Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" - spoiler movie review

I really liked "Transformers", and the trailer for the sequel, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen", looked really good, so I was looking forward to seeing it. We've been to a few midnight screenings for movies in recent months, but we weren't quite as excited about this film so decided to pass on the midnight show and just see it opening weekend. That turned out to be a good decision.

I liked the film ok, but it wasn't nearly what I expected, and I did like the first film much better, even with the problems I encountered when I saw the first film. The first film was frenetic in parts, but mostly during the final battle sequence. When the bots are madly fighting each other, it's a little hard to tell who's fighting who. Well, in the case of the sequel, that was multiplied tenfold. I have issues with films that are too jarring, and they can induce nausea, which is no fun at all, so I usually have to manage that by not staring right at the action during those parts. Guess how much of this film I didn't watch/see because of that? And it REALLY didn't help when Michael Bay, the director, decided to dolly the camera around Megan Fox multiple times for seemingly no reason whatsoever, other than that she's hot, and she looks great with the sun behind her. OK, so just have her standing still, in front of the sun, tossing her hair seductively. Done.

The film seemed very disjointed to me, kind of schizophrenic, unable to decide what it wants to be and failing to mesh the disparate parts together. Much of the attempted humour - Sam's mom getting high on brownies and then behaving really oddly at his new college, the whole irony of who Sam's roommate is and his whole attitude, the "twin" Autobots who talked street - just fell flat and seemed forced to me.

The main plot itself, with the Decepticons looking for the magic source, and the prior battle eons ago that led to the sacrifice of all those Primes, was pretty cool. But the plot point that I objected to in the first film, when the head of the bad guys, Megatron, was killed? Well, they wiped that all away pretty handily with the magic bit of cube left over that they brought him back to life with. So, since Megatron was so easy to bring back to life, the "death" of Optimus Prime really lost its effect. Everyone in the movie, from Sam to the military folk to the Autobots, were all devastated at Optimus Prime's death. Me, not so much, because I knew he wasn't going to stay dead, that he was going to be brought back to life before the film was over. If it was that easy to bring back Megatron, it was going to be pretty much that easy to bring Optimus Prime back. Which made his death kind of meaningless. Which was a shame. In the first two films, they've killed both of the main characters in the fight between the Autobots and the Decepticons *AND* brought them both back to life. Isn't that pretty much playing all your cards too soon?

And I hadn't paid enough attention to the title of the film, but the trailing part very much echoes the second "Star Wars" film - "The Empire Strikes Back", and it's not just the titles that are similar. There were quite a number of scenes that really smacked of a Palpatine/Vader relationship.

One odd thing - in almost all of these kinds of film, at least to my memory, they refer to a "president", and sometimes, they actually show him or at least give him a name, but it's always some fake name. During the early parts of the movie, they only referred to the "president", but after the Fallen makes his broadcast, there's a line about how President Obama has been taken to a secure location. This is the first time I can think of where they used the actual real president's name. Weird.

The kitchen appliances gone bad was pretty funny though.

There is one thing I love about this movie, which I got from the trailer - it's got one of the best lines around, right up there with "No fate but what we make for ourselves." In this case, it's Optimus Prime's line - "Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing." Hmm, weird that the two lines are kind of related, huh?

But then that leads me another point I really didn't like. I don't profess to be all that knowledgeable about the Transformers toys and lexicon. I know they change from one thing to another. But I don't recall there being Transformers that were related to Terminators - the hot girl who goes after Sam (and yeah, that was telegraphed that there was something wonky about her, though I did find the scene funny when Bumblebee was playing songs while she was in the car, and then he whacked her into the dashboard - and wasn't it weird that she wasn't then bruised or bleeding or anything like a normal person?) turns out to be a Decepticon who's got this layer of skin and totally passes for a human, until it grows a tail/spine and has magic elastic tongue? Really? Really. No, sorry, doesn't work for me.at.all.

Shia LaBeouf was ok in this film. He still played it well, the boy who gets thrown into a situation he doesn't want to be in, and he ends up having to save the earth and mankind as we know it. I didn't watch the parts where the bots were probing his face and brain and such, even though I knew it wasn't really him. Oh, but I really enjoyed the scene when Sam tells Bumblebee that he can't come to college with him.

Megan Fox was ok, but I think she had a better part and more to do in the first film. She played on her looks and sex appeal in the first film, but they also showed the substance and fire underneath. It seemed like in this film, they focussed mostly on the sex appeal and neglected developing her character better. However, I did like when she captured the bot that was trying to get into the safe, and she beat the heck out of it and kept it captive, and then she ended up with her own pet Decepticon. Oh, well, Sam had his pet Autobot, so she can have a pet Decepticon. But, Bumblebee never tried to have sex with Sam. She screamed "Saaaaaaaaam" a lot during this movie.

Josh Duhamel was ok in this film, but I'd like to see him in a film where he has a bit more to do. I think he's capable of it - we just need to see it. I did like him in the scene with the asshole rep from the White House, when he's showing him how the parachute works and the guy pulls the plug too soon.

I will admit that I don't remember John Turturro from the first film. But, I did only end up seeing it once, and that was two years ago. I enjoyed him in this film quite a bit, probably the best thing about the film. I loved his delivery of the line about chasing after these alien creatures for years, and Mikaela (Megan Fox) had one in her purse. Speaking of which, how in the heck did she get the bot through the airport scan in her checked luggage?

Still love Glenn Morshower, though I didn't realize they were using his actual last name. "Aaron" kicks butt wherever he is, even if Jack Bauer isn't around.

I've wanted to see "Terminator Salvation" again anyway, but seeing this film just makes me want to see that film even more.

Monday, June 29, 2009

little yappy dogs do appear to have SOME purpose

I am not a fan of chihuahuas. I don't find them to be cute, they have annoying little barks, and people for whatever reason seem to like to make weird movies with them.

But, I've been alerted to a few instances when chihuahuas actually served some useful purpose.

This story out of Oregon tells the tale of one chihuahua who saved another chihuahua from a cougar.

This story is more local, from Riverside, where chihuashuas trapped a mountain lion. Or a cougar. The link and the headline say "cougar", but the story itself says "mountain lion". I don't think cougar and mountain lion is the same thing, is it?

In any case, tiny little yappy dogs besting much bigger cats aside, I'm still not that fond of chihuahuas.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

ok, yeah, so I follow a cat on Twitter

A little over a month ago, I happened upon this article about a cat that is on Twitter. OK, yeah, so it's not actually Socks, the cat itself (duh), it's the owner channeling the cat through the tweets. I mentioned this to a couple of friends over the weekend, who were amused by this. I find the tweets to be funny, especially as someone who has a cat, so what the heck.

Here's an example of some of the tweets I particularly liked.


I'LL BE TAKING MY DINNER UNDER THE DINING ROOM TABLE CANOPY THIS EVENING hey come back here oh well usual eating place it is trot trot


SO WHAT EXACTLY IS INSIDE THIS CORD must gnaw to determine what's inside GNAW GNAW GNAW REVEAL YOUR SECRETS CORD other than you're chewy

SAD TO SAY I AM NOT CURRENTLY A TWITTER VERIFIED ACCOUNT but watch this nobody knocks over the one expensive thing like I can SEE IT'S ME


spending the day at key information gathering location under coffee table AM HAPPY TO REPORT THERE ARE FEET AND LOTS OF THEM


GAHHHHHHH no matter how long I stare at that rabbit it stares back MOVING HEAD no difference HOW DOES IT DO IT what do you mean it's stone

flat cat on stairs NONE SHALL PASS woah you walked right over me had no idea that was even possible OH WELL zzzzzzzzz



There's something called the Socks Army that APPARENTLY does some good stuff, but I haven't cared enough to find out more about it. I just think Socks is funny.

And no, in case you were wondering, Orkid will not be getting her own Twitter account nor will she be allowed to exchange emails with any other kitties who would have the ability to teach her how to open doors and cabinets and such.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

more purse talk

So, Vera Bradley released three new patterns and four new styles recently.

The Carnaby (middle) is a little bright for my taste, and while the Pirouette (right) almost looks like Pink Elephants at first glance, it doesn't appeal to me either.

But I really like Blue Rhapsody.

Here's a little swatch of what the color looks more like. The Blue Rhapsody purse in the first picture is at an angle.

And I'm really liking the new Saddle Up style, so I might be needing that in the new Blue Rhapsody pattern.

Isn't this cute?

That would be another nice "going out" purse to add to my collection.

Friday, June 26, 2009

of showers and pigs

So I was browsing ThinkGeek the other day, and I ran across this shower curtain and bathmat set.

This would seriously freak me out. I'd be stumbling into the bathroom in the middle of the night and turn the lights on and then probably scream my guts out at the sight of the shower curtain and bathmat. And you know that would happen every.single.time. And can you imagine if we put that in the guest bathroom, and some poor unsuspecting person staying the night encountered that and thought someone had been slaughtered? Interesting idea, but not for me.

And speaking of slaughtering, lots of people like bacon. It's pretty yummy, and it goes well in a lot of dishes. But bacon doesn't go well with everything. For instance, bacon ice cream would be pretty gross. Bacon gumballs might not be *quite* as bad as bacon ice cream, but I think it's in the same neighborhood.

I've been told that chocolate covered bacon is pretty good. I'm not sure I'm on board with that either, though I *might* be able to be convinced to try it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I'm just saying

And I'm not going to be saying much more. I'm just going to link to this story about alleged voter fraud. I could say a lot about it. A WHOLE LOT. But I think the story speaks for itself.

And in case the article becomes unreadable unless you register, I'm duplicating the story below.

Veteran Latino-rights advocate charged with voter fraud
7:09 AM | June 25, 2009
Felony charges have been filed and an arrest warrant issued for a well-known Orange County political activist suspected of committing election and voter registration fraud, the California secretary of State's office announced Wednesday.

Investigators in the agency's election-fraud unit said Nativo V. Lopez, 57, of Santa Ana leased office space in Boyle Heights and registered to vote using that address although he lived with his family in Orange County. They also say Lopez, president of the Mexican American Political Assn., cast an illegal ballot in L.A. in the 2008 presidential primary.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which is working with the secretary of State, charged Lopez with four felonies: fraudulent voter registration, fraudulent document filing, perjury and fraudulent voting. A warrant was issued for his arrest and bail was set at $10,000. The offenses carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Lopez is a longtime Latino political-rights advocate in Orange County who served on the Santa Ana school board. Lopez has been a vocal advocate for Latino voting rights and supported immigrant amnesty and allowing undocumented workers to have driver's licenses. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

In 1997, the Orange County district attorney opened a criminal investigation into allegations that a group in which Lopez was a leader registered some clients to vote before they took the oath of citizenship. No criminal charges were brought, and Lopez demanded an apology from critics.

-- Dan Weikel and Shelby Grad

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"I Survived a Japanese Game Show" - June 24, 2009 episode

Nothing really in the way of culture experiences or acclimation to the new country in this show either - it was all about the challenges.

The Red Robots were pretty bummed about having lost both challenges in the last show, so they were raring to beat the Green Tigers.

The first challenge was called "Party In My Pants". Each of the teams had to be inside a giant pair of pants. 8 cannons fired tennis balls at them (and I mean "fired" - those balls were whizzing), and they each had plastic grabber arms (the kind where you close your hands into a fist and it makes the pincer at the end close and grab), and they had to pick up tennis balls and put them in the pants. Each team had 3 minutes, and whoever had the most tennis balls in their pants at the end won. The teams were kind of tethered to the middle, so they could really only move around so much.

Each team took their turn, and many of them were pelted with the whizzing balls.

At the end, there was the count:

Red Robots - 102 balls
Green Tigers - 104 balls

The Green Tigers won by 2 balls. They had beat the Red Robots in the very first challenge this season by just 1 bento box. The Green Tigers were very happy, and as expected, the Green Tigers were dejected, especially being on the wrong end of a close game again.

For winning the challenge, the Green Tigers won an advantage for the next game - which started immediately.

Both teams were dressed as ballerinas, in hot pink body suits and tulle tutus in the color of their team. The Red Robots were now really mad at having lost 3 times in a row and were really wanting a win.

Before the game started, Judge Bob came out dressed in a golf suit. He said that it was his birthday, so he was dressed in his birthday suit. Rome said that wasn't what a birthday suit was and promptly stripped Bob until he was down to his boxers, which he refused to let Rome pull down.

The challenge was called "Somebody Put Clothes on Bob". The goal was to dress a mannequin Bob. 5 articles of clothing were hidden in an area covered with flour. The items were a hat, tie, vest, shirt and pants. Each team member had to dig around the flour and look for a bag which would contain an article of clothing and then run up a conveyor belt going the other direction and dress mannequin Bob while running in place. However, there were other articles of clothing in the mix that didn't count. Each team member took their turn, and when they'd found an article and put it on Bob, they would tag out and another team member could tag in to search for another article of clothing. If someone fell on the conveyor belt, though, they were automatically out and had to tag out. Whoever got Bob all dressed first won the game.

The Green Tigers' advantage from having won the first game was a 5 second head start.

Each team member went through the challenge, and sometimes, they had trouble finding a bag, and sometimes, they found articles of clothing (like a bra) that didn't count. They put the articles of clothing on Bob as they were found, but that meant that if a tie was found first, that was put on, and then a vest was found, and then the tie had to be moved but not dropped while the vest was put on.

The Green Tigers had a lead, partly because of their head start, but then the Red Robots caught up. They were mostly tied for a while, but then the Green Tigers pulled ahead because a few of the Red Robots team members fell on the conveyor belt. The last item for the Green Tigers was the shirt, which Debbie found, so she had to make her way up the conveyor belt and stay steadily there, take off the vest and tie without dropping them, put the shirt on mannequin Bob and then put the vest and tie correctly back on mannequin Bob. She did a great job, leading the Green Tigers to a 5-3 win over the Red Robots. Yeah, the Green Tigers had the 5 second head start, but 5 seconds really wasn't that much, and they beat the Red Robots handily.

The Green Tigers were thrilled about their win and even more thrilled about their prize - they were going to visit the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium as the VIP guests of the Yomiuri Giants, and one of them would even be able to throw out the first pitch.

The demoralized Red Robots were even more depressed to hear about their punishment. It was also sports related, but nowhere close to what the Green Tigers would be experiencing. They were going to go to the largest driving range, and they'd be put to work.

The Green Tigers were taken to the stadium and were on the field during batting practice. When it came time to decide which of them would actually be throwing out the first ball, they didn't hesitate and picked Debbie because of her stellar performance in the last challenge. Before the game, they were all on the field and put on the giant jumbotrons, and Debbie didn't do particularly well with her pitch, but the crowd was supportive anyway. They all had a great time.

Meanwhile, the Red Robots arrived at the driving range, Lotte Kasai Golf, which had three levels of golfers hitting golf balls. 2 of the team members were put in a kind of enclosed mesh tent, and they went onto the driving range to round up the balls that were hit there. And yeah, their bright orange vests pretty much made them moving targets. 2 other team members were given the task of cleaning golf clubs, and the 5th person was given the task of cleaning the little mirror at each station that allowed the golfers to watch their own form while they swung a club. He had to ask each golfer in Japanese if he could clean the mirror, and of course, he would periodically mangle the Japanese, asking either inane questions or sometimes making lewd offers.

The Red Robots made it back to the studio first, and then when the Green Tigers arrived, they were still eating hot dogs from the stadium and kind of flaunting it at the Red Robots, which pretty much pissed them off.

It was then time for the Red Robots to choose two players for the elimination game. They decided to choose the two people who did poorly in the last challenge, which were Yari and Dan, who had both fallen on the conveyor.

The elimination challenge was called "Lotion, Lotion, What's the Commotion". Each contestant had to make their way through an obstacle course while lubed up with some kind of slippery liquid. They had to carry a torch thing through the course, and first up was climbing some mountains, then they had to carry an egg on their helmet and transport it intact from one point to another, and then they went through a lotion bath, and then they had to make their way over 6 sumo wrestlers lying side by side (that part was really weird), then they traded their torch in for a medal and had to make their way back in the other direction, minus the egg bit on the return round.

Yari went first, and she fell a lot, and it looked like she'd be very bruised from all the falling. Her trip over the sumo wrestlers was quite interesting, as she was grabbing them in places she probably shouldn't have, and she would often have her face right in their crotch areas. Her time to complete the course was 5:33.

Next up was Dan, who was quite tall and so tried to lower his center of gravity, and during the egg part, he was moving v.e.r.y. s.l.o.w.l.y., but then he pretty much raced through the rest of the course. He slid over the bodies of the sumo wrestlers (kind of swimming over them, though he did kick one in the face, it looked like). His time to complete the course was 2:36.

So, Yari lost in her second time in the elimination round. I kind of liked her, though her accent really bothered me, so I wasn't too sad to see her go. Bye bye, Yari. Great effort.

Yari Agramonte
Loud, outgoing and opinionated, this spunky Latina is the center of attention wherever she goes. This energizer meets Rosie Perez can't hold back on her emotions and will give it to you straight whether you want it or not, both in English and in Spanish! She's a little spark plug who brings her can-do attitude to everything she does, especially the games. This girl from the Bronx knows what she wants, will stop at nothing to get it, and she'll have the time of her life on the way to reaching her goals.
Age: 22
Hometown: Yarmouth Port, MA
Occupation: Accounting Clerk

The husband pointed out that one person from last season didn't come back this year - Tony. He was the dude who would periodically show up at the house to tell the contestants things, and he would make appearances when they went to their rewards and stuff, but that's all he really did. We kept wondering what was the point of him being there. I guess other people wondered that as well, because he's not around this season.

The preview for next week's episode looks pretty good - that human version of "Whack-a-Mole" looks awesome!

Hai, Majide!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Orkid's hammock

When we first decided to get a cat, the husband decided that we should get one of those automatic litter boxes. It has a sensor that triggers when the cat goes inside, and after a set amount of minutes, the rake triggers. That way, you don't have to clean out the litter box as much as with a regular litter box. The device works out really well, and Orkid is fine with it, which is good. I've heard that some cats are too scared by it and won't go near it, so it's no use. She was kind of suspicious at first, but at this point, we think she's figured out what it does, because sometimes, she'll just go inside and come right back out, and then once it has raked, she'll then go back in and do her business.

Yeah, I know, peculiar cat.

Anyway, we decided to get a privacy tent for her litter box, and the other really useful thing about it is that Orkid has never given up her habit of flinging litter when she's trying to cover up, so having the tent keeps most of the litter contained to some degree. It's a kind of zippered canvas/plastic tent that has a frame inside that fits around the entire litter box, and there's a flap in front for her to walk through.

Well, the tent now has a use that I don't think the makers ever dreamed of. The litter box is near my computer, and Orkid likes to just hang out on top of the tent sometimes, like she's relaxing in an outdoor hammock underneath some shade trees. She'll roll around, almost like she's enjoying catnip, or she'll take a bath or just hang out or take a nap.

Here's Orkid relaxing in her hammock.

Sometimes, she jumps up there with her full force, which I don't think it's built to take, at least not for any length of time. The frame was made of some material that was starting to wilt under the weight of her repeated leaping up there, so the husband actually remade the frame with pvc material so that it holds up better. The tent itself is fraying a bit, but I think it'll last for a while longer, and we actually bought another as backup for when this one eventually crumbles.

Yeah, it's been many years since the last time I had a cat, but I tell you, Orkid does some things that my cats *never* did.

Monday, June 22, 2009

f'ing with the classics

I know that it's common for Hollywood to do remakes.

They do big-screen remakes of television shows, like "Bewitched" (never saw the movie, heard it was awful), "S.W.A.T." (saw the movie, hated it), "Miami Vice" (saw the movie, hated it) and "Land of the Lost" (didn't see it).

They also do big-screen remakes of previous movies, like "Psycho" (never actually seen all of the original, didn't see the remake - didn't see the point), "Sabrina" (never saw the original, liked the remake) and "Halloween" (liked the original though didn't see it until much after its release and don't plan to see remake).

But there are some movies that are just so classic, so iconic, so perfect, that they should be untouchable, never to be messed with by new hands. And now, they're daring to do a remake of such a classic, to try to make lightning strike twice in the same spot. Impossible!

Are they remaking "Gone with the Wind"? "Birth of a Nation"? "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"? No. Worse.

They're remaking "Fame".

"Fame" was an amazing movie. It was based on the real-life performing arts high school in New York, and it allowed the rest of us to see what it was like. That cafeteria scene. Remarkable. The street scene with Bruno's music blaring? Incredible. And how awesome was the scene of Doris coming into her own during "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"?

You had Coco and Leroy and Bruno and the other students and the teachers and other faculty.

Irene Cara was Coco, the confident, talented singer/dancer/actress who knew she was going somewhere. But it was heartbreaking to watch her sing on camera as she took her clothes off, hoping this was going to be her big break. Irene Cara made a name for herself for a while, partly as a singer.

Gene Anthony Ray was Leroy, the foul-mouthed street punk who had an attitude unsurpassed by anyone, but he could also dance his ass off. His relationship with teacher Mrs. Sherwood (played by Anne Meara) was incredible to watch. Different worlds, on a collision course.

And then there was Lee Curreri as Bruno - Bruno was my favorite. I had such the crush on him. Yeah, ok, he's quiet, and he doesn't have the greatest singing voice, but he was shy and a hell of a musician and composer.

And Paul McCrane as "I'm afraid to come out of the closet" Montgomery. Who knew that skinny little nervous kid was going to grow up to be the asshole head administrator of a giant Chicago hospital, not to mention Jack Bauer's evil brother?

Albert Hague played Shorofsky, the music teacher. I would have loved to have had him as a music teacher. Maybe I might have been inspired to be more musically inclined.

Oh, yeah, and Debbie Allen was the dance teacher.

Perfection. The final concert at graduation. Spectacular.

The movie was so great, they even made a TV show out of it. OK, the TV show wasn't quite as good, though Bruno was still in it, and I did like Erica Gimpel as the new Coco, though I don't think I saw her in anything else other than a few episodes of "E.R."

But later this year, they're going to release a remake of the movie.

This is the trailer that I saw when I was at the movies yesterday. I will admit that the singer (I'm told it's Naturi Naughton) does a good job with the song. But I can't do it.

It looks like they've changed the names around, so it's not technically a remake, but I guess a modern day re-telling. Whatever. I don't care. Yeah, kids are still graduating from that high school. But it won't be the same.

Debbie Allen plays the principal in the new movie. She was relevant in the 80s. She hasn't been relevant in a really long time. I hope she's not choreographing the new movie though. Once upon a time, she was a damned good choreographer. But that was a really long time ago too.

I know some people will be interested in the new movie. But me? I'll be hangin' with Coco and Leroy and Bruno.

The Oscar-nominated song "Out Here On My Own".

The Oscar-winning Best Original Song "Fame".

Sunday, June 21, 2009

not quite Oscar and Felix, but a whole lot cuter

I found out about this cute story from a mailing list I'm on. No species-related prejudice going on here! Watch through to the end - it'll be worth it.

Watch CBS Videos Online

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Darth Kitty

A tweet from the Star Wars twitter feed came through a couple days ago with a link to this picture.

It's really cute, but poor kitty. I'm mostly just amazed that the cat let them put this outfit on. I think Orkid would have torn us to shreds had we tried.

Here's the link with the picture.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pixar's "Up" is going to make you cry one way or the other

OK, I haven't gotten around to posting a review of Disney/Pixar's recent animated movie "Up" yet, but I will say that while many people have reported being in tears while watching the movie, it didn't have that effect on me, which was actually surprising to me.

But, I saw a link to a story on a discussion board, and this story did bring me to tears.

A girl dying of cancer had a last wish - she wanted to live long enough to see "Up". And while she was too sick to even go to a theatre, Pixar granted her wish.

You're gonna wanna have a box of tissue nearby.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

"I Survived a Japanese Game Show" - June 17, 2009 - second season premiere

The second season of this great show is back, with Majide host Rome, Judge Bob and Mama-san all returning.

This season is a bit different from last season because people already know about the show, so whereas last season, people had no idea what they were signing up for or that they'd be whisked to Japan, the people who applied for this show knew *exactly* what they were getting themselves into.

There was footage of Rome showing up at people's houses and work and events and such to let them know they'd been selected, after which they were IMMEDIATELY taken to Japan.

There were twelve contestants divided up into two teams.

The Green Tigers consisted of Bobaloo, Megan, Debbie, Brent, Cathy and Linda.

The Red Robots (or red monkey spaceman dude, which is what I originally called him) consisted of Drew, Justin, Dan, Yari, Jamie and Kimberly.

Last season, there was this whole thing about the contestants showing up in Japan and being weirded out and scared by the new culture and food and all the exotic stuff and being totally confused and surprised about being thrown in this weird Japanese game show. None of that at all this time - they went immediately to the first challenge.

All the contestants got dressed in these little bunny costumes - pink bodysuit, bunny ears, bunny nose and fluffy tail. The game was called "Rabbit Fire". Each of the contestants had to carry a stack of bento boxes (they looked like styrofoam, though, instead of the plastic or lacquer that I'm normally used to seeing - maybe they thought styrofoam would be harder to carry since they don't stack as well and would slip more easily) and then walk over this little ledge thing to the other side. Whichever team got the most bento boxes over in the time allotted won. The catch was that members of the other team were shooting balls at them, and with velcro on their suits, they sometimes would catch the balls, making maneuvering more difficult. The balls could also be shot at the bento boxes themselves, knocking them off. There were also a couple of walls that they could hide behind periodically.

The Red Robots went first, and some did really well and some not so much. Some of them learned to face away from the direction that the balls were coming so they could use their backs as a shield against the balls being shot at them. Others had a hard time balancing the bento boxes.

Next up were the Green Tigers, who had their own problems as well. One of the team members (I think it was Bobaloo) fell into the foamy liquid with all his boxes.

The "Rabbit Fire" playing field.

Some contestants carrying bento boxes.

Contestants shooting balls at bento-box-carrying contestants. Nice outfits, huh?

When both sides had gone, it was time for the tally. The Red Robots had 57 boxes. And the Green Tigers had 58 boxes, beating the Red Robots by just one box. The Green Tigers rejoiced in their win, but the Red Robots were sore losers, even claiming that it wasn't really a win because it was only one box, and one box wasn't a reason to celebrate. Ummm, it doesn't matter how much you win by - it just matters that you win.

For winning, the Green Tigers won an advantage in the second game, which is the elimination round, but they weren't going to be told what the advantage was until then.

The contestants were then allowed to go to the house they'd be staying in, and it turned out that the house was right across the street from the studio. I remember last year they always had to take a bus back and forth, so they must have built a house right nearby or something? Mama-san greeted them nicely, and they were all so happy to see her. That was weird, because as I recall, she was pretty stern at the beginning last year, and it kind of freaked out the contestants then.

The next day, they walked back to the studio and were told to wear colored spandex outfits. The game was called "Wheel of Human Torpedoes". 4 members from each team would participate. There was a spinning disc, and one person would sit in the middle and three would be laying down and holding on. The person in the middle was the shooter, and the three people laying down were the torpedoes. After they'd been spinning for a while, the shooter could then release one of the torpedoes, with the goal being to knock down one of the stacks of cans nearby. They got credit for each can that was knocked over and into the trough of flour. The dizzy torpedo then had to run to hit a button, signaling that the next torpedo could be released.

The Red Robots went first again. After the first torpedo was released, the person was trying to get to the button, but the shooter released the next torpedo before the button was hit, so the cans that went down into the trough (and there were quite a few of them) didn't count. The shooter later complained that the audience was so loud that he couldn't hear the buzzer on the button. The Red Robots ended up with 5 cans.

The Green Tigers were up next, and Bobaloo wanted to be the shooter to make up for peforming badly in the last contest. The advantage that the Green Tigers had won from the last challenge was that they could have one extra torpedo, if they needed it. Bobaloo did ok with the first torpedo, getting 3 cans, and the rest of the team members would shout at him to wait, and then when the button was hit, they'd shout at him to release the next one, to make sure he didn't release too early. He couldn't see with the disc spinning and really just saw a blur, so his second torpedo ended up not hitting any of the cans. With his third torpedo, though, he managed to get quite a number of cans, so the Green Tigers ended up winning the contest with 8 cans, and they didn't even need to use their extra torpedo.

For winning, the Green Tigers were treated to a trip to the base of Mount Fuji. They were flown by helicopter and dropped off and were able to watch the sunset over Mount Fuji while they had a feast of food and a good time.

The punishment for the losing Red Robots team was to clean one of the subway stations. Kimberly had already been prissy and annoying and completely self-involved anyway, but she became even worse when she found out she was supposed to be cleaning. She refused to do it, so they eventually let her run one of the cleaning machines, which angered Yari, who had to clean with a rag, like most of the rest of the team. They were also really irritated by Kimberly's complaining and overall attitude.

When it came time for the Red Robots to decide who would go to the elimination round, I was surprised they didn't pick the shooter from the day before who'd released the second torpedo early. That had been a major reason for losing that challenge. Instead, they picked Kimberly because she's an irritating bitch (ok, my description, not theirs) and they also picked Yari because they thought she would be weak in challenges.

Kimberly and Yari dressed in spider outfits, and the name of the challenge was "Big Spider Yanky Danky". Yeah, I have no idea what that means either. Each of them had to pop balloons to look for butterfly bodies and wings. They were different colored bug parts, and then they had to put the part on the correct colored butterfly, which was up an incline. They were also tied to a bungee cord which would randomly yank them back down.

Yari went first, and she was yanked hard by the bungee on a number of occasions, which was exhausting for her. She eventually ended up with 12 body parts.

Then it was Kimberly's turn, and Ms. Ex-Junior-Olympian came flying out of the gate. Her teammates really wanted her to lose because they wanted her gone, but they were afraid that because of her height and build and background, she was the favorite to win the challenge. Eventually, though, Kimberly tired as well, to the point where she laid down before her time was up. She also ended up with 12 body parts.

So Kimberly and Yari were tied. The tie-breaker was decided by whichever one of them had the most completed butterflies, meaning the same color of body and wings. And the winner was Yari! Yes, the husband and I cheered along with the rest of the Red Robots.

The Sayonara guys were back (I *love* them!), and they carried Kimberly out. Bye bye, bitch.

Kimberly Whittaker
Outgoing, outspoken and hardworking, this beautiful former pageant queen and Junior Olympian is in a league of her own and knows it. Standing six feet tall with a size 24 waist, Kimberly is definitely a looker and attention grabber. A go-getter, she knows what she wants and won't stop until she gets it; you don't want to be the one to stand in her way, or you'll get the wrath of Kimberly. The first to admit that she's a diva, Kimberly will tell you exactly what's on her mind and doesn't care about hurting someone's feelings.
Age: 25
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Occupation: Elementary School Teacher

I enjoyed this episode, and I'm glad they're back, but I do hope they include some of the culture stuff too, because I thought it was generally interesting, except for some of the "stupid Americans" stuff.

Hai, Majide!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

L.A. is purple today

Today is the day of the parade to celebrate the Los Angeles Lakers winning the 2009 NBA championship. The parade will start at Staples Center and travel to the Coliseum, where there will then be some sort of rally/celebration thing. Here's the parade route and more information about the Coliseum celebration. I'm a Lakers fan but not enough so to actually attend parades and such. (OK, I'll admit that multiple years ago, during another of the Lakers' NBA wins, a friend at the time was a Lakers fan too, but she was mostly starstruck, and she heard about some celebration party thing where it was rumoured that some of the players might show up. Ummm, yeah. But she wanted to go, and she didn't want to go alone, and she BEGGED me to go with her, so I agreed. It was mostly a bust, as I expected. I think we saw one player, though I can't remember who it was - I just remember he was black and very tall. Does that narrow it down? But I digress...) But I have a good friend who is a huge fan, so I'm looking forward to reading/hearing about her adventures today.

As you'd expect, the marquees for the Staples Center are displaying congratulations to the Lakers on their win. On Monday, the congrats were on screen round-the-clock. On Tuesday, they'd gone back to rotating through their schedule of upcoming shows, with the congratulations inserted in the rotation. I managed to get a couple of pictures, and I couldn't decide which one I like better, so I'm just putting up both of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

at least she wasn't labeled to be sent to Abu Dhabi

This is a little eight-week-old kitten. Isn't she cute? But what if you couldn't keep her? Or you didn't want her? And you wanted to send her to someone else who would want her? How would you do it? Would you mail her?

OK, I don't know if that's what happened, but here's the story of the little kitten, who was dropped in a mailbox.

How mean is that? Poor little kitty, stuffed into a hole and then dropped a few feet into a dark box with other people tossing stuff in after her, with the potential to hurt her. OK, so you don't want the kitten or can't keep her or whatever. But a mailbox?

Monday, June 15, 2009

"earth" - spoiler movie review and link to El Capitan Theatre experience

There were quite a number of Disney films in the first half of this year that I wanted to see at the El Capitan Theatre, and among those films was "earth", the first release from Disney's nature documentary division called Disneynature.

It probably doesn't come as a surprise that I really loved this movie. I like nature stuff anyway, but the cinematography was breathtaking, and it was absolutely gorgeous on the big screen.

The advertising for the film was a little misleading, though, in that it said the movie was about three families that they followed for a year - polar bears, elephants and humpback whales. Well, they did follow one of each of those families, but that was really only a portion of the film. They showed a lot of other animals as well, which was really nice.

I wasn't too keen on the "beat you over the head to get you to believe that the Earth is experiencing catastrophic global warming" message, but it didn't go on too long, so I could overlook it for the most part.

However, I was really unhappy with the story they fabricated from the polar bear family. There was a mother and two cubs that they showed for the most part, and then they showed the father, and he was in trouble and ended up leaving the family, and the implication is that the changing global climate somehow contributed to his demise and his cubs having lost a father. First of all, there was no indication to me that the male polar bear being shown was the father of the two cubs with the mother. It could have been just some random male polar bear. Second, even if that was their father, male polar bears do not stay with their young anyway - the mother doesn't allow it. A mother polar bear is *very* protective of her young, from everyone, and she will chase males away for fear that they will hurt her young, and that includes their father since they don't have any kind of familial relationship. This is that whole "why a documentary is rarely ever a documentary" opinion that I hold which would be better suited for another post if anyone is interested and if I ever actually feel like going into it.

I did notice that they are very careful about not showing kill scenes when it comes to the animals. There are several instances where chases are shown, in slow motion to marvel at the situation itself, but while the prey is shown being caught, they cut away before any violence is done. The only exception to that is when a great white shark is shown with half a sea lion hanging out of its mouth, but I'm not sure kids would realize it's a sea lion from the parts you can see. There's no blood, but it's pretty terrifying to watch that giant great white leap completely out of the air. Someone is going to seriously need a bigger boat.

I did enjoy that during the end credits of the film, they pretty much showed "bloopers" of the cameramen who were responsible for the amazing footage in the film. Some of the mishaps were fairly amusing, but you seriously could not pay me enough to do any of that. I'm much happier in my comfy theatre seat.

My understanding is that some of the footage in the film comes from the documentary television series "Planet Earth", but I've not seen that show myself.

The U.S. release of the film is narrated by James Earl Jones, who I enjoyed, but the original version which was released internationally was narrated by Patrick Stewart, who I think would be wonderful as well. I hope both versions are put on the DVD when it's released.

Disneynature's next release is "Oceans", and it was recently announced that they are also working on a film about chimpanzees and another about African cats. I'm definitely on board for anything Disneynature decides to produce and release - unless it's about reptiles, in which case, I'm out.

To read about the experience of watching this film at the El Capitan Theatre, including pictures of the outside mural and marquee and from the live stage show with real animals, click here.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

good day

Today technically started with a trip on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland. We had dinner with friends at Downtown Disney last night, and then some of us went into Disneyland after dinner. We rode Peter Pan and then Big Thunder, with some interesting but unexpected fun in between, and then we got in line for Indy just before midnight. By the time we were done with the ride, it was after midnight, so the day started right in the middle of the ride.

This afternoon, I got to see Rockapella, and then this evening, I saw a second show of Rockapella. Both were great and fun and funny and just hysterical.

And then, to top it off, the Los Angeles Lakers won game five of the NBA finals, beating the Orlando Magic fairly handily, it seemed, to win the NBA championship.

Then, we had a late dinner with a couple of friends.

A very good day indeed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


So I got a new phone today, and I was testing out the TwitPic app. OK, really, the husband was testing it for me. He went to go take a picture of Orkid with my new phone, and instead of finding her in her new favorite place to nap (in the little space behind the door of the guest room), he instead found her on our bed. So I had him take a picture of her anyway. We sent the picture through to TwitPic, and it worked fine, which means that I will now have to restrain myself from annoying those who follow me with picture after picture of things they don't care about. But, I thought the picture of Orkid was so cute that those who follow me on Twitter shouldn't be the only ones to see it.

Here she is.

That picture is now also the wallpaper for my new phone.

Isn't she the cutest thing?

Friday, June 12, 2009

magical memories - Who are all those people at the bus stop?

My senior year in high school, one of the classes I took was AP Calculus. I liked the teacher, and I liked the class ok - I was pretty good at math even though I wasn't particularly interested in it. A lot of the people in the larger group that I hung out with was in that class, so that made it even nicer. Even better is that when you're viewed as one of the "smart" kids, they also tend to think you're going to be better behaved, and so authority figures tended to be a little more lenient with us.

Substitute teachers particularly liked our AP classes because they pretty much had a free ride for that period. One day, later in the school year, our regular calculus teacher was out that day, so we had a sub. He took roll call and then looked at us and asked if we all had work to occupy us, and we said yes, and he went and sat at his desk all day, leaving us alone. Most of us worked on a calculus assignment, as well as helping each other when we'd be stuck on a particular problem or concept. I think some people worked on homework from other classes, and some people probably goofed off. As long as we never got too loud, it wasn't an issue with our sub.

At one point, and I don't know how or why it had happened, I noticed that one of the guys, Tim, was at the chalkboard, and he was drawing. I'd look up periodically at his progress, and it was just really cool. Eventually, we were all looking to see what else he'd add to it, and at one point, a bunch of us mentioned that this really needed to be documented. Somehow, someone figured out that people from the yearbook staff were wandering the halls taking candid pictures, so they got them to come into our classroom and take a picture of what Tim had drawn, and the picture did end up in the candid pictures section of the annual.

Click on the picture for a larger version.
I think Tim started with one of the people who ended up being in the middle of the line of people waiting at the bus stop. I think it's funny that he ended up drawing one of the people around the break in the chalkboard. I think that once he had the line of people, he then added the "bus stop" sign and then started drawing the bus pulling up.

Tangent - The only time I really use "yearbook" is when I'm referring to the staff, not the book itself. We always called it an "annual", instead of a yearbook, as in "do you know when the annuals are arriving?" or "will you sign my annual?" or "how awful was so-and-so's picture in the annual?" However, I used the term "annual" recently to someone when referring to the yearbook, and they looked at me like I'd sprouted three heads. I think I used that term in junior high school and high school, so maybe it's a regional thing? Or just something that was used in my neighborhood?

Anyway, Tim was the same age as me, and we ended up in a lot of the same classes and activities together. We were also in AP English together, and while I enjoyed the story of "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", I had a really difficult time reading it because it was written phonetically. At one point in our class, the teacher had us move all of our chairs into a big circle because it made discussion easier since we could all see each other, and then she picked different people to read passages as well. Tim was chosen one time, and he read with the perfect accent, and whereas I had trouble reading the words written to show the accent, I had no problem understanding him at all, so I really enjoyed experiencing the events of the story through his reading without having to struggle through the words myself.

Given that, it may not come as a surprise that Tim was also involved in Drama Club, as was I. In our junior year in high school, we were in two plays together, the regular school play ("Time Out For Ginger") and the annual performances of "A Christmas Carol".

Tangent - In "Time Out For Ginger", I played Jeannie, the middle daughter. People laughed and joked that mom must have been having affairs with the milkman and mailman because the girls who played the three daughters were all of a different nationality. There were a lot of things that went wrong during the course of rehearsal, but it was fun, and all in all, the performances turned out really well.

Back on topic - Tim did such a good job as Ebenezer Scrooge junior year that he also played Scrooge in our senior year, when he and I co-directed the play. I wasn't supposed to be in it, just co-direct, but someone dropped out really close to the performance date, so I think I ended up filling in for a bit part. Tim was really good at improvising, which ended up coming in really handy for one of the performances senior year. We had several different performances scheduled, some for the other students during the daytime as well as a few nighttime performances for friends and family and the public. During one of the daytime performances, the girl playing Scrooge's sister came out on stage and delivered her lines like she was supposed to, but then instead of leaving the stage, she just stood there. I was backstage trying to figure out how to get her offstage without making it really obvious, but Tim, in character as Scrooge, walked over to her and said something like, "Oh, how I loved my dear little sister, too bad she has to go", and gently ushered her offstage. Brilliant!

Senior year, I was the director for the Talent Show, and Tim ended up being the emcee (no surprise there either, huh?), so we worked together on that as well.

Tim and I weren't friends in the sense that we hung out together that much out of school, but we got to know each other some because of all the school-related things we worked on together.

Wherever you are, and whatever you're doing, Tim, I hope everything's well with you.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What was the going rate for babysitting?

I had a friend who was married with a young child, and one night, we decided to go out to dinner. Her husband wasn't big on fancy food, and we hadn't had a chance to chat in a while, so her husband stayed at home with the child while she and I had a nice dinner.

We were out for maybe two hours max, and afterward, we went back to their place. I went inside for a bit, and she went to check on the child, and I was a bit surprised that he went on and on about how it was a big deal that he'd agreed to babysit for the night so that she and I could go out, and wasn't he a great guy for doing that. She said that yes, it was nice of him to watch the baby so she could go out for a little while.

And then he turned to me and said that I should thank him for babysitting so that I could have dinner with his wife. I don't remember exactly what I did. I think I was mostly shocked. I don't think I thanked him. I think I might have just stared at him.

So, when did it become "babysitting" when it's YOUR OWN CHILD? And she was the one who took care of the child's needs every night - feeding, changing, attention, all of it. She had already fed and changed the child before we left for dinner. We were only gone for a couple of hours, and it wasn't like he was missing out on a dinner he would have enjoyed. He didn't like those sorts of restaurants anyway. He just had to take care of the child by himself for a couple of hours. And he was expecting to get some sort of medal for that? Or at least my undying gratitude? For actually deigning to look after his own child?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mother's Day brunch at the Disneyland Hotel

For the past several years now, we've had a tradition of having Mother's Day brunch with some family and friends at the Disneyland Hotel, held in their grand ballroom. They offer special brunches several times a year (Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas), and they really do spoil you for other brunches. They have a wide selection of food, from breakfast items to lunch items to dinner items, and the ballroom is very nicely decorated with flowers and such.

One of the tables, set for the next group of guests.

A closer look at the rose on the table.

There have been one or two occasions when we've had a little difficulty with getting our server's attention, but we had a terrific server this year who was very attentive to our requests.

The brunch is a good choice for our group since everyone can find a variety of food that's to their individual liking. And the quality of the food is first-rate.

In addition to the food, there are several photo opportunity locations where characters take turns coming out for people to meet and have their pictures taken. The backdrops of each station are very prettily decorated as well, usually themed to each set of characters.

A family has their picture taken with Belle - notice the surrounding decor.

One of the more spectacular backdrops is the coach from Cinderella, which can be rented for special events at the Disneyland Resort, but which is free to look at and pose with during the brunch.

A coach fit for a princess indeed.

This year, they also had another set, near where Snow White had her photo setting. I love the talons as the base.

Mirror, mirror, on the floor, who's the evilest to the core?

In recent years, some elements have been missing that used to be at the brunch. I particularly liked the fruit and vegetable carver because he would make the most amazing things. They also seem to have a much smaller selection of sugar-free desserts, a concern for those in our group who have to watch their sugar. They only had a couple of items available, and they needed to be requested for the server to bring out.

Still, brunch is a time to enjoy good food and good company, all in a leisurely relaxed environment. It's a tradition I very much enjoy.

I have posted a few reviews from some of our earlier visits to the brunch. Since not much has changed, I haven't posted any reviews recently, but the older reviews mostly still hold true.

Here's the 2002 review, which includes extensive pictures of the food, desserts, decor and photo ops.

Here's the 2003 review, which also includes extensive pictures of the food, desserts, the beautiful flower decorations, the entertainment available, some of the fruit and vegetable carvings, and the numerous photo ops.

Here's a very short write-up from 2004, mostly to show the amazing flowers and fruit/vegetable carvings.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

more "24" casting news

So yet more information about who will be in the next season of "24" has been released, and it also looks like CTU is being reinstated. I hadn't noticed on the last casting announcement that the "systems analyst" was for CTU, and not the FBI. Hmmm, guess it's not just the CTU servers that President Taylor approved to be brought back.

Joining the cast as head of CTU's Field Ops will be Freddie Prinze, Jr. I wonder if he'll end up running into this woman who is unlucky enough to constantly attract bad vampires and stuff. Oh, wait, never mind.

Also cast as another CTU analyst is Katee Sackhoff. Those who have been fans and followers of the new "Battlestar Galactica" (of whom I am not one) will recognize her as "Starbuck" from that show.

And, even better news that I hadn't noticed previously, joining the show as head of CTU New York is Mykelti Williamson. That's cool because I really like him.

The cast for this next season is looking great!

Monday, June 8, 2009

"The Soloist" - spoiler movie review

I had mixed feelings about whether to see "The Soloist". On the one hand, I'm not fond of Jamie Foxx, and his presence in a movie, let alone as a lead, would deter me from seeing a film. But I'm also quite fond of Robert Downey, Jr., and what if he's the lead opposite Jamie Foxx? In the end, RDJ's presence, and the trailer for the film won out.

This film was supposed to have been released late last year, but word is that the studio decided to hold it back until this year because the field for Oscar nominations for lead and supporting actor were already quite full. I'm not sure the tactic worked, though, because there was so much press for it initially, and then the movie just disappeared, and unless you went looking for information, you didn't know what happened to the film. And then it reappeared again, and the casual filmgoer might think, "wasn't that out already last year?"

Generally, I liked the film, which is based on a true story, but I don't know what liberties they took with the actual story. I did like that it wasn't a "happy ending" completely in that Nathaniel (Foxx) wasn't cured completely, and he wasn't happily giving concert after concert at the Disney Music Hall. A title card at the end says that he did end up being able to get off the streets and live in a room, which is an accomplishment.

The movie isn't particularly easy to watch, as we see the problems that Nathaniel has growing up, problems for which he didn't receive any help. And Steve (Downey, Jr.) isn't exactly a heroic person - he's just a guy thrown into circumstances who actually does a few nice things.

I liked Catherine Keener in this film as Steve's ex-wife and still-boss. I thought she was terrific in "Hamlet 2" as well, and she's got a slightly larger, less quirky part here.

I thought Robert Downey, Jr. did a really good job in this film, making you connect to Steve. But then, maybe I just really like RDJ.

And while I thought Jamie Foxx actually did a good job in this film, it wasn't the kind of attention-grabber that one might normally expect in a role like that. Maybe that's because I'm not fond of him anyway, so me thinking he did a good job is like everyone else thinking he was magnificent. This is the same type of role that earned Dustin Hoffman an Oscar win for "Rain Man" and that earned Sean Penn an Oscar nomination for "I am Sam", but I'm not sure Foxx's performance rises to that level, and I do think that the shuffling of the release date really hurts him. The studio is going to have to mount a serious campaign later this year to remind people of this film and his performance, and to get people to see it who didn't see it when it was released. The film didn't do very well at the box office.

I do think the film is worth seeing though, if you're inclined to when it's out on DVD.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

cat yodeling!

OK, when I read the title of the YouTube video, I really thought they meant yodeling, and I was wondering how that was going to be done. Then, when I watched the video and figured out what they meant, I realized that Orkid is in fact a highly accomplished yodeler in her own right, and with just a bit of the prompting mentioned in the video!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

negative people

All of us probably have to deal with negative people in our lives somewhere. Not to say that I don't sometimes get down on things, but I've been around people who try to find the asbestos-laden lining in even the best of things, and it's not just exhausting to be around them, but it's also no fun at all. Sometimes, in a bad situation (and by that, I don't mean something really severe or life-threatening or anything like that, but really more an annoyance thing), it can make it better if you're around someone who can just go with it and you all agree to just live through the bad thing. To have to deal with the bad situation with someone who also can't stop railing about it makes the situation much worse.

In any case, I found this particular story on the net today that I thought was a really good example of the behaviour of someone really negative, and I also thought the punchline was really funny, even if unrealistic.

A woman was at her hairdresser's getting her hair styled for a trip to Rome with her husband.. She mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded:

"Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded and dirty.. You're crazy to go to Rome. So, how are you getting there?"

"We're taking Continental," was the reply. "We got a great rate!"

"Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser." That's a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late. So, where are you staying in Rome?"

"We'll be at this exclusive little place over on Rome's Tiber River called Teste."

"Don't go any further. I know that place. Everybody thinks its gonna be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump."

"We're going to go to see the Vatican and maybe get to see the Pope.."

"That's rich," laughed the hairdresser. You and a million other people trying to see him. He'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours. You're going to need it."

A month later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked her about her trip to Rome.

"It was wonderful," explained the woman, "not only were we on time in one of Continental's brand new planes, but it was overbooked, and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28-year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot.

And the hotel was great! They'd just finished a $5 million remodeling job, and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so they apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!"

"Well," muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but I know you didn't get to see the Pope."

"Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder, and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally greet guests. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."

"Oh, really! What did he say?"

He said: "Who f*cked up your hair?"

Friday, June 5, 2009

National Donut Day

OK, I'm blogging entirely too much about donuts, but I'm feeling peer pressure to say something about National Donut Day, which is today, since it's the first Friday of June, which *everybody* APPARENTLY knows is National Donut Day.

Here's an article explaining the origins of this "holiday".

Here's a random story about donuts and donut-lovers and today's "holiday".

Here's an article from a donut place about today's "holiday" and some donut facts. So the next time you're in Lincoln, Nebraska, stop in!

And here's an article about free donut offers today from Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme.

I was surprised to see the use of "doughnut". I don't really see that spelling used much, but it makes sense, since donuts are made out of dough, though I don't really understand the "nut" portion of the word since donuts don't all have nuts in them.

I don't much care about National Donut Day or free donuts. Homer, however, is quite happy today.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

identity crisis

There's a part of me that feels sorry for Anaheim. They have no idea who they are. They're trying to be so many different things.

First, they have a baseball team that doesn't want to be associated with them so much that they'd rather change their name from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and they have "Anaheim" in their name only because there's some kind of contractual requirement. But the Angels don't play in Los Angeles. They don't even play in the same county as Los Angeles. But the Angels would rather be associated with Los Angeles.

And now, we're in the midst of the NBA finals. (Yeah, the Lakers beat the Orlando Magic, handily, in game one by a score of 100 to 75. Everyone seems to be celebrating and thinking it's a done deal. It's fine that everyone else is, but I hope the Lakers teammates themselves are not. They've gotten 25% of the job done, but it doesn't count until you do all 100%. Tonight's game is probably not going to be indicative of the other games. They need to stay focussed and not take anything for granted and continue to show the same fight they did tonight.) And because the Lakers are playing the Orlando Magic, there's this whole fake Disney connection because Orlando has Walt Disney World and Southern California has Disneyland. And now, Disneyland is on some Lakers kick, and WDW and Disneyland are making this friendly wager, like you'd see with the mayors of the opposing cities.

But there's one problem. They're not the Anaheim Lakers. And they're not the Southern California Lakers. They're the LOS ANGELES LAKERS. Who play in Los Angeles. Not Anaheim. Who play in Los Angeles County. Not Orange County. Who really have nothing whatsoever to do with the Walt Disney Company except that Disneyland might have some kind of parade with the Lakers if they win, but then, Disneyland does little parades with all kinds of people, and if the Lakers win, they're going to have their own spectacular, much larger kick-ass parade to attend. And it will be held in LOS ANGELES.

So Anaheim has one team that wants nothing to do with them, and now, they want to co-opt a Los Angeles team that has no association with them.


So I follow various Disney feeds on Twitter. And when I read a particular tweet, I really didn't understand. Here's the information from one of the Disney sites.

I'm having a hard time making it past "Disneyland ... Lakers pride" because that concept just doesn't compute for me. That's not to say someone from Orange County or San Bernardino County or wherever can't be a Lakers fan, and that's not to say some random company in another city, county or state couldn't have some affiliation with the Lakers, but this whole association comes out of nowhere. It's like the ultimate bandwagon-jumping.

And, I happen to like Sleeping Beauty Castle. I think it's beautiful, especially when it's lit at night. I don't want it to be purple and gold. I will, however, reserve final judgement until I've seen it for myself, which I'll be doing this weekend.

Hmmm, the French Open has been going on for a couple of weeks, and Disney has a park in France. Wonder why they're not jumping all over that co-promotion?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

maybe the aliens visited London first and then Georgia next

I heard about this article about a weird stone structure in Georgia that people have no idea why it's there or what it means. Maybe it's just me, but it doesn't so much remind me of Stonehenge as it does some post-apocalyptic movie set.

I think people are just likening it to Stonehenge because people in America wish there was something American that was as cool as Stonehenge. But there isn't, for all kinds of reasons, one of which is that relatively speaking, America is a baby on the global map.

I had the good fortune of visiting Stonehenge many years ago. We still couldn't go right up to it, but we could go pretty near it, and I've heard that nowadays, you can't get very close to it at all. People who know me know that I'm not one to have my picture taken much, so you'll know how cool I thought it was because I asked total strangers to take a picture of me with Stonehenge in the background.

It was a great trip, and my only regret was that I didn't purchase the miniature Stonehenge for sale in the local store set up in a shack or something. But, I didn't want to have to carry that heavy souvenir - I wish I had.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

more on donuts

OK, so I've blogged about donut shops. Well, today, I saw this headline on Yahoo's front page.

Now, I'll admit that I didn't actually read the article, just browsed it, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that fast food is laden with calories that take a lot of exercise to work off (but like with many other people, that doesn't stop me from getting fast food on occasion), but the donut headline just caught my attention.

And that's just for a boring old cakey donut. When I want a donut, I usually go for the more airy variety, or even better, a twist or a glazed cinnamon roll, which is probably going to require even more exercise. But I've never had a Crispy Creme donut nor do I have the desire to.

OK, great, now I kind of have myself craving a donut. Wonder if I could find a 24 hour donut store?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Where's Johnny?

Something that I found interesting and yet completely didn't care about happened last week. Jay Leno did his last show as the host of "The Tonight Show". I happened to hear about it somewhere, and it occurred to me that his departure from the show didn't have near the fanfare that occurred when Johnny Carson left.

Now, there are a number of reasons that could account for that.

1. The regular television season is over, so I'm watching almost no TV nowadays, so I wouldn't have seen any advertisements or such about it, and I don't even know if they had them. I'm also mostly listening to sports talk shows or music on the radio and when I'm at work, so I doubt they'd be advertising there.

2. Jay Leno hasn't been host of "The Tonight Show" for nearly as long as Johnny was, so his departure wouldn't be as big a deal.

3. When Johnny was leaving the show, he was leaving the spotlight, and after he left, there really was almost no mention of him anywhere. I think I'd see the occasion blurb about him playing poker with his buddies, but otherwise, he pretty much disappeared. Jay Leno isn't so much going to disappear as he's going to take a break or something and then start a new show in a couple of months, so it's not like anyone who wants to see him is not going to have that opportunity anymore.

I've never really been that much of a fan of Jay Leno's. I find him mildly amusing at times, but it irritated me that he would often try to explain his joke or try to milk the applause when there wasn't much forthcoming. Johnny was often hilarious, and on the not-so-rare occasions when his jokes were just sinking like rocks, he managed to salvage the moment by making fun of the fact that his act wasn't working. It was funny and endearing at the same time.

So in my world, it makes no difference that tonight is the first night that Conan O'Brien is the new host of "The Tonight Show". I know his name, but other than that, he's barely a blip on my radar.

I used to watch the 11pm news and then watch Johnny's monologue, and if I wasn't too tired, maybe the first segment before going to bed. Late-night TV hasn't been on my schedule for quite a number of years.

Many of us still miss you, Johnny.