This is Sportscenter
If you missed it, all I can say is TOO BAD. On Tuesday night, ESPN's SportsCenter showed a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what goes into making a show work. For the first hour, you get to see just how many people work hard to get one episode in the works. Then, the following hour, they showed a live behind-the-scenes of the current show, airing on ESPN2 simultaneously. The sheer amount of chaos that occurs during the breaks and behind the cameras as the anchors are talking (a cacophony of direction is going on) was incredibly impressive and riveting. Some highlights included Kenny Mayne taking a spill as he ran the latest scores to the anchors on set and Dan Patrick (THE talent) ad-libbing a breaking story without teleprompter or notes on about 2 minutes notice. This stuff apparently happens all the time, and the producers said the show was one of the smoothest they'd had. It was revolutionary television, and it gave me newfound respect for these guys.

One of the other features was showing bloopers from their award-winning SportsCenter ad shorts. In light of that, I delved into the video archives of This Is SportsCenter. Here are my favorites from that list:

  1. Melrose Place trade -- ESPN pulls off blockbuster trade with Melrose Place involving Andrew Shue and Charley Steiner.
  2. Coming out early -- SportsCenter takes a chance with a youngster ... and it backfires.
  3. Sent to Minors -- Even sportscasters can be sent down.
  4. Promotions II -- Anyone who crosses ESPN's upward movers, pays the price -- even if it means "slumming" at Comedy Central (a funny dig on Craig Kilborn, my favorite all time anchor).
  5. Y2K Test -- ESPN's Y2K test didn't go quite the way it was planned. Great shot of a 'mad' Mark McGwire going berzerk on a hapless computer.
  6. Seriously, man -- Jerry Stackhouse ribs ESPN's Trey Wingo in the newsroom. Simple. Elegant. And everyone was thinking it.
College Football is at hand
The NCAA Division I college football preseason ESPN top 25 coaches' poll has been released, thus marking the beginning of the trash talking. My Nittany Lions have squeaked in at No. 25, despite losing Larry Johnson and most of the defense in our best showing ever in the NFL draft. Still we've got a solid offense and Zack Mills, and I hope that will be enough against this dreaded team when we show up in Memorial Stadium on September 13th, 8pm on ABC. Be assured after last year's game, which I was gleefully present at ("the greatest game EVER"), that our opponents will be out for blood. And then likely cheer us off the field. Really.


Four Nines. Four Jacks.
As you all know there is a dearth of quality television programming during the summer; for those of us not particularly into baseball, the upcoming 2003-4 NFL football season can't come fast enough (for some reason, I feel this pull moreso this year).

In that light, I have suddenly and unexpectedly become a fan of ESPN's coverage of the 2003 World Series of Poker, which runs two hours tonight. Seeing as how I'm stuck in a hotel room in NJ, and I've spent most of the day reading/writing/working out/sitting by the pool, I'm ready for some table drama.

There are championships for all kinds of poker, like 7-card stud and Omaha, but ever since 1972 the game used in the World Series is Texas Hold 'em with a No-Limit variation (basically meaning you can raise as often and as much as you like). It's a pretty simple format:
    In hold’em, players receive two downcards as their personal hand (holecards), after which there is a round of betting. Three boardcards are turned simultaneously (called the “flop”) and another round of betting occurs. The next two boardcards are turned one at a time, with a round of betting after each card. The boardcards are community cards, and a player may use any five-card combination from among the board and personal cards.

Of course, there are several betting rounds involved, and that's where the real action starts. ESPN has cameras in front of the players' cards, so you get to watch the masters of the game try to out fox, out bid, and out bluff each other. There is psychological table talk, all-or-nothing "all-in" bets done on a shoestring, and players just plain intimidated out of a hand because of an intense glare from The Professor.

Of course, I'll be watching intermittently after 9pm, for during that hour is an excellent episode from last season of Buffy. Now there's a gal I miss.

PS. The two quotes are kinda obscure, but not from an obscure movie.
PPS. Yes, I know the event took place in May. Here are the final results. I didn't peek so don't tell me!


Where were you, say, 10 years ago?
My noble yet jobless minion (he's had better days of minioning, so I've had his position re-minioned) is wondering what the weight of delivery method is for resumes, the choices being hand-delivery, regular (snail) mail, online, or email. I had originally planned to post a comment on his page, but as my thoughts grew lengthy (as you see), I needed a larger format.

First, I'll point out to the few that don't know, I work in an IT department. Although I still do programming (to serve my needs), I don't do the grunt work of IT (infrastructure and desktop implementation and troubleshooting) as much as make sure OUR vendors (all telecom, for instance) are doing their part, things get done on time, track and create project schedules, resourcing, procurement, all expenditures and tracking (getting tired yet?), etc., etc. ad nauseum. And I've had to do the first phase of resume-sifting.

Having been on the other side of the unemployment fence two years ago, I don't envy anyone in that position, especially if you are in a transitory phase. From my own experience, I was able to get two temporary jobs (one was supposed to be long term, but it didn't work out (thankfully)) that were entirely due to online filing, and the third and current from networking (i.e., I knew someone and was given a shot). Obviously, the latter is the most desirable, but in lieu of that happening, here's how I see the other four.

As you know unemployment is extremely high these days, so a lot of candidates will vie for every position. For instance, we got about 300 resumes for the latest IT position we are trying to fill. While this is certainly a boon for the employer to have so many persons to choose from, one must also remember that a high employment rate means people will be applying for most any related job, which in turn means MOST (my experience) of the candidates will be under or even over-qualified. This coupled with the sheer number of resumes to review (we all have other work to do, of course) makes the 'Sifting Process' (I will collect royalties hencefore) rather cutthroat.

First, a prologue about cover letters. While a cover letter may be important for other fields, such as marketing where creativity and writing skills are more essential, it is quite unnecessary in IT, except to say that you are indeed applying for the position we advertised. Some people apply to the wrong email address (e.g. Job151@company.com vs. Job152@company.com) and end up in our pile, when they really should have gone to accounting. However, despite the fact that WE know where this resume should go, the candidate does not, is incompetent, or is sloppy, and therefore in the trash can according to Rule 1 of the Sifting Process. However, before that happens, we apply Rule 1a (there is always an 'a' after an integer), which is to scrutinize the cover letter for mistakes, and when invariably found, laugh about them with your colleagues. We enjoy this type of time-suckage (I posted the worst cover letter ever, which still is pasted on my wall at work). Lesson here: If you are including a cover letter, make sure you are sending it to the correct address, and you and a friend (being your own editor is difficult) have proofread it many times.

And now to business (AOTC reference -- can't help it!)... snail mail. Being from IT, 99% of our resumes are from online or email application (as instructed), so it just isn't done. In light of that, the impression it gives makes fodder for Rule 2: That (1) you are unable to follow simple directions, (2) you are UNWILLING to follow simple instructions, (3) you may not have access to a computer or, worst, (4) you are so unskilled with computers that this would have been your death-knell. Rules 1 and 1a may also apply here. Although this is more of an IT criteria, not following the rules of the employer from the get-go can't be good.

Online applicaton. The employer has gone to the trouble of setting up and online application system (e.g., the one at monster.com), with specific fields linked to a database from which the employer will be able to conglomerate all candidates into one spreadsheet (presumably) and, at a glance, look at the key areas of your resume and be able to sift with both the least amount of pain and the greatest efficiency. Failing to fit into the system that Big Brother has set up... well, read 1984. You are a troublemaker and iconoclast and this, again, part of Rule 2 (and 2a -- don't deny us our fun!).

Email application. It has become the cornerstone of efficient application as well as opening the gates for those who are able to effortlessly apply to a dozen positions in a day (I've done this) and thus flood your resume queue. The employer will print out ALL resumes and sift through them one-by-one, looking to apply Rules 1(spelling, grammar, inconsistent font, silly or ergonomically painful formatting) and 2 (under or over qualification -- applying to the wrong job), at the slightest indiscretion. There is no Rule 3 (other than we automatically reject any anagrams resultant from Jaquandor's true name, which I will reveal for a small fee), and it is not needed; surprisingly, this process weeds out about 85-90% of applicants (Perhaps not given the "90% Rule" I employ -- that is, 90% of all people are idiots). For those of you who may think this is a trivial way to sort out a potentially excellent candidate, I have many responses, but the most efficient is: If you don't have time to prepare a proper resume, why should I take the time to read it (or, again, take the chance that all your projects are not so slipshod)?

Now to the question of hand-delivery. I can think of nothing more irritating than a candidate begging to deliver their application in person. This contituties time-suckage from my already loaded day-to-day procedures (which do include the occasional blog when I have some spare time -- but that's MY time). However, I will also say that I would definitely note a resume that was dropped off at the office and put (by receptionist) on my desk or in-box, if only for curiosity sake. That to me says that the person obviously made the effort AND was conscious enough to realize we are all busy. That coupled with a duplicate resume sent by our REQUESTED method (and NOTED in the cover letter so as not to invoke Rule 2), will ensure that I give it its due attention.

So, from my little nitch in the world, I think you know what to do. Now go do it (and learn another skill in your spare time, dammit!).

PS: Bonus point to whomever can identify the relevance of the title of this blog (my Malaysian friends have guaranteed delivery!).
You've Got Mail!
Over the years we've all received various forms of chain email, from petitions to prayers that really work, to my favorite, Bill Gates will send you money! And though most automatons can figure out that this is just an electronic version of an old scheme, you don't want to be the one to miss out on ol' Bill's free $1000 bucks, do you?

Well, chain email has become urban legend, but knowing about it and it's many examples is the best way to combat it.

Or, at the very least, get a really good laugh out of it.


Walter Shaw Strikes Again
If it wasn't for such (alleged -- haven't seen it!) movie goo as The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I might not have been afforded such a good laugh as reading Walter Shaw's scathing review a few weeks back.

Now, thanks to Bad Boys II, he's done it again.

BONUS REVIEW: I just snarfed on my drink after reading his review of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Now I'm looking forward to Cradle of Life with a new kind of interest.


Ranking the Comics Movies
One of the columnists over at Cinescape is publishing a four-part piece, ranking the best and worst movies-from-comics ever (Part One, Part Two and Part Three). So far, they've done the best, and half the worst. To save you some time, here's Tony Whitt's expurgated best list followed by my invaluable commentary:
    1. Batman. Not sure that I'd put it at the top, but very little to complain about in this movie. No one saw Keaton as Batman, but he sure pulled it off. Started the tradition of super-villains hamming it up, lamentably.
    2. X-Men/X2. Okay, I've seen it now for the third time -- two in the theater and once on the bootleg DVD -- and I can say unequivocally that Bryan Singer created a tight, exciting, spectacular masterpiece of comic film. It makes the original X-Men movie, which I thought was a solid B effort, obviously inferior by comparison. However, I don't see this to be a problem because I believe that you should improve with follow-up efforts. Now the bar is set that much higher for X3, whose plot will most likely involve the Phoenix/Dark Phoenix saga. Woo hoo!
    3. Spider-Man. I like this film. I really do. Just not to the extent that a lot of audiences did. I wouldn't debate the ranking, but I will say in response to "Never heard a bad word about this one" -- the element that I found most fantastic/unbelievable was not the wall-crawling nor was it the web-shooting, but the guy in the end who told his childhood sweetheart that they could only be friends. WHATEVER.
    4. Superman II. Just a bit better than the first one, if only for the cool fights scenes between the super-trio and the S-Man.
    5. Superman. Classic, true to the origin, funny, poignant, and Gene Hackman.
    6. The Hulk. Haven't seen it yet (AIEEE!), but I'm going to anticipate putting it here.
    7. The Crow. One big music video. Fun to watch, but not a helluva lot of depth to the plot. I would have put The Phantom higher than this.
    8. From Hell. Not seen it, again.
    9. Blade. Won't disagree with this pick. Not the greatest movie, but definitely cool.
    10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I'm not kidding). Okay, what? Like this is better than The Shadow?

And now, the WORST:
    10. Fantastic Four. Never seen or heard of it. They are doing a live-action redo of this shortly, which will probably improve on the film.
    9. Daredevil. I'm not sure that Daredevil was on the worst films of all time, but then how many adaptations are there? I have to admit I was disappointed in the film, so I'll acquiesce (read: crappy writing).
    8. Batman Returns/Batman Forever/Batman and Robin (grouping). Okay, I can easily put Batman and Robin on this list, but the other two aren't that bad.
    7. Spawn. Have to agree it was boring.
    6. Superman III/Superman IV/Supergirl. I fully agree. These movies nearly destroyed the industry, until Batman came along and single-handedly resurrected it.

So, speculations on what will be chosen as among the Top Five worst comics-to-film movies ever? I'm going to guess that Captain America in No. 1. Until then... well just go about your business.


Saga Of A Smuggling Wanker VII: I HAVE YOU NOW
This is the long awaited (at least by me) final chapter in the Malaysian Espionage story. My return from Pennsylvania this Sunday was met with the vaguely labeled international package from my friend "Tran". This customs-evading parcel was the one that managed to deliver my DVD order of The Matrix: Reloaded and X2: X-Men United safely into my allegedly law-abiding clutches. I've already watched both movies, so let's break down what you get, using a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best or legitimate DVD quality):
    Picture Quality: 7. What it's all about. Can be accurately compared to watching a bad science-fiction movie from the 70's - colors muted, somewhat darker than it should be, filtered, a few jumps here and there, but overall clear. Like watching an old rental copy of The Black Hole.

    Sound: 7. Second most important feature. I was surprised to see the THX sound intro before the film. A slight bit of white noise in the background, but not enough to be distracting. And hey, it's surround sound so I can't complain.

    Packaging: 9. Professional grade, movie poster front, description, major crew, etc. Not essential, but definitely gives the appearance of legitimacy.

    Features: 1. Your basic "scene index" and "subtitles" (with Malaysian, of course). Difficult to get the directors to participate in commentary, although I think it would have been funny to have someone conglomerate a stilted fake from interviews. Oh well.

So, overall, I give it a 24. Is it clearly (or will be) inferior to a regular DVD? Of course. The real point of this exercise was to see if I could get a watchable version of a movie I won't be able to see or rent for 5 months, and that was successful. However, I'm afraid I'll have to wait to get the Star Wars original trilogy on DVD; while it would be nice to have, the picture quality wouldn't be as good as my old tapes, and thus I'll just wait on Lucas for those.

So, the moral of the story (for those of you who need one) is to do what you have to to get Reloaded because it rocks. Any customs officer will agree.


Keep it secret. Keep it safe
As many of you know (and for shame on those who don't), like its predecessor, Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers will be released in two DVD formats.

The first will be your regular-scale special edition, replete with documentaries, commentaries, and loads of extras. It will be released on August 26. I'll be buying this version, because I just don't feel like waiting for the SUPER MEGA MY EARS ARE BLEEDING WITH EXTRAS PLATINUM EDITION that will be coming out November 18th. The PLATINUM version, like the version for Fellowship will be a five-disc (as opposed to the paltry four the Fellowship package included) extravaganza of features, most importantly an extended version of the movie. And, like its predecessor, it will run about an extra 45 minutes longer with all the bonus footage woven seamlessly into the story.

The extra footage list is intriguing, with such nuggets as:
    The most surprising revelation in the longer Two Towers? That hale-and-hunksome Aragorn is 87 years old. Maybe it's something in that stew.

Of course fans of the books may know all this, but I sure didn't. By the way, this isn't a spoiler because it's not in the theatrical release so THERE.

In any event, I think it is time to call it a work-week and take off on my birthday weekend 'festival'.


Three is all he'll need, Whammer
First of all a confession: I'm not a big fan of baseball anymore, but I do love the game.

I played a little organized baseball myself, but never varsity; I enjoyed it enough to play pickup games with my friends, but not enough to stand in front of a 80-90 mph fastball. I have a lot of fan-related fond memories of baseball from my youth, mostly involving watching the dreaded Yankees with my grandfather, or racing home to catch the 2nd half of Cubs games with my brother and Harry Carry. The first game live I saw was at Three Rivers in 1983, where Dave Parker hit a homer to lift the Pirates over the Braves, 2-0 (Bonus prize to anyone who is willing to take the time to figure out the exact day -- delivered from Malaysia, of course).

Baseball is used often, and to great effect, as a metaphor for life's struggles in such wondeful classics as The Natural, Field of Dreams, and the ultimate baseball movie, Bull Durham. Given the Hollywood treatment, the game takes on a smooth luster and tearjerking quality. On the opposite end of the spectrum is an observation from Homer Simpson, who, without having the benefit of beer-drinking (he's given it up for a month), notes that "I never realized how boring this [baseball] game really is."

There is truth to both elements. I have a hard time finding interest in a regular season game that represents only 0.6% of a team's season. However, when I do, sometime something dramatic happens, like out of the movies, only real and better. Kirk Gibson's Home Run in the 1988 World Series was one of the greatest if not most 'magical' baseball moments ever. To have written that script and given it to a Hollywood producer, it would have been rejected as unbelievable, schmaltzy crap. As real life, it was utterly dumbfounding.

Would that moment have meant less if it had happened during the regular season? Undoubtedly. It is the import of such moments which give them weight. That is why I am a fan of making the 2003 All-Star game the determinant of World Series home field advantage, and why last night's game actually meant something.

The point of all this is last night's All-Star game delivered a true summer classic, with underdogs, unknowns, and delicious dramatic moments. The American league somehow managed to pull a victory out of a 7th inning, 3-run deficit where they were to face three of the best closers in baseball. Sometimes you get a gem of a game like that and it reminds me why I still love the game despite not following it as much anymore.

Note: Like a last second shot rattling out of the hoop, Rafael Furcal came two feet, in the last out of the game, from tying the game up for the NL. Thank goodness, because I was too tired to stay up.


And Hell's Coming With Me...

Here's a few characters (and reasons) why I'm a big fan of Kurt Russell's work over the years.

Jack Burton from Big Trouble in Little China. Russell plays Burton, a trucker who becomes involved in a supernatural Chinatown battle (naturally), as the straight man, defiantly (and often unsuccessfully) wading into deadly situations in-over-his head. Favorite scene: Russell calmly informing his pals that they may be trapped (after opening the door to reveal dozens of warriors).

Stephen McCaffery from Backdraft. Tour de force performance as firefighter who has much more success battling fires than his brother or wife. Favorite scene: Russell gets drunk and punches out a guy who insults his brother.

Snake Plissken from Escape from New York. Russell created one of the best action heroes ever, quite possibly the meanest "good guy" ever. Favorite scene: Russell informed Lee Van Cleef that he's going to kill him when he returns.

Nick Frescia from Tequila Sunrise. Underrated flick, with Russell as a detective trying not to arrest his drug dealer buddy and or lose the girl to Mel Gibson. Favorite scene: Russell dumping a tray of coffee on J.T. Walsh after Walsh implied he should manufacture evidence to nail Gibson.

Wyatt Earp from Tombstone. Everyone knows the Val Kilmer steals this movie, but Russell is a perfect, sturdily forceful counterpart as Earp. Favorite scene: Russell slapping around Bill Bob Thorton in the Oriental.

Captain Ron from (duh) Captain Ron. Hilarious. Favorite scene: Russell telling Short how he knows they must nearly be there (they only have enough gas to get there).


Rudy, Rudy, Rudy
One of my fondest memories of Penn State football was the rivalries we enjoyed with Notre Dame and Miami. Those games went away for the most part thanks to our induction into the Big Ten in 1993. However, it was announced today that in 2006, we'll get to crack heads with the Irish again.

In 3 years.
"PC Load Letter"? What the fuck does that mean?
I'm a lucky guy; let's just get that out of the way. Those of you who have known me over time can attest to the occasional chagrin observing some windfalls I receive from time to time. I've got very little to complain about. Well, I don't have a wife and/or children at the (upcoming) age of 32, but that wouldn't exactly be complaining. I'm pretty happy being single. But, I disgress from what I wanted to write about here.

I had a brief electronic conversation with an old friend of mine about career paths, the job market, and the combination of the safe Captain Kirk unlocked in episode 58 of Star Trek. I've been fortunate enough to have many genetic gifts bestowed by the unique genetic mixing of my father and mother. Scholastic aptitude is one of them; no subject ever daunted me. I know a lot of you can say the same -- for the most part you aren't idiots. You can learn. I proved that by getting a degree in engineering from Penn State, one of the premier engineering schools in the nation.

However, at this stage of my career, I can admit that while the degree is a great foundation, I really don't use much of it anymore. Most of what I do has been learned on my own, in my own spare time, and anyone could have done what I did. When I was technical writing at Fannie Mae, I had access to Visual Basic. Because my job afforded me a lot of spare time, I decided to pick up a book and learn the language, just for fun. Plus, I figured it could never hurt to know it. Little did I know that self-training would be key for me getting my next job. Not only that, VB, it turns out, is the language of macros, and that has been an invaluable asset throughout the years.

I have a curiosity about how things work. This spurred me to pick up another how-to book on HTML, the basic language for the web. Turns out that HTML is pretty damn simple, and I can't think of anyone would couldn't pick it up quickly (I highly recommend that book, BTW). In any event, recently, someone at work asked me if I knew anyone who could do HTML. Turns out, that, lo, I can, and yes I'll do your little side project and make $500.

What's the point of this? Am I sucking my own dick? No, sadly, I'm not. Here's a hint within a quote:
    There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness. -- Franz Kafka

In this age of computers, where you can sit at a console and teach yourself all the tools you need to be successful, therein lies salvation and perhaps a little extra cash. I don't know anyone out there who couldn't master these two languages (for instance) if they wanted -- believe me I've seen some pretty moronic programmers. Even if you aren't looking for a job and have your career path, what's the harm of learning something new, useful? Doesn't have to be computer related; this was just my example. Bored? Listless? Learn a new skill. You have the time. All it takes is a little patience, and a little motivation. End of rant.

PS. Sometimes office life IS like the movie in the header quote. But I could be flippin' burgers.


Oh, THANK YOU, 007
Though I still plan to see the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, it may be for other reasons that pure film enjoyment, thanks to this scathingly hilarious review by Walter Chaw. Just a snippet:
    Worse, when the crew find themselves in a nighttime Venice (everything occurs at night in this film in a transparent attempt to camouflage the godawful CGI background mattes) and a character calls out, "Hurry up, we need to find the bomb," the only response is first the very reasonable, "What bomb," followed by the sad realization that they're going to have a hard time finding this bomb because they're all starring in it.

It's been a while since a review has made me snarf (yes, snarf) my drink while reading.
PS. You must name the correct movie, not just "Bond", for the header prize.
Hangin's too good for him! Can you swim, Colonel darlin'? Over the side with him, men!
I've been harping on it (at least offline) for weeks, but Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl has come out, and it looks like the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Positive enough for me to sneak out of work early to see the 6:25PM show in Georgetown, that is. God told me to do THAT too.

PS. The malaysian government will be handing out the prizes for quote recognition directly.
I Don't Even Think That's A Crime Anymore...
Some of you may recall when I first inquired about cheap and otherwise unavailable DVDs that I saw online. My curiosity was peaked, though, and I decided it was worth the 30 bucks to see if I could get decent quality Matrix: Reloaded and X2: X-Men United DVDs long before their official release. Well, the jury is still waiting on the quality, but a few things have happened in the interim that makes the process rather suspect.

One of the first clues I received was an email from the distributors, CCNow, in response to my question regarding the ETA for the product. I was politely informed that it would take longer than expected, as demand was backordered and it was shipping from Malaysia. Naturally.

About a month passed before I noticed in their online tracking system (updated fairly quickly, though with vague locations as I found out why below) that my item was finally shipped. Hurrah! I didn't inquire as to the timetable, because I figured it would take a while to get the items here (assuming the cheapest transport -- boat) from SE Asia. Apparently, that isn't the half of it:
    Dear Valuable Customer,

    Your order have been reshipped today through Registered Airmail due to previously is have been confiscated by the custom. Hence, it will take some time for the delivery and sorry for any inconvenience caused. And this is the best way in order for you to receive your order safely. Hope you are fine with it.

Safely? Confiscated? I'm pretty sure I ordered "X2" and not the "X27M Mobile Infantry Smasher". And please put someone on the computer who can write (Jaquandor -- maybe your true calling lies in smuggling?). Although, I should say that for a pirate organization, their customer service is top notch.

So, what have I learned from this? That my orders are putting smugglers' lives in peril? That somewhere, some US Border Patrol is right now unlocking the secrets of the Matrix?? I'll wait until I receive the 'cargo' to determine the most appropriate moral stance (i.e., if the DVDs are good, buy more; if not, smuggling is bad). God wants me to do it that way.

PS. Another prize for anyone who gets the movie quote in the header.
PPS. Prizes may be intercepted by customs.


Sweet Music
During a browse of the internet (yes, I'm over working today, can you tell?), I happened upon a greatest hits CD for Matthew Sweet, one of my favorites from the nineties. Some of you might remember his early videos which were mostly Japanese anime. Pretty cool stuff.

Anyway, I'm afraid that I'm going to have to go ahead and uh disagree with the selection of songs attributed at the "best". Starting with the Girlfriend album, whose cover is on my top ten of all time, the "hits" album leaves out "Looking At the Sun", "Winona", "Evangeline" and "Thought I Knew You". Please at least take one of those. Where they go the notion that "You Don't Love Me" is better (in my humble opinion) that any of those songs is beyond me.

Moving on to another excellent album, Altered Beast, I lament at the omission of "Dinosaur Act" and "Do It Again", while kinda chagrined at the inclusion of "Ugly Truth" and "Someon To Pull The Trigger", neither of which are all that memorable.

Hmm. On 100% Fun they (the powers that be) seem to get it right. There are about two good songs on that CD, and the rest is just good. Sweet is definitely on a downswing here.

Okay, they also get it right on Blue Sky on Mars, since there isn't really much to get after the one hit on the album, "Where Do You Get Love". In fact, I got tired of Sweet after this mediocre effort and stopped buying his album.

So, I guess the point of this is get the first two albums and use WinMX for the rest. Or just buy the damn greatest hits CD. What do I care?

Dating Ladder
For those of you out there who are still confused about the dynamics of adult male/female interaction, I give you the ladder theory, which deconstructs the whole friend/fuck differentiation in very simple terms. It covers the gamut from men's and women's rating systems, definitions of essential terms (e.g., "intellectual whore" (me, at times), and "cuddle bitch" (me, also a lot over the years)), as well as variables (e.g., desperation, drunkeness) in the system. Well worth a good laugh and your valuable time.

Fluke, or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings

I took a night off from cavorting in order to read Christopher Moore's latest tale of high adventure and goofball tomfoolery, Fluke, and found it hard to put down until I had finished it. The tale was, as fans of his will expect, full of great insight, goofiness, story, and belly-chuckling moments. Moore has not lost his touch, if anything adding more substance and texture to his innate wit.

Over the past few weeks, I had taken it with me to the pool for a few afternoon readings, in between doing a few laps to get relief from the summer DC sun. It's tough to concentrate at a public pool, with the roaming masses of frolicking children and near-naked bodies, not to mention the occasional unexpected sprinkler that doused you and your book (my neighboor noted that I'd been "fluked", with full ironic compliments).

However, sporadic reading times didn't detract from the bevy of laugh-out-loud moments that Moore sprinkled throughout his story about Hawaiian-based whale researchers and the extraordinary (for readers not familiar with Moore, when I say "extraordinary" I mean "don't be surprised if one of the characters rips off his face to reveal that he was a man-walrus the entire time [this is not a spoiler!]") adventure onto which they stumble. His characters, as usual, are full of wit and quirks, especially when confronted with the inevitable unbelievable situation. Moore has his greatest success writing the conversations between his leads, that little sparring time that's very endearing in his books (e.g., Bloodsucking Fiends is chocked-full of such banter). There was a lot of that in this one; I only wish there was time for more -- somehow I think that he could have written another 20 pages based on the sudden revelations toward the end, but that's a minor caveat.

So, in the universally recognized rankings, where does this one fit? I put it right smack behind Lamb, perhaps slightly ahead of The Promised King, and altogether beats the crap out of any James Patterson book ever.

PS. A "prize" goes to the first person who can place the quote from the heading of this article.