Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Gone south for Christmas

Fried Rice Thoughts will be on vacation for the rest of the week, and will return after Christmas. (Likely on 12/27.)

I'm currently in South Carolina, visiting Dr. Lil' Sis, thus ensuring that Mama Cass and I will spend Christmas with the family we like. I had a bunch of movie reviews that I wanted to post, and might still do that, but I don't know how much computer time I'll have down here in the low-country of Charleston.

Plus, Dr. Lil' Sis is still on dial-up when it comes to her internet access, and I'm not sure how I'll deal with that. (And just between us, the good doctor makes broadband money, so I don't know why she hasn't made the switch. Bah.)

As always, thank you for stopping by, and Happy Holidays to each of you. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Chrismukkah, and Festive Festivus for the rest of us. May your egg nog have an extra splash of rum.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Music was on pieces of plastic, and we liked it!

Here's something I didn't get around to posting last week. It's something of an obituary for the Tower Records in Washington, D.C., which - like the rest of the chain - is closing down.

More than lamenting the loss of a particular record store, however, Paul Farhi's feature in the Washington Post notes the passing of record store culture, in general.

This is probably a ship that has long since sailed for most of us. I buy most of my music from iTunes these days by the single, not the album. And when I do get that occasional hankering for an entire CD, I end up at a place like Best Buy, rather than a true record store.

(And there's still quite a few good ones in Ann Arbor, like Wazoo, Encore, and Schoolkids. P.J.'s is a good used store - and the owner was a good friend of my dad's, so I'm making sure to mention that place, too. Forgive me if I've forgotten any other notable stores.)

I guess I've just joined the masses in sacrificing coolness for convenience. But Farhi's article still had some resonance with me because I've been talking about music purchasing trends quite a bit with my buddy Rob recently.

Actually, I'm quite indebted to Rob when it comes to music. I was a dry sponge when I arrived at Michigan State for my freshman year, and Rob was ready to soak me with all sorts of stuff I hadn't listened to before. Would I be such a fan of Paul Westerberg and The Replacements, if not for him? I'll never know.

But Rob is still an "album guy," and admiringly so. He still likes the deeper cuts, and the joy he gets from discovering something on his own. Unfortunately, it seems like the music industry is making guys like Rob work a hell of a lot harder to find good stuff these days. Or maybe it's as Bob Mould said in The Believer last year, and people aren't as ravenous about seeking out new music as they used to be. (There's definitely some truth to that.)

Of course, who has the time anymore? That's the conclusion Rob and I reached the last time we talked about this.

Still, I can't help but think about how I felt when the Tower Records in Ann Arbor shut down. During my twenties, I probably spent more time and money in there than I care to admit. There was no better place to kill an hour after work while waiting to meet friends at the bar.

It was sad to see the racks that were previously jammed full of CDs and LPs virtually bare. Instead of kaleidoscopes of album covers, there were just huge voids of grey space, littered with a few stray items. All the paintings had been taken down from the walls, leaving the store looking naked.

(And I've always wanted to know where some of those went. I would've loved a painting of the Clash's London Calling in my living room. Hey, as long as it ended up on someone's wall, instead of a dumpster.)

I don't think I'll be as nostalgic about spinning the click wheel on my iPod ten years from now. And bringing up a song or album after typing a keyword in a search window just doesn't bring the same sense of discovery than finding some British import EP you'd spent the last five years looking for. Sometimes, I just enjoyed the sound of CD jewel cases slapping against one another as I flipped through them.

Geez, I might as well be sitting on my porch, shaking my fist at those kids skateboarding on my sidewalk. But I will most definitely be savoring a trip to 52.5 Records in Charleston while visiting my sister for Christmas. And I'm bringing money to burn...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Soon to appear on eBay... ?

Courtesy of Mis Hooz, the New York Bureau Chief for Fried Rice Thoughts, comes this incisive piece from today's New York Times. "All the news that's fit to print," indeed.

Out on Long Island, it seems that someone could be sitting on quite a little nugget of sea treasure. Interestingly, however, this particular nest egg could be made of whale vomit.

If it does happen to be petrified orca barf, also known under more classy terms as "ambergris," that hunk of whale junk could be worth $18,000. ($10 a gram, baby!)

Wouldn't you know that whale vomit is a key component in "fragrance chemistry"? I suppose that's not a stretch to consider, though. If whale blubber is so popular in making perfume, why not other... substances from these aquatic mammals?

Think about what's in that perfume next time you dab a bit under your ear, ladies. Unless, of course, you already knew that and are perfectly comfortable with such knowledge.

The only possible down side to pawning off this upchunk trinket, however, is that current laws tend to frown upon anyone attempting to sell something that comes from an endangered species. And the sperm whale most certainly qualifies as such.

Oh, well - maybe a four-pound petrified lump of whale puke will make a pretty tchotchke over the fireplace. Here's hoping!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rise of the Manatees

It's the new sensation sweeping the nation! Frisky sea mammals photographed in compromising positions for the depraved gratification of onlookers throughout the internet!

Have you heard about this thing? Maybe not, if you're at that age when staying up until 12:35 a.m. on a weeknight just doesn't seem like a good idea.

So if you haven't - and oh, I'm sure my mother is proud of me on days when I can enlighten the people like this - it all started with a throwaway comment Conan O'Brien made on his show during a skit about college mascots he'd like to see.

One of the mascots was the "F.S.U." web-cam manatee, who presented himself (herself?) on stage, while rubbing its nipples (and yes, I ran a Google search to see if manatees have nipples) to the tune of the Divinyls' "I Touch Myself." And off to the side, of course, one of the guys in The Max Weinberg 7 caught the action on a computer monitor, mouth agape with wonder (and perversion). Conan then joked about him looking at ""

The next night, O'Brien explained that he received a call from NBC's standards office, telling him that if a fake website is mentioned on a show, the network has to buy the domain. He claimed this was true, and apparently, he was quite serious. Here's the explanation from Jacques Steinberg's article on the subject in yesterday's New York Times:

"If a viewer were somehow to acquire the license to use that Internet domain name, then put something inappropriate on the site, the network could potentially be held liable for appearing to promote it."

Thus, the shotgun birth of

Or as O'Brien put it, "For $159, NBC, the network that brought you ‘Meet the Press,’ Milton Berle, and the nation’s first commercial television station became the proud owner of"

This thing has seemingly exceeded any sort of expectation O'Brien and his writers could've expected. The site has received millions of hits, offers videos and t-shirts, and perhaps best of all, fans have submitted all kinds of artwork depicting their own enactments of manateen/ human relations (often with O'Brien or Max Weinberg).

Are you still reading this? You're missing out on pictures such as "Manatee Schoolgirl," "Shaved Manatee," and "Fetish Manatee"! C'mon, it's hilarious stuff.

So what do you suppose are the chances of Conan O'Brien doing stuff like this once he takes over for Jay Leno on The Tonight Show?

The Fried Rice Thoughts Wine Guide?

I'm probably about to expose myself as a complete fraud and wanna-be regarding the consumption and appreciation of wine. Miles from Sideways, I am most certainly not.

But, um, when you take a sip of wine and it tastes like you just put pure gasoline into your mouth, the wine is probably bad, right?

I'm just checking - because I'm hardly a connoisseur. I don't even own a wine guide or dictionary. And yes, I like wine, but honestly, I probably drink the red stuff more for the supposed health benefits. Or at least that's what I tell myself.

Maybe I didn't leave the bottle open long enough and let the tannins breathe, or do whatever else they're supposed to do. I just wanted something to drink with dinner, and I was getting kind of thirsty, okay?

What kind of wine was it? Well, I'd prefer not to say - mostly because I can't find a link to it on the internet. But it was a Cabernet Sauvignon, and... I didn't spend very much money on it at Trader Joe's. Hey, it was on an end-cap, okay? The sign caught my eye! (And I've had some very good fortune with stuff I've purchased there over the last couple of years. I also like to think I've come to know a little bit about wine. But I might be a fraud.)

Maybe I should just stick to beer, eh? I know what I'm getting into there.

On the bright side, I might try to see if my car can run on this swill...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sometimes, the spirit finds you... ?

This just came in from the Fried Rice Thoughts New York Bureau, courtesy of Bureau Chief Mis Hooz. Check out "A Charlie Brown Christmas," performed by the cast of Scrubs.

(And if you haven't taken the time to hear Schroeder as played by Turk [Donald Faison], then you should consider giving yourself a treat.)

Is that my slowly thawing holiday heart I feel melting? First, Bruce Springsteen singing "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town,' then Charlie Brown voiced by Zach Braff. Brilliant.

Maybe I will finish those Christmas cards after all...

(And if the damn thing doesn't play - oh, Blogger Beta is so much better, Ian! - you can find the video here.)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Almost in the spirit

I've been pretty "Bah! Humbug!" about Christmas this year. Not that I was Mr. Reindeer and Mistletoe in previous years.

My parents' decision not to put up a Christmas tree for the past 10-12 years has been passed onto me. My last apartment was tree, wreath, and light free. In previous living situations, roommates always handled that mess. Now that I'm back home again, there's virtually no sign of the holidays, other than the pile of Christmas cards on the dining room table I should really work on. And since I'm visiting my sister in South Carolina this year, I really don't see that changing over the next two weeks.

I'm sure a lot of it has to do with an awful Thanksgiving. (Blogging about it has been withheld to protect the innocent and ashamed.) But other than a brief tingle in my chest while doing some holiday shopping, I haven't felt much Christmas spirit. At least until this weekend.

I hate Christmas music. Beat that little drummer boy on the head. How about truly making it a "silent night" and not singing? Nothing would compel me to rethink my stance on gun control like a group of carolers showing up on my doorstep.

And I will never, ever abide by radio stations that change their entire format to Christmas music the day after Halloween. (You might be able to convince me that it would be okay after Thanksgiving. I still wouldn't listen, but it wouldn't be quite as unbearable.) That $#!+ almost completely derailed me in school at Iowa. I found one station I liked and then it stuck knitting needles in my ears for the last two months of the semester.

However, there's one song that always gets me around this time of year. If I don't hear it (and there have been a couple of years where that happened), it doesn't feel like Christmas time. But this year should be okay, now that I finally heard Bruce Springsteen's version of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" at an area cafe.

(Circa 1975, according to the only guy I'd ever ask about Springsteen stuff. Rob has something Bruce-related on his blog today, in fact.)

As soon as I hear those sleigh bells, the accompanying piano, and Santa "ho-ho-ho'ing," I perk up. Very Pavlovian. Every time Bruce asks the crowd if they've been good, I chuckle along with him when not many people clap. ("That's not many...") And when he asks Clarence Clemons if Santa's going to bring him a new saxophone, I instinctively smile.

Yeah, I know I'd probably hear it frequently if I listened to a classic rock station, but I don't do that. But c'mon - it wouldn't hold nearly the same power for me if I heard it once a day over a six-week span. And it certainly wouldn't ignite the twinkle of Christmas spirit I have right now.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Always the last to know...

When it comes to local happenings in my town, I've been out of touch for quite a while. Authors will have held readings, or bands will have played concerts, and I usually find out days after the fact. And I think a big reason for that is letting my subscription to the Ann Arbor News run out months ago. (Actually, we could be going on a year now.)

If I happen to be in a bookstore (and chances are that I am at least once a week - hey, I'm not buying all of those magazines I want to read), I'll skim through a newspaper to see what's going on. (I know - I could read the local news online, but I get distracted by sports, movie, and gossip stuff. Or gassy women causing planes to make emergency landings. If you're Glade, aren't you trying to sign this chick up as a spokeswoman right now... ?) But I've become a bit frustrated with finding out about stuff later on, and I read something yesterday that might finally make me want to stay current again.

Apparently, there might have been a brothel in Ann Arbor. A brothel, baby! And I had no idea.

(Plus, we have a "Special Investigations Unit" here! Just like a Law & Order spin-off! How cool is that?)

Actually, the brothel was raided and shut down a couple of months ago. This most recent story is about the AAPD mailing letters to people whose registered vehicles were seen at various times outside the establishment.

You know, I have a little bit of disposable income now. And some free time (though my DVR is eating up a lot of that). Most of my friends are married with kids, so I can't just call 'em up and ask if they want to hang out. Such things have to be planned out weeks in advance. That just kills a guy's spontaneity, man.

Of course, subscribing to a newspaper probably wouldn't have helped with this. What I probably need to do is start going to the bar more, and reading the scrawls on the walls. Or just walk the streets and ask people if they know where any good brothels are. I just need to get out more, I think. But if Ann Arbor's going to keep shutting down these "spas" where I could get a "massage," I guess I might as well just stay home and catch up on episodes of Bones. Or should I have said Heroes?

And in other "What? I didn't know about this!" news, the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show was on last night? See, here's another reason I should subscribe to a newspaper again - so I get that TV guide on Sundays.

Oh - apparently not too many other people knew it was on, either. Or they were cleaning out their DVRs, too. Never mind.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The most horrifying news from the weekend?

Well, it's Tuesday now, so cooler heads have probably prevailed, but when I read this story in Sunday's New York Times, I almost did a spit-take on my computer monitor:

The Executive Producer of ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’ Is Leaving

But... but... but - I've fallen back in love with the show ever since joining DVR Nation (not to be confused with Colbert Nation, of course) and making sure I never miss an episode (which I'd been doing with disturbing regularity through most of the summer and early fall).

What would Ben Karlin's departure do to The Daily Show and The Colbert Report? And this might be when we need those shows the most! We've got a presidential campaign coming up!

Of course, both of those shows could also benefit from a fresh take on things and a different approach. No one's dumb enough to change what clearly works. And other talent - Steve Carell, Ed Helms, Rob Corddry - has left The Daily Show (or rocked out a spin-off) without stopping the machine. And hey, it's not like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are leaving.

Then there was a follow-up in yesterday's NYT which seemed to bring some peace, love, and understanding to anyone who might have worried:

Producer of ‘Daily Show’ and ‘Colbert’ Cites Other Projects as He Steps Aside

So Karlin's contract was about to expire, and he decided that was a great time to step away - something he'd been considering and discussing for a while. And he's working on a book, which is something I can certainly (enviously) get behind. Plus, he'll still be involved with both shows, so the "formula" is still in place while replacements are slotted in.

All appears to be well. We can rest without anxiety. And still enjoy our 11 p.m. to midnight TV viewing. (Meanwhile, my computer monitor remains coffee spit-free.)

Monday, December 04, 2006

That's what she said! (Episode #9.0)

After a holiday break, The Office was back with a new episode. (Had one been shown on Thanksgiving evening, I might have forgotten about the awful experience I endured with my family earlier that evening. Oops - I'm trying to be nice.) So with new stuff to dissect, That's What She Said is back with a new podcast, as well.

Which transfer from the Stamford office of Dunder-Mifflin is an ex-convict? Will the employees in Scranton be safe?

And once that news trickles out to the rest of the staff, can Michael Scott be trusted to handle it discreetly and sensitively? What, are you kidding?

Did we like the episode or, since original "Office" creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant wrote it, will we just chalk it up to "British humour"?

Episode #9.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so please join the fun and send along some e-mail or leave a comment to the show notes. And as always, thanks for listening!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The best damn news I've read all week?

No, not that Britney, Paris, and Lindsay have formed an unholy trinity of... I don't even know what to call it. (Thanks, Spinster Girl.)

I'm probably at risk of really letting my geek feathers show this week, with yesterday's spaceship post. But with today's news (just read at this late hour - hey, I was busy today) from The Hollywood Reporter (via Pop Candy) that HBO is developing a series based on one of my all-time favorite "graphic novels," I'm a giddy little late-night blogger.

Preacher might be (hyperbole alert!) one of the best things ever committed to paper by pencil, ink, and color. The title character (Jesse Custer) is a minister having a crisis of faith who suddenly finds himself merged with something called "Genesis," the unholy spawn of an angel and demon. This gives him the power of "The Word," which Custer can use to make anyone do exactly what he says.

(Custer's use of "The Word" leads to some hilarious scenarios throughout the series, such as when he tells some poor sap to "go #@$% himself." And that's exactly what the guy tries to do, which doesn't quite agree with human physiology.)

The main thrust of the series is that Custer decides to use his power to find God - not in a spiritual sense, but a literal one. And once he finds God, the plan is to confront him and make him answer for what he's let happen to the world.

But it's all about the journey, not the destination, as they say. And the authors of the story, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, created one fantastic cast of characters. There's Custer's girlfriend, Tulip, who happens to have once been an assassin. The two of them eventually hook up with Cassidy, an Irish alcoholic vampire with a mutual admiration for Bill Hicks.

You've also got Arseface, a kid with a severely disfigured face as the result of trying to kill himself as Kurt Cobain did. Herr Starr, who pursues Custer on behalf of The Grail - which tries to keep the bloodline of Christ alive - only to become a Wile E. Coyote type of figure that always loses. The Saint of Killers, an old cowboy who's basically a hitman for God. Top them off with the inbred descendant of Jesus Christ and the ghost of John Wayne, and you have yourself one hell of a series.

C'mon - tell me you don't want to read that now. (And if you're already a fan, let me know if I missed anything.) Nod your head in agreement that there's no way a two-hour movie could've adequately captured the whole thing. You need the serial progression of a weekly series, and a medium that allows for a larger, over-arching story. It's perfect for a HBO show.

Well, except the pilot is reportedly being written by the man who brought us Daredevil (with Ghost Rider soon to come) and the director of such gems as The Replacements and The Whole Ten Yards. Okay, it's kind of movie-snobby, but that's a bit of a concern. I'm not sure I care, however, if it means I get to see Preacher's sick and twisted brilliance brought to live action.

Make this happen, HBO. Remember, you're not just TV. (And though he's already starred in another one of your series, see if this guy's interested in playing Jesse Custer. He's good.)

▪▪ Here's more from The Movie Blog.

▪▪ And a list of all the Preacher trade paperbacks at

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Name your spaceship!

I found this via the "Table of Malcontents" blog at It's a list from, ranking the Top 10 Movie Spaceships.

They seemed to get it right, because I can't think of any spaceships to add to the list off the top of my head. At least I can't think of anything from movies, other than the X-Wing and Tie Fighters from the Star Wars movies. (Tie Fighters rule! They could spin all around, you could fly three of them side-by-side in a Death Star trench, and they made that screaming noise when they flew by! Plus, they were just easier toys to handle as a kid.)

I could rattle off a few from TV shows. The Colonial Vipers and Cylon Raiders from Battlestar Galactica (old and new). The Star Fighters and Draconian Marauders from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

And then there's the one ship that I was ready to shout out, but kept quiet because I thought it was only on a TV show. But wait - it was also in a movie! (The Wired blog mentioned it too, so it's not like I thought of it first.) The Serenity! From the movie, which happens to be also titled Serenity. And the TV show, Firefly! Not ringing a bell?

So if I say a "03-K64 Firefly-class mid-bulk transport with a standard radion accelerator core," that does nothing for you?

Um... Browncoats, unite? No? Still nothing?

Okay, whatever. But if you're making a spaceship list, the Serenity should be on there, man. Is there anything we're missing?

Monday, November 20, 2006

That's what she said! (Episode #8.0)

It was the moment fans of The Office have been waiting for all season, so big that NBC "super-sized" the episode, and promoted the hell out it of all week: the reunion of Jim and Pam, following the merger of the Scranton and Stamford branches of Dunder-Mifflin.

Was it the best episode of the season or "worst. episode. ever"? Are you on "Team Pam" or "Team Karen"? Did you think Jim behaved like a jerk? And even if he was, did Pam deserve that kind of treatment for breaking the poor guy's heart? Or should she be left off the hook after serving her emotional penance?

Okay, that sounds kind of heavy. That's not what we said on That's What She Said this week. But as usual, we looked at it from virtually every angle, along with the other storylines from the episode, such as the beginnings of a feud between suck-ups, and debating whether or not a woman should use a breast pump at her desk for the whole office to see. (And man, did I work hard not to say something stupid there.)

Episode #8.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so if you feel the need to chime in, please send along some e-mail. And as always, thanks for listening!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Truly a Michigan man

Legendary (and I'm not using that word thoughtlessly) Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler passed away this morning at the age of 77.

Suddenly, tomorrow's Michigan-Ohio State game seems like nothing more than that: Just a game. And I'm struggling to find the right word for the timing of this, because so many apply.

I have a couple of Bo Schembechler stories that I'd like to tell, one of which is particularly special because it involves my father. Dad loved Michigan football and admired Bo greatly. (No one could say the words "a Michigan man" with more pride and quiet ferocity than Coach Schembechler.) And at some point, I really want to write about the time we both met Bo because I really do feel like that day had an impact on my life. Right now, however, it doesn't feel quite right.

Rest in peace, Bo.

Oh, this should be fun

I don't talk much about The Office here, other than posts and links to That's What She Said - mostly because it's Matt's show, and he just invited me along for the ride (for which I'm extremely grateful, by the way). And it's not until this season that I really became a devoted viewer.

But I happened to be online last night while the show was on (working on something), and a few people sent me instant messages, looking for some instant reaction. "Oh my God - how can you not be watching?! Jim and Pam! JAM! PIM! JAMMER! Reunion!"

Unfortunately, the computer's in a different room from the TV (Papa needs a brand new laptop), and now that I belong to the DVR Nation, I knew I'd just catch it later on.

It was pretty amusing (and believe me, I'd have rather been watching TV at that point), but I probably shouldn't have been surprised. Last night's episode, "The Merger," was hugely anticipated, with the moment fans have yearned for all season.

But since then (just over 12 hours, I realize)... the reaction has been sort of mixed. And that leads us to stuff like this:

Whose side are you on, man? (Check out the blogs that led to the t-shirts.)

If you listen to TWSS, I don't think I've been too coy about where I stand. I find exotic-looking women who could've been fathered by G.I.s rather appealing. But judging from this thread at Pop Candy, I may not be as much in the minority as I once believed.

But while chatting with Spinster Girl last night, I realized that these might not ultimately be the sides to choose. Whose side are you on between Jim and Pam? Are either of them being immature? Does someone deserve what he or she is getting? Think about that over your coffee this morning, 'hoss.

Matt, I can't wait to record the next episode...

Monday, November 13, 2006

The "Lights" are staying on

Congratulations to my buddy Clint, and everyone else associated with Friday Night Lights, as they got some great news from NBC today. As first reported by TV Guide's Michael Ausiello, the show was picked up for a full season by the network, meaning 22 episodes will be broadcast.

I was able to briefly chat with Clint this afternoon (just an hour after they got the news themselves - that Ausiello guy is fast!), and he said a celebratory lunch was being enjoyed by all. I'm sure those were some damn tasty sandwiches.

I know it might seem like I'm saying this just because my friend works on the show, but Friday Night Lights is some damn fine television, and I've become insanely fond of the show.

If you haven't given it a chance yet, I don't think you'd be sorry for giving up an hour of your time. Tuesdays at 8 p.m.! Plus, FOX moved House to 9 p.m., so nothing good is standing in your way anymore.

That's what she said! (Episode #7.0)

It's not like I wasn't going to watch The Office anyway (especially now that I'm doing the That's What She Said podcast with Matt), but when you take the time to stick with a show, you want to be rewarded. You want to see those dangling storylines addressed, and you hope the writers give you answers in a satisfying way.

We knew that the Scranton and Stamford branches of Dunder-Mifflin were going to merge. We just didn't know how. And it was fun to see the machinations that the writers set in motion this week to make that happen.

Best episode of the season? Well, I'd probably still go with "Gay Witch Hunt." But "Branch Closing" was a very close second. And I might go so far as to say that our podcast covering the episode was TWSS' best. I should let you guys be the judge on that, however.

Episode #7.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so if you feel the need to chime in, please send along some e-mail. And as always, thanks for listening!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Some overdue plug-ola (and admiration)

Apologies are necessary to my buddy (and new partner in podcasting crime), Kevin Antcliff, who recently started a new blog to track his weight loss. I admire the man for being so open about this stuff, as well as using the blog as a way to maintain discipline and keep a little pressure on himself.

Speaking of discipline, it's worth noting that Kevin isn't hiring a personal trainer. He's not trying any special diets. He's doing this the old-fashioned way: Eating less and exercising more.

I should really (really, really) follow Kevin's example, but I'm not quite as brave a guy. And I guess I'm still too giddy from joining the 21st century. Nothing promotes weight loss like having a new reason to spend more time in front of the TV, right?

Kevin's new blog is titled The 100 (or is it now called "The 87"?), and can be found at

And I really should mention my podcast with Kevin. It's called The Sporting Noobs, and is posted each Tuesday. On each podcast, we'll talk about the big stories and games from the past week in sports, and try to keep things funny, while we're at it. We've done two shows so far - with topics including the World Series, the NBA's new "no talkback" rule, and the big NFL match-ups of the week - and are hopefully getting better.

Give it a listen, if you're interested. (And if you like what you hear, please leave a comment at the show's page, or even better, a positive review on iTunes!)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The revolution will be televised

Yesterday was a big day at Casa de Casselberry. Big. Grande. As in, things will be changing far too much to ever go back.

First, a bit of context: My family has always been behind the times when it comes to technology. We'll join the party a good two to three years after various innovations become a mainstream part of the culture.

The microwave? Everyone else had one first. We were still heating up Hungry-Mans in the regular oven.

A VCR? At least we didn't get one of those top-loading ones. But again, all of my friends had long begun assembling a collection of movies on videotape and never had to miss a favorite TV show.

A personal computer? This one is really embarrassing. I don't know how my sister and I went on to college with only an electric typewriter/word processor to work with. Even when we finally got one, it was a Mac - and that was before they became cool again.

Due to this near-Luddite upbringing, I'd like to think that my sister and I - now adults with semi-disposable incomes of our own - have managed to outgrow our parents' tendencies. We still lagged behind a bit when it came to cell phones and DVD players, but at least we're not the only kids in the neighborhood looking for pay phones and movies on VHS anymore.

We might not be a step ahead of the curve, but at least we ride the crest of the wave. (Did I just mix two cliches there?) We have digital cameras. We're not using dial-up to connect to the internet. We listen to iPods when we're working out (or in my case, pretending to work out).

But when it's come to cable television and all that it currently offers, I've acted more like my parents than I'd care to admit. (Cable TV, by the way, was something we got long after my friends did. However, my parents did unwittingly make me one of the cool kids by subscribing to the Playboy Channel.) While everyone else has been upgrading to digital cable and feeding on hundreds of channels, I've been puttering along with my near-basic package of 80 or so choices.

But hey, at least one of them was HBO. Ian needs his "Sopranos," "Entourage, "Deadwood," and "Wire." Actually, my insistence on pulling in HBO forced me to partially upgrade my service. Comcast required a digital box for a premium channel. And that began the feeling of "You can look, but you can't touch." I could scroll down the digital guide menu and see all the channels that were available. But I couldn't watch any of them, thanks to my stubbornness (and frankly, willingness to part with disposable income).

The tipping point was the end of my VCR. About a month ago, the thing decided that it would rather eat videocassettes than play them. I tried to address the problem rationally. But trying to pry a cassette out the VCR's mouth with a screwdriver, only to realize that four episodes of Battlestar Galactica were now mangled and lost, sent me over the edge.

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. And the VCR didn't either - especially after I euthanized it. Not one of my most mature moments in this lifetime. There was throwing, smashing, and stomping. I wasn't going to be satisfied until I cracked it open and left its innards sprayed all over the floor. But you know what? It's not healthy to keep those feelings inside. Or so I hear.

My friends were happy for me. Now I could finally join the 21st century and get a DVR. But I still resisted. Money was a bit tight. And I still had my eye on replacing the laptop that left this earth approximately three months ago. (R.I.P., you hunk of junk.) So I thought I could get by without taping any television. I was home most evenings. I would just make sure I was in front of the TV when my favorite shows came on. That's how they used to do it in the old days, right?

But then people would call while these shows were on. Or I wouldn't finish my work in time. The biggest problem, however, was that the baseball playoffs demanded my attention like never before. Even with the networks showing mostly reruns, I was still missing too much. I was out of the loop. I'd fallen behind on some of my favorites, like Nip/Tuck and the aforementioned Battlestar Galactica. I had to face reality: This was not working.

So yesterday, I finally gave in to progress. (Plus, I have a little bit of money to burn now.) I got me one of those fancy-schmancy DVRs. (And as a result, I had to upgrade my cable, so I now have NFL Network. Oh, and other stuff like the National Geographic and Sundance channels, but they don't show football on those.) No longer will I be missing my shows. And if I want to watch House in the morning over breakfast, I can. Last night was wonderful. Me and my remote control in bed, under the sheets, setting recordings for my favorite programs.

I'm positively glowing today. Complete strangers are asking me for my secret. I grabbed the woman behind me in line at the coffee shop this morning and just kissed her. Dipped her and then laid one on her. And she didn't slap me. She just fixed her hair and smiled. Because she could tell I was a changed man and had to share my joy with the world.

It is a brand new era at Casa de Casselberry. One in which I will watch even more TV. Oh, I should be getting plenty more done.

Monday, November 06, 2006

That's what she said! (Episode #6.0)

What's that, you say? An American sitcom writing an episode that takes place within a celebration of the Hindu holiday, Diwali? That sounds like some potentially groundbreaking television, my friends. And what fertile territory to mine for laughs!

But, um, what if that episode isn't very good?

That's what That's What She Said faces this week, as Matt and I break down the latest edition of The Office, appropriately titled "Diwali."

What kind of mess has Michael Scott gotten himself into this time? (And should any mortal man expect to endure such an emotional beating?) Was Jim's new co-worker taking advantage of his Jager-bombed state? Has Pam become a meanie? Don't you wish you worked at a place where the boss passed out the Kama Sutra? And should there have been more, well, Diwali stuff? All this and more on the latest TWSS podcast.

Episode #6.0 is available for your downloading and listening pleasure, either from the That's What She Said home page or via iTunes. Feedback and constructive criticism are always much appreciated, so if you feel the need to chime in, please send along some e-mail. And as always, thanks for listening!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Trick or tradition?

Okay, I meant to post this yesterday, as it would've been much more timely. Posting it the day after Halloween doesn't quite give it the same juice.

I would love to cast blame upon circumstances such as my brain being fried from working on my new podcast with Kevin Antcliff - which (ahem) you can find here - or finding myself having to gather up a fall season's worth of leaves in one afternoon, before the city comes to sweep them off the street.

But I can't whine as much about raking leaves as I have in the past because this year, I'm rocking out the leaf blower. Yep. Finally, I can blow leaves onto my neighbor's lawn as he's "accidentally" done to me over the past few years. Oh, and I will also blow out my #@$%ing ears because the thing is so damn loud. Somebody's shopping for protective headphones tomorrow. Oooh, I should blog about that!

Am I digressing? Pardon me. What I wanted to say was that I was a total grouch on Halloween. No candy for the kids! I see 'em walking through the neighborhood. I know they're out there. I know they want their candy. I wanted it at their age, too. (And man, did I get it.) Also, my father loved passing candy out to trick-or-treaters. Every year, he dug the same jack o' lantern lamp out of the basement - the one he bought when I was a toddler - and stuck it in the front window, so the orange glow would pull the kids up our driveway. It was like a Bat-signal for the sweet-toothed.

I would've liked to continue Dad's tradition of bringing joy to the youth. Because children, as you know, are the future. But I kind of have my own tradition now. It's one of cowardice - or more specifically, hiding in my bedroom to watch TV with every single light in the house turned off.

I even tried to get my car really dirty, so moonlight wouldn't reflect off of it, giving the children a glimpse of light, and making them think that my door was willing to be knocked on. Oh, my dad would surely be proud.

But I've been scarred. Or jaded. Take your pick. A few little $#!+s in Iowa City ruined Halloween for me - and thus for every candy-seeking child within walking distance of my house - two years ago. Here's my original post on the subject, titled "You have to wear a costume!" which I also linked to last year. And guess what, I'm linking to it again this year. Yeah, that's right. Is that lazy? No, it's a tradition!

That's your trick, kids. That's what you get for being greedy. And even worse, for not even taking the time to dress up. If I have to get up off my ass every two minutes to answer the door, the least you could do is entertain me. (And no, your hot single mom waiting in the driveway doesn't count.) Bah!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

That's what she said!

How does a podcast about The Office handle itself during a week in which NBC reruns an episode?

Well, That's What She Said tries to keep on rolling, despite the fact that we already covered "The Gay Witch Hunt" when it premiered in late September.

This week, Matt and I talk about future storylines for the show, one of which includes the Hindu holiday Diwali, which is the focus of the next upcoming episode. (And how did I embarrass myself at an Indian grocery while asking the grumpy clerk behind the counter about this holiday?)

Do the writers who also play characters on the show (B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling) give themselves more material when they write an episode? Does Matt hate Scrubs? Why do I like salt and vinegar potato chips? And what is "googy googy"? Matt also includes the week's latest "Office"-related news, tracks cast members' blogs, and reads listener e-mails (one of which might be mocking our emotional sensitivities).

Any time you want it, Episode #5.5 is available for download, either from the That's What She Said home page or iTunes.) Constructive criticism and feedback is always much appreciated, so if you're suitably inspired, please chime in with some e-mail. Thanks for listening!

Friday, October 27, 2006

World Series worrying

After the Tigers' loss in Game 4 of the World Series, I'm a mess. I didn't sleep. My fingernails are chewed-up nubs. The series isn't over, but it sure seemed over last night, if you know what I mean.

St. Louis is up 3-1 in the series, and could end this thing tonight. The Cardinals' history in such situation actually seems to favor the Tigers, so maybe we'll have baseball in Detroit this weekend. But it's not looking good.

More anxious fretting and lamenting over at Sweaty Men Endeavors. Somebody pass the Tums.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Who are The Sporting Noobs?

Weekly sports talk from guys who kinda know what they're talking about... ?

Learn more at Sweaty Men Endeavors.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Superstition ain't the way

As I write this, Game 3 of the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals is in a rain delay - which is slightly annoying because a) I've now eaten most of the food I saved until game time, and b) I'll now be staying up quite late to see this thing through. On the bright side, however, I'll get to type out this post I meant to write this afternoon.

Obviously, I'm enjoying the hell out of the fact that my Tigers are in this World Series. This is even sweeter than championship runs by the Pistons and Red Wings, because those teams were expected to win the title. The regular season and playoff runs felt like exercises in delayed gratification. But what the Tigers are doing has been fabulously unexpected. Almost every game, I shook my head in disbelief that I was watching a good baseball team again, after a decade-and-a-half absence in Detroit.

And it's all gone by so fast because I've wanted to savor every moment. Before the season started, I picked them to win 85 games and finish third in their division. And that seemed optimistic at the time.

After last night's 5-0 loss to the Cardinals, I'm beginning to feel the twinge of anxiety that makes watching sports both fun and exhausting. My stomach is clenching in fear because my team - behind two games to one in the series - looks like it could possibly lose this thing. And that's brought out my superstitious side. Big-time.

So I spent a good chunk of the day remembering the things I did Sunday night, when the Tigers won. And I have to repeat those things. Because even though it's silly to think that any of these things could've influenced a baseball team playing 500 miles away from me, I've convinced myself that they matter. Because when I did these things, the Tigers won. And when I didn't - such as last night - the Tigers lost.

♦ I have to wear my Pudge Rodriguez t-shirt for every remaining game of this World Series. Will I wash it before every game? Probably not. Is this why I often watch sporting events alone? Probably.

♦ I have to eat a caramel apple - with nuts - before the game. I'm not sure if the brand matters. I guess we'll find out. The one I ate on Sunday was from Whole Foods. This one isn't. Oh, no.

♦ Also before the game, I must rock out to Journey. That wasn't a conscious choice on Sunday. But "Don't Stop Believin'" (seriously) was the song that came up on my iPod when I hit "shuffle." Surely, dancing a little bit and playing some air guitar wouldn't hurt matters.

♦ I have to drink two beers - Stella Artois, to be specific - during the game. Last night, I drank Diet Pepsi and water.

♦ I have to watch the game in the living room, sitting in my dad's old La-Z-Boy, wearing my old, ratty black sweatpants. Not in my bedroom, where I was curled up in my blankie like a woman watching movies that might make her cry.

♦ Oh, and I can't wear socks either. Socks made me too warm and comfortable last night. Sunday night, I was chilly with ice cold toes. But I was awake - wide awake - and paying very close attention to the game, instead of inching toward a toasty slumber.

♦ I have to call Lil' Sis, Mis Hooz, and my buddy Eric during the game. From my cell phone. And we have to talk about the baseball game, not just ask each other how our days went, what we had for dinner, etc. If we can make fun of whomever's singing the National Anthem, that'd be even better.

And I'm sure as hell hoping that typing out a blog entry before the game - which I don't believe I did on Sunday, unless I was working on something for the next day - won't adversely affect my Tigers' chances of winning.

Am I a mess? Well, none of this sounds rational, does it? But it'll all be worth it if the Tigers win. And even if they don't - hey, I got a post out of this anxiety. (I'll just make sure any prospective future Mrs. Casselberrys never read this.)

Okay, it's 9:30 p.m. EST. When the #@$% are they planning on playing this thing?

P.S. (11 p.m.) I'm not sure what was more infuriating tonight: The two-hour rain delay that eventually led to the game's postponement or Blogger being down during that timeframe. You know, I could've gone to the movies. There are a few I'd like to catch before they leave Ann Arbor on Thursday.

Monday, October 23, 2006

That's what she said!

For the first time since doing the "That's What She Said" podcast with Matt, I did not like an episode of The Office. (Well, 2/3 of it, anyway.) Kind of a relief to me, actually, but sure to stir up some disagreement (though I loved the part everyone will be talking about).

This week, Matt and I roll up our sleeves and get elbow-deep in the latest episode, titled "The Initiation." As usual, we break down the week's storylines, the funniest lines (though there weren't many this week), and the tastiest character developments - complete with clips from the show itself.

Matt also includes the week's latest "Office"-related news, tracks cast members' blogs, and reads listener e-mails (one of which might actually score us - or Matt - some free food). Surely, this will qualify him to join Dwight's Army of Champions.

Listening to Episode #5.0 could be just what you needed to get you through the day, whether you realize it or not. (The podcast is also available on iTunes.) Constructive criticism and feedback is always much appreciated, so if you're suitably inspired, please chime in with some e-mail. Thanks for listening!

The left hand of dirtiness

So what was on Kenny Rogers' (not to be confused with the face-lifted country singer, for you non-sports fans) hand in last night's Game 2 of the World Series and why has it been the talk of Detroit (and the national sports media) today?

Was it dirt? Was it pine tar? Was it some clubhouse science project combination of rosin, dirt, saliva, and chewing tobacco? Or is Kenny just a messy guy?

Did he use the substance to gain an advantage and give his pitches a little more dip and dart? Or was he just trying to get a better grip on the ball in 30-degree weather?

Does this make the Tigers pitcher a cheater? Does St. Louis, like, totally hate us now? Or, considering how well Rogers pitched after he was told to clean his hand, does it not really matter? And isn't it just nice to have a World Series that won't end in a sweep this year?

Lots of posts about this "story" over at The Stepblog, Sweaty Men Endeavors.

P.S. Is Pepper Brooks a co-host of FOX's pre-and-post-game World Series coverage? Effin' A!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hawaii Pho-To

[So was that a total stretch for a title? Go ahead, be honest. By the way, I learned more about Jack Lord on my vacation than I ever wanted to know. Hey, they don't just talk pineapple and poi in Hawaii all day.]

I remember Erik Kuselias of ESPN Radio once saying on the air that no one cares about your vacation or wants to see the photos. They don't need all the details; they just want to know that you had a good time, and want to get on with the rest of their day.

So if you just need to get on with your day, I understand. I'll just tell you that I had a great time swishing the sand between my toes, completely zoning out as I watched the bluest (natural) water I'd ever seen wash upon the shore, and knowing that it was impossible to stand out as a dorky tourist (which I always try to avoid on a trip) because I was surrounded by hundreds of them.

Anything else? Well, I'd never really taken the time to appreciate a sunset before. They're pretty damn beautiful. And Kona coffee is really good. I also wish I'd learned to surf when I was younger. Oh, one more thing: Poi is awful stuff that tastes like paste. (And I don't even know what paste tastes like. I wasn't one of those kids.)

Mama Cass and Lil' Sis wanted to take a big trip, to get away from everything that's happened over the past year-and-a-half, and to just enjoy life more. So when they asked if I wanted to go to Hawaii, I said sure (like I'd say no)- not quite believing that it would really happen. But Lil' Sis was persistent and was the point (wo)man on the preparations. This entire trip happened because of her planning. And I'm extremely grateful for that.

No, I didn't visit Pearl Harbor. Four people have asked me that since I got back, one of whom got rather indignant about it. Yes, I have an appreciation for history. Yes, I care about this country. Yes, I like boats, planes, and subs (well, maybe not so much anymore - see below). To those who expressed their "outrage," I'm sorry I didn't consult with you before planning out my trip. You're right; I shouldn't have spent so much time on the beach. What was I thinking? Next time, I'll let you tell me what I should do and just go by that. Okay?

And no, I didn't see anyone from Lost. Yes, I was on the same island (Oahu) and even cruised by North Shore, where I believe the show is filmed. Actually, who knows - maybe I did see someone, but since I still don't watch it that much (though I've tried to catch up), I'm not entirely familiar with everyone on the show. However, I'm pretty sure I'd have recognized Evangeline Lilly if I saw her. She's purdy. I did, however, see plenty of people on the beach who could stand in for Hurley. Yeesh.

I guess I'll try to save the rest for my photo album over at Flickr. I've posted more than a few photos, and I think the whole thing tells the story of the trip quite well.

For instance, what's one way I demonstrated my gratitude as a brother and son? By giggling and snapping pictures with my camera phone when Mama Cass got seasick during our submarine tour. How she didn't haul off and slap me in the face (especially after the fact) for being such an a-hole, I'll never know.

But Mom shouldn't feel too bad - she wasn't the only one who upchucked on that sub. I will probably never take a tour like that again.

However, I'd sure as hell like to go back to Hawaii - especially if it meant checking out one of the other islands. Sis, can we make that happen?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

End of the Century

So CBGB closed on Sunday? Actually, my first thought after reading the NY Times' story on the club's final night was, "I thought it closed already."

It'd been rumored for so long, with all kinds of battles between the club and its landlords, along with movements to save the place where bands like The Ramones, the Talking Heads, and Blondie became famous - or maybe sort of famous, in Sonic Youth's case. (Paul Collins wrote about his one shot at CBGB last week at Slate.)

I'm not going to pretend I have any love or cherished memories of CBGB (which stands for Country Bluegrass Blues, if you didn't know). I never saw a show there. But on my first visit to New York, Mis Hooz made sure to walk me over there so I could see it for myself.

And she laughed in agreement when she saw the "that's it?" reaction on my face. I mean, the bodegas look better, man. Plus, it just seemed so... small, like it could never have possibly contained the rock greatness that it legendarily spawned. How many people got to watch the Ramones play at a time? 25?

So I can't rant with any believability about how CBGB's closing represents the official end of an era and a testament to just how #@$%ing great new wave and punk rock music was. But I guess I do feel a bit sad, because the world sure as hell seemed like a cooler place with a club like that - and all its history - still standing. (And a new one in Vegas just wouldn't be the same thing, would it?)

Edit (7 p.m.): Here's Jon Pareles' eulogy for CBGB from today's New York Times.

Monday, October 16, 2006

That's what she said!

Back from Hawaii, and back into "The Office" for another podcast of That's What She Said. This week, Matt and I talk about last week's episode, titled "Grief Counseling," breaking down the funniest lines and various story developments, complete with actual highlights from the show.

Matt also includes the week's latest "Office"-related news, tracks cast members' blogs, and reads listener e-mails.

Plus, he does a damn fine job of editing the podcast to make it sound like I can string together coherent thoughts without pausing and stumbling for the right words. (Now I just need to get a better sounding microphone, so my "p's" and "s's" sound crisper. Sorry about that, Matt.)

If you get a chance, please listen to Episode #4.0. (The podcast is also available on iTunes.) And tell us (more specifically, tell Matt) what you think. Constructive criticism and feedback is always much appreciated.

P.S. If you listen, make sure you play the podcast through to the very end. Matt included something of a "deleted scene" of our own, which was pretty funny but cut out of the main show.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Keeping the "Lights" on

For those of you that don't know (and I can't remember if it was ever mentioned in the comments or not), my buddy Clint - who has sometimes been mistaken for me (and vice versa); perhaps we're brothers from different mothers - works on the NBC show Friday Night Lights, based on the 1990 book and 2004 film. (You can read his MySpace blog here.)

Clint can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe he's an assistant to one of the writers. It's a really exciting opportunity for him (and as you might imagine, I'm more than a little envious - but hey, he took the chance on moving out to L.A. while I'm still treadmilling in Michigan.)

Anyway, Friday Night Lights has been getting great reviews from TV writers and critics around the country. "Great" almost isn't the proper adjective for the praise it's been getting. (Even Tom Shales of the Washington Post loved it, and he seems to hate everything lately.)

Seriously - look at Virginia Heffernan's lead from her review in the NY Times:

"... if the season is anything like the pilot, this new drama about high school football could be great — and not just television great, but great in the way of a poem or painting, great in the way of art with a single obsessive creator who doesn’t have to consult with a committee and has months or years to go back and agonize over line breaks and the color red; it could belong in a league with art that doesn’t have to pause for commercials, or casually recap the post-commercial action, or sell viewers on the plot and characters in the first five minutes, or hew to a line-item budget, or answer to unions and studios, or avoid four-letter words and nudity."

Man, if someone wrote that about something I created (especially a TV show), I'd start crying and probably quit on the spot.

Unfortunately, as Troy Patterson pointed out in Slate on Tuesday, if it's one of the best shows of the new season, it's also drawing some of the worst ratings. Frazier Moore of the Associated Press says NBC "plans to stick with" FNL, but don't TV execs always say that sort of thing? (And hey, NBC's already essentially cancelled Kidnapped - which I was getting into, dagnabbit - by exiling it to Saturday nights.)

And that's where the point of this post comes in. Clint's wondering what non-critics (i.e., TV viewers) think about the show. Is it on their radar? If not, why not? (I think he asked me specifically about whether or not sports fans are watching - and I'll pose that question on my sports blog - but I think it's appropriate here, too. Especially since I know we all enjoy good television.) And if you are watching, what do you think so far?

Of course, I'm sticking up for my friend. I want to see his awesome opportunity continue. But I also hate to see a quality TV show get canned, especially by a network that's clearly struggling, as NBC has been. I have to admit, however, that I haven't watched the show yet, either. I was en route to Hawaii when the season premiere aired. And this week, FNL was pre-empted by the Michigan gubernatorial debate. Though with Game 1 of the Tigers-Athletics series running at the same time, I probably would've taped the show.

(And I suspect that's one reason for the bad ratings. Sports fans are watching playoff baseball. Meanwhile, non-sports fans figure they won't be interested in a show that centers around a Texas high school football team.)

If I'm any kind of hypocrite for asking people to watch when I haven't myself, so be it. I still intend to give FNL a chance - if NBC gives me a chance to keep trying. But chime in here, if you've seen it, and have a minute to pitch in two cents. I know Clint's damn curious to find out why people aren't watching - while also getting the word out about the show.

And yes, I promise I will watch next week, Clint. I will give up Dancing with the Stars (which I should do anyway) for you, you damn handsome man.

Winning keeps you warm

I know I should be posting pictures and stories about my trip to Hawaii - and I'll get to that. But since I've heard from a couple of people that they were disappointed when I didn't write anything about the Tigers eliminating the Yankees from the playoffs last week, I figured I'd point over to my sports blog, Sweaty Men Endeavors, for my posts on the Tigers' new series with the Athletics - otherwise known as the American League Championship Series.

Here's my post for Tuesday night's Game 1. And today's post for Game 2 (two words: Alexis Gomez?!) is hot off my fingertips. At the risk of possibly jinxing the Tigers, history strongly supports their case for making it to the World Series after taking a two-games-to-none lead over Oakland. With the next three games in Detroit (under expected weather conditions that are better suited to football), this thing could end by Sunday.

(And my registration entry for a chance at World Series tickets was just turned down. Dang.)

Mis Hooz, isn't this worth pre-empting Prison Break and House for a few weeks?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Rumors of my demise...

I meant to post a message early last week before leaving, but procrastination crunched me right up against a deadline, and I found myself trying to finish a magazine article just before leaving for the airport.

So where have I been? Friends, readers, lurkers, and surfers, I have been in Hawaii for the past week, spending time on the beach in Waikiki with my family. And only now that I'm trying to kill some time before we're set to head back did I finally find the internet station here at the Marriott.

If you've been stopping by for the past week, wondering where the hell I was, whether that damn cold downed me for good, or if I joined the many who finally crapped out on blogging after giving it a good try, I apologize for not saying anything.

Back in Michigan on Tuesday. Did I pick the worst week to go, with the Tigers in the playoffs (and beating the Yankees)? That's what happens when I let Lil' Sis make the arrangements. (Just kidding, Sis. I'm enjoying my 67th Mai Tai.)

, as the ladies with grass skirts and coconut breast cups say here.

(And I didn't get a chance to show what a podcast whore I was before flying out to the islands. Here are links to recent appearances on The Daily Fungo Podcast and That's What She Said. I truly must love hearing the sound of my own voice. Especially when I'm just wearing sweatpants.)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The night-time, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy-head post

I've been fighting a nasty cold the last couple of days, which has rendered me near-comatose, and not at full blogging strength. (But I know I was slacking on posts before that. I'm not using being sick as an excuse. Well, not totally, anyway.)

I'm going to blame the Lions. Before I went to Ford Field to get some stuff for Motor City Sports, I was a thriving, virile, somewhat energetic young man. After watching the Lions lose to the Packers, and trolling for quotes in the locker room afterwards (a player talked to me!), I became sick a couple of days later. Coincidence? Or something more... ?

In the meantime, I managed to snap some photos with my new (test market) camera phone. Here's a guy singing the Lions fans' blues outside the stadium after the game. Had so many fans not left early, his guitar case probably would've had some more money in it.

You can see more at my Flickr page. Not the most exciting photos in the world, and I'm not in any of them. (I tried to look, like, "professional" and stuff.) But I wanted some shots to remember my first visit to Ford Field. If I ever go back as a fan (and I say "if," because I'm strongly considering a boycott as long as Matt Millen still works for the team), I'll take better pictures.

Rest, fluids, The Office, and Grey's Anatomy for the rest of the night. Stay classy out there.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

That's what she said!

Apparently, my last experience with podcasting didn't deter me from giving it another try. My friend Matt asked me to join him for the debut episode of his new podcast, "That's What She Said," a show devoted to NBC's The Office. And I was more than happy to help out, since Matt already did all of the grunt production work.

Plus, he promised that I'd be on the show for more than six seconds.

Seriously though, he put a lot of work into the podcast, which you'll be able to hear with all of the show clips, bumpers, and music he squeezed in. This week, we break down the season premiere, titled "Gay Witch Hunt." What happened to Jim and Pam? Can Michael be trusted to keep Oscar's personal life with discretion? We talk about all of it, complete with actual highlights from the show.

If you get a chance, please listen to Episode 1.0. (The podcast is also available on iTunes.) And tell us (more specifically, tell Matt) what you think. Constructive criticism would be much appreciated.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Set-Up?

So I'm on my way back to my car, after picking up the Sunday papers at a grocery store, when I notice that someone left a shopping cart right next to my car, near the driver-side door.

Regardless of the circumstances, I'd be irritated by such a thing, but what made this even more maddening was A) the parking lot was virtually empty (easy like Sunday morning), and B) the cart corral was right across the lane from my car. It would've been six steps, tops, to push that scratch-and-dent wagon over with the rest of its shiny, rusty, squeaky brethren.

And I'm muttering each of the more popular curse words, as I push the cart over to the corral. "Stupid m-f'er" this, "lazy c-sucker" that. Actually, I'm getting annoyed with each step away from my car. "How #@$%ing hard is it to do this $#!+?"

Then I turn back around and see a woman standing between my car and the one parked in front of it. She has a smile on her face - kind of a forced one. And she's hovering toward me as I walk back to the car. My first thought was, "Oh, maybe that was her cart, and she left it there as she was getting something in her car." I was going to find out, because she was now walking right to me. Still smiling.

"Hi, how are you this morning?" she says. Yep, I took her cart. She's going to say something. Good. Then I can tell her what I think of leaving a cart that close to my car door.

"Fine," I respond tersely.

"I'm Julie. May I ask your name?"

"Um... Bill."

"Bill, would it be okay if we spoke for a moment about your happiness?" She scrunched her shoulders up to her ears as she asked. I knew she wasn't talking about drugs. It was too bright outside. And again, we were in a grocery store parking lot.

"Excuse me?" This also meant I wasn't going to be yelling at anyone. I hate it when that happens.

Then she pulls out a pamphlet with a brightly colored, tree-filled landscape on the cover. Two people are smiling, admiring something off in the distance, as they're apparently about to feast on pumpkins. At the top, it says, "All Suffering SOON TO END!"

Oh no. I knew it. No one is that happy at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning.

"I'd just like to share this with you, and then maybe you can tell me what you think."

"Right now?" Hey, I had to cover a football game in Detroit later on. And Ian gets crabby if he doesn't get his breakfast. (By the way, I wonder how she would've reacted if I'd told her I had something to share with her, and just wanted to know what she thought?)

"Oh no, no. Just take this, read it, and think about what it says." Still smiling. She then handed the pamphlet to me, and got back into her car where two people were waiting for her. I got into my car, put the newspapers and pamphlets on the passenger seat, and looked up to see her driving away.

She totally set that up, right? Get me to move the cart, and then approach me as I'm coming back to the car. Hook, line, sinker.

I should've just shoved the cart away from my car, enough to give me room so I didn't hit it when I backed out of my parking space. But nooooooo, I had to be considerate toward other people. I had to make sure that cart wouldn't bother anyone else. What a putz.

And did she pass out pamphlets to anyone else in the parking lot? She could have, while I was in the store. Though I wasn't in there very long. Was I the only one? And why did she drive off after talking to me? Didn't she want to talk to anyone else about their happiness?

I'm going to tell this story next time someone asks me why I look surly or says I don't smile enough. Maybe I'll make a pamphlet.