Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar Challenge Shocker

Megan and I broke out a bottle of chilled champagne and a couple boxes of fine chocolates. What was the cause for celebration? The Academy Awards, of course. It has been decided that we would begin a tradition of tossing back a little champagne on award show nights and spend the show entertaining each other with our witty banter.

I brought along two copies of the list of nominees and we made a little competition out of the evening which provided an added reason to pay attention to the categories not worth watching. How is sound mixing is different than sound editing? Although neither of us had seen any of the foreign language films or the animated films, making a competition of it attaches something personal to the event.

To make it interesting, we tied a reward system into it. Should Megan win the competition, she would chose to make me construct an Oscar-style formal dress for her of my own design. Since I have no experience sewing beyond the simple bag I was forced to make in home economics class in middle school (it was mandatory you bastards), it would be quite a challenge. However, I have watched Project Runway, so that makes me some kind of expert in the design and construction of fashionable clothing... right?

Unfortunately for me, I had so little faith in my own abilities to win any type of challenge against my formidable opponent, I did not even select a reward if I were to win. So, making a long story short, I end up winning the competition 13-12 and have nothing to show for it but bragging rights. Actually, I owe my victory to my often unnerving ability to remember almost everything that is spoken in my presence. Megan had mentioned during the SAG awards that she thought Marion Cotillard should win Best Actress. I remembered this and assumed that she would stick with her previous choice to take the category. The idea being - if I chose Cotillard also, at the very least, I wouldn't lose any ground. Had I not employed this somewhat devious tactic, the event would have ended in a tie with no victor declared. Well, I guess it doesn't matter since I don't really get anything for winning, and she's still in possession of my soul. Dammit, why didn't I ask for my soul back as the reward?

Friday, February 22, 2008

2008 Presidential Campaign to Waste American Money

Three and a half months ago I announced that I was sick of all of the candidates for the 2008 presidential election. Since then, my opinion has not changed. The process seems to drag on forever and the American public suffers. I'm still tired of everyone and I think the entire process is an incredible waste of time and money.

Many of the candidates (including those that have removed themselves from the running) hold public office and clearly are not focusing on their actual positions of public servants. No one seems to care that they are getting shortchanged because their elected officials aren't spending their time governing and making policy but rather spending tax payer money on advancing their personal careers in the hopes that they will be able to govern and create policy at a higher level. According to CNN's election website, the candidates for the 2008 presidential campaign have taken in a combined $568 million dollars through the first of February. Does anyone think this amount of money is absurd?

It seems that the candidate selection process could be done in something like a two month period in build up to the national conventions. It was only minutes ago that I realized the national conventions don't occur until the end of August (DNC) and the beginning of September (RNC). Why does this process need to be stretched out over such an incredible length of time. From February through August, how much more money will be taken in by the campaigns? How far past the one billion dollar figure will this election cost the United States just to select the candidates for the actual election?

What if this money that is being collected from taxpayers and spent on advertising and traveling expenses so candidates can sling mud in all fifty states, could go to something worthwhile - like paying down the national debt? After a quick check from another website, if the $568 million collected at this point were to paid as a one time payment on our $9 trillion debt, we could pay off only 0.006% of the total amount owed. On second thought, screw it, candidates can collect and spend however much they want on their campaigns. We're screwed no matter what we do. How did we get into this mess?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Elaborate Practical Joke

Yahoo! News had a fantastic sports related story on the main page this morning. I appreciate a good practical joke, but this was quite impressive. Brett Myers (the guy with the goatee in the video below) of the Phillies involved so many people in this ludicrous gag that second year player Kyle Kendrick had no chance. The video starts with the team manager calling Kendrick into his office to explain that Kendrick had been traded to Japan (which, in reality, isn't even possible). As this is being discussed, the Phillies' assistant GM hands over paperwork to sign. After leaving the office Kendrick passes on the details of the situation to Myers (who masterminded the prank). Following this interaction, Kendrick has to discuss his feelings about the trade to the media. Finally, Myers tells Kendrick that he's been "punked" and that it was all made up. It's great seeing the relief on Kendrick's face after being told it was all fake. From management to the players to the media, the prank was perfectly executed, captured on video and now released to the public. Check it out.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day

Just as Megan and I are always trying to out-do each other in virtually all facets of life, now gift giving has become a competition as well. Rather than spoil the surprise, as Megan chose to do in this post, I decided to hold off on revealing the gifts that I acquired for our Valentine's Day celebration until the day they were actually received. Since this is our first opportunity to exchange gifts, it will be the first of many competitions. Gifts have been given, but birthdays are a one way thing and, additionally, we had decided to just spend time together (by going out for a nice meal via limo service) at Christmas (since the relationship was so new) instead of a formal gift exchange.

Now that Valentine's Day is here, I can reveal to the world how thoughtful I can be, so here is the list of the "real" gifts that Megan is receiving today.

5. Because of her disdain for an industry driven holiday, I know that she would not appreciate flowers being delivered to her office. However, as a non-traditional gift giver, I'm sure she will find the exception in this - I had delivered to her 3 dozen of the finest dandelion blooms to remind her that the cold weather would soon break, and warm weather will be returning to KC.

4. The complete works of Steely Dan - on 8-track. I overheard Megan talking about her favorite band, Steely Dan, with one of my co-workers one day. She claimed that Steely Dan was considered "legendary" and that their music will live on forever - even longer than the Beatles or Led Zeppelin. I beg to differ, but I want her to be happy and the ability to listen to her favorite music on her favorite form of media (8-track) Would you believe that she has a dual 8-track player in her car? I found it shocking that someone would go to the trouble of installing an 8-track player in a less than ten year old vehicle... especially someone under the age of 30.

3. A signed copy of Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. You can ask her about this one, but I think she has a secret crush on the potential next president of the United States.

2. The complete (so far) set of her favorite show on DVD - The Real Housewives of Orange County - Seasons 1-3. The big bonus, that she doesn't know, is that if all seasons are purchased together there is an added benefit. All she will have to do is cut out the proof of purchases and send them in along with the receipt and she will receive, by mail, one free botox injection.

1. Kenny Chesney and Leann Rimes: the Poets and Pirates Tour ticket. You will notice that the word ticket is singular, meaning - while she may want desperately to attend this "festival", I would not subject myself to this torture. This event contains a combination of Megan's favorite things: 1) poets, 2) pirates 3) country music and 4) anything involving Kenny Chesney, Leann Rimes or any combination of Kenny Chesney and Leann Rimes, but both together, may actually cause her heart to explode.

Megan deserves to be happy, and I am just trying to make that happen.

Disclaimer: I feel obligated to place this disclaimer at the bottom of this post instead of simply writing a retraction in tomorrow's update. Megan is not actually receiving any of these gifts - if any of them were to arrive, she would likely decapitate me with a simple glance (no contact of any kind would be required). In fact, just by mentioning any of these gift "ideas" is likely to anger her, so I am running a great risk for physical harm, all for the sake of humor. I don't really need two kidneys, right?

Disclaimer to the "Disclaimer": Megan, like me, is a non-violent person and mentions of such, are simply in jest.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Why Come Up with Something New...

...when you can just steal someone else's ideas?

I liked the post that Kim made yesterday so much, that I decided to post my own version of the CD album cover. Using the same tactics of the randomized Wikipedia search for the band name. Then use the last four words of the final quote from a random quote list as the album title. Finally, the third photo from a random flickr photo set as the album cover art. After throwing it together - here is the resulting album cover for my "band."

I was amused that the random article pulled up something science related. GPR12 stands for G protein-coupled receptor 12 - not that anyone will really find that intriguing. Additionally, I'm sure that Kim will appreciate the album title - I will leave it open to anyone wanting to identify to whom the quote is attributed.

Just for fun, I made a second with a slightly less randomized selection method. I still followed the rules about the third photo and the last four words from the last quote, but I just kept refreshing until I found something that was "cool." For inquiring minds - I never went more than four deep in this selection process... It wasn't difficult to find something interesting.

Honestly, if I ever were to start a band - I would totally use either of these. What a great method for coming up with ideas, just make it a random selection. Brilliant!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hooked On Disturbed

As I have done many times in the past, I decided to pull out a CD that I had purchased many years ago, but had never really immersed myself into. I put the disc into the car CD player about a month ago and didn't take it out until the end of last week. This time, the disc was Disturbed's first album, titled The Sickness. I've been a fan of Disturbed since I first heard their music in 2000 when "Stupify" started getting radio play. I have always enjoyed their mix of heavy rock, raw vocals and lyrics about social injustice.

Since "Stupify" became popular, Disturbed has released two more albums and had about a dozen more tracks aired on the radio - of which, I have liked every one. However, I had not purchased either of their most recent albums. Megan was observant and thoughtful enough to have acquired both of the albums absent from my collection, and gave them to me for an early Valentine's Day gift. So, the only reason that The Sickness was removed from the CD player, was to make room for Ten Thousand Fists (Believe will be played, but one of them had to be first).

Now, I can't get the song, "Land of Confusion" out of my head. I only recently realized, after having known the song for months, that the track is a cover of the 20-year old Genesis song, with the same title. Disturbed kept the melody and the lyrics of the song intact while providing their own distinct sound. Just as Disturbed added an edgier sound to "Land of Confusion", Todd MacFarlane provided an updated appearance and a more rebellious tone to the video. The song is about society living in fear during the uncertain times, it couldn't be a more appropriate time for the song to resurface. While I do like the original Genesis song/video, I much prefer the updated version by Disturbed. Below are both versions of the video - which do you prefer? If anyone is interested, the lyrics can be found HERE.

The Genesis version from 1986 - can be slow to load, be patient.

The Disturbed version from 2006

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Live: During the Grammy Awards

In honor of Kanye West's win in Best Rap Album, I will take a queue from his fantastic hairstylist, and I will shave the word "Mo" into the back of my head.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Value of Chest Hair

Everyone appreciates a ridiculous story when they read one. Today, I am happy to share such a story and offer my inane thoughts and opinions on the matter. I'm sure that everyone has heard stories of the British insurance company, Lloyd's of London, insuring famous people's various body parts. Examples being; the legs of Heidi Klum or Fred Astaire, the fingers of Liberace or Keith Richards, J-Lo's backside, etc. It is my understanding that these celebrities can ensure that if something were to happen to the only thing capable of making them money, then they could manage to feed themselves into old age via the insurance policy.

So, now there's this story. Tom Jones is a singer, so you might think, he could possibly be having his vocal cords insured... his mouth, maybe his lungs. But his chest hair? Seriously? And for seven million dollars? Seven million dollars? Seven million dollars? How does chest hair add to the performance of a 67 year old singer? If say, all of Tom Jones' hair follicles were to suddenly decide to vacate the premises and abandon his torso, would he sell fewer albums, or lose attendees to his performances? While I personally have not seen Tom Jones perform, it is possible that his act requires a voluminous carpet of chest hair. Somehow, I doubt it. Maybe I'm wrong, but this seems completely absurd.

From a business standpoint, I think that the global value of chest hair has just increased dramatically. There are roughly seven billion human residents on the planet Earth. I may be going out on a limb here, but in my estimation, if you were to combine the values of all of the chest hair of all of the people in the world, you would probably come up with a figure of right around seven million dollars. As of last week, then, again by my estimation, the global net worth of all chest hair was approximately zero dollars. By calculating a percent increase in value... Oh my God... Anyone holding stock in chest hair is going to make a fortune. Dammit, I sold all my options in the body-hair index at the end of the 2007 tax season. Crap. This always happens to me, I'm always one step behind. Damn you, Tom Jones!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Super Bowl Commercials - Part II

As promised, here are, what I consider to be, the five worst ads airing during the Super Bowl. These ads mostly fall into the following categories - Why? and What?. The first meaning, you spent 2.7 million dollars, then aired...that. The second meaning - does anyone watch these things before sending them to be aired?

I have debated about placing the videos of the worst clips on this blog (as I did with the Top 10 list) and I have finally made my decision. I will only place links to the videos because I don't want to see most of this crap when I flip back through my own site. Seeing the links doesn't seem as bad. If any one is upset by this decision, I can go back and embed the files. For now, links it is.

#5 - - 100 free sales leads
This is one really made me think. The company spent 2.7 million dollars to air an ad that could not have required more than 46 dollars to produce. Maybe it would have been a good idea to only pay for one spot instead of three (yes three, so $8+ million and three different ads that all stunk), and made a single ad that was worth watching. A child could have produced this drivel.

#4 - Amp Energy - Jump start
Fat guy, exposed nipples clamped with jumper cables = not what anyone really wants to see. From the realism standpoint - wouldn't it be more energy efficient to just clamp the jumper cables to the pickup instead of powering all of those speakers so the disgusting obese man can dance? Annoying and sickening - a losing combination.

#3 - Tide to Go - Talking Stain
As appealing as stains on clothing are... how about we make it speak, but not English, just gibberish and loud gibberish. Yes, Tide, you succeeded. You annoyed me visually and audibly. If only we could get the senses of smell, taste and touch through a television - I'm sure you would have annoyed all five of my senses.

#2 - Vitamin Water - Shaq as a jockey
It doesn't get much more disturbing than this. A 340 pound man riding a horse in a race? My stomach actually turned during this ad. I pray that this was all done using computers and they didn't destroy an actual animal to produce this commercial.

#1 - Planters - Perfume
I know I'm being superficial, but gross. Who wants to see hideously ugly people on television? Then who wants to see someone (that happens to be hideously ugly) rub a cashew on their skin as a perfume? Planters has produced some bizarre ads in the past, but WTF? It started being detestable from the first frame and I was even more disgusted when it was over. Now, a full four days later and I'm still sickened at even the thought of this advertisement. Thanks Planters, I'll buy the HyVee brand for a while until this ad is out of my freakin' head. Gross.

Super Bowl Commercials - Part I

The advertisements airing during the Super Bowl are the only commercials guaranteed to be watched by anyone. This year, as with every year, there were ads that could be considered to justify the $2.7 million (per 30 seconds of airtime) price tag. Other ads made it obvious that they spent their entire budget on getting their product aired and had nothing left for producing anything of quality.

In honor of an inferior collegiate conference (the Big 10), I will post what I consider to be the Top 10 commercials of the Super Bowl complete with embedded video for your viewing pleasure. Tomorrow I will post what I consider to be the worst of the advertisements in the Shameful Bottom 5.

#11 - SoBe Life Water - Lizards dance to Thriller
The ad had great animation, good choice of music and nice touch of humor with the lizard eating the insect without missing a step in the routine. Honestly, I had to look it up to find out who the woman in the ad was. So, what was the purpose of having Naomi Campbell?

#10 - Pepsi Max - Nodding off
It has a great start because I always want to nod off listening to Aikman talk. Apparently I have a very short attention span now, because I was actually getting bored in the middle, but they brought it back with a nice gag at the end.

#9 - Bud Light - Wine and cheese party
Humorous spot, as expected. Couldn't they have made the cheese even larger to accommodate, say, a 20-bottle pack?

#8 - Audi - Godfather parody
What a great looking car. The parody was good as well.

#7 - Bridgestone - Screaming
I wasn't expecting the squirrel to scream, so I really wasn't expecting all of the other screaming either.

#6 - Budweiser - Dalmatian trains horse
It tells a one year story in one minute. Who wouldn't be impressed?

#5 - - Justin Timberlake
JT gets thrown in a river, racked by a mailbox, rips off a car door... and then gets clubbed with an HD TV. What's not to like?

#4 - Doritos - Mousetrap
I nearly picked this as my favorite spot, but the actual part that made me laugh was just the last second. I can't justify a #1 ranking for one second of an ad, can I? I think I came to my senses in time.

#3 - Fedex - Carrier pigeons
Fedex clearly spared no expense on this advertisement. There's technology, genetic mutants and destructive carnage. All in a one minute spot.

#2 - Bridgestone - Squirrel/Alice Cooper/Richard Simmons
The only thing that the #3 ad was lacking was hilarity and the top two spots have it. I was expecting something similar to Bridgestone's ad airing previously during the Super Bowl, and they delivered a variation on the theme that caught me off guard... again - and then again during the same commercial. Why was Alice Cooper standing in the road with a snake? Accelerating into the Richard Simmons bit was a great touch.

#1 - Bud Light/Semi-pro - Jackie Moon advertising "outtakes"
I flipped back and forth between this ad and the #2 ad multiple times, but this spot is just so freaking funny. Each "outtake" is funny and that ridiculous uniform just amplifies the hilariousness. I'll probably only catch the movie on DVD, but - "refreshes the palate... and the loins" and the phrase "suck one" are going to be repeated for days, if not weeks or longer. Will Ferrell, I assumed that you couldn't be a lead character in anything other than a nearly unwatchable era of SNL - you proved me wrong before (Anchorman, Talladega Nights) and continue to do so (Blades of Glory).

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Super Bowl Blah Blah Blah... Time for Baseball

Nearly all championship games (or series) seem to leave me with a feeling of dissatisfaction - and Super Bowl 42 was no exception. All too often there is so much time for the media to plug the event that it becomes completely uninteresting before the game even begins and there is no possibility of living up to expectations. It also didn't help that I despise one of the teams (the Giants) and having them win in such a defensive minded game was difficult to palate. Who is interested in seeing a defensive struggle between two teams played in February in a domed stadium in Phoenix, Arizona? Defensive struggles are meant to be played in inhumane conditions including sub-zero weather where the field is covered with snow, or the players are hampered because of constant pelting by freezing rain, or anything other than a temperature controlled, indoor environment in the freaking desert.

The main positive aspect of the game was that there were plenty of decent hits. But the fact that the Giants were so ridiculously lucky (getting away with push-offs, Eli escaping from the grasp of two defenders by simply turning and impossible one hand catches - trapping the ball against the helmet while no limb is in contact with the ground) made me hate this team even more. It is documented that I laughed out loud for quite some time when Eli got laid out in his first appearance in the NFL a few seasons ago - welcome to the league douchebag.

As in the World Series review from a few months ago, I have a difficult time with the announcing teams that Fox insists be in the broadcast booth. Again, Joe Buck is ok, but Troy Aikman (I will grant that he is at least 1000 times better than Tim McCarver) has had so many concussions that much of what he says is just gibberish. He tends to get stuck on things like this interpretation of an event in the second quarter. "Did you see that play that Justing Tuck made, what a great player that Justin Tuck is, Justin Tuck, Justin Tuck, Justin Tuck..." Yes, Troy Aikman, Justin Tuck played a great game, did you also know that Justin Tuck has been contracted by NASA to launch new satellites into orbit using only his bare hands and his remarkable skills as a discus thrower? Why didn't you mention that? You could have dropped the Justin Tuck name another six or seven times in one of your 60-word, never ending, run on sentences.

Finally, the Giants talk way too damn much and are now calling themselves a "dynasty killer". Bullshit. The game they just won basically came down to a coin toss, either team could have won that game and the Giants happened to get more lucky plays than the Patriots did. I refuse to recognize the Giants as Super Bowl champions this season. If I am asked who won in 2008, I will say that the NFL didn't even have a championship game that season.

Typically, there are only two positive things that come out of the Super Bowl for me; 1) This is literally the only time of the year that advertisements aren't skipped in my viewing of any event, and 2) This means the NFL season is finally over and the true American pastime is right around the corner. That's right, baseball will be back and soon. Pitchers and catchers report to training camp in just ten days. Finally, all this boring NFL media circus garbage is over, bring on the real sporting events. Maybe it will warm up around here now too... geez.

Christ, that was a total bitchfest, the next post will be less complaining, I promise.

Tomorrow - Review of the the SuperBowl advertisements.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Official Responses

It has been requested by a few different people, and now it will be delivered. Anyone wanting to hear the "other" side of some of these stories about the competitions between Megan and I, is in luck. Although I have already said that my interpretation of the events is completely factual and exactly as it happened, some people don't seem to believe me. Because of this, a blog that Megan has been keeping secret until the appropriate time has now become available (a link to her site has also been added to the "Links" section on the right side of this page under the heading of Megan's Blog About Flowers and Bunnies). Now, her voice will be heard - in a forum other than the comments section of this blog.

Be warned: Megan's blog could be considered to be not as "reserved" as mine tends to be. Children should be removed from the room during the viewing of her site. Heart patients and easily excitable elderly persons should know in advance that viewing of Megan's blog may cause sudden increases in blood pressure and shortness of breath and, in some cases, fainting and even death. All joking aside, Megan is a professional (I am just, what I refer to as, a moderately decent, semi-amateur writer).

For quick references however, I will provide (below) the direct links to the alternate versions of the posts that appeared on this blog. I'm sure that everyone will enjoy hearing "both sides" of these stories. As I mentioned in my previous post, if anyone wants to try to figure out what actually occurred, you are more than welcome. If any body does manage to piece together the true events, they should win some sort of prize. Maybe I can work out something like that.

For Megan's version of the the Anatomy of an Eat-Off Part I and Part II posts, click here.

For Megan's version of the Name That Tune competition, click here.

For the actual gifts that Megan received for her birthday (none of which involved a rotary phone) , click here.