Friday, November 30, 2007

THINGS I LIKE: A FLASH OF CUSTOMER SERVICE EXCELLENCE

To offset the steaming piles of hate that Salo has served up on the OH blog (not to mention the wealth of Bettman sucks posts), I thought I'd give a nod to the good guys.

Digital cameras are the best, and worst, inventions to come along in quite some time. They've given photographers of every ilk a nearly infinite amount of control over their pictures and how they end up looking and being displayed. However, with amateurs this can be a bad thing, especially where quality is concerned. My mom is no photographer, she's a chronic snapshooter. While she will occasionally (often accidentally) take some great pictures, she always chooses to save them in "email" resolution (640 x 480) to make downloading and sending easier. The result is tiny pictures that look horrible when blown up or printed out, which is the equivalent of throwing out your 35MM negatives and just making a photocopy of the original. (Plus, she uses off-brand ink cartridges so the reds on her printed out pictures more closely resemble the color of a traffic cone--but I digress.) Since people will almost always choose convenience over quality (hence, the proliferation of poor sounding MP3s and iPod AAC music files), personal photography isn't going to improve over the years, it's actually going to deteriorate. But really, it's up to you.

This digital revolution is certainly the best thing to happen to camera manufacturers. Every couple of months, they can tweak the design of their cameras, maybe add a half a megapixel, a screen that's a millimeter wider, or a body that's a millimeter thinner--just enough to make the one you bought last year unwieldy and obsolete. You used to be able to buy a world-class SLR camera and use it for decades, because while the electronic components of the camera might change, the 35MM film and lenses would essentially stay the same. Now, you buy a camera and maybe get 3 to 4 years of use out of it, at best. It's a virtual goldmine.

I joined this trend in the summer of 2003 when I sold my Nikon N2002 and Tamron 28-200mm lens on Ebay and bought a Canon PowerShot S230 ELPH digital camera. However, after 4 great years of snapshottery it began to crap out late this summer, with the sensor only sporadically working when I would power it on. I resigned myself to the fact that it was probably about to give up the ghost, and began to shop for a replacement. In a last ditch attempt to squeeze more usage out of it, I Googled the model number to see if anyone else had the same issue. Sure enough, I found a posting about faulty CCDs (actually made by Sony) in several Canon models which had a link to the Canon website. It was a known defect, and I decided to call the customer service number, not expecting much. Let me correct that: I expected nothing.

As we all know, customer service is a thing of the past. While I don't believe there was ever a time when every company stood by their products with 100% satisfaction guaranteed for life, it certainly hasn't been any worse than it is now. Today, it seems the vast majority of companies stop caring once the product is sold, and their "support" department is merely a formality built to frustrate you into submission.

Enter Canon. In a rare flash of customer support excellence, they replaced my 4 year old S230 with a refurbished SD1000. It was astonishingly painless too. I called the 800 number, where a friendly agent from their Indiana (shockingly, in the US!) office took my information and sent me a free UPS label via email. They soon determined it was indeed the faulty CCD, and told me it would be fixed free of charge. However, since they did not have the parts available, they simply gave me a refurbished current model. I'm shocked. I'm stunned. I'm shocked AND stunned.

This new camera is in every way superior: a giant LCD screen (that I swear is twice the size), more than double the megapixels (3.2 to 7.1), more features (red eye reduction, face recognition), and an incredibly slim body with a better zoom lens (3x optical vs. the old 2x). I consider myself lucky to have gotten this treatment, which is sadly a rarity in today's consumer market. Are they one of the good guys, or a merely facilitator of planned obsolescence? Either way, it doesn't matter to me; I'm happy with this turn of events, and only have to spend $18 on a new 2 GB SD memory card, and every photo I can get out of this camera is gravy. And as Kris said, what camera manufacturer is going to come to mind when it's time to replace this one? Probably a five letter word starting with C.

T.I.H.™: IDIOT REPORTERS FROM HELL

STUDY ABROAD QUERIED AFTER ITALY KILLING screams the fucking absolutely worthless headline on MSNBC today (edit - it's actually an AP article).

As with most main-stream media reports about things of which they know little, this story just enrages me to the point that I can't even think clearly...My brain just feeds out a stream of profanities.

It's hard (for me at least - I searched Google for a total of 2 minutes!) to determine the exact number of American students that study abroad each year, but if we consider that the American Institute for Foreign Exchange has 50,000 students exchanged each year (so one-half are Americans if it's a "true" exchange), that's 25,000 students for one program. Let's be conservative and say that it's double that (I'm sure it's more, but I don't want to over-estimate). That's 50,000 US students that go abroad every year and study at a foreign school. How many are arrested for murder or suspicion of murder? As far as I can remember the total number, after accounting for statistical variation inherent in this type of higher math, is one in the last 10 years or so (so 0.10/year). Yet all of the sudden we're going to start questioning study abroad programs. FUCK YOU NBC (and you too Billy G, since you prostitute your name to this "news" source) and the AP.

Some of the arguments against study abroad (which as a really short aside was an incredible experience for me. It very influential in my transition from a US college student to an adult): The students are going to these places to drink and do drugs (did anyone have any problems getting alcohol at their US university when they were under 21? drugs if that was your thing? yeah I didn't think so); It's only the "English-speaking" (Brits & Aussies count) who are raising Cain in the streets of these pristine "European capitals" (any reporter who has ever set foot in a European capital knows that it's not just the "anglos" who are running rampant...every weekend all types of students run amok in all the cities of Europe - just like...wait for it...the US. Amazingly college students will be college students, sans geographical limitations); it's obvious that these foreign bars are targeting anglos/Americans "out to get drunk" because the bar signs are in English!!! (and the restaurants in NYC are targeting the French only because they have Boeuf Bourguignon & Filet Mignon on the menu and sommeliers on staff). Fuck you MSNBC and the AP.

Quote of the day: “For [the foreign students], it is a new world. They come here, have fun and get trashed in the evening.” (Holy shit, 'cause that is so much more different that what I did as a college student in upstate NY - we all just sat around every night and watched prime-time TV or discussed the history of the Chinese dynasties).

Anyway, I just happened across this article and couldn't resist the urge to point out the absolute lunacy of it all.

Further proving that MSNBC is a highly reputable news source - the #3 viewed article today is "Did Reese and Jake join the mile-high club?" That, my friends, is hard-hitting, spare-no-feelings, news reporting right there.

Fuck you MSNBC. Oh and lest you forget, Bettman Sucks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

T.I.H.™: TAX LOVING ASSHATS

Really quick: Fuck France. There are so many taxes here, I think the take-home pay is about 2% of your gross pay. And sometimes they tax you on "imagined" earnings.

As the creator of a company, I can't pay myself yet, but the French somehow figured this out and they make you pay social contributions (~30% of your gross salary) based on the minimum wage (which is something like 12,000€ or something). So even though I don't pay myself anything, I still have to pay ~3000€ per year because I "should" make that amount of money.

Luckily, there's a loophole for the first year. I can apply for a grant that waives most of these taxes, except two little taxes: The Generalized Social Contribution and Reimbursement for the Social Debt. 300€ that [according to the government] should have earned.

Fuck them. Since they make me pay taxes on imaginary income, I'm going to go on imaginary business trips and reimburse myself money for them.

Monday, November 26, 2007

WRIST SHOTS: HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY, NHL!

Back in 1917, 90 years ago today, some drunk Canadian guys formed something called the National Hockey League (or the LNH) at a meeting at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal. I'm sure a lot of Seagrams 7 was consumed (shots all around!) for them to come up with this bright idea. Back then there were only 4 teams, and the Original Six didn't come about until 1942. Now there are 30 teams scattered all over creation and the current commissioner, Bettman, sucks. Anyway, I don't know how valid this "birthday" really is, and they don't even seem to mention it on their own site. Just forget I mentioned it.

Interesting fact: less viewers have the NFL Network in this country than have VERSUS (about 39% vs. 59% of all households). Shocking, isn't it? This is mainly because the NFL has shut the cable companies out of the DirecTV-only Sunday Ticket package, and they in turn have refused to buy the NFLN (that, and the fact that cable owners like Dolan are major league asshats). This week, the NFL has chosen to air the biggest NFC matchup this season, 10-1 Dallas vs. 10-1 Green Bay, on Thursday night on NFLN. But I somehow doubt that there will be a similar avalanche of negative publicity like there was against the NHL when they chose Versus, who despite the odds has actually continued to grow and even has a HD channel on many cable systems. No, most sports reporters will take a pass on criticizing the NFL's choice; they only dog pile on the NHL because they don't know shit about hockey.

For some reason, the NY Rangers/Dallass Stars game was on free broadcast TV (Channel 9) for the first time since 1989 (not including NBC, etc). But of course, there was probably no one watching, because it was on Sunday afternoon during the Giants game! What the hell were they thinking? And why did they choose that station? Did "My9" run out of infomercials and King of the Hill reruns?

Meanwhile, all I have to do is slag the Sabres and the Devils, and they run off 4 wins in a row each, including another Marty shutout. Nice of you guys to show up! (Update: make that 5 wins in a row for the Sabres. What the Hecht is going on?)
Eric Lindros has finally retired after 13 seasons and 873 games lost to injuries. Despite a career that never lived up to the hype, he has been endorsed for the Hall of Fame by Don Cherry and Bobby Clarke. Great to see he got the jackass vote! Sadly, that's not enough to get him in; you need actual numbers for that.

On my personalized iGoogle page, I have a section for RSS feeds of the latest CBC hockey headlines. Until now I've ignored their punnery, but after these latest two I have to draw the line and say enough is enough:

Oilers try Jackets on for size
Listless Leafs mauled by Coyotes

Get it??? Wow, that's so stupid. *deleted*

Now it's time for another ugly RBK moment: the All-Star sweaters!



The cartoonish letters, the hideous silver accented sleeves, and those sassy stars simply EVERYWHERE! Sweet fancy Moses. Even the WNBA's Utah Starzz wore more manly uniforms than these (okay, maybe that's not shocking). Who would want to be voted onto the team and have to wear these things?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

BETTMAN SUCKS: THE ONION EDITION

I was going to post this with my previous post, but as far as I know, Gary Bettman does not raise or adopt turkeys, but he does suck.

The Onion's abuzz about Sid the Kid saving hockey with a one-goal, two-assist night. "Commissioner Gary Bettman said, [...] that second assist was a shining example of what this game can truly be—Crosby recognized the screen, found the open man with the angle, and displayed the awe-inspiring talent one associates with a Muhammad Ali or a Michael Jordan. Hockey is surely saved now."

Bettman also acknowledged single-goal, two-assist performances from 13 other NHL players including Chris Chelios, Dany Heatley, and Todd White, but emphasized that, unlike Crosby, they had not saved the NHL.

Thanks to the Onion we are also better able to know who Mike Modano, the recently crowned US all-time scoring leader, is (a fucking Dallas asshat with an ill-gotten Stanley Cup ring -ed).

T.I.H.: ADOPTING FOOD

People "rescuing" farm animals: Is there anything stupider (more stupid?) than adopting a white turkey? This thing's sole role in life is to be roasted for 3 hours at 325°F and eaten with a side of mashed potatoes. Wait, wait; there is something more stupid - submitting to a way-of-life and financial audit to be able to adopt said turkey. I am not kidding, these fucking people have to swear that they are vegetarians and submit to income tax reviews and site visits. I think that it's tougher to adopt a turkey (which has a life span about 2-3 years) than it is to adopt a Chinese [girl] child.

You're not doing anyone a favor by giving a turkey (or a pig or a chicken or whatever) a home. These animals were genetically formulated to be juiciliciously good eatin'. If you want to adopt something, how about going to the local pound and finding a dog or cat (or hell a fucking parrot if you want) that's about to be euthanized.

I'm not a big fan of turkey farms with thousands upon thousands of not-occurring-in-nature animals, but that's the nature of the beast in today's economy. Everyone wants to pay 29 cents a pound for their turkey at Thanksgiving and $9.99 for great, juicy, marbled steak the rest of the time. Just like your shoes are made by barefoot Asian kids, your meat is made by Dow Chemical and genetics researchers in labs around the country.

Somehow I think that these people would do better for the world overall if they were to focus their energy (and money, Farm Sanctuary has a $5.7 million budget!) on the evils of factory farming, instead of trying to find foster homes for 50 lbs turkey breasts with legs.

BONUS FOOD SUPPLEMENT: Mother nature extracts her revenge as millions or billions of jellyfish attack a salmon farm off the Northern Irish coast. Apparently jellyfish prefer organic Salmon as well.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 TURKEY DAY MARATHON (BLOG EDITION)

Since all Sci-Fi shows nowadays is "Battlestar Galactica", "Stargate SG-1" reruns and infomercials, I have taken it upon myself to create my own MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 TURKEY DAY MARATHON. There was a guy named Joel (not too different than you or me) who used to host the show, so I'll let him introduce it (via the wayback machine, circa 1991):



We'll start with the incredibly creepy and hilarious short, "MR. B. NATURAL" [from episode 319] in which the "mister" is, naturally, played by a woman.
"Knew your father, I did!"
"Hey you leave my father out of this!"



Next up is "NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST" [701TD], which was premiered on Thanksgiving 1995.



"SAMSON VS. VAMPIRE WOMEN" [624] marked the final episode for TV's Frank (Coniff).



"HOBGOBLINS" (theater segments only) [907]. Let's put it this way. Hobgoblins : Gremlins :: Time of the Apes : Planet of the Apes. Which is to say, this is a shitty movie. (Damn you, Sandy Frank, for not making "Time of the Apes" available on DVD!)



"ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE" [604] was another episode that premiered on Turkey Day (1994), starring the inimitable Adam West, the original Batman (no, not Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, George Clooney, or even Michael Keaton). Thrill to Jon Mikl Thor's jazz hands!



If you haven't cheated and skipped ahead (and you can't if you're on the Satellite Of Love), we should be at Hour #6 of the marathon. So here's an intermission segment hosted by Dr. Clayton Forrester.



Up next is "SPACE MUTINY" [820], easily one of the funniest Sci-Fi offerings, right up there with "FUTURE WAR". "Calgon, blow me away!"



We close it out with "MASTER NINJA". "Ha ha ha ha ha--YOU'RE STUCK HERE!"



Meanwhile, here's what the MST3Kers are up to:

RiffTrax (Mike)
Cinematic Titanic (Joel, Trace, Frank, Mary Jo & Josh)
MST3K.com (Jim and Paul)

HAPPY TURKEY DAY!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WRIST SHOTS: YOU'RE THE INSTIGATION

I haven't watched a lot of hockey this week, but with a 4 day weekend and FREE NHL NETWORK, you can expect that to change. Anyway, here are various hockey related things that are bugging me this week:

* Scoring is down slightly from last year, which brings up the same tired argument. NOTE TO NHL: Please do not mess with the size of the nets, or the pucks, or whatever it is you're proposing to increase scoring. If you have to do anything, make the goalies pads even smaller than they are. But please, I don't want to see any other of these ridiculous changes, because then it's a totally different game, and all scoring and goaltending records can be thrown out the window. Even Bill Clement (Clement, Hands of Cement) on XM Radio said he's all for making hockey "entertainment" over just being a sport, and that's precisely what's ruined the NBA and MLB. Just look at this picture of a proposed net:



This was dreamed up back in 2005 and seriously, what the fuck is that? A golf practice net? Why not put up a giant hammock and have the goalie lay in it? I believe there's several places you can buy one of those; in fact, they're all in the Hammock District. And you can put big, shiny bullseye targets in the corners too! And when they're hit with the puck they explode and make slide-whistle noises! Wow, that would be so entertaining. Remember: a 6-5 game isn't necessarily more entertaining than a 2-1 game, just because there are more goals.

* I hate this "slashing" call they've been making a lot lately in which the player chops down and breaks an opponent's stick, yet doesn't touch the player at all. These crap sticks snap in two like dry linguine without the slightest provocation, and this total lack of quality should not result in 2 minute penalty.

* I have to say that the novelty of the shootout has officially worn off. The Devils/Rangers played one a few weeks back, and after the OT I changed the channel, washed some dishes and when I returned the postgame show was already on. Oops. It just doesn't grip me anymore. I really, really hope they don't put it in the playoffs.

* The Isles have won 8 of the last 11 games vs. the Rangers, including the last 3 straight. This isn't even funny anymore. I'm out of jokes to describe how absurd it is that they can get up for these games, yet they play mediocre hockey the rest of the season. Although, the addition by subtraction by getting rid of Yashin might help them in the long run.

* It seems like the Devils score just enough to lose. Points-wise, Elias and Gionta finally caught up to Madden and Pandolfo, but it never should have been like that to begin with. At least Parise is playing well, but Marty has been less than stellar, with a save percentage uncharacteristically under .900. Man, this is a frustrating team to watch, but it could be worse: I could be a Sabres fan.

* Frequent instigator Sean Avery is constantly called a "pest", which I assume must mean he's gay. Even Darcy Tucker is appalled by things he may or may not have said. It's only a matter of time before someone "outs" him on the ice by calling him some homosexual slur, possibly the "F" word. No, not "fuck", the other one.

* Chicago is back!



Oh sorry, not the band who brought you "You're The Inspiration" (yes, Peter Cetera, the original goth, is wearing a fucking BAUHAUS T-shirt in that video), I'm referring to the Blackhawks, who are currently in 4th place in the Campbell. I told you that they'd be good! Okay, maybe I didn't say that explicitly, but I was hoping they would be and I'm enjoying their resurgence. And when you've got youngsters like Kane and Sharp playing . . . uhm, sharp hockey, who needs Sidney?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I THINK MANJULA MEANS SOME SORT OF SPACESHIP

I was just looking for some kind of random Simpsons reference.

I dare you to watch "Indian Thriller" in it's entirety.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

GET BACK TO WORK YOU SPOILED FUCKING PUSSIES

I have nothing to add to the title of this post.

Background info from CNN here.













(Stoplagreve.com) [in french]

Friday, November 9, 2007

IS GOOGLE THE NEW MICROSOFT?

Google's been giving me headaches all day - Gmail, Gmaps, Gsearch, Gspot (wait, scratch that one) and has been being finicky for a little while. I see they just rolled out a new version of Gmail with more intrusive functionality...Hey Sergey, Larry, I don't use hotmail anymore because it became such a pain in the ass to use that I wanted to shoot myself (or more like Billy G.) every time I checked my email. Don't start down that road. Leave me with my gigabytes of email capacity, but don't fuck with my functionality...If a bunch of grandmothers get phished and/or spammed so be it...it's called (or it should be) Internet Darwinism...

Google is was good for its simplicity. I think it's jumped the shark, just like "jumped the shark" has jumped the shark.

Anyone have a simple, easy way to search the internet (basically a Google ca. 2002)? I'm ready to be done with Google (if that's not taking a stand, I don't know what is).

BIER UND WEIN

Yep, the only two words I learned in my trip to Deutschland. Ok, not true. I also learned "hello", "goodbye" and the always necessary "Bitte ein Bit"!

The Germans drink a lot of Bitburger...everywhere we went there was Bitburger on tap and at the wedding that was the beer of choice. They had Paulaner WeiƟ in bottles for those who didn't want ein Bit.
The Rhein Valley, where we were, west of Frankfurt and north of Mainz is a heavy wine producing region - Riesling mostly. The whites were pretty good, but the red was a little harsh and "red wine" in German is "Rotwein"- it makes me think of "rot gut", never something that you want associated with alcohol.

I got to drive an Audi for three days! This just convinced me further that I do want an Audi when I grow up. It had a diesel engine (which I usually dislike), that wasn't much different than a gas engine.

Ugh, anyway, this is the shittiest post I think I've ever written. I'm dragging the whole blog down with me. But I wanted to post something about Germany...Oh, unlimited speed limits on the highways are pretty cool...but when we arrived it was nighttime and I'm pretty sure there's a speed limit after dark and when we left I was working on 4 hours of sleep and a beer/wine/disgusting red Italian shit hangover and didn't really feel safe going over 90mph. I did get up to like 110mph or something or a couple of short bits, and for a fairly small car, that fucker is stable.

I did have the opportunity to drive on some pretty awesome roads, but Julie's not really a good rally copilot (for some reason she sees her life flash before her eyes if you're more than 10mph over the "Suggested Speed" for a corner). This road would've been even more fun if it hadn't been dark and foggy, but it was still pretty fun to blast up one side and down the other side of the peninsula between the Mosel and Rhein rivers.


View Larger Map

Well, hopefully that makes this post a bit less sucky. I'll try to come up with something witty and sarcastic soon. Oh that reminds me...I've gotta go acquire yesterday's Office (fuck you NBC).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

SEATS STILL AVAILABLE

Watching the New Jersey Devils game last Wednesday night, I was pretty alarmed. No, not by the fact that their previously anemic offense scored 6 goals, but by the crowd at THE ROCK. For the opening faceoff, there were tons of empty seats at the new Prudential Center, and they appeared to be never more than 2/3 full for the entire game. This was repeated on Friday, despite what the attendance figures might say (officially, it says 75% and 82% capacity for the two games). This wouldn't be so bad if these weren't the 2nd and 3rd games at a brand spanking new arena. What's happening? There are a couple of factors involved here.

* The Devils fan base has historically not been the same as the Rangers fan base. Largely, Devils fans are suburban, blue collar, middle class families, who like to drive to the games and possibly tailgate if there's nice weather. Rangers fans are more urban, white collar, corporate types, who take the train (if they're not already in the city) and aren't against spending $12 on a cocktail before and/or afterwards. These may sound like broad generalizations, but I assure you that they're not that far off.

* The Devils brass may have overestimated the amount of corporate types that will buy up the expensive seats. Maybe they expect this will change, but that means shutting out the true hockey fans (which the NHL on the whole seems to be doing anyway, since Bettman sucks). When Kris looked for seats to a Sabres game in late December, he found that while the entire upper deck is already sold out, there are still plenty of expensive lower and mezzanine seats to be had, the same types of seats that are usually filled with suits in MSG. (I won't even go into how the middle class is suffering the most under the current economic landscape.)

* While parking used to be $10 at the Meadowlands (free, if you bet on the horsies), parking at the new rink is $20. This wouldn't be so bad if you were in Manhattan, where you might want to hang out afterwards. In Newark? Not so much.

* Despite all the downtown "revitalization", Newark will have a hard time shaking its reputation. Additionally, the homicide rate in the much smaller city of Newark is much higher than that of NYC, a fact (not a myth) that might keep people away.

* The Devils are the third team into a NYC area already oversaturated with sports and entertainment choices, and they always will be.

It's early, but it's a troubling sign. I hate to say it, but a similar state-of-the-art arena would sell out its entire first season in somewhere like Dallas or Pittsburgh (and obviously anywhere in Canada). Maybe in the second half of the season, the fans will have warmed up to the arena, but you can only hope they are in playoff contention by then. But I just got an email offering me $65 seats for only $35 for tomorrow's Flyers game. A Flyers game not sold out the day before in a new building? That's not good.
__________________________

During the intermission blabbering, they continue to put Ken Daneyko in front of a bar. I'm thinking this isn't the wisest thing to do to someone who has had a history of alcohol problems. Why don't they just name his commentary "DANO'S TOP SHELF ANALYSIS - BROUGHT TO YOU BY GREY GOOSE" while they're at it?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

T-SHIRT OF THE DAY

From Gorilla T-Shirts (there's some other TS-OTD material on there too). I need this shirt.

This may be T-Shirt of the Year material.

I also need a shirt that says "My Cynicism Can Be Summarized By A T-Shirt." Patent pending, Patent pending.

I, of course, happened on to this site because of their selection of boxers...I happened to see one and can't help but wonder 'what type of person wears boxers that say "Good Fucker" on them?' Anyone have an idea? Does any of the site's readers wear these?

To all the women who read this blog; you wanna tell us what you'd do if some guy drops his pants and he's got those boxers on? Should we males be buying these in bulk?

Just curious...'cause you know, maybe I am wrong and this is like a huge turn on for women...or at least for the type of woman who would sleep with a guy who wears "Good Fucker" boxers.

Monday, November 5, 2007

SENSUALIZING NATURE

First, Kammann, I want to see spoiler or non-spoiler warnings (re: TARXII)...or this could get ugly. I know you haven't watched The Wire yet...

Anyway, I've survived three days of free German beer, but I'll get to that later (in another post). I need to find the camera to get some pictures off of it.

Jeff started talking about prudishness (yeah, I know it was just a way for him to say he liked seeing women dressed up as sluts "for Halloween"), and this subject always makes me realize how much I've taken on some European traits. I'm fairly prudish by nature (I am American!), but I watch TV here or go to the beach and I realize how Americans are, as a culture, stuck in 1932. Although I blame, in large part, the right-wing religious groups for this, it's not everything; it's our Puritan heritage too.

I just read an article about San Diego. It's one of the last West Coast cities where a man can watch women in bikinis surf with a nice cold Ballast Point Yellowtail Pale Ale. That's right, anywhere else on the left coast Lieutenant Bullitt's gonna come throw your ass in the pokey. No [uncovered] tits and no beer. That's why I go to the fucking beach. I'm serious. The beaches here are almost all clothing optional (although there are "family beaches" where bottoms are strongly recommended) and the guys who walk up and down the beach all day selling stuff have a cooler full of cold ones. I've never seen any real problems with alcohol on the beach although I'm sure that people get out of hand from time to time, as people are wont to do from time-to-time.

This is the weird thing about France and Europe overall. The governments want to get up in your shit about all different kinds of things (taxes, government oversight of absolutely everything, etc), but they take a laissez faire attitude when it comes to other things (drinking, sex, [until they realized how much money was to be made] driving). I know of no European city that has an open container law, yet I don't see any more drunk people in the streets of Europe than I do in the streets of the US. As far as I know, there's no formal "watershed" in France and I've seen on multiple occasions soft-core porn on broadcast TV (after 10 or 11pm though). It's not abnormal to see nipples in ads for body wash, shampoo or other products where nipples would be present under normal usage. This is not to say that they don't sell sex here: this is a real commercial from 2003 for milk products! Fuck "Got Milk"...this is how you sell food products!



Now that I'm used to naked women at the beach, it's just like going to the beach with bikinied women for me...you see a bit more, but its "normal." Like Jeff said before, every baby has seen a nipple (and a vagina for that matter), yet for some reason we have to protect our children until at least 18 or 20 years old. I much prefer the Euro system of doing this...by not making nudity and human sexuality "bad", children don't grow up thinking that it's some evil thing to be avoided.

And it just keeps getting worse: The abstinence-only sex education programs that refuse to even teach kids about safe sex and protecting oneself are so asinine that I'm not even going to get into it...

Anyway the douchebag of the day is Scott Chipman: "If you can't enjoy the beach without alcohol, then you have things wrong with you."

Does anyone in San Diego want to go ahead and break all his windows for the rest of us?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

TARXII: LIVE BLOG

(SPOILER ALERT - I thought the words "live blog" would suffice and make it pretty obvious, but there it is.)

I already hate the goth couple's cute little comments. EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN! Oh boy, I turned off the very end of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 18 for this, so it had better be good.

Phil introduces us to "entertainment mecca" Los Angeles where we start it all off. Did they run out of ideas?

Nathan and Jennifer, from Huntington Beach, the ultimate Cali couple. "He broke my heart." Oh good, should be a slap fight before too long.

As for the black couple from Nawlins, one of them has Hank Azaria's last name for a first name. They claim to be "more intelligent", and swirling around green fluid in a beaker proves it. Oh god.

The results are in: Jason and Lorena are officially annoying.

Kate & Pat, married lesbian ministers. The less I say about them, the better.

Ari and Staella. STAY-luh! STAY-luh! Ari is gay, I'm guessing? Or just effeminately annoyeriffic.

Shana & Jennifer, posing on Rodeo Drive. HOLY CLEAVAGE. We have our annoying whores who are going to "flirt" their way to the blah blah blah.

TK & some hottie. Newly dating, and one of them is a bearded, bandanna wearing schmuck (I won't tell you which one). I predict he says "dude" 14 times each week.

And it's host Phil Keoghan, my hero, giving out the instructions (8 legs out of 11 will be elimination legs this time, which contradicts previous reports). "GOOD LUCK. TRAVEL SAFE . . . GO!"

For the first pitstop they're visiting a country new to TAR: Ireland. Shannon, specifically, and I'm surprised they haven't been there yet.

One of the goths actually said, "Oh my Goth, where are we going?" Sweet fancy moses, that's dumb.

And we hear The Zither (as TWOP calls it, "The Frenetic Zither of Mistake-Making"), the musical indication that a team screwed up: this time, twice in a row! We also have our first "women and directions" comment.
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They have to go to Innismore Island from Shannon, and SURPRISE, it's raining lightly.

And they are calling the team with the bearded wonder "The Hippies", even though only one of them looks the part.

The fiery Latinas from Miami might claw each other's eyes out. MARRRRRIANA!!!

And already we have people stealing taxis!

Team Saint Lesbian says that TAR is "a love letter to the planet". This might be annoying after a few weeks.

Lorena said, "That was the hardest thing ever to do!" She walked for 2 miles in the rain. Wow, she must have led a rough life.

The Goth kids, and I quote, "ROCKED IT". They are much more lighthearted than I thought they'd be, thank god--uhm, thank goth. But let's see how committed they are to an HOUR of makeup application every morning during this race. Essentially, they are not any different than any of the other teams except for the makeup and hair, so STOP PLAYING UP THE GOTH THING. I blame the editors of this show, who make sure they get every single time they mention the word "goth" into the episode. The only reason they're here is for the other teams to call them "freaks" and "punk-ass goths", I guess.

The grandpa got his shoe caught in a mud hole and fell down, and is already bleeding. Yikes.

The "flirt their way to the finish" girls don't realize that they're going to sweat and stink and look ragged more often than not. Guess what? You can't win simply because you look good. It's never worked before, and won't this time either. "We did awful." "I just want to cry." Bingo!

"We're not supposed to go towards GALLAWAY!" (Uhm, that's probably Galway.) "Lorena is intense", meaning "She's an incredibly emotional pain in the ass." Breaking down only 40 minutes in. Beautiful.
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We always make fun of places like Ireland and England for their horrible cuisine. During this show, I've seen commercials for Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and Papa John's. So what exactly do we have to offer from our restaurants that's any better?
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The first roadbloack is a high wire bicycle, something I don't remember seeing while in Ireland. Immediately followed by carrying turf on a donkey--THAT'S more like it.

Ari just threatened a donkey, says to it "I'm going to cut you up and eat you". I really hope this is one of the eating road block during the show-- you ride it, you EAT IT! Actually, I hope they don't have some nasty Fear Factor-like eating contests like in past years.

Team Nawlins (Hank & Azaria) made it to the mat first; the Bunnies are all emotional over finishing 6th; the Asian Couple is cute, a little TOO cute. And I don't mean that in a porn-y way. As Karl said about the "Asian Trio" on the Rainbow Grill menu: "It's not what you think."

Nathan & Jennifer seemed to spend the entire day trying to get a donkey to move. You don't really know how long it actually took, but it had to be pretty excruiatingly long since 5 teams passed them and they spent 15 minutes of airtime on it. Nathan must have screamed "YAAAA!" 4,000 times before getting the beast to the finish line.

Is it really a footrace to the finish between them and the Latinas for elimination? No, but they think it is. They're actually teams 9 and 10, making Ari & some chick about whom I've already forgotten the last team to arrive, and thus the first eliminated team.

I think they've used the same Phil sound clip, "Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode", for all 12 seasons. It never changes. I've even got his stilted, trying-to-hide-my-New Zealand-accent delivery down at this point.

I already like this tons more than the All-Star show from last year. I think this is going to be a good season, even though it's a shorter series this time around. Okay, that's it. VIVA LA TARXII!

(I'm not live blogging this again. That gave me a headache.)

TARXII: MEET THE NEW TAR, SAME AS THE OLD TAR

The Amazing Race is back on CBS tonight, the only "unscripted" "reality" "competition" show I can stomach. After winning every Emmy since 2003, instead of getting some respect or its own wing at CBS HQ, the show somehow was delegated to "mid-season replacement" status, and was rushed onto the air following the demise of 21 century Cop Rock ripoff Viva Laughlin. (Yes, I too am shocked it was canceled.) This is welcome news since there's fuck all besides "The Wire" reruns on my laptop.

After screwing around with All-Stars and Family themes, we're back to basics: 11 brand spanking new teams of 2. Although there's been complaints about the fact that 15 of the 22 contestants are from the L.A. area, it's by people on the interwebs who do nothing but whine. Personally, I like laughing at them, especially this team couldn't be more Cali if they tried: volleyball coach/waiter, and student/gymnastics coach/former Clippers Spirit squad member. Nathan "describes himself simply as "one cool dude." Speaking of L.A., it starts at the PLAYBOY MANSION? So why can't we get 11 teams of bunnies?


Naturally, when you say that one of the teams are "dating goths" you immediately think COMIC RELIEF. I love how they list it as if it's a race or a profession, instead of just a fashion choice. How about "married preppies" or "brother/sister mustache enthusiasts". I can almost guarantee that there's going to be some undercurrent of "we're discriminated against everywhere we go in downtown Louisville, and all 17 Starbucks won't serve us . . . without making faces" or some crap like that. You wear stupid neon clown clothes and some matching studded belts you found at Hot Topic to get attention, and you got it, so enjoy. How do you pronounce "Kynt"? Did he replace a "u" with a "y"? Ha ha, easy joke.

I'm all behind Shana & Jennifer, especially the taller one, whichever one that is. Or I WISH I were behind them, which would probably be a good view. Obvious replacements for the Beauty Queens from the past two seasons, I just nicknamed them "The Bunnies"--let's see if it sticks. There is only one East Coast team, skinny brunette "sisters" from Miami, who will not at all be bad to look at either, and Julia "describes herself as creative and witty".

As Kris pointed out, thankfully there are no young all-male shirtless metrosexual teams this time around. There'a also a black couple, and Asian father-daughter and "married [female] ministers." What, what?

My guess for the Final 3: TK & Rachel, Azaria & Henekea and the Goth Kids, Kynt & Vyxsin.

Well, here we go, time to travel vicariously (?), it's TARXII Time!

(I'm going to attempt some live bloggery, and it will probably suck.)

Friday, November 2, 2007

WEEKLY TOP 10: NOW BROUGHT TO YOU APPROXIMATELY ONCE A MONTH!

10. It's been a while since we've seen a cheerleader up here, so allow me to present a (San Diego) Charger Girl wearing a hot-as-hell Halloween costume. Thanks Pro Cheerleader Blog!

Charger Girl Kiirsta 10-28/2007 PHOTO -

Now you know why I'm a Devils fan.

BREAKING NEWS: I was just informed that Katie, the member of the Jills I featured who tried to hit a golf ball wearing go-go boots, apparently DID NOT manage to hit it very far. Take it from me: get spikes on those boots. I forgot my golf shoes the last time I played, and it sucked playing in sneakers.

9. The KFC Family Meal has been around for years, and I thought it used to feature 10 pieces of chicken and maybe some biscuits and mashed potatoes. However, it now appears that this artery-destroying caloric monstrosity also includes cole slaw, soda, chips and a chocolate cake. That's right. It's as if they sat in a boardroom and said, "Yes, our customers are fat, but they could get fatter. What else could we possibly add to make this meal deal even more harmful for their health?" "Fuck it, throw in a cake."

8. The news is dire out of Southern California: Hollywood movie and television writers are threatening to go on strike in a dispute over DVD royalties. So this means such entertainment gems such as "Saw IV", "According To Jim" and "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry" will all but disappear? Whatever will we watch? There are only 2,304,985,932 movies/TV shows that I could choose to watch instead! How will we survive? I haven't felt this much panic since I heard that Broadway stagehands, who make an average of $115,000 annually, might go on strike, leaving such literary and cultural institutions such as "Mamma Mia" twisting in the wind.

I have just three words: FUCK YOU, HOLLYWOOD. You're completely unnecessary. And you can print that, and pay me to option it into a movie.

7. Is there such a thing as natural fiber dental floss? I hate throwing away a foot-long strand of non-biodegrading PTFE every time a bit of food gets stuck in between my teeth This sounds like a simple product to make all-natural (wax and twine--actually, that sounds like it would hurt a lot when I put it like that).

6. Last night, we went to the River Palm Terrace in Mahwah, NJ for ALL STEAKS DAY and it managed to live up to the hype that Rob bestowed upon it. Every last milligram of meat that made up my filet mignon was fantastic. Although I'm a little woozy today because I hit the 'trifecta': vodka, wine, beer. Or more accurately, the trifecta hit me.

5. Weird pair spotted on late night TV: Ron Paul and Sex Pistols. Mr. Paul and Mr. Rotten are basically the same age, and have an equal chance of becoming President, so it's not that much of a stretch. Still, it was bizarre to hear Johnny Rotten giving a shout-out to him during "Anarchy in the UK", a song which may have had some impact 30 years ago but has now been rendered utterly meaningless due to the fact it was performed on "The Tonight Show". Oh, and I'd rather have a chimp interview Ron Paul, as Leno is a fucking dunce.

5. This whole "Stephen Colbert for President" thing has yielded some funny jokes, but it's also a little scary since a surprising number claim that they'd actually vote for him. As it turns out, after choosing the Democratic Party due to its cheaper "ballot filing fee" ($2,500 vs. $35,000 for the Reps), he has been denied requests to be placed on the Sout Carolina primary ballot.

As a rule I don't read NY Times editorials, but I made an exception for Colbert's.

Our nation is at a Fork in the Road. Some say we should go Left; some say go Right. I say, “Doesn’t this thing have a reverse gear?” Let’s back this country up to a time before there were forks in the road — or even roads. Or forks, for that matter. I want to return to a simpler America where we ate our meat off the end of a sharpened stick. Let me regurgitate: I know why you want me to run, and I hear your clamor. I share Americans’ nostalgia for an era when you not only could tell a man by the cut of his jib, but the jib industry hadn’t yet fled to Guangdong. And I don’t intend to tease you for weeks the way Newt Gingrich did, saying that if his supporters raised $30 million, he would run for president. I would run for 15 million. Cash.

4. Speaking of not needing writers, The Amazing Race returns for a 12th season on Sunday night, thanks to the cancellation of "musical dramady" Viva Laughlin. All you need to know about that show is this: "It occasionally has the actors break into contemporary song." Sweet jebus, it's Cop Rock in a casino. Anyway, TAR is the only "unscripted" "reality" show I can watch and I'm looking forward to TARXII. More on that later.

3. Here's your NFL UPSET SPECIAL: Indianapolis is 7-0, winners of 12 in a row dating back to last year (including BIG GAME 41), and they're GETTING 4½ points at home. Undefeated home dome underdog? We're pretty sure that's never happened in the history of the NFL. The Patriots have been dickishly running up the score on everyone, but the juggernaut gets temporarily derailed this week as Peyton has a perfect turnover-free day and they win by 10. (Seriously, with the SAWKS winning the World Series, the Celts getting KG, BC being the #2 team in NCAA football, and the Bruins actually playing competitive hockey, Boston sports fans need to be knocked down a peg.)

While the Colts are good, this "Quest For The Ring" shit is awful. Jim Irsay looks like a gay Willy Wonka.

2. Even though the Giants managed to win against the lowly Dolphins, that game at Wembley was completely horrible--LONDON BORING. Also, couldn't FOX find any songs by British atrists recorded after 1983? All they could find was bands like The Clash, The Jam, Madness and The Police (I may have heard Oasis, but since they're musically stuck in 1967, they don't count). What about Amy Winehouse, Arctic Monkeys, Fatboy Slim, Gorillaz, or Bloc Party? Even the Spice Girls would have been more timely. It was like the British version of Tuney McOldsong.

1. If you haven't seen this game-winning, last-second 68 yard play, featuring 15 laterals and a lot of defensive players standing around befuddled, here's your chance to see it from the end zone view. The aftermath: Trinity University (TX) beat Millsaps College 28-24 in this Division III matchup, keeping them alive a conference title.



Just incredible.