. I found it through USA Today’s Hot List and absolutely love it. Her blog reads like a cool beatnik poem (while mine, in my humble but correct opinion, reads like the journal of the world’s most boring person). The coolest thing is that she’s doing it and sharing it with idiots like me. Thanks Rosie.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Conservative Christians come from Monkeys?

This morning there was a news article about the increasing number of places in which political groups are gearing up for a fight against teaching evolution. I guess that they’re not actually fighting against teaching evolution so much as they’re fighting for the inclusion of other possibilities in the development of mankind. “Intelligent Design” is what they’re calling for. That sounds pretty fair to me. “Here’s how scientists think we happened, and here’s what Christians think.” Well, that seems fair except for the whole “separation of church and state” part of our history. How about the other religions? How about if we take a few weeks out of the science curriculum and do a big unit on everyone’s view of how the world started?

According to an article by Peter Slevin of The Washington Post that appeared on Yahoo! News this morning, “They are acting now because they feel emboldened by the country's conservative currents and by President Bush, who angered many scientists and teachers by declaring that the jury is still out on evolution.” Our president’s religious streak is inspiring various conservative groups to pressure state governments to enact legislation that will affect the science curriculum of our state and federally supported schools. Why aren’t these groups using their money to build schools so they can teach their kids whatever they want?

Better yet, why aren’t these groups teaching the “intelligent design” lessons in their churches and leaving the schools alone? The money these groups have and the money that these groups are spending on this, according to the Slevin article, is significant. They can give that money to the communities, to the homeless, in short, they could do some good with it. Schools get enough stuff dumped on them by politicians, they don’t need to become a battleground for conservative Christians who can’t mind their own business.

Baptist Minister Terry Fox was quoted in the Slevin’s article as favoring legislation requiring teaching more than evolution because "most people in Kansas don't think we came from monkeys." I don’t know Mr. Fox, so he may well have been joking, but it’s exactly that kind of slip-shod half-informed joking foolishness that gets in the way of education. (This author hopes, for the sake of that congregation, that Mr. Fox was joking).

If I were a teacher asked to teach evolution, I could easily see using the internet to get the kids using technology, research skills and critical thinking by making them find up to date information on the fossil record. Just last week, archaeologists uncovered what they think might be an important batch of early hominid specimens in Ethiopia. There’s also the fossil discovery of the ‘hobbit” people in Indonesia to study in class these days. Or, instead of interesting contemporary finds, we can take a week or two out of an already overloaded curriculum to teach stuff that a few well-organized religious people want the teachers to teach. Yeah, makes sense.

Are these the same pinheads that complain about our students not being as good at Math and Science as the kids in Asia?

Works Cited:
Slevin, Peter. Battle on Teaching Evolution Sharpens. 14 Mar.2005. Yahoo! News. 15 Mar. 2005.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Steroids in Congress

I’ve been a baseball fan since I was a little kid. In grade school I was the kid that knew all the stats, the geek that went back into the record books and learned about all the great Red Sox players from the old days. I desperately wanted a copy of “The Baseball Encyclopedia”, instead, I just incurred a lot of overdue book fines with the copy that the library had. I scored the games on mimeographed pages my stepfather ran off at school, and read the Sporting News to keep up with box scores of games I’d missed. My parents let me stay home from school to watch the 1978 one game playoff with the Yankees in which Bucky Dent broke my heart. I drifted away from the Sox, and the game, in the early ‘80s, but came back with a vengeance. The ’86 Series again crushed me and broke my heart, but I was learning that that’s what it meant to be a Red Sox fan.
I was disgusted by the cancelled World Series. I was disgusted by the whining players and salaries growing out of control. In the mid-nineties, I stopped watching the games on tv, (though as we were part of a group that bought season tickets for the Cincinnati Reds, I still went to games).

Then Mark McGwire came along and brought me back.

I actually remember waking up during the season when he was going after Roger Maris’ record and wondering if McGwire had homered during the late games. It was the first time I had had baseball on the brain, let alone had it as my first waking thought, since I was a little kid. It was absolutely magical that fall (Even Joe Buck idiotically asking McGwire for a hug after the homer didn’t diminish the magic much).

Sosa hit over 60 homers for the next two seasons.
Then Bonds hit 73.
I remember sitting with my buddies at Riverfront/Cinergy and looking at Ken Caminiti. Our seats were five rows back from third base. We’re all pretty big guys, but he didn’t look human.
Now it all makes sense. How stupid were we to look for juiced baseballs?

I think that all of the “superstars” in the late nineties cheated by using illegal substances to make themselves physically stronger and make their reflexes quicker. I think those home run records are bogus, and I think McGwire was the only one smart enough to see that testing would soon prove it to the world so he got out in time. The shame of it is that there is nothing that can be done to make the whole thing right, until someone comes along with the natural ability and strength to break those records without using steroids. (Um, file that under ‘never happen’). The worst part of it is that people who live in the world of major league baseball had to know. All of America was asking why so many guys were hitting fifty or more homers, why guys who had never been buff power hitters were suddenly hitting forty, and MLB came back with things like “well, the baseballs aren’t juiced”. Shame on MLB for not banning steroids sooner, for not testing sooner, and shame on the union for getting in the way of everything good for the game and good for the health of the individual players.

That said, let’s move on and play ball. I really don’t see what good getting congress involved will do for anyone, except the little unknown congressmen who will use it to get attention. Shame on them too. Where were they when Sosa was hitting 60 homers on an annual basis, and claiming that his only supplement was Flintstones chewables?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Let's Play "What's Michael Thinking?"!

On retrospect, I missed most of the trials of the various centuries in which I lived.

I only caught snippets of the original OJ trial. I didn't see any of the trials about the Rodney King beatings. I simply didn't get why we were supposed to be so caught up in the Scott Peterson trial. The new one, though, the Michael Jackson trial, caught my attention yesterday.

Apparently the guy showed up to court wearing pajamas. That's right, pajamas. He was also late.

Great legal minds like mine might think that his defense lawyers were carefully crafting an insanity defense already and instructed him to wear a pair of pajamas to court. I immediately figured that there's a chance that on Monday they'll have him come dressed in a gorilla suit. A little further reading and I saw a flaw in my line of thinking: the judge was pretty peeved by the whole thing. The dozens of episodes of Law and Order I've seen tend to indicate that ticking off the judge is a bad defense strategy, so I don't think that was the plan.

One of news sources showed three of Jackson's lawyers standing around waiting for him to arrive, they looked peeved too. Further evidence that mine is no keen legal mind. Maybe Michael forgot he was on trial and slept in?

Because I'm too cheap to pay for real pictures, here's an artist's rendering of Michael Jackson arriving in court in his pjs.

Welcome to the Blog- The monumental 1st Post!

I really really like my iPod. I wasn't sure if I would, because I'm not a "put on the headphones and listen to music" kinda person. Once I got it plugged into the stereo system and started using it as a humungous cd player, I really really got to like it.

Take the song that was playing when I started filling out the forms to get my nice new blog, "The Busy Girl Buys Beauty" by Billy Bragg. Great song, great album, but chances are slim that I would have thought to go find it and put it in the cd changer on this snowy evening. It was followed by "The Calling" by Eric Clapton and Carlos Santana. There is no way in heck I would ever have heard that song tonight, primarily because I have no idea where the "Supernatural" album got to and to a lesser extent because I never listened to that cd when I knew where it was. Go through the list of subsequent songs "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill," "The Crunge" and "The Distance" and every song has a similar tale; I have no idea what I did with that disc and it's a damned good thing I stuffed that song into the old iPod.

And with that load of jibberish, I launch this Blog called "Rantings, Ravings and the Occasional Kicked Puppy". (As is probably obvious, it's a title that didn't get a lot of aforethought). The reasons, purpose and intent of the blog aren't important. What is important is that you're here and reading and want to be entertained or informed or both. I'll do my best if you'll keep reading.