Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sept. 11...in Arizona?

I received an odd press release today about a plan to erect a Sept. 11 monument in Arizona. Did Arizona have some obscure role in the tragedy that somehow escapes me? As far as I can recall, the planes crashed in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. And it's not like Arizona can even claim the planes were meant to go to their state (since they were actually headed for California — hey, where's our monument?!).

Anyway, I love how the Web site has a typo in the subhead: "A Collaborative Effort of the Governor's 9-11 Memorial Commission and it's Sponsors." Hopefully they'll apply the same care when it's time to engrave the plaque.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Akbar & Jeff?

Here's an interesting piece about a writer from the gay-focused New York Blade who tried to get an interview with the twin Hamm brothers (of Olympics fame). Apparently he only wanted to ask them two questions but was spurned by their handlers.

I can see why, since I would have assumed the two questions were: "Lovers or brothers? Or possibly both?"

Clear Blue Crap

Egad, a new low for "Clear Blue Water" today. Today's strip is a microcosm of everything wrong with this horrible comic.

First of all, the drawing. Sweet Jesus in a chicken basket, is that woman in the bikini supposed to have her back to us in the second panel, and if so, how on earth does she do that with her head??

Second, the jokes are cluttered up with WAY too much gratuitous dialogue. For instance, in the first panel, the exchange between Eve and her niece adds very little to the scene and does nothing to set up the joke. Finally, the epilogue panel (No. 5) doesn't add anything worthwhile. Better to end with panel No. 4. I'm not saying the joke would be funny under any circumstances, but at least get to the point quickly. Even "Cathy" doesn't have that much setup!

But I don't know why I'm analyzing, since this strip isn't salvageable. Every day brings new horrors. At least "Family Circus" is drawn by a professional who knows how to economically tell a "joke" -- "Clear Blue Water" is a disaster.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Power 92.7

So I've been peeping the new Bay Area hip-hop radio station Power 92.7 "The Beat of the Bay". Apparently the station went live on July 13, but I only caught wind of it when I passed one of their vans last Saturday. My impression so far is so-so.

First, the positive: It airs virtually no commercials as far as I can tell. And while this may not be good from a viability standpoint, it's great for listeners. I also like that they really focus on hip-hop rather than "hip-hop and R&B" like KMEL. There's none of that Angie Stone/Jill Scott/Alicia Keys slow-jam crap, which gets way too much play on 106.1. And they do spin some local artists -- though none I haven't heard on KMEL.

The negative: You'll definitely only hear mainstream/commercial hip-hop on Power 92.7. That's fine by me since I'm not a hater, but you rap snobs out there might complain. Also, their playlist could be bigger. They rely heavily on Kanye West, for instance (although wasn't it Lao Tzu that said, "No one ever killed a party by playing too much of my boy Kanye titta"). It's also hard to get the station in the South Bay... I like how their full tag line is: "The Beat of the Bay: San Francisco - Oakland - Bay Area." Ha, you expected that last thing to be San Jose, didn't you?

Then there's the question of whether this station will last. I think it's changed formats several times over the last few years, most recently serving as a dance station. This online discussion seemed to indicate that it may not have much of a future as a rap station. That would be sad since it would be pretty banging for the Yay to have three hip-hop stations (take that, Portland, Oregon!).

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

What an "Honor"

So apparently Haverford gets a mention in the new Kaplan/Newsweek "Hottest Colleges" list. But it's not for anything academic -- it's for having the hottest college honor code (?!). I didn't realize our honor code was "hot," but I guess it's good to be noticed. Some of the other selections were even more random, such as the hottest school if you like hot and dry weather: Pomona College. The hottest school for individualists (read: freaks) was Oberlin.

No Bay Area schools were listed.

Camping Photos

Kelly posted some pictures from our trip.

Monday, August 16, 2004

We Made It!

I'm happy to report that we survived camping last weekend, though it was quite perilous. My main concern was that it would be too hot (we camped in a wilderness park near Morgan Hill, south of San Jose), and it was pretty warm Friday and early Saturday. But it cooled way off Saturday afternoon -- so much so that the six of us (me, Kelly, Tara, Jason, Bill and Alison) tried to crowd into one tent...until we decided we didn't like each other that much.

The real threat was the wildlife. Friday evening we spotted a creature that I still assert was a rabid mountain lion, though Kelly claimed it to be a badger. Later that night, a pack of raccoons -- apparently attracted by Paul Simon music -- ripped open our marshmallow bag and went at it (and smores night wasn't until Saturday, those greedy bastards!) The next day we were beset by non-kosher bees that tore away large pieces of honey ham and flew away with them!! Does this sort of thing happen in civilization? I think not!

Saturday night the real terrors began. Imagine my personal nightmare: I was up late reading in the tent when I heard the sounds of footsteps (pawsteps?) outside. As I put my ear to the tent's nylon shell to listen more closely, a murderous claw struck the side of my head!! As any man in my position would have, I screamed (though not like a little girl, as others have claimed). The culprit was a little black kitten (!?!).

Now while some regarded this creature as "cute," consider the evidence:

1. It was Friday the 13th weekend, and what was a black cat doing in a campsite? Creepy!

2. The kitten went after Jason with a vengeance, as if it knew he was allergic to cats.

3. It actually tore a hole in Tara and Jason's tent, holding them hostage to the whims of the elements.

Alison and Bill managed to tame the beast, and there was even talk of taking it back home as a trophy (or "pet"). But a ranger said it might belong to one of the groundskeepers, so we left the kitten there to terrorize others.

As we drove out of the park, we had our final brush with savage fauna. A pack of giant flightless birds burst from the brush and began running alongside us on the road. At first we took them to be emu or ostrich (there was also some speculation that they were the last remaining dodo), but then it was decided they were actually wild turkeys. Though not especially quick, they took over the road -- forcing us to drive about 3 mph -- before finally giving up the O.J.-style chase and disappearing into the trees.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Indiana Jones Reject

As you probably know, they're finally doing another "Indiana Jones" movie (due in 2006). Not sure what it's going to be called, but here's an interesting review of "Indiana Jones and the Monkey King," a rejected script written in 1995 by Chris Columbus (he wrote "Goonies" and "Gremlins," in addition to directing the first two "Harry Potter" films).

Apparently the script is terrible ("like something out of Van Helsing"). You have to assume what they're working with now is better, but I think the franchise itself may face insurmountable challenges. For one, Harrison Ford is really old. And two, it's going to be tough to up the stakes after "The Last Crusade." I mean, they found the freakin' Holy Grail. Where do you go from there? I suppose he could find Mary Magdalene's sarcophagus...

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Favorite Spam Subject Headers

While I'm on the topic of spam, here are some of the subject headers of spams I've received in the last day:

"We got together and came up with this cucumber"
(For a mortgage lending pitch)

"Mary Kate and Ashley go to the Pharmacy"
(For prescription drugs)

...and finally the subject header least likely to get anyone to open the e-mail (also for prescription drugs):

"Catwoman!"

Monday, August 09, 2004

More Christian Spam

What is up with all my Christian-themed junk e-mail? Today's came from Christian Debt Management, which offered to consolidate my debts. (Hopefully this isn't an offshoot of Freedom Debt Relief, Jon.)

They also used a quote from the bible, but theirs was from Matthew 6:12, "...and forgive us our debts."

Nothing too misleading about this reference, but the overall context is of Jesus comparing debts to sins. And the point is that in return for our debts/sins being forgiven, we should forgive the sins of others. The complete verse is: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." I'm not sure if this means I should forgive the sins of Citibank and Sallie Mae, but I'll look into it.

Interestingly, Christian Debt Management is not a nonprofit (unlike many debt consolidators). But they see this as a big positive, as they reveal in their FAQ section:

"Q: Why Should I use Christian Debt Management Instead of a Nonprofit Organization?
A: Nonprofit debt consolidators are paid by the creditors and impose budget requirements on you. In most cases, they will not allow you to keep any credit cards, and they report to the Credit Bureaus. This is a conflict of interest. At Christian Debt Management, we work for our clients."

That's fine but I wonder if the profits go into a collection plate. Somehow I doubt it.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Thursday, August 05, 2004

IBD: At the Cutting Edge?

Most of the time, working for Investor's Business Daily doesn't give me much insight into the hip-hop world. But this was different. Sometime last year I started seeing ads in our paper for a car called the Maybach. The ad didn't reveal much about the car -- all I could tell was that it looked expensive and that it was made by Mercedes (and I had to read the fine print to learn that).

But now I'm seeing Maybachs all over MTV, especially in rap videos (such as Lil Flip's "Sunshine"). It's also mentioned in G Unit "Poppin' Them Things." And there's even one that likes to circle our apartment building, but it's a livery car -- not owned by a rapper as far as I can tell.

So if I'd been smart I would have bought a Maybach at the beginning of this trend and impressed everyone with my prescience. Unfortunately, they cost between $300,000 and $400,000. (I couldn't find the price on the Maybach Web site, by the way... one of those "if you have to ask" kind of things. I had to find it here.)

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Spamming for Jesus

Today I received an e-mail from the Christian Lending Network offering me the "home loan of my dreams". At first this made me wonder if spamming people is a sin, but what really annoyed me was the biblical quote they included at the bottom of the note:

"Good will come to him
Who is generous
and lends freely..."
Psalm 112:5

This got me thinking, so I did a little research. Sure enough, the same Psalm also bars the practice of usury (charging interest when you lend money):

"A good man...lendeth...
without usury, hoping for nothing again..."

So I checked out the site, and the best rate they offer is 5.375% on a 30-year mortgage -- not 0.00%. Hypocrites!

Wow

This Slate story on SUVs is incredible. Apparently local laws in California bar SUVs from certain streets in many cities, including San Francisco. The laws were intended to keep big rigs from rumbling through residential neighborhoods, but since they set the cutoff at 6,000 pounds, the laws would technically bar many SUVs as well. All the big SUVs (Escalade, Navigator, etc.) are over that and even some SUVs that I don't think of as monsters (the BMW X5).

Want to take a trip down Lombard? You can't do it in your SUV! Well, you can I guess, since the laws haven't been enforced. In fact, lawmakers didn't even seem to know that the ban applied to SUVs. So I wonder what they do now. Change the law to exclude SUVs? Or maybe enforce the law, collect loads of fines and close the state's deficit? Who knows...

And this isn't just a California issue. You can't legally cross the Brooklyn Bridge in a large SUV. Can you imagine if this was enforced?

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Amazing Photo

Kelly and I were marveling at this photo on Sunday, when it ran in the SF Chron. It's more noticeable in the print edition, but doesn't the bear's nose look exactly like the face of a monkey? Freaky!

To see the photo, click on this link and then click on thumbnail picture of the bear.

Monday, August 02, 2004

No Kenny G, However

I enjoyed this list on Amazon of CDs that will destroy a party -- until I realized that I own at least 5-6 of the CDs on this list! [Plus, Neil Diamond would never kill a party. -ed.]

Boondocks on TV

So Aaron McGruder, creator of the "Boondocks" comic strip, looks to bring his strip to TV. According to this, he's talking to the Cartoon Network about a half-hour series. Much as I like the "Boondocks" strip, I think this is probably a bad idea. Remember the "Dilbert" show? Didn't really translate. In fact, I can't think of a single newspaper comic that really worked in TV form -- except maybe "Peanuts." I guess the "Garfield" show was OK, given that the strip itself is pretty weak.

Shocking Sight

Wow, this morning I saw gas station prices that began with the numeral 1! (The Arco at Remington and Matilda in Sunnyvale now sells regular gas for $1.99.)