Friday, December 30, 2005

Last Minute Idiot of the Year Entry

I give Farris Hassan "credit" for his idealism and thoughts of helping out others, but this is a dumb way to get there. It's summed up pretty well in the first paragraph of this AP article:

Maybe it was the time the taxi dumped him at the Iraq-Kuwait border, leaving him alone in the middle of the desert. Or when he drew a crowd at a Baghdad food stand after using an Arabic phrase book to order. Or the moment a Kuwaiti cab driver almost punched him in the face when he balked at the $100 fare. But at some point, Farris Hassan, a 16-year-old from Florida, realized that traveling to Iraq by himself was not the safest thing he could have done with his Christmas vacation.

Hi, my name is Farris. I am out of touch with reality, dangerously naive, and while we're at it, I'm pretty stupid.

Yep, as part of his "immersion journalism" class, he immersed himself in the middle of one of world's most volatile places. Hello? McFly? Are you there? Really, how stupid is this kid? The article contains such naive nuggets of gold like:
  • "If they'd let me in from Kuwait, I probably would have died," he acknowledged. "That would have been a bad idea." (Oh really? And by a bad idea you mean in that you would have died, right? What was your first clue?)
  • "And I'm like, 'Well, I should probably be going.' It was not a safe place. The way they were looking at me kind of freaked me out," he said. (You only NOW realiezed it's not a safe place?)
  • Hassan accepted being turned over to authorities as the safest thing to do, but seemed to accept the idea more readily over time. (If I were one of the U.S. embassy forces, I would have slapped the back of his head and kept calling him an idiot for having had to use so many people to find this kid in the first place.)
  • Farris Hassan says he thinks a trip to the Middle East is a healthy vacation compared with a trip to Colorado for holiday skiing. (You've got to be kidding me!)
  • "You go to, like, the worst place in the world and things are terrible," he said. "When you go back home you have such a new appreciation for all the blessing you have there, and I'm just going to be, like, ecstatic for life." (Farris, how about your be ecstatic that you still have your life?)
  • His mother, however, sees things differently. (I bet she does.)
  • "I don't think I will ever leave him in the house alone again," she said. "He showed a lack of judgment." (Looks like it's time for some homeschooling.)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

So this is what the 21st century offers?

I'd like to welcome myself to the world of 21st century videogame systems. That's right, I did the deed and got my formerly "next generation of videogames" cherry popped last night. It only took a few trips to the store, but I finally got my XBox. A few weeks ago I was going to buy a new xbox and the controller for $150, but thought I'd wait and see if the price would go down after Channukah (or xmas). Well it didn't and in the meantime, Microsoft pulled/stopped shipping the basic Xbox package. Instead, they only shipped the "Forza Package" which includes the conosle, controller, and Forza Motorsports. This costs $180 so now it was either this package for a game I, at first, didn't care for, or buy a used one for around $130 sans game.

On a tip from a friend, I checked out the local CD Game Exchange in Rockville who happened to have one basic used console for $110. I asked what they do to check the product and the guy said they play it for 15-20 minutes. There' s a 7-day return policy, but little did they know, they'd have it back in 2 hours. I set it up in the apartment and went to load my saved games. Apparently none of the 15 previously saved games/information were removed. Not a good sign. Then, the controller was full of crumbs or something so I couldn't smoothly press the buttons. Finally, it had trouble reading my portable memory card. I called them to let them know what was wrong and I was on my way back. The guy offered a replacement controller, but the damage was done. I sucked it up, relinquished my "cheapo depot" nickname and bought the Forza package from the Gamestop down the street.

One reason I didn't mind getting a new one besides it being brand new, is the Forza game is (according to reviews) the best racing game on Xbox. It straddles the line between simulation and arcade racing, which is about how deep I'd get into a game these days anyway. It seems to have a lot of cool features and definitely looks great. If all goes well, it'll be the first racing game I'll really get into since Need For Speed 2 on PC from 1998. Another reason getting a new one is better, is that it virtually guarentees there will be no problems when my friend (cough) "improves" the current hardware. I got a wireless controller as a gift last weekend so I should be ready to go. It'll be great running over people and shooting pedestrians once again in GTA3.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It'll Forever Be "Time to make the donuts"

Cops, Homer Simpson, and coffee aficionados should hold a moment of silence for Michael Vale, the Dunkin' Donuts ad actor who passed away this morning in NYC from diabetes complications. The 83-year-old was "Fred the Baker" for 15 years until retiring in 1997. He appeared in more than 1,300 commercials! Including several appearances on "3-2-1 Contact" as Soapy Suds. Who knew?

I have always been a Dunkin' Donuts kind of guy. I tried Krispy Kreme a few times and the only palatable flavor is the regular glazed. However, lots of DD offerings do the trick for me. While the coconut shavings and glazed with sprinkles flavors are solid bets, the best is the Boston Kreme. I won't even make an argument for it b/c it doesn't need one (and my fingers hurt). There are no other donuts even close its greatness. Mmmmm...donuts.....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Overheard In New York and the Office

By increasing my blog perusing these days, I've found Overheard In New York. It's a nifty (yes, I just wrote nifty) blog that reports short conversations New Yawkas overhear on the subway, street, elevator, etc. I think it's fascinating since I've always loved listening in on the conversation of strangers and then try putting it into coherent context. And don't tell me you don't also love hearing other people's conversations, there's a little nosiness in all of us.

From Overheard In New York, I also started reading Overheard In The Office. Same premise, different environment. I know I'm behind in the blog reading world, but I'll slowly catch up.

Friday, December 23, 2005


I'm so cute you won't notice your least favorite blogger returns next week.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

New Jersey High Schools and Steroids

Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed an executive order on Tuesday, permitting random testing of NJ high school athletes for steroids. NJ is the first state to have such testing and for at least one day, New Jersey will be known for leading the nation in a good thing. Until tomorrow that is, when the jokes about my state smelling return.

An East Coast Governator signs for steroid testing.

Beginning in the 2006-7 school year, it will cover all 31 cahampionship sports (wow, 31!), though only test players in 2006-7 post season play. The testing method and penalties haven't been decided yet, but this is certainly a welcome move. I was always curious how some of my fellow students got so jacked-up when it seemed we were spending the same amount of time playing sports or lifting weights.

Steroid testing is a nice move and may scare a couple of kids away, but the reality is it won't stop the majority of users. The reward far outweighs the risk so why not use it if you don't mind sacrificing your long-term health? By testing only those athletes in the post season, it doesn't mean that you've insured legal athletes win titles. What about those kids who use and compete in the regular season, thereby altering the regular season results because they're literally not on a level playing field as the legal athletes? The testing needs more teeth.

If I'm willing to take steroids, I would continue using them all season long because I won't be tested unless I succeed enough to make the post season. Then, if I get caught, so be it, but why not try and get by? The testing doesn't stop juiced athletes from affecting the outcome of regular season games - which of course determine who gets to play for a championship. The problem is if a juiced athlete is caught in the regular season, there's no way to "do over" the regular season that they excelled in by cheating. You can't make the legit athlete who's not in the post season feel better by simply kicking out the juiced athlete in the playoffs. This steroid testing should be season-long, otherwise regular season contests will continue awarding the juiced ones.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Your Anonymous Postcard Secrets

One of the best blogs out there is the Postcard Secrets blog. Every Sunday, the blogger, Frank, in Germantown, MD, posts 20-30 new postcards. These aren't your touristy "Wish You Were Here" kind of cards. Instead these cards detail incredibly personal feelings of love, anger, sadness, humor, etc. One postcard will make you laugh, while the next will make you feel sorrow for someone's despair.

It's a fascinating and quick read that I highly reccomend. Oh, and I'm not trying to convey any secret messages from the postcards I chose, they're just the easiest ones to read in my blog's space configuration. As the website states:

You are invited to anonymously contribute your secrets to PostSecret. Each secret can be a regret, hope, funny experience, unseen kindness, fantasy, belief, fear, betrayal, erotic desire, feeling, confession, or childhood humiliation. Reveal anything - as long as it is true and you have never shared it with anyone before.

There's a gallery exhibition of postcards in Georgetown going on for another two weeks so I might check it out next week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Deal or No Deal is Kind of a No Deal

With no other viable options last night at 8, I gave "Deal or No Deal" a chance - and that's all it's going to get. The game show has a contestant choose one briefcase from 26, each worth $0.01 to $1,000,000. The person is then intermittently offered money from this ridiculous "Banker" to either take, or stay with their chosen briefcase in order to hold out for more offers or until the end to see its contents. In between offers, the contestant chooses various briefcases to see their contents, all the while getting a better idea of his/her chances of getting a big payout as the Banker changes his offers. The show works off of the contestant's greediness and blind luck.

Go ahead and feel good about yourself since this is all luck anyway.

The set has all of the dramatic lights and bass-heavy music you'd expect a primetime game show to have (thanks "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire"). It wasn't as over the top as Millionaire because there was no circle of spotlights to focus in a dramatic swoop, but the floors were nice and shiny. Speaking of shiny, Howie Mandel and his bald head hosted the show without much fanfare. He wasn't spectacular but also didn't add to the excitement. I've always liked Howie and heard some of his humor during the show, like when a contestant didn't get his sarcasm and Howie said, "yeah, that would be the joke." I'd let Howie have more comedic room to make fun of, I mean, work with the out-of-touch-with-reality contestants.

Please match the model to her IQ.

I don't think the show will have the staying power or incredible popularity that Millionaire had when it first aired (though this is a popular Australian transplant (whose version sounds much more interesting)) . This show is more about blind luck than anything else, while Millionaire is well-designed. By starting with very easy questions, Millionaire lets the viewer feel smart until they reach significant values. The show's strength is in its question variety that would always touch on at least one viewer's area of expertise. Then, when the question was asked, we'd feel smart because it was "soooo easy" for us, but because it was random, it'd stump the contestant. It also helped having multiple choices so everyone felt like they had a fighting chance to pick correctly. "Deal or No Deal" is popular, but if only because of its simplicity for the masses.

Seriously, you can't beat my fake smile after a contestant makes a joke.

Deal or No Deal's strategy solely relies upon how greedy someone wants to be. Last night, the female contestant was offered $138,000 with $300k and $500k left on the board. She passed on the offer and eventually finished with $25k. What gets me about the show is how easy it is to finish with a few thousand dollars for essentially doing nothing, while other shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune at least make you work for it. For the most part, you're in a fair amount of control of how you'll do in those two shows. Meanwhile, Deal or No Deal gives you little control in your result unless you're deciding on a Banker's offer. Outside of that, you have no control over your tally since picking random briefcases is just that - random. The game also lends itself to longer turns because there is little incentive to walk away early when you'll have better offers the longer you stay, until there are a handful of briefcases.

I can't believe I'm writing this much about a show I didn't care for, but I can't stop myself....

You know my fingers will smell like chicken when I remove them from my armpits.

The Banker guy is shown as a silhouette perched above the stage who "makes" this awkwardly silly call to Howie to report the next offer. I think they should do away with this whole scheme. Watching Howie listen on the phone really isn't entertaining. The phone prop looks really cheap with one little 20-W light bulb acting as the call signal. Why not just give Howie the offers in an IFB and have him comedically/dramatically tell the contestant? The banker guy has no voice or character (haha) so why have him there at all? The producers would be better off having a different celebrity act as the banker each night and put their own twist on it. Then, weak viewers would tune in to see that night's surprise banker.

Let's hug after we turned down $138k.

Of course, like any reality/game show, the details are in the closing credits (for example: Trump's weekly decision is decided beforehand with help from the producers). The "mysterious" banker is really the producer(s) and the "high security" vault we're shown at the start was "scripted for dramatic purposes." Not that it mattered since any vault on a sound stage isn't going to be your first choice to store your great-grandmother's necklace. While we're talking about deceiving appearances, is there any point to having identically-dressed, not-so-hot models hold and open the briefcases? Though it is fun watching Howie awkwardly speak with any of them for more than a few seconds.

That's my super secret vault behind me...until you read the fine print to learn it's fake and the producers knew what briefcase had what value the whole time.

Perhaps this is the show's crux, but I found myself rooting against last night's contestant after she turned down the $138k, telling her how dumb she was and deserved the lower sums for being so greedy. Did I feel better about myself? A little and I can see myself yelling at the screen night after night. I know nothing about math theory, but when the briefcase is first chose, it's a 1 in 30 shot of having the highest cash and 1 in 6 of having a 6-digit amount. As the briefcases are opened, we're told of the contestant's likelihood of having a high amount. So with 4 cases left, it's 1 in 4, but in reality, it's still the 1 in 30 from the start, meaning, as we've seen in every episode this week, no contestant ever has a value over $100k so it pays to take the cash after opening at least 20.

NBC offered an interactive game where you text a guess which briefcase is a separate secret one, but even if you get it right, you have to be randomly selected among the winners. It's a decent idea to get viewers involved, but not enough for me. I won't watch the show from the start again, but over the next week, if I'm flipping through with no other options, and someone is very far along, my curiosity might get peaked, but there isn't enough substance to keep me regularly coming back.

Of course, this is just my two cents. Sorry, so very sorry about that pun.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Gary's Staying With Us For A Long Time

Maryland's men's basketball coach has signed a new contract that could extend into 2013 if certain academic (it's not like MD and every other school wouldn't look past these issues if the team does really well) and performance measurements are reached.

My deodorant maker and dry cleaner will also be in business through 2013.

Cats With Lasers

For my company's secret santa gathering, I received a laser pointer. A few years ago it would have been "so cool" to own one and point it on movie screens for adolescent humor, but that time has passed. I don't make many presentations and even less where using a laser pointer is ever needed so the gift was a little office generic. Nevertheless, I'm thankful for any gifts I get, even if I have no intention to use them for their intended purposes.

You said this laser will get the tatooed stripes off, right?

Having recently once again become a fan of "America's Funniest Home Vidoes" (with an occasional "Planet's Funniest Animals" episode and its documented host clothing size issues), I've seen lots of cats go crazy when they see a laser or even a flashlight beaming on the wall. When I brought the pointer home and put it on the wall, opposite of the cat, he sprinted to the wall and jumped at it, all the while scratching the air and wall. Because of this, the laser pointer was a great gift, even when the giver had no idea I'd use it for my cat's enjoyment.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Dulles Toll Road Tolls, As If

According to this Washington Post article, if you drive through a Dulles Toll Road toll without paying, you won't get ticketed or even receive a warning. The bells and sirens that go off when a violation occurs is all the penalty you'll get. Apparently they're just for show:

When drivers blow through the toll lanes on the Dulles Toll Road without paying, a red security light immediately flashes and starts whirling in circles. A loud bell rings.

And that's it. Forever.

Despite the gaudy appearance of enforcement, it's all for show, state officials acknowledged. That little device that looks like it houses a camera? There's nothing in there. There is no equipment to catch toll cheaters. No pictures are taken. No ticket is issued. No note is sent home to Mom.

Watchout, the fake camera might take your picture.

First, why does this situation even exist? Did the VA DOT expect people to be honest and say, "I'm sorry, I didn't pay the toll, please accept my paid toll. Please do me the honor of letting me know what assorted fines I owe the state." Come on, none of us are THAT honest.

Second, aren't there a few hundred other freeways in the country that have working toll violator capturing services? I know from experience that DC and Bethesda have some working traffic cameras that never miss a violating car. I've read that NJ's E-Z Pass has worked too well in catching violators, as the state was counting on the penalties to pay for the system's installation, only to have less people try to cheat because of how well violators were captured. Couldn't the VA DOT have spoken to other transportation departments and used one of their systems?

Third, I think it's great that the Washington Post has taken upon itself the role of letting the public know they don't have to pay tolls and may speed through them without any reparations. Way to use just a little discretion. What's next, an article letting us know we can take a packet of crackers from Giant's soup display without paying? Granted this article will embarrass the VA DOT and maybe fast-track the work, but I doubt it. Perhaps it's all part of a sinister plan to make more people think they can violate the tolls only to either now have working electronic enforcement and/or loads more cops waiting at the tolls. However, I wouldn't give the DOT that much credit to do something as sneaky as this.

Fourth, you may ask:

So why all the bells and lights when violators drive by? "To alert a nearby toll collector if they can catch the license plate to take down information or if law enforcement is nearby and there is somebody they need to pursue," said Deborah Brown, director of innovative (Ironic, no?) finance and revenue operations at VDOT.

Riiiiight, because I'm sure a toll collector has nothing better to do than stop collecting money and furiously write down someone's license plate. Plus, by the time anyone would turn to see the violating car, it'd be well on its way and out of plate-reading distance. I love red tape, especially now that I know I won't have to pay tolls.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rachel Ray and her EVOO

After visiting the mall last night, I saw an advertisement that Rachel Ray will be signing her new book at the Border's in White Flint mall. I thought it'd be cool to have my picture taken with her, but then I wondered what good it'd be to have the picture. It starts at 6, but the little amount of precipitation we're getting today might scare everyone from driving. She does make homestyle meals (in under 30 minutes) and overall I enjoy her cooking, but there are few things that divide our nation into liking or hating RR (I call her by her initials because we're close like that).

Deeeeeee-lish! But it needs some EVOO.

She likes abbreviating some phrases, most common of which is EVOO for Extra Virgin Olive Oil. She only saves 3 syllables by doing this so I don't think she should keep using the abbreviation. Of course, whenever I have to use some extra virgin olive oil, I have to make the joke and say EVOO so it at least it has some comedic value.

I match the plate colors.

When it's time to get condamints or other ingrediants from her cabinet in the back, she always tries carrying everything at once. This includes pots and pans too. I just want to tell her she could comfortably carry everything if she just took two trips to the cabinet instead of one. Nobody's pressuring her to save time by making one trip. I know the show is "30-minute meals", but I'm confident she has 5 seconds to spare and make the extra trip.

I've got my own show and wrote 9 cookbooks, how cool is that?

She also enjoys saying, "how cool is that?" and "Deee-lish". These and her other cutesy lines are a little annoying, but it shows real enthusiasm for what she's making. Plus, every cook gets excited and thinks/says the same thing as they make their meal. I haven't tried any of her dishes, but they do look good. Her meal for tailgating, a combination of hot dog pieces, cracker jacks, and mac and cheese didn't sound too apealing, but just about everything else has. While her sayings can get a little annoying, I don't mind her cooking and you can't discount her enthusiasm or good recipes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Scrubs returns in 3 weeks

Not much to write today other than letting you know that "Scrubs" finally returns, Jaunary 3rd, with two new episodes according to the NBC website:

9pm 2006-01-03 ALL NEW!

DR. COX PUTS J.D.'S SKILLS AS AN ATTENDING TO THE TEST- J.D. (Zach Braff) struggles with decision-making and responsibility now that he is an attending physician, all the while Dr. Cox (John McGinley) is testing his skills. And while Elliot (Sarah Chalke) is learning the ropes in her new hospital, she still feels more comfortable hanging out at Sacred Heart. Meanwhile, Carla (Judi Reyes) is ready to have a baby, but Turk (Donald Faison) afraid of moving forward continues to slip her birth control pills. Ken Jenkins and Neil Flynn also star. TV-14

9:30pm 2006-01-03 ALL NEW!

SECRETS AND LIES - J.D. (Zach Braff) questions the bond he has with his interns when Dr. Kelso (Ken Jenkins) tells him that inevitably he will begin treating them badly, as it has been throughout history at the hospital. The Janitor (Neil Flynn) further complicates matters by telling J.D. that his interns only laugh at his jokes to suck up to him. Meanwhile, Carla (Judy Reyes) visits Elliot (Sarah Chalke) at her new job and inadvertently creates an awkward new nickname for her friend when she tells her colleagues an embarrassing story. Elsewhere, Dr. Cox (John C. McGinley) prevents Turk (Donald Faison) from warning Jordan (Christa Miller) about a notorious con man patient (guest star Alexander Chaplin) in hopes that she’ll be mortified and quit. TV-14

Monday, December 12, 2005

An Escalating Metro Race

The broken Rosslyn Metro escalator was empty when I boarded this past Thursday morning so I cruised down the left at about 60% normal speed. It was a lovely stroll until I heard…the footsteps. The footsteps telling you trouble is on the way. Someone's in a hurry to catch the Metro and nothing's getting in their way. I knew the sound well, having made it a few times myself, but my gut told me this Metrorusher wouldn't have the courtesy to say "excuse me" on the way down.

My fellow Metrogoer would soon pass me, probably with a nice shove for good measure. I had a 20-step headstart, but I didn't want to get passed by any horseshoe wearer. I started walking faster at 80% of my usual stepping speed. But then I heard faster clickety-claks. Suddenly she sounded like a thoroughbred. Could she tell I was walking faster to stay in front of her? I wasn’t going to block her way if she caught up to me, but I could at least put up a good fight.

15 steps later she had moved within 10 steps of me. She was still closing the distance. I ramped up to my normal stepping speed that actually equaled her feverish sprinting and maintained a 6-step distance for the middle third of stairs. But the noise of her walking kept my heart racing. She was right behind me. I could almost smell her breath. She could make her move in the next five seconds and pass me before I had a chance to retaliate.

In one motion I looked over my shoulder, through her eyes, and into her soul. I could see her plans for a takeover at 30 steps to go - her loud shoes jackhammering all the way down, getting louder and louder as she neared the finish line. I saw people at the bottom laughing at me for losing a 20-step headstart to Miss Heavyfoot. Someone would probably throw an egg on my head and kids would point. The ridicule would be too much for 6:30 in the morning.

I returned her gaze so she could see the fire within. This was not going to be her victorious day. No, it would be mine. I turned my head forward, grabbed the left rail, and I was off. My soles barely met the steps. Clickety-clak saw the growing distance and knew she had lost. With 20 steps to go I no longer heard her hooves.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

5 Hours of NBA Jam T.E.

The other weekend, I played 5 consecutive hours of NBA Jam Tournament Edition for Genesis. My head pounded for the next two days so maybe this marathon playing has passed me by since I am getting older afterall. It got started because TV offered no good choices and my XBox won't be opened for three weeks. I was always a decent Jam player, but I never dominated my friends in Jam like I still do in NHL 95. Tournament Ediition added lots of extra power-ups that you could choose before playing without any codes. It also offers a greater statistics, player ratings, and rosters. Of course, being an Acclaim game, there are plenty of secret power-ups and hidden characters.

I still remember going to "Nobody Beats the Wiz" in Paramus and getting the original NBA Jam the day it was released. It was the only game I got right away. After spending plenty of quarters at its arcade machine, I'm sure my parents were happy to know this only cost them a one-time fee of $50. It was hard for me to get past the idea that I could play this for free whenever I wanted to in my house. Down with visits to the arcade!

Time for some ugly basketbrawling. (original NBA Jam)

NBA Jam has always been a fun and fluid game. Like my NHL 95 cartridge's battery, the NBA Jam battery has seen better days and no longer saves my information. Therefore, to beat all 27 or so teams, I had to keep the Genesis on the entire time. I recognize I could have taken a break by walking away with the Genesis on, but that would've been too easy. I set the timer to extra fast and the drone difficulty to 4 (out of 5). I chose the Jazz b/c I still love seeing a pixelated John Stockton throw it down on the baseline. The combination of 2 3-point shooters and a dunker with a high creativity rating made for a good run.

Tournament Edition places a higher emphasis on injuring your opponent by shoving him to the floor. The more times they're shoved, the slower they become. Against the computer, this is pretty easy to pull off because it doesn't always recognize the rational thing to do when it's getting pummelled. Versus a human, it's a real beatdown on both ends. I was losing after the first quarter in about 1/4 of the games because I kept knocking people down. This strategy worked well and paid off later on b/c the computer had few healthy options by the 3rd and 4th quarters.

I usually had the following rotation: Qtr. 1 - Stockton and Malone, Qtr. 2 - Malone and Hornacek, Qtr 3. - Stockton and Hornacek (sometime Malone if he wasn't hurt badly and I needed the extra help), and Qtr. 4 - Stockton and Malone. By not playing on the highest difficulty, I got away with two short PGs in the 3rd. For the next rainy day, I will try the highest setting. I have no plans to use any later versions, especially when they put Keith Van Horn on the 1999 cover.

I noticed some aspects of the game: the CPU will make every full-court shot which means you must be up by 4 to win the game if there is even a second on the clock, the FT line hook shot is deadly, it hurts my pride getting knocked over by Spudd Webb but feels even better to dunk on him, hearing "boomshakalaka", "oh my!", "he's on fire!", and "ugly shot" never gets old, a 1995 game lets you think about how many dynasties the NBA was supposed to have in places like Orlando and Charlotte...provided MJ never played, how many paycheck piligers in the videogame are still playing today, and not having MJ and Shaq to play with sucks.

Make sure your battery works so you can play against the developers and their special teams after unlocking them (as if anyone will take my advice and use this blog when playing this game). Turning off the Genesis also loses the unlocked All-Star team that replaces the Rookies, as well as really expanded rosters with 5 or 6 players. I lost two games over my 5-hour marathon, with an exciting win over the knicks that required 4 goaltends and "on fire" 3's from Malone in the last minute to send the game to OT. This is still a great 2-player game that's lots of fun with options like 9-point full court dunks, bomb earthquakes, and speed bursts.

This should be the last mid-90's Genesis game review for a long time as I leap forward in videogame technology to 2001 when the XBox was released. Once my XBox gets fired up, the genesis will start collecting more dust, unless of course you want to play Genesis for old time's sake.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Really, you can't be THAT dumb, can you?

I was driving in a neighborhood parking lot yesterday morning and saw some youth (or yoot) driving his blue two-door car with his driverside window down. There'd be nothing wrong with this except for the fact that every remaining square inch of his car was covered in 1.5 inches of snow. He was driving his car by sticking his head out the window! Hello? McFly? Anybody in there? Try cleaning off your car. I know this sounds crazy, but when you remove snow from your window, you get to see through the window. Incredible. And I thought people who didn't remove the snow off the roofs of their cars were going to be today's topic - not when someone drives his car with his head out the window because it's covered in snow.

Who needs clear windows to drive?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Giada De Laurentiis' Gigantic Head

Whenever I'd like to feel bad about my cooking inability and simple meals, I'll watch the Food Network. It does have some nice shows like "Good Eats" with Alton Brown (thanks for the steak receipe!), but there are a few shows/hosts that are unwatchable. Certainly, for a station like Food Network, a show's success has a little to do with the food prepared, and a whole lot to do with the host's personality. A nice amount of easy, medium, and hard cooking shows must be struck. I'd imagine the majority of viewers are confident with their skillset and want to watch a show that's one level above them. Therefore, many shows are just above basic/generic homecooking. A channel of professional chefs would alienate typical viewers, while too many episodes of "How to Boil Water" would be insulting.

On "Everyday Italian", Giada De Laurentiis takes the usual homemade Italian dish and spices it up (too easy, I know) with some nice twists. I really only have two issues with the show. I'm not one to speak about someone's hairstyle (though I've got a relative who should), but I'm going to anyway. Giada could really use a different hairstyle that doesn't actually accentuate her incredibly large forehead. Stop pushing the hair behind your ears, you're not doing yourself any favors. Don't get me wrong, she's still easy on the eyes, but a slight change would do wonders. The way things are, her head looks like a fully-inflated helium balloon attached to a helium tank.

Of course, let's pretend the Food Network only puts cooks on TV because of their abilities and not appearance. You can stop laughing now. No, it's okay, I'll wait. Are you done? Ok. Now back to our friendly "Everyday Italian". The cooking is well done and looks like it would taste great, but the production is too distracting. When Giada says, "I'll mash the potatoes in this bowl," the camera does a very tight shot of the bowl and the mashing. It's an abrupt move that disorients the viewer. If they could just zoom out a little bit before taking the shot, viewers would easily orient themselves. Otherwise it's too jarring. I know closeups of cooking actions are key to a cooking show, but it shouldn't be used for every onion slice or dash of salt. It's as if the producer has a fetish for her hands and must give them as much facetime as the food.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

It's Time For Apocalyptic Snowfall!

We're supposed to get some snowflakes later today and through the night. About 2-4" when things stop tomorrow morning so it's not much. Of course, the season's first snowfall means it's not only time to get your shovels out of the shed, but also for news directors and producers to "blow" everything out of proportion for higher ratings, not to menton (so I will) lots of stupid banter between anchors and weatherpeople.

Since it's a 1/3", a reporter MUST say it's a treacherous walk since any snow is dangerous.

This is a weak system, yet we'll still be told from Stormcenter or Stormbase or Storm Headquarters that the storm team or stormwatch or storm alert is watching or out on patrol or blanketing (oh those news directors are so funny!) the area to cover this snowfall event or major activity or solid disturbance and use the Live Duel Double Doppler Millennium Falcon 3-D Tracking XT 3000 Delta Radar. Like opening up a new present, I can't wait to see what every station calls its "thingy". Radar titles are winter's TV station pissing contest.

I love irony.

All the while telling us they'll give the "latest information you need to know". Gee, really thanks for not telling me old news that I don't care about...and for already assuming you know what I want to hear, but nevermind that, you just go ahead. It's really the viewer's fault for relying on TV for local news since he/she knows what he/she is getting with them, or is it that TV news departments know what you're going to get because they know what "news you need to know" so you're getting what you should get, but just didn't know it yet?

Awww how anchor actually had to write her own material.

Even the DC area handles a system of this size with ease, so let's save all the hyperbole and shots of reporters walking through snow (if only for us to laugh at while we're warm inside our homes) for storms with a minimum total of 7".

Friday, December 02, 2005

Who's the genius that came up with this idea?

Depending on my workday carpooling route, I swing over the Key Bridge into Rosslyn. Amid wild bikers and pedestrians who think they're safe when they cross anywhere, but the crosswalk, is an annoyingly-placed Rosslyn map. It's about 5-feet tall and 2.5-feet wide with an overview of Rosslyn's main streets. While I'm sure it helps out-of-towners (though I've never seen someone look at it), its location at North Nash Street and Wilson Boulevard couldn't be worse.

Thanks to Google Maps, you too can see the intersection in all of its glory. Since the right onto Wilson is a yield and you look down Wilson for other cars, people, bikers, and oompa-loompas, you're blocked from seeing everything because of the sign. When checking the leftside of the intersection, I have to look left of the sign and then quickly to the right (of the sign) and assume I didn't miss anyone blocked behind it in the center. It does so well at challenging turning drivers that I think someone in the DOT placed it there at that angle on purpose. It's impossible to accidently position an obstacle like this when it's so good at blocking the view on the left.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

So that's why it's called a window pane

Late last month, Timothy Durfield broke into a Concord, New Hampshire hair salon looking for what I'd expect to only be money (unless he was going to steal shampoo and sell it). When the police showed up, he tried diving through a window, only to get stuck and cut himself on the broken glass. He was cuffed after firefighters got him out of the 9-by-15-inch frame. (Thanks for the link Eric.)

Despite this entry's title, a window's "pane" originated from "[Middle English, section, pane of glass, from Old French pan, piece of cloth, panel, from Latin pannus, cloth. See pan- in Indo-European Roots.]", and not some idiot criminal who felt pain from a pane.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I Need Edward Scissorhands

It has almost been two months since my last haircut and it really shows. The last cut was a bit on the short side, but now my hair is way over the long side. The sideburns are getting a little out of control, though they're not the worst of the chaos. They can easily be trimmed to buy me some time, but the rest of my hornet's nest is on its own. I'm thankful for the hair I still have on my head, but when it gets like this, not even I can appreciate it.

Not having internal organs, a nervous system, nor a conscience is fine with me since I never need a haircut.

No amount of styling gel can overcome the random cowlicks each day. There's already so much of it in my hair that my hair feels like plastic. It's as if my hair was taken from redheaded Ken (of Ken and Barbie fame). Plus, since my hair is curly, I always have a Superman-esque curl in the front so its abundently clear my folicles have run amok. I could go really short (2.5 on the top, 1.5 on the sides) with my next cut so this topic won't be revisited for another three months, or I could just get my haircut on time instead of putting it off for an extra three weeks like I have and gain no advantage.

You mean it's extra for my manicure? That's discrimination!

I have found one person in the DC area who I trust with my haircut, but I still favor my original one in NJ. She gave me a new cut back in high school that I haven't veered from since. Fortunately, as a guy, my haircuts never reach the astronomical prices that a woman sees (though those with long hair don't get it cut as often so the difference isn't too bad). If I really wanted to save some cash by sacrificing quality, I have two choices - Great Clips (which I've used a few times in the summer for my buzzcut (yet they managed to even mess that up)) or a FlowBee. I've never used a FlowBee, but I've always been curious how well it would do - but not so curious that I'd ever use one on myself, especially if I'd end up liking a tool like the guy pictured below. And yes, I just wanted to mention it so I could add its picture to this blog.

Doing this at the bar and wearing my tan and olive green shirt always attracts the ladies.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Me + Bowling = No Good

I've never had much bowling success. A great game for me is breaking 140, while the majority of games finish around 110. Thanks to my wacky ambedexterousness (it's my blog, so I'll create words), I bowl with my right-hand, though based on those scores, I should probably try with my left. Recently I made it out to the lanes was over Thanksgiving at some Hackensack (that's NJ folks) lanes. I bowled my usual 85 for the first game, but slowly increased over the next 3 with a final game of 142ish. It helped that I switched from using the ball's holes (get your mind out of the gutter), to a 7-pound ball (yes, it was reddish-pink) and just palming the ball for better grip and more success (ok, so I lead you into the gutter (wow, a double joke) this time).

While I'm at it, I was disturbed to learn that two local bowling places had closed (and that it showed I really have grown older). The first place I tried was the Bergenfield Recreation Center in Bergenfield (of course) where I spent many a Saturday afternoon trying to fit in as many games as I could with my friend, in the one hour we had the lane. It was ironic that it was a "recreation center" since the only recreation it offered was bowling, unless I was too young to realize something else was going on beyond the bar. I think we finished four games or something like that a few times.

Well, I thought about calling to see if the place was open over the holiday, but took my chances. We arrived at its location only see it fenced off and full of dirt. The place had vanished, or at least knocked down. Next I went with a long shot to go bowling off of Paris Avenue in Northvale, at the place used for the TV show "Ed", known as Stuckybowl. The outside was still there, but sadly there was no bowling to be done.

For whatever reason, I seem to sprain (or at least unable to crack the knuckle of) my right middle finger when using the holes, so palming a light ball is the way for me. I'm not ashamed to use the palming method (let's be mature about this one folks), just as there are some QBs who don't throw with laces and succeed, I see nothing wrong with my new method.

Did you make the national road rage list?

Instead of using my incredibly small corner of the blogging world to complain about specific drivers, I found this website. As long as you don't mind the annoying blinking advertisement on the left, you may see if you've ever made the list. For what it's worth, my drive home on Sunday wasn't too bad and only took 45 minutes more than a normal drive from NYC to DC. People used turned signals and nobody cut anyone was driving nirvana.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nature Valley Granola Bars are (crummy) crumby - literally, not tastefully

I was watching TV the other night when I saw a commercial for Nature Valley Granola Bars. They've been part of my mid-morning snack the last few weeks so naturally I took some interest. I enjoy the taste of their peanut butter, oats n' honey, lemon yogurt, and maple/brown sugar bars. I haven't tried any others, but have been told the fruit one should be avoided. Anyway, during this commercial, a woman casually unwraps the packagaing and bites into a bar - without any crumbs to be seen!

It is impossible to eat these bars without crumbs (except for the yogurt flavored bars since the yogurt keeps the crumbs together). When you open the package, the first thing you get is a handful of crumbs. Perhaps this is so the bar is easily digested by Mother Nature if you're out in the woods. Otherwise, it's a little frustrating. As I bite into a bar, even more crumbs fall, so I hope Mother Nature appreciates the fragility of the bars (if that's the intent), otherwise I could care less since an office building is nowhere near the rainforest.

A few weeks ago, someone I know who is a Nature Valley Bar Eating Expert said the way around the crumbs is to break apart the bar in the middle within the packaging. This way you eliminate creating crumbs upon first bite. When you open the package, be sure to do it over a garbage can to catch the crumbs that fall. Then, All you're left with are 4, bite-sized, crumb-free pieces (two pieces for each thin bar). Of course, I try pouring the crumbs in my mouth instead of the garbage, but you get the idea. I'm starting to think it's too much work. While the bars have a nice taste and are healthy, they require a lot of energy to deal with the crummy (or crumby) annoyance.

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