Monday, March 27, 2006

Apple vs. Apple

I think, maybe, I may go out and buy a few dozen Beatles albums - because they're my new heroes!

The Beatles' corporate face, Apple Corps., has done the unthinkable and is suing Apple Computers over the entire iTunes franchise. Apple Corps, which of course is involved in the music industry, had first sued Apple Computer back in 1978 for trademark infringement. They settled in 1981 for $80,000 being paid to Apple Corps, and - here's the rub, Horatio - Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music industry!


In 1989, Apple Corp sued AGAIN, claiming Apple Computer violated the settlement agreement, and again (in 1991) a settlement was reached for $26.5 million.

Round three. In 2003, Apple Corps YET AGAIN sued Apple Computer over it's introduction of the iTunes software, which Apple Corps believes was a violation of the previous agreement by Apple not to distribute music. The trial date was set for March 27th of 2006.


The looming question up for courtroom debate is whether iTunes Music Store sells physical music materials, such as CDs.

There is lots of speculation about the outcome of this latest dispute. Some analysts believe it may bring the biggest settlement anywhere in legal history outside of a class action suit. After all, Apple has tied its future to the iPod and tightly bundled it with iTunes. Some predict the suit could result in Apple Corps becoming a major share holder in Apple Computer, possibly with Paul McCartney as a board member.

Another possibility is that the court will order Apple Computer to remove its trademark from iTunes and iPods and set up a new company to sell them. Apple is already preparing for that.

What gets me is...based on previous history, you'd think someone at Apple Computer would have said "hey, maybe this is gonna get us in trouble?"

I'm betting Jobs looked at the numbers and said "Oh screw that, we'll just pay them a good $100million and walk away like nothing happened!"

Or maybe they'll have to start putting little yellow submarines on those devices.

But How Many Songs Can it Hold?

My favorite people in the world, Apple, are at it again. Now, I don't know how much truth there is to this rumor - but you can judge for yourself. Apparently Steve Jobs won an abandoned mine in Australia in a poker game (yeah, this does sound like the stuff of urban legends) and has been using the site to create the world's largest advertisement - an ad that can be seen from planetary orbit!

I know how ludicrous this sounds, I do - but let the proof be in the pudding, as they say. Someone with way more time on their hands than I did some Googling, and stumbled across this image on Google Maps:

World's Largest iPod

Zoom in and judge for yourself. Giant iPod, or hoax?

Rumor mill says it's to coincide, sometime next month, with the unveiling of the Video iPod.

Review: Inside Man

On our way to dinner after this movie, my friend commented: "Wow, this was Spike Lee's best directing job yet!"

My response: "If I got to make a movie, tomorrow, that had Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, and Willem Dafoe - I couldn't possibly screw it up either!"

Understand: I'm not taking anything away from Spike. But let's keep it real, this is probably the first movie he's had to direct that 1) wasn't all about the bruthas, and 2) he didn't write himself. So in that respect, this may be his true breakout film, showing that he's more than an afro-centric director trying to prove he hasn't forgotten where he came from.

Not to say that his touch isn't visible throughout the film. Spike has a flair for bringing out the "real New York", showing both the beauty of the cityscape from various angles and the grittiness that we all have come to love about the city we live in. He manages, if you'll forgive my repetitiveness, to "keep it real" - his New York isn't cleaned up and spotless, it's charm and allure is in it's disdain for what other people think of it.

Denzel is...well, he's Denzel. He's a great actor, truly, but in some respect I catagorize him with Tom Cruise when it comes to the roles he takes. His own personality comes across in his characters, to the extent that you're not sure where he's acting and where he's being himself. Change the clothes and the locale, and you - for the most part - find yourself with essentially the same character. The most notable except is his portrayal of Creasy in "A Man Apart", a role that I personally felt took him to another level of acting.

In "Inside Man", his character Detective Frazier is a cross between the street smart detective in Training Day, and the cerebral foresics expert in The Bone Collector. Frazier, you feel, just might be a *little* corrupt - maybe. Or maybe more than you initially thought. You really don't know until then end, and even then you still have to wonder what's really going on with the character. He's deceptively intelligent, picking up on subtle clues as if he's channeling Columbo while he tries to unravel the mystery of the bank robbery.

Clive Owen plays the master antagonist, the clever bank robber who seems to have more of an agenda than he wants anyone to realize. He's calm, smooth, calculating, confident - exactly the kind of man you'd expect as a Bond villain, without being too much of a cartoon. He's unreadable, his expressions unchanging - and he seems genuinely impressed and amused by Frazier's dogged determination to discover his plans. Owen is the perfect poker player, keeping you guessing literally until the very end.

Jodie Foster steps out of character from her neurotic mother roles and has a little fun in this movie, playing the secretive Madeline White - a "facilitator", for lack fo a better word, whose job it is to secure the privacy of certain items within the bank. Foster looks as if she's having a blast with this role, portraying a woman with a sense of bravado that suggests she will come out sparkling clean out of any situation, no matter how deeply involved she becomes.

Overall, it's a fun movie to watch. The Trickster gives it 4 out of 5 bananas.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Texas: Off The Vacation List

I've been trying to figure out the logic behind this move that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has made, and can't. Well I can, but the explanation involves them inbibing everything they're either seizing or banning, and since I have no proof of this I won't cast stones.

But try explaining this. They're sending undercover agents into bars...looking for drunks.

This is real, folks. Apparently in Texas, "being in a bar does not exempt one from the state laws against public drunkeness" says the commission's Carolyn Beck. The first sting operation was conducted recently in a Dallas suburb where agents infiltrated 36 bars and arrested 30 people for public intoxication.

Public intoxication. In a bar.

Not outside the bar. Not bobbing and weaving on the sidewalk, or upchucking in the alley. Inside the bar.

"There are a lot of dangerous and stupid things people do when they're intoxicated, other than get behind the wheel of a car," Beck said. "People walk out into traffic and get run over, people jump off of balconies trying to reach a swimming pool and miss."

Apparently in Texas they also act as spokesperson for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

So, word to the wise. Watch that beer count when you're in the longhorn, cuz that chick looking more and more attractive with each chug? She may just have a pair of handcuffs waiting to use on you, and it ain't for kinky play.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Myspace: The Movie

Okay this was way too funny not to share. Chapter 1 is the funniest, the rest you can probably ignore:

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Fattening of America

We are way too litigious a society. I personally thought all of those lawsuits against the fast food industry were moronic, and to a point I still do.


Maybe these fast food chains DO have a certain amount of liability. I'm not an enabler, and I have the personal strength to say no to something I don't want. I could also just not walk in the place. But people...come on. It's getting out of hand.

Case in point. I stopped at a KFC today (cuz I'm a Chicken Lover, remember?) to grab a lunch on the go. Simple meal, a 2-piece with 2 sides, cole slaw and potato wedges. Plenty of food. This particular KFC has these new cashier display screens, little 13" flat screens that have additional advertising on them shown next to your price. Okay, no problem - I've learned to ignore this stuff.

The cashier rings up my food, it's $5.36, or something close to that - and then the little display screen talks to me. I get a robotic-yet-friendly feminine voice saying, " could add an additional side order to make your order six dollars!" and the screen displays my options of mashed potatoes or baked beans.

I sort of laughed as I handed the girl my money; does this stuff actually work, I wondered? I looked up, and the cashier was looking at me expectantly - waiting for an answer! I was incredulous; I'm supposed to actually answer this machine? "No I don't want more food" I chuckled, shaking my head.

The girl rolled her eyes at me, annoyed. Annoyed! What, does she get commission? Holy crap, what do I want more food for? Do I look emasciated? Have I lost my healthy glow? Did I look starving?

I've noticed McDonalds has made changes themselves. I wanted to place an order for McNuggets. A 6-piece order, medium fries, medium drink. None of this supersized crap for me, I know my limits and I don't plan on gaining 600 pounds this week.

Guess what? No 6-piece anymore. That's right, folks; it's now a 10-piece meal, not a 6-piece. WTF?! Were people complaining that they couldn't get enough chicken? What the hell am I gonna do with 10 pieces, except get a heart attack from the clogged arteries?

This is a problem, folks. It's like my experience with them about a year ago, when I got in an argument with a McDonalds cashier over apple pies. I wanted an apple pie after my meal, and asked for one. "They're two for a dollar sir" she replies.

Well I only wanted one. Thanks, but no thanks - just the one. "But I have to charge you 99 cents for one." Whatever, okay? I just want one apple pie. "But that's such a waste, why would you pay for one when you could have two?"

Why? Because you silly twit, I only want one! I won't eat two, so why give me two? What am I supposed to do with it, carry it around until I get hungry again? I don't care what you do with the 2nd one, if it makes you feel better than you eat it yourself. Or give it away, I could give a flying fuck what you do with the 2nd apple pie - but when you hand me my food, there had better only be one in the bag, thanks.

Holy shit. It's like they're TRYING to make us fat, and we go along with it like sheep or lemmings.

So back to the nuggets. I discovered they have a four-piece on the "value menu". Guess what I ordered? Fuck you, Ronald. I like my arteries.

Where's Nancy Reagan with her "just say no" campaign when you really need her?

Review: V for Vendetta

It's generally a bad sign for a movie when the author of the work it's based on asks to have his name removed from the promotion and credits. However, while I completely sympathize with Alan Moore's decision it doesn't detract from what is still an incredibly involved, well written story.

V for Vendetta is an adaptation of the comic book by the same name. Set in a near-futuristic U.K., V's character is a Phantom-esque figure determined to be the anarchistic balance against the totalitarian society he lives in. He is a patriot, a staunch supporter of the ideologies behind his country - and yet, stands firmly against the oppressive nature of the government running it. It's a fascinating tale, and it does credit to the filmmakers that they managed to retain at least that much of the character.

Where the movie changed course from the original is the relevance the filmmakers decided to place on today's events. "America's War" is the cause for all of the troubles happening in the world, and from what little we could gleam in the movie we - meaning America - are paying the price. We're reduced to begging merry old England for help, offering wheat and tobacco for assistance and looked down upon with disdain; the care packages, it is suggested, should be dumped into the river in the way the early colonists dumped English tea into the bay.

"England Prevails" is the mantra repeated over and over; it does, but in an intense police state that is all too reminscent of Nazi Germany. Tolerance is...intolerated. To be different is to be anti-government, and anything that the government does not want...must go. Quietly, into that night, never to be seen again.

Natalie Portman does a surprisingly strong turn as the heroine Evey in the movie, a frail girl who discovers her own strength as the movie progresses. She does exceptionally well in expressing her fear - a cowering, shuddering, bawling, emotional mess as a direct counter to the expressionless, charismatic, dignified V, played by Hugo Weaving.

Weaving (Agent Smith from "the Matrix") is in a thankless role here; not once throughout the movie do you ever see his face, an oddity in the Hollywood world. He remains in character from start to finish, his face hidden behind the porcelain Guy Fawkes mask that both protects his identity and defines his quest. He represents Anarchy, the counterpoint to British Totalitarianism - and does so with a flair and grace that brings up memories of the England of Olde. And yet, he is mad - completely so, but there is genius in his madness.

Did I like the movie? Simply put, yes; while the original message of the Alan Moore story is lost, this is still an enjoyable movie that should spark plenty of discussion among the more cerebral of you. Would I recommend it to everyone? No.

Understand, this is not the action movie it appears to be. This is a walking, talking philosophical discussion on a socio-political scale. This movie intends that you think, that you lean back in your chair and ponder the current state of the world and how fear of living in this world affects you, and others around you.

It just happens to do so with a lot of killing.

On a 5-scale, the Trickster gives it a 3-1/2. Go for the straight 4 if you're into "thinking" movies.

Friday, March 17, 2006

When Geeks Go Wild

Why are some of the most intelligent people on the planet also some of the stupidest?

Case in point. Two geekoids - one an editor at a tech mag called "Make", the other an R&D drone at Eyebeam decided to get together for a little mayhem. (Eyebeam is a not-for-profit arts and technology center which fosters the creative use of
new technologies through research and production initiatives, education programs and exhibitions. I got that straight off their website.)

By mayhem, I'm being literal. Lovers of the arcade classic, "Frogger", they decided to take a Roomba - those little robotic vacuum cleaners - and trick it out with a remote control and a green costume so that it resembled, well...a frog.

Most of you can see where this is going, but for those Y-generation kids out there who have no idea what frogger is - the purpose of the video game was to guide a frog from one side of an extremely busy highway, across several lanes of traffic, to the other side. Where inevitably the frog would get eaten by a crocodile, but that's unimportant here.

I should mention that this was NOT a controlled experiment. These Texas yahoos stepped outside onto Austin's Sixth Street, put down their frog and watched with glee as they sent it into traffic. Live traffic. Go, go gadget frog!

They send it across. Then back. And out again. And back. Over and over they send this robotic frog out into traffic, laughing as cars swerved to avoid hitting the poor creature (more likely to avoid damaging their tires). On the 10th trip - the equivalent of sending it through 40 lanes of traffic - it finally got nailed by a white Toyota 4-Runner.

By this point, according to the article, it was probably a good thing that the Roomba-frog got nailed because they noticed a nearby building security guard on the phone with the police. Kudos to the security guard. Needless to say, the morons (and their equally moronic friends who stood around watching) high-tailed it back to the safety of their hotel. But what got me was this part:

As people in the suite laughed, shouted and talked about what they'd just witnessed, (the tech) summed up his evening.

"We had a lot to drink before we got here," he said, "but there's nothing to sober you up like steering a robot through traffic."

Hey, here's a tip. Friends don't let friends drink and roomba.

C is for Cookie

How is it that the Girl Scouts of America get away with mixing crack in the flour of their cookie dough? Hmm?

Don't tell me there isn't some addictive, crack-like substance in those cookies! Anyone who says that has NEVER had a girl scout cookie. NEH-VAH!

Seriously. Roam around the office with a box of Oreos, see what that does to people. No reaction. Vanilla Wafers? Blah. Chips Ahoy? Snooze central.

But let anyone see that green and white box with the words "Thin Mints" on it, and you'll swear there's a stampeding horde of buffalo heading your way. Say the words "girl scout cookies" and watch everyone within earshot start drooling uncontrollably.

It's the cookies, man! Try this experiment. Take a package of Keebler "Grasshoppers", which are chocolate covered cookies with a slight taste of spearmint, open them up and place them on a table in your company break room. On that same table, take a box of Girl Scout "Thin Mints", open it, and leave it on the same table. Walk away. Come back in an hour.

I'll BET those Keebler cookies are lying on the floor, scattered as the masses searched fruitlessly underneath the package looking for more thin mints. The Girl Scout cookie box? It's torn apart, ripped to shreds with streaks of fluid on the inside that looks suspiciously like saliva.

Still don't believe me? Here's a real life scenario that took place just yesterday. When I was told that my cookies had arrived, I of course felt elated and absolutely had to break out in song. In the office.

With my head bopping from side to side, I sang:
C is for Cookie,
That's good enough for me
C is for Cookie,
That's good enough to eat,
Cookie cookie cookie starts with C!

Yeah, that's right. I sang the Cookie Monster song. This should have gotten me locked away for my own health, and it nearly did. My cellmate, umm, cubicle partner, gave me "the glare" and asked "are you singing the cookie monster song?"

I replied, gleefully. "Yes I am."
Arched eyebrow. "...Why?"
Me, beaming. "Because my girl scout cookies are here!"
Her, eyes wide. "You've got girl scout cookies?"
Two people smiling stupidly.

Suddenly singing the cookie song doesn't seem so weird, does it?

Them cookies got crack. Remember I said that, when you're in detox this summer after your own stash of cookies run out.

And don't THINK you're gettin' any of mine!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Say It Isn't So, Issac!

Issac Hayes has left South Park.

I remember when I first heard about South Park, back when it was little more than an internet phenom. I downloaded the clip and laughed hysterically as Jesus and Santa Claus faced off in a battle over Christmas.

I've been laughing ever since, and often it was because of the character Chef, voiced by Issac Hayes. He's been a regular on the show since it began in 1997 - that's 9 years, folks. But no more.

Why? Religious differences. This decision comes after the show's brilliant "Trapped in the Closet" episode, that manages to make fun of Tom Cruise's sexuality, the Church of Scientology, and R. Kelly with the same theme. Issac happens to be a Scientologist himself.

"There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs of others begins," the 63-year-old soul singer and Scientologist said in a statement. "Religious beliefs are sacred to people, and at all times should be respected and honored," he continued. "As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices."

Oh really?

This is a show that regularly has one character, Cartman, make fun of his jewish friend, Kyle, for being a Jew. The same show that satirized christian rock bands, has Satan as the gay effeminate lover of Saddam Hussein, that called Mormons stupid, had a statue of the virgin mary bleed out of her ass, that had woodland animals performing satanic rites to bring the animal antichrist into the world, where Jesus has a public access television show...

Don't be a hypocrite, Issac. You're just upset that they finally got around to those nutjobs you hang with. You had no problem with them having your character call all the white folk in South Park "crackas"; you also had no problem singing such classic South Park Chef songs as:
Chocolate Salty Balls
Say everybody, have you seen my balls?/They're big and salty and brown./ If you ever need a quick pick me up/Just stick my balls in your mouth.

The Prostitute Song
A prostitute is someone who will love you/No matter who you are or what you look like/But that's not why you pay prostitute. No, you don't pay her to stay/You pay her to leave afterwards/That's why I praise the Lord for prostitutes!

Sometimes you kill your teacher
"Sometimes you kill your teacher and they find your semen in her stomach, and uh"

Chef on Where Babies Come From
"When a man loves a woman/And a woman loves a man/...Well, sometimes the man doesn't love the woman,/But he pretends like he does, in order to get some action."

But let's not make fun of Tom and Katie. Uh-uh, children.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Should'a Let The Cougar Eat Her

"24" is so messed up. I can't believe they killed Edgar, then killed Tony - but they let that stuck-up, prissy, spoiled brat of a daughter Jack has keep on living. Even worse, they re-introduce her just long enough so she can make Jack feel more like shit than he does. For the first three seasons it's been her, getting in trouble and forcing Jack to keep his attention split between the job at hand and her Penelope Pitstop-wanna be ass.

I'm hoping they stop the nerve gas by pumping it all into her.

Oh, I'm not alone. Google "Kim Bauer, hate", make yourself a sandwich and spend the next hour reading it all. Even the actress playing her has to make excuses for her character's stupidity.

Or better yet, watch the show. You could start a drinking game by watching the show and doing a shot every time you find yourself saying "stupid bitch".

I was really, really hoping that cougar was gonna end up with a good meal.


Not Quite Balloons In Clay Jars

So get this. Bad enough we've got Cheney shooting his friends, but is Condi smuggling drugs out of South America?

Bolivian President Evo Morales, when receiving visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, presented her with a gift of a guitar. Adorned with a coca leaf inlay.

Yes, folks, that's the same leaf that we spend upteen billions of bucks on to keep from coming onto our red, white and blue shores. The ones usually shipped in balloons or condoms, stuffed inside some poor schmuck's stomach.

I'm wondering: was she THAT uptight? "Here, Condi, you look like you could use a hit."

Here we have the president of a country we're trying to stop the flow of drugs coming out of, handing over what is essentially a cache of drugs to our visiting dignitary.

Supposedly, Condi told Morales "I'm a musician you know," and strummed the instrument, a typical Bolivian lacquered handicraft with five pairs of strings. I wonder if she tapped the side of her nose when she said that. Wink wink nudge nudge.

The U.S. response?

"The gift was well received. We will just have to check with our customs to see what rules apply. We certainly hope we can bring it back (to Washington)," said a senior State Department official who attended the meeting.

I bet you do, buddy. I just bet you do.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Beisbol Been Bery Bery Good to Me

First. I shed a tear when I heard that Kirby Puckett died, I did. The man was one of the few athletes I actually admired, as a player and as a representative of how the game should be played. I'm not a big fan of the Minnesota Twins, but if I had to pick my second-favorite team during the 80s and 90s it would be them because of my admiration of Kirby. The man played hard, every game, every play - and always with a smile on his face. Very few baseball players at that time (and through today) would be considered a franchise player; three I can name immediately are George Brett, Don Mattingly...and Kirby Puckett. Rest in piece, bro'.

Now let's talk about the World Baseball Classic. This is supposed to bring baseball to the forefront of the international scene, especially in light of it's exclusion from the 2010 Olympic games. It's baseball's equivalent of the World Cup, and we're all supposed to thrill and wow at the games, bringing baseball back into our hearts.


Who the fuck scheduled these games during business weeks, during business hours? I mean come on, who exactly is supposed to be able to watch Team USA vs. Team Canada at 4pm? Rich executives who can call it an early day, go to their local bar and drink a martini while watching it on a 62inch plasma screen?

I tried to "watch" Team USA's opener against Mexico, and I put that in quotes because I'm limited to watching a stat-cast of the game via the web. It's the closest I can get to actually seeing these games, but I'm such a fan of the game I'm willing.

I couldn't do it yesterday during work because I was just too swamped, but I figured - at 6pm, after a 4pm start - I could at least catch the last 3 innings. HaH! I load it up, and we're ending the 9th inning already! Damn game lasted all of 2hrs 5min!

So today I've got Cuba vs. Panama up, and it's a damn exciting game. 6-6 tie in the 11th right now...goddamn, I would LOVE to watch this game. But I can't, because of the hour it's on.

I'm not that mad about today's; it probably fits well in Panama/Cuba's time zone, but I'm likely fooling myself so I'll feel a little better about missing it. There's probably someone in Panama writing a blog about the same thing, right now.

Solidarity, brother.

Seriously, folks; how the hell am I supposed to get all excited about World Baseball if I can't watch a goddamn game? Dumb shits. This is the Round 1 schedule for Team USA:

3/7 4pm EST - Mexico vs. United States
3/8 4pm EST - Canada vs. United States
3/10 3pm EST - United States vs. South Africa

Great. Know what I do get to watch, by the time I'd get home or to a bar?
3/8 7pm EST - Italy vs. Venezuela
3/8 7pm EST - South Africa vs. Mexico

Ooo mama. Viva los Beisbol.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I Bet She Was Listening To John Tisch

Thanks to the Smoking Gun for this little tidbit. I'm telling ya, it's all that mellow music that finally cracked him!

Yanni In Domestic Violence Bust
Cops: New Age musician battered girlfriend in Florida home

MARCH 7--Yanni, the New Age musician, is facing domestic abuse charges after allegedly tussling with his girlfriend last week in the couple's Florida home. The 51-year-old pianist, whose given name is John Yanni Christopher, allegedly struck the woman after ordering her to move out of his house last Thursday, according to a Manalapan Police Department report.

The woman, whose name has been redacted from the report by cops, told investigators that Christopher asked her to move out during dinner and that when the pair returned home, the musician verbally abused her, calling her a "cunt" and "whore." He also allegedly told her that she was "garbage" and, as such, "should be packing her things in garbage bags." The woman said Christopher slapped her in the face as they argued. When cops arrived, they noticed that her upper lip was swollen and split open and that there was a small amount of dried blood on her lower lip. They also noted redness on both her forearms and that she appeared visibly upset and was crying and shaking.

While Christopher denied striking the woman, he told officers that he did grab her arms to stop her from kicking him. Christopher spent about 11 hours in the Palm Beach County jail, where the below mug shot was snapped, before being released without bond. He has been ordered not to contact the alleged victim and must check in daily with court officials.

Monday, March 06, 2006

I Bet It'll Even Do Windows Too

Everyone who has read me, or spoen to me, knows that I think the iPod is the tool of the Devil. Or some other malevolent evil being, like Condi. Whatever. The point is it's frightening how this tiny little device has become so invasive in our lives, to the extent that you wouldn't be caught dead without one.

Which is a nice segueway into this article I found, where an iPod was used to identify a crime victim. An iPod. It's nice that it was done, but I fear for the day when all of our info will be embedded in one of these, with a built-in GPS tracker.

SAN FRANCISCO -- An Apple iPod music player has helped identify a San Francisco woman who was the victim of an apparent hit-and-run in the Presidio.

Park police say 27-year-old Ashlyn Dyer was jogging early Thursday morning when she was apparently struck and thrown off the side of the road. A park employee discovered her.

Investigators took her iPod to the Apple store in San Francisco, which in turn contacted the company's headquarters and helped use identifying information on the device to determine just who Dyer was.

Dyer remained hospitalized in critical condition, Friday.

Run, DMC. Please. Run.

I want to start off by applauding DMC, aka Darryl McDaniels of the legendary rap group Run DMC, for exploring his roots based on his adoption and discovering "who he is". It's a noble effort, it really is.


Bro. Don't sing about it. Please. I just watched his music video exploring his adoption, and all I could think about it was "how much money did they pay Sarah MacLaughlin to be in this?" She literally saves the song, doing a cover of Harry Chapin's "Cat's in the Cradle" which I'd happily buy separately. It's DMC's vocals that made my ears bleed. (FYI, Sarah did this because she, too, was adopted and wanted to help. Good for you.)

D, you could have gotten someone else to do the vocals while you just appear in the background, maybe doing a line or two. Know your limits, is what I'm saying.

That shit hurt. Not the story; the sound. Ugh.

Movie Review: 16 Blocks & a UV

First, I gotta tell ya - some things make me wonder who you have to blow, to get a movie made. Cuz the Wayan Brothers have that market locked up. They've got a new movie coming out where Marlon Wayans plays a midget thief who has to pretend to be a child in order to get back a gem he stashed.

Wasn't this a Bugs Bunny cartoon?

The scary part actually looks funny, as stupid as it looks.

16 Blocks
When I first read about this I instantly thought about the old Clint Eastwood movie, "The Gauntlet". The premise is the same; Bruce Willis plays Eastwood's role as a down-and-out cop who is tasked with picking up a witness, played by Mos Def, and taking him to the courthouse to testify. The title of the movie refers to the 16 blocks in Manhattan that Willis has to take the witness, from a downtown precinct to the courthouse. They even included the scene with the city bus.

That's about where the similarities end. Eastwood's character was down on his luck, but still a force to be reckoned with; Willis' character is out of shape and a drunkard, past his prime and barely holding on for early retirement. He's like the old horse put out to pasture, waiting to die; life sucks and he knows it.

The catch? Well, there are plenty and I won't ruin the surprises - but Mos Def plays an annoying but likeable guy who happened to be in the right place at the wrong time, and saw a cop do something he shouldn't have. This cop has ties to some pretty high placed people, so no one seems to want him to live.

Except Willis' character. They've got 2 hours to get 16 blocks alive, with every cop in the city seemingly after them.

It's fun watching this beat-down, useless, overweight cop show us a glimpse of the cop you can believe he used to be. It's dim, like a light bulb that's quit but manages to give you one last burst of light - but it's there, and you find yourself pulling for him and Mos to survive.

The story itself is simplistic, but there is a subtle complexity to it that Willis and Def bring out of their characters - and it is, indeed, a character driven story.

The Trickster gives it 3-1/2 bananas out of 5. Go see, have fun.

Milla Jova...Jovolvo...Jovulva...Jovovich is the new action heroine; it's going to take something dramatic to bring her down. Having watched the hot chicks in tight clothes in Underworld and Aeon Flux (both films you can't help but draw comparisons to), I can say that Milla's got them beat just on pure moxie.

The story (no surprise here) is simple. It's The Future, and there was a virus released that turned everyone into homophobes. I mean hemato-somethings. Vampires, apparently, except they don't suck blood. They're just uber-ninjas with healing ability, heightened senses and a problem with sunlight. Anyway, everyone's afraid of them, the CDC is now running the show and the government has been wiping out the Vamps.

Now they're fighting back.

There's more to the story but don't bother - this isn't about the story. This is a live-action comic book, and the opening credits are cunningly set up with fake comic book covers of our heroine to reinforce that mantra - Do Not Treat Anything You Are About To See Seriously, This Is A Comic Book!

In that, they've succeeded. Ultraviolet is larger than life, a femme fatale who could make Aeon Flux look like a rank amateur and send Neo running back into the Matrix. Her clothes and hair change colors inexplicably, like a body-sized mood ring. There's never any explanation for this, but really - who cares? It's Milla in a tight bodysuit, are we really watching it for fashion tips?

By the way - I now believe it's written into her contract that she must appear partially nude in all her movies. Not that I'm complaining, I'm just sayin', is all.

The entire movie is filmed in a diffuse-glow effect that's all too reminiscent of Sky Captain, not a movie you want to be compared to. In fact, that's all I found myself doing throughout the entire movie - making comparisons. Matrix, Aeon Flux, Gunkata (yes, there were scenes stolen from that movie too)'s surreal, gravity defying fun. There's even a scene that'll make the Matrix's "bullet time" effects feel like watching an hourglass; let's see Neo dodge a hail of bullets when he's surrounded, hmm?

All of this sounds like a rip-roaring good time, but...the movie loses it's way. It forgets that it was supposed to be a comic book, and *gasp* tried to have a story. Big mistake, because that's where the movie starts to lose it's way. It tries to get deep and all it does is splash around in a shallow puddle of muddy water, detracting away from the enjoyment of the overdone special effects and ninja-like action.

Ultraviolet ends with a hint that there could be more coming; as much as I'd enjoy seeing Milla's naked butt twitch from side to side again, some things just aren't worth it.

The Trickster gives it 2 bananas out of 5.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It's That Secret Recipe

I opened my mailbox the other day to find something that...bothered me. Slightly. It was a Kentucky Fried Chicken ad.

There was nothing special about the ad itself; it was a booklet of coupons I'll probably never use. So what bothered me? The addressee.

It was addressed to "Chicken Lover".

It did not say "Eric Trickster". "Trickster Studios". Even "Resident" would have been less offensive. But...chicken lover?

Never mind the sexual connotations there. I'll pretend I'm not afraid there's a website of deviants who are into chicken love, and that I've somehow ended up on this. It would go a long way towards explaining those strange looks I get from the neighbors from time to time.

But..."chicken lover" implies that they know I like chicken. No; LOVE chicken! Whether I actually love chicken or not is now irrelevant, because there it is in bold type. Chicken Lover. There's a mailing list someplace that, instead of my name, has me listed as Chicken Lover. Can you hear the marketing telephone call?

"Hello, is Mr. Lover home?"
"Mr. Chicken Lover, is he home?"

Oh, the inhumanity!

Friday, March 03, 2006

When Nature Attacks

I got jumped by a tree today.

It all seemed so innocent, too. Here I was on my way to work this morning, the sun shining down on all this glorious, quickly-melting snow from the night before. The Black-Eyed Peas were blaring in my headphones, and all seemed normal.

Then, from out of the blue, I got pelted with a chunk of snow.

I have to cross through a park on my way to the subway, and lined along the path are...trees. Not a lot, actually, not in this section of the park. Really just one, in the place I happened to be.

One tree, and a large chunk of snow *just happened* to come flying at me. And I say flying, because the tree DOES NOT OVERHANG THE PATH. It's up on a little hill, raised up to the far right.

I stopped and looked up at the tree quizzically. "Did you just throw a snowball at me?" I asked (and yes, I said this aloud. Fuck you.) I chuckled, flipped the tree the bird (fuck you again), and started to walk away. Guess what happened?

Yep. I watched as another chunk of snow "fell" off the tree branches and came coasting ON AN ANGLE at me!

Motherfucking tree.

Which brings to mind another incident I watched, in the same park, about a month ago. Again I was walking to work and on my approach to the park there's a sort of dead-end driving circle; it's a narrow two-way street on my block leading to the park, and the circle allows people to make a u-turn.

There's a police car parked in the circle; probably doing a usual looky-look over the park, it's a good locale for it since you have to walk down some steps to enter the park - they get a good panoramic view of this section of the park.

As I walk closer I notice there's a squirrel, stupidly sitting under the car - in front of the tire. I'm already thinking this is going to get ugly, because I can hear that the car is idling. One step on the gas and we get squirrel pancakes for breakfast, kna'mean?

I guess the squirrel got a clue because he darts out from under the car and onto the sidewalk, beside the car - stops, and looks up at the officer on the passenger side. He's got his window down and looks like he's drinking a cup of coffee, or looking at a clipboard. Preoccupied.

The fucking squirrel attacked him. I shit you not! My jaw dropped as I watched this squirrel leap up at the open window, where the officer's elbow was propped. The cop gets freaked and squeals (SQUEALS!!!), sending the squirrel flying and running into the trees.

I lost it, right then. I couldn't walk, I was laughing so hard. I wanted to feel bad, but his partner was laughing just as badly.

So the next time you're in New York, if you happen to be in Inwood - remember.

Even our squirrels and trees don't take any shit.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Why Isn't Common Sense a Scientific Requirement?

I've been silent for most of February, so I'm going to make up for lost time while the ideas are buzzing.

There are two scientific researches out there that give me pause to scratch my head and wonder...why?

The first is a safety issue. A team of scientists is planning to use one of the nation's newest and most advanced research aircrafts, a modified Gulfstream V jet called HIAPER, to study turbulent airstreams and whirlwinds known as "rotors" that form along California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain range.

I read the article about it with relative non-chalance until I got to this little ditty:
Rotors form on the sides of steep mountains that are sheltered from the wind (the lee side) and have been known to contribute to a number of aircraft accidents. They are common in the Sierras because the region has the steepest topography in the continental United States.

So. These scientists will be using an aircraft to study whirlwinds that are notorious for bringing down aircraft.

That's sort of like using a boat to study tsunamis, isn't it? What pilots do they get to do this stuff? Me, I'd want to be anchored to a mountainside if I'm studying strong winds. That's just me.

Research project number two: sex. Scientists love studying sex, probably because they don't get enough and are trying to figure out why and how other people do.

This project was to understand why biological organisms reproduce using sex.

You know, I won't even bother getting into the particulars of the research, because - frankly - the question is stupid. Why? Because it feels good! If you've got the option of reproducing by a) cutting off a finger, or b) sexual intercourse...which option will you choose?

Monks and eunuchs need not apply.

But Who Kept the Gifts In the Happy Meals?

Sometimes you think to yourself, nothing can surprise me anymore.

Then you stumble across things like this article, and you're amazed at the ever-climbing levels of human strangeness.

NEW YORK, Feb. 15 (UPI) -- A New York couple, strapped for cash after investing in a house, went the inexpensive route for a wedding receptions -- a local McDonald's.

Twenty-three-year-old Corey Cutcheon and 34-year-old Doreen Brown became the first couple to hold their reception at a Long Island McDonald's, Newsday reports.

The Valentine's Day nuptials were performed by a judge at Port Jefferson Village Hall Tuesday morning.

Then the two joined 50 friends and family members to feast on cheeseburgers, Fillet-o-Fish and Chicken McNuggets.

Desert was slices of Ronald McDonald chocolate cake and hot fudge sundaes.

The bill -- about $250.

Despite the rarity it isn't the first McWedding. A couple in Wales had a 33 Happy Meal reception in 2002.

© Copyright 2006 United Press International, Inc.
All Rights Reserved

Too Early to Think That Hard

I found this alarm clock being sold over on Bim Bam Banana. It wakes you up by firing four puzzle pieces up in the air, and then it is your task to get the pieces and put them back in the alarm clock - it won't turn off until then.

The buzz on this latest little annoyance of an alarm clock is that it is "guaranteed" to wake you up.

Obviously, they don't know me very well.

Here's exactly what'll happen. The alarm will go off; the puzzle pieces will fly. I'll fumble around, eyelids half opened, looking for these pieces - one of which I'm SURE will fall to the floor and hide under the bed or the nightstand. I'll groan, reach out for the clock, yank it from the wall and hurl it across the room.

Alarm ended, I get to sleep longer. And I'm now out the $55 they're charging for this monstrosity.

If they're smart, they'll build one of these out of impact-resistant plastic. That'll screw me over.

At least until the summer, when I start leaving the window open. Don't park outside my apartment window, fyi.

If a Chord is Struck in the Forest...

This weekend is the New York Air Guitar Regional Championships. I'm trying to decide how I feel about this event, and may actually spend the $15 at the Knitting Factory to see this nonsense for myself.

Okay, that's not true. I'm not paying $15 to watch some mop-head pretend to stroke a guitar that isn't there - Emperor's New Clothes this ain't.

I seriously thought this was a joke, until I did some digging. The winner of this fake-fest then goes on to the US Championships in June; the US Champs then go on to Finland (!) to compete in the World Championships.

They actually judge these things. I'm wondering, since it's an air guitar - are the judges deaf? Cuz it's not like they need to hear the music, right? Do you have to be someone in the industry, in order to judge a silent music contest? What criteria do they use to screen judges? Are any of them skilled air guitarists of some renown, themselves?

Could you see, say, Jimi judging one of these things? I bet he'd get annoyed after about the third poser and walk out of the venue.

The US Air Guitar Championships obey the rules set forth by the Air Guitar World Championships:
- Each performance is played to one minute (60 sec.) of a song chosen by the competitor or organizers
- The 60 seconds can start anywhere in the song
- The instrument must be invisible and must be a guitar, i.e. air drums are not permitted
- Air roadies are allowed, but they must leave the stage before the performance begins
- Back-up bands (air or real) are not allowed

The instrument. Must. Be. Invisible. Because god forbid you should use a real guitar in an air guitar contest.

WTF is an air roadie? Invisible playmates? How do you know if they've actually left the stage? Is there someone wearing infra-red goggles, to make sure these air stagehands aren't really standing around, helping the performer fake his act?

Because that, apparently, would be cheating.

For those of you who might be interested in the music of air guitar-ing, there's a CD on sale on eBay, here.

Rock on, dudes.

To Infinity...and Beyond

I think Richard Branson has gotten just a *bit* ahead of himself. But I'm pulling for him.

Richie Rich has signed an agreement with New Mexico to build a $200M spaceport - yes, a spaceport - for his new company, Virgin Galactic (this is not a joke, people) and their spaceships. Space. Ships.

NASA can't keep tiles from falling off the shuttle, but Branson is building a fleet of spaceships for tourists?

"When Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOne won the X PRIZE in October 2004, we knew the new space industry had arrived," said Secretary Rick Homans. "And when Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin would use that same technology to fly paying passengers into space, we realized that our most important job was to convince Virgin Galactic to come to New Mexico and launch the personal spaceflight industry.

In July of '05, Branson and Rutan signed an agreement to form "The Spaceship Company" (a lot of thought went into that name, obviously). This new aerospace production company will manufacture launch aircraft, spaceships and support equipment and market them to spaceline operators, including the launch customer, Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic has placed orders for five spaceships and two launch aircraft with options on further systems, thus securing the exclusive use of the systems for the initial 18 months of commercial passenger operations.

I have a question. When the flight attendants are giving you the pre-flight safety instructions, do they just eliminate the whole "your seat cushion can be used as a floatation device" part? Cuz, call me silly...but when I'm in low-Earth orbit and my shuttlecraft blows an engine...I'm pretty sure I'm not gonna survive a free-fall re-entry from space. If I magically survive the burning descent, and miraculously end up over water rather than a land mass...I'm still pretty sure the impact at that speed is gonna eliminate the need for any floatation devices.

I'll BE a floatation device, I'm sure.

What's interesting is that there's a competing spaceport out there - in Singapore. They even have a concept design already:

The company running the show, Space Adventures, has an exclusive partnership with the Russian aerospace team of Suborbital Corporation and the Myasishchev Design Bureau, with their Explorer sub-orbital space vehicle design.

Space Adventures also recently announced a contract with Prodea, a private investment firm founded by the Ansari family, to support the development of the Explorer. The Ansari family sponsored the X-Prize sub-orbital space vehicle competition. Further, Space Adventures announced that it has an agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency, which confirms FSA’s oversight and supervision in the development process of the Explorer.

I'm jazzed about this. Healthy competition in the field of space travel is good, especially with a dinosaur like NASA having snail-crawled their way around it for decades. You can joke about the Russians being involved in the Singapore venture, but their Soyuz spacecraft are STILL functioning a hell of a lot better than our shuttlecraft are. They make crap vehicles, but they're DURABLE.

Go, Singapore!