AI5 – Las Vegas

We learn conclusively tonight that referring to your singing style as “different” or “unique” is the kiss of death on AMERICAN IDOL.

I talk, of course, of the boy who would bark like a dog.


He looked a bit like a young Quentin Tarantino, didn’t he?

New releases, 31 January 2006

You can find the complete list at

Here are my highlights:

Dark Shadows Collection 22

Keeps going and going and going. . .

Let’s take a break now to look at this week’s contenders for Unnecessary Special Edition of the week:

Dune: Extended Edition (1984) Four Weddings and a Funeral: Deluxe Edition (1994) Gone With the Wind: Special Edition (2-disc set) (1939) My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Special Edition (2002) I think the GREEK movie wins it this week. GONE is, as I understand it, the movie-only part of the four disc set that came out not all that long ago. DUNE contains two different cuts of the movie. I’m not sure what’s so special about FOUR WEDDINGS, but it was a dreadful movie, so I don’t care enough to hate it.

Inspector Closeau (1968)

This one features Alan Arkin as the Inspector.

The Legend of Zorro (2005)

I know the critics killed it and nobody spent their money on tickets for it, but I still want to see it. The first movie was great. While this one can’t possibly live up to the first, it can’t ruin the first for me, either.

MI-5, Volume 3MI-5: Vol. 3 (5-disc set)

I pre-ordered this one through Amazon a long time ago. It’s my pick of the week. If you’ve seen the series on cable here in the States, then you really haven’t seen it. Each episode is a full 60 minutes. They hack and slash at the episodes to fit commercials in, so you’re really not getting the full stories. Stick with the DVDs – it’s a great British spy series that looks like a one hour movie every time out. And the second season ended on such a massive cliffhanger that I can’t wait to see how they come back from it.

A Shot in the Dark (1964)

A Pink Panther movie by any other name, smells just as sweet.

Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (widescreen) (2005)

I think I need to see this one.

The X-Files Season One (re-package) The X-Files Season Two (re-package) The X-Files Season Three (re-package)

Instead of the fold-out Digipack cases (or whatever the proper name for them is), they’re putting the discs in individual slim cases, like you get with FAMILY GUY and many other DVD box sets today. I know they’re easier to get in and out that way, but I have a soft spot for the big bulky fold out cases, too. They just feel more substantial.

(Update: The new sets are not identical to the old sets. Seven discs have been compressed down to six.)

There are a ton of titles coming out next week, including BAMBI 2 (ugh), GROWING PAINS Season One, that WALLACE & GROMIT movie from last summer, and a bunch of unnecessary special editions.

More in the podcast tonight!

Posted in DVD

Oscar 2006 nominations

The nominations are out.

First thoughts:

  • Michelle Williams becomes the first Dawson’s Creek cast member to garner an Oscar nomination, I have to think. (Supporting Actress)

  • “Brokeback Mountain” leads the nominations. No shock there.

  • Terrence Howard is nominated for his performance in “Hustle & Flow,” not “Crash.”

  • I don’t know about “Munich,” but the rest of the Best Pic nominations are certainly politically-friendly to the Hollywood elite.

  • Keira Knightley is nominated as Best Actress for “Pride & Prejudice.” She doesn’t stand a chance, but I still never thought I’d see her name in this category.

  • “Cinderella Man” came out too early in the year, I guess, to be considered for much. I think there was a certain backlash against bio-pics this year, after far too many got nominated in recent years. “Capote” is the exception.

  • There’s nothing in these nominations to excite me. Jon Stewart has his work cut out for him to keep me around for this telecast.

24 Season 5: Noon to 1:00 p.m.

I just read that John McCain would be doing a five second cameo in an upcoming episodes of ’24.’ It’s ironic, given how he’s pushed through legislation to prevent Jack Bauer from potentially saving the country in ways such as those shown in today’s episode.

But this isn’t politics, this is 24, where Jack rules uber alles and everything else follows close behind.

Don’t discuss coming attractions, but feel free to discuss everything else we’ve seen so far. I’ll start after this break. THERE BE SPOILERS!

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Posted in TV

Inhalable Insulin

“Exubera” is a horrible name for a drug that’s not meant to make you high. . .

FDA Approves Inhalable Version of Insulin

Diabetics are getting an alternative to the regular needle jabs of insulin they’ve endured since the discovery in the 1920s of the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. Pfizer Inc. hopes to begin selling Exubera, the first inhalable version of insulin to win federal approval, by midyear. Use of rapid-acting inhaled insulin will not replace the need to inject the hormone occasionally, the Food and Drug Administration said. It approved Exubera on Friday, a day after the multinational European Commission did so.

Still, I’ll believe it when I see it, and not even then. I’ll believe it when there isn’t a class action suit a year later.

Monday Link Dump

  • Sonic meets SSX.

  • Cubicles rethought.

  • Apple’s new patent could lead to a cool tablet game design. Check out the images.

  • With Oscar nominations due out tomorrow, the Razzies announced their nominees today. Such favorites as Will Ferrell and Rob Schneider are up for worst acting awards. Jenny McCarthy and Jessica Simpson are included in the worst actress category. It is “Son of the Mask” which garnered the most nominations, including prized “Wost Movie of the Year.”

  • Web game of the day: RSVP. Kinda like dominoes. Arrange a circle of cards so that their colors match. The idea is that each card represents a party guest and each guest wants to sit next to someone of a matching color. Simple to learn, tricky to get going. The wild cards are your friends.

Sunday link dump

  • Nickelback. Oh, Nickelback. Did you know they had two different songs out? I don’t think I ever realized it, consciously. Now, I can hear both. This Nintendork has posted an MP3 file of their two songs playing at the same time. One plays out of the left speaker, the other in the right. It’s all the proof you need that it’s the same dang song. Bizarre.

  • Read up on Nellie McKay’s split from Columbia Records.

  • Channel 4 in the U.K. has a new sit-com starting up called “The IT Crowd,” which focuses on life for some I.T. professionals. New episodes are airing on the web first.

Mail in rebates stink

I always get nervous when they wrap good news up in self-congratulatory hype, but this is still a step in the right direction. Mail In Rebates SHOULD BE an antiquity. Most people have caught on to what they really are — a way to get people to spend money without realizing it. Between the number of people who never send in the mail in rebates and those who fill out the forms wrong, the stores or manufacturers make a killing. And for those who do it correctly, the store or manufacturer grudgingly pay out, but add your name to their mailing list.

That last part won’t be corrected with this, but at least the money will more easily get to the right people this way. Viva la technology!

Best Buy Eliminates Mail-in Rebates on Notebook Computers and Introduces Online Rebate Submission: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance

Best Buy said today that it has begun the next phase of its two-year plan to eliminate mail-in rebates from its portfolio. First, at the start of the year, customers began receiving their savings instantly on notebook computers, rather than waiting for these rebates via mail. Second, the company has introduced a convenient online rebate submission process that enables customers to submit select Best Buy rebates online, through Both of these initiatives mark a significant step forward in improving the overall shopping experience for Best Buy customers.

Dearth of Crosswords

Remember in the early 90s how the Japanese were going to take over America? They bought a lot of prime real estate and a couple of sports teams, and war was soon to come.

It might be true, but it was 15 years too soon. I’ve been to an airport recently, and I have proof that the invasion has now truly begun: Su Doku.

Su Doku for Dummies (Sudoku)It’s not a new thing. It’s been happening for a year or so now. It’s that little Japanese numbers game played, most often, on a nine by nine grid. It’s a pleasant little time waster, but it requires a headache-inducing amount of logic and number memory for me.

Anyway, I was in the airport waiting for a plane – duh – when I hit the bookstore to pick up a magazine of crossword puzzles to work on during the flight. Numbers and logic hurt me, but trivia and word play make me happy. I went over the bookstore and found the appropriate section of the magazine rack. There were no crossword puzzle magazines. It’s been slim pickings for a couple of years now, but this was the first time I’ve ever been shut out. There were generic puzzle magazines that included a crossword or two, but no crossword-dedicated magazines. It used to be that you were stuck with the “E-Z Crossword” magazines which would take all of three minutes per puzzle to solve. (“ABC’s next three letters” or “___ Vigoda”) Nowadays, you can’t even get those.

You can, however, choose from a fine selection of Su Doku puzzle magazines.


I picked up an easy one and breezed through a half dozen of them on my flight.

But I missed my crosswords.

The Challenger

I was in fourth grade in 1986. We took a field trip to a local diner-type place for lunch on January 27, 1986. As we walked down the street, one of my friends – Hi, Eric! — had his walkman on. He heard the news in his ears first. “The space shuttle exploded,” he said.

When we got to the restaurant, we watched the CNN feed on the TV inside the door to see that he was, indeed, right. The first space shuttle mission with a teacher on board didn’t make it to space.

The Challenger broke apart twenty years ago today.

MSNBC debunks seven myths about that day, including the “explosion” one, and one about when the astronauts died that’s tough to hear even twenty years later.

Update: Posted that too quickly. The Challenger launched on January 28th, which would make the anniversary tomorrow. The mistake is mine, not MSNBC’s. They make their own mistakes.

Friday Link Dump

  • There’s a group trying to bring FIREFLY back for a second season. I don’t think this will go anywhere, but you’re welcome to fill out a short survey to give them some demographic data in their quest. Seems harmless.

  • The next Dance Dance Revolution game — as well as an interesting turntable DJ-style rhythm game — were previewed at Konami’s Gamer’s Day.

  • In 1989, COMPUTE! Magazine predicted the future of 2001 in computing. Some of the stuff is cute and laughable, but a lot of it is pretty near the truth. I liked this bit, which one might suggest predicted TiVo:

“Remote control is a big item,” Saffo says. “We’ll see it on everything that should have it and on a lot that doesn’t need it at all.” By 2001, computers should vaporize annoying VCR controls. “The VCR is much more difficult to use than it would be if a computer were controlling it,” says Lotus’s Robert Simon. “For instance, you could tell it to record all episodes of a particular series, rather than your preprogramming it.” You could also store the shows on optical disk for direct random access, without rewinding.

The rest of it talks a lot about the NeXT computer, object-oriented programming, and ‘optical disc’ storage. Yes, CDs were indeed very useful in 2001.

AI5 – San Francisco

Having watched the second half of Greensboro last night, followed closely by the new hour of San Francisco, I’m a bit jumbled up. I couldn’t tell you who came from which city anymore.

So I’ll let you all lead the discussion. Who’s the memorable one from last night?

Or shall we just talk about Simon’s crankiness?

Thursday Link Dump

AI5 – Greensboro

Ultimate Voice Coach - Learn To Sing Like A Star!I’ve only seen the first half so far, so I might be ignoring your comments on this episode today for another day.

But, still, there’s plenty to talk about after two more friggin’ hours of the marathon that is AMERICAN IDOL.

I also decided last night that Ryan Seacrest gets too much crap. I like him. He’s a charming host for the show, who’s not afraid to get right in there and mix it up with the fans. He has decent comedic timing, too.