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5 posts from January 2004

Oldies: Sunday, January 25 - Saturday, January 31, 2004...

Friday, 30 January 2004: Back about a month ago, I mentioned a website that featured a bunch of independently made, anti-Bush commercials. This site was hosting a contest in which a celebrity guest panel would choose what they thought was the best of the bunch. Well, what I don't think I mentioned was that this chosen commercial would, if the funds were raised, be submitted for broadcast during the Super Bowl.

Guess what? They raised the funds. All $2.3 million of those little greenbacks. And now, CBS, the channel broadcasting the Super Bowl, refuses to air it. Apparently, it's too controversial for them to air. And, knowing how CBS likes to cave to the conservative right (they did cancel a planned broadcast of an "unflattering" TV movie on the life of President Ronald Reagan), we can bet it was due to pressure from the Republican camp.

I really thought this whole thing would end there. I believed that a little grassroots effort such as this wasn't a big enough deal to warrant anything more than the proverbial sweeping under the carpet. However, it's gotten a lot more exposure than I ever anticipated. 28 U.S. Senators have written letters of complaint to CBS and the network's honcho Les Moonves stating their belief that this was a travesty to the First Amendment right to free speech. And it is just that. If Bush can air a commercial during the Super Bowl, which is his plan, why can't the other half of the political spectrum be heard? Why one side and not the other?

Thankfully, in swoops CNN who has agreed to air the commercial twice during the Super Bowl halftime show. If my memory serves (and we all know it usually doesn't), the first airing of the commercial will occur at 8:10 p.m. EST. That would be 7:10 for all us midwesterners. So, skip the CBS halftime show, which we all know always sucks anyway, and tune in to CNN. Let's give them ratings like they've never seen right in the middle of the biggest football game of the year. Even if for just 60 seconds.

Thursday, 29 January 2004: In my annual attempt to try to cram in as many Oscar nominated movies as possible before the actual awards show, I went by myself last night to see 21 Grams. It's one of two Sean Penn starrers (the other being Mystic River) that did fairly well in the nomination stage. Not likely to do much beyond that as the appeal of this film will be very limited. But it was good nonetheless. There's no way Naomi Watts will win in the Best Actress category even though she was good, but Benicio del Toro definitely stands a chance as best supporting actor in what is a pretty free-for-all field at the moment. What would that be, twice in three or was it four years? He won Best Supporting Actor for Traffic, remember?

Tuesday, 27 January 2004: Ah yes, 'tis that time of year again. All the politicking, ass kissing, baby kissing (likely with the same pair of lips), lollipop stealing, back stabbing... the list goes on.

Am I talking about the Presidential race?

Nope. Just the Oscars. And, this morning, the nominations came out. I love how they only give the Golden Globes one day to gloat and then they pull out the big guns. Only a few surprises in the major categories (with the biggest one being in Lead Actress).

My picks in each category are listed right afterwards. Am I qualified to make picks? Not likely. Will that stop me? Again, not likely.

Here goes (in case you live under a rock and haven't heard for yourself)...

Best Picture
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Lost in Translation
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Mystic River
Seabiscuit

Kevin's Pick: Tough one, if the Academy looks at the LOTR trilogy as a whole and how it's been slighted in the past, I'd say LOTR: ROTK (and this is likely to be a sentimental fave all things considered). But, if looking at that movie as a standalone candidate (which is the way it should be, but never is), I'm leaning towards Lost in Translation.

Actor in a Leading Role:
Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
Ben Kingsley - House of Sand and Fog
Jude Law - Cold Mountain
Bill Murray - Lost in Translation
Sean Penn - Mystic River

Kevin's Pick: I really dig on Murray in this category although I enjoyed Depp a lot. But, in my mind, Murray gave a very worthy performance. My question is where the hell is Tom Cruise's nomination?

Actress in a Leading Role
Keisha Castle-Hughes - Whale Rider
Diane Keaton - Something's Gotta Give
Samantha Morton - In America
Charlize Theron - Monster
Naomi Watts - 21 Grams

Kevin's Pick: Theron is the shoe in here, but I would love to see an upset by Castle-Hughes or even Keaton since they're very much the underdogs. Castle-Hughes was great in her role and this was the biggest nomination surprise in my book. Would she be the youngest winner?

Actor in a Supporting Role
Alec Baldwin - The Cooler
Benicio Del Toro - 21 Grams
Djimon Hounsou - In America
Tim Robbins - Mystic River
Ken Watanabe - The Last Samurai

Kevin's Pick: Watanabe all the way, baby. Even though I heard Baldwin was damn good.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Shohreh Aghdashloo - House of Sand and Fog
Patricia Clarkson - Pieces of April
Marcia Gay Harden - Mystic River
Holly Hunter - Thirteen
Renée Zellweger - Cold Mountain

Kevin's Pick: Hmmm... haven't seen any of them, but I'll pull for Hunter since I've heard a lot of great things about Thirteen and will likely rent it.

Directing
Fernando Meirelles - City of God
Peter Jackson - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Sofia Coppola - Lost in Translation
Peter Weir - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Clint Eastwood - Mystic River

Kevin's Pick: Same goes here as for Best Picture... entire series: Peter Jackson... single movie: Sofia Coppola.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
American Splendor
City of God
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Mystic River
Seabiscuit

Kevin's Pick: LOTR all the way.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
The Barbarian Invasions
Dirty Pretty Things
Finding Nemo
In America
Lost in Translation

Kevin's Pick: Without question, Lost in Translation.

Animated Feature Film
Brother Bear
Finding Nemo
The Triplets of Belleville

Kevin's Pick: Finding Nemo, is there any other?

Makeup
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl

Kevin's Pick: LOTR, duh. Just look at those orcs and Uruk'hai. It doesn't get much better than this. But, just take a look at the titles of the three nominated films. Can they be any longer? What's with secondary titling this year? Jeez.

Obviously, this isn't all of them. Just the ones I tend to pay attention to. If you want to see the whole list, check it out on Oscar.com.

Monday, 26 January 2004: There is nothing quite like a good e-mail joke once in a while. This one comes to you courtesy of my brother in law Scott who received it, in turn, from his old roommate Jason...

"The way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you've started."

So I looked around the house to see all the things I started and hadn't finished... and before coming to work this morning I finished off a bottle of red wine, a bottle of white, some Bailey's, Kahlua, Wild Turkey, my Prozac, some valium, my cigarettes, and a box of chocolates.

You have no idea how freakin' good I feel...


Oldies: Sunday, January 18 - Saturday, January 24, 2004...

Friday, 23 January 2004: I will readily admit to being a Star Wars geek. There's simply no question about it or doubt whatsoever in the minds of those who know me. So, when I was shown this site by a friend of mine on a SW forum, I nearly busted a gut.

Before I let you link to this site, I need to make sure you all know what an A-Wing Fighter looks like. This ship was in Return of the Jedi and played a pretty integral part in the attack on the second Death Star.

Why am I subjecting you to a lesson in SW technology? Because you need to know what an A-Wing looks like before you see this...

Customized Mitsubishi A-Wing

I know this site is in Polish, but just skip past the text and look at the pictures. It's hilarious what this guy did to his car (I think I'm safe in assuming it wasn't done by a girl).

Don't worry Katie, I'm not planning to have the same amount of fun with your Stratus.

Thursday, 22 January 2004: I guess this should come as no surprise considering Katie and I stopped watching it months ago, but Fox has not reordered more episodes of "Boston Public" to allow the net to finish out the season. No official word on if it's being canceled or not, but the likelihood is yes. It's a good thing, too. This show has not been the same really since the end of season two. It wasn't bad last season, but without Harry and Lauren as the main characters, it just wasn't as cool. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, 21 January 2004: The Bears have certainly been busy in the hiring department. Let's recap... a new head coach in Lovie Smith, Terry Shea to coordinate the offensive attack, Bob Babich to deal with the linebacker corps, and Pete Hoener as offensive line coach. I can't say I'm all that familiar with any of them, but their resumes are pretty nice. Now, I'm not saying I expect a Super Bowl caliber team right away, but I am expecting some good things this coming year.

I wonder who'll be in charge of the defense. Yesss...

Sunday, 18 January 2004: One thing that Katie and I like to do is scan the Sunday ads in the newspaper. We check out the normal ads like Dominick's and Jewel to see what kind of deals we can get on groceries. We also check out Best Buy and Circuit City to see what new CDs and DVDs are coming out as well as to drool over what we wish we could buy (mmmm... plasma TVs...). We also check out Walgreens not just because Katie works there but also because they tend to have some good deals and then we get Katie's employee discount on top of that.

Well, while checking out this week's Walgreens ad, I happened to do a once over on the toy ads because they were lumped in the middle of the page and this one caught my eye. Why would a Barbie doll ad catch my eye? Well, it's not because I collect them, nor does Katie, nor are we buying them for any relatives who collect them. It caught my eye because, in passing, I completely misread what it said.

I swear to God that I thought this ad said "Call Girl Barbie" not "Cali Girl Barbie" with an "i" instead of a second "l". Here I thought that Hasbro had finally come out and admitted that the only way a woman looks like Barbie is because they are a prostitute or stripper or "Call Girl".

C'mon, you can't tell me that if you were just glancing over the ads, that you don't think you could easily misread this as "Call Girl"? Way too easy. Hasbro may want to rethink their marketing on this particular doll.

Yeah, yeah... me and my twisted mind, right?


Oldies: Sunday, January 11 - Saturday, January 17, 2004...

Thursday, 15 January 2004: Who remembers Sippee Cups? You know, the safe-for-kid-use, plastic cups with lids that have a sip wand built in to it? Well, at the gym last night, someone left one behind from a class and I was looking at it. Typical kid fare... fluorescent green lid, bright colors on the cup itself, even a little spinning wheel on the top of it. I can understand why a kid would love it. Then I looked at the raised logo on the lid of the company that made it... Playtex.

Now, I know this ain't gonna make a lick of difference (pun intended) to some kid shoving this thing in his mouth. But, hindsight being 20/20, I'll be damned if I would ever drink from one knowing what I know about what "Playtex" represents. I was always under the impression that products made by that company were used in a distinctly different hole quite to the south of one's mouth.

Hey, just my two Lincolns.

Wednesday, 14 January 2004: I'm notoriously timid about updating a computer's operating system. To me, this represents "playing God", per se, with the soul of a computer. I never liked doing it and I still don't.

Three years ago, I updated my Mac PowerBook Lombard from OS8.6 to OS9.1. That took a huge leap of faith for me. Tons of bargaining with the TechGuru in the Sky. It all worked out well. However, I'm even more timid about updating it from 9.1 to OSX (beit X.1, X.2, or X.3). My computer is right on the borderline of having the necessary hardware to run it. One of the IS people where I work says he's pretty sure it will work, but I think I'm still going to avoid it. Call me a compu-prude if you want, I don't care. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?

Well, today I got to play God with someone else's computer. A totally different experience and one that is quite fun to be honest with you. My old boss here at AU left a while ago to join Lindsey College in Kentucky, so she left her Mac iBook here. Our office has reclaimed it for our own personal use because no one else on campus really has any clue how to use a Mac. That's fine, I'll take it. But I had to flush the old harddrive and update it. It was running OS9.2 and it came with an OSX disc. I still can't figure out why they never put OSX on it in the first place if it came with it. So I did it. I guess when it's someone else's computer (or, in this case, a spare computer), you don't have quite the inhibitions you otherwise would. It worked. And the computer works great, let me tell you. Cute little booger, too.

Tuesday, 13 January 2004: It's pointless to deny it, I'm a movie junkies. And many of the movies that we love, we like to buy on DVD. Yes I've met worse. Far worse. I'm actually quite tame by comparison to some people I've met. But, nonetheless, Katie and I (I like to spread the blame a bit) are movie whores.

However, how many of you have gotten into concert or music video DVDs yet? I'm not talking DVD audio where you get a seemingly normal CD that only plays in DVD players or whatnot. I mean like owning a concert on a DVD. I never did until just recently. And I have my brother in law Scott to blame for that one. He picked up "Pearl Jam Live at the Garden" for me as a Christmas gift. And I thank him for it (I'm still trying to get over the fact that he bought this for me before buying it for himself being the PJ freak that he is).

And, yesterday, I picked up a used copy of "Queen + : at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert" with the "+" referring to the fact that it was three out of the four Queen members appearing on stage with several special guests. And it's a lineup that dreams are made of. I'm talking David Bowie, Gary Cherone of Extreme, Roger Daltrey of The Who, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, Annie Lennox, George Michael, Elton John, Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Axl Rose and Slash of Guns 'n' Roses, Seal, and a ton of others. This whole thing was a tribute to Queen's late lead singer Freddie Mercury who died on November 24, 1991 of AIDS complications. I've known about this concert for some time but never knew it was available on DVD. This two-disc set was released in 2002 to mark the 10th anniversary of the concert.

I can't wait to give both of these a spin. Stereo's gonna be pumping and neighbors will likely be bitching.

Also of note in this music DVD arena is the Palm Pictures' Directors Series of music videos. There are three collections in this set, each sold separately, and each set is dedicated to one music video director. The first series includes Spike Jonze (Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice", Beastie Boys' "Sabotage", et al), Michel Gondry (White Stripes' "The Hardest Button to Button", Bjork's "Human Behaviour", et al), and Chris Cunningham (Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" which is singularly the scariest music video I've ever seen in my life, et al). I don't own any of them, but I'd like to get them. My friend Eric owns the Jonze and Gondry collections

Monday, 12 January 2004: When asked today by my coworkers the obvious question, "why would you get drunk on a worknight?", I simply said, "because we could." And, honestly, there is no real explanation as to why Katie and I decided to get a bit soused on a pitcher of margaritas and two bottles of wine (yes, two hours elapsed from one spirit to the next). But it was more than enjoyable.

Well, I guess we can attribute it to cleaning house. Katie spent a big chunk of today cleaning out the cabinets and the pantry and, with the end result hopefully being "condensing our supply", we decided to carve into our liquor cabinet. No, we were not celebrating anything or drowning our sorrows, just liquidating (pun intended).

And, don't worry, no braincells were destroyed in the making of that evening. Well, not too many, at least.


Oldies: Sunday, January 4 - Saturday, January 10, 2004...

Friday, 9 January 2004: My friend Eric sent me a link to a great website called BushIn30Seconds.org that features little 30 second web commercials against George Bush. Some of these are absolutely hilarious, while others are exceptionally educational. I would recommend going there and checking them out. Of course, if you are a Bushite, don't go. It's that simple. You can even vote on your faves in three categories.

I'm going to post two links now for this site. The homepage has 14 commercials you can check out while the voting page has the top five in three categories (none of which are the same as the homepage 14). If you feel so inclined, email me your choices in the voting. I'm curious what you think.

On the homepage, I'm a big fan of "Child's Pay," "What Are We Teaching Our Children?," and "Bush's Repair Shop." On the voting page, I selected "If Parents Acted Like Bush" in the Funniest Ad category, "Al Keyda" under Best Youth Ad, and "School Yard Politics" under Best Animation.

In case you're interested, a panel of professional judges votes on the 14 that are on the homepage. If you'd like to know who those judges are, here's the list...

  • Jack Black - Actor, Writer, Comedian, Musician
  • Benny Boom - Director/Gorilla Flix, Inc
  • Donna Brazile - Political Strategist
  • James Carville - Political Strategist, Commentator
  • Margaret Cho - Comedian
  • Hector Elizondo - Actor
  • Al Franken - Comedian, Author, Commentator
  • Janeane Garofalo - Comedian, Actor, Commentator
  • Stan Greenberg - Pollster/Author
  • Ted Hope - Producer/Partner/Founder - This Is That corp.
  • Michael Mann - Producer, Director, Writer
  • Moby - Musician
  • Michael Moore - Filmmaker, Author
  • Mark Pellington - Filmmaker
  • Tony Shalhoub - Actor/Producer
  • Russell Simmons - Chairman, CEO Rush Communications
  • Michael Stipe - Musician/Film Producer
  • Gus Van Sant - Director, Author
  • Katrina Vanden Heuvel - Editor, The Nation
  • Eddie Vedder - Musician, Activist

Wednesday, 7 January 2004: Got an e-mail in my inbox from Apple.com announcing the launch of another new series of iPods. I can't say I like these quite as much as the originals. They're the iPod Minis. They're smaller than the original (hence the name) which is already pretty dang small and they come in flavors like the first iteration of the iMac. Not really tasty flavors, just in the sense that they are colored instead of all white and metallic. The new ones are gold, silver, baby blue, pink, and some yellow/green combo. Kinda weird. They cost $249 which puts them at a lower price point than the cheapest regular iPod at $299. But they only hold 4 GB of songs. Not that 4 GB is bad, per se, when compared to other MP3 players on the market. In fact, it's pretty darn good. However, when you compare that to the fact that by spending $50 more on the lowest level iPod, you get 15 GB of storage space... well... it just kinda sucks.

Here when I heard they were announcing changes to the iPod line, I thought they would just do a massive pricing overhaul. No such luck. I'll hold out for the real iPod.

Tuesday, 6 January 2004: Oh, this one is just too good.

Last week, I received a call from my Mom telling me that I need to talk to my brother because something happened on his job. Of course, instead of letting him tell me, she proceeded to tell me for him.

As background, my brother works for Clear Channel in the ad space sales or some such with monster truck rallies and car shows and the like. His territory is primarily California. Well, one of his clients, whom he was going to attend a monster truck rally this past weekend with, contacted him asking if my brother could get two extra tickets for a couple of friends. My brother said sure and asked who. His client said... now get this... Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee.

I love the Crue. Always have and always will. And to hear that my brother was meeting their drummer (despite the fact that he's now solo) was just too cool in my book. And yes, I did watch "Baywatch" with my roomie Mike in college, so Pam holds a near and dear spot in both our hearts.

Of course, being my brother, he had to get close with Pam. 

Obviously, the guy who looks like he's enjoying this way too much is my brother. As if that wasn't already clear to you.

Monday, 5 January 2004: If there is any one thing I truly enjoy about the Holiday season here at work, it is that parking is easy. No students = wide open spaces (with apologies to the Dixie Chicks). Now, just as I was becoming accustomed to parking right in front of my office, I drive in this morning to discover that classes have started back up again.

Dangitalltohell.

I had to park halfway down the street. It's not bad to get the walking in, but now the snow has finally started to fall and stick in Chicagoland, so the streets suck and so do the sidewalks. 


Sunday, December 28 - Saturday, January 3, 2004...

Friday, 2 January 2004: In my first official act of the New Year, I would like for all of us to declare war on Joan Cusack and Patricia Heaton. You all know who they are. Cusack is the sister of the great actor John Cusack and she's been in all kinds of movies and TV shows and whatnot. Patrica Heaton plays Ray Barone's wife Deborah on the TV show "Everybody Loves Raymond".

Why am I declaring war on them? Because they declared war on us as consumers by flooding the market with their images. Cusack is in print, on TV, and on the radio shilling for U.S. Cellular and Heaton is part of a series of God-awful ads for Jewel/Osco. Dunno if Jewel/Osco stretches much past Chicagoland and northwest Indiana. If not, the rest of the world is lucky as hell. These are some of the worst ads around and, if anything, they make Katie and I want to avoid the store like the plague. I'm not much of a fan of her character on the show, she's just too damn whiny and bitchy and she just keeps getting worse with each passing season.

Please people, spare us the inhumanity of this advertising barrage. Even Catherine Zeta-Jones is barely seen/heard in the T-Mobile ads anymore. Thankfully, they've let us off the hook for the most part. I can tolerate just hearing the catch phrase "do more" if it means not having to endure an entire commercial with her image or voice. Now, please have the same sensibility with Cusack and Heaton. Please.

Thursday, 1 January 2004: How weird it is to type "2004". I'll get used to it sometime in mid December, I'm sure. Not until then.

Still and all the same... Happy New Year to all of you.

Now that everyone knows the secret, I can post on this page that my buddy John Hodgson has returned home permanently from Iraq. He got what is commonly referred to as "the million dollar injury". He broke his arm in a fall from the hood of a Humvee. If you know John, you would not be surprised at all by this. Heh heh. He actually got back on about the 23rd, but I couldn't say anything because we were keeping it a secret from my friend Jason who was back in town from LA for his birthday and New Years and all that jazz. Heck, I couldn't even mention Jason's trip to Chicago on this page because that was a surprise from his wife. Too many surprises. Glad they're all finally revealed. Jeez.

Wednesday, 31 December 2003: Can you believe it's over already? 2003 just came and went. Like one of those clouds of dust that you see with the Road Runner in old Looney Tunes commercials. One second, they are there; the next, they're gone. Wow. Where did the time go?

Tuesday, 30 December 2003: Have any of you ever played around with those little USB minidrives? You know, the ones that are like keychain sized and they hold ungodly amounts of data? Well, I'm working this website off of one of those little drives right now. My buddy Eric bought three of the Lexar brand JumpDrives (below) that each hold 128 MB of data for something like $20 each over the break. I wanted to give one of these a try because I've been intrigued about them for a while now. But I was worried about response time on them. This one is compatible with USB 1.1 ports and it seems to be reacting fine. No worse than my external USB ZIP drive which is what I've been using up til now. Of course this 1.1 compatible drive only works in 1.1 ports whereas a mini that is USB 2.0 compatible will work in both. The JumpDrive in the photo is 1.1 compatible. You can tell them apart because the 2.0s are translucent blue and the 1.1s are translucent purple. Be sure you know what kind of USB port you have before you invest.

It's pretty handy. It's also pretty scary how much smaller computers and peripherals have gotten over the years. To think, in the 70s, a single computer took up an entire room. Now, you can get over 1 GB of storage space in an object the size of a keychain. Weird, wild shtuff there, Ed.

Monday, 29 December 2003: Nah, nah, nah, nah.

Nah, nah, nah, nah.

Hey, hey, hey.

Goodbye.

Yes folks, the Dick Jauron era with the Chicago Bears is finally, and mercifully, over. A press conference will be happening today at 1 p.m. CST to announce his firing and probably discuss the fates of his assistant coaches as well.

Let 'em all go, I say. Let's start fresh. Let's make some big roster moves and prepare for next year in a big way.

Hey, does Dusty Baker need a job in the winter?