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Monday, December 31, 2007

Three Or Four Alternate Timelines Of Futurama

Lately Cartoon Network has been playing lots of "Futurama" at night. Last night Fry went back in time to Dec 31, 1999, and it got me thinking about how things originally played out versus how they changed through time travel.

Original timeline (Timeline A):
1947: Fry's grandmother meets Fry's grandfather, and they have a child, one of Fry's parents
December 31, 1999: Pizza delivery boy Fry goes to a false delivery address, courtesy of a legitimate prankster. Fry leans too far back in a chair in a Cryogenics building and is frozen for 1000 years.
Early 3000's: Fry goes back in time to 1947, spawning Timeline B. Fry then returns to the early 3000's of Timeline A.
3002:Evil alien Brains destroy the universe.

Timeline B:
1947: Fry's grandmother meets Fry, and she becomes pregnant with one of Fry's parents, making Fry his own grandfather.
19**: Fry is born, but unlike in Timeline A, he now lacks Delta brain waves.
****: Nibbler the alien and his race foresee that Delta-deficient Fry is the only one capable of stopping evil brain creatures around the year 3002
December 31, 1999: Nibbler becomes the prankster, sends Fry to the Cryogenics building, and makes sure Fry leans too far back and falls into the Cryogenic tank.
Early 3000's: Fry goes back in time to 1947, and returns.
3002: Fry gets a Scootie Puff Jr. hover scooter from Nibbler and co., and plants a device in the evil Brain Mothership. The Scootie Puff Jr. breaks, and Fry doesn't escape in time. The device he planted sends him and all the brains to an "inescapable" alternate universe. The largest brain, nearly omniscient, figures out a way to send Fry back in time so he can prevent himself from getting frozen in the first place, and also so the brains will win, having no "John Connor" to lose to. Fry travels to December 31, 1999, spawning Timeline C.

Timeline C:
Same as Timeline B up to...
December 31, 1999: Future Fry arrives in the Cryo lab, and nearly stops himself from being frozen. Speaking with Nibbler, who is 1000 years younger, he decides to let himself get frozen, if only to save Leela. Then he tells Nibbler that Scootie Puff Jr. sucks. That piece of information changes the outcome of the event in 3002, and this version of future Fry vanishes, ceasing to exist.
3000: Frozen Fry wakes up from Cryo sleep
Soon after: Travels to 1947, returns
3002: Nibbler gives him a Scootie Puff Sr. hover scooter, which is far more powerful than the Jr. model. Fry plants the device on the Brain mothership. The Scootie Puff Sr. doesn't break, so Fry escapes, and life goes on in the future...

Of course, if the Nibbler race was super prophetic, they would have realized in Timeline A that if they froze Fry, even though he still had Delta brain waves, his actions in the future and in 1947 would eventually change his existence in the ways that would make him a perfect candidate for defeating the Brains. If they foresaw all that, it's likely that the timelines really looked like this:

Timeline A (foreseen and prevented through prophecy by Nibbler and co):
1947: Fry's grandmother meets Fry's grandfather.
19**: Fry is born with Delta brain waves.
December 31, 1999: Fry misses his chance to get frozen 1000 years.
20**: Fry dies.
3002: Brains destroy universe.

Timeline B:
1947: Fry's grandmother meets Fry's grandfather.
19**: Fry is born with Delta brain waves.
December 31, 1999: Nibbler places the prank call and freezes Fry.
Early 3000's: Fry goes to 1947, spawning Timeline C. Fry returns.
3002: Brains destroy universe.

Timeline C:
1947: Fry's grandmother meets Fry, and he becomes his own grandfather.
19**: Fry is born without Delta brain waves.
December 31, 1999: Nibbler places the prank call and freezes Fry.
Early 3000's: Fry goes to 1947. Fry returns.
3002: Fry faces brains, his scooter breaks, travels to alternate universe, returns to December 31, 1999 spawning Timeline D.

Timeline D:
1947: Fry's grandmother meets Fry, and he becomes his own grandfather.
19**: Fry is born without Delta brain waves.
December 31, 1999: Nibbler places the prank call. Future Fry shows up, and tells Nibbler to get him a better scooter. Future Fry ceases to be, while Past Fry is frozen.
Early 3000's: Fry goes to 1947. Fry returns.
3002: Fry faces Brains, his new and improved scooter works great, and Fry escapes after sending all the evil Brains to the inescapable alternate universe. Time goes on...

Happy New Year!

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Obama's Workers Tried To Cheat Us

Today a woman came by my house and mentioned she was going to put up a sign in our yard in support of Obama. When asked why, she replied that I had requested it.

I made no such request.

In the past, a few people have called and come by in person to talk about Obama. A woman spoke on the phone with me, and I was polite. A man came by the house, we discussed Obama's drug use, and I was polite. Was I too polite? Did they take my tolerance of their marketing campaign too seriously?

I've heard we live in an Opt-Out world. Maybe everyone who didn't scream obscenities into the phone or paint scary things on their doors was automatically marked as an avid supporter.

It's funny. Obama's campaign has made its presence known (i.e., volunteers have gotten in touch with me) way more than the other guys (and Hillary). But that doesn't make me think more favorably of him. Not that I don't already. But if anything, it makes his campaign seem needy, clingy. Smothering!

It's not you Obama, it's me. I...need my space. I think we should take a break.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

2008 Feels Like No Big Deal

2005 came, and then 2006, the future.

2006 ended, and then 2007, the future!

2007 will soon be over, and then 2008, the past?

For some reason, 2008 just strikes me as more of the same. I think it may have to do with the election. 2008 = 2004 + 4. So it's like a rerun.

Anyway, today I got a call asking me who I was likely to vote for. I said I hadn't decided yet. Honestly I haven't. Maybe Colbert. JK.

At the end of the phone call, the woman said, "This poll has been paid for by Hillary Clinton."

So that means that the Clinton campaign is funding telemarketing recon activity. Is that fair? It felt like a professional call from some bureau of information that would present the results to news programs everywhere, for the benefit of the public. "Coming up, tonight at 11, recent polls show Giuliani pulling ahead." Instead, whatever insight is gleamed from the polls will be the property of the Clinton campaign.

I had thought somewhat favorably of Hillary Clinton. And if I were running for President, I'd probably use every means of getting ahead, including gathering intelligence through telephone polls. But for some reason, I get the vibe that if Hillary is elected, more and more information is going to be collected until there's no privacy left anywhere.

But maybe that's inevitable?

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Machine Gun Santa Vs. The Ninjas

Ever since I saw the opening to "Scrooged" where Santa meets Lee Majors and gets help from the Bionic Man fighting off the bad guys, I've been interested in a nonexistent movie that seems to be lampooned every now and then. I could be wrong, maybe it really does exist, but the only references I've seen are parodies.

The gist of the film is that Santa becomes a '90's action hero. Using whatever weapons are at his disposal, Jolly Old Saint Nick would deal a new form of justice to the naughty. No more coal. This time, it's lead.

On "Family Guy," there was a "Kiss Saves Santa" holiday special where Kiss used the power of music to save Santa from dinosaurs. I assume the joke is that Christmas has become so commercialized, you end up seeing Santa in the least likely of places (on the edge of a cliff next to some Pterodactyl eggs) just so companies can squeeze a little more revenue out of the holiday. But I really think that society is ready for a movie that loops the parody back on itself and actually depicts Santa in some bizarre scenario. Not just a guy pretending to be Santa. I mean the real deal. Action Santa! In theaters nowhere, December 2008.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

What's Your New Year's Resolution?

Does it really make a difference whether or not you resolve to change your life? I think it does, but in many cases not as big a difference as we'd like.

There's an effect you notice at gyms where a huge influx of people crowd in after New Year's Eve. "Time to lose that weight!"

Some people complain, "These new ones are all in my way, and won't be here in a few months anyway, so why do they bother?"

But for some select few, they stick to it, and become regulars. Resolution accomplished.

Are you one of them?

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Getting Tickets From The Coin Flip Arcade Game

Remember those coin flip arcade machines, where you try to get your coin into holes in a cave, and you get points? In the middle on the bottom is a rotating bar that slides all the coins there off the edge into holes worth various ticket amounts.

One time as a kid, I was hanging around the arcade section of a restaurant, but I didn't have any tokens. An employee flipped me a single coin. I was grateful. I plugged it into the coin flip gun, pulled the trigger, and won 50 tickets! Normally you only get 5 here, ten there, 25 if you're lucky. It blew me away that that one chance coin got me the mother lode. I felt like I had just starred in a random commercial. Seriously, the event felt like it belonged on TV.

I remember another time when a young lady and her friend were monopolizing the machine. I watched as she kept flipping coin after coin into the same 25-ticket hole. She had the launch angle perfect, and was going for pure conversion, 1 cent to 1 ticket, a 25 cent token to 25 tickets. I was standing nearby, waiting for a turn. I didn't say anything, but I guess her friend must have, because I remember her saying that she wasn't ready to leave; she was on a roll. I can see the appeal. It's like gaming the system. I wonder what she got with all her tickets? She had a ton.

But when you get older, you realize that the real trick to winning is money. No matter how bad you are at an arcade game, as long as you've got a pocket full of credits, you'll be sure to rack up an impressive amount of tickets if it takes you all day. And by that time, you should be a pro!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

SpeedOfArt.com - What Were They Thinking?

Sure, it's "speed of art." Or is it?

The rest of this post will cater to the uninitiated.

Still don't get it?

Try capitalizing all the letters.


See it now?

Ok, last clue. Imagine a... bathing suit!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

JourneyMan's Wife Still An Idiot

Tonight JourneyMan will air another new episode. I saw no advertising to this effect. Maybe NBC thinks the show is destined to fail, so why bother?

Monday, JM dropped his camera in the '80s, and it spawned a technological jump that gave late 2007 nanotech, but erased JM's son. Well, actually the camera was a Christmas present. Which means JM probably already celebrated Christmas. Which means that yes, JM lives in the future. By a couple of weeks. Lame.

Anyway, when JM got back to the present, he found no son, but now a daughter. And when he told his wife he had screwed up and needed to fix things, she said, "Don't you dare change a thing." She didn't even take the time to stop and think about what had happened. That she used to have a son. That she had already lost one child. No, all she did was immediately jump into protective lockdown mode.

I imagined an alternate reality in which she was far cooler. More intelligent, open, and willing to consider that maybe, just maybe she should listen to the guy who time travels. Alas, it may not be possible in our reality. But JM could put a stop to that. Just drop his camera in the 70's this time, and then return to the souped up present, grab some hyper-advanced tech, and drop it in the 40's. Maybe that will create a new age where everyone is a genius, and his wife will finally "get" it.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

MXC: Guy Humor TV Show

When I first watched Spike TV's MXC, I thought it was all about action. Now I see there is also some (or much) dirty humor, but when you're expecting it, it's more funny than offensive.

MXC is an Asian game show that's been very loosely dubbed over in English to make it as hilarious as possible. The show is mostly physical challenges (like Nickelodeon's "Double Dare"), but they are a bit more extreme, and dangerous. Anytime someone wipes out, they become a show highlight.

The most recent episode I watched satirized Bond films. It was hilarious. There are (usually?) 2 teams competing, and each team gets a name that has to do with the theme of the show, as decided by the American MXC re-engineers. So for the Bond show, they used Bond-related team names.

One of my favorite features is the dubbing of individual contestants. Each one has some sort of shout-out they give just before performing in an event. The American "translations" are hilarious, as are the grunts and screams of those who fall off a log, or into mud, or whatever. It's a bizarre thing when you find yourself laughing at someone who just crashed and burned, but part of the logic there is they were wearing a helmet, and are usually ok afterwards.

If you're in the mood for action, innuendo, and an artificially-bridged cultural gap, MXC is for you.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Is Simpsons Finally Over?

Last night I watched a new episode of "The Simpsons," and it made me wonder if it was written just in case the series got canceled.

Why would it get canceled?

The episode focused on all of Homer's memories. It was really neat, so wild and cool that it reminded me of a Halloween special.

At the end, Homer and Marge are together again, and sailing away on a boat beneath fireworks. "The End...?" can be seen.

At first I thought that was a joke, but now I'm not so sure.

Why oh why would Simpsons be over?

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Glove Liners Are God's Gift To Humanity

Today, it was cold. So cold in fact that my normal winter gloves couldn't keep my hands warm. What a drag. But that's when I decided to try my new glove liners out.

They look like thin gloves that barely keep your hands warm. But like Ma always said, "Dress in layers." You put the liners on your hands first, then the gloves over them. Awesome. You can immediately feel the new thickness that's sure to keep your digits warm.

A couple of hours later outside, and my hands were still doing well. Not super warm, but far from as cold as they had been to begin with. This is the first time I've ever used glove liners, but it most definitely won't be my last.

My last will be on December 21, 2012.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Garth Marenghi - I'm A One Track Lover

This is my new favorite song. It's from "cult UK TV series, 'Garth Marenghi's Darkplace.'" They recently broadcast some episodes on Adult Swim. I heard the song and saw the video on a few commercials, and I was hooked.

See the newspaper headline? "Being Green Starts In Your Own Home"

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Babies Like Helpful People

Saw this on Yahoo. Experiments done with babies prove that they can tell who is the better friend.

The babies are shown shapes, representing people. A circle tries to go up a hill. A triangle helps it, and it jumps for joy. A square pushes it down the hill.

The babies, when asked to pick a toy version of the shape, chose the helper, even when the square was the helper, and the triangle had pushed the circle down the hill.

Later the babies were shown the circle choosing to sit next to either the helper or hinderer. Babies paid more attention to when the circle sat next to the hinderer. The conclusion there is that they focused longer on the bizarre scenario of someone choosing to associate with their own bully.

It just goes to show you that babies are already good at perceiving many different things. So be helpful!

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Clark Kent: Bizarro

Tonight on "Smallville," I was mildly surprised when Kent offered to help Lana take down Lex. But I accepted it. I did get a vibe that he was different somehow, but I thought, "He seems cooler, all right, cool."

Then I was more than mildly surprised when he flew inside the Daily Planet. But I guessed that either I had missed that development where now he can fly, or his training at the North Pole with Santa was starting to pay off, or maybe he just jumped, and didn't fly at all.

Then at the end, it turns out he's Bizarro Clark!

The real Clark is frozen in his Fortress. I just hope "Smallville" doesn't fall apart like "Lois and Clark," where clones kept popping up left and right. That got boring. And sad. And they stopped broadcasting the episodes in order, so I could keep track! How lame was that... Thank you "Smallville," for learning from history's mistakes!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

South Park ImaginationLand: Butters Made It All Up?

Tonight I watched all 3 episodes of the South Park ImaginationLand Trilogy back to back. I noticed that Butters was the first person to make contact with an imaginary creature when he spotted the Leprechaun. He was also the last main character shown on the final episode. My theory: He created ImaginationLand.

Later in the first episode, his friends were debating issues of an imaginary nature, and he was there. All of a sudden the Mayor of ImaginationLand showed up. I think Butters made it happen.

But how could have the U.S. government been working on a gateway to ImaginationLand all the way back in the 1960's, if ImaginationLand didn't exist until Butters made it up? Because once Butters created it, it existed for all time, backwards and forwards through history.

I don't know if you've seen "The Lost Room," but at one point they explained how once a certain event happened, something that had existed suddenly never existed. I think once Butters imagined the Leprechaun and ImaginationLand, both had always existed.

I admit, it's a somewhat involved theory. And the trilogy works fine (maybe even better) without it. But what if it's true...?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

JourneyMan's Wife Wiser, 90-Year-Old Livia?

Monday on JourneyMan, the wife finally got wise (or indulged in hypocrisy) when she said something like, "Don't promise when you don't know." (i.e., Don't tell me you'll be somewhere when you might time travel instead.) Previously she had practically forced JM to promise her he'd be somewhere when she and he already knew that he could no longer control where and when he was. So now, it makes sense for her to acknowledge the truth, and to act as intelligent in that regard as she appears in all others. Finally!

Monday we also saw Livia in 1948. That got me thinking, what happens to her? Does she alternate back and forth between 1948 onwards and 2007 onwards? Does she eventually leave the past and live the rest of her life in the present? Or does she finally finish her last mission and return to her correct place in time? If that's the case, then lets say she has a few more years, and stops, returning to 1952. Then she lives the rest of her life. Let's say she's 30 as we see her now. 1948 - 30 = born in 1918. 2007 - 1918 = 89 years old now.

Does an 89-year-old Livia make an appearance in the near future? My guess for how that episode would play out would be Old Livia shows up, talks to JM, JM tweaks the past, and changes everything. It would turn out that Old Livia had simply been living her last mission for the past 55 years, and was destined to arrive in the present as an old woman, in order to set things just so. JM then travels to 1948 (or 1949) and completes the mission, preventing Livia from ever starting it. Then young Livia shows up and stays anchored in 2007 (or 2008) onwards, never getting old (at least not for another few decades). Sounds plausible.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

No Heroes Tonight

I can't believe it. It's over.

No "Chuck" either.

But "JourneyMan" is new. Maybe it'll cheer me up.

This morning I flashed back to "Quantum Leap" and had a revelation. QL was great because not only did it have sci-fi and causality and destiny's ramifications and all that, but it also had something "JourneyMan" is sorely lacking -- humor.

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Sunday, December 9, 2007

More Shootings In A Crazy World

I read on Yahoo that "A gunman opened fire in the parking lot of a Colorado Springs church on Sunday, striking four people," and there was an "earlier shooting about 70 miles away in the Denver suburb of Arvada. There, two people died and two were wounded early Sunday when a gunman opened fire in a dormitory at a missionary training center on the campus of Faith Bible Chapel."

Two shootings. Maybe related? But after that mall incident, more shootings add up to something -- A string of shootings.

Can you believe it? Can you believe we live in a society where random acts of major violence are increasing in frequency?

Maybe this is all part of some government plan to scare the public into accepting a Police State.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Junk Food Makes Me Physically Ill

When I was younger, I could eat cookies and cakes and all kinds of junk food left and right, and I'd only feel bad if I ate a ton in one sitting. But now, for some reason, if I eat some junk food like cookies or potato chips or whatever, and at night, I can somehow feel it in my system when I go to bed. It's not very pleasant. I guess I must not have eaten that stuff at night very often before.

It's like my body feels polluted with excess garbage. It's really weird, because if I eat similar foods earlier in the day, there's no similar feeling. I think it must have to do with metabolizing it. When I'm active, I can run on garbage, like the DeLorean at the end of "Back to the Future." But when I'm resting, it will just sit there and ooze into my system.

I've heard the idea that "your body is a temple" and all that stuff about toxins, and how vegetables are great for you, but sometimes taste can overpower logic. It's funny. If I eat really healthy stuff, I sometimes enjoy it, and usually always feel good afterwards. Clean on the inside, hard to describe. Clear sinuses, clean air. But if I eat the stuff that smells and tastes really good, like fast food type stuff, it will be majorly enjoyable as a meal, but much less so later when processed by my system. I hate the dichotomy of it all. As that Chef Boyardee kid would say, "Why does the good food always taste so bad?"

I guess if you take the time to decently prepare fresh foods, they taste great too.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Year Of Mall Shootings

I saw on the news today apparently there's been another shooting at another mall? I didn't watch the story, so I can't be sure. I had been flipping through the news channels, and it seemed like there was mass chaos in more than one place, at the same time. Does this mean there will be more shootings?

I thought random acts of violence would eventually stop. I guess I figured that when tragedy strikes, government and society will react to make a similar event hard to pull off in the future. But I guess if we were really serious about that, we'd be living in a police state.

Not that I'd want that to happen. But who wants to equate shopping at the mall with risking your life?

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Heroes: Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Last year when "Heroes" aired the End of Volume One, I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

As the days and weeks went by, the wonder and magic slowly began to fade. A couple of months after new episodes stopped airing, I found myself avoiding repeats. Then summer came, and I wondered if "Heroes" was still worth watching.

Then it came back on, and BAM! The magic was back. But I'm wondering, will it all happen again? Will I slowly lose interest? It's such a cool show. It's weird when that feeling wears off.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

3 Reasons Nathan Petrelli Won't Die

1. Bro Peter can heal, therefore Peter's blood (like Adam's, like Claire's) will heal Nathan.
2. Claire could give more blood, healing her biological father this time (vs. adoptive).
3. Another "healing touch" character may be revealed, or Peter will time travel, meet Linderman, and learn to heal that way.

Yes, 3 is a bit more far-fetched, but I see no reason for it to be employed given that 1 and 2 are so obvious. I wanted to soak up the emotions of the assassination, I really did. "Oh no, Nate got shot!"

But seriously, after seeing Noah come back from a bullet to the eye, I don't think there's any reason for someone as likable as Nathan Petrelli to be so easily lost.

Or maybe other people don't like him so much? What do you think?

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Who Shot Nathan Petrelli?

Last night watching "Heroes," I found myself extremely thankful for DVR technology. I thought the last segment of the finale of Season 2 was jam-packed with plot, and was glad to have the ability to rewind.

I spent a couple minutes investigating Nathan Petrelli's assassination attempt. When you watch the crowd, a guy in black calmly walks away while everybody else goes nuts. Maybe he did it, maybe he didn't. But I'm assuming the intent was to focus in on him and assign the blame. So I played his exit in reverse, and watched as we walked backwards into the sea of people. At the last moment (or the first if you're watching it in non-reverse) he has his head turned toward us!

But it was bathed in shadows, and I couldn't make it out. I thought, "Sylar from the future?"

And when is Adam? I expected Hiro to take him either way in the future, or way in the past. If he left him anywhere in the past, even with dinosaurs, it's possible Adam could just show up again, 70 million years older. But in the future, he'd only continue to move forward in time, and be gone for good barring any further time travel.

Instead, Hiro put him 6 feet underground in a coffin, apparently in the same cemetery Hiro's father is buried. But when? Was it in the present? Or the day of Hiro's father's funeral? Or the day of the funeral Hiro went to as a child?

So many questions. At least one thing's certain. Sylar has his powers back! Is anyone else glad?

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Monday, December 3, 2007

New Bizarro Cartoon = Xavier: Renegade Angel

Last night I watched a new episode (my first) of "Xavier: Renegade Angel" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. A bigfoot with reverse knees, a snake arm, a beak nose, and two different-colored eyes goes around saying nonsense not unlike certain "wise men" as featured in such films as "Mystery Men." Eventually Xavier meets a rich brat not unlike the one in "The Toy," starring Richard Pryor.

The rich child says certain oddball things like how pain is a myth invented by lazy workers, and how hardships are bogus, and blah blah blah. So Xavier wishes to educate the kid, and he gives him his own personal vision quest. The kid's consciousness immediately shifts from reality to some alternate reality, where he meets a Native American. The kid is pretty brash, and opposed to learning a lesson. Suddenly, 6 months go by, and the kid is shown in a genuine state of suffering. Bam! Back to the real world, where no time has passed at all.

That really blew my mind that the kid lived out 6 months of soul breakage in an instant. But the positive was that his new perspective caused him to seek an end to worldwide suffering.

I enjoyed the positive idea of curing suffering, but there was a lot of insane stuff in that show. Another idea that I almost began to consider legit was how every happy moment in one person's life coincides with a sad moment in another. It almost made sense... but not quite.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Xbox 360 Updates To Limit Game Time

A new update to the Xbox 360 will allow parents to set a built-in timer that will limit console functionality. Kids will now have to cope with adult meddlers limiting daily or weekly game time. Plus, there'll be a warning as the clock counts down to 0, further disrupting gameplay.

One benefit for parents is that if they are knowledgeable enough to use the timer, they can disable it and effectively break their own rules. After the kids go to bed, anyone wanting to can simply turn off the clock, and game to their heart's content.

The plus side is that kids will probably be better off for it, having fuller, more enriched lives. The minus side is that they will likely achieve this by watching more television. Hooray.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Don Imus Is Back! A Win For Free Speech?

In October I posted about the issue of Fighting Racism vs. Preserving Free Speech, and I cited a couple of firings that occurred because of racist remarks. Don Imus had made a few of those, and lost his job because of it. Well, now he's back on the air. At 6 a.m. (EST) on Monday, you'll be able to hear him on WABC-AM.

What does this mean? Didn't he get fired for having racist ideas, and communicating those ideas? Isn't he still the same person? Couldn't he say racist things in the future?

Yes, he might. I for one don't think he will, given the consequences of his previous racial remarks. However, the fact that he is back says a few things about society.

People will tolerate (or be forced to tolerate) individuals known to have racist inclinations, if it will generate revenue. It's been made clear that the decision to rehire Imus is more based in business than anywhere else.

However, just because people are going for the money doesn't mean that that's all there is to it. If he truly was considered an evil man, it would probably be more difficult for him to get back on the air. A lot of people probably understand that older generations lived through times during which racism was rampant. Therefore, forgiveness isn't too difficult a consideration.

I agree that racist remarks are unkind, hurtful, and should be limited, but for the most part only at the individual level. I greatly value free speech, and sometimes it seems being politically correct means giving up your right to speak freely. Thankfully, the fact that Imus is back seems to communicate that free speech has won an important battle in an ongoing war.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Blogger Favorite Icons (Favicons)

Misinterpreted.org has a great post on How To Create Your Own Favorite Icon (favicon.ico). It shows how to make your own image that appears next to your URL in the address bar, and next to the title of your page in browser tabs.

Random Waves of Insight has a favorite icon that right now is a gold ring. You can call an icon remotely. With a Blogger blog, you go into your Template, click "Edit HTML," and between <head> and </head>, add this:

<link href='http://www.SOMESITE.com/FILEFOLDER/favicon.ico' rel='shortcut icon' type='image/x-icon'/>

where SOMESITE is a web site where you've uploaded your icon into the FILEFOLDER.

Some web sites even use GIFs now to make their icons animated!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bionic Woman Learns A Lesson?

In my recent post, Things I Hate About Bionic Woman, I explored the reasons I felt the character seemed to need improvement. I had theorized a reason for why she came across as so full of herself, despite the danger that behavior caused. "Maybe this is part of the show's development, and the newly-enhanced cyborg is supposed to get cocky to the point where someone dies and she has to reevaluate her way of thinking." Well, someone did die, and she does seem to be doing some thinking.

A coworker got killed 2 episodes ago, and last episode she was a little upset. To even things out, she took a vacation that ended up becoming another mission. Ordered to kill a guy, she decided to take him hostage instead. The value of a human life seems to have become something she's taking a bit more seriously now. Sure, she allowed a previous "enemy" to survive as well, but her attitude about it was much more carefree. Now she appears focused.

It had seemed like her bionics created a sort of disconnect between herself and the rest of humanity. But since she'd gotten to know the agent that ended up getting killed, it would seem her character is beginning to connect actions with consequences. Hopefully now she'll be more cautious.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chuck Is One Of the Coolest Shows On Television

One of my new favorite shows is "Chuck." A guy got sent an email full of top-secret CIA images. He was hypnotized into watching them for 10 hours straight. Now he's effectively walking around with all the CIA's secrets in his head, and has become recruited from his job at the "Buy More" (Best Buy) to work for the CIA with a tough guy and an attractive blonde.

This show kind of reminds me of "Jake 2.0," in which a similar computer-savvy guy suffered a happy accident (infusion of nanobots) that got him recruited by a secret agency. "Jake 2.0" had some neat ideas, but "Chuck" is just so much cooler.

On "Chuck," everybody's likable. Chuck is believable as being capable of helping on CIA missions. The romantic tension between him and the blonde agent is great. The music is awesome. "Captain Awesome" is awesome. Chuck's best friend is funny. Chuck's sister is nice. The opening sequence is cool. The missions are thrilling. The enemies are well-played. The threats are believable. The "Buy More" coworkers are hilarious. The ideas are genius. The gadgets are fantastic. The tone is uplifting and positive.

Part of what I didn't like about Jake 2.0 was how the show made it seem like he didn't belong as an agent. There was an episode where a guy who was already a great agent was going to be upgraded with the same nanodevices that Jake had. That episode killed the guy off. It didn't address why Jake was the better choice. In fact, it seemed to communicate that Jake was the inferior pick, but was simply in charge because of random luck.

In "Chuck," it's revealed that Chuck was already being recruited by the CIA in college, but his friend was able to postpone things. Chuck was intelligent, capable, and was seen as a prime recruitment candidate. So he definitely belongs, even without formal training, since he's got a head full of intel.

Here's a part of the script from a scene in the most recent episode that I especially enjoyed. The jokers are Chuck's coworkers.


Yes, Morgan, yes, I’m right here.

Hey, pal, yeah, listen, everybody's moving way too slow.

If they don't shape up, if we lose control of the store, we are gonna have a pineapple situation.

What's a pineapple situation?

Morgan: never say that word.

You just...

It's a black swan.

It's an impossible event that changes everything.

In case something terrible happens-- nuclear strike, earthquake-- anyone of you could initiate a full Buy More evacuation by uttering one word.


The word that cannot be spoken.

I really just want to say "pineapple."

- Pineapples are fun-- my dad used to throw them at me.
- Pineapple. Pineapple.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Verizon's iPhone Has Touch Pad AND Keypad

Watching that commercial for the Verizon's answer to the iPhone, I felt a little like, "Big deal." This was the earlier ad, where everything was set up domino-style, and they froze the guy's finger in midair so we're all supposed to be on the edge of our seats. Yeah right. We've already seen the iPhone. This is nothing new. Or is it?

The newer ad has a lengthy phone domino sequence, at the end of which it is revealed through the opening of a phone that beneath the touch pad is a keypad.

That's pretty neat. It makes the Verizon version seem like an upgrade. But I bet if it's the right idea, all the phones will be doing it soon.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Heroes Company Pic, JourneyMan Lives In The Future

Today watching "Heroes" and "JourneyMan," a couple of things popped out at me.

First, in "Heroes," I took a good look at the picture of the original Company. I recognized about only half of the people there. The rest were people we'd never seen! One guy even had his face turned to his left, blurred a little, as if either he was moving or his identity was purposely obscured.

I'm wondering if these faces are going to surface later in the show, or if they are just there to take up space.

In "JourneyMan" tonight, the camera view moved past the calendar in the home of our hero. It was already on December. Ok, so giving everyone the benefit of the doubt, either JM and his wife had needed to look ahead, or the scene planners figured the episode might not air until December, or they thought it would be repeated more in December than it was seen in November. In those cases, it would make sense to have the calendar one month ahead (really just 5 days). But I kind of expected JM to live at our time, in which case tonight's episode should have been set today, November 26, which would have meant that their calendar would have still been on November.

So seeing as how they're already in December, could that mean JM and co. exist at least 5 days in the future? In that case, maybe JM could tell one or two of us what the lotto numbers are going to be in a couple days...

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Black Friday Goes Green:" The Deception

Today I looked at the front page of a local newspaper. "Black Friday Goes Green," in big black letters dominates the upper half. Ooh, environment! How chic. Reading through all the related articles, I can see there is no mention of how anything about Black Friday relates to Going Green.

I am disappointed, perturbed, upset.

Then I have an idea. Could "Going Green" be similar in meaning to "Getting the green light?"

In that case, "Goes Green" would really mean "Begins." "Black Friday Begins."

Or maybe "Black Friday Goes Green" means that stores did so well, they're not only in the black, they're in the green!

Either way, it's stupid. The old bait and switch. For shame!

This site used the phrase, "Black Friday Goes Green," and made sense of it, saying this year's Black Friday would be, "an opportunity for sellers to showcase their greenest products and services." Nicely done! At least someone's honest.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Maximum Shopping Overdrive

On Thanksgiving Day, someone mentioned how some stores usually used to open at 5 a.m. the morning of Black Friday. But this year, some would open one hour earlier, at 4 a.m. I joked about a scenario in which they opened at 11 p.m. Thanksgiving night. That would give shoppers an extra 5 hours from just opening at 4 a.m.!

Apparently, some stores had the same idea I did, but took it completely seriously. Actually, I had theorized that maybe in a few years it would happen, but it turns out it already has! I read on Yahoo that a bunch of stores opened at Midnight! So technically, they were still waiting for Black Friday to arrive before starting the shopping day, but they were starting it at the earliest possible moment. Hard core...

It does make sense to open up earlier, since the hardest core shoppers will come as early as you allow them in order to get the best deals. The less intense shoppers will still come later, seeking deals left behind by their vicious brethren and shopping cousins. So to open earlier, you give yourself the opportunity to sell more merchandise. It sounds simple, but let's look at it in more detail.

If you open your store for one hour, then all the customers that had planned on shopping would cram in during that one hour and get whatever they can find. The "really together" people show up, and the "always late" people miss out. So you made money from the together crowd, but not from the latecomers.

Now, if you had your store open for a full 24-hour period, the together people would show up right away at the start, and grab all the good deals. That leaves the harder-to-sell items behind. Then, hours later, the frantic latecomers arrive desperate to find something, anything, to help them get by this Christmas. "I need gifts stat!" So then you can sell those people all the lesser deals, and they'll be grateful to find anything at all.

The longer the store is open after the "together" crowd leaves, the more time there is for the rest of the shoppers to buy up all the remaining merchandise.

So (I think) the lesson is, the longer a store is open for special holiday shopping, the more merchandise will move, and the more money will be made.

It also makes sense from a Physical Store vs. The Internet standpoint, since sales have been down and may continue to fall as more people do more shopping remotely and online.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Hiro Couldn't Have Saved His Father Without Invalidating The Recent Plot

On "Heroes," Hiro went back in time, interacted with his father, and brainwashed his former self into allowing his father to be killed by Adam. I disagree on many points with his decision, mostly because Adam became Hiro's enemy in the 1600's, so one might say Adam's killings are all partially Hiro's fault. He already changed history with the earliest incarnation of Adam, so why not set things right?

If Hiro were to have disagreed with his father and save his life, that would have meant that whatever plot advances had occurred recently, following Hiro's father's death, would have suffered the same fate as Atomic New York. They saved NY from getting nuked, and everything in that alternate future was canceled out. If Hiro saved his father, all the recent plot points would have been canceled out, since everything would have happened slightly differently.

I was wondering about that before it was revealed that Hiro wouldn't save his father. I thought about how usually Heroes will make it clear that things are up in the air in a temporal sense, because the plot points take place in the future. But in this recent episode, the plot points had already occurred, and Hiro was messing around with the past. "Heroes" hasn't really gone that route before.

When Hiro was less experienced, he tried to save the waitress from Sylar. It hasn't really come up in the show, but Sylar should have a killer memory after "meeting" her. Anyway, Hiro couldn't go back and save the waitress because he didn't really know what he was doing. He assumed the laws of the universe were preventing him from changing history. He somewhat agreed to the same idea regarding his father. But I still disagree, because I think Adam would be a completely different person were it not for Hiro's intervention.

So, in spite of the fact that it would invalidate tons of plot, why doesn't Hiro go back and get the waitress now?

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

AMC: What Does "Future Of Classic" Mean?

I've been watching some AMC lately, and one of their slogans has been "Future of Classic." Today they were using a different one, "Thanks for the Movies," or something like that. I don't know if "Classic" is over and done with, or if it's coming back. I think it might return. It's on AMC's web site. But what does it mean?

Classic... Hmm... Something is Classic when it has stood the test of time. So a Classic movie is essentially an older film, of quality. Ok, so then if an old, quality film is Classic, what is the Future of Classic? An even older film. But in order for the film to become older, time has to go by. So the Future of Classic is the Future of Today's Classic, which can only occur in -- the Future.

In the Future, let's say the year 2020, the film that was believed Classic in 2007 may still be Classic. Like fine wine, it may have aged to achieve an even higher quality in the new context of life in 2020. However, we don't know that for sure. In fact, for all we know, a film deemed Classic in 2007 may fall apart under the scrutiny of citizens in the year 2020. If that were to happen, then a 2007 Classic film's Future would be to lose its Classic status.

A presently Classic film may remain Classic in the Future, but may also lose its status as Classic. What does this mean? "The Future of Classic" is ambiguous.

To me it means, "Adding unknowable context to our retrospective look of films that are already Classic, to the extent that

  1. we can no longer tell whether they truly are Classic, and
  2. we can no longer tell whether they will remain Classic as time goes by."
So essentially, "The Future of Classic" is Up in the Air.

AMC wouldn't need to use the similar "Future Classics," since they mostly show old movies anyway. A "Future Classic" would be a new film that is sure to become Classic, and since AMC seems to showcase more older films than newer ones, that slogan wouldn't seem to fit.

Even after all this, I still can't tell why AMC is using "Future of Classic." Is it really Up in the Air? Do you know what it really means?

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is "Reaper" Teaching Us Good Morals?

On the CW's show, "Reaper," there is a lot of sin going on. Lying, cheating, violence, goofing off at work. The Devil seems to encourage things like gossip and lust. Even the hero's would-be girlfriend is well-versed in defrauding her place of employment, not through stealing money, but through wasting time and pretending to get things done. So doesn't this show teach us that it's good to be bad?

I don't think so. More and more, our hero seems to be discovering that solid morals are better in the end. He's even refuted the Devil's support of various sins on more than one occasion.

Part of what makes the show interesting in this regard is that Sam keeps getting pressured to do bad things. Sin is said to be highly attractive. His father bought him a new car, and asked him to lie to his mother. In the end, the car was totaled, and he told his mother the truth. Live and learn? I think so. I guess this means that the show will entertain with the Devil gags, but also teach how to be true to a strong moral background, even in the face of many temptations.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Family Guy Rules My Life, Part III: The Subway Ad

Today I saw a commercial for Subway, but instead of hearing from Jared, I saw Peter Griffin, The Family Guy!

At first I was surprised, seeing as how Family Guy can seem pretty hardcore, and may not appeal to everyone. After all, the creator did just do an episode showcasing all the negative criticism the show has garnered. And when I saw that, I assumed that that meant "Family Guy" is a show for young males who typically get a bigger kick out of crude humor.

I thought Subway already appealed to everyone. Maybe they don't feel the same way. Maybe the numbers say that the average young male would rather go get burgers or pizza. Or if they want a sub, they might go to Quiznos because of their more subversive advertising. Subway might just be trying to capture that same form of appeal.

Even though "Family Guy" is often potentially offensive, the commercial wasn't at all. I guess this proves that while Family Guy can be dirty on its own time, it can clean up its act when there are endorsements to be made. Griffin's last words on the ad were, "Beat that, Jared!"

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Family Guy Uncut on Cartoon Network

A couple of weeks ago I watched the Part 1 episode of "Family Guy" in which Stewie kills Lois. I watched it at 9:00 p.m. on Fox. Then last night, at 2:30 a.m., I saw the same episode on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

At first I was surprised to notice a few tidbits that I hadn't apparently picked up on the first time around. But after a while, when I kept seeing more and more scenes that seemed "new," I realized they all had something in common. They were a bit more extreme and offensive than the usual gags. Not that they offended me personally, but they could have offended someone else more easily than the other jokes in the show.

I finally understood that Fox doesn't show full Family Guy episodes. They edit out some of the dirtier sequences. In order to see the "original" version of an episode, you can just watch it late night on Cartoon Network.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tonight, "Simpsons" Pulled A "Family Guy"

I was watching "The Simpsons," basking in the newness of it all, when all of the sudden I saw a random transition that reminded me of "Family Guy." Usually, as far as I can recall, "The Simpsons" would gradually move from one idea to the next. Sometimes quickly. But never super-abruptly. "Family Guy" does that all the time, though. "Remember the time blah blah blah?..." [BLAM! -- Cut Scene]

What happened in "The Simpsons" was someone mentioned a pork product, I think it was. Then we see Homer for the first time in the episode, completely out of context, reclining at work and dreaming about the same exact product. A little random, but also a fresh take on the running gag. He says his usual, "Mmmm... Pork filled banjo" or whatever it was. Then back to the scene at hand. I think it was funny because it's like the audience is expecting a "Mmmm" whenever anything remotely food-sounding is mentioned. Since Homer wasn't around, they cut to wherever he was in the universe, and had him do his bit. Genius.

It stuck out for me a little because I thought "The Simpsons" was going to stick to its roots, and it almost made me question whether it belonged in a "Simpsons" episode. But I also enjoyed it. It shook things up. Plus, it's just another sign that "The Simpsons" is continually staying modern and fresh. It's like how they updated the longstanding intro sequence to now include quick flyby remarks from the pedestrians Bart whips past on skateboard.

So even though it may seem like "The Simpsons" is diluting itself, I think it's really doing the opposite -- finding the best, freshest gags and timing them just right. I think the show could last forever....forever....forever......

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving - For A Time Of Low Morale?

Thanksgiving will be shortly upon us, and today I thought I'd explore its roots, but purely from a theoretical standpoint. You see, I got to wondering whether we have it easy living here in the future. The pioneers and settlers were making up things as they went along, doing the best they could, but here today we live by a tried and tested system that has been serving us and prior generations for decades upon decades. I thought about what life was like before thanksgiving.

There's a trick that is sometimes employed by those of a psychological persuasion when things aren't going so well. Say Sally, Bill, and Mike are building a castle. Everything's going along all right, but Bill and Mike start to get on each other's nerves. Pretty soon they're having an argument, and all the while time is ticking away on the unfinished palace. What's a girl to do?

Sally says, "Now Bill, Mike, stop it! I want you both to stop your fighting and listen to me. The only way we're going to get done on time is if we all work together. We can't go on fighting like this. So, now, Bill, I want you to think of something you like about Mike and tell it to him."

Bill hesitantly complies.

Sally continues, "Now, Mike, you think of something you admire about Bill, and tell that to him."

Mike complies.

"Now apologize and shake on it."

They do.

"All right, then, let's get back to work."

When times are tough, and negative feelings are building about something, whether it be a person, a job, or a situation, it's really helpful to take the time to think of what you do like about that thing. That gets you thinking positive, and getting things done is a whole lot easier when your mentality is upbeat.

I wondered what life would be like without Thanksgiving. We'd look forward to December's holidays, sure, and we'd still have had Halloween. But what's to fill the darkening, hastily cooling days of November? There might be a significant dip in morale. The air gets cold, the trees get stark, and things seem a bit gloomy. Maybe without Thanksgiving, most of us would be somewhat depressed, and the work of society as a whole would suffer. This just may have been the case before Thanksgiving came about. Then somebody got the idea to make a celebration of all the good things, seeing as how there were so many bad ones. They knew that holidays past had always helped to cheer people on in times of darkness.

"Say all, let's have a celebration of the many things we're glad about. We'll all sit down together and have a nice big meal. It'll be fun!"

"What's there to be glad about?"

"We'll, you're alive, aren't you? You've got your health. And we've got enough land and wood here to make a fine town. Doesn't that make you glad?"

"Well, yeah..."

"And what about all those other things..."

Pretty soon, things are looking up. Thanksgiving was a definite morale booster, so it stuck. And now we don't often think twice about it. It's just another step society has taken toward becoming a well-oiled machine.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

New Dragon Ball Z Movie in 2009 or 10

I was a fan of the DBZ cartoon series a few years ago. There were rumors about if and when a live-action film would be made, as there were already many animated films in the series. I waited and waited, and then my interest cooled. I was hugely surprised today to learn that yes indeed, there is a film in the works!

For those of you unfamiliar with "Dragon Ball: Z," it's basically an anime show about people who can fly, shoot energy out of their hands, and sometimes transform into "higher versions" of themselves. They're mostly super strong and super fast. The show revolves around a group of good-natured earth people and extraterrestrial threats of a hand-to-hand nature. But it's not your typical fight, given all the super powers each person has. At one point, the main character Goku becomes powerful enough to fit the description of "a walking nuclear war."

So, it's a guy's type of show. And now there's going to be a movie. Great! Guess who's playing the main character? The son from War of the Worlds. Goku has aged through all the "Dragon Ball" series so that he has experienced life from childhood through to a late middle-aged state. I believe the new film will focus on him in his early adulthood. And Piccolo, an enemy-turned-friend, is going to be played by Spike from "Buffy." He might just still be an enemy in the film...

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Biggest Ice Cream Cone I Ever Had

One day a few friends and I were traveling through a major metropolitan area when we stopped for a frozen treat. I hadn't been to an ice cream shop in a while, so I decided to make my visit count. I ordered a huge cone, covered in hardened chocolate topping and colored sprinkles. In the cone, I decided I wanted cheesecake ice cream. I think not only was the ice cream itself flavored to mimic cheesecake, but also there were bits of actual cheesecake in there. Incredible.

The cone was literally bigger than a softball at the very top. I was proud. My friends also got delicious-looking orders, but theirs weren't so gargantuan. One of my pals said, with a look to match her tone, "There's no way you're going to finish that." I thought to myself maybe she was right. But I did pay for it. I might as well give it my best effort.

So I ate and ate and ate, and finally the humongous snack was no more. Well, actually it just relocated to my stomach, where it complained about the cramped new living arrangements. Now that I had savored the taste and texture, I turned my efforts toward ignoring the pain. I had "triumphed," but simultaneously proven that a serving that big was too much for me.

At least I didn't waste the 8 dollars it cost. :)

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things I Hate About Bionic Woman

First off, overall I enjoy the show. It's growing on me. And as far as I can tell, they're moving away from most of the things I don't like. But those elements could linger...

The show's called, "Bionic Woman." So why try to make her masculine? Sure, she and her blonde bionic enemy have wide shoulders and defined chins. No big deal. But occasionally in prior episodes, our hero was caught calling men the curse word equivalent of "female dog." That is a feminine insult. A man should be called the curse equivalent of "he whose mother was not married when she gave birth." Know what I mean?

It's like her character has been instructed that because she's smart and is now part machine, she must prove she is better than a man by insisting on how much more masculine she is. That's no way to win! In order for a female to triumph over a male, she must do so as a female. Otherwise, she's just proving that whoever is the most masculine wins by default.

Another thing I don't like about the way the character has been acting is the lame bravado she communicates. It's like, "Hey, I don't have any operative experience, and I keep making mistakes, but you better treat me like I'm better than you with all your experience because I'm smart, I'm determined, I'm part machine, and I'm full of myself." It just feels wrong. It's like that whole thing where someone "thinks they're all that, but they're not all that." She may be great, but I think she could be even greater if she didn't put out the conceited vibe.

Her over-inflated ego was especially emphasized last week when she allowed herself to believe that emotional involvement was more of a priority than safety and physical well-being. She went on an operation with a male agent, and there was obviously an attraction. Then, while doing some recon from rooftop, he urged her to maintain an even strain, saying that any hint of romance could get them both killed. That was perfect advice. But you could just see it in her face how she was exasperated that he was questioning her behavior. She apparently feels that no matter how wrong she is, she's still right. It's just weird.

A true professional (even a good rookie) would know when advice needs to be taken, and would calmly, tactfully swallow their pride and suppress their romantic feelings until a more opportune moment. I can imagine someone in her position coming across as classy in that way, and therefore far more likable than the current version of the "Bionic Woman."

But there's still time to rework the character. Maybe this is part of the show's development, and the newly-enhanced cyborg is supposed to get cocky to the point where someone dies and she has to reevaluate her way of thinking. Or maybe she's just already on the path to insanity, like her blonde costar.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

JourneyMan - Is There A Visitor From The Future?

Last night it was revealed that JourneyMan's relationship with the woman before his wife had been arranged through time travel. His current time-hopping lady friend lives in 1948. She found herself stuck in the '80's, so she made the best of things and went to law school, which would have been far more difficult in the late '40's. Then she met up with JM, got engaged, and vanished off a plane that crashed.

This all got me thinking. If the Lady could hang in the future for a while, JM could hang in the past. But what's more, the Lady is interacting with a guy from the future. So JM could theoretically have had prior dealings with someone from even further in the future. Maybe the Professor? Could he be from the future? I don't think so, but I'll bet there will come a time in the show when JM is confronted with another traveler from beyond 2007.

The Philadelphia Experiment took place around Halloween of 1943. So then 5 years later, a woman travels to the 80's, and stays there. In the movie, "The Philadelphia Experiment," two military guys were sent to the 80's. One returned to the 40's and was subsequently convinced he was crazy. The other hung out in the 80's, jumped back to the 40's for a moment, and then returned to the future.

Could the Lady be involved in the Philadelphia Experiment? Could the Professor? Hmm...

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Climbing Oil Prices, Staying Warm In The Winter

I heard on the news today that the "average" family will need to spend an additional $750 on heating oil this winter. One person said natural gas is a cheaper alternative, but that after a couple of years, it too will be an expensive fuel source. So what are the alternatives?

Geothermal energy, while expensive, was cited as a possible method for heating a home, but only when heating oil and natural gas have surpassed it in cost. Burning wood in a fireplace also came up. One take is that wood is a renewable source, so technically, it is green. But someone else said it really isn't "green" at all. They didn't explain why.

I think I've heard why previously. I believe the fact that burning wood releases carbon smoke makes it bad in the same way that burning coal is bad. It's the final outcome that is looked at as being non-green. A truly green fuel source should only produce energy and things that are good for the environment, like water. That's why the hydrogen fuel cell, if it can ever become truly viable, is such a cool idea.

Here's yet another heating alternative: electric heaters. This too is expensive. But soon we will have reached the point where every unnecessarily expensive alternative will no longer be a bad idea, but instead, worth looking into.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Living In A Space Colony - On Earth

So I was wondering, when are we going to get around to building a beautiful, expansive luxury resort that is self-contained, self-sufficient, and capable of surviving a Doomsday Event? It seems silly that we haven't already.

I know, there are other priorities on our agenda. One might argue that we shouldn't waste funding on a project that we won't see any real results from. Instead, let's focus on researching energy alternatives and resource conservation, right? Well, I think it's just as important to have colony technology at are disposal as anything else.

Just think. What if the earth were to be suddenly hit with a random cosmic ray? Without a specially tinted dome over your head, you'd be toast! Or what if a super comet came down and blew up a ton of dust into the atmosphere? Without a greenhouse the size of a city, the grocery stores would be empty for quite some time. The same scenario might play out after a volcanic eruption. Or a nuclear war. The point is, there is definite truth to the old saying, "Be Prepared."

And wouldn't it be such a boon to NASA to have already studied how best to contain a livable environment? Once we get to seriously considering going forward with a base on the moon, we're going to need to know how to build a successful colony. And then comes mars. We're nowhere near the technological level depicted in "Total Recall." And I think if we worked hard enough, we could develop atmospheric Plexiglas that is truly shatterproof.

So let's get to work!

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Get Rich With Real Estate Foreclosures

During the recent real estate turmoil, it occurred to me that there were probably many savvy investors snapping up foreclosed homes at bargain prices. Recently I visited houseforeclosures.biz, a site that, as the name implies, helps people find house foreclosures.

According to them, the average foreclosure can be discounted from anywhere between 5 and 30 percent. So if you really did your homework, and looked through a huge pool of foreclosed houses, you just might be able to buy a $100,000 house for $70,000. Then wait a little bit while the market turns around, flip it, and bingo. You're up 30 grand. Sounds like a good deal.

They say the most knowledgeable experts can buy real estate from many different places, including at auction. To be safe, your best bet is actually to go with bank foreclosed homes, since the property titles are usually guaranteed in that situation. However, the safe bet isn't always the most lucrative, and will usually result with a price that is closer to fair market value.

HouseForeclosures.biz has some helpful tips on buying foreclosed properties, and can direct interested buyers to the information they need on a per-state basis.

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Adam On Heroes Could Be A Lot Older Than We Think

Ok, so Hiro went back to the 1600s? And he meets Takezo Kensei, whom he reveals is invulnerable. Takezo is English and apparently surprised he cannot be hurt. Meanwhile, back at in the present (or about there), Takezo goes by the name of "Adam." Immortal.

So, did the "fatal wound" Takezo suffered in front of Hiro in the 1600's become the awakening factor in his life, as it would have in the "Highlander" universe? There, you must die violently to reach your full potential as an immortal, and stop aging. Or did Adam reach the age of 25 or so and then just stop aging, all the while remaining impervious to injury and illness? I submit that the latter is true.

So then, did Adam truly "realize" he couldn't be harmed during the time Hiro was around? Or did he already know?

I'd like to think he did already know. That would mean that he was a wandering drunk probably because he was bored with having lived for thousands of years. The way things seem, he's only about 400 years old. But he could be much older.

Any immortal can live on and on. A time-traveling immortal can be around for a true eternity, because they are not limited to only moving perpetually forward through time.

Now for the most bizarre theory of this post. What if Adam of the 1600s was really future-Sylar from the previously rewritten future in which Sylar was President? Last we saw, Sylar and Peter were fighting. Peter had already known future-Hiro, so he could theoretically travel through time as adeptly. Sylar had killed Claire, so he could heal as well as Peter. Even though I think Peter would have won, let's say Sylar did. Wins. Absorbs all of Peter's powers, including time travel. Then he immediately goes to the past to escape the history rewrite, and from that point on exists "out of time." Then he goes on a time travel spree, starting at the end of history and working his way back, absorbing every power he can find. Then he goes back to the year 65 million B.C., kills all the dinosaurs with a few nukes, and hangs out for a while honing his powers. At that point he's pretty much a god. Now, since he can do anything, he's just looking for kicks. Eventually, he hangs with Hiro in the 1600s. Later, he calls himself "Adam." Possible? Remotely. But I don't think it's as entertaining as what the show has in store for us. And what a good show it is.

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Who Wants Life Insurance?

I recently came across a web site called Advantage Term Life. They sell a wide variety of insurance policies, and can help anyone needing insurance find a good rate. They'll even compare rates with over 25 other companies.

I once read a sci-fi story about a guy who couldn't get insured by an omniscient supercomputer because it said that when he died, the world would end. Well, thankfully that's not the case for any of us! Everybody's free to request Insurance Quotes from Advantage Term Life without running the risk of being told something wild like happened with poor Mr. Sci-Fi.

In "Groundhog Day," Stephen Tobolowsky played Ned Ryerson, an insurance salesman quite knowledgeable in the area of Insurance Plans Pros and Cons. Maybe he wore Bill Murray down as the day was repeated thousands of times, or maybe Bill just realized that being prepared is always a good thing. Bill ended up Ned's best customer.

What's great about living in the modern era is that now you can get an Online Insurance Policy at Advantage Term Life without having to drive down to an office! They've really taken the hassle out of buying life insurance.

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X-Files: The Luckiest Man In The Universe

Last night I saw the latter half of an episode of "The X-Files" about a man who cannot lose. I had seen the beginning years ago, but never got a chance to finish the episode until last night.

The Mr. Lucky needs money for his young friend, who is very sick and needs and organ transplant. So the guy goes gambling, and the criminals he plays Poker with get upset when he wins. They accuse him of cheating. Of course, he doesn't need to cheat. He wins in everything. But like some criminals, they simply make up their minds to kill him.

He gets chased out a window, and falls 3 stories (I believe). A the last second, a gust of wind picks him up and places him gently on the ground. He runs off.

The criminals keep trying to off him, until the FBI becomes involved. Basically, everyone and everything in his life becomes a cog in a huge causality machine in which the end outcome of every situation is designed for the greater good.

This leads to a few doubts at certain points, like when the guy is hit by a truck, but it turns out that even that served a purpose. The end of the episode is a happy one, as the kid finds a donor and gets healthy, and the lucky man outlives all the criminals.

This episode made me wonder if there's actually someone like that out there. If you could always win without trying, it would probably be like that "Twilight Zone" episode where the gambler goes to a Hell in which he always wins, and it drives him nuts because there's no longer any challenge or variation. But still, the guy in the "X-Files" episode had to contend with the fact that good luck for him meant bad luck for others.

If you were him, you could try to fix things so that what's good for you is good for your friends, your country, and even the whole world. I wonder if it would be possible, given the rules that were established in that episode, for the guy to return and bring about world peace and global salvation from the alien threat? Mulder said the invasion doesn't begin until December 22, 2012, so there's still time. It would be neat to see Mr. Lucky in the second X-Files movie, even in a minor role. But...I doubt it will happen.

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Thursday, November 8, 2007

Paid Blogging With Blogsvertise

A little while I signed up at blogsvertise.com. The site pays people to blog about sites that they might otherwise mention for free. So it’s a pretty good deal, if you get accepted. Some people think paid blogging is bad news, but I don’t see it that way.

Tiger Woods gets paid to endorse products. It’s up to the viewer, or in this case web surfer, to evaluate for him or herself whether a product or site is for them. Blogsvertise just helps get the messages of people and companies out there.

Blogsvertise reminds me of an SNL sketch where Mango, played by Chris Kattan, endorsed a product, and was later sent a free case of it. Mango was famous, and his spreading the word about something was valuable. Blogging has always been like that, and now Blogsvertise adds this whole new level of mediating between people who want to be heard and people who already are. Sounds good to me!

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Smallville Tonight: Super Lana

Recently I watched an old episode of "Smallville" from Season One, in which Clark lost his powers and a fellow high school student gained them, becoming "SuperBoy." It was a fun episode, since you get to see what can happen when a normal person suddenly becomes very powerful. They explore their deepest desires, and seem less prone to live by their old set of rules.

What's really funny is that SuperBoy was played by Shawn Ashmore, the twin of Aaron Ashmore, who plays Jimmy Olsen. I've always found it interesting how Clark never noticed that Jimmy looks an awful lot like that guy who took his powers and went nuts a few years ago...

Tonight, according to last week's commercials, Lana will somehow get super powers, and subsequently go on some sort of rampage. She already seems to be on a 10 million dollar vendetta. Powers will just put her over the edge. I bet she'll act like Kara, single-minded and quick to move from one step to the next.

It's gonna be fun... in eight minutes!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Reaper Madness, Devil's Crush

Last night's "Reaper" was great. I won't go into too much plot detail, but suffice it to say that the show was as entertaining as always.

Here's something I've been noticing. It seems that each episode, we learn a little more about the Devil, and a little more about the way his mind works. Sam Oliver, the Devil's bounty hunter, is able to refute the Devil's claims more and more often. Claims like, "There's no such thing as true love," "Lust is all that matters," and "A little selfish indulgence never hurt anyone."

Last night, Sam asked Satan if he had ever been in love. Then at the end of the episode, Satan used his Devil powers to change the song playing on the bar jukebox to something from the around 50's. You could tell the Devil did it, even though he was incredibly subtle and really only glanced over at the box, because the previous song was cut off before it finished, to make way for the new song.

Then, Lucifer sat with an alcoholic beverage and looked morose.

Now, let's put this together with another random tidbit. A few episodes ago, Sam's father got pretty upset about the way things were going, as if he had never really forgiven himself for selling his firstborn to the Devil. So he asked Sam to set him up a meeting with the Devil. The Devil refused on the grounds that he already has everything he wants from Sam's father.

So there's some history there. And the Devil has a lost love.

Theory #1: The Devil was in love in the 50's or so, but it didn't work out.

Theory #2: The Devil was in love in some random time period, but it lasted into around the 50's, at which point the former couple chose "their song."

Theory #3: The Devil was in love with Sam's mother, and is Sam's true father.

A little out there? Yes. But the mere fact that the show prompted me to wonder that far is what keeps it so interesting. Interesting enough to drive someone crazy. AAHH!!! I've got Reaper Madness!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

DVR Rules!

We've got Comcast DVR. A Comcast tech came to our house to switch us over to Comcast Digital Voice. His work order also said to install DVR. We didn't order that, but decided, hey, why not. We had been seriously considering Tivo, but Comcast slipped in at the last second for the devious win.

Anyway, now we really can pause live television. Whey you're watching TV on the DVR box, it will save a cache of the previous two hours spent on any given channel. So if you're watching Fox for 15 minutes, and you leave to go to the bathroom and come back and you just missed the part where Sarah Connor takes out another machine, you can just rewind to right where the commercials ended.

What's really great is that on our old non-DVR box, we could only fast forward or rewind On Demand programs at one inefficient speed. Comcast DVR comes with a variable speed with five different settings, from normal playing speed to super fast forward.

If you then change from Fox to NBC, the cache is completely reset. So now you've disposed of the ability to rewind, at least for a few minutes. Now, on NBC, the box is storing everything it sees, again for up to two hours.

You can record programs, too. The only downside is the hard drive can only store 30 hours of programming. So if you record a lot of different shows, you must watch them before it fills up, otherwise you'll have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.

What I'd like to see: Bigger hard drive, and a slot for downloading shows to your iPod or flash memory stick, which can then be used to upload shows to a different box.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Tired Much?

When I was younger, I used to stay up late from time to time working on school projects. A few times I ended up reaching the point where I was extremely disoriented because of the lack of sleep. I remember going to bed early one night at around 9 p.m. The previous night I had only managed to get 4 hours of sleep, and I usually need much more. So after going to bed, I awoke at a little after 10pm, and at that point I was so out of it I couldn't comprehend the numbers on my digital clock. So I figured it was time to get ready to start a new day. When I got back from the bathroom, I was a little more alert, and realized that I could go back to sleep. Hurray...

I was once working on solving a math problem when I was really tired. I fell asleep thinking about it. Then I woke up and went to ask for some math help. But I was still in a major daze, because they couldn't understand a word I was saying. I said, "Fine, I'll write it down." I did, but they still couldn't get it. So I said, "I guess I should go to sleep." The next day, I found the slip of paper. It was math gibberish. It said something like, "If X such that X < Y < local level..." Local level?? What the heck is that?

I've sometimes reached the point where I'm so tired that even after a "normal" night's sleep, I would wake up to a sort of nausea headache that I've only ever experienced as a symptom of deficient sleep. I remember some high school classmates had told me they'd had similar experiences.

It's funny. When you go for a long time without sleep, finally getting to rest feels great. But when you get enough rest for days at a time, I think end up taking it for granted a little.

Not tonight. Tonight I'm gonna catch some major Z's!!

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Sunday, November 4, 2007

Great Actors Repeat Themselves -- A Lot!

I've been thinking about this lately, and before I delve into the specific instances, I'd like to address the issue in general. I think what may happen is that one actor says a pre-written line, and then the other guy improvises a response. Then the first actor repeats his line or question, and the other guy comes up with a new, different response. And this goes on and on, over and over, until the director says cut, and chooses ONE segment including ONE back-and-forth. On occasion, however, the director will just throw the entire sequence of Line : Response 1, Same Line : Response 2, .... Exact Same Line: Response 57 into the film.

Ok, so if that theory is correct, then there can be no fault found with actors who like to repeat themselves. But if that isn't the reason, then I don't know what the problem is.

Why Repeating Yourself Is Bad

Derren Brown, the English performer, was shown on a subway using a similar technique of "I'll ask you the same question over and over." It turns out, that method is very powerful at clouding people's minds. See, when someone is overwhelmed by a repetitive question, they can focus only on the question, and much less on the answer.

Derren Brown asked people, "Where's your next stop?" He got the answer, made some more chit chat, and then asked again, waving his hand while repeating the question a few more times. Ninety percent of the people being asked could no longer recall what they had just said a few minutes prior! That's why it really bugs me when I see people on TV or in the movies or anywhere asking the same stupid question over and over. Or repeating any statement for that matter.

A different problem comes up when the person who is repetitive is answering. When someone asks you a question, and you give them an answer, fine. When they ask again, obviously your first answer wasn't good enough. So to repeat yourself is fairly lame. And yet that's what some people do.

Now The Examples

In "Outbreak," Dustin Hoffman and Cuba Gooding Jr. played a couple of guys who found out the government would rather kill a bunch of infected people than allow the cure to get out, since the infection was caused by a biological weapon. To cure it, they'd lose their weapon. Hoffman made that point abundantly clear.

Hoffman: They want to bury the town.

Cuba: Oh, this is crazy.

Hoffman: They want their weapon.

Cuba: They’re gonna kill all those people?

Hoffman: Right, they want their weapon.

Cuba: They're gonna sit there and watch all those innocent people die?

Hoffman: Yes, they want their weapon.

Why does Dustin Hoffman like to repeat himself so much? Maybe he's reliving "Rain Man." I don't know. But Robin Williams was brave enough to stand up to him.

In "Hook," Hoffman, as Captain Hook, questioned Robin Williams about his being Peter Pan. At that point, Williams was still Peter Banning, and hadn't yet fully realized his Pan identity. In disbelief, Hoffman repeatedly questioned him.

Hoffman: Who are you?

Williams: I'm Peter Banning, attorney at law. Those are my children, and I want them back, please.

Hoffman: Those are your--

Williams: Children.

Hoffman: These are your children? (A small warm-up repeat)

Williams: Yes they are.

Hoffman: And you're...?

Williams: Peter--

Hoffman: You're Peter?

Williams: Yes.

Hoffman: You're Peter?

Williams: Yes!

Hoffman: No!

Williams: Yes...

Hoffman: You're Peter?

Williams: Yes. Is there an echo in here? Yes, I'm--

Hoffman: My great and worthy opponent?

Williams: Yes.

Hoffman: No!! Smee, who is this imposter?!

Williams finally pointed out Hoffman's cruel game, and forced him to move on to some other line. "Oh, gee, uh oh, I better think up an alternative for 'you're peter?' Hmm..."

Dustin Hoffman isn't the only good actor who likes to repeat himself. Robert Dinero has also joined in the fun.

In "Goodfellas," after a successful illegal business endeavor, one of the guys involved shows up with a new car. Robert Dinero's character is furious, because obviously flashing cash will draw unneeded attention. He gives the guy a hard time, and repeats himself. The scene is almost painful.

Dinero: Didn't you hear what I said? Don't buy anything. Don't get anything. What's the matter with you?

Car Guy: What are you getting excited for?

Dinero: Because you're going to get us all pinched. What's the matter with you?

Car Guy: I apologize. I'm sorry.

Dinero: What's the matter with you?!

Car Guy: I'm sorry.

What makes it even worse is that after the Car Guy apologizes the first time, Dinero pauses, silent, and seems to be "moving forward," mentally. But then, oh, no, he's right back to where he was two lines ago with another, "Whassamaddayoo??!" Brilliant. Not!

Well, there you have it. A couple moments of great actors repeating themselves. Maybe it's written somewhere in a book that a trick to get ahead is to master the portrayal of a broken record, or a pet parrot. If so, good going, guys.

As a bonus, I'd just like to mention that Denzel Washington's catchphrase seems to be "I ain't goin' nowhere!" It's in "Virtuosity," and a few other films, including one that was recently in theaters.

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Saturday, November 3, 2007

The New "Food Guru" Commercial Template

I've recently noticed a new trend within food commercials. Trivial? Yes. Worth investigating? Absolutely.

Maybe you've noticed it too. I call it the "Food Guru Ad Series." In each commercial, one guy tells another, younger guy about the wonders of a particular food item. This type of ad has recently become pretty popular. And it all started with Snickers.

The Snickers Song

Timeline: First Food Guru ad. Therefore, most creative.

Plot: A black man is sitting in an office eating a Snickers bar. A white, older male in a suit approaches with a guitar. "Can I help you enjoy that Snickers?" Then he sings, "Happy peanuts soar, over chocolate-covered mountain tops and waterfalls of caramel. Prancing nougat in the meadow sings a song of satisfaction to the world." Then the guy eating the candy bar looks at it in amazement and exclaims in a whisper, "The world!" The older gentleman pats him on the shoulder and says, "That's right."

Other template used: Previous Snickers commercial with same singer in same suit singing same song with same guitar, but without anybody on-screen to mentor.

The moral: Snickers is a global sensation, and you too can join in the fun.

Domino's Oreo Dessert Pizza Mustache

Timeline: A few weeks after Snickers.

Plot: A man and a teenager are sitting in a living room, eating the Oreo Pizza. A woman shows up. She mentions how the man has food all over his face. He corrects her, saying it's really a Domino's Pizza mustache. The teenage guy mentions how he has one too, but it's not as full and thick as his older buddy's. Cut back to the mentor, whose mustache has grown. He says, "Give it time, Kevin. It'll fill out." The teen says, "You really think so?" The man says, "I think so. I know so," this time with a full Oreo Pizza Beard.

Other template used: Burger King's "eat this burger, get a free mustache" series of ads.

Possible Spin-off: Oreo Pizza Toupee

The moral: Domino's Oreo Pizza is so good, it doesn't matter that you end up with half of it in orbit around your mouth.

Taco Bell's Rules To Live By

Timeline: Followed the Oreo Pizza trend.

Plot: An older brother gives his younger brother his "rules to live by," which include not owning a lap dog or dating a girl with a dragon tattoo, both of which the older brother's already done. Those were rules 1 and 2. Then came Rule C.

-------------------------Time Out-------------------------

Rule C? Doesn't that remind you of this short snippet from "Home Alone?":

Megan McCallister: "You're not at all worried that something might happen to Kevin?"

Buzz McCallister: "No, for three reasons: A, I'm not that lucky. Two, we use smoke detectors and D, we live on the most boring street in the whole United States of America, where nothing even remotely dangerous will ever happen. Period."

There we have it, Buzz beat the older bro to the punch with a far-superior letter-number changeup that took place 17 years ago!

-------------------------Time In-------------------------

Back to Taco Bell. Rule C is to "always, always get Chili Cheese on your Nacho Bell Grande."

Hidden Mystery: Originally, the older brother used the word "Shyeah!" The longer version of the commercial dubbed over it with, "Yeah!" Aborted throwback to "Wayne's World?"

The moral: The use of Chili Cheese with Taco Bell's Nacho Bell Grande is as important in a young man's life as is the avoidance of certain types of pets, and certain types of women.

How To Eat Pizza Hut's Stuffed Crust

Timeline: Newest, and ongoing.

Plot: I just saw this one for the first time -- today. A father and son share a pre-pizza lesson on a couch somewhere in middle America. The father carefully instructs his boy to hold off on eating the cheese-stuffed crust until after he's taken the time to savor a bite of the rest of the pizza.

New Twist: Unlike all the other "students" in the Guru commercials, the kid ignores his father's advice, and goes straight for the crust. The most interesting part of this? The mentor in this commercial is the student's father, so he should have more say than any of the previous gurus, who ranged from older brothers to random strangers!

Other template used: Previous Stuffed Crust commercials from a few years back informing all kinds of people that the REAL correct way of eating a slice of Stuffed Crust is, in fact, crust-first. Looks like the father may have been one of those hippies, and now that he's done tripping on Mozzarella, he wants to save his son from the same horrible fate. Too bad his son just won't listen...

The moral: There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's, but there's no right way to eat Stuffed Crust. Anybody who says otherwise is a liar. Especially if he's older than you.

Well, there you have it. A new trend in advertising. I wonder who will come up with the next version of "the Food Guru?"

My best guess: SNL.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

How Fast Is Your PC? REVISITED

About 3 weeks ago, I made a post about the apparent lag in developing new, faster CPU's. Along with the post, I started an ongoing poll to see how other people are faring when it comes to computer processing speed.

I myself am just about at 2.0 GHz. According to the poll, someone's above 3, someone else is running at or above 4 GHz, and a couple of people have those new SuperTech chips that are 10 GHz, at the slowest. I gotta get me one of those!

But seriously, the poll has yielded some valuable information. The other day I went on Wikipedia to search for the latest and greatest CPU speeds. I wasn't able to find a simple page that ranked all the CPUs ever created by speed. I figured there'd be something like that, but I guess not. Maybe I missed it?

What I did find, though, were a couple of pages with the stats on Intel and AMD processors. I feel like there was actually more information on 4+ GHz chips a few weeks ago when I first did the search. This time around, my inquest led me to a couple overclocking sites, in which the majority of overclockers hovered around 3-4 GHz. I had assumed that the person in my poll with 4+ GHz just had a simple CPU that was that fast out of the box. Maybe instead they're overclocking?

I did find some information on a new generation of chips coming from Intel. According to that, we won't begin to see a new Intel chip until late next year, with another upgrade following that around 2010.

A whole 'nother year before a shiny new CPU? Aww...

At least now I know what I want for Christmas -- in '08!

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Lint In The Dryer Comes From Somewhere

Recently I had a revelation that was both startling and trivial. At one point in the past, I had purchased two complete, identical sets of towels. Each set contained 1 large bath towel, one small face/hand towel, and one washcloth. I began using Set 1 and put Set 2 aside.

Now, months later, I just recently brought Set 2 out of storage. I compared the sets. Set 2 is definitely fuller, thicker, softer, and overall more inviting. Set 1 is still mostly clean-looking, but is definitely thinner. They were both the same to begin with. But now the set I haven't been using seems awesome compared to its twin. Why is this?

As cloth items are used, they slowly lose small pieces of themselves. I now remember that just after I had bought the towels, the set I was using seemed to be "shedding." I guess it never stopped.

Never before have I considered the implications of lint. I thought it was a trivial matter of trivial buildup that never amounted to anything. Now I see that months of "lint loss" can lead to a thinness in towels and garments, and an overall loss of the plush feeling. And I like the plush feeling! Makes me feel rich...

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Most Hard Core Trick-or-Treaters Ever!

Happy Halloween! Today the thought occurred to me that there are probably some kids out there who take Trick or Treating a little more seriously than most. I wondered what it would be like to have a family member with a car willing to drive a kid around. Or what if future kids use Segways to travel from house to house, maximizing the few hours they are allowed out? I remembered an old "Pete and Pete" episode where the kids mapped out a devious plan to have the biggest bags of candy at the end of the night. I thought, "If someone wanted to do that FOR REAL, how would they do it?" Here's what I came up with:

Say the Trick-or-Treating is locally limited to between 6 and 8 p.m. That's 2 hours. The Extreme Family has three kids, two of which are past Trick-or-Treating age. That leaves little Billy Extreme to Trick-or-Treat with friends, or on his own. And since Billy is going for the record, he decides to meet up with his friends later.

Billy Extreme has the benefit of two older siblings who already know the neighborhood inside and out. The oldest Extreme child, Kyle, made an Extreme map showing where all the houses are. He kept it extremely up to date. The second oldest, Jill, made an Extreme chart marking the exact amounts of candy received from every house. The chart syncs up with the map perfectly. As it turns out, most houses give out an average amount of candy, encompassing the whole range of goodies. But there are a few rare houses, represented in Gold, that give out not one, not two, but Three or More King-Size Candy Bars!

The Extremes have Halloween down to a science. They all know that every parent buys about as much candy as their kids will bring home. If all the parents everywhere bought candy and instead of giving it out bit by bit to other people's kids, they instead gave it to their own kids, all the children would have just as much candy as if they had gone out Trick-or-Treating. That's pretty much the system, except in the rare cases of the Houses Marked In Gold.

Over the years, the Extremes asked around, each time keeping their questions limited, and each time acting like they didn't really care. Nobody caught on that they were really working to become Legends at the Trick-or-Treating game. What they learned was that those blessedly rare houses that gave out excessive amounts of candy were owned by people with especially unique Halloween situations.

In the houses that either had no children to begin with, or have now let their children fly free, the candy dish is sometimes empty, and sometimes excessively full. In houses that aren't on a standard Trick-or-Treat route, the ones that do wish for the smiling faces of costumed children are willing to go the extra mile by lighting the way and providing a substantial candy reward for any young Trick-or-Treater brave enough to venture off the beaten path.

The Gold Houses are both childless and off-route, which is why the candy given out from them is so incredible. The Extremes know this. And they have a plan.

The average kid goes from house to house haphazardly, getting whatever he or she lucks out with. Some houses give coins, others give candy apples, and still others give out -- dental supplies! But most give candy. The Extremes will hit up all the houses that give out candy, including the Gold Houses.

But wait! Isn't Billy Extreme the only one going? And he's not quick enough to reach all the far corners of the neighborhood, is he? No, he's not. But Kyle is, when he's driving! But wait! With all those other kids on the street, isn't driving dangerous? Yes, if you've got a car. But Kyle's got a motorcycle with a side car!

Kyle drives Billy around to all the key houses. At each stop, Billy jumps out, runs up to the door, smiles and says, "Trick or Treat!" and is given some candy. Being a good actor, he convinces the person at the door that he is thoroughly surprised. Then he makes sure to say a hearty and truly genuine, "Thank you!" as he turns and runs back to the Extreme motorcycle, still idling.

After Kyle and Billy hit up all the normal candy houses, making sure to avoid the abnormal ones, they finally go Gold, with half an hour left. Why did they wait so long to visit the houses with the best candy? Because with so much leftover candy at the end of the night, the people in those houses are willing to give the kids practically everything in the bowl!!

Kyle and Billy finally return home at 8:14 p.m. Billy immediately goes to the scale and weighs his candy. A new Extreme record! Suddenly, the phone rings.

"Billy!" his Extreme mother calls. "It's your cousin!"

Billy and his cousin exchange stories, and tell each other how much candy they both got.

"So," Billy's mother asks. "How did Ricky do?"

Billy says, "He got twice as much!"

Cousin Ricky and his older brother Mike did everything Billy and Kyle did...but Ricky wore two different costumes!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Don't Get Hit By A Truck! Part Two...

For those of you who haven't read my previous Don't Get Hit By A Truck post, suffice it to say that I am not a fan of giving just anybody the keys to a machine that could easily kill someone. That being said, allow me to begin Part Two.

Yesterday, two days before Halloween, I accidentally broke a mirror. No big deal, since I'm not really superstitious in that respect. Seven years' bad luck? Um, no thanks. I like to focus on how superstition can help, and pretend that if I don't believe in it, it has no power. So I'm good for the next 7 years. I'm just great.

Or so I thought...

Today, ONE day before Halloween, at rush hour, I went out to the street to get the mail. I live in a quiet area of a suburb that doesn't usually see too much traffic. And even when we do, the traffic isn't too severe. But today there was an anomaly.

As I stood a couple of feet away from the curb, retrieving the mail, I heard a powerful vehicle turn the corner nearby. I could see peripherally that it was in its own lane, on the other side of the street, so I would be fine. No collision. But then it did something unexpected. When it was still a short distance away, it began to accelerate. The road ends shortly after where we were, and drivers must turn left or right, so it's not like the truck could have been going for any kind of speed record. But the driver must have been in some hurry because he (or she?) just kept going faster and faster. I knew I was in the clear, since the truck wasn't aimed at me, but I realized that the speed it reached was lethal. If it had somehow veered off-course and hit me, I'd either be en route to a hospital right now, or dead.

So...my first thoughts after it left were questions. Why did it speed up? Did the driver know me, or think he/she knew me? Were they scared of me, or trying to scare me? Were they in a hurry? Did they want to catch up to the next car, because of that whole warped sense of, "I could go faster if only you weren't in my way, Next Car, don't you see, that's why I'm right on your bumper? I'm better than youuuu!!"

And then I thought of a movie I saw once, in which 3 separate tales of fear were woven in a tapestry of darkness. The one that struck me the most starred Lance Henriksen as a priest who had given up the cloth. As punishment, he was subsequently chased by none other than a Black Pickup Truck, with a crucifix hanging upside down from the rear-view mirror. Just that cross part alone had freaked me out, but in the movie, the truck was able to burrow underground and resurface without a scratch.

Of course, it couldn't have been the same truck for me today. But the memory of that short story made me think back to yesterday when I -- broke that mirror!

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