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John's Blog

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day....Teach him to use the internet and he won't bother you for weeks!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Hate To Dwell On This...

As housing prices plummet, so do the fortunes and ranks of real estate agents. A report on the problem on a recent NBC Nightly News broadcast, Boulevard of brokers' dreams spotlighted the free-falling slump. Perhaps the interview with Ben Dover might not have been necessary to drive the point home. Apparently Heywood Jabloeme was unavailable for comment.

Maybe tomorrow they will do a feature about penal reform and have a remote from the George Bailey Detention Facility? Sadly, it's NOT located in Bedford Falls as you might expect. Or maybe they could go more hardcore and visit the infamous PMITA prison instead?
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To Boldly Go Come?

Despite the generally PG-13 nature of the various Star Trek series, apparently there was plenty of stuff going on that was intended for more mature audiences! Then again, there's always been those stories about the relationship between Kirk and Spock.

And from the "When Worlds Collide" department comes an interesting tidbit combining several of my favorite topics; Star Trek, sex, & politics. It seems that Barack Obama may owe some of his success to Star Trek alumnus Jeri Ryan. Her ex-husband Jack (no, NOT the Tom Clancy one) was running for Congress in '04 when the records from their divorce proceedings became public, which included details about his attempts to force her to have public sex in swingers clubs. He dropped out of the race soon after this revelation and was replaced by Alan Keyes, who Obama defeated in a landslide.
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"If there are no stupid questions, then what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they get smart just in time to ask questions?"
Scott Adams
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I've always been a huge fan of silk-screened t-shirts that feature well done graphics as well as attitude. The ones found at Watch Your Back certainly qualify for inclusion in this category. The only problem is that the wife refuses to be seen in public with me when I wear them. I find myself drawn to this Burt Reynolds comeback t-shirt probably because I liked him in his "Jack Horner" role, although he almost turned it down. He actually thought it was a terrible part and that his performance sucked, so he fired his agent as a result. Then he saw the good reviews and an Academy Award and suddenly changed his mind.

For good measure, a few factoids about "Boogie Nights":
  • Leonardo DiCaprio was the actor first cast as Dirk Digler, but he passed on the role to be in "Titanic". He later regretted the choice.
  • Samuel L. Jackson had been picked to play Buck Swope, but he didn't work out and Don Cheadle replaced him.
  • Gwyneth Paltrow was the first choice for the role of "Rollergirl" but she declined the job.
  • Yes, Mark Wahlberg DID wear a prosthetic.
  • The wife of William H. Macy's character was actually porn star Nina Hartley.
  • They had to cut 40 seconds of the film to reduce it's original NC-17 rating to an R.
  • The song performed by Dirk Diggler was originally from the movie "The Transformers".
  • "Amber Waves" had previously been used as a fictional porn star name in the TV show "Night Court". The film character was largely inspired by porn star Veronica Hart, who was in the movie appearing as a judge presiding over a child custody hearing based on her own life.
  • Despite the name of the movie being the same as the disco hit, the band "Heatwave" refused to allow it to appear in the movie since the song was about dancing and not porn.
  • The "F-word" winds up making an appearance in the movie 165 times!
  • I've never actually seen the movie from start to end. Although I've seen it in snippets on cable, I've never watched the entire thing start to finish in real time. It's one of those flicks (like The Godfather and Pulp Fiction that causes cable surfing to cease) and I just sit there like a drooling idiot and watch. I need to get the DVD for the extra features, at least.
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    Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    The State Of Stuff

    Again, The Onion demonstrates the very thin line between satire and reality in their regular "What do you think?" feature where they look at The State of the Union address.

    Content to assume that the traditional assembly of meaningless hot air followed by rounds of polite applause would occur once again, I found something else to watch last night. But we can take some solace in the knowledge that this is the last time we will be subjected to this. Even this quickly becomes a "good news/bad news" scenario, since we are going to have one more year to sit on pins and needles and hope he doesn't do any thing rash and foolish in an attempt to cement his legacy. Although don't let that imply that what he has done so far has been wise and well considered; just hoping he doesn't screw things up worse in his lame duck days.

    Typical of how Dubya just doesn't get it right is found in the story told by Scott Horton, The Illustrated President. Bush has been enamored with a painting of a cowboy done by W.H.D. Koerner titled "A Charge to Keep". He describes it as a painting of a horseman charging up steep and treacherous terrain as he spreads the Gospel through the West. Bush has viewed it as symbolic of his own "born-again" conversion and says it reminds us how we must serve the greater good.

    However, the real story is perhaps far more colorful. Research into the painting reveals that the horseman isn't a missionary, but in fact a horse thief escaping from a lynch mob. Oh well, the symbolism still works just fine.
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    "A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
    Daniel Webster
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    Don't let this happen to you; a cautionary tale about using Google Maps!
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    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Mud & Murk

    I haven't delved into the political realm for quite some time, largely due to the barrage of really painful news. Daily reports of the continued abuse of the governmental process at the hands of the Bushies almost makes you want to swear off politics. But the advent of the Presidential primary season sweeps in like a spring breeze and gives us a fresh breath of optimism, or so I had hoped.

    Unfortunately, the "Billary" machine and the "Roveian" style campaign that we see emerging elicits a strange sense of "déjà vu" that plays nicely into the hands of the Republicans. Not only does this mud slinging "bloody up" both candidates, but it gives us a chilling view of the "two-fer" we'd be getting if Hillary emerges victorious. Not content to be the typical candidate's supportive spouse, his heavy handed involvement foreshadows an involvement in Clinton, Act II that few might have imagined. That's bound to motivate more than a few in the GOP who fear that this will just become Bill's third term. Although, sometimes, it's tough to tell where the line is at between parody and reality ("Screw It, I'm Running For President").

    But the really scary/sad thing is witnessing Bill's embrace of the same negativity that caused him so many problems. In a recent Op-Ed piece Maureen Dowd hit the nail on the head:
    If Bill Clinton has to trash his legacy to protect his legacy, so be it. If he has to put a dagger through the heart of hope to give Hillary hope, so be it....

    The Clintons — or “the 2-headed monster,” as the The New York Post dubbed the tag team that clawed out wins in New Hampshire and Nevada — always go where they need to go, no matter the collateral damage. Even if the damage is to themselves and their party.

    Bill’s transition from elder statesman, leader of his party and bipartisan ambassador to ward heeler and hatchet man has been seamless — and seamy....

    Bill has merged with his wife totally now, talking about “we” and “us.” “I never did anything major without discussing it with her,” he told a crowd here. “We’ve been having this conversation since we first met in 1971, and I don’t think we’ll stop now.” He suggested as First Lad that “I can help to sell the domestic program.”

    It’s odd that the first woman with a shot at becoming president is so openly dependent on her husband to drag her over the finish line. She handed over South Carolina to him, knowing that her support here is largely derivative.

    This really makes it tough to hold on to any positive thoughts I may have had about Clinton's legacy, and casts more doubts (beyond those I already have) upon Hilary's suitability for a leadership role. But as much as everyone claims to hate negative campaigning, the sad fact of the matter is that it works. I can only hope that Obama can bounce back from this double teaming distortion before it's too late. My optimism that the American people can see through this kind of crap has been proven wrong before.
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    "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
    Winston Churchill
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    Now Arriving On Track 12

    A video featuring material from Old Penn Station, a children's book by William Low. Although I've always been fascinated by the foolish, shortsighted decisions leading to the destruction of this landmark, I never would have thought this would be good material for a kid's book. I was wrong, but the stunningly beautiful illustrations will speak to everyone's inner child.
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    Monday, January 21, 2008

    At Your Service

    When it comes to motivational materials, I've always been a fan of the cynical and satirical stylings of the Demotavators Posters produced by Despair, Inc. Meant as a parody of traditional motivational posters, their products stand in harsh contrast to the typically humorless corporate culture, As with any spoof, many grains of truth are contained in their witty messages.

    Too many motivational speakers have an "over the top" energy that instead of being infectious, winds up being a turn-off. Ever since "Little Miss Sunshine" sullied the image of motivational speakers, I've had a particularly hard time hearing the term without smirking. Yet, occasionally some of these materials resonate and hit a sweet spot...

    The powerful (and supposedly true) story of Johnny The Bagger reminds us of how our actions, and how we connect with others can make a difference. A longer dramatization is also on-line, but the zen-like Powerpoint version gets the job done just fine.

    Another effective speaker I saw not too long ago was Mark Sanborn, whose Fred Factor program talks about the lessons that a postal carrier taught him, and how we can add value to our lives and those we encounter daily. A simple and effective parable that also reminds us of the difference just one person can make. But I find myself wondering; what are the chances that Fred The Postman ever ran into Frank The Cab Driver? The stories seem remarkably similar, although far be for me to question the legitimacy of any of these tales; these allegories all work whether they are real, or fictional.

    But before I get too serious for too long, how about a mini "link-dump" of semi related customer service videos for a change of pace?

    Jimmy Dean Sausage Complaint
    Ordinary Indignity
    The customer is never right!!!
    Customer Service Training
    The Customer Sevice Zone
    Customer Service: The Movie
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    Call Now!

    Just in time for Valentine's Day, Blimp TV brings us the classic sounds of Love Gods Of The Far Right Wing. AND if you ORDER NOW, they will throw in Meet The Neocons featuring the definitive collection of the greatest hits from the Bush administration at no extra charge!

    On the other hand, an entirely different direction would be to give a gift that keeps on giving, like the Carmen Electra Electra-Pole Professional Pole Kit . "Men snap to attention as you steal the spotlight and it gets HOT... The only hardware you’ll need is your imagination... The Electra-Pole Professional Pole Kit goes up and down in just 5-minutes." Go ahead; write your own joke.
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    "Sanity calms, but madness is more interesting."
    John Russell
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    Some-more Amore'??

    If you are still looking for a fun gift for Valentine's Day, it's not too late to order up a box or two of the unique candy treat BitterSweets, another product from the good folks at Despair, Inc. Adding some bite to the tired old classic candy hearts, these feature more relevant messages such as "SETTLE 4 LESS?", "TABLE FOR 1", "I GOT SOBER", "CELIB8 THX2U", and "CALL A 900#" just to name a few. "Supplies are limited. But the pain that accompanies them may not be."
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    Wednesday, January 16, 2008


    It seems like a classic "good news/bad news" scenario. After numerous re-booting sessions I relented and re-installed the iPod software to restore the factory settings. As a result, the wifi has magically returned. so I can now web-surf and play Bejeweled to my hearts content.

    The bad news is that I see that yet another upgrade is now available from Apple. They will now be shipping new iPod touch units that include new apps that add Mail, Maps, Stocks, Weather and Notes widgets to make it a virtual clone of the iPhone, sans phone. Existing users get to purchase this extra functionality for $20! Much like the price drop on the iPhone, Apple once again punishes early adaptors. And just to rub salt in the wound, iPhone and Apple TV users get a firmware upgrade that adds features and functionality, and they are FREE! If they keep on pulling this kind of crap, it will sure cool the heels of loyal customers who otherwise wouldn't hesitate at paying a premium for innovation. Perhaps if enough irate and vocal customers express their displeasure, maybe they will change their mind on this PR misstep as well.

    But despite my displeasure with having to buy what (in my opinion) should be free, I became a spineless lemming and hit the "purchase" button. Although I could already access my Gmail through Safari, having a stand alone app that displays previews and allows inline photo viewing is "almost" worth the cost of the upgrade. But the keyword here is "almost", since $20 isn't that much money, although it bugs me on principal. If they were charging EVERYBODY, I wouldn't mind. This seems like a greedy move from a company that is usually pretty consumer friendly.
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    "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen."
    Albert Einstein
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    Dissing Your Dog

    Apparently I've been going about it all wrong.
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    Monday, January 14, 2008


    It looks like it's time to play "one of these things is not like the other" once again. Although I've often dismissed Fred Thompson as a twit, I was more than a little surprised to see that he's got a Twitter page allowing you to follow every mundane detail of his moribund campaign for the Presidency.

    Independently, I've never understood the appeal of either. Twitter, gives users the ability to micro-blog in real time about what they are doing and thinking. More often than not, this usually is too much information, although on occasion I've found a few compelling pages I find myself following.

    Thompson, who I've always regarded as a mediocre character actor exudes a "hey kids, get off my lawn" persona. As a politician, the description that his opponent used in describing his "good ol' boy" image from campaign ads where he drove a pick-up truck ("a lobbyist and actor who talks about lower taxes, talks about change, while he drives a rented stage prop.") seems pretty accurate as well.

    I've got no problem with Barack + twitter, since that seems like a more obvious match, as well as promoting a candidate with more substance. But putting Thompson together with a technology best suited for another generation seems as unnatural and wrong as seeing him together with the trophy wife, but maybe that's just me.

    The silver lining here is that his campaign resulted in him leaving the role of D.A. Arthur Branch in the long-running series Law & Order. Due to the lamer than usual scripts and the awkward chemistry that Milena Govich added, I felt that the show last season had really "jumped the shark". But this year, with the return of Rene Balcer as head writer, and the addition of Jeremy Sisto and Linus Roache to the cast, the show seems re-energized and back on track. The elevation of the Sam Waterston character to an activist D.A. gives the show something familiar and new at the same time. Maybe this one will join the "20 Year Club" after all, but when you realize that The Real World has been on TV 19 seasons, that may not be the accomplishment that I think it is.

    Saving this shows premier until the strike ravaged 2nd season, where it stands out amongst the plethora of repeats and reality show drivel seems like genius as well. Then again, I remember that this "IS" NBC we are talking about; the network that green-lighted the awful "Bionic Woman" remake and the one that will probably cancel the fantastic "Journeyman" series. So it's probably dumb-luck more so than genius.

    The next time you watch L&O, you might want to enhance your enjoyment by getting closer to the characters. There's probably no better way to empathize than by slapping on one of these crime scene bandages (VIA Nerd Approved). One of many unique and non-traditional bandages and gifts available at Perpetual Kid, where the promise is to "entertain your inner child". Maybe I should order some of the really old school tattoos for the elderly and send one to Thompson?
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    "I’m at the age where I want two girls. In case I fall asleep they will have someone to talk to."
    Rodney Dangerfield
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    Not everybody loves the newness introduced to the iPod line as this satirical commercial demonstrates. Although my love for the iPod is a quart or two low these days, since mine is acting funky again. Suddenly, the wifi stopped working which keeps me from web-surfing while on the can. I'll have to downgrade and go retro, making do with magazines until I can schedule a session at The Genius Bar. The good news is that I'll be spending less time in the bathroom. I guess there are far worse crises to have to deal with.
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    Monday, January 07, 2008

    My Cup Runneth Over

    A "deep sucking sensation" could easily be a description of this blog, but in this case it's how the manufacturer of this "self-help" device describes the latest in adult technology. The "TOC-001 Deep Throat Cup" uses a valve structure to create a vacuum which produces not only "an amazing sucking sensation" but also makes a "slurping" sound that combines to give you the feeling that you're enjoying the real deal. Yea, right.

    According to the FAQ page these disposable cups (thank God) aren't yet available outside of Japan. They do offer up five different versions, each one simulating another sexual position. An attempt to revolutionize adult products by removing any nasty stigma traditionally associated with adult products and turn it into and open and up-front experience that anyone can enjoy. They seem to imply that you should then share this with others. Just the kind of "water-cooler" conversation that will be a big hit with any office, I'm sure.
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    "Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand"
    Kurt Vonnegut
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    Beware The Drill Bra

    In the event that the previous "one guy, one cup" posting didn't send you off recoiling in horror, this promo trailer for The Machine Girl (VIA altdotfuckingtasteless ) just might. Although if bloody violence and cheesy special effects are your cup o' tea, this one is definitely for you! Another product of Japan, this movie is the story of a schoolgirl who has her life turned upside-down when her family is killed by Nijas, and they cut off her hand, which she replaces with various killing machines. Revenge (& hilarity?) ensues.
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    Thursday, January 03, 2008


    I was recently talking to a friend who told me of an impending trip to Maui. Since the temperature today barely made it into the double digits, it's not hard to make me yearn for the warm sea-breezes and sun-drenched beaches of Hawaii. Of course, I had to get in the inevitable plug for a visit to my favorite restaurant, Mama's Fish House. Even if there were no other attractions or reasons to go to Maui, the existence of Mama's would be motive enough to buy a plane ticket. Maybe they will bring me a doggy bag since I'm not going anytime soon.

    But as the conversation progressed, I remembered going to another place I enjoyed on the Lahaina waterfront, but I couldn't recall the name of the restaurant. I probably liked it as much for the oceanfront view from the deck and the many beers I had downed as much as the food, but it was still a memorable night. Heck, a mediocre day in Hawaii will beat a good day in New Jersey pretty much everytime. Later in the day as I was putting away laundry, I realized that I had purchased a souvenir t-shirt from the restaurant, which listed what they called "Kimo's Maui Rules". Since I haven't bothered to post anything for a long time, this seems like a fitting way to break the silence and begin the new year. with some good rules to live by...

  • Never judge a day by the weather.
  • The best things in life aren't things.
  • Speak softly and wear a loud shirt.
  • Goals are deceptive. The unaimed arrow never misses.
  • He who dies with the most toys - still dies.
  • Age is relative - when you're over the hill, you pick up speed.
  • There are two ways to be rich - make more or desire less.
  • Beauty is internal - looks mean nothing.
  • No rain - No rainbows.

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    Which would be the license plate number of Steve McGarrett's car in Hawaii Five-O, just one of the many questions answered by The Hawaii Five-O FAQ. Honestly, I've never found myself wondering about any of this. Ironically, I remember passing a hotel while on a tour there, and the guide told us "that's the balcony that Jack Lord stood on in the opening credits" and I don't see the answer to that pressing mystery. Bummer.
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    "A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."
    Carl Reiner
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    On The Road Again

    No trip to Maui is complete without experiencing the scenic 68 mile trek to Hana along narrow winding roads through the lush terrain, and this video sampling gives us a taste. Although this DOES make it look more like a superhighway than I recall. What I do remember is chickening out at the point where I was going down a one lane, unpaved section where all I could see from the driver side window was sea and rocks many feet below. With the wife telling me that at that point we were violating the rental car agreement by continuing, it made turning back seem like the prudent thing to do.

    A far better recollection of The Road to Hana is to be found in this Honolulu Star-Bulletin report from a few years ago. Some have proposed widening the roads and turn of the century bridges, but that would change the character of the experience. As the article says, "speeding to find Hana would be like dashing to a service window to receive communion at a drive-through church."
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