July 30, 2005

Horrible, Senseless, Awful

My boss — the head of our project — a man who had done so much for both Maggie and me, was killed today in an accident with a car while out for one of his usual runs. It’s just awful. My heart goes out to his wife and their children.

I don’t know many details, and I expect so many people are in shock, as I am. Jim was such a strong person in so many ways, and a strong personality. He had a positive effect on many lives and was full of humor, compassion, intelligence, and a love of life.

We had recently celebrated his retirement from teaching. The parties in his honor were filled with the people who loved and admired him. Please keep them in your thoughts.

Posted by James at 9:04 PM | Comments (18)

New "Stupid Missile" Sighted in Westport, MA

or, the new summer blockbuster, “The Severely Developmentally-Challenged Four.”

You’ve heard of smart missiles. What do you call a car filled with drunk 30-somethings, driven by a completely sloshed 33-year-old woman going 60 mph in a 20 zone down near the beach?

A really stupid situation.

A Fall River woman faces multiple charges after she slammed her speeding car into three parked cars Friday evening at East Beach.

[…] The impact shoved one of the vehicles sideways approximately 20 feet. One of the parked cars contained four children and two adults but no injuries were reported.

Sgt. Majewski said Ms. Lacombe (whose identification was complicated by the fact that she possessed three different Social Security numbers), tried to drive her 1994 Nissan away after striking a third car.

Pure freaking genius. It’s a miracle none of those kids in the parked cars were hurt. That turn is a common place to park. The satellite picture shows how sharp it is. Right at the elbow there is the parking area for the Allens Pond Audubon sanctuary to the northeast. 2nd street, to the north is where Bill and Jeanne Kilkenny used to live, years ago, when we were all going to S.M.U.

I guess it’s not a bad idea to remember to be careful, parking at night at the end of a sharp turn like that, because you never know when some complete idiots will be coming down the road.

Posted by James at 4:19 PM

Renovation Adds New 10th Planet

While you were going about your business, the folks in charge have renovated the solar system, adding a nice, fresh 10th planet.

Astronomers have found a tenth planet, larger than Pluto and nearly three times farther from the sun as Pluto is today.

So, now if you really want to get away, you have a place to go without leaving the comfy confines of your familiar solar system. Americans know what I'm talking about.

Don't let the image above fool you -- there are not yet any pictures of this new planet.

Posted by James at 1:25 PM | Comments (7)

Turmoil on the Right

Google news points to a number of stories covering the fact that Bill Frist, Dr. “I can make a video diagnosis with my eyes closed” Frist, has broken ranks with the far right (and the president) to come out in support for more research into human embryonic stem cells.

His defection means there’s a good chance that a bill to allow such research will pass the Senate, forcing Bush to veto it.

Frist’s timing (stepping on an otherwise good week for Bush) makes the high profile announcement even more galling for the party. Some suggest that this is some sort of penance for the fool Frist made of himself during the Terry Schiavo debacle. If so, it might be the only good thing to come of that tragedy.

Whatever the reasons, it’s refreshing to see some respect for scientific research creeping back into the right.

Posted by James at 7:44 AM

July 29, 2005

Blog in Absentia

I’m taking some time off from the jay-oh-bee to go wedding crashing to go on a madcap adventure or subject myself to 10 days straight of daytime television.

In any case, I will be AFK for much of that time, so this blog will suddenly become quiet in the next couple of days. I’ll be posting regularly again soon.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking of you the whole time I’m gone. I won’t, but that’s not what it means.

Confused? I won’t be around, so you’ll need to work it out yourself. A blog doesn’t just write itself for a week while you’re away, you know!

Posted by James at 9:33 AM

Icon Shotgun

It doesn’t look much like me, but it’s the best I could do before I got bored.
Posted by James at 9:25 AM | Comments (12)

July 27, 2005

You and James Do the News

Posted by James at 7:59 AM | Comments (8)

July 26, 2005

Wedding Crashers

Warning: This post doesn’t contain any (OK, maybe a very minor one) spoilers, but it’s more about me than it is about the movie.

There’s a reason this movie is getting decent reviews all over the place, even though people are saying it’s not a very good movie. That reason is: everyone needs a laugh.

I like Vince Vaughn. I recognize that Dodgeball and Old School are not mentally stimulating. But, thankyouverymuch, I get plenty of mental stimulation in my daily life.

If I lack mental challenges, I can flip to the second half of “6 Not So Easy Pieces” or dive into yet another technical manual or some craziness like that. There’s plenty out there.

The question is, how the heck do I un-stimulate my brain? And I’m sure I’m not the only one facing this problem. Let’s be real, everyday life fills your head with a boatload of stuff you just don’t want in there. It happens twice as fast if you’re watching FOX News, plus they’re removing some stuff you actually needed.

The antidote, for me, is friends and laughter. Buddies.

I realize Vince Vaughn plays the same character over and over again. But, dammit, I like that character. And I know Owen Wilson probably isn’t acting at all, but dammit, Vince Vaughn needs someone to play off.

Wedding Crashers is a buddy film. If you’ve never had a buddy, you won’t get this film. I’ve had/got a number of buddies, so I get it. You want complaints about the plot? You’re not going to get them here. I couldn’t care less about the plot — this is about stupid situations that buddies get into. This is about the look your buddy gives you when he can’t believe what just happened.

OK, I see I’m not going to get out of this review without telling you something about the actual film.

Here’s a synopsis: Vaughn and Wilson are wedding crashers. They drop in on weddings to enjoy the food and talk girls into bed. And they’re good at it, partly because the follow the code passed down to them from a mysterious predecessor. But it really works because they have each other’s back. They pull each other into stupid situations and pull each other out. In short, they’re buddies. The success such a film does not really come from saving the girl or winning the big game. It comes from one guy putting up with getting repeatedly slammed hard into the ground just because he promised his buddy he’d help him out for a cause that makes little or no sense.

I’ve been both the guy that has the crazy idea and convinces his buddy to join in and the guy who somehow goes along with it. Those spontaneous moments are some of the most memorable.

Our two protagonists charm their way through the video collage at the beginning of the film before the thin plot kicks in: there’s one more big wedding to crash for the season. You already know what’s coming. One is going to get in too deep and then the movie will be a mix of humorous moments and sappy seriousness.

Is there much that is new and exciting in this film? No, not really. There are some memorable scenes, but most of this stuff has been done before. But it’s just a movie, and there are a number of laugh out loud moments that were distracting enough that I didn’t care about the far-too-loud guy in the back who appears to never have seen a “man is suddenly faced with a homosexual admirer” gag.

Again, forget the lack of plot. There’s enough enthusiasm in this film that the thin characters are strangely believable. Rachel McAdams seems like she should have her mind made up fairly early on in the film, and yet I didn’t care. She’s a convincing object of Owen Wilson’s interest. Jane Seymour’s character is funny, and then she’s sort of dropped from the film. But there’s other funny stuff to take her place (I think there have got to be some deleted scenes there for the DVD). The villain is only somewhat funny, and his violent streak is a downer (although there is precedent in movies like Animal House.)

In a number of ways this film is better than Dodgeball. The buddy film is a better medium for him than the “group of lovable losers” film. And much of the humor is crude. But at least it’s not lazy in its crudeness. Vaughn’s style is frenetic, and it will carry you along.

You probably already know whether you like this movie based on your reaction to Vince Vaughn in the past. I think I’d be wasting my time trying to convince you that this is a film you need to see, even though you don’t like Vaughn and Wilson. However, if you do like them, you need to know that they don’t let you down in this latest film.

Posted by James at 10:08 PM | Comments (7)

Ch-ch-ch-chia Roof


Ch-ch-ch-chia Roof
Originally uploaded by drmomentum.

The gutter at our office at work is full of organic material. And some
of it is very much alive. Salad greens anyone? These plants were worried they'd be cleaned out until they realized they were on campus property.
Posted by James at 3:24 PM | Comments (4)

President Ave. Crash

Police said the vehicle became airborne, striking several parked cars and a telephone pole. Investigators were waiting the results of a toxicology test. Police believe speed was a factor in the accident.

Slightly more detailed story here in the ProJo, reg. req’d.

I imagine you wouldn’t have to be going all that fast downhill on President Ave to become airborne in a light car. For those unfamiliar with it, it’s a very steep hill on the west side of Fall River, dropping off from Highland Ave down to North Main street.

My heart goes out to the family of the woman who lost her life there. It’s a terrible thing.

A topographical map of the area reveals the steep grade. Look just to the south border of North Park and you’ll see the road, and the elevation lines all crowded up against each other.

As a kid, we’d always get a little thrill out of that hill, because it’s a variable grade — they’ve leveled the hill out in a couple of spots for side streets. So, it’s a bit like a roller coaster. Driving down that hill, you want all your wits about you.

To the north of North Park, however, you can see the even steeper Weetamoe. Here’s an area we know quite well, don’t we? (Brian, BOB, Bull). A glance at the elevation lines and you’d think it goes straight down. In fact, approaching it from the top in your car and it certainly looks like you’re going over a cliff.

I’ll always remember the time we bottomed-out in the Olds Cutlass Supreme around 1984 on that hill, tooling around Fall River. And, yes, we were completely sober but for the drunkenness of adolescence.

[Added:
The steepness of these roads is not apparent in the satellite pic. But I will have to get a picture for you demonstrating the angle sometime soon.]

Posted by James at 9:58 AM | Comments (7)

July 25, 2005

PawSox Floppy Hat Night

Last Thursday was Floppy Hat Night at the PawSox, and a bunch of us from work (and a bunch from my extended family) trekked over to Pawtucket to check out the game. A good time was definitely had by all.

I got there early because I’d ordered the tickets online, accompanied by Sharon, Sara and Sara’s friend Ryan. Early is good on floppy hat night because it means we knew for sure we were going to get the goofy floppy hat they were handing out.

Tickets for a group that large in the box seats were $8.50 apiece. A bargain. (General admission is even cheaper, if you’ve got kids with you). The atmosphere of the ballpark is a good deal of the fun. That, the junk food and souvenirs combine to prepare you to watch some baseball and relax.

At a ball field, it’s easy to forget pretty much anything else that might be weighing on your mind. And this we did, in earnest, with the aid of beer and peanuts. And fried dough. And hot dogs. And you get the idea.

My boss was there, with his wife. Throughout the game he was pelting me and everyone else he could reach with the shells of the peanuts he was eating. Elder daughter K was ecstatic about everything that happened on the field, screaming along with her cousins. M was more interested in the stuffed “Sox” doll, but she’s naturally more low key.

Unfortunately for us, this game was a pitcher’s duel. Hits were few and far between, and the Sox lost 1-0. Bummer!

But we were undeterred from having a good time. Derek had proposed a trip to Wings To Go (just because) and so a number of us swung over there. Jake did not order the “homicide” wings, as Derek had dared him to, but he did get a cup of the sauce to dip his “suicide” wings in. Jake declared the sauce hot, but bearable — and declined Derek’s dare to drink the remainder of the sauce.

Of course, walking out of the place, when Jake asked me to throw away the homicide sauce, I couldn’t see it go to waste. I downed it in a gulp. It sat in my tummy for a good hour, burning, but there were no lasting effects other than an elevated mood.

Thumbs up to Wings To Go (as always) and thumbs up to a night at McCoy Stadium. We will definitely be returning.

Posted by James at 9:41 AM | Comments (2)

July 23, 2005

Friday Night Penguins

Last night we threw the kids in the car and sped out to Providence for a 9PM showing of "March of the Penguins" at the Avon.

Ahhh -- summer.

No way you can get away with something like that during the school year. But my kids are night owls, like I am. They can watch an 80 minute film that starts sometime after 9. And they'd never been to the Avon before. I'd never been to the Avon restroom before.

Friday was the last day for visiting programmer Brandon at the office. I am the only one on the project who lives to the west, and people fell silent when the question came up regarding who was going to return him to T.F. Green airport.. Awkward silences when you're talking about who is going to drive the guest back to the airport are true to their name. I'd already been ferrying him from the hotel every morning, so I spoke up. Driving him around gave us time to talk about everyday things like the weather and Russian submarines.

Once he was safely at the mercy of the transportation security folks, I sought out lunch at the bar of a nearby Legal Seafoods. The area around the airport seems to me to be an odd world. All the comings and goings skew the human landscape. But that's a post better left for another time.

Once fortified, I continued on with my day. Thanks to traffic, there was no making it back to the office before close of business.A sad loss to be sure, but it would be made up for remotely. That's what we have the "information age" for.

Remember those commercials "Have you ever attended a meeting from the beach? You will." Prophetic, perhaps, but who the hell wants to spend their time at the beach in a meeting?

The fact is, you can't attend a meeting from the beach. After all, the beach is almost as much a state of mind as it is a place. If you are in a meeting, you are not at the beach. I guarantee it. If you're lucky, you're at the beach and your co-workers think you are in the meeting because they see you on a computer screen or hear your voice. But I imagine that teh experience is still ruined for you. It's tainted.

If you are one of those people who thinks you can be at a beach and at a meeting, there is probably still time for you to get that fixed, and shame on your parents for whatever it is that they did to you.

March Of The Penguins

Before the show, I climbed the steep stairs at the Avon Cinema up to where the restrooms are. On the tiny second-flor landing there was an ancient vending machine with, among other things, two little packages of Whoppers malted milk balls for 2 quarters. I did not bother to resist.

The men's room is ancient and microscopic, though 3 men could actually stand in there at once. Four if they were the friendly type. Only two could use the facilities at once... assuming some sense of decorum.

Back downstairs, my daughters had never been to such an old-fashioned theater before and we discussed the curtains, lights and such. Also, the "flexible" timing of the show's start.

The film itself is everything you may have heard, if you've caught the reviews. The penguins are amazing creatures, and the story of their journey -- essential to the continuation of their species -- is unfathomable if you have not seen it. Morgan Freeman narrates this tale which is by no means sugar-coated. There is hardship and irreversible tragedy. But there are also beauty, love, triumph and even some humor.

If you are at all interested in what makes penguins or people tick, you will not be sorry you saw this film. You may b very sorry if you miss it. See it with other people, if you can.

Home Again

We left the theater just as the first drops of rain were being squeezed out of the saturated atmosphere. In the distance to the east, where we were going, lightning lit up the clouds in surprising shades of blue, yellow and red.

Instead of finding the highway, I took a turn into East Providence. Using only the compass and a CD player, we made our way back to the ranch via back roads we'd never (or rarely) traveled before.

Posted by James at 10:16 AM | Comments (4)

July 22, 2005

Solar Decathalon Car Wash

Sharon’s Solar Decathalon Team is organizing a carwash tomorrow. Show up, it’s for a good cause!!!

Solar Decathlon car wash

Place: Walmart (North Dartmouth)
Date: Saturday, July 22
Time: 9AM - 4PM

Carwashes will be $5

Half the proceeds go toward continuing work on our solar-powered competition house

See:
http://www.eere.energy.gov/solar_decathlon/
http://www.umassd.edu/solar/

The other half will go to Boston Children’s Hospital.

So if you are in the area on Saturday and need your car washed, please stop
by.
Posted by James at 2:23 PM

Lame-ish Shotgun

I have done extremely minimal surfing this week. We're talking less than an hour of total websurfing. As a result, I have only these, paltry links. Enjoy, if you dare (or can).

Posted by James at 11:17 AM | Comments (3)

July 21, 2005

Watermelon in the Dark

We had no electricity last night, and I was not in the mood for that.

We think a branch up the street had fallen on a power line, because only a few houses around us lost power.

I was pretty down about the whole thing — I couldn’t do any of the electricity-based things I’d planned to do. We’d rented a DVD which we’d planned to watch together. I had work I could have tackled (momentum from the workday sometimes carries over). And, of course, there was no air conditioning.

Sitting in the humid, oppressive dark, we hoped that the freezer wouldn’t thaw and the food in the fridge wouldn’t spoil. So we avoided opening them, allowing the temperature to remain as steady as possible.

It was pretty miserable, but after some thought I remembered I had half of a watermelon left over in the fridge. I figured I could grab it quick without disturbing things too much. I did, and spent a little while carving it up in the half-dark flash-lit kitchen. Soon, my kids were sitting around the table eating watermelon in the dark at 10PM. It was a huge improvement.

I highly recommend this approach to problems. Of course, you have to think hard and remember that watermelon is in the fridge, because you can’t see it in the dark.

Posted by James at 7:39 AM | Comments (8)

July 20, 2005

Beam Him Up

BBC reports actor James Doohan has died.

Whenever I think of Mr. Doohan, I think of that scene in Trekkies when he recounted the story of how he realized how much Trek had touched some people’s lives.

His portrayal of Scotty won’t soon be forgotten. Thanks, Mr. Doohan.

Posted by James at 1:42 PM | Comments (21)

July 19, 2005

Ken Mehlman on Meet The Press

It’s completely obvious that the reporter leaked CIA information to Rove: the guy with the security clearance.

Completely. Obvious.

And boy that RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman sure can talk real real fast on Meet The Press and get a lot of words in in one sentence and tell you how reporters leaked the information to Rove and how he has complete confidence in the investigation and the Democrats in the Democrat party don’t have confidence in the investigation and why don’t Democrats have confidence in the investigation and Ken Mehlman certainly has complete confidence in the investigation. But when asked by Tim Russert whether he will stand by the findings of the investigation, considering all the confidence he has in it, Ken Mehlman really can’t tell you whether or not he’s going to be able to stand by the findings because Ken Mehlman has complete confidence in the investigation but not necessarily the findings because Ken Mehlman can’t see the future and Ken Mehlman doesn’t actually know what “complete confidence” means but he heard it would sound good if he kept saying it on Meet the Press and it’s something he’s sure the Democrats in the Democrat party don’t have.

But even more amazing is how you can still hear Ken Mehlman talking days afterward, on many different TV shows, but you can no longer see his lips move.

Abso-freaking-mazing.

Is the other news I heard true? That Bush is no longer requiring the loyalty oath at public events? Now they’re mandating that a fashionable new bracelet be worn.

Posted by James at 8:25 PM | Comments (1)

No Name That Movie

There is no name that movie this week.

I am no longer considering it a regular feature.

Name That Movie has had the strong sense of boredom (mine for certain and possibly yours) hovering over it for weeks now. Boredom from lack of creativity, boredom from repetition.

I’m planning to either alter it radically or do away with it entirely.

This week, I’m just short on time because of work and other obligations. This summer has been a mess of scheduling and time becomes more precious.

If I find a movie that I think I’ll get a kick out of doing, you’ll see another NTM. If not…

See you in the funny pages with more original content.

Posted by James at 7:25 AM | Comments (20)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The kids should see it for educational purposes alone. Meanwhile, you’ll laugh and be amazed.

I went expecting weirdness, but got such inventive weirdness that I was delighted. It’s as deliciously curt with its humor as Willy Wonka himself is in his speech. Wonka is not just creepy, he’s now fascinatingly and amusingly creepy.

Probably a decent litmus test for liking this film is liking the work of Edward Gorey. That seems to me to be a bit ironic, because this film is so colorful it seems a counterpoint to the black and white of Gorey’s art. They share something in the sense of humor, if not the visuals.

Wonka is a complete social misfit. Charlie is his polar opposite in nearly every way and especially in warmth and human understanding. But they share childlike wonder and imagination. Sound sickly sweet? Not when it’s the only blatant sweetness in the film.

Having seen (and hated) the previous film, I especially wondered about the ending. The last film just ends abruptly and never made any sense to me. Burton sews this film up and gives it a purpose so that your outing to the theater is not just about seeing what weird landscape can be conjured within the walls of a candy factory.

Posted by James at 6:57 AM | Comments (9)

July 18, 2005

Butting

There’s a new Thing Of Ugly, if you’re interested.

Call it “Butt Out.”

And, no, it’s not about lower back tattoos. I swear. But my shoulder hurts because my daughters convinced me to try to do a cartwheel and I fell on my head.

Yeah, that doesn’t make sense.

Posted by James at 9:42 PM

Captain Morgan Tattoo

Yes - another alcohol review. I have to keep the people informed, and lord knows that recent politics has been enough to drive me to drink. To quote Richard Dreyfuss in Let It Ride: “Rum!”

Tattoo is a relatively new rum product from Captain Morgan parent company Diageo. Coincidentally, it’s the same company that makes Smirnoff. Heck, the list of popular alcohol brands they own is long. Look it up. If you’ve drunk any alcohol in this country, I bet you’ve had one of their brands.

At any rate, this rum is new enough that it’s not on their website. It’s billed as a dark rum with spices. And that’s exactly what it is.

I’ll get straight to the flavor. I only had about half a shot of the stuff this weekend, but it left a strong impression. It had a medium vanilla flavor with strong cherry an orange syrup impressions. In fact, it was slightly medicinal. However, it reminded me of Cherry Coke (a little bit) and immediately I wondered what it would be like in some Coke Zero. I didn’t have any with me at the time, so I didn’t get to find out.

To tell you the truth, while I like spiced rum I usually figure that a good dark rum (like Black Seal) is as good as it gets. No need to add any spices.

On the other hand, this spiced rum has strong enough flavors that it might be worth a try mixing it. Maybe those extra flavors would improve Coke. Oddly, I also get the feeling that mixing it into ginger ale would not be a bad idea. Or, better still, some Reed’s Ginger Beer.

If you’re looking for a strong rum flavor, you need to look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a strong flavored rum, this might be what you’re looking for.

De plane! De plane!

Posted by James at 1:40 AM | Comments (40)

Smirnoff Twisted V: Watermelon

Smirnoff has been making these “Twisted” malt beverages for a while now. Their original flavors included a raspberry, cranberry, mandarin orange and green apple. That last flavor was one which I enjoyed now and again.

I stopped drinking the occasional bottle of green apple partly because I rediscovered cider and partly because I rediscovered that I was overweight and I rediscovered “dieting.” Those “malternative” beverages are pretty sugary. More calories than beer, even.

But this weekend I’d heard that Smirnoff added a watermelon flavor and figured I’d give it a chance. You get to read my review.

I’ve said before that drinking a soda is just like consuming liquid candy. Smirnoff Twisted V: Watermelon is like drinking an alcoholic Jolly Rancher watermelon candy. It’s pretty much exactly like that. If you’ve had a Jolly Rancher, you’ve tasted this flavor before.

The Green Apple is sour and interesting. The Watermelon is just not that interesting. Too strong flavor, too much like candy. A subtle taste like actual watermelon would have been good. This ain’t it.

Back to Coke Zero for me.

Posted by James at 1:02 AM | Comments (7)

July 16, 2005

Horse-Killing Literature

Regular, Saturday stuff. This blog has been dead-boring lately, so here’s some pretty freaking exciting stuff.

Of Mice and Misdemeanors

I had to return a computer mouse to WalMart today and some fellow at the customer service desk was upset because he left the window open in his Explorer and he turned his back for a few minutes. Oops, where’d that new microwave oven go? Where’d that new vacuum cleaner go? So, listen kids: no matter how hot it gets, leaving your window open in the car just encourages theft! That’s my public service announcement for the day.

Also at WalMart: the new Harry Potter book. Many of them. Enough of them to kill a small equine were you to drop an entire pallet of them on the unfortunate beast. If it were a large equine, you’d probably end up having to shoot it yourself afterward. So, go with the small one. (Please, no angry letters — no actual horses were injured in the crafting of this post.)

Chuck over at Unbecoming Levity has his first audio content up, covering his late-night visit to Barnes & Noble. OK, so it’s not very exciting stuff, but he did get a book out of it. Oh, wait, he didn’t get a book. Never mind. (Chuck, I kid because I love. At least you’ve been posting a few times a day.)

Chuck, if you really want that Harry Potter book, it appears there are plenty available today.

Did you know that:

In some jurisdictions, those who are convicted of a misdeameanor are known as misdemeanants.

It’s true; I read it on Wikipedia.

Movies

I saw Dark Water the other night. (Dark Water IMDB entry). My quick take: Most depressing horror film ever. The fear you feel will be for people who have horrible living conditions because they can only afford a crappy apartment in the city after their marriage falls apart. Seriously, this movie is, in reality, not about ghosts or anything, but rather about being displaced, cast off, and struggling with less. As the middle class continues to disappear, expect more films like this one.

The movie is scary, but the ghostly aspect is actually the least scary aspect.

I also rented Darkness. (Darkness on IMDB)

Lena Olin? You should be in better films. So should you, Anna Paquin, I think. But Lena Olin definitely. Unfortunately, this is not one of those better films.

A family is haunted by some crazy-ass past involving a cult of some sort, or a prophecy which required the killing of children to open a gateway to hell. Now the ghosts want the father of the family because he was the only child who escaped the last time the crazies tried to fulfill the prophecy. Sound promising? It has possibilities, but I guarantee that the dreams you have when you fall asleep from watching this will be better.

Help me out, filmmakers. If Dark Water isn’t a summer blockbuster, it’s no big deal. Jennifer Connelly can afford a few movies that aren’t smashes. Her acting is top notch in Dark Water, you can believe she’s in trouble, believe that she had a horrible childhood and believe that she’s about to go out of her mind. The moment she loses it, though, is a little over the top. Just a little. Jennifer Connelly isn’t swinging for the box office fences, she seems to be more trying to exactly hit that spot between the fielders. Mixing acting and baseball metaphors, not good.

On the other hand, don’t do this to Lena Olin, who isn’t in much nowadays (except “Alias”) and Anna Paquin who we thought was probably the best thing about X-Men. Well, at least the thing they ruined the least.

Plans and Management

Off to a pool party and then Sara and Jake’s bash. And floppy hat night is just coming over the horizon. If work weren’t so crazy, I’d be a thrilled summer enjoyer. But I’ve been out of my gourd with anxiety over our horrible schedule this summer.

Let me explain something about management. Impossible goals and the sword of Damoclese are not motivating. Challenging goals and a plan for the future are very motivating.

I can babble like this all day, but I’m already late for social engagements. And the girls want to hop in the pool.

Posted by James at 12:50 PM

July 15, 2005

Taiko No-Go

I just wanted to let friends know that, since there was no response on the Taiko drumming and since it’s a fairly busy weekend for us, we will likely not be going to the event. So if you were planning on just showing up and looking for us, you might want to actually give me a call now and find out whether we will even be there.

There’s always next year, but I must admit that once I found out it wasn’t going to be picnic-friendly, that deflated a lot of my own interest. Sitting on blankets chatting with friends is more fun than trying to get the kids to stay happy in the bleachers.

Posted by James at 1:09 PM

Homer Clone Shotgun

Posted by James at 9:02 AM | Comments (6)

July 14, 2005

Comical McClellan

Hosted by Putfile.com

(click for larger)

Posted by James at 2:21 AM | Comments (4)

July 12, 2005

Name That Movie 44

Instructions: see the clues, one by one. Guess what movie they are from. Comment. (Or for a bigger challenge, avoid the comments) Repeat.

On the day I post the images, I post them one at a time, with a delay in between. It’s for suspense and it gives the users a chance to play along with each other in the comments. If all the clues are already posted, then play at your own pace. Look for the answer in the comments.

8 clues in all today. Here we go!

NOTE: I’m away from the keyboard until the afternoon today. So you get 2 images to start and watch for updates sometime after noon (EST) today.

Link to Clue 2

Link to Clue 3

Link to Clue 4

Link to Clue 5

Link to Clue 6

Link to Clue 7

Link to Clue 8

That’s all of ‘em!

Posted by James at 5:47 AM | Comments (25)

July 11, 2005

No (Sensible) Comment

So, the president said (way back when the Plame investigation first heated up) that he was going to fire whoever leaked information to the press.

Now it looks like Rove leaked to the press.

Of course, the White House is going to have to comment on this right? Wrong.

Scott McClellan: […]The criminal investigation that you reference is something that continues at this point. And as I’ve previously stated, while that investigation is ongoing, the White House is not going to comment on it.[…]

Q Excuse me, but I wasn’t actually talking about any investigation. But in June of 2004, the President said that he would fire anybody who was involved in this leak, to press of information. And I just want to know, is that still his position?

MR. McCLELLAN: Yes, but this question is coming up in the context of this ongoing investigation, and that’s why I said that our policy continues to be that we’re not going to get into commenting on an ongoing criminal investigation from this podium. […]

Q Scott, if I could — if I could point out, contradictory to that statement, on September 29th, 2003, while the investigation was ongoing, you clearly commented on it.

It goes on like that for quite a while. If you are a student of baldface bullshit, you owe it to yourself to read the entire transcript.

You will be amazed at the contradiction and the paper-thin reason McClellan gives for not setting the record straight. The Bush administration expects us to believe that a comment on whether Bush really meant what he said back then disrupts the investigation.

Posted by James at 11:35 PM | Comments (6)

July 10, 2005

WHICH IS "LAMER?" (groin edition)

What is more lame?

  1. Stickers depicting Calvin peeing on something.
  2. Bumper Nuts - an artificial scrotum for your car. (Warning:if you have any sense of taste at all, you will weep).

Vote and discuss.

What's Lamer? Bumper Nuts or Peeing Calvin?
Peeing Calvin
Bumper Nuts
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Posted by James at 8:50 PM | Comments (21)

Rove Was Cooper's Source

A high ranking White House representative (Rove) told a reporter that Wilson’s wife was a CIA operative. (Newsweek)

Rove told Cooper that Wilson’s trip had not been authorized by “DCIA”—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, “it was, KR said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized the trip.”

The news is a blow to fans of small Republican trolls.

Posted by James at 8:44 PM | Comments (6)

Cardinal Encourages Catholics to Embrace Ignorance

Leading Cardinal Redefines Church’s View on Evolution

An influential cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, which has long been regarded as an ally of the theory of evolution, is now suggesting that belief in evolution as accepted by science today may be incompatible with Catholic faith.

[…]

Darwinian evolution is the foundation of modern biology. While researchers may debate details of how the mechanism of evolution plays out, there is no credible scientific challenge to the underlying theory.

Next up, belief in gravity will get you excommunicated. The moon is made of green cheese and the Earth is at the center of the Solar System.

I suppose this will pressure the Vatican to clarify its official opinion. So, what iwll they do? Tell Catholic scientists that they have to adopt Intelligent Design, otherwise they are in conflict with the Church?

Posted by James at 8:38 PM

July 9, 2005

Burnt Orange Carrot Hair

Snapple BottleDOn’t get me wrong. I love Snapple products in general. It’s just that I haven’t been drinking much of them lately.

You see, I have all but given up on sugar-containing drinks. This happened even before I was introduced to Coke Zero. I knew that cutting out sweet drinks was a fairly easy way to cut bunches of calories from my diet. Exceptions (which I keep to a minimum) include

  • tonic water for G&Ts (I haven’t found a tolerable diet tonic — yet)
  • occasional glass of orange juice (once/week or so)
  • occasional Coke Evil (C2 once/week or so) before I discovered Coke Zero
  • occasional skim milk in coffee (almost negligible, actually)
  • beer can be considered a sugary drink, to some extent. It contains sugar, but most of its calories actually come from alcohol. I don’t drink all that much beer, really.
  • one hard apple cider/week or so.

Other caloric drinks include anything with alcohol. These I consume in portions that are not significant to my diet.

That might seem like a lot of exceptions, but days and days go by without me drinking a sugary drink. And one soda is a diabetic bombshell, ready to send your little islets of Langerhans into overdrive. Okay, no lecturing. I used to drink a number of sugary drinks per day.

Back to the Snapple. I was in the market with M, looking for a diet drink I could use to wash down my dinner that was NOT a hamburger and fries (it was blueberries, bread and low cal cold cuts) and I found the pictured “diet (sic) Snapple Orange Carrot.” Ten calories per serving. Great! I like carrots and oranges. And I like only 10 calories.

When I got out to the car, M requested “Polyester Bride” on the CD player and I took a swig of my “diet Snapple”

Augh!

The aroma was decent enough. Orange and carrot, exactly as advertised. But somehow, on that first swig, the more apparent flavor was burnt hair! Not just burnt hair, it was a flavor that almost evoked the smell of the harsh chemical process of getting a permanent. I used to hate that smell when my Mom got her hair permed at home.

Anyhow… augh! That’s some nasty off-flavor.

Funny thing is, over the course of 2 days, I’ve drunk most of the bottle. I keep being amazed that it really tasted like burnt hair, refusing to believe it and going back for another try.

Sometimes I can’t explain my own behavior.

Posted by James at 12:03 AM | Comments (4)

July 8, 2005

So much for "Fighting them there"

Islamic extremists have been using Iraq as a planning center for attacks around the world since losing Afghanistan as their base in 2001, the government’s chief spokesman said Friday.
Speaking about Thursday’s blasts in London that killed more than 50 people, Laith Kubba said “we don’t know exactly who carried out these acts but it is clear that these networks used to be in Afghanistan and now they work in Iraq.”

I’m not sure how accurate we can consider this opinion. But it appears to be the opinion of the Iraqi government that Iraq is now a planning ground for international terrorist attacks.

I remember having an argument with my father who claimed that Saddam had terrorist training camps in his portion of Iraq (part of the justification for the war, at the time). It turned out that there is little or no evidence that Saddam was training terrorists or had any such camps. Well, according to Iraqi officials, in the wake of Saddam we’ve got a terrorist breeding ground in Iraq.

Come to your own conclusions.

Maybe once we’d thought we’d driven al Qaida out of Afghanistan we should have focused more energy on continuing to disrupt the terrorist network instead of bombing Iraq back to the “terrorist training camp” age.

Posted by James at 11:50 PM

Extreme Sleepwalking

Astonished firefighters who thought they were dealing with a suicidal teenager after a girl was spotted 130ft above ground found she was fast asleep MYSTERY surrounds the ordeal of a schoolgirl who went to bed and fell asleep, only to find herself on the arm of a crane 40m (130ft) above the ground when she awoke. Firefighters rescued the 15-year-old girl after an astonished passer-by dialled 999. The onlooker had spotted her curled up asleep on top of a concrete counter-weight on a narrow metal beam in the early hours.

M sleepwalks every once in a while. I hope her antics never get this bad, though. The doctor quoted in the piece mentions sleepwalkers driving cars, riding on horses and… ye gods, attempting to fly a helicopter!

Posted by James at 10:22 PM

Taiko - Take 2

OK - I called the Newport Black Ships Festival folks.

The Taiko drums event is not in an actual field this year as it was when it was at the armory at Fort Adams. It’s in a baseball field.

Cardine’s field is across from the Visitor’s Center in the heart of Newport. Here’s a Google map of the location: Visitor’s Center - 23 Americas Cup Ave, Newport, RI. You can see Cardine’s field on the map.

There are going to be bleacher seats rather than a picnic-type atmosphere. So, the picnic idea is mostly out the window, unless we want to try to find a place to picnic in after the show. It’s a possibility.

In any case, we’ll be attending this show, and we hope you can meet us. Judging by the zero response to the last post on this subject, people are either not interested or unsure. If people contact us about going, we may adjust our plans slightly to include leading people there, etc. I’ll try to find out for you if we need to get tickets in advance. If nobody shows an interest, then I guess you can show up and buzz my cellphone to let me know you’re in the area.

Posted by James at 2:29 PM | Comments (4)

O Shotgun My Shotgun

UPDATED: See the Gmaps Pedometer link below. Forgot to include that in the first upload. Oops! That’s a good one.

  • Pages ripped from children’s books (comics, funny, humor) (warning, offensive language)
    • Ha - re-captioned children's book illustrations. Ooo - it looks like someone doesn't like the White Stripes!
  • The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey (art, humor, literature, weird)
    • Time to learn the alphabet with Edward Gorey.
  • Be Your Own Hotspot - Popular Science (diy, geek, howto, technology, tools, wifi)
    • Not cheap, but you can carry a wifi hotspot everywhere you go. Just the solar backpack itself is cool.
  • Amabuddy - Comparison shopping by mobile phone (888) 937 4462 (shopping, music, tools, phone)
    • A map of how many people have died in Bush's wars so far, by hometown.
  • Palm Beach Post - U.S. service men, women who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan (iraq, maps, reference, war)
    • A map of ow many people have died in Bush's wars so far, by hometown.
  • Honda Grrr Game (flash, fun, game, viral)
    • Move the rabbit around to collect carrots. This game is hosted by Honda. I'm not sure why. But it's a strange enough flash game that it deserves inclusion in this week's links!
  • Language Is A Virus (writing, games)
    • Games, tools and information on writing and language. Hard for me to categorize, but if you like to think about language you should take some time and browse this site.
  • SparkNotes: Today's Most Popular Study Guides (education, free, literature, reading, reference)
    • OK - so it's probably part of the dumbing down of the world, but I appreciate these notes when I want to be reminded of what happened in a particular work of fiction.
  • Presidential Speechalist (bush, comedy, funny, humor, politics, video)
    • Andy Dick as the presidential speechwriter. Hilarious send up of Bush speechifying.
  • GMaps Pedometer (maps, google, tools, geography, measurement)
    • Track paths and measure their distances. Great for bike and running routes. This link takes you to an old bike route I used to follow as a kid.
Posted by James at 9:18 AM | Comments (13)

July 7, 2005

London Attack

I just wanted to post that my heart goes out to the victims of the attack in London, and to their friends and families.

I’m not going to say much more about it, because I believe that sensationalism and hand-wringing feeds the terrorists. But I do want to express my sorrow.

I think that, were I a Londoner, or were a terrorist attack to happen in my region, this would express my sentiments pretty accurately.

My message to them about Bush would be much the same.

…we’ve got news for you. We don’t much like our government ourselves, or what they do in our name. But, listen very clearly. We’ll deal with that ourselves. […] And we’re going to go about our lives. We’re going to take care of the lives you ruined. And then we’re going to work. And we’re going down the pub.

Screw off, terrorist assholes.You have failed to terrorize me.

Who else is with me?

Posted by James at 4:15 PM | Comments (5)

July 6, 2005

Don Doff

I know that by the time a fellow is 38 he probably should not be excited about stupid little language epiphanies like this. But I’m unusual, I know.

Chuck used the word “doff” in a recent post. It’s not a word you hear all that often, but not an unfamiliar word either. It means “to remove some article of clothing.” In his case, he was “doffing” his cap.

It made me think of another uncommon (archaic) but not unfamiliar word “don.” To wear an article of clothing. Before doffing his cap, Chuck had donned it at some point.

For the first time, I noticed that these two opposites both began with the letter “D.” I also noticed that if you remove the “D,” what remains are the words “on” and “off.”

That can’t be a coincidence. They look like contractions. It turns out that they are.

“Do” has an archaic meaning of “to put.” So “don” would mean “do on” or “put on.” “Doff” is the opposite.

It’s all obvious now, and perhaps you all have known this since you were 6 years old. But I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see these connections in the English language. I have no idea why I never saw “off” and “on” in those words. I guess it’s because I never put “don” and “doff” together before.

Posted by James at 11:41 AM | Comments (12)

July 5, 2005

Uncharitable Mood

This is an open comment to you folks who have voted for Bush in either or the last 2 elections. Especially those of you who consider yourselves to be moderate when it comes to social issues like abortion, labor laws, the rights of the arrested and accused… hell, all of your rights as an individual.

You helped put Bush into office. If the court goes horribly wrong (as it very well may), you deserve whatever you get. Your children and their children don’t deserve it, but they’re going to get it as well.

And so are we and our children.

Thanks.

Posted by James at 8:48 PM | Comments (13)

Newport Black Ships Festival

PICNIC!!!!! TAIKO DRUMS!!!!! JULY 17TH

That’s the plan. And you’re invited.

The 22nd Annual Black Ships Festival is coming to Newport: July 14-17, 2005

Read on for more details.

On the 17th, a Sunday, they host a more family-friendly version of their taiko drums festival. It’s here on the calendar of events. This year it’s being held at Noon at “Cardine’s Field.” When we went a few years ago it was at the armory. We were able to spread out a blanket, eat a picnic lunch and enjoy the drums.

If you’re interested, why not pack a lunch and come along and join us for some fun? Let me know that you’re interested and we’ll figure out how people are going to meet us. Watch this space, and I’ll be posting more information soon, like direction to Cardine’s field and anything else I can get out of the events office when I get a chance to call them.

C’mon - when do you get a chance to see real taiko drums performed in person?

Links:

Posted by James at 8:51 AM

Name That Movie 43

Instructions: see the clues, one by one. Guess what movie they are from. Comment. (Or for a bigger challenge, avoid the comments) Repeat.

On the day I post the images, I post them one at a time, with a delay in between. It’s for suspense and it gives the users a chance to play along with each other in the comments. If all the clues are already posted, then play at your own pace. Look for the answer in the comments.

9 clues in all today. Here we go!

Link to Clue 2

Link to Clue 3

Link to Clue 4

Link to Clue 5

Link to Clue 6

Link to Clue 7

Link to Clue 8

Link to Clue 9

That’s all of ‘em!

Posted by James at 8:49 AM | Comments (40)

July 3, 2005

Reglurgitate

To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.

To realize the value of FIVE MINUTES, think of how much time you waste every time you read one of these “inspirational” glurges.

Treasure every moment that you have! (i.e. Get a good spam filter and tell your friends and family to stop sending you saccharine platitudes.)

Yesterday is history because you spent all day cleaning up your mail.

Tomorrow it’s a mystery what sort of junk you’re going to find in your inbox.

Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present!!

Send this to 15 people who would probably much prefer an actual personal message.

Posted by James at 12:53 PM | Comments (11)

July 1, 2005

War of the Shotgun

  • Optical Illusions - Free Picture Illusions (science, fun, illusion)
    • Optical illuisons are like hacking your brain. Browse some of these well-known illusions.
  • RaidenX - Presented By Flash Player (flash, games, 80s)
    • It’s a flash tribute ot the Raiden games of yore. I love those purple powerups! Scroller/shooter.
  • rmccown.org - GeoGoogleCacheMaps ™ (geocaching, gps, geography, maps)
    • Bob’s making it easy for us to upload GPS data and see it superimposed on a Google map. This rocks the party. Use GPSBabel, if you need to, to get your GPS data into GPX file format. Then, upload your less-than-25k file up to his service. Voila! Currently works with track files… but more features are in the works.
  • mq.swf (animation, flash, funny, japanese)
    • What if Michael Jackson were trapped in a bunch of old video games? If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, the answer is now before you.
  • Brainpixels - Extracting Video from Cat Brains (science, video, blog, neurology)
    • Are they really making progress in the ability to “jack into” the brain of another being (that being being a cat at this point)? This blog entry claims we are.
  • Harris Cyclery Articles (repair, bicycle, howto, reference)
    • I catch ribbing around the office for not having my bicycle repaired (there is a bike shop down the street). But I have confessed to having a fear of admitting that I cannot fix my bike myself. I’m hoping that the copious articles on this site will help.
  • 2005 Newport Black Ships Festival (japanese, fun, recreation, summer)
    • The annual Japanese-American festival held in Newport, RI.
  • tetka.swf (wtf, flash, odd, funny)
    • Ever wonder what a human body would look like falling through a sky? Me neither. But this is just weird enough to add to the shotgun post.
  • How to Meditate (exercise, health, lifehacks, howto)
    • Meditation can help you become less connected to things. Wonder if it works with food cravings.
  • Penny Alcohol Stove (diy, howto, cooking, stove, camping)
    • This site describes how to make your own compact camp alcohol stove. Also, instructions on building a compact wood stove. I don’t camp anymore, but I love this stuff!
  • FoxIt PDF Reader : Lifehacker (firefox, free, software, tips)
    • FoxIt PDF reader for faster PDF reading. Also, some tips on speeding up Acrobat 6
  • wtfsticker.com (politics, humor)
    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrow. “W” is for whiskey.
Posted by James at 8:39 AM | Comments (7)