Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Wow. Clearly the education system failed the author of this article! Maybe it's time for No Journalist Left Behind?
Monday, January 30, 2006
First let me share some great news. I got my Billy Joel tickets! I was able to snag two 200-level seats for the April 14th show in DC. What's ridiculous is that even the 200-level tickets were $89.50 -- worse yet is the $14.30 PER TICKET convenience charge plus $4.50 order processing that Ticketbastard charges! That's over $106 per ticket. Oh well... Billy Joel puts on a great show, often playing almost 3 hours, so I guess it's worth it. And you never know when he'll stop touring. I believe this will be my 8th Billy Joel concert (two of those were with Elton John and one was actually a master class lecture series).
Now for my second Music Monday topic. This one's also a bit of a rant. Friday my wife IM'd me about a song she had heard on her way to work, "Bad Day" by Daniel Powter. Yeah, it's a good song. So what's my rant? Well, Powter reminds me a lot of a great singer/songwriter out of the Philadelphia area, Harry Francis. Harry used to play keyboards for Mr. Greengenes, a fantastic alternative cover band that I've been going to see since they formed at West Chester U. 12 years ago. What I don't get is how someone like Daniel Powter can get a major record contract and have a single getting national airplay while someone like Harry remains unsigned. Harry is a great singer/songwriter and piano player, and his songs are catchy and very radio-friendly, which is why I can't figure out how he hasn't been picked up by a major label yet. Anyway, I encourage you to check out Harry's website and if you like what you hear, pick up a copy of his CD!
Friday, January 27, 2006
1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?
How the fuck did I manage to chew a hole in my moustache? (Don't ask.)
2. How much cash do you have on you?
About $100, but only because we sold our fake fireplace last night for cash.
3. What's a word that rhymes with TEST? Jest
4. planet? Mars
5. Who is the 4th person on your missed call list?
My cell died today, so I guess all calls will be missed calls for the next few days.
6. What is your favorite ring on your phone?
Before my phone died the last time, it played 'Fight on State'. But my wife's phone also had the same ring, which made it quite difficult to tell them apart. Now my phone's ring sounds like a train.
7. What shirt are you wearing?
Hmmm... just looked through the Land's End website and can't find it... but it's a purple-blue striped oxford.
8. What do you label yourself? Geek, musician, tv addict... all of the above?
9. Name the brand of shoes you've recently worn. Rockport and Land's End
10. Bright or Dark Room? I prefer dim, but not dark.
11. What were you doing at midnight last night? Getting a book packaged up to mail out.
12. What did your last text message you received on your cell say?
You have been outbid on.....
13. Where is your nearest 7-11? About a half mile from work.
14. What's a saying that you say a lot?
Hmmm.... I don't really have a catch phrase! Maybe 'in a sec'.
15.Who told you they loved you last? My wife.
16. Last furry thing you touched? My sweet fluffy poodle-doodle!
17. How Many Drugs Have You Done In The Past three Days?
Ugh. My back and neck have been killing me for the past week -- Aleve during the day and advil at night. Plus Mucinex and Adderall. I guess that's four.
18. How many rolls of film do you need to get developed?
Two, but I need to actually finish them first.
19. Favorite age you have been so far?
Either 24 (the age when I got married) or 32 (the age when my daughter was born).
20. your worst enemy? My alarm clock.
21. What is your current desktop picture? This.
22. What was the last thing you said to someone?
I'll be upstairs in a minute. (Oh, that was 2 hours ago... oops!)
23. If you had to choose between a million bucks or to be able to fly, which would you choose?
The money's much more practical. Might buy myself a flying car, though.
24. Do you like someone? Of course! Life wouldn't be much fun if I didn't.
25. The last song you listened to?
Currently listening to Alanis Morisette on the Tonight Show singing a song from The Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack.
My wife forwarded this to me and I just had to share. I'm sure most people have seen this before, but it's still funny. Parents will especially like numbers 3 and 4. :)
Have you ever spoken and wished that you could immediately take the words back...or that you could crawl into a hole? Here are the Testimonials of a few people who did....
FIRST TESTIMONY: I walked into a hair salon with my husband and three kids in tow and asked loudly, "How much do you charge for a shampoo and a blow job?" I turned around and walked back out and never went back. My husband didn't say a word...he knew better.
SECOND TESTIMONY: I was at the golf store comparing different kinds of golf balls. I was unhappy with the women's type I had been using. After browsing for several minutes, I was approached by one of the good-looking gentlemen who works at the store. He asked if he could help me. Without thinking, I looked at him and said, "I think I like playing with men's balls."
THIRD TESTIMONY: My sister and I were at the mall and passed by a store that sold a variety of candy and nuts. As we were looking at the display case, the boy behind the counter asked if we needed any help. I replied, "No, I'm just looking at your nuts." My sister started to laugh hysterically, The boy grinned, and I turned beet-red and walked away. To this day, my Sister has never let me forget.
FOURTH TESTIMONY: While in line at the bank one afternoon, my toddler decided to release some pent-up energy and ran amok. I was finally able to grab hold of her after receiving looks of disgust and annoyance from other patrons. I told her that if she did not start behaving "right now" she would be punished. To my horror, she looked me in the eye and said in a voice just as threatening, "If you don't let me go right now, I will tell Grandma that I saw you kissing Daddy's pee-pee last night!" The silence was deafening after this enlightening exchange. Even the tellers stopped what they were doing. I mustered up the last of my dignity and walked out of the bank with my daughter in tow. The last thing I heard when the door closed behind me, were screams of laughter.
FIFTH TESTIMONY: Have you ever asked your child a question too many times? My three-year-old son had a lot of problems with potty training and I was on him constantly. One day we stopped at Taco Bell for a quick lunch in between errands. It was very busy, with a full dining room. While enjoying my taco, I smelled something funny, so of course I checked my seven-month-old daughter, and she was clean. Then I realized that Danny had not asked to go potty in a while, so I asked him if he needed to go, and he said "No". I kept thinking, "Oh Lord, that child has had an accident, and I don't have any clothes with me." Then I said, "Danny, are you SURE you didn't have an accident?" "No," he replied. I just KNEW that he must have had an accident, because the smell was getting worse. Soooooo, I asked one more time, "Danny, did you have an accident?" This time he jumped up, yanked down his pants, bent over and spread his cheeks and yelled, "SEE MOM, IT'S JUST FARTS!!" While 30 people nearly choked to death on their tacos laughing, he calmly pulled up his pants and sat down. An old couple made me feel better by thanking me for the best laugh they'd ever had!
LAST TESTIMONY: This had most of the state of Michigan laughing for 2 days and a very embarrassed female news anchor who will, in the future, likely think before she speaks. What happens when you predict snow but don't get any....a true story... We had a female news anchor who, the day after it was supposed to have snowed and didn't, turned to the weatherman and asked: "So Bob, where's that 8 inches you promised me last night?" Not only did HE have to leave the set, but half the crew did too they were laughing so hard!
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Does it strike anybody else as odd that as the threat level goes down, the terror level of the Sesame Street character goes UP?? I mean Elmo is by far the most innocuous character, Ernie is almost as harmless, Bert can be a little creepy, Cookie Monster is, after all, a monster, and Oscar is just plain grouchy. (But hey, he's got that "shelter in place" thing down to a science!)
So if the terror level is Elmo, am I supposed to be scared or happy?
Before Christmas I discovered a toy called Elmo Knows Your Name. Cool little bugger... you hook him up to your computer and you can program your kid's name, birthday, favorite color, etc. "Cool," I thought, "a toy for LM and a geek gadget for me all wrapped into one!"
Well, after 15 minutes of cutting tape, twist-ties, and plastic fasteners, and another 15 minutes of installing software, I was finally ready to download the customized settings to the doll. It got about 99% done and then said the download failed. I tried it out and it seemed to be working... it knew LM's name and that it was her birthday, so I wrapped it up for her to open. But when she opened it and tried it out, it played just a bit of Elmo's birthday song, went right into A-B-C, and then apparently hung and wouldn't play anything until the batteries were removed! We tried my wife's computer and she couldn't get the settings to download to the doll at all. So mommy headed off to the store to get a new doll.
So after more cutting and unpackaging (but luckily no reinstalling of software), I tried the download again, and once again it got about 99% done and then failed! This time it at least played the first two songs properly and started the third song, and then cycled through them again (with each press of Elmo's stomach), so we decided it was working well enough to at least give to Little Miss. But I want the stupid thing to work properly!
I went to Fisher Price's help website and went through the troubleshooting walk-thru, and all it says is that if you get an error and the doll doesn't work right, you have a defective doll! What kind of help is that? So today I called a live support tech and he made a few suggestions such as trying a different USB port, but nothing really concrete. I'll have to try a few things, including trying my wife's computer again, and then call tech support again while I have the doll hooked up if nothing else works. I just find it hard to believe that we could have gotten two defective dolls in a row. *sigh*
Serves me right for buying a toy that has to be set up using your computer.
*** UPDATE ***
Thanks SO MUCH to Mommygoth for mentioning the reviews on Amazon. After reading the reviews, I tried turning off my virus software and I was able to successfully download the settings to Elmo. Now that he works properly, he is pretty cool!
Monday, January 23, 2006
I must admit I was initially disappointed with the outcome of the show... I thought MiG had the better voice for INXS, and J.D. really acted like a pompous and irresponsible ass (or at least that's the way they made it look on TV). But after listening to the new INXS album Switch, it's clear they made the absolute right decision.
You've probably heard the first single Pretty Vegas on the radio or even in promos for the TV show Las Vegas, but if you haven't heard the whole album, you're really missing out. Listen to the first track, Devil's Party, and you'll swear it's Michael Hutchence reincarnated. But J.D. isn't just a Hutchence imitator. He brings his own style with Pretty Vegas and Never Let You Go, and even seems to channel the sounds of Lenny Kravitz (on Remember Who's Your Man) and David Bowie (on Hungry). But my favorite track hands down is Afterglow. This hauntingly beautiful song sounds like could have stepped off U2's Joshua Tree, with maybe a hint of Genesis thrown in too.
If you liked INXS in the 80's, you'll love Switch. Even if you didn't watch Rock Star, or if you did but didn't like J.D., you still owe it to yourself to check out this album.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
We didn't really do much in the way of celebrating, mostly since my parents are in Spain for another two weeks, but LM did get a bunch of presents. From us she got a musical phone, a vibrating "laughing cow" ball, and Elmo Knows Your Name... although wouldn't you know it but it turned out Elmo was defective and I couldn't get him properly programmed! So today it was off to Wally World to return Elmo and then over to Target for a new one since we couldn't find any more at Wal-mart. She also got a cute singing and bouncing bird (dances to "If you're happy and you know it") from her maternal grandparents, a really soft stuffed frog from her great-aunt, and a Reebok outfit and a book that plays music from another great-aunt and great-uncle. I'm sure there will be lots more presents coming, and we're hoping to have a party for her in early February when my parents are back.
Now I just have to figure out what I need to properly decorate this Blue's Clues cake I'm planning to make!
Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
Also, if you're an American Idol fan, why not sign up for Idol Go Home and play along? You could win a trip to the American Idol finale in Hollywood, a Dell laptop, an Xbox 360, or other great prizes!
Today's rant has to do with making a right turn on red.
Making a right turn on a red light is legal in all 50 states and DC (except in New York City), but drivers must come to a full stop and yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and traffic with the green light. The idea is simple -- if there's no traffic coming and you can safely make a right turn, you shouldn't have to wait for a green light.
The DC suburbs and especially northern Virginia are notorious for heavy traffic at just about any time of the day or night. During rush hour, this often means stop-and-go traffic on major thoroughfares, and frequently this leads to traffic backing up across an intersection. If a driver can see that the traffic is backed up on the other side of an intersection, the proper and courteous thing to do is to stop before entering the intersection, even if he/she has a green light, until there is enough room for the driver to get completely across the intersection on the other side.
Now if you are sitting at an intersection waiting to make a right turn on red, and I am approaching from your left with a green light but I stop before entering the intersection because the traffic is stopped on the other side, THIS DOES NOT GIVE YOU THE RIGHT OF WAY TO MAKE YOUR RIGHT TURN IN FRONT OF ME!! You must still YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY to traffic with the green light! When traffic starts to move again, I have the right to take that spot, not you! Plus by sneaking your way out and stealing MY spot in the traffic parade, I either end up stopping in the middle of the intersection or I have to sit and wait some more, where I could end up missing the change of the light or worse yet, have another impatient right-turn-on-red-maker jump out in front of me!
This scenario has happened to me more times than I can count. Not only does rude behavior like this lead to more gridlock, but it also creates even more rude and aggressive drivers! Now because of this rampant tactic of people trying to cut in whenever they can, I find that I'm less likely to stop before the intersection even if it means blocking part of the intersection. People just need to learn take their turn and try to be a little more patient. I know waiting your turn sucks, especially during rush hour when you're already late, but if everyone could just try to show a LITTLE more courtesy, the roads would be so much more pleasant.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Today Music Monday has to be about tomorrow's big event -- American Idol! Of course the show hasn't started yet, so there's not much to talk about!
I do have some bad news... apparently being selected as a blogger for Idol Go Home wasn't as big an honor as I thought. I thought I was going to be an official blogger. Turns out it's basically open to anyone who wants to blog.
IGH is also running a blogger contest, with prizes for the blogger with the most traffic to their blog. I haven't even made my first post yet, but please visit my Idol Go Home blog here!
Also, if you'd like to sign up for Idol Go Home, send me an email and I will send you a referral link. Each referral enters me for a drawing for $500!
Sorry to cut this so short, but it's getting late and I'd like to make my first post to IGH tonight before heading to bed.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Monday, January 09, 2006
I was also disappointed by the sets and other production aspects of this show. I would attribute this to the fact that it is a touring company, except that the performance of The Producers we saw at The Kennedy Center last year blew this away. Perhaps it is due to the venue, or maybe this is just the way Les Mis has always been performed. I know this is true of some aspects -- for example, the chain gang in the epilogue uses imaginary picks and shovels. I guess I have just come to expect more realistic props and sets from Broadway shows.
I had also forgotten how disjointed the storyline of Les Miserables is. This show certainly requires some pre-reading of the program to understand what is going on, and a thorough listening of the original cast recording of the show would help too. I own the soundtrack and saw the show on Broadway many years ago, and I still found the show confusing at parts.
All in all, it was an enjoyable show and I'm glad we got to see it in it's (supposedly) final DC engagement. However, I have to say I'm surprised that Les Mis has had such a long and successful run and is considered "the world's most popular musical" considering the disjointed storyline, minimalist sets, and generally depressing theme.
In case you are curious, I have seen the following musicals (listed in roughly chronological order):
Phantom of the Opera (Broadway)
Les Miserables (Broadway)
Grand Hotel (Broadway, feat. Michael Jeter)
Man of La Mancha (Broadway, feat. Raul Julia)
Miss Saigon (Broadway)
City of Angels (National touring company, Penn State)
The Who's Tommy (National touring company, Penn State)
The Producers (National touring company, Kennedy Center)
This does not include amateur theater productions.
LM will be 1 year old on the 22nd.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006
You know those desk plaques and bumper stickers you find in cheesy gift shops with corny sayings on them? I remember seeing one once that said "bald men are better lovers." That plaque stuck in my mind as a kid, since my dad was bald and I knew someday I most likely would be too. (By the way, I am now... well, mostly, anyway.)
Well, I am here today to prove to you that the saying really is true. Let's look at it scientifically.
* Baldness is caused by a chemical called DHT.
* DHT is produced from excess testosterone.
* Testosterone is responsible for a man's sex drive.
* An increased sex drive would not only generate more interest in sex, but would most likely translate into an increase in sexual frequency too.
* And everyone knows that practice makes perfect.... therefore bald men really are better lovers!
OK, so they may not be "better" but they've at least had more practice!
I also remember seeing a plaque once that said "Every time a man has sex, a hair falls out." I'm not so sure I buy this one... unless masturbation counts. That might explain why I was going bald by the time I was 16!
Today's rant is about the death of modern rock and the general demise of radio in the Washington DC area.
Almost exactly a year ago, the best modern rock station in the DC area, WHFS, flipped its format to Latin/Salsa. This left powerhouse DC101 for alt rock, and Z-104 playing a more mellow "adult alternative" format. This past Wednesday saw the death of Z-104, replaced by a classical station in order to make room for a new long-format news-talk station.
This means the loss of any alternative to DC101 for modern/alt rock, and basically NO station in the DC metro area that actually plays music without silly antics from their radio personalities. OK, even Z-104's morning crew had their share of on-air comedy and gossip segments, but they were much more tolerable (and played more music) than the crass Elliot in the Morning show, the nonsensical babbling of the Jack Diamond Morning Show, the humorless chatter of the 98 Rock morning show , or the "locker room talk" of the Sports Junkies. Heck, even the Junkies would be tolerable if they still played an occasional song like when they were on 'HFS.
Outside of the morning drive, the only real alternative to DC101 for modern rock is its sister station in Baltimore, 98 Rock (another Clear Channel station), but reception is spotty in DC and their afternoon DJs frequently act like idiots. Mix 107.3 and WINC are tolerable, but both are Adult Contemporary stations that either put me to sleep or nauseate me with some old 70's song that should be left to rest in peace. If I want to listen to 70's and 80's music, I'll put on classic rock 94.7 The Arrow, which has basically become the best alternative to DC101 after 98 Rock.
What's really a shame is that there is no longer a place to hear artists like Dave Matthews, Alanis Morisette, John Mayer, and U2 without the sleepy sounds Elton John and Jewel, the 80's pop of Madonna, or the obnoxious sounds of Jet, The Killers, The White Stripes, and others. Don't get me wrong... I like harder artists like Nine Inch Nails, Puddle of Mudd, Foo Fighters, and Green Day, but I normally prefer the lighter stuff, especially with DC traffic the way it is. And I certainly changed the station less often due to a song on Z104 (usually because it was a little TOO mellow or a song that I was completely sick of) than I do for stuff played on DC101, Mix 107.3, 98 Rock, or 94.7.
When my wife and I used to commute together, we'd go through our 400+ CD collection from A to Z. This was great, except for 1) not getting traffic and weather reports and 2) never getting to hear any new music. I'd consider getting an iPod but that has the same drawbacks, which is why I'm now seriously considering XM or Sirius satellite radio. (And then I might actually be able to get the Penn State games too!) I just hate the idea paying a monthly fee for something I'll only listen to about 45 minutes a day. But given the state of radio in the DC area these days, I may not have any other option, other than starting my own radio station (which has crossed my mind).
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
What was really a pretty boring game because of the two teams' stifiling defenses (there were NO touchdowns scored in the second half) turned into an emotional roller-coaster at the end of regulation play. In fact in the third quarter, neither team was able to make a first down until a pass interference call gave Penn State a first down with less than a minute left in the quarter.
At the end of the fourth quarter, the teams sat tied at 16 -- Penn State with two touchdowns and a safety, and Florida State with two touchdowns, a missed extra point (that could have won them the game), and a field goal. Both teams missed field goals in the first OT, then rallied to score touchdowns in the second OT. FSU had the frist possession in the third OT and their field goal attempt hit the upright, and Penn State was finally able to end the game with a 29-yard field goal from their freshman kicker.
(If you don't know, in college football overtime, each team gets the ball on the opponent's 25 yard line. They get one posession and go until they score, fail to make a first down conversion, or turn the ball over. Then the other team gets an opportunity to do the same. Although it seems more fair than pro football's sudden death overtime, it does tend to lead to multiple overtime periods before a game is finally decided.)
This is certainly a game that Penn State and Florida State fans will both remember for a long time. It was great to see JoePa and Bobby Bowden coach against each other and also be so respectful to each other before and after the game. The only question now is who will retire first, and whether Paterno will have any chance of reclaiming the title of most wins in division 1-A football. (Paterno now has 354, Bowden has 359).
Monday, January 02, 2006
Today there is really only one piece of music that matters to me -- HAIL TO THE REDSKINS! With yesterday's win over the Eagles, the Redskins earned themselves a spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately since they got the last playoff spot, that means no home playoff games. :( I'm hoping someone is able to organize an informal band trip to one of the playoff games (if there's more than one, that is). They won't send the band to a playoff game (as far as I know), but we MIGHT get to go if the Redskins make the super bowl. The Skins need to win three road playoff games in order to make it to the Super Bowl. I guess we'll wait and see.
Here are the lyrics to the Washington Redskins fight song:
Hail to the Redskins!
Braves on the warpath,
Fight for old D.C.!
Run or pass and score
We want a lot more!
Beat 'em Swamp 'em Touchdown
Let the points soar!
Fight on, Fight on,
Til you have won,
Sons of Wash-ing-ton!
Rah! Rah! Rah!
You can also listen to the song here.
Of course now it's time to start singing Fight On State and Hail To The Lion in preparation for tomorrow's Orange Bowl game between Penn State and Florida State!