Saturday, December 31, 2005

Predictions for 2006

These are my psychic predictions for 2006.

  • Sports: Barry Bonds takes over as the all-time homerun leader. The White Sox will fail to make the post season. Roy Jones, Jr. is put into a coma, but recovers.

  • World Events: Osama bin Laden’s body is found, but neither the war in Iraq nor the “war on terror” are affected.

  • Local Events: A scandal will reveal that the NYPD has systematically underreported crime statistics over the last eight years.

  • National Events: Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is forced to resign. Dick Cheney is forced to resign “for health reasons.”

  • Economy: Google’s stock price drops to $80. The Dow at the end of the year will be under 10,500.

  • Entertainment: Peter Jackson begins preproduction on The Hobbit. Studios experiment with releasing DVDs of movies at the same time they appear in the theaters in order to combat piracy.

  • Technology: TiVo goes bankrupt, but Microsoft adopts the technology.

  • Natural Disasters: A hurricane will wreck havoc above the Mason-Dixon line. A blizzard will cause Washington D.C. governmental offices to close for three days. There will be an earthquake in Missouri causing panic, but minor damage.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A fictional Christmas memory of me and you

Stolen from Captain Typho’s blog.

[Yes, I'm totally cheating today! I'm stealing from myself.]

The challenge: Write a fictional remembrance for the Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or Wookie Life Day or...) holidays.

Rules: If your eyes are passing over this right now, (even if we don't speak often) please post a comment here on my blog with a COMPLETELY MADE UP AND FICTIONAL CHRISTMAS MEMORY of you and me. It can be anything you want -- good or bad -- BUT IT HAS TO BE FAKE. And, if you feel like it, when you're finished leaving your comment, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) with the memories people create.

Monday, December 26, 2005

My Secret

If you scroll down this page and look under the Currently Reading heading on the right column you may find out what my secret is, based on some of my recent reading material.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Best and Worst

Stolen from Captain Picard’s blog:

Though all presents are given with good intentions, what are the best presents and the most pointless Christmas presents you have ever had?

The best present I got wasn’t for me, it was for my dog. A co-worker got me a feeding toy that had a recording device in it. Every time my puppy hit the ball with his nose he was rewarded with a treat and the sound of my voice praising him. He eventually destroyed the recorder, but he had great fun and I loved watching him play with it.

The worst presents I got were from my father’s side of the family, unfortunately. For some reason almost every year one or more of them would give me a board game. I hated that because I was an only child and my parents had no intention of playing the board games with me so every year I was given something that was going to end up in the garbage.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Silent Night

Or more like “Silent Afternoon.”

I ventured out on Christmas Eve afternoon just for the hell of it and, man, was I surprised.

It was empty out there!

I was sure that because of the three day transit strike right before Christmas the stores would be packed, but that was not the case. I easily found parking mere feet from the front entrance of the main store I wanted to visit in the mall. In the store itself the ratio of salespeople to customers was almost one to one. After we finished shopping, we went to a restaurant in the same mall and had no waiting time whatsoever.

I heard similar stories about other local shopping areas yesterday.

Wow, revenues will probably be poor this year.

Friday, December 23, 2005


Better or worse?

I think he needs to trim about 3 more inches.

Yanks introduce Damon.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

An end to the strike?

I started the day off working at home as I have since Tuesday. After 11 the HOV restrictions on the bridges and tunnels into the city are rescinded, and today I was able to get a lift into the city. It took about 90 minutes to get to work, and about an hour to get back (I left work at 7 p.m.) which wasn’t bad, but I feel beat now.

Around noon rumors started that the transit workers and the transit authority were talking again. By 3 p.m. word was out that the process of getting the trains and buses manned again was underway. They say it’ll take 10-18 hours before everything is up and running, but that should mean that people will be able to commute normally tomorrow morning.

We’ll see.

I’m going to take a nap now.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Johnny Damon is now a Yankee.


You mean to tell me no one in our minor league system could fill the centerfield role?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

It’s on

The transit strike went into effect at 3 a.m. I worked from home, and other than an initial problem with sending emails from my work account which was resolved by rebooting, it worked.

Tomorrow should be very special.

Monday, December 19, 2005

For the person who has everything

Running out of gift ideas? Buy Cthulhu slippers for your deranged loved ones!
Based on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories. The Cthulhu Plush Slippers are made of quality fabric and your feet will never be warmer than when they're tucked cozily inside a cute pair of demons. One size available; fits men sizes 9 - 12.
Hey, even the Elder Gods need to make some dough.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Bronx tale gone awry

The New York Times website has a great article about the strange case of Lillo Brancato Jr., once a promising young actor, now a drug addict who is recovering from gunshot wounds he received from the cop he murdered last Saturday.


Talk about going downhill! What happened to this guy? As a protégé of Robert De Niro, the world should’ve been his.

Tsk, tsk.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

NSA spying on U.S. citizens

It was revealed this week that President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to spy on U.S. citizens, and he’s been doing so since 9/11.

Now, I’m not one of these naïve people who think “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you shouldn’t be worried about your government spying on you,” but I do wonder why everyone thinks this is significant. The FBI and the local police spy on Americans every day, right? That’s okay but when the NSA does it it’s wrong?

Or are people mad because the NY Times sat on this story for a year and it could've changed the 2004 election?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Strike averted... for now

The deadline for the transit strike came and went at midnight. No agreement was reached, but the workers didn’t go on strike. Instead, the leader of the union held a press conference at 7:15 a.m. and announced that there would be an incremental strike, starting with private bus lines in Queens on Monday morning and following with a full-scale strike on Tuesday morning.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Golden Globe Nominations

Some interesting nominations for this year’s Golden Globe awards:

[I had huge problems with this role, but he is talented.]

[Say what? That movie sucked.]

[Wow! Good for PJ!]

PRISON BREAK (FOX)Original Film and Adelstein/Parouse Prods.

ROME (HBO)HBO Entertainment i.a.w. BBC


EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (UPN)Chris Rock Enterprises, Inc. and 3 Arts Entertainment i.a.w Paramount Network Television
[Interesting! I’ve been watching it off and on. I have some comments about the show to post another time.]

INTO THE WEST (TNT)DreamWorks Television
[This was damn good. They need to show this in schools.]

LACKAWANNA BLUES (HBO)Bellah Films, Good Shepard Prods. i.a.w. HBO Films
[I thought the show was too episodic, but I do like black period pieces.]

SLEEPER CELL (SHOWTIME)Showtime, Anne Kindberg Prod.


[He is HOT. LOL!]

The fill list of nominations can be found here.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Most Popular Toys of the Last 100 Years

According to Forbes, these were the most popular toys by decade:

1900-1909 Crayola Crayons
1910-1919 Madame Alexander Collectable Dolls
1920-1929 Raggedy Ann Dolls
1930-1939 View Master 3-D Viewer
1940-1949 Candy Land Board Game
1950-1959 Mr. Potato Head
1960-1969 G.I. Joe
1970-1979 Rubik’s Cube
1980-1989 Cabbage Patch Kids
1990-1999 Beanie Babies
2000- Pres. Razor Scooter

Click here to read more about toys over the last century.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Looming Transit Strike

The New York City transit workers are poised to strike Friday if they don’t get a new contract. It seems that even though the MTA has a budget surplus and they’re giving away free rides, they haven’t gotten around to giving their workers a raise.

If they go on strike my job isn’t going to reimburse us for cabs or arrange for car services or pay our parking fees if we drive in so...

Please go on strike! It means I get to stay home!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hasta La Vista, “Tookie” Williams

Aren’t you glad you’re not the “govinator” today?

Convicted murderer Stanley “Tookie” Williams is scheduled to die in about 12 hours in California. Pressure is on for governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant him clemency and commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.

No matter how this goes down, everybody is screwed.

Tookie has been nominated six times for a Nobel Peace Prize. But does that make it okay for him to have killed four people?

Not if they were members of my family, it doesn’t!!

But if this man is put to death, we look like beasts. I think it’s safe to say that the person who did those crimes in 1979 isn’t the same person being put to death.

And if Charles Manson’s death sentence could be commuted, you can certainly do that for someone who has renounced violence. I mean, really. Why is Manson not dead?

Then there’s the fact that Arnold wants to be re-elected. He stands to lose votes either way. If he doesn't commute the sentence, he’ll be destroyed in the next election by his opponent. Think of the ads they can come up with. But if he does grant clemency, he's “soft on crime” and he “caved in to the radical left.”

Oh, and there’ll probably be a riot if Tookie dies, God knows.



UPDATE: Arnold did not commute the sentence. Tookie will die tonight.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The “Up” Series (1)

Sunday I caught up on my Netflix DVDs and I watched about six hours of the “Up Series,” which could be said to be the longest-running reality show in history.

The “Up Series” consists of five documentaries (7 Up, 7 Plus 7, 14-Up, 21-Up, etc.) made in Britain chronicling the lives of 14 children first filmed at age seven in 1964. Every seven years the director touches base with them to see how their lives have progressed. The last documentary came out in 1999 when the kids, now kids no longer, were 42. The next segment will be out in 2006 when they are 49.

The series is both fascinating and scary. For the majority of the kids, the way they were going to end up really could be predicted at age seven or at the latest by fourteen. I found myself wishing that a parallel project had been undertaken with a group of American kids to see if their lives over the same timeframe were more unpredictable.

The handwriting was on the wall for most of the working-class kids. Tony, a short boy with a Mickey Rooney face, wanted to be a jockey at age seven. By 15 he had dropped out of school to pursue his dream and he told the director that if he failed to make if as a jockey he would become a taxi driver. Well, he failed, and he became a taxi driver. But his is not a sad story. He bought a taxi, got married, and with the money he and his wife make driving the taxi in shifts, they’ve bought a house, have raised two kids and own two ponies that Tony has taught his daughters to care for. He picked up the acting bug in his late twenties and he has progressed from roles as extras to bit parts on TV. Not bad for someone who left school at such a young age.

The three working-class girls Jackie, Lyn and Sue fared worse. At seven all they could talk about was marriage. At fourteen they insisted that they didn’t want to get married too young, but at 21 two of the girls were already married and the third was married by 24. By 28, two of the three were divorced. All three continued to work, however. Surprisingly, Jackie, who by choice never had kids with her first husband, had three boys after the age of 35. Lyn, who remained married from the age of 19, became active on the local school council and she teaches reading classes to mostly Indian and Arab kids in an East London that has undergone a dramatic change from her youth. Sue, the last of the three to marry and the first to divorce, had to go on the British version of welfare for a while but ended up doing clerical work in a law office at a university. She displayed a previously unseen talent for singing in the 42-Up documentary.

More later on the biggest success, Nick, the farmboy who exceeded all expectations, and Neil, who by 28 seemed the most likely to commit suicide.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: The Movie

I went to a Saturday morning matinee showing of Narnia, and I’m satisfied with what they did with the movie. It’s been years since I’ve seen a major Sci-Fi or Fantasy movie in a theatre full of kids. That was the right audience to see the movie with -- I’d forgotten how they react to movies with less cynicism.


For the most part the filmmakers remained true to the book. The things they did change added to the dramatic tension.

Added/altered scenes:

  • Edmund endangers other members of his family by running back into his house to grab a picture of his father while the family is fleeing from the London blitz.

  • Peter needles Edmund several times (“grow up,” “do what you’re told,” makes him wear a girl’s fur coat, etc.) early on, which makes the White Witch’s seduction of Edmund more plausible.

  • Mr. Tumnus apparently drugs Lucy with some tainted tea and puts her to sleep with his pan pipes in creepy scene which must’ve made every parent in the audience who didn’t know the plot start thinking, “Oh my God -- pedophile.”

  • Father Christmas gives Lucy and Susan weapons (a dagger and bow and arrows, respectively) in addition to the gifts they were given in the book. This is interesting since in the book the girls are specifically told not to fight because “when women get involved in war, it’s nasty.” Like war isn’t nasty to begin with. Duh.

  • Aslan’s sacrifice was muted so much, the kids in the audience weren’t the least bit upset. That was a problem, I think. Either the kids didn’t buy that he was dead, or they didn’t relate to him as the loving savior that he is supposed to be. In contrast, the kids were much more upset when the witch clubbed the chained up faun Tumnus in the head in one scene. Perhaps they could relate to the faun more because he was frail and looked more human?

  • In the book the only ones who know of Aslan’s death are the two girls. In the movie, the girls send word of Aslan’s death to their brothers and the army of good creatures, so they go into battle thinking they’re going to lose, which is good tension.

  • The children’s personalities are more well defined in the movie, except, perhaps, for Peter, who is generically good, but not annoyingly so. Susan tries very hard to be logical, which is something all women are accused if not being. It’s hinted that Edmund may have a closer relationship than the other siblings with their absent father who is off fighting WWII, so he’s the one who’s lost his support system. Lucy is babyish and sensitive, and apparently incapable of holding a grudge.

  • Susan is the only character besides the witch who straight up kills somebody. Although Peter does kill the wolf Maugrim who is menacing his sisters, it was essentially an accident since the wolf leapt on his sword. Susan on the other hand dismissively shoots the witch’s dwarf henchman in the heart when he tries to attack Edmund at the end of the movie. The kids in the audience liked that.

I’d say they’re off to a good start with the series. They could’ve made the witch scarier, but the movie was satisfactory.

Six more books to go.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: The Book

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe premiers tonight, and I will be seeking it tomorrow. I refreshed my memory of the story this week by listening to the audiobook (I’m too lazy to read).

Some observations:

  • I was reminded that it really is a kids’ book. You’re never really fully immersed in the world because the book it written with the assumption that a parent is reading it to a child. There are a lot of sentences in it like, “If you’ve ever been up all night crying, you’ll know exactly how poor Lucy and Susan felt.”

    In contrast, The Lord of The Rings (even The Hobbit, which is clearly for younger readers), never has a narrator talking at you.
  • Despite the obvious parallels between Jesus and Aslan, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe isn’t didactically Christian. In fact, there are probably as many pagan elements as Christian in the story.

    I’ve read many articles about how Disney is pushing this movie to the evangelical crowd, and the book in its original form is not nearly meaty enough to base a sermon on. I shudder to think what may have been done to make this movie appealing to the deeply religious.
I’ll be back tomorrow with part two after I see the movie.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Me & Barbara Bush

Back in November in the Twenty Answers post I mentioned that I had once had dinner with Barbara Bush.

Here’s the picture I promised!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Guilty Pleasure: Prison Break

I suspect that the ratings for Prison Break are pretty good, so it’s not a true guilty pleasure, but I’ll call it such since the premise is clearly bullshit.

The plot revolves around Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller), a young structural engineer who purposefully gets himself thrown in prison (for bank robbery, no less) in order to spring his brother from death row. His brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), is scheduled to be executed for the murder of the Vice President.

Michael’s crazy scheme hinges on a clever gimmick -- before robbing the bank he had his entire torso and arms tattooed with a blueprint of the prison. The blueprint is obscured from casual glances by gothic motifs and he’s also written various words and numbers that he uses as mnemonics.

Michael is a know-it-all, but he suffers enough setbacks to keep him from being irritating. He keeps having to befriend unsavory people to advance his plans, and once they figure out that he intends to break out, he has no choice but to add them to the growing list of escapees.

Then there was that time two of his toes were clipped off with garden shears by a Mafia guy.

And there was the redneck that wanted to rape him...

Meanwhile, on the outside, an ex-girlfriend of Lincoln’s who is a lawyer is working with another lawyer and Lincoln’s estranged teen son to find people willing to come forward with evidence of Lincoln’s innocence. Naturally, the events surrounding the VP’s death are part of a conspiracy sanctioned by the highest levels of government, so everybody’s trying to kill the lawyers.

And, of course, the clock is ticking. In the last episode of the first half of the season, Lincoln’s date with the electric chair is about 18 hours away.

Good show!

My only question is, is this designed to be a one-season series??

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Sleeper Cell

I like this new series Sleeper Cell on Showtime. The pacing and strong writing reminds me of the first season of 24.

The (admittedly improbable) plot centers around Darwyn Al-Sayeed, an African-American deep-cover FBI agent who does a stint in prison in order to gain entry into an Islamic terrorist group’s sleeper cell.

Darwyn is an interesting character for TV. He seems to be primarily motivated to oppose the Muslim extremists because he’s offended by their perversion of his religion. He has chivalrous tendencies towards females and children in distress, but though he says his religion forbids sex outside of marriage, he’s quick to fall into a sexual relationship with a white single mom who works at a nail salon.

As is the case in most of the best TV shows, the surrounding cast is what takes the show to another level. I appreciate the way that the show features a variety of Muslims. Darwyn, as an African-American Muslim, is not considered a “real” Muslim by an Egyptian in episode one. Christian, a Frenchman, converted to Islam because of his Moroccan wife, but he is estranged from her and he’s evidently more of a believer than she is. Tommy, a blond haired, blue-eyed boy from a rich liberal family, seems to have turned to Islam as a rejection of his privileged childhood. Ilija is a Bosnian Muslim who blames the West for allowing Orthodox Serbs to kill his people in the early 90’s. Lastly, the mysterious Farik, leader of the sleeper cell, has the ultimate cover -- he works in a security company and he’s passing as an Israeli.

The only problem with the show? They’re showing the episodes on consecutive nights in December! I think this show is flying under the radar, and that’s a shame.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Final vacation picture

I took this image on Saturday morning. It was raining lightly as the sun rose over the docks in Houston (actually, I think we were in Galveston).

Very spooky and cool.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


While I was sleeping in my cold ass apartment last night it snowed a couple inches. Not much -- just enough to remind me that it is December and my brief sojourn in the Caribbean was exactly that -- a brief sojourn.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

There and Back Again

Disembarkation went smoothly. We got in a taxi van with about ten other people and made it to the airport in about 45 minutes. We took a short flight to Dallas, then a longer one to New York.

By 6:30 we had picked up the dogs from the kennel. They look great -- no signs of depression.

There is about a fifty degree temperature difference between New York and the places we went on vacation.

Oh, and the heat in the apartment didn’t get fixed while we were on vacation.

It figures.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Cruise Day 7: At Sea

The last day of a vacation is always depressing.

I didn't see land today. We're somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. I did see some oil rigs in the distance, though.

We filled out our customs form in preparation for docking in Houston tomorrow. We really didn't buy much. My money was spent on the spa, the Internet access fees and the three tours.

We also received a comments form. I'm still debating whether or not to fill it out. There was a Romanian head waitress at one of the restaurants who was crazy rude to us, then when she realized she'd gone too far she credited one of our meals. She's been sweating ever since. Every time she sees me now she's all smiles and, "Good day madam!"


I wanted to book another cruise in advance to get an onboard credit, but mom wasn't interested in booking now. Maybe in 2007. I want to go on a Mediterranean cruise, but I don't like boarding the dogs for 10-14 days.

Some things I need to remember when I book another cruise on this line:

  • Always bring at least one magazine.

  • Don't bother bringing your cellphone charger.

  • Bring a European electrical plug adapter to use with the laptop in the lounge areas.

  • Try to get at least one sunset shot and one stage show shot with either the still camera or the video camera.

  • Bring a hat.

  • Research how much jewelry costs before you go on vacation.

  • Fully configure your laptop before leaving home.

  • Consider getting a small, sturdy suitcase just for the electronic equipment and a soft piece of luggage for the clothes.

Tomorrow will probably be stressful, since we have to leave the ship with the first group of people at 8:00 and get to the airport from the docks by cab for a 10:30 flight. I hope the check in line won't be long.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Cruise Day 6: At Sea

We sailed by Cancun today, but we did not stop. Cancun was removed from our itinerary because it was destroyed by Hurricane Wilma, as I mentioned on Saturday.


There was nothing to do today.

I went to an origami class and made a crane. After that I had lunch and checked my email. I was sitting near one of the smaller restaurants and I heard a lot of laughter coming from behind the drawn curtains. Apparently there was a training class for the waiters going on and half of them were playing guests. They were really getting into their roles and screaming, "Waiter! I'm ready to place my order!" and "Move your ass!" in obnoxious voices.

This is exactly what they really have to put up with, but they should've been a little more discrete. The guests heard them and the head waiter had to come out and apologize.