Happy Birthday, Alice.
2 comments January 31st, 2008
Life Imitates The Simpsons
A freak blizzard hits Springfield, turning it into a winter wonderland overnight. However, Springfield Elementary School is the only school that did not declare a snowday. Only some students from both Bart and Lisa’s classes show up while Skinner and Willie are the only faculty members to still be working. To pass the time, Skinner plays the ultra-boring movie “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, But Then Was”. While they are watching the movie, the snow piles up and traps everyone in the school. – The Simpsons, Skinner’s Sense of Snow
Students in the Alpine School District have now been sent home, after dangerous weather forced the schools to keep students who walk or ride a bus in the building after the final bell rang. — Weather forces students to stay at schools, (Provo) Daily Herald, January 28, 2008
Add comment January 30th, 2008
Whoever anonymously paid for my and Marathon Girl’s dinner the other night, we want you to know how grateful we are for your generosity.
While attending a Utah Jazz game the other day I was looking over the rosters for both teams and realized every player on the court was younger than me. It made me feel old even though I’m only 32.
Though I appreciate the tax rebates Congress and the President have put together, I really wish they’d do something about all the FICA taxes I pay. That’s money I’ll never see again.
The only thing harder than getting up for work on Monday morning is waking up on Monday morning and knowing you’ll have to drive to work in a blizzard.
The most amazing thing about adding 25 pounds of muscle in the last year is the amount protein I need to maintain it.
Big talkers are generally the most insecure people I’ve ever met.
The best way to get a membership to a gym is to buy one of someone who’s looking to get rid of it. Not only can this save you a lot of money, but you don’t have to deal with pushy salespeople.
I hate the two weeks break between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl. We end up with too much pointless hype and not enough football.
A journalist can be your best friend and your worst enemy.
No matter what you think of his politics, you have to admit that Barack Obama knows the art of seduction. From the way Hillary Clinton is reacting to Obama’s recent victories, it’s obvious she doesn’t have the first clue about seducing the masses.
The older I get, the more I dislike cold weather.
The best part of coming home from work is seeing the faces of all three kids light up when I walk in the door.
2 comments January 28th, 2008
For those who wring their hands over the demise of small, independent bookstores, there’s an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal on how to save them.
Be warned: It requires putting your money where your mouth is.
Add comment January 25th, 2008
Yep, LOST only a week away according to this fancy coundown clock.
But it begs the follwing question: Do I have to push a button every 108 minutes?
(Thanks to Laura for the link.)
Add comment January 24th, 2008
I like IBM commercials.
No, I’m not a business or technical nerd. I simply like any advertisement that can not only speak to its target audience but effectively communicate a general audience as well. IBM’s advertisements generally do that.
Which is why I really like the following IBM commercial.
Even if you never visit their intended website, the message is loud and clear to anyone: To be successful, stop dreaming and get to work.
And then, might I add, once you start working, do a better job and/or make a better product than anyone else.
Anyone can talk.
Only a few turn their ideas into reality.
Way to go IBM.
2 comments January 21st, 2008
Satire: How to Fix the NFL Playoffs
The NFL needs experts and computers decide what teams are truly worthy to advance to the Super Bowl.
Those cries of despair you heard after last Sunday’s NFL Divisional Playoff games weren’t from distraught Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts fans mourning the upsets of their highly touted teams. Rather, it was from professional football fans around the world that now have to settle for a low quality AFC and NFC championship matchups.
Instead of watching Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts defend their Super Bowl title against the undefeated New England Patriots, we’ll be forced to watch a bunch of nobodies try to stop Tom Brady.
And we won’t be wondering if Jessica Simpson will curse Tony Romo into playing poorly against the Green Bay Packers. Instead the other, unheralded Manning (What’s his name? Oh yeah, Eli.) slide around on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.
The NFL owes it to its fans to deliver high quality postseason matchups – one with overhyped stories and intriguing rematches that professional football fans live for. To avoid even the possibility of letting down their fans next year, the NFL needs a system where only the best teams are selected to play in the AFC and NFC Championship Games. You know, one where sports writers, coaches, and computers decide what teams are truly worthy to advance to the Super Bowl.
And no one knows better how to pick champions than college football.
Since 1998 college football has used the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) to pick teams to play for the national title with wild success. If the BCS has taught us anything, it’s that many schools simply don’t deserve a shot at upsetting, more highly respected football programs. This year Hawaii got a shot at BCS glory and they were pounded by Georgia 41-10.
Face it: The AFC West was this year’s equivalent of college football’s Western Athletic Conference. Even letting the Chargers play the Colts was an insult to the defending Super Bowl champions. Instead of holding Wild Card and Divisional playoff games, the NFL should have simply let the sports writers take a poll and runs some stats through a computer program or two to determine the best teams.
The results would have undoubtedly put the Colts against the Patriots and the Packers against the Cowboys. These matchups are what every real NFL fan wanted to see this Sunday and the Chargers and Giants would be where they really belong — at home watching the game on TV instead of being anywhere in the vicinity of a football field. Instead, football fans have to settle for games without the hype and interest that computers and sports writers could have given us.
A BCS-type system for the NFL’s postseason would have other advantages too. Pitting the two best teams in each conference would guarantee a quality Super Bowl. The way the system is set up right now we could be watching the Giants play the Chargers on February 3.
Not even a glitzy ad with a naked supermodel could get me to watch that game.
And with no Wild Card or Divisional Playoff games to watch we’ll get weeks of incredible, important hype in the papers, television, and online about intriguing quarterback matchups, which athlete is dating which supermodel, and the latest allegations against Randy Moss. The NFL owes its fans high-quality postseason matchups.
Going to a BCS-like system and eliminating the Wild Card and Divisional Playoffs is the only way to ensure exciting, memorable postseason games every year.
This column was first published on BlogCritcs.org.
Add comment January 18th, 2008
My good friend Ryan has been razzing me for sometime over my absolute hatred of the ending I Am Legend (the book, not the movie). In the comments of a recent post where I named I Am Legend, the worst read of 2007 he wrote:
“I would speculate that this novelette written over 50 years ago, holds up better than 95% of the genre written in its time…. You said yourself that you enjoyed the read, but hated the ending. I think you really need to revisit the story. This is speculative fiction at its finest.”
Well, I don’t think it’s bad speculative fiction though I don’t know if it’s the finest example that speculative fiction has to offer. It is, however, a very good one.
In any case, I’m going to detail my problem with the ending of the book and contrast it with the ending of the movie and explain why I listed it as the worst read last year.
Warning: Spoilers for both the book and the movie follow.
The general plot of the book centers on a character named Robert Neville who is the last human on the planet. The rest of humanity has been afflicted by a virus that has changed them all into vampire/zombie creatures. Neville spends his nights inside his vampire-proof house while the undead creatures roam around his house attempting to find a way in. During the day scavenges for supplies, repairs damage to his house, and looks for any other human survivors.
During the course of the novel we learn about Neville and start to care about him. He’s lost a wife and a child to this virus, hasn’t had any human contact for years, and at night tries to drown out the sounds of the vampire/zombie creatures that lurk outside.
One of the things he does to pass the time is hunt for these creatures during daylight hours. Unlike the movie, these creatures are languid and passive during the day so Neville never encounters a problem when he goes into homes or buildings to kill them with a stake through the heart. During the course of the novel he racks up an impressive kill count.
Then after an afternoon of creature killing, he spots a woman walking through a field in broad daylight. He chases her down and takes her back to his place. Later we find out that this woman is an anvanced type of vampire creature sent to spy on him. Through their own scientific inquiries, some of these vampires have found a way to be active and alive during daylight hours and are starting a new society and Neville is a threat to that society.
One night they arrive at his place, break down the door and take him captive. At the end of the book, Neville sits in prison and learns that he’s going to be executed. However, the vampire creature that was sent to spy on him takes pity and gives him some pills to end his life. He looks out the window at a street full of vampire/zombie creates. They are first are startled when they see him then stare at him silently.
And this is how the book ends:
Robert Neville looked out over the new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in pain.
A coughing chuckle filled his throat. He turned and leaned against the wall while he swallowed the pills. Full circle, he thought while final lethargy crept into his limbs. Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever.
I am legend.
Is that a great ending or what? Our hero turns out to be the bad guy in this new world. Because he’s killed so many of these vampire creatures, he’s going to be the monster that these new creatures tell their children stories about. Neville is going to be the creature that gives vampire children nightmares. His legend is going to be one of death and terror.
Sure, it’s a creative ending and it’s not the imagination of Richard Matheson I have a problem with. The reason I hated the ending is because he took a character I somewhat cared about and gave him an ignominious death.
Death by suicide just as he realizes how these vampire/zombie creatures view him? Oh, please. That’ s no way for our hero or a monstrous “legend” to go. What’s the point in creating a character that the reader just might care about only to have him go out with a whimper? That’s what I call a big letdown.
At least in the movie when Neville dies, he dies for a cause and there’s a hope – albeit a small one – that humanity might continue and that these creatures might be turned back into humans. And the Neville character takes out as many of the creatures as he can when he dies in a fiery explosion. Now that’s the way to make an exit and the way the book should have ended as well.
3 comments January 16th, 2008
Marathon Girl and I had a wonderful night out this weekend and weren’t going to miss the opportunity to see I Am Legend. And we’re both glad that we did. We both thought it was a movie that kept us our hearts pounding from the start to the closing credits.
Warning: Minor spoilers follow.
Will Smith stars at Robert Neville who is the last person on earth – or at least the last person in the New York City area. The rest of the population has been turned into monsters that are a mix between vampires and zombies thanks to a cancer vaccine gone awry. Neville spends his day, scavenging for food and other supplies, trying to find a cure for the virus, and, most importantly, trying to stay sane. At night he sleeps in a bathtub with his dog and tries to shut out the noise the monsters make as they roam the city looking for food.
Smith is perfect for this roll – one in which he get 90 percent of the screen time. Unlike Tom Hanks in Cast Away, Smith does an excellent job of portraying a man who hasn’t had any human contact in years. He actually makes us feel the loneliness he’s feeling and how day after day of just surviving is driving him crazy. And when he finally finds himself in another person’s presence…well, let’s just say he acts like just about anyone else would under those circumstances.
To help round out Neville’s character and make him someone we care about instead of some guy who’s slowly losing it, the movie includes Lost-type flashbacks where we learn more about Neville’s family and the events leading up the virus that turned most people into ravenous monsters. It makes him someone we care enough about that we understand why he starts taking out monsters by the dozen and are truly terrified for him when he finds himself caught in one of their traps.
This movie easily could have turned into a monster/slasher/blood-fest type of film. But the writers wisely bring us in contact with the monsters only when necessary which adds tension to the film. (Are you striking writers paying attention? It’s not tons of blood and gore that make movies scary but the anticipation that something’s bad going to happen that truly scare people.) There are scenes – all in broad daylight – when Neville’s driving through New York, “renting” DVDs, or scavenging through empty apartment buildings but you’re still on the edge of your seat thinking that that monsters are going to jump out of a closet or from some dark tunnel any minute. And when we finally get out first glimpse of the monsters well in to the film, it pulse pounding, scary, and soooo fun to watch.
The best part about the film is that, unlike the book that was based on, it has very satisfying ending (more on this in my next post) and will leave with a feeling of hope instead of one where they feel cheated and let down.
I Am Legend is a must see move for anyone who wants a 90-minute thrill ride.
Warning: Be careful about taking kids to this movie. Though it’s rated PG-13 it would easily terrify most kids younger than 12.
I Am Legend *** ½ out of 4 stars
5 comments January 13th, 2008
If you can’t tell, I’m having some technical difficulties with my blog.
I was able to retrieve the content, now I just need to work on the look and feel.
Everything should be updated by this weekend.
1 comment January 10th, 2008
There’s watching basketball and then there’s watching basketball.Last night I was able to watch the Utah Jazz destroy the Indiana Pacers 111-89 with the best basketball seats I’ve ever had — just a few rows behind the Pacers bench. (Thanks for the tickets, Robert!)
Watching professional basketball is a completely different experience when you’re that close to the action. You can see the player’s expressions and hear them yelling at each other and the refs.And even though the Jazz put the game away in the first quarter, the highlight was listening to Pacer’s coach Jim O’Brien chew out his players for playing so poorly. I think his exact quote when I took the following photograph was, “[Carlos] Boozer’s running down the court and kicking your a**!”
And no, I didn’t have to zoom in for that photo. That’s how close I was sitting to the Pacers’ bench.
I’ll never settle for upper bowl tickets again.
1 comment January 9th, 2008
Two quotes from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451:
“But who has ever torn himself from the claw that encloses you when you drop a seed in a TV parlor? It grows you any shape it wishes! It is an environment as real as the world. It becomes and is the truth. Books can be beaten down with reason. But with all my knowledge and skepticism, I have never been able to argue with a one-hundred-piece symphony orchestra, full color, three dimensions, and I being in and part of those incredible parlors….”
“It’ll be even more fun when we can afford to have the fourth wall installed. How long you figure before we save up and get the fourth wall torn out and a fourth wall-TV put in? It’s only two thousand dollars.”
“That’s one-third of my yearly pay.”
“It’s only two thousand dollars,” she replied. “And I should think you’d consider me sometimes. If we had a fourth wall, why it’d be just like this room wasn’t ours at all, but all kinds of exotic people’s rooms. We could do without a few things.”
“We’re already doing without a few things to pay for the third wall. It was put in only two months ago, remember?”
“Is that all it was?”
Watching Match of The Day will never be the same again after the unveiling in Las Vegas yesterday of the world’s biggest plasma television.
The 150-inch (3.75m) Panasonic widescreen TV, which stands 6ft tall, will enable viewers to watch everything in life-size.
But because of its huge size, the screen can only be comfortably watched from a distance of at least 30ft, making it too big to install in most living rooms. And with an expected price tag of £50,000 [$70,000], the giant TV will be beyond the spending power of most consumers.
1 comment January 8th, 2008
I usually don’t put much stock into online tests but with the presidential primaries coming up, I did take the Electoral Compass test just to see where my views compared to the presidential candidates. Amazingly my views were closest to the presidential candidate I plan on voting for February 5. Maybe there’s something to this one.
To see, I’m curious to others who have taken this test, if their results show them backing the presidential candidate of their choice.
6 comments January 7th, 2008
I was mildly surprised to see how packed the gym was this afternoon. Then I remembered it was January 2 and people are high on their New Year’s resolutions and burning off the unwanted pounds or whatever it is they’re hoping to accomplish by working out. Sadly, most of these people will be gone come March. The good news is that once people start giving up in a couple of weeks, I won’t have to occasionally wait for equipment.
To make successful goal – whether it be a New Year’s resolution or something else – takes careful thought and planning but also determination to accomplish it. That’s why making a resolution that you, say, want to lose weight isn’t enough. It’s a good start but you need to decide how you’re going to shed those pounds.
If you decide exercise is the way to slim down, you need to enjoy the exercise. If running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike seems boring, then don’t do it. Instead find an exercise that you can enjoy like swimming or tennis. Whatever it is, you’ll be more motivated to exercise if you enjoy doing it as opposed to something that you don’t look forward to accomplishing. If you can’t find an exercise at the gym that you enjoy, you’re simply throwing your money away.
Sadly three out of the four people that were crowding the gym today are doing just that.
3 comments January 2nd, 2008
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