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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!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thanks For All The Fish...

I always hate when I see a blog just "go dark" without any indication why. You always fear the worst, when in reality it sometimes has a less ominous explanation. This probably isn't a farewell, although I do have to hit the "pause button" for the moment. Few, I'm sure would notice since my recent round of blogging ambivalence results in sporadic posting, but sometimes, life events occur that cause you to focus your attention and energies elsewhere.

Since I'm still working on the "open & honest" thing, I'm not really ready to fully delve into the events and emotions that have occurred over the last week and a half. Beside that, I'm not sure that this is the right venue for "me" to discuss those things without trivializing them. With the perspective and wisdom that time provides, perhaps I'll change my mind on that, but for now on-line grieving just isn't my style.

Sometimes it's easy for us to look at things and miss the big picture. Having spent most of my waking hours visiting the ICU during that period, I saw too many sights that I wish I hadn't. But the good thing is that from the chaos of events and emotions, a broader perspective emerges. For those things in life that matter to truly have meaning, there is the realization that they are but passing phenomena. There are no mountain tops without valleys, and no happiness without sorrow. Knowing that both ends of the spectrum are fleeting moments allows us to endure bad times and savor the good ones. It gives us the strength to continue the journey of life, and we can appreciate the joyful memories and pursue new pleasures as well.

Perhaps this little leg of the trek will seem more inviting once the dust settles. If not; it's been fun.
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"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
Kahlil Gibran
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Holy Crap!

"I love the Pope, I love seeing him in his Pope-Mobile, his three feet of bullet proof plexi-glass. That's faith in action, folks! You know he's got God on his side."
Bill Hicks

While there are those who look forward to the "Pope Tour '08" as a great spiritual event, personally I just wanted to see this year's model of the Popemobile. And frankly, I'm a bit disapointed. This one looks like a Mercedes SUV that collided with a bus-stop, although there are those who feel it more resembles a dunking-booth on wheels. I think they should have gone for an "out of the box" design, sort of along the lines of a see-through "Madden-cruiser". And while they are at it they could take a page from Madden and get some corporate sponsorship. Maybe they could lose the hokey "Popemobile" moniker and come up with a catchy name like "The Holy Roller".

But rest assured that oportunistic merchants look well positioned to take advantage of the "Pope-0-Mania" that seems to be sweeping the land. Some of the better "Pope Paraphernalia" include the Pope On A Rope and the Pope Benedict bobble head, which comes off as far less menacing than the real deal. But I'm kinda' partial to The Enforcer t-shirts, referencing his past heavy hitter days back when he was known as Cardinal Ratzinger.

But I'm really mystified about the absence of souvenir hats, which are omnipresent at every sporting event and tourist trap that I've ever been to. Given the wide variety of papal head-wear that I've seen him photographed in, I'm shocked that we haven't seen more people selling plastic "Pope Hats". But there's still time.
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Who Will Survive?

A fictional show featured in last weeks' episode of the fictional show 30 Rock looked like it had real potential. "MILF Island" would be something I'd just be unable to avoid watching! "25 super hot moms. 50 eighth grade boys. And NO RULES!!!" Sounds like a hit! Like this would be worse that yet another season of "Rock of Love" or "Celebrity Apprentice"?

But until some wise and visionary TV executive makes this dream a reality, I'll just have to be content with one of these MILF Island T-Shirts instead.
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Responsibility: What’s Your Policy?

The Liberty Mutual ads portraying how random acts of kindness can grow and get passed through a community feature an uplifting message and seem a breath of fresh air amidst the wasteland of less than memorable commercials. Other ads have followed, continuing to demonstrate how acting responsibly is a not only a good way to run a company but to live by as well.

Sometimes you can go to the well too many times and return with an empty bucket. I just saw another of their ads that missed the "warm and fuzzy" mark by a long shot. This one featured a guy who is supposedly performing yet another of these "good deeds". An older gentleman is at home and on the phone. The caller tells him "Sir, I believe I found something that belongs to you." The terror in his voice is apparent as he asks "What is it?" The voice on the line says "I can't tell you, but look out your window." At that point you see the guy on the street waving a wallet above his head.

Great; whatever karma points you may have scored from the good deed of returning the lost wallet are more than lost when you act like a dick returning it! Staking out the apartment and playing stalker like phone games instead of just doing the right thing, ringing his door and returning the wallet seems pretty unnecessary and creepy. I can only hope that the company doesn't attempt to dick you around the same way when you make a claim!
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"Man is a clever animal who behaves like an imbecile."
Albert Schweitzer
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Yes He Can!

Hillary claims to have much in common with movie icon Rocky Balboa, apparently forgetting that Rocky loses to the black guy. But this new mash-up Baracky: The Movie reverses the roles rather nicely!

And you've gotta love the "shot and a beer" politics we've been seeing recently, since using the "Which candidate do you want to have a beer with?" litmus test worked out so well the last time.
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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ask Your Doctor

Although not that important of a resource in my daily quest to stay on top of current events, I still find myself watching the networks' evening newscasts when the opportunity allows. Recently, I've noticed that ads for drugs I've never heard of or needed seem to be crowding out most of the other advertisers. The other night, if you count ads for vitamins as part of the whole pharmaceutical ad trend, it was 20 minutes into a 30 minute show until another type of product made an appearance.

Despite my trigger finger ability to hit the mute button, I'm still occasionally amazed at the potential side effects that seem worse than the original problem. They are one step away from delivering these lists at the speed of the old FedEx Fast Talker , hoping that we won't notice or object to "increased urges to gamble", or "excessive sexual urges" or my personal favorite "erections lasting longer that four hours". Apparently in this context, these are all bad things.

I like the parody site for Havidol, which warns of side-effects including "mood changes, muscle strain, extraordinary thinking, dermal gloss, impulsivity induced consumption, excessive salivation, hair growth, markedly delayed sexual climax, inter-species communication, taste perversion, terminal smile, and oral inflammation." Yea, sign me right up.

Hopefully (but not likely) any attempt to address health care reform will include some way to reign in this double barreled assault on doctors and consumers. Aggressive marketing targeted at physicians combined with equally aggressive advertising to influence potential customers to "ask your doctor" for their products passes undue costs to end users. These kind of direct to patient ads have more than quintupled from $700 million in 1997 to more than $4 billion in 2004. Only one other country in the western world allows this kind marketing to exist; most others leave the decision to the professionals.

One unintended consequence of this trend is that the din of advertising risks becoming white noise. A possible example of this took place the other night when the wife and I were watching the news. A commercial for Cialis was playing and my wife said "That's what our next-door neighbor Mike takes". I was a bit taken back and just responded with an attempt at an understated "Really?" Inside, I was doing a slow burn and thinking perhaps we were a bit TOO friendly with the neighbors. After an uncomfortable silence where many bad scenarios ran through my head, I finally had to ask "How the HELL does that come in in polite conversation?" She said that his doctor put him on it to bring his cholesterol down. Much relieved, I explained that the drug in question had more to do with things going up than down, she responded with an Emily Litella-like "never mind" then.
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"When angry count to four; when very angry, swear."
Mark Twain
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Amish Gone Wild

Largely shrouded from the public eye, The Amish live without machinery, electricity and many of the conveniences that most of us take for granted. Having lived in a community where I occasionally interacted with them, I'm amazed when I discover new things about them. I recently saw the documentary detailing the Amish rite of passage called rumspringa, "Devil's Playground" which gave an interesting look into a normally unseen world. During this period of discovery, the Amish teens step away from their community and try on the "English" way of life and all its' vices. Many of them wear western clothes, drive cars, drink, smoke, and do drugs, although not all of them get "THAT" wild. After they get it out of their system they then can return to the fold, accept the Amish way, and be recognized as adults. A surprisingly large amount of them DO decide to return.

A "slightly" less serious take on the subject from Busted Tees, featuring this Amish: Don't Drink or Drive t-shirt.
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Sunday, April 06, 2008

I've Got A Crush On...

No, not Obama although I've said that I support him in the past. I alluded to a "man-crush" before when talking about Garret Dillahunt, but that was really more a case of respect and admiration for his body of work. My real "man-crush" would be reserved for George Clooney, but I'll have to delve into that topic some other time. On 2nd thought, perhaps we shall never speak of this again, OK?

My long dormant crush was awakened with the barrage of advertising for the NBC show "Medium" that touts Rosanna Arquette guest staring with her sister Patricia on this weeks' episode. Normally, I'd never watch this show since the one time I tried, it felt a bit "hacky" although I probably didn't give it a fair shake. And, Patricia seemed less a "Medium", and more like a "L", not that there's anything wrong with that. My goal is to watch LESS TV, so if it doesn't grab me the first time around, I'll move on.

But this kind of stunt-casting works every-time, and will result in me forgoing my usual discretion level, turning me into a spineless TV-watching lemming for sure. How many women have inspired not one, but two hit singles ("Rosanna" AND "In Your Eyes") that can you think of? Seeing her referred to as an "80's icon" isn't a good thing though, since it simultaneously makes me feel both lecherous AND old. I was OK with the first, but not so much the second one.

To take this one stalker-ish step further, while Googling for a picture to accompany this post, I stumbled upon an interesting link Why Make-Up Matters. The site shows some before and after make-up shots, which I guess are intended to shock us. Sure, there were a few (like Courtney Love) that could result in some sleepless nights, but most of these women still looked great in their natural state. I actually preferred the Katie Couric "before" shot to the after one.

What really rubs salt in an already open wound is that this show airs on Monday at 10pm on NBC in the same time slot that the recently cancelled Journeyman had occupied. A sci-fi, time-travel, mystery, relationship drama that worked on so many levels, except for its' ability to pull in ratings. Despite a series of Jericho inspired attempts to encourage the network to renew the show, the campaign changed nothing. Then again, ultimately it didn't work out all that well for Jericho either. At least Journeyman episodes are still up at Hulu; no word yet on when we can look forward to the DVD release.

This series joins Firefly on the list of brilliant sci-fi shows that weren't given a chance to grow and find an audience. As a result, expect to see more repeats of L&O (not the worst thing), a hideous re-make of Knight Rider (look at Bionic Woman to see how well THAT worked out) or more reality show drivel like this...

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Separated At Birth?

Just one of many Hollywood Muppets, a piece pointing out the similarities between our fuzzy friends and some famous celebs. Who knew that Fozzie Bear was related to Steven Wright? What a perfect excuse to review some of Steven's observations:
  • Everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time.
  • If you had a million Shakespeares, could they write like a monkey?
  • Change is inevitable....except from vending machines.
  • I saw a sign: "Rest Area 25 Miles". That's pretty big. Some people must be really tired.
  • Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?
  • How come abbreviated is such a long word?
  • Don't you hate when your hand falls asleep and you know it will be up all night.
  • Ever notice how irons have a setting for permanent press? I don't get it.
  • My uncle was a clown for Ringling Bros. Circus, and when he died, all his friends came in one car.
  • I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it.
  • I saw a subliminal advertising executive, but only for a second.
  • If you were going to shoot a mime, would you use a silencer?
  • Why don't they make the whole plane out of that black box stuff.
  • The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach.
  • You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • If a cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
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    Touching Tribute

    I was watching "The Office" the other night when I noticed them running this clip during the closing credits. I just figured that it was something sent to them or found on YouTube, and indeed it was the later. Unfortunately, the tag at the end "In Memoriam Nathan Robinson" let us know a heartbreaking tragedy was involved.

    15-year-old Nathan recently passed away from complications of the flu. But a few weeks before he had been hanging with a friend discussing their favorite show, and an on-line search for the sheet music for theme music to "The Office" entailed. He nailed it almost instantly, and posted his peformance to YouTube. From all accounts an amazing kid who obviously will be missed.
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    Comedy Gold

    Normally, I'd have a problem linking to something from The New York Post, but some of their 50 BEST BITS are too funny to ignore:
    Hillary Clinton says she's the most qualified because she was married to a president for eight years. Now let me ask you, if a brain surgeon quit his job, would everyone in the operating room say, "Wait, let's get his wife."
    Jackie Mason

    I was watching Gene Simmons' TV show, "Family Jewels." Or as it's known in the business, " 'The Osbournes' Without the Talented Father."
    Lisa Lampanelli

    During a "Weekend Update" segment about Eliot Spitzer: And you wanted to have sex with a hooker but you didn't want to wear a condom? Really?!? That might not be scary if you were client number 1, but you were client number 9. I wear a condom if I'm ninth in line at the deli.
    Seth Meyers

    Cellphones are like a dog's nipples. You don't have to shout into them!
    Emo Phillips

    I'm still in my first marriage. I know, it's wrong to talk about it so temporary like that. My current husband hates it when I do that.
    Ophira Eisenberg

    My girlfriend said, "I hate it when you finish my sentences." So I said, "Period."
    Sean Keane

    Why do they put alcohol on the arm of a death row inmate before they give him the needle? Are they afraid he might get an infection?
    George Carlin

    Almost all serial killers are men. That's 'cause women like to kill one man slowly over many, many years.
    Robert Duchaine

    A couple is married for 47 years and the woman dies. At the funeral, the pallbearers swing the coffin, which hits a wall. From inside the coffin, the woman yells, "Oh, my God!" She lived another four years. She dies again. The pallbearers are swinging the coffin. The husband yells, "Watch out for the wall!"
    Freddie Roman
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    Thursday, April 03, 2008

    Just Call It!

    Thanks to Something Awful for another great Photoshop contest, bringing us Before and After Movies, like this take on No Country For Old Men.

    It finally made the way to the top of my Netflix queue, so as soon as I go it I eagerly popped the DVD in the machine and watched. I never really paid that much attention to its' subject matter, but noticing the critical acclaim it was receiving I put it on the list and figured I'd be surprised when I got it. And WOW, what a surprise it was! Part western, part crime thriller, part horror flick, it pretty much has something for everybody, as long as you don't have a problem with horrific violence and creepy serial killers. A powerful movie that literarily had me on the edge of my seat all the way until the end.

    The ending, however did leave me with a bit of a "WTF?" moment, simultaneously disappointing me in the "draw" between the forces of good and evil, as well as making me think that the movie adaptation denied us of much of the texture and context of the Sheriff Bell character. Now, I've just got to go and read the book!

    Another interesting thing about the movie was the appearance of "THAT GUY" who seemingly pops up in almost every dramatic series these days. His name is Garret Dillahunt, and his resume is impressive, not that I've got a man-crush or anything. Most of us first noticed him in Deadwood, where they killed off his 1st season character, then he returned as the evil Francis Wolcott. Since then, he's appeared in CSI, L&O, The 4400, ER, Numb3rs, John from Cincinnati, Damages, Life, and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, where he's the Terminator Cromartie. Since so many of his roles have a dark or evil veneer, it was an interesting choice to cast him as one of the good guys.

    For those who haven't seen it yet, you can get a preview via this No Country for Old Men Trailer. A little less dark and dramatic is this Sock Puppet Show Version of No Country for Old Men:

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    “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.”
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    In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

    Giving us a look at how the opening sequence would have appeared if the movie had come out a few years earlier, this Old School Star Wars Credits (VIA Geek Culture) is worth a look.

    What we won't be seeing anytime soon is the Star Trek re-boot movie, which tentatively will appear in May '09. But with 700 episodes and ten movies, there's more than enough old stuff to keep us occupied. If not, there's always the web...

    Star Trek Personality Test - which character are you? (Apparently, I'm Constable Odo)
    The Fascist Ideology of Star Trek
    Star Trek Clichés and inconsistencies from Ex Astris Scientia.
    Mayberry in Star Trek
    Fascinating, Captain. Sensors indicate a ship...made of cardboard!
    If Dr. Seuss wrote for Star Trek
    Beer Trek: The Star Trek Drinking Game
    Christian Metal Band or Star Trek Episode?
    ST Theme Song Lyrics
    TOS Videos: Full Episodes On-Line!
    Eric's Excruciatingly Detailed Star Trek (TOS) Plot Summaries
    The Klingon Language Institute
    Star Trek Minutiae
    12 Star Trek gadgets that became reality
    Top 10 Things I Hate About Star Trek
    The Final Frontier: Star Trek Urns and Caskets
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    The OTHER new site from the LOLcats crew is Pundit Kitchen, allowing you to cook up pictures of politicians and season to taste. Here's one of "Paulette Revere" and trust me; we know! Let's hope PA voters see through her disingenuous routine of fear and misinformation.
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