Mercury Dime

Mercury DimeI feel so small.

I tried to use a dime in the vending machine the other day. It popped right back out at me. I figured it was Canadian, until I looked closer and saw it was really a Mercury dime from 1927.

That little piece of metal was 80 years old. Imagine the pockets it’s been through. The purses. The cash registers. The cigar boxes. The piggy banks. The banks. The rolls of dimes.

I’m 31, but I’m not so old, after all.

And I also want to wash my hands.

Tech Mini-Link Dump

  • A new edition of the Mandriva Linux Distro has been released. I used to use that one in the days before I settled on SUSE once upon a time in my Linux-loving days. I started on Slackware, then RedHat, then moved to Mandrake for its ease of use.
  • Possibly the most useless web site in a long time: WindMaker. Submit a URL and go to the site, which then is animated to simulate the weather conditions of the zip code you entered. Try Various and Sundry in NYC wind. (Via)
  • I hate the new WIRED logo. They try to explain it with fancy terminology, but mixing a sans serif font with a serif font just doesn’t work. The article explains kerning very nicely, though, and the comments thread afterwards is a must read for the clarity with which the community rips WIRED apart. Ouch.

Mini Link Dump

  • Contronyms: Words that are their own antonyms, such as “bolt” or “screen.” Great word list included.
  • Instructions to talk to a person when you call your bank, business, car company, etc.
  • Teenagers are in for a rude awakening:
American teens believe, based on the career that interests them the most, that when they get older they will be earning an average annual salary of $145,500. Interestingly, boys expect to earn an average $173,000 a year and girls $114,200, according to the findings of Teens & Money, an annual survey released last month by Charles Schwab & Co. and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

On The Job Hunt

The fun part about being on a job hunt and putting your resume out there is the responses you get back from headhunters who scour Monster, DICE, etc. looking for anyone and everyone with a single keyword match to their open position. I particularly have enjoyed the offers for interviews in Kentucky, Ohio, Maine, and California. Did I mention I’m in NJ?

Here’s the latest one, which teaches us all a lesson: As a computer programmer, never mention that you worked for a pharmaceutical company explicitly in your resume.  [Emphasis mine.]

Hi August Based on your nursing background and experience, we believe that you may be interested in one or more positions recently posted by our corporate clients in Paterson. Please take a look at these opportunities at your soonest convenience. You can view the nursing jobs in detail and submit your resume by clicking here or on the link below. Our clients are currently hiring for many nursing positions across the country. Regards, ::Insert Name Here:: HR Manager

At least the job offer is relatively local!  I’m tempted to write back to see when they can schedule me for an interview, and that I particularly enjoy pushing five migs of meds into patients, cross-matching their blood, and wearing rubber gloves.

O.A.R. Concert CD/DVD

From the latest O.A.R. newsletter:

Beginning Wednesday, April 18 at 10 AM EST, you can pre-order the 2-Disc CD Set and 2-Disc DVD Set of O.A.R.’s sold-out January 27th performance at the World’s Most Famous Arena – New York’s Madison Square Garden. This is O.A.R.’s first official live release since 2004’s 34th & 8th, and the DVD and CD sets capture the growth of the band and recreate the O.A.R. concert experience like never before. Both the CD and DVD will be available in stores on June 5th, but if you order your copy now, you can have it waiting at your doorstep that day.

I was tempted to give this post a subject of “OAR MSG DVD,” but it was too much like alphabet soup.

AI6 – Round of 7 – Results

Our long national nightmare has, at last, come to an end. It took a record-breaking 38+ million votes, but Sanjaya Malakar is out of the competition.

Let’s take a quick look back:

Sanjaya Malakar, idol to millionsSanjaya Malakar, American IdolSanjaya Malakar has great hairSanjaya Malakar

Sanjaya MalakarSanjaya Malakar

Ah, good times.

More shocking, perhaps, is that the other part of the bottom three was LaKisha and Blake (!). Blake went last, did well, and got positive reaction from the judges. Those are usually three big vote-getters. Maybe everyone figured he did so well that he was safe and so why vote? LaKisha is a little less shocking — I called that one. But it’s all I got right this week. Ah, well.

Fergie and Martina McBride sang. Antonio Banderas and Jeffrey Katzenberg pimped SHREK THE THIRDE. (I honestly can’t recall if I ever saw the second one. I know I have the DVD around here somewhere, though.) And Bucky Covington was spotted in the audience. His CD just came out this week, but he got no screen time to promote it. Ouch.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sanjaya Malakar is gone. Let us not forget him. Ever.

AMERICAN IDOL Season Six is now halfway home.  Next week is the marathon donation begging event of the century.  Who will be the two singing legends singing together?  Stay tuned.

De Blieck Out!

AI6 – Round of 7 – Performances

American Idol logoOr, the week we say farewell to Phil Stacey. Didn’t matter how well he did last night. He’s been in the bottom three often enough to know that this is the cowboy’s last ride on this particular horse — at least until the finale night reunion and the subsequent tour.

It was country night, so Martina McBride (with gray eyes?) showed up to learn the contestants a thing or two about this here singing thing.

Phil Stacey opened the show. Like he needed any help in getting kicked off the show, he wound up in the most forgettable slot of the night. He did a good job with “Where The Blacktop Ends,” though. He may have worked a bit too hard in connecting with the audience, though, as his walk through the crowd included hand shakes, half-hugs, and lots of pointing. Contrast that to Chris Sligh, who once sang as he walked through the crowd and never noticed there were people there.

The judges loved him, he sounded fine, and I’m happy that Phil got his grand farewell.

Jordin Sparks sang McBride’s “Broken Wing.” While she looked horrendous, she sounded great. McBride told her to plant her feet and sing the song. Jordin may have taken that a step too far, but you can’t argue with the performance – the slow burn into a frenzy of big notes at the end was great. I think she might have been better with a mic stand, though, and a little more gesticulation, but wow. She can sing. She reminded me of Kelly Clarkson in many ways last night – that big voice, that loooooong note at the end, and the cute smile afterwards. She’s having fun up there.

Sadly, the red garbage bag she wore for a dress didn’t do her any favors, and the lighting during the song bounced red off her face, making it look like she went to Dolly Parton’s rouge collection for makeup help.

Despite all that, Simon said he believes Jordin can win this thing. So do I.

Sanjaya Malakar sang “Let’s Give ‘Em Something To Talk About.” I laughed the whole way through. Every lyric takes on a new meaning when it’s so weakly sung by Sanjaya and his horrible hairdo du jour. This week, it was a handkerchief over his long curly afro-like Southern Boy hair. It was spectacularly awful, as is everything he does. He cannot be allowed to win the show, but he’s spectacularly entertaining to watch. I’m starting to feel really bad for him again, though. I sometimes think he just doesn’t get it – this isn’t an act. This isn’t a comedy show. People really do recognize that he’s not that talented. Sure, he could do a song and dance routine at a Six Flag with A.J. Day, but that’s about it. And he’d need a lot of dance lessons. He’s so hesitant with them right now, and never moves his elbows from their pinned locations at his sides.

Paula could only call him “a lovable guy.” Simon and Randy have clearly had enough of him. Simon called the performance “utterly horrendous” and said something along the lines of, “I know this has been funny for a while, but. . .”


LaKisha Jones is slipping. She chose Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take The Wheel,” which had some personal resonance for her. I’m glad she could connect with the song, but it didn’t suit her voice at all. And she did little to make it her own. And, yes, she sounded shouty. I had that in my notes before Paula said it. She might make the bottom three this week, based on that performance.

Chris Richardson sang a Rascall Flatts song, and it wasn’t about any broken roads, thank goodness. It was “Mayberry,” which I didn’t recognize at all, besides being a dull and repetitive tune. Chris was boring and nasally and flat throughout it. I admit it – I just don’t get him.

Chris didn’t make it any better when talking after the judges’ comments. He tried to make the case that “nasally” is a form of singing, and began digging a hole halfway to China with his “logic.” When Simon called him on that stupidity, you could actually see the gears in Chris’ head start turning, and that’s when he quickly brought up the Virginia Tech thing.

Now, he might very well have wanted to say something in his twenty seconds of time going into the night. But his timing couldn’t have been worse. He was in the middle of a disagreement with Simon, and the second he was losing it (badly), he changed to VT, which looked an awful lot like a deflection. Even Simon saw that and rolled his eyes, and now people who didn’t watch the show or see how that went down are upset over it. Simon tried to do some damage control later in the show, but that came off weak and too unscripted.

It’s been a while since we had a good controversy, though, hasn’t it?

Final performances, predictions, and random thoughts — after the break:

Continue reading

Mamet directs Ford ads

Never thought I’d read this one. But I’ll be keeping an eye out for the ads on IDOL tonight:

Playwright David Mamet directs Ford ads – Yahoo! News

In an effort to get more people to notice its new vehicles, Ford Motor Co. has enlisted the help of filmmaker and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet to direct some of its commercials. The television spots, to debut Tuesday night during Fox’s “American Idol,” compare the company’s Edge crossover vehicle to the BMW X-5 and the Lexus RX-350, Ford officials said. […] The spots feature two men sitting in Edges, talking out the window about how their vehicles compare with the BMW and Lexus.

24 Season Six – 11:00 p.m. to Midnight

Jack Bauer knows no boundaries.  No roadblock is too big.  No personal contact isn’t too easily used.  No armed force can stop him.  No friend — remember Curtis? — can’t be sacrificed.  Get stuck in a scrape?  Call up your pal, the Pres.Wayne Palmer

Ah, good times.

And Chloe is still a pushover for Jack.

Meanwhile, at the White House, the president pushes his luck too far, choreographing everything that’s going to happen with him ten minutes ahead of time.

And the Chinese are still bastiches.

Discuss it all after the break.  Spoiler flags are a-flying, but no spoilers for the coming attractions, please!  Thanks.

Posted in TV

New DVD releases for 17 April 2007

Full list.

My excerpts:

Freedom Writers (Widescreen Edition)

  • Freedom Writers (widescreen) (2007)

Hilary Swank as inner city school teacher giving life lessons in English class. Michele Pfeiffer and Edward James Olmos already did this movie, didn’t they?

  • Larry King: The Greatest Interviews

There’s a joke here about a five minute DVD that I’m just in too kind a mood to make.

  • The Last King of Scotland (widescreen) (2006)

Starring that guy from THE SHIELD and PANIC ROOM. I think he won the Oscar for this, but don’t quote me on that. I didn’t watch that marathon, either.

Smokin\' Aces (Widescreen Edition)

  • Smokin’ Aces (widescreen) (2007)

A Las Vegas crime noir mafia drama or something. I don’t know, but it has an interesting cast: Ben Affleck, Alicia Keys, Alex Rocco, Ray Liotta, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven, Wayne Newton, Ryan Reynolds, and more.

  • Spider-Man 2.1: Extended Cut (2004)

Now with fresh new minutes of superfluous footage to slow the pacing down, but to see the Same Old Same Old to the same audience all over again.

Next week: The Drew Carey Show Season One (yay!), and a mostly music-changed WKRP Season One.

Posted in DVD

Drew Carey: Back To TV

Variety Reports:

CBS continues to pump up its alternative development, greenlighting a music-themed project from the producers of “Hairspray” and “Queer Eye” as well as an improv gameshow toplined by “Late Late Show” host Craig Ferguson. Eye also has recruited Drew Carey to host its Michael Davies-produced quizzer “Power of 10.” […] Musical project is tentatively dubbed “Life as a Song” . . . “Life” will give people who have major announcements to make or questions to ask the opportunity to do so via an elaborate song and dance number. It’s based on the tuner tradition of characters breaking into song when emotions become too strong for words. […] [“Power of 10”] an original Embassy Row format, which borrows elements from “Family Feud.”  Exec producer Michael Davies worked with Carey when he was an exec at ABC during the days of “Whose Line Is It Anyway.” That skein also was hosted by Carey.

Ferguson and Carey, of course, starred in THE DREW CAREY SHOW just a few years back. I miss that show.

Posted in TV

AI1 – Round of 4

I’m just going to steal our discussion out of the comments thread of the last AI1 thread. I think Juan and I said it all there:

Juan started it:

I always assumed the public just plain screwed up in picking Nikki over Tamyra, but now, after seeing this show again, I can see there was a little more to it than that. First, Tamyra had her weakest showing of the entire season, while Nikki gave her strongest performance to this point (she would be even better the following week on “Black Velvet?). Never mind that I don’t think Nikki was better than Tamyra even this week — it just seemed that way. Second, the judges reinforced this idea by raving about both of Nikki’s performances, while not getting all that worked up about either of Tamyra’s numbers (particularly the first). Long story short: Tamyra’s dismissal doesn’t seem all that bizarre and/or conspiratorial this time around. Finally, with her two excellent performances, Kelly left no doubt that she was Season 1’s best contestant. While the song itself means nothing to me (thereby not meriting consideration as an Idol Moment), I’d put her rendition of Celine Dion’s “Surrender? right up with the best anyone sang the entire season — including her own “Natural Woman.? And when you hear how hoarse she sounded in the interview right after that, you know she’s really something special.

And I carried on:

I had completely forgotten about “Surrender,? but I was blown away by it this weekend. It was obvious that both her voice and Tamyra’s were weakening badly by this point in the competition, but that performance still gave me goosebumps. Change the lighting a little — think Clay doing “Solitaire? — and you may have had a legitimate “Idol Moment? there. I also enjoyed Justin’s cheesy “PYT? performance. Wow, that was bad. And after watching five full seasons of Idol, I can see the weaknesses in Nikki’s song stylings that weren’t obvious to me then. Even on a good night like she had in the Round of Four, she still shouted a lot of stuff.

Juan replies:

Yep, Nikki wasn’t that good even on her best night(s). And I too liked Justin’s “PYT? a lot more than Randy and Simon did. I mean, is it possible to perform that song without imitating Michael? Btw, I thought Justin was second best in the round of 4, and I still put Nikki last despite her improved performances.

And now I get to talk in my own voice again. =)

PYT is just not a great IDOL song. It’s almost impossible to do it without sounding like a pale imitation, unless you rearrange the hell out of the song. His dancing was ludicrous, though.

It’s also funny to watch Ryan in Season One acting like a wild and crazy companion to the almost-reserved Brian Dunkleman. He seems so much more mature today, and wearing suits that often fit a lot better, too.

In the long run, I can’t believe Tamyra hasn’t had more showbiz success than she’s had. She’s done very well for herself, particularly by comparison to the bomb that Justin has become and so many others, but I still think she’s better than she’s gotten so far. Maybe there’s more to come.

For a few giggles, check out this theory on how Sanjaya is the new Tamyra — “in some sort of alternative universe where pitch and tone are irrelevant.”

Also: I read in ROLLING STONE Magazine this week that Kelly’s next album is due out this summer, and that she wrote most of it herself. She promises that one is the most bitter man-hating song she’s ever done. Given how rough “Breakaway” was to anyone with a “Y” chromosome, I’m almost fearing this album now. ;-)

And: Lisa Tucker landed a FOX pilot. Cool!

Monday Link Dump

Flash Game of the Year

Forget “of the day.” This is the game guaranteed to cost you countless days of productivity:

Desktop Tower Defense

It seems simple at first, but the more you play it, the more you’ll think about it. Should you invest in more firepower? Stronger firepower? Air defense? You have to beat the bosses, since they give you unbelievable points to beef up your defenses with. And you’ll want to use some of the cheat pop guns to move the bad guys around to stall for time while you fire at them.

I’ve gotten to level 39, but never past it yet.

Update: There are YouTube Videos showing you how to get to very high levels.