Toys 2008

Man came by to hook up my cable TV...

Here I am coming at you with my first year-end "Best of" list and this first one will be dedicated to the fine art of small-screen production... the television awards.

When I've done television awards in the past, they usually occured around the end of the traditional TV season and I would call them the Primetime TV Kappy Awards (2007 | 2006). Katie and I would work together to come up with winners in several categories and provide witty banter justifying our picks.

However, since the timing of the awards is changing, so is the format. This year, we've cut down the number of awards mostly by eliminating the distinction between rookie and veteran as well as actor and actress. We've also cut out the banter. Katie and I were discussing this on the road and didn't feel like recording our discussions, especially since they weren't nearly as funny as in the past. I guess we're still a little bitter about some show cancellations and a few others that are being thrown around.

So, without further ado, here are the Primetime TV Kappy Awards for 2008!

Acting Awards:

  • Best Dramatic Acting - Jon Hamm, "Don Draper," Mad Men although I also really like Harvey Keitel as "Lt. Gene Hunt" on Life on Mars (why can't I find the British version on Netflix?).
  • Best Comedic Acting - Neil Patrick Harris, "Barney Stinson," How I Met Your Mother
  • Best Dramatic 1-2 Punch (although, together, they are arguably quite comedic as well) - G.W. Bailey and Tony Denison, "Lieutenants Provenza and Flynn," The Closer
  • Best Comedic 1-2 Punch - Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, "Penny and Sheldon," The Big Bang Theory
  • Best Dramatic Ensemble - (tie) Criminal Minds and The Closer
  • Best Comedic Ensemble - The Office
  • Best Comeback Role (after being away from a significant TV role for a while) - (tie) Benjamin Bratt, "William Banks," The Cleaner and Chi McBride, "Emerson Cod," Pushing Daisies
  • Best Recurring Guest Role - Barry Corbin and Frances Sternhagen, "Clay and Willie Ray Johnson," The Closer
  • Best One-Off Guest Role - Wil Wheaton, "Floyd Hansen," Criminal Minds
  • Dark Alley Award (not that this should need an explanation, but it's the person you'd least like to meet in a dark alley) - Michael C. Hall, "Dexter Morgan," Dexter although a close second would go to Adam Baldwin as "John Kasey" in Chuck.

Show Awards:

  • Best Drama - Mad Men
  • Best Comedy - How I Met Your Mother
  • Best Show Canceled Too Soon - (tie) Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone
  • Biggest Drop-Off in Quality - Ugly Betty, is anybody else tired of how condescending Betty is becoming? If it weren't for the spectacular supporting cast, I'd probably have given up on this show already.
  • Most Overstayed Welcome - My Name is Earl
  • Lost in Left Field (a show that has lost its way and needs some guidance, or major restructuring) - Grey's Anatomy, the Denny ghost lovin' thing? Blech!

Network Awards:

  • Best Network - any extended cable network with cool original programming like USA, TNT, TBS, and AMC.
  • Worst Network - ABC, for killing some shows too soon and giving too much of a lifeline to others.

Bear in mind, these are based on the shows that Katie and I watch. And, while we watch a lot of shows, it's a small percentage of what's available. So let us know how you would amend these awards.

IHomeih9 Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie received one of these iHome iH9 iPod alarm clocks from my bro and SiL for Christmas. It's pretty cool and she was stoked to finally be able to listen to some real music as her alarm as opposed to the crappy reception we get from the AM/FM radio in our current alarm clock.

Last night, though, we discovered a little glitch. After setting her alarm, it would make this little beep every so often and we'd see the alarm icon turn off and then turn back on. It didn't dawn on me until several minutes later that the on/off switching was happening as I was fast forwarding or hitting the flashback rewind or pause buttons on our TiVo remote. Yeah, it would seem the iHome clock radio and our TiVo share a frequency.

I think we're going to have to be much more attentive when we go to bed at night to make sure her alarm is still on.

Slip slidin' away...

It's one of those mornings where I'm both upset and grateful. No, not because of the holiday season, but because of what did and could have happened this morning on my way to work.

If you read any local Chicago news this morning, officials are calling it one of the worst road icing events they've ever seen. Hundreds of accidents reported by 8 a.m. It's that bad.

On my route to work, I was trying to turn off one road to get to the highway in to work. I'd already hit a couple small ice patches by this time but recovered without a problem. I've owned my truck long enough to know how to get out of just about anything. We've got a bit of a symbiotic relationship going... we can feel each other (no, not in that way). However, when I hit this turn lane, I could tell the plows and salt trucks had done nothing at all. I lost complete control of my truck for the first time. The pedals did nothing. The steering wheel may as well not have even existed. I just slid. And I had only been driving about 10-15 MPH into that lane.

I kept sliding. Right up to the car in front of me. At the last second, something shifted and made me drift into a giant snowbank on the side of the road.

While I was ticked that I lost control. I was entirely thankful that I not only didn't hit the car in front of me, nor the other car stuck in an extension of the snowbank, but also that the cars behind me were far enough away that they could avoid my lane and allowed me room to back out of the snow and onto the road.

No damage to the Beast whatsoever, though. Phew!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA):
Katie got me a camera bag for my new Sony! And it's pretty awesome. It's a Tamrac shoulder sling bag. Perfect fit for the camera with my 35-70mm lens on it. Plus some compartments for cables and chargers and a pocket for extra memory cards and whatnot. Also, it's built for add-on components like a smaller pouch just for my telephoto lens, etc. I love it.

And I got another gift that is going to assist my photo and music loving immensely... a 500GB Apple Time Capsule. Sure, I could've requested just any external hard drive for our computers. But, considering we're probably buying Katie a MacBook very soon, having this Time Capsule available for her to use with Time Machine on it will be very nice. I also have an additional $100 in Apple Cash, which I'm debating using to upgrade the Time Capsule to the full 1TB jobber. I think I'd have to pay another $100 on top of all this. Good idea to plan for the future?

When you're all alone...

First off, I want to thank everyone here for all their birthday wishes. I was truly overwhelmed. To be honest, I wasn't sure if anyone would catch on to my image reference. Yep, that is Sweetness himself, Walter Payton, donning #34, the age I turned on Friday.

However, anyone who has friended me on Facebook needn't have bothered with the reference as they were reminded on their own and I received nearly 30 well wishes. After a couple years on Facebook, during which I've received only a couple birthday wishes, seeing approximately 30 this year just blew my mind. I guess I actually should start paying attention to the birthday list and returning these sentiments. So, anyone not on Facebook, please get on there. It's going to be my primary method of keeping track of your birthdays. Lord knows I won't remember on my own. Seriously... I won't. I'm bad like that. So I guess it's nice to have Facebook.

Oh, and for your viewing pleasure, I took some pictures of the Christmas decorations around our house. I would've taken more of the Christmas tree, but we have a bunch of unwrapped presents underneath and I don't want to reveal them. I'll get a new photo of that later on. Enjoy what I have otherwise in this pictobrowser (or over on Flickr)...

Did I forget to make note of the camera used to take these pictures? Yeah, it's my brand new Sony Alpha A350. Got it earlier today. I bought just the body of it, though, at the Sony outlet store. It's a refurbished camera and with nothing additional but the battery, covers, cords, manuals, etc., and with an additional 20% discount this weekend only, it came to $471. I did tack on a memory card and a four-year protection plan so it came out to a bit more total. But still. I love it. It's wonderful.

My rig

Thank you Katie!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I woke up this morning and took my shower then came into the bedroom to wake Katie up. She was buried under the covers. Up over her head, in fact. So I peeled back the covers from her head and said, in a sing-song manner, "Katieeeeeee."

She looked at me with the good ol' Katie stinkeye and said, "There is no Katie, only Zuul.

"Are you the Gate Keeper?"

My wife, the movie geek.

Where, oh where...

I'm being punished.

I'm convinced of it.

By the very technology I otherwise love.

Ipod_shuffle My iPod Shuffle is lost. My trusty old Truffle Shuffle (named in tribute to a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Goonies) is nowhere to be found and I think it's a form of punishment for a vile betrayal on my part.

You see, I'm a fan of the second generation orange iPod Shuffle. I've been a fan of it since it came out and was saddened when newer generations of the clip Shuffle were not available in orange. So I've been shopping around the Web for a good deal on one. I keep looking, but I never buy.

And I think my first generation, gumstick Shuffle has had enough. It has sensed my near betrayal and is hiding from me just as I was about to charge it up and put a new playlist on it for my trip into Chicago today.

Yes, I'm anthropomorphizing technology. It's nothing new for me as I've made clear that I think iPods are capable of syncing themselves not only with our computers, but with our brainwaves and emotions as well.

Truffle, please come back. I promise not to cheat on you again. I miss you. I really do. Just come home. Let's talk this out.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): So, Quantum of Solace... we did finally see it Sunday night. A little later than we planned, but still during opening weekend. I'll be honest, it wasn't as good as I was hoping it would be. Was it as good as Casino Royale? Not even close. But it was still gritty and action packed and more daring than most Bond films tend to be.

This also proved to be its downfall to some degree.

As Delmer pointed out in a comment on my Friday post, and I completely agree, the camera work and frenetic nature of the filming did make it difficult from time to time to figure out what the heck was going on. For me, at no time was this moreso the case than during that strange operatic sequence. It almost seemed to me that there were three different scenes blended into one and it just got confusing.

But, Craig still kicks severe ass as Bond. I do think he's the best of the bunch now, officially. He brings a snark to the character that we have come to expect, but without being over the top. He likes the ladies, but the focus is not on bedding them at every turn. And he doesn't rely on gadgets like every other Bond, which I like. It's him, his car, his gun, and his instincts. I'm not saying there are no gadgets in this film. Wait until you see MI6's computer getup. Holy crap.

The reason I'm still holding out hope, though, is because they have a third movie that they are planning on to make this a three-film arc... a Bond trilogy, as it were. And we all know that in trilogies, the middle film pretty much always sucks. Save for The Empire Strikes Back, which is, by far, the greatest Star Wars film ever.

Oh, and where the hell was my Star Trek trailer??? So bummed. I'm not a Trekkie, but I'm dyin' to see this flick regardless. My dad is, too, so I think we'll be each other's date since our respective significant others likely couldn't be coerced to see this even at gunpoint.

My baby takes the mornin' train...

So guess what? The justice system is gettin' an overhaul... KAPGAR STYLE!

After a week of calling in and finding out that I wasn't needed for jury duty, I called in last night, yet again, and found out that I do have to report tomorrow.

Courtmap_2 The timing is actually much better than if I had to report last week considering I had some pretty big projects due at work that would've been painful to try and postpone. So I got all those done and now the jury duty kicks in. Cool. The plan is to hit up the 6:36 train from Geneva to Chicago, grab some coffee, hang around for a little bit, and then report for duty at 8:30 a.m. on Dearborn. 

Yes, I am still looking forward to it even though I checked out some of the daily court calendar from last week and they were all pretty boring cases. Nothing quite like the income tax evasion, capital crimes, etc., that I was hoping would make it all kinda fun. Bummer. Oh, for the chance to stand up in court and scream "STONE HIM!"

But I will do my civic duty, and I will do it without too much bitching.

Also, I will gauge my lunchtime based on how tomorrow goes and, if time will permit and I still have to report after tomorrow, I'm totally cool with doing lunch with anyone who wants to meet up. You still interested, Sheila? Anybody else? Maybe dinner?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): We did it. We bit the bullet. Yesterday, we bought Katie an iPhone.

She's loving it so far even though the idea of paying the extra money for the data plan still irks her. It irks her to the point of feeling buyer's remorse over the purchase. But she, like me, has pretty much hated her Razr phone since day one. So anything that can make her enjoy owning a cellphone is a good thing.

I've played with it a little bit and am becoming much more accustomed to it. For the longest time, I was having extreme difficulty with the menu structure. I couldn't find things on the phone. Now I'm getting the hang of it and it's pretty cool. And at half the price of the phone I'm testing now, it's far more reasonable. But I still may be getting a free Blackberry, so we'll see.

Oh, and that Shazam app that they advertise that allows you to hold up your iPhone to a song and have the app identify it? Totally works. And it's free.

And her wallpaper? Totally appropriate for someone who wants to be a junior high science teacher.


Who cut off their tails with a carving knife...

I think I'm going insane.

Paranoia is taking its toll.

It's been a slow, but steady decline to the depths of mental despair, but I'm knocking on the door waiting for the gatekeeper to open.

Many of you have been reading here long enough to know of my Tails of Wildlife Woe. No, I did not misspell "tails." It is in reference to the mouse problem that has occasionally befallen us in our townhouse. There have been a few over the years.

No, we don't have another one. Not that I'm aware of anyway. But try telling that to my brain. Whenever I'm in my house, I see little shadows scurrying out the corner of my eye. Tearing across the countertop. Speeding across the carpet. Skidding over the bathroom linoleum.

But anytime I go to examine, I find nothing. No evidence of mousey miscreants anywhere. No poop. No moved articles. No nibbles in any paper packaging or in the foodstuffs we leave out on the counter.

There is absolutely no empirical evidence that any mice are in my house anywhere!

And I still swear I see them. Sometimes I think they're snickering at me. Their little whiskers fluttering up and down as they cackle at my futile attempts not only to catch them, but just to prove that they even exist.

It's driving me up a freakin' wall!

Make it stop!

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Has anyone ever had their iPod not recognize music that they know is on there? This has happened to me a few times lately.

The first was with a song by She & Him called "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" I purchased this as part of a Starbucks compilation album called Have You Heard. Being a purchase direct from iTunes, you would expect it to work. And yet, I could never find it when I scrolled through the artist subfolder for She & Him. The only way I could find the song was by doing an album search for Have You Heard.

Next it was the Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins album Rabbit Fur Coat. I loaded it in iTunes and sync'd my iPod and it wasn't there. Not under the artist name anyway. I could find the album. But I'll be damned if it was available under the name Jenny Lewis or a variant thereof. After a while, though, it just spontaneously appeared.

The third was Jenny Lewis' other solo album Acid Tongue. Again, it would only show up under the album name. I deleted the files and reripped the CD and still nothing. I went into the album info and added her name anywhere I could find a form field related to artist. Still nothing.

The thing is I'm not sure that these are the only albums this is happening with. These just happen to be the ones I was looking for at a given moment.

I don't get it. I just reinstalled the firmware for my iPod and resync'd everything. It took a little over an hour, and I'm still not sure it's going to work. Wish me luck...

... and still no She & Him nor Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue. But Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins is on there.

I'm at a loss.

On the road again...

Sorry about the unnecessarily short post on Friday. I really couldn't think of much to say and I was trying out the Typepad mobile blogging platform on my Nokia E71 to see how it worked. Seemed to be pretty nice. Gave me enough basic functionality to write and publish a post, but not much else. I do have a second review of the E71 in my extended post if you're interested, though.

Oddly, though, there are several of you who seem to enjoy my potty humor implications. Twisted bastards... I love y'all!

In other news, I got word from the District Court in Chicago, and I don't need to report tomorrow. I actually am kinda bummed. I've really been building myself up for this. Who knows, maybe they caught word of me talking about it on my blog and disqualified me as a result. I wonder if they would do that for fear of me talking too much. Hmmm...

But there is still a chance I could receive the nod... I was told I have to call in each night before a possible jury duty reporting through the next two weeks. This means I could still go, but the fact that I have to call in so often and never know until the night before is annoying not just to me, but to my boss and coworkers because it's so last second. I pretty much have to leave an out-of-office message on my phone and e-mail account at all times because I won't know until after I've already left work for the day if I will be back in the next day or not. That doesn't seem right to me.

So that's all I've got for you right now. As I said at the top of the post, if you keep reading, there's a second review with some of the pros and cons of the Nokia E71 that I think I have about half a week left to play with before I, *sniffle*, have to send it back.

Continue reading "On the road again..." »

And I want it now...

It's been a while since I griped about the Jury Duty information request form I received some time ago. But I was laboring under the impression that no news is good news insofar as I had no desire to serve.

However, a few weeks ago, I received a follow up. This time with specific dates. That can't be good. Or can it?

Basically, I was told to block off a two-week period starting next Monday. At this point, I have no idea if they'll actually need me. But, pending the possibility that they might, I'm trying to make the most of it and be a bit optimistic.

For example, here are some positives:

  • I get to visit Chicago, singularly the greatest city on the face of the Earth. I swear, after 21 years living here, I still get that googly eyed wondrous look on my face every time I go downtown. I'm a little kid. I love it.
  • I get to take the train each day, which is going to save boku bucks on gas.
  • I get to read or listen to my iPod or surf the Web on this Nokia smart phone while on the train. Fun!
  • I get paid. Not much, but it's mine!
  • I've never served on a jury before. The likelihood is that it will be boring stuff, if they even use me. Or it could be some big, juicy case. It is the District Court, after all.

So, yeah, I'm trying to stay upbeat about the whole thing. If I keep pissing and moaning, what good is that going to do? May as well make the most of it. That's so non-cynical of me.

Hey, not sure how lunch works during jury duty, but if anyone wants to meet up in the Loop area for lunch, let me know.

BTW, speaking of the Nokia E71 smart phone I'm playing with, I've got some initial impressions of it in the extended post.

Continue reading "And I want it now..." »

Which is the way that's clear...

Don't ask why, but lately I've been forced to share my time of late on different computers. My arsenal of computers includes my G5 iMac, G3 PowerBook, a Dell desktop, a Dell laptop, and a Lenovo laptop. Plus, there can be any number of other computers I just happen upon to do something.

In one regard, it's kinda nice because I get to see what these computers are all about and run them through more paces than when you sit in a computer store and try a few menial tasks and are forced to make a purchase decision based on that scant information. Not that I'm necessarily shopping at the moment.

However, what drives me nuts are the differences between all of them. On one computer I may be typing up something and hit a long horizontal enter key, others are shorter, and a final may have a reverse L shape. My fingers never quite hit it just right on all of them. On the laptops, the function keys are combined with all these other options that require the use of a blue Fn (function) key and none of the additional functions, nor the Fn key itself, are ever in the same place. The Dell laptop has it just inside the Ctrl key while the Lenovo has them flipped. This is really messing with my use of control functions. Then there's the fact that Page Up, Page Down, Home, and End keys on Mac never work quite the same way they do on Windows machines (this is one of the few things that drives me nuts about Mac).

And finally, the trackpads and mouse buttons on the laptops are all over God's green acres. The Dell has the mouse keys spaced about a quarter inch from the bottom edge of the laptop. On the Lenovo, the mouse buttons run right up to the edge of the computer. After using the Lenovo last night, I had to figure out why, this morning, I was tapping my thumb below the trackpad on the Dell and nothing happened. I was hitting solid plastic. It's the space differential from the edge of the computer where the buttons sit. My hand sits in one place and becomes accustomed to finding the buttons at a certain angle on one, while that seemingly meager quarter inch completely threw me off on the other.

I think it's time to lock all these "form and functionality" designers in a windowless closet and force them to come up with a damn standard already. I know how to type, but this hunt and peck method I need to employ to get used to where things are from one computer to the next is for the birds.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): I don't know how many of you watch Mad Men, but I just started recently. I finished season one late last week and am now catching up on the two months worth of episodes from season two that have been sitting on mine and Katie's DVR. Last night I even twatted that I was finally catching up on Mad Men (along with last week's episode of Fringe).

This morning, I check my e-mail to find out that I'm being followed on Twitter by @bettydraper. I can only assume it's because of my Mad Men twat. If you know the show, you know that Betty Draper is the unsatisfied housewife of lead character Don Draper and is played by the stunning January Jones (of American Wedding fame). Of course, while it would be nice, I realize this is not really January Jones. But whoever did do this is having some fun. Not only do they have the Twitter account, but they set up a LinkedIn account for her detailing her work experience as a housewife and fashion model. It's pretty hilarious but clearly marks the beginning of the end of any legitimacy that LinkedIn may have had among business professionals.

Well done, @bettydraper.

Heh, and I just received a follow notice from @bertramcooper, one of the co-owners of the Stanley Cooper agency where Don Draper works. I wonder if the whole cast of characters have Twitter personas run by fans. This is kinda fun.

Walk Idiot Walk...

I make no secret of my hatred of treadmills. I don't really hate running so much, but running in place always struck me as completely pointless. Sure, you get a good workout in very little space. You can control temperature and terrain and all that jazz, but it's just so. damn. boring.

Nothing changes and I hate that. Even running with an iPod set up in front of you to watch something doesn't really help so much. It's just too small a screen to counter the fact that nothing else changes around you. The same view in front, the same view to the sides, and you feel like you're winning nothing because you're "keeping pace" with everyone around you. No matter how fast you go, there they all are. After a while, you almost feel willing to trade a non-vital bodypart to convince one of them to leave so it looks like you've made headway on someone.

Or this could just be how my crazy, mixed-up brain perceives it all. Wouldn't be the first time.

Treadmill However, yesterday at the gym, I was introduced to something that just might change my view. It was a new LifeFitness treadmill they receieved a couple days ago and finally finished assembling. Actually, they got two of them. And it is tres cool. I wish I knew the model number, but who really cares. Yeah, it's got the shock absorbing running platform, QuickStart, LifePulse, blah, blah.

Most importantly, it has full iPod compatibility! Plug in your iPod and it not only charges, but it starts to play on a 17" (maybe it was 15" - I wasn't carrying a tape measure) flat-panel monitor that is separate from the actual gauge monitor for your workout (mounted above the monitor you see on the treadmill at right). After figuring out how to use the on-screen controls (it takes a little getting used to), I was watching America's Game #2: 1985 Chicago Bears on the TV for the duration of my 45 minute workout. And I didn't even notice how the time flew. Very sweet, indeed!

Now if only I can guarantee that nobody else will ever use MY treadmill, I'd be happy.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Katie's other class started last night and, don't ask me how, they got on the topic of foreign films. Katie's teacher is a big fan and Katie was recommending the movie we saw a few months ago, Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), to her. And her teacher said she is always willing to accept recommendations for foreign films. So I began to think of some that I've seen and enjoyed. The list includes: City of God (Brazil), Run Lola Run (Germany), The Princess and the Warrior (Germany), Amelie (France), He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (France), A Very Long Engagement (France), and some others.

And then I got to thinking, hell, I'd like some recommendations. Many of you are pretty worldly in terms of cinema. Throw some recommendations at me. You can see from the list above what I like (Franka Potente, Audrey Tautou, Tom Tykwer), but I'd never limit myself to just this. Throw me some ideas.

One last note...

don't forget to vote!

I got a devil's haircut...

Katie and I are up watching the Olympics last night, it's about 10:30 p.m. and I'm dying. Simply nodding in and out of sleep for the next 15 minutes until we decide to go upstairs. We turn on the Olympics up there and I decide I'm going to sleep regardless. I nod off and then Katie turns out the light. I wake up long enough to kiss her goodnight and see her fall dead to the world.

And, of course, I wind up awake until sometime after 1 a.m. How the hell is this fair?

So, um, yeah, my creativity is kinda shot and I had this really cool idea for a post I was going to write that would serve as a review of this razor that was sent to me as a freebie. You probably saw it over on Karl's site. Apparently we were both hit up at the same time. Combine my tiredness factor with the fact that Karl already did the cutesy review and I'm sorry, but you're not going to wind up with a bunch of photos of people with curious shavings in their heads and facial hair with parts of my own face Photoshopped over them. Just ain't happenin', folks. Shame because I was really looking forward to my face with Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn's zigzag hair from Major League.

[I realize not all of you appreciate product placement, but if you stay tuned, I've got a couple video snippets from the TDFN: Pizza episode in the extended post. No, really!]

Instead, you're going to get a straightforward review of the new Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer (to be referred to henceforth as the "SQTT").

In the simplest terms, the SQTT is an all-in-one razor and trimmer. One end is your standard razor with four blades, a moisturizing strip, and a single edging blade on the reverse face of the blade. I always like having an edging blade. Pretty handy when you've got cutoff sideburns and a goatee like me. However, on the opposite end of this device is a battery-powered trimmer with a three-setting protective head cover. While I haven't looked for it in stores, I was told by the guy that contacted me that this thing goes for about $14 retail. Not bad considering I spend about $7-8 for a razor and $15 for a trimmer.

The razor works just as well as you'd expect. Nice, clean shave. Didn't nick myself at all and the moisturizing strip makes the blades just glide over my face. One strange thing is getting used to how big this thing is. Most of my razor handles are about half the width of this thing, if not less. Plus the battery and motor used for the trimmer adds quite a bit of heft to the thing. It may sound odd, but once you've been shaving with a certain type of razor, this additional weight can take some getting used to in order to make sure you don't overapply pressure and cut yourself. Thankfully, it really took me no time to get used to it.

The trimmer is a nice little toy to have on this thing. It's a small trimmer head, but it's perfect if you travel a lot and don't want to carry a large trimmer in your luggage. However, the size means it is best used on small areas (no jokes, people!) like sideburns. I used it on my goatee and it took a little longer than I'm used to in order to finish trimming. But the results were quite nice. If you plan on trimming a full beard, you'd better have the patience of a saint, though.

The entire unit is waterproof, which is great. I almost always shave in the shower and knowing that I can use this thing without worrying about frying it or myself is a plus.

My only true concern now is with how much replacement blades cost. The housing used to connect the blade to the base unit is unlike any I've seen before (maybe this is the standard Schick Quattro and I just haven't used one yet), and the high cost of replacement blades is something that has irked me for years.

I would've also liked to see it come with a little bottle of oil that could be used to lube up the trimmer, though, and possibly a cleaning brush. Most trimmers I've owned come with both these things.

Would you like to see the final result? Here you go...

Tom and Katie
Ain't I sexy? Okay, so my creativity was only mostly shot. This was a quick grab and slap, though.
But, c'mon! Tom Selleck in Mickey ears is quality comedy gold!

Overall, I'd give it a B+ bordering on an A-. If you hurry over to and make yourself a free gag movie (akin to those viral dancing elves videos around Christmas time), you can score yourself a free razor. Or at least I think you still can. It might end this week, though, so HURRY!

Continue reading "I got a devil's haircut..." »

Do you believe in magic...

I think I have officially found the strangest word ever included in a spell check dictionary. Or it could be a sign that the world truly is ruled by J.K. Rowling. Take your pick.

In an homage to an episode of Ace of Cakes when Mary Alice calls Duff "Dumbledork," I called a friend by the same name in an e-mail. The spell checker flagged the word and offered "Dumbledore," the character in the Harry Potter books and movies from which Mary Alice's comment was taken, as a viable alternative.

Now, unless "Dumbledore" has some other valid reason to be included in a Microsoft dictionary (I was using Outlook for the e-mail), I think I can say I've seen it all.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon four times in the back outside the latter's NYC apartment in 1980, has been denied parole for a fifth time. The question remains whether it was for the safety of society or for his own safety.

I say let him out and see what happens. It can be a Running Man of sorts to see who gets to him first. Muahahahahahahahahahahahaha. ha.

I wanna run to you...

I can't remember if it was yesterday's ad for Circuit City or Best Buy, but one of them was having a sale on all video games that were tied in to summer movies. Wall*E, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, etc. It blew my mind to see how many games had been made to accompany movies.

That's when I started to wonder who made the decision as to what movies get greenlighted as video games. I also started wondering why some movies, that are seemingly born to be made into video games, are not.

So I began pondering what movies would be great games. And it hit me... JUNO!

Pauliebleeker The game is played as Paulie Bleeker and the goal would be to bed as many of your classmates as possible. This is a strategy game, first and foremost. You have to scout your school to find a person whose intimacy levels most match yours. It would be like comparing Playboy centerfold profiles. Obviously, your levels will be very low when you start playing for the first time. However, you can create a savable profile and build your levels up. Eventually, given enough time and skill building, you can achieve the Dancing Elk o' Intimacy level and be able to bed anyone in your school, including teachers and administrators (if you manage to get your superintendent in bed, the game will self destruct and you will forever be remembered as the Minnesota Mastodon o' Love).

Once you scout your target, the next step is to woo them. This would be done using the guitar controller that comes with Guitar Hero. You have to show your mad strumming skillz and make them swoon for you. As soon as you do this, you have to then use the Wii Fit Balance Board to prove your sexual prowess. Rock, roll, sway, whatever it takes to bring them to the brink of ecstasy.

Money can be earned by winning track meets and these are run by jogging in place on the Wii Fit Balance Board. While it may sound unnecessary as the goal is to get in bed, this money is necessary so you can purchase energy boosts in the form of tangerine Tic-Tacs and Hot Pockets. You can also improve your running by purchasing deodorant that can be used as leg lube as well as progressively showier shorts. Given enough money, you might be able to afford the Cadillac of running outfits... Velcro tear-away shorts. This purchase would benefit you both on the track and in bed.

However, there is a catch... if you do successfully woo a classmate but you subsequently fall flat on your face in bed, your name and details of your inadequacies will be posted up to a pseudo MySpace profile and you will have to start over from a level below where a normal person would start the game. Also worthy of note, if your guitar skills are not up to par, you will wind up using the Wii Fit Balance Board to run in place to work off your sexual frustration. These runs will not earn you money as they are not school-sanctioned track meets. And you will not be able to move on to another target until the frustration level -- as determined by the immensity of the peer rejection and negative comments on your MySpace profile -- is worked off.

I can see this game being HUGE! Bigger than Ellen Page's belly!

Anyone out there with programming skills want to work on this one with me?

I wonder what other movie tie-in games I can come up with?

I'm going to hell, aren't I?

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Okay, "Semi Related Aside." Katie and I broke out the Connect Four board last night and started playing. I wish I had a Web cam running because it was funny to watch as the game started friendly, but quickly became a study in human competition. After just a couple rounds, we started playing it like it was some city park speed Chess game... just slamming the checkers into the grid square with no time between for play consideration. It was fun! Well, save for Katie throwing a checker or two at me. I think I wound up sleeping on one last night.

You've been thunderstruck...

Well, it's been three weeks since I returned my iPod to the store, they lost it, they found it, and, finally, they lemon'd it out. I now have my new iPod Classic, as it's been dubbed. But there's an interesting little twist to the story...

I got to the store and they went through my massive collection of receipts and service orders on my old iPod to determine how much was paid for the last one so I knew what trade-in value I would have. Turns out I spent just about $300 on the old one. The new Classics are $250 for the 80GB and $350 for the 160GB. I asked if I could get the 80GB and use the residual value toward the cost of a service plan or some accessories. They said no, if I opted for the 80, they would price up the value of it to match the $300 I previously spent. However, if I wanted the 160, I would have to pay the difference. Basically, either way, they would gain money off me.

Well, it didn't strike me as fair to lose money, so, with Katie's blessing via text message (she was in class), I opted for the 160 figuring I'd rather pay out a little more than lose out entirely. As I'm waiting in line and prepping another text to Katie, I look up and there she is! Her class was canceled because her teacher is stuck in Colorado due to weather.

We continue our wait in line and are prepping ourselves to spend about $110 ($50 difference in cost plus the $59.99 for a new service plan). The guy rings it all up and announces our total of $60.04 and asks how we'd like to pay. Katie, very nonchalantly, replies that we'll pay by card and we do and we leave.

Outside, Katie and I look at each other and I ask, "how did that just happen?"

Katie's reply? "I have a v-neck shirt and big boobs."

Hey, sex sells. What can you say?

Note 1: Upon looking at the receipt, we discovered that instead of trying to calculate the difference, the register jockey decided to apply a discount to the cost of the new one. All we paid for was the service plan.

Note 2: I filled this thing up with all the music on my computer plus three full-length movies and I've still only got a whopping 25GB taken up. Time to work on that, eh? Might have to pull some stuff off my archive DVDs.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): On the way home from the store, I looked in the direction of our house and saw some of the wickedest storm clouds I'd ever seen in my life. And, thankfully, I had my camera handy. Here's a gallery...

You will need to click through from your feed reader (at least from Google Reader, anyway) to check this thing out. Sorry, I cannot control the fact that readers don't work with this and I love this applet too much to not use it. Or you can just go straight over to Flickr.

I see your true colors...

Oh holy hell, Mother's Day is coming up (Update for Diane: It's Sunday, May 11). This, in my pained world of stacked holidays also means that my mom's birthday is nigh. Do I have any idea what to get her? Of course not. That would require a little something known as "forethought," a concept I have yet to grasp after 33 years.

So imagine my sheer delight when I see an e-mail in my inbox from Apple with the subject line "Find gifts to make Mom smile." Well, not that my mom is a Certified Apple Whore (tm) like Dave or myself, but whose to say there won't be something kinda cool in there?

What do I do? I actually open the damn thing and am greeted with this...


Ah hahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahaha. ha. A MacBook?!?! For Mother's Day?!?! My Dear Apple, let's get something straight... I love my mom, but I can barely afford a MacBook for Katie and myself let alone one for somebody else. Even if she is my mom. Even if she would take this opportunity to remind me that she spent some God-awful number of hours in labor with me (it was more than a day, for the record).

But you tell me what's better here... buying her something more reasonably priced (like waayyyyyy less than the $1,100 price tag on a low-end MacBook) or buying her something lavish like this, winding up in the poorhouse, and subsequently being forced to move back home with her and my dad. That's a lose-lose for all involved.

Sure, Apple had more than just this MacBook in the e-mail, but after seeing this as the first thing listed, do you really think I bothered looking any further in the message? Hell no. For all I know, they probably asked me to buy her a MacBook Air or a Pro or an entire friggin' farm of Xserves, not that she'd have any idea what to do with them.

Quick tip, Apple, build up to the expensive recommendation next time.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Not only is Tony still alive, but he's gone rogue!

Yeah, baby!

On the Dark Side, woah, yeah...

Once again, Katie and I have begun to look into some new computers. Likely a pair of laptops, but not necessarily at the same time. I need one I can use for work and she needs one she can use for school.

As you all probably know, we're both Mac whores, no question about our status in this regard whatsoever. However, for a little bit, I actually considered jumping ship and buying a Windows laptop for myself and a Mac for Katie. Why? Well, price primarily. Macs are not cheap.

Guess what else I discovered? Neither are PCs. Once you get them to a proper performance level anyway.

The thing about Macs is that they are built pretty standard. With one company doing all the design and construction of them, they wind up pretty much the same. Sure, you can tweak with higher RAM and HD space and the like, but it's not at all like when you visit, say, and start to build there. I thought for sure I'd be able to save some dimes by building myself a custom laptop. So I tried it out.

Well, I had some things I needed to do with my computer. I needed a working copy of Windows XP. And there isn't a single purveyor of Windows laptops (recognized purveyor anyway) that loads their computers with XP as an operating system. You can pay them to wind it back, as it were, to XP from the dreaded Vista and the quote I got from Best Buy for that was $300 for a copy of XP and $130 to install it. That alone took just about all their laptops up over the $1K mark even before tacking on a service plan. Even the low-end systems. On Web sites where you custom build your laptop, I couldn't even find the option to purchase XP anywhere.

Speaking of low-end systems, if I were to stick with Vista instead, I would need to make sure that my RAM was at least 2 MB and my processor was greater than 2GHz. Anything less with Vista is just pathetic. Sure, I can go out and buy myself a little Toshiba laptop for $599 just about anywhere. But have you tried really taking Vista through the curves using the default system that comes on a computer that costs that little? It may work for less memory intensive apps, but the hogs I use like Adobe Creative Suite 3 ain't gonna play nice here. Vista, by itself, is a system hog and taxes everything you've got beyond belief. So, once I mark higher processor speeds and RAM quantity as needs, I'm up over $1.5K as well. Unacceptable.

The Macs that I'm pricing right now come in well under this mark.

I guess I know what this means... I'm back to the good side of computing. The Apple side. And we're going to buy two Macs. It's just a matter of when now. And it should be soon. The need is really here.

You may as well mark the roof of our house with a giant white Apple.

Go Speed Racer, go...

Oh sweet Mary, mother of God, I've been on a major geek high since yesterday at lunch!

I love, love, love it!

First, I was attempting to pick up a gift for Katie to give at a baby shower. The gift was available on the couple's Babies 'r' Us gift registry. However, since most of the Babies, Kids, and Toys 'r' Us stores have shut down or merged in recent years, I wasn't quite sure where to go find an actual BRU. So I went to the local TRU.

Well, they didn't have what I was looking for. But they certainly had what I wasn't looking for! An entire wall of Speed Racer movie tie-in products! Holy crap! I sat there looking for something like 10 minutes debating what I wanted. I knew I had to get something. Then I found it! The Holy Grail of Speed Racer products. The Lego Speed Racer sets!


There are four kits total, but TRU only had two in stock. The first is Speed himself with Snake Oiler, the second is Racer X with Taejo Togokahn, the third is Cruncher Block and Racer X, and the fourth is Grand Prix Race.

Oh too freakin' cool! I bought the Mach 5, of course. And built it. During the remainder of my lunch break. And I have pictures for you all (note: you can't see the photos in your feed reader; you'll have to click through; sorry, I have no control over this)! I plan to build Snake Oiler during lunch today.

I totally need to dig through my old Legos for one of those pirate set monkeys so I can have a Chim Chim.

The Second Coming of the Geekification (tm) manifests itself in the Mario Kart Wii Driving School Tour that will be coming to Chicago in May!


Lessons! Competitions! And a free personalized license!

Is there such a thing as Geek Overload? If so, I'm a chronic sufferer.

Hit me with your best shot... fire away...

Guitarheroiii Okay, prior to the E3 conference in 2007, it was announced on IGN that Gibson Guitars had become an official partner with Activision, the creators of the ridiculously successful Guitar Hero series of games, so that the guitars that would be released with the then-upcoming Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock game would be styled after Gibson axes and bear the Gibson logo on the headstock.

The game has been out for months now on, I believe, all modern console video game stations. Again, it sold like wildfire. Hell, even I have it and love it because I'm rocking out with my Wii-model Gibson Les Paul, one of the finest guitars known to man.

Fans are happy, Activision is happy, and Gibson Guitars is happy.

Er... maybe not.

ComputerWorld reports that Gibson is claiming a patent infringement against Activision. They own a patent, filed in 1999, for technology that is intended to simulate a musical performance. Now, they believe Activision has violated it with Guitar Hero.

Never mind that this infringement claim was filed only this January... after three iterations of Guitar Hero have been released on multiple video game systems over the past three years... after Gibson became an OFFICIALLY LICENSED PARTNER WITH THE COMPANY MAKING THE GAME!

If you feel a company is violating a copyright, why the hell would you partner with them? Maybe I'm just a simpleton, but wouldn't this partnership imply some sort of tacit approval of the product that bears your logo and design work?

Wouldn't this be like the NFL suing Reebok for making replica jerseys after giving Reebok permission to use both the NFL logo and all the team logos on said jerseys?

How fucking stupid is this?


Oh, for the record, I have begun playing it just on trial mode to get used to it before I start a career or whatever they call it. I freakin' love it! My best songs are Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" on which I scored a 98% and Mountain's "Mississippi Queen" that, on my first try, I nailed with 100%.

Now that I've played through all eight of the songs available in trial mode, I need to get working on that career.


By the way, I'm still waiting for Dave to create stickers of his Lil Dave with a Wii guitar so I can put it on my mini-Les Paul. Because that would just be cool.


I'm blue, if I were green I would die...

It's been several months, but Katie thinks Bernard is finally making a return "appearance" in our house. And we think he's become a bit of a tech snob. In a good way, of course.

For the last month or so, I've had a laptop at home from work. I have it because I need Windows to run some programs and we don't yet have a Mac with an Intel processor so I can get Boot Camp and a copy of XP. So the Dell laptop has been my Band-Aid approach to remedying the situation.

On Sunday, I fired up the laptop to get some stuff done. Before I even reached the login screen, I received the dreaded BSoD (Blue Screen of Death) with what had to be the longest error message in the history of computing. Most BSoDs are just a couple lines of text that mean nothing to the average human other than "Oh crap, my computer's FUBARd!" All I remember from this message was something about a physical memory dump and I needed a restart. So I did.

The second go-round, it started and I logged in fine. Did a couple things, saved them, and then the whole system just spontaneously died. No BSoD, no warning, no nothing. Just died.

So I rebooted again. Right after I logged in, the viewable area of the screen collapsed to the upper 40% of the monitor and started racing back and forth sideways. It was like watching speedlines in anime.

Third time was the charm for me, so I shut it down and took it to the IT department yesterday morning. My tech guy checked it out for several hours, ran what he called "the most thorough diagnostic check I've ever performed in my life," and found nothing. No notes in the log files at all. Not one indication that the system had crashed or that there had been a BSoD or anything.

Katie is now convinced that we have created a monster; that Bernard has become a Mac freak because we leave our iMac on for him to play with when we're gone. And now he doesn't want anything else in our place. PCs not allowed, so he kills them. Hey, my Mac has spontaneously awoken from sleep in the middle of the night. I've seen it happen. Just wakes up for no reason whatsoever.

I guess we can add another bullet to the list... Mac owners are more likely to be found in the spirit world than PC users.

Hey, can't fault Bernard for having good taste.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): Kristy Yamaguchi, Adam Carolla, Priscilla Presley, Shannon Elizabeth, Steve Guttenberg, Marlee Matlin, Monica Seles, Penn Jillette, Jason Taylor, and a couple others. Hey, you had me at Yamaguchi. I'm tuning in!

Lovin', touchin', squeezin'...

So I was back at Goodwill yesterday scanning the book racks (yes, again) and I saw one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.

On one shelf, I found a copy of Pregnancy for Dummies. Not only did I have no idea that such a Dummies book existed, but I found it odd that someone suddenly felt they had no use for the book anymore. I'm afraid to ask for a clarification of the circumstances surrounding the decision to donate it. But something tells me that if you either felt the need to buy it at one time or someone felt the urge to buy it for you, you should probably never get rid of it.

But wait! It gets better.

It was sitting on the bookshelf labeled "TEEN."

Heh heh. Someone must've really hated Juno.

On a semi-related note and to be filed under "This World Would Be So Much Better If Rick Hilton Had Just Wrapped His Wang" comes this little gem from everyone's favorite socialite... Paris is putting out (heh heh) a line of girls dolls.

Blissfully, mercifully, thankfully (I feel like I'm writing the next Journey hit), they are not sculpted in her image, just designed by her.

So who wants to be the first person to come up with a new doll name to be added to the line?

On a related aside, I love how Wikipedia's filmography for Paris lists 1 Night in Paris (her porn) as one of her "films." Funny stuff.

Totally Unrelated Aside (TUA): No wait, I guess, considering I was talking about Paris Hilton, this could still be considered "related." Meh, semantics. Oh, and NSFW.

Thank you,

Give it away...

How about a few snippets today?

I was e-mailing an old friend a few days ago. In one of the e-mails, she told me that someone we both knew had been promoted to a pretty high position of power within her company. If you knew this person, you'd know there was no way she actually deserved it in the traditional sense.

That's when I replied with, "I guess she blew, er, knew the right people."

To which she shot back, "Woah! Someone needs a testosterone shot! That was even cattier than most of the women I hang out with."

Elliotcarver Is anybody else completely terrified by the concept of this new Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)? I can understand her show (though I don't watch it) and the movies she produces and whatnot. But a whole friggin' network???

This is scary to me. All I can see in my mind's eye is Jonathon Pryce from Die Another Day playing the role of the megalomaniacal media mogul hellbent on world domination. And you?

Any bets on how long until it's renamed Oprah World Network?

If nothing else, should Dr. Phil be removed from the big four networks, we know he'll have a fallback for his show.

Turns out the new iTunes movie rental service will not work with the pre-Classic 5G video iPods.

Strange. They're both video enabled. I've put movies of my own on there. It's not as though it can't handle it. There is some speculation in the comments of the above post as to why, but no firm word from Apple yet.

I realize this is Apple trying to get us to upgrade. But considering I discovered that the games I own on my 5G won't work on the Classic, I'm not upgrading. I'd rather lose out on something I have not yet paid for than something I already spent money on.

All the more reason to wait for the day I can afford an iPhone and hope it works with both of the above.

I was at Goodwill the other day, which I tend to do from time to time. No, we're not in dire straits. I have simply discovered that they tend to have a damn fine selection of books including hardcovers that you can't still find in regular bookstores. Plus, the money goes to a worthwhile cause and we donate to them all the time.

Anyway, I was looking in one of their locked cases where they keep video games and DVDs and I saw the damnedest thing... Guitar Hero III for the Wii!

How long were Katie and I looking for that before we found it at Best Buy? A few weeks. Everyone was sold out. And here it is for $75 (albeit in a pretty beat-to-death box) at Goodwill of all places. I never cease to be amazed by the world around me.

I feel pretty...

MacbookairCan pure, unadulterated sexual lust come in an aluminum case?

Before yesterday, I would've thought not.

Now, though, behold! The MacBook Air.

I'm sure many of you have already read yourselves to death about this new laptop from the geniuses at Apple. Sorry, but if you stick around here, you'll have to read some more. But I've got a meme at the end of the post if it will justify your sticking around a bit.

Of course, like any new technology, it's upsides (the sheer lack of bulk, form factor, Mac OS and not Windows, etc.) do require you giving up a bit (Dave and TUAW do a pretty good job of detailing the downsides). But, dayamn! This is one fine looking computer and one that I want desperately. However, with the price tag it currently bears (starting at $1,800), it will be some time before that happens.

I just don't get how designers and developers at Apple can so consistently get it right and so few Windows PC developers and designers cannot.

If this doesn't make Dustin and Hilly convert, nothing will.

Now, as promised for you non-computer lovers, a meme!

Continue reading "I feel pretty..." »

More sweet than bitter...

Some snippets here for ya!

Did anyone else watch the coverage of the winners' and concession speeches for the Iowa Caucuses on the news last night? Am I the only one who was left completely flabbergasted by seeing Mike Huckabee giving his "I love Iowa" speech with Chuck Norris standing over his right shoulder?


Bhtm Monster'd
One of my favorite bands when I was going through college was a Colorado band named Big Head Todd and the Monsters. I was a big fan. Just some very smooth and rather melodic indie rock in an era when everything was still very grunge based. I could listen for hours to tracks like "Bittersweet" and "Broken Hearted Savior."

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Ticketmaster that they're coming to town at the end of March. I think I have to go and I want to take Katie with me. Anyone else? Scott? Becca? If you want to hear what they sound like, click through to the songs I linked above and hear the samples. Otherwise, go to their Web site. It turns out their new album, All the Love You Need, is available for download absolutely free. The band believes that their popularity and, thus, their money comes from performing live. The best way to get people to your shows is to familiarize them with your music by getting your studio recordings out to as many people as possible. What better way to do that than to give it away? After all, who doesn't like free music? So, if you haven't heard them before, check out BHTM FOR FREE! (note: the All the Love link is the free one; the individual song links are to iTunes and are not free -- just a head's up).

A couple nights ago, I saw a commercial on TV for a new Lego theme... INDIANA JONES!!! I was so excited and I was going to blog about it immediately, but it wasn't quite going to fit in with what I blogged yesterday. So I held off a day. And, of course, Dave beats me to it. Not only beats me to it, but writes something much better than I could ever hope to. Sometimes, I hate/envy him. *sniffle*

As cool as they are, I think the only set I really want is the Motorcycle Chase one because then I get figures for Indy and his dad (Sean Connery) as well as a couple of really bitchin' motorcycles (these are certainly not the same ol' Lego two wheelers that we had as kids).

Speaking of cool Legos, check out the custom sets at Gizmodo. I particularly love Iron Man, the iPhone, the iPod dock, the candy catapult, and the medieval pinball machine. Too awesome!

Got a meme for you in the extended post...

Continue reading "More sweet than bitter..." »