Jan 30, 2010



Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. For no specific reason.

Jan 29, 2010

Music Video Fridays: The Ladies

Every once in a while I catch this song on Gia's iPod and every time I ask her who it is. It's "Chasing Pavements" by Adele, and it's pretty fucking fantastic.  It kind of bothers me that she was born the year that I graduated college, but hey...we're all getting older.  Well, everyone except Rob Lowe.  That guy's got a fucking portrait in his closet for sure.  But Adele...yeah, brilliant.

Speaking of British ladies with some soul, check out Amy Winehouse back before she wrecked herself. Hard to believe this was her only about six years ago. The song is "Stronger Than Me" off of her Frank album.

We'll round it out with a little Beth Ditto and Gossip.  I don't know when they dropped the "The" from the band's name, but there it is.  This one is "Heavy Cross" off of their album Music for Men.  I know Ms. Ditto isn't for everyone, but damn if I don't love her attitude.  She rocks!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Seriously, what the hell happened to Amy Winehouse?

Jan 28, 2010

Best of the West

Does anyone else out there remember Best of the West? It was a Western sitcom from the creators of Taxi and Cheers, but it only lasted one year. I used to think it was hysterical back when I was a kid.  And to this day, whenever I see this guy I think to myself..."Hey, it's Froggy from Best of the West!"

Then again, I'm a bit odd.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Whatever happened to Meeno Peluce?

Jan 27, 2010

Nub City

Gia is addicted to documentaries. And within that genre, she is addicted to the sub-genre of documentaries about weird, little towns and their weird, little denizens. So we found ourselves watching a weird, little documentary the other night called Vernon, Florida.  It's less than an hour long and a fairly harmless waste of time.  Just a bunch of old codgers living out their odd lives in a small town in Washington County, Florida.

A good portion of her fascination with small-town documentaries is a not-so hidden desire to one day live in one.  A place where everyone knows everyone else's business.  A place with one traffic light and one schoolhouse and a General Store.  A place where Friday night high school football games are the highlight of most folk's week.  A place where the old-timers hang out at the local post office or service station or marina or hardware store exchanging stories that they've all heard hundreds of times before.

So there is a lot of love behind her fascination with the charms of small-town America.

There is also, however, a healthy portion of freakshow-esque fascination that goes along with that love.

And Vernon is one of those freakshow-esque places.  The documentary was filmed in 1981 and it focused on half a dozen local eccentrics.  The guy who was obsessed with hunting turkeys.  The couple who visited White Sands National National Monument and believe that the sand in their jar is growing.  The local sheriff who dissuaded speeders by parking out in the open because his radar gun was in the shop.  The ex-pat from Chicago who retired there because he could buy a home for $2,200 in the middle of snake-infested swampland.  Stuff like that.

But it's the story that the documentary DIDN'T tell that I find utterly fascinating. 

You see, back in the late 1950's and early 1960's, Vernon had earned the nickname "Nub City" for the outlandish number of residents who filed insurance claims for lost limbs.  For a period of time, the high number of claims represented almost 2/3 of the total national claims for lost limbs.  This from a town whose population ran between 500-800 in total!  So there was a fair amount of speculation that the residents of the town were intentionally dismembering themselves for the insurance money.


Yeah.  And that was actually going to be the focus of this documentary which was originally going to be called Nub City.  But the filmmaker claimed to have received numerous death threats by the residents of the town when they found out about his intentions, so he changed the focus of the film to several eccentric residents instead.  Nary a one of them missing a limb, by the way.  Not one mention of anyone missing a limb anywhere in the entire film.

You really can't make this shit up!

And I'm not sure if the plans to widen State Road 79 ever went through, but here is a story from a couple years ago about the town and it's past...and it's future.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I wonder how many women in Vernon were named Eileen...get it?

Jan 26, 2010

Turbine City

image via designboom

As a fan of science-fiction (duh!), I had certain expectations for living in the future.  And by the future, I mean 2010.  Some of those have expectations have been realized.  Gia does her job every day with her own Star Trek tricorder.  Cell phones, the Internet and programmable television are all neat.  But where are our flying cars?

Sorry, I digress.  Anyway, one of my own expectations was that our urban landscape would look a bit like the above picture by the year Twenty-Ten.  Great, innovative cities built upon the sea or other foreign landscapes like a remote mountain, Antarctica or the surface of the Moon.  Renewable energy powering it all.

Well, this dream could become a reality off the southern shores of Norway, according to some reports.  You see, the unique geography and weather patterns of this part of the world makes it an ideal candidate for wind power.  And some designers have taken it upon themselves to suggest an entire turbine city, run by the power of this wind farm.

At first the turbine city would be more of a tourist attraction.  Something to show off the potential power of this particular technology.  So it would be mostly hotels, shops, restaurants and the like.  But I can see it blossoming into something more.  Entire functioning cities on the technological edge, ushering in a new era in human living.

I like it.  I like it a lot.

Too bad our own country is so reluctant to embrace the technology. And it's not just the government.  A proposed wind farm off the south coast of Long Island has been stalled mostly because some residents would consider the large structures to be eyesores.

I think they look beautiful.

I think they look like the future. 

PS - Now go wish him a happy birthday.  I command it.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Seriously...where the fuck is my flying car?

Jan 25, 2010

The Mid-Winter Blahs

I'm suffering from a severe case of the Mid-Winter Blahs. The holidays have been over for a number of weeks and all that looms on the short-term horizon are grey days and chilly nights.

Barely left the house this weekend. Spent most of it under the covers watching movies and football. Or sleeping. I'm on the second book from my Hugo list, but I've been having trouble getting into it.  Also, I've got a couple of client meetings on Monday, and I'm just dreading them.

I'd like to fly to St. Somewhere, but I think I need two solid months of beach living.  Or that's what my Mid-Winter brain is telling me, anyway.  A long weekend or a week just doesn't feel like it will be enough.  I'm constantly hearing the words of Rogers Hornsby playing over and over in my head.
People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. - Rogers Hornsby

It really doesn't have anything to do with missing baseball at all.  But I have been doing my fair share of staring out the window and waiting for Spring.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Or not...whatever.

Jan 22, 2010

Bread and cheese, anyone?

I found myself driving on my favorite road the other day. Well, probably not my favorite road. That would be a stretch of A1A that runs from Miami to Key West.  But I was on my favorite named road the other day.  Bread and Cheese Hollow Road.

That's right.  Bread and Cheese Hollow Road.  Hard to believe that's possible, isn't it?  But there it is.

If you are familiar with Long Island and the Commack/Northport area you will know that if you go north on Commack Road it's gonna turn into Townline Road once you cross Jericho Turnpike.  Then it all of a sudden turns into Bread and Cheese Hollow Road when you cross Pulsaski Road for about two miles.  Then it turns into Fresh Pond Road once you get north of Fort Salonga Road where it eventually ends at the Long Island Sound.  Yeah, in about a five mile stretch the same road goes by 4 different names.  Welcome to Long Island.

But none of that really matters.  What really matters is that we have a fucking road named Bread and Cheese Hollow Road.

And that, my friends, is bad-ass!  Well, maybe not bad-ass, but it is kinda cool. 

The North Shore of Long Island is littered with stretches of road named "this" Hollow and "that" Hollow.  Some of them may even be haunted, according to certain legends.  These roads all run along low, wooded areas that run between the hills of the North Shore.  And those low, wooded areas were called hollows back in the day.  This particular hollow was an old boundary between the Towns of Huntington and Smithtown in the late 17th Century, and to this day it partially marks that boundary.  And the boundary was marked in this hollow with hedges grown from hawthorne, planted there by a gentleman named Richard Smith.


Richard Smith had grown up in Yorkshire, England.  At at that time the leaves of the hawthorne (or hawthorn) plant were known as "bread and cheese" by the locals.  They are edible, I guess, but I can't imagine that they taste anything like bread and/or cheese.  But they do have these wonderful white blossoms and they are fast growing so they became commonly used for boundaries in that area.  Since they grow well in just about any soil they made their way over to the Colonies where they were also originally used for boundary lines before, ya know, fences and shit.

And, voila!  Bread and Cheese Hollow Road*.  Now it makes PERFECT sense!

So...what's your favorite named local road?

*There is another local legend about how the name came to be.  Richard Smith (remember him?) was granted the lands of Smithtown by a local Native American chief around 1665 for rescuing the chief's kidnapped daughter.  He was told that he could have all the land that he could encircle while riding a bull in one day.  There is a statue of this bull...named Whisper...standing in the center of Smithtown to this very day.  Anyway, according to legend, he stopped in this hollow to have a bread and cheese sandwich.  Dude got hungry.  Wiki doesn't mention it, but this story has been mostly debunked by local historians.  But I think I like it better.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. That was a long way toward a pretty lame story, wasn't it?

Jan 21, 2010

10 Minutes of Cheese

From The Daily What, the 100 Cheesiest Movie Quotes of All-Time! 

You are most welcome.

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. You sack of wine!

Jan 20, 2010

Cosmic Coincidence

So, do you remember how I said that in 2010 I was gonna try to read a bunch of Hugo Award-winning novels that I had never gotten around to reading in the past? Sure you do. Well I finally started yesterday. Picked up a copy of "The Forever War", the 1976 winner by Joe Haldeman. I had never heard of the novel or the author before combing through the list of award winners for that post.  But it seemed like a good starting point for my literary quest.

And do you remember my post from earlier this week in which I talked about the Epsilon Aurigae binary star system and your mother?  Sure you do.  Well I had never heard of that solar system until I read about it and its eclipse period on some geek website that I often peruse.  It intrigued me enough to write a post about it.

Alright...think about those two separate posts written just days apart for a moment.  Then I'd like for you to imagine my surprise when I read that the conscripted genius soldiers of Haldeman's novel were heading to a planet in the star system...that's right...Epsilon Aurigae!

What kind of crazy coincidence is that?  I mean, I pick up a book that is almost 40 years old...out of the blue...and it mentions an obscure star system that I had just heard of for the first time only a couple of days before?  That's fucking crazy!

So I'm gonna start thinking real hard about tonight's winning lottery numbers.  Ya know, just in case.

PS - Oh, and I added a widget on my sideboard to track my progress. I'll cross each book off as I read them. Maybe I'll even post about the good ones. And I already shortened the list by one title. I already read "Startide Rising" by David Brin, but I had forgotten.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Honestly, shit like this happens to me all the time.

Jan 19, 2010

Bootsy Collins

I haven't posted a picture of your youngest cat for a while now.  There he is in all his Ragamuffin glory.  Avery, the white rascal.  He turns one at the end of the month, by the way.  Feel free to lavish him with gifts and praise.  You can send them my way if you'd like. He likes, um, whiskey.

Anyway, like the rest of our animals, we hardly ever call him by his given name.  Sammi is more often referred to as Toonces lately.  Wolowitz goes by his professional name, Dr. Wu.  And Gogo?  Well, were weren't too original with her nickname.  Just added another "go" at the end to make it Gogogo.  I don't know why, but she seems more like a Gogogo than a Gogo.

So what do we call Avery most often these days?

Bootsy Collins.  Or just Mr. Collins.  Yeah, like the bass player from P-Funk.  This guy:

So how did our most un-funky white cat come to be referred to as a most decidedly funky black cat?  I'm glad you asked.

You see, Gia has a way of, ahem, talking to the cats in her, ahem, cat voice.  (Do NOT judge her!)  And she kind of makes up words and nicknames while she is doing it.  So "Avery" became "Abba-be".  And "Abba-be" became "Abba-butz" with that last part pronounced "boots".  From "boots" you can probably draw the lines to "Bootsy" and then one day I started calling him "Bootsy Collins" because I fucking rule.  See?  Simple.  Um, right?

Anyway, now he just seems like a Bootsy Collins to us.  He may not have his namesake's flair or his groovy bass technique, but he's as funky as he wants to be.

Aren't we all?


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Avery isn't really white anyway.  More of a pinkish cream hue.

Jan 18, 2010

Dark Companion

I love when there is science and stuff that scientists and stuff can't figger out. Or they kinda know, but they still haven't got all the stuff...ya know, figgered out.

Say hello to the binary star system Epsilon Aurigae.

Normally in a binary star system, you get two stars of varying magnitude that orbit around a common center of mass.  Now, I don't know what any of that means, but usually you got two stars doing some kind of celestial boogie around each other.

But something different is going on with Epsilon Aurigae.  You see, this mother-fucker is an eclipsing binary system.  And that means that every 27 years, it gets eclipsed by...something.  Something real big and something real dark.  And these science guys don't really know what that large something is.  Sure, there are all kinds of theories.  A large semi-transparent star.  A black hole.  Your mother.

But mostly they think it a large disk of dust that blots out the sky for anywhere from 640-730 days every 27 years or so.  That doesn't seem likely.  I'm gonna still go with "your mother" as the answer.  But wait...that's only part of the story.  During the middle of the eclipse period there is a period of brightening.  Like there is a hole or something in the middle of the dark object.  And that hole, like your mother, is getting bigger as recent evidence suggests.  So now some of those eggheads think that there may be a planet or even a smaller star at the center of this massive dark cloud of dust.

Well, guess what is going on right now?  That's right.  Epsilon Aurigae has begun it's eclipse phase and space nerds all over the planet are just tugging at themselves with joy.  And they are looking for our help.  So if you fancy yourself an amateur astronomer go check out the Citizen Sky project and you join them over the next couple of years for a prolonged session of theoretical star-fucking.

Me?  Well, I don't fancy myself an amateur astronomer.  But I do fancy your mother.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. It's what Martin Luther King, Jr. would do.

Jan 16, 2010

A quick word

(You know who you are)


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Feel free to take this congratulations for yourself. All of you.

Jan 15, 2010

My 5th Annual Golden Globes Rant

I hate the Golden Globe Awards.  And as long as I draw breath, I'm gonna keep posting about my hatred of the Golden Globe Awards. This is my fifth annual posting of my original rant from Slyde's blog back before I even had a blog. I will not rest until everyone knows what a sham this event is. I may edit it from time to time.  Like replacing the old pic of Scarlett Johansson with a new one of Christina Hendricks.  You can't blame a guy for appreciating her...globes.  So enjoy! Or don't. And remember...don't watch the Golden Globes this weekend on NBC.  If only because they fucked over Conan. - Earl

By B.E. Earl

01/19/2006 8:28 PM EST - date of original post.

Hey kids! As you may have figured out, I'm a bit of a film fan. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I like to watch the annual award shows to see who takes down the big prizes each year. I was a little bored the other night watching the Golden Globe Awards when I decided to find out who/what the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is. If you are not familiar with the group, the HFPA is the organization that determines the nominees for each award category and subsequently votes on the winners for the Golden Globes. But who are they? I mean it never made much sense to me. Are they Hollywood press reporting in foreign countries about the entertainment industry? Are they foreign press working in Hollywood? Who are these people that the media focuses so much weight on around award season? Surely it must be an astoundingly large number of critics and reporters from around the world weighing in on the best that Hollywood has to offer. Hundreds if not thousands of dedicated men and women working tirelessly to hand out awards that are the pre-cursor to the big daddy of all entertainment awards, the Oscars. Right? Wrong!

The HFPA is a non-profit organization of somewhere around 90 international journalists based in Hollywood whose purpose is to disseminate information about film and television to a world-wide audience. 90 JOURNALISTS! Are you kidding me? These 90 men and women are the only voices and votes for an award as seemingly important as the Golden Globes? Now don't get me wrong. The HFPA does some fine work, I guess. In 2005 they donated $1 million to various arts and cultural programs around the world in an effort to further the advance of the film and television. They also donated $250 thousand to the Red Cross. That's mighty white of them.

Where do they get the funding for their charitable work, as well as the funding needed to run the non-profit organization, you may ask? Well, they receive a sizable licensing fee from the networks to run their annual event...the Golden Globe Awards. They also receive licensing fees from various cable networks for allowing them to report from the red carpet. Hm-mm. So let me get this straight. The HFPA (all 90 of them) collect licensing fees from an award show that they run in an effort to award excellence in a field that is already swimming with too many awards. And they give out those awards in the award show that they sponsor, which in turn provides them with the revenue that they need to keep handing out awards the following year? Holy self-sustaining stroke-fest, Batman! And I thought I used to get confused with The Terminator and all of its time-line questions. Wait...how was John Connor born if he needed to send his own father back in time to be with his mother in the first place, and, and, and...system failure!

This is bogus, my friends. It's just another example of mutual masturbation that the media machine that is Hollywood has fashioned out of thin air. It made me sick to read about this, and if I ever see another weepy, blathering idiot of a winner (like Felicity Huffman this year back in 2006) crying about how this is the greatest night of their lives I may actually vomit on my television screen. "You really, really like me...all 90 of you! You really, really like me!" Actually, it's possible that only 25 of the members liked you, honey. Or whatever number of voters that is needed to beat out whomever came in second place. What a piece of crap award this is!

Once again, I applaud the charitable work that the HFPA does. But let us not kid ourselves. Most of the money isn't going to help poverty and starvation in Africa, or to help relief efforts in India Haiti. No, most of the money is handed out in the form of financial grants to cultural institutions to help further their own causes. There is some good stuff in there, but most of it isn't of the do-or-die type of relief.

You can find out more about the HFPA on their website, that is if you can stomach it. Me...I'm done with this award show in the future. I always thought that some of the choices were a bit odd (C'mon...have you seen Geena Davis in "Commander in Chief"?), but I always thought there was some kind of integrity about the awards themselves. I don't know what goes into the voting for the Academy Awards, and I'm sure it ain't perfect. I just don't know if I have the heart to do any research on that right now. Sigh.

Oh, and if you were wondering why we placed a picture of the stunning Scarlett Johansson (decked out in stunning scarlet, thank you very much) Christina Hendricks at the top of this article, it wasn't so that we could make some blatantly obvious double entendre about the Golden Globes and her outfit. I just think she's got some nice hoo-has.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Really...just an excuse to post that pic of Christina Hendricks.

Jan 14, 2010

A Wild and Shattered Life

So last weekend I'm watching the Cowboys beat up on the Eagles with a friend of mine. And we noticed that NBC often went to commercial, they would play a snippet of some music that they thought was appropriate.  Like the theme song to the TV show Dallas.  Because, ya know, the game was being played in Dallas.  Someone in the production department deserves a raise for that little bit of genius.

Anyway, sometime before the half NBC went to commercial playing "Wild, Wild Life" by the Talking Heads.  I sat there for a moment and contemplated what connection there could be between that song and the game being played.  Then I think I mumbled "Oh, I guess it's because it's from True Stories and that movie took place in Texas.  That's a reach."

That's when the following conversation took place:

WLC: "What?"
Me: "Oh, nothing.  I was just thinking that they played that song because it's from that movie that took place in Texas."
WLC: "What song?"
Me: "It's called 'Wild, Wild Life' by The Talking Heads."
WLC: "No...that was that song by The Rolling Stones.  You know the one.  It goes...ugh, ugh, ugh...shattered."
Me: "Um, you mean 'Shattered'?"
WLC: "Yeah that was it.  'Shattered'"
Me: "No...it was definitely 'Wild, Wild Life' by The Talking Heads.  I'm positive."
WLC: "Well, as handsome and sexy and intelligent as you are, you are absolutely wrong this time."

OK, maybe the last part didn't quite happen that way.  I was dealing with the Eagles losing at the time, all right?  Anyway, what followed was about 15 minutes of him trying to prove to himself that it was really "Shattered" and not "Wild, Wild Life" by playing the two over and over again on his computer.  He finally conceded the point (HA!), but he was right about something.

The two songs do sound remarkably similar.  At least the openings of the two songs.  Check them out yourself in the videos below.  Pay close attention to the first few seconds of each song and you might be able to see why he was so confused.  Poor little guy.

But really the point of the whole story is that you shouldn't argue with me about pop culture.  Because 99 out of 100 times...you gonna lose, kid!

I really love that video. Especially the parts with John Goodman and Tito Larriva. This second video isn't really a video, but it does contain the song in question.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Don't mess with me on this one, all right?

Jan 13, 2010

"I know mind control"

I think celebrity gossip/news might be the worst thing about living in the information age. Television shows that are solely about celebrity news and gossip. Websites that give us the scoop first. Even worse are the gossip-mongers themselves who have become pseudo-celebrities just because they know how to pay off a paparazzi better than the other guy.

I loathe celebrity gossip/news.

That being said...here's a celebrity news story for y'all that just tickled me pink.


So it seems that this woman from Ontario named Karen Sala is dead convinced that Keanu Reeves is the father of her four adult children and she is looking for $3 million a month in spousal support and another $150,000 in retroactive child support.  She is convinced of this even though Keanu Reeves has agreed to DNA testing which has proved that he is absolutely NOT the father of this woman's children.  Why?  Well, I don't like to throw around the word "crazy" about casually.  There are lots of geniunely sick people out there who have suffered even more in life solely because they have been labeled as such.  It's really not a nice word.

But this woman is fucking crazy.

Here is a small taste of the crazy that she is bringing, besides the ridiculous amount of money she is looking to get from Neo each month:
  • She claims that she often runs into him at the local McDonald's and the No Frills grocery store.  Everyone knows Reeves is a Wendy's guy.  Whoa. 
  • She suggests that Keanu uses hypnosis and that he would often disguise himself as different men, including her husband, just to be with her.  And that he wouldn't even used that hypnosis to get her to quit smoking. Whoa.
  • She questions the validity of the paternity test as she believes that he might have tampered with the results or used hypnosis to affect them.  The hypnosis...it is strong in this one.  Whoa.
  • She claims to have proof that Reeves is the father of her children, but she refuses to submit said evidence to the court.  Maybe her kids are bad actors as well.  Whoa.
  • Not only does he disguise himself, but he also uses different names when he is with her.  In fact, even though she has known him since she was a child she never put together who he was because she knew him by the name Marty Spencer.  Marty Spencer...the role of a lifetime!  Whoa.
  • She claims that he phoned the local food bank to prevent her from getting any food from them, and that he follows her around and generally "interferes" with her trying to get a new job.  I think she stole that from his next movie script, actually.  Whoa.
Come to think of it, maybe Keanu Reeves really is proficient in hypnosis.  I mean on a global level.  How else could you explain the success of Speed* and The Matrix films?


*I kinda like Speed actually.  But just to hear Dennis Hopper say "The whim of a madman! The whim of a madman!"

Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Keanu means "bad actor" in Hawaiian.

Jan 12, 2010


So one of our cats kinda thinks that he's a dog.  Wolowitz can spend hours playing fetch with a paper ball.  He won't do it with real cat toys, but for some reason he loves a paper ball more than life itself.  Makes a little sense because his next favorite thing is a cardboard box.

He's an odd cat.

So here is a little film we produced that allows Wolowitz (or Dr. Wu, as he is known in some circles) to showcase his canine-esque retrieval skills.  Enjoy!

Yeah, might have been a good idea to clean up Gia's workspace a little before recording this.  Ah, who cares?  Let's just call it a lived-in look and move on.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. "Dr. Wu...watching everything you do."

Jan 11, 2010

Earl's favorite film scenes: Volume II

I've got a ton of posts (okay, four) in draft that I'm just too lazy to finish right now. I kinda have them written in my head the way I want them to read, but when I try to put digital pen to digital paper it kinda goes awry.

But that's okay. Because I've got crap like this to share. A scene from The Royal Tenenbaums with Gene Hackman and Danny Glover.  One of those films that you either love or just don't get. I'm firmly in the love camp on this one.

Who knew Gene Hackman could be so funny? Well, I guess Mel Brooks knew when he cast him as the blind man in Young Frankenstein. And he was funny as Lex Luthor in the Superman films.  But he carries The Royal Tenenbaums. And that's saying something considering the incredible cast that supports him.

This one is short and sweet. So enjoy!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Hat tip to Water Logged Canine for reminding me about this one.

Jan 8, 2010

The Sandman

Yesterday's Hall of Fame post took too much out of me to really focus on a post today. So here's a video that is kinda weird and kinda intriguing. And for those of you, mostly the women, who were looking for porn in yesterday's post (it wasn't there), well...this is kinda like porn. Um, kinda.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Bring me a dream...

Jan 7, 2010

Hall of Fame Shame Game

Disclaimer: The following is a 1,300+ word post on this year's baseball Hall of Fame voting.  Feel free to ignore and move directly on to porn. - Earl

Yesterday, the BBWAA voted Andre Dawson into Baseball's Hall of Fame.


It's not that I disagree with Dawson being included in the Hall. I do, but I think some kind of case can be made for him. But if you take away his 1987 MVP year or merely replace it with what he did the year before or after 1987 and he probably would have dropped off the ballot years ago.

No, it's that Roberto Alomar in his 1st year on the ballot and Bert Blyleven in his 13th year didn't get inducted. That's something that bothers me. Well, Tim Raines and maybe Edgar Martinez too. Honestly I just don't know what these voters were looking at. I have a feeling that many of the voters use the old "I know it when I see it" method of determining greatness, and that just doesn't cut it.  Then there are probably the old-school voters who will vote for Alomar next year but not his first year on the ballot.  That's reserved for legends of the game.  ::cough, cough, bullshit, cough, cough::  I hate that argument with a passion!

But I'm not going to sit here and make the case for Alomar, Blyleven, Raines, Martinez or Barry Larkin. Smarter men than I have already done so eloquently. Nor am I going to go on about why Dawson doesn't belong in the Hall. 

No.  But I do have something to say about those voters who either didn't vote at all or threw away votes on players that obviously weren't deserving.  Five voters didn't turn in a ballot at all.  I find it hard to believe that any five voters could look at the talent on this year's ballot and not see one single player who they believe could be a Hall of Famer.  I think it is more likely that five voters simply couldn't be bothered with doing the research that goes along with having the privilege to vote for membership into the Hall of Fame.

Then there are the voters who gave votes to players who were obviously not Hall of Fame caliber players.  For those of you who don't know, anyone who has played 10 seasons in the major leagues and is five years out of the majors is eligible for the Hall.  They automatically go on the ballot.  Players get dropped from the ballot if they don't recieve at least 5% of the vote in any year or after 15 years of not receiving 75% of the vote.

This year the following players were on the ballot for the first time and received less than 5% of the vote:
OK.  I can almost buy someone casting a vote for Andres Galarraga.  Almost.   He was a fine player who led the league in HR once, Hiits once, BA once and RBI twice.  He played forever and he even came back to the majors after missing a year due to lymphoma.  As the Hall of Fame goes, though, he's close but no cigar.  A very good player, but not a legendary one.

But Robin Ventura?  7 votes?  Really?  Now, I happen to think Robin Ventura was an underrated player.  He was as solid as they come in the 1990's and from 1991 to 2002 he averaged 22 HR, 86 RBI, 74 Runs all while compiling a .271 BA, a .368 OBP, a .460 SLG and an OPS+ of 119.  All very good numbers.  But no where near what it should take to get a vote for the Hall of Fame!  The only time he led the league in anything was when he was intentionally walked 15 times in 1998 as a member of the White Sox.  That's it!  Now if it was the Hall of Getting Your Ass Kicked by Nolan Ryan, well then yeah...he'd be a first ballot guy. 

And Ellis Burks? 2 votes?  Really?  He had a great year in 1996 while playing for the Rockies when he hit 40 HR, had 32 SB, scored 142 Runs and led the league with a .639 SLG.  But his numbers that year and in his other years in Colorado are tainted by playing in the most hitter friendly ballpark that the major leagues have ever known.  Oh, and he had a handful of fine years in San Francisco and Cleveland near the end of his career where he was productive.  But he never fully realized the power and speed potential that he initially had when he first came up with Boston.  I think you can make a better case for him than you can for Ventura, but either way neither should be in the conversation in the first place.

Eric Karros was another solid player for a number of years.  You could count on him for around 30 HR and 100 RBI every year to go along with mediocre BA and OBP numbers.  But you have to remember that he did all this while playing in a high run-scoring era and while playing first base.  His career OPS+ was 107.  Solid and above average, but not outstanding.  And no where near the level of a Hall of Fame player.

Kevin Appier and Pat Hentgen were both fine starting pitchers in their day.  Appier averaged 12 wins a season with a 3.60 ERA and a 126 ERA+ from 1990 to 2002.  And he had a great year in 1993 pitching for the lowly Royals when he won 18 games and led the AL in ERA.  Pat Hentgen averaged 14 wins a season with a 4.18 ERA and a 112 ERA+ from 1993 to 2000.  And he had two great years in Toronto in 1993 and 1996.  The latter of which won him a Cy Young award when he went 20-10 with a 3.22 ERA.  But he only won 131 games over his career.  And Kevin Appier only won 167 over his.  Sure, Sandy Koufax only won 165 games over his short career and he was a slam-dunk for the Hall of Fame, but neither of these guys is Sandy Koufax.  Neither of them could sniff his jock.

And then there is David Segui.  One voter out there actually checked his name on the ballot for the Hall of Fame.  Wow.  Just wow.  He was a respectable player who garnered respectable BA, OBP and SLG numbers in his career.  But his career line?  1412 Hits, 683 Runs, 139 HR (!!!), 684 RBI with a .291 BA, a .359 OBP, a .443 SLG and an OPS+ of 110.  Probably better than his counting stats show, but nonetheless he is the very definition of an average ML player.  And he played most of his games at 1B.  A position where you normally play your best or one of your best hitters.  And David Segui wasn't that.  Far and away, his best year was 2000 when he hit 42 doubles and had 103 RBI while batting .334.  But that was his only year that he played at least 150 games in a season, and he was probably only the 11th best first baseman in the AL that year.  There are only 14 teams in the AL, by the way.  Not very inspiring, is it?

So for those voters who couldn't be bothered with filling out a ballot?  Shame on you!  Or if you had your reasons, that's fine even if I don't get it.  But for those voters who gave Robin Ventura, Ellis Burks, Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, Pat Hentgen and David Segui votes?  They should immediately have their credentials taken away from them.

Because they clearly have no idea what the Hall of Fame is all about.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Did anyone actually read all of this?

Jan 6, 2010

Rudie Can't Fail

**Hat tip to a Water Logged Canine for today's topic.**

This month, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the US release of London Calling by The Clash. It was released a month earlier in the UK, so I guess December of 2009 should have been the anniversary.  Oi, whatever!

And if it isn't the best rock album of all-time, it's certainly in the conversation. A wondrous mix of punk, ska, soul and rockabilly. A double album with classics like "Brand New Cadillac", "Train in Vain", "The Guns of Brixton", "Rudie Can't Fail", "Lost in the Supermarket" and, of course, the title track.

What an amazing year 1979 was.  Gia and I were just talking about this the other day.  John Wayne died, Iranian radicals were taking hostages, Brenda Ann Spencer started shooting people because she didn't like Mondays, Patty Hearst was released from jail, it snowed in the Sahara desert, 11 fans were killed in Cincinnati before a concert by The Who, Saddam Hussein rises to power in Iraq, Disco Demolition in Chicago night brings a fitting end to that musical era, Margaret Thatcher becomes Prime Minister, Jimmy Carter sees his Presidency slipping away, our first nuclear power plant "accident" occurs at Three Mile Island and The Clash recorded one of the finest albums of all-time. 

But let's get back to our shiftless hero Rudie for a moment, shall we?  Enjoy!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Ya gotta love a band that uses the word "feckless" in one of its songs.

Jan 5, 2010

Snowflake Toones

As we have been apt to do over the past few weeks, Gia and I spent the evening watching an old flick on Turner Classic Movies. It really is a great channel. Hardly any repeats of the films that they show at all. Just great old flicks.

The film we watched last night was from 1936, a classic called Come and Get It starring Frances Farmer in dual roles. I guess it was the presence of Ms. Farmer in the movie that caught our eye.  Her troubled personal life was the subject of a number of books and an Academy Award nominated performance by Jessica Lange in Frances back in 1982.  So we were interested in seeing her perform back when she was at the top of her game and before all of her troubles started.  She was great in the film, by the way.

But the movie itself was even more batshit crazy than she was*.  Holy fuck!

It's about this lumberjack who comes into town with a bunch of his workers and meets and falls in love with a saloon girl during a night of drinking, gambling and fisticuffs.  He woos her and takes her back to his cabin for the making of the love.  But he soon receives a letter from a rich young lady that he intends to marry so he flat leaves the saloon girl with his Swedish sidekick.  She, of course, is devastated.  So she marries the Swedish sidekick who appears to be old enough to be her grandfather.

Then the film moves forward 20, 25 or maybe 30 years.  Hard to tell because none of the actors have really aged all that much since the opening act.  The lumberjack is now a lumber baron and the richest man in the town of Chicago.  He and his boring wife have a boring son and a vivacious young daughter.  He's happy...but not THAT happy, if ya know what I mean. 

The saloon girl has since passed away, but not before having a daughter with the Swedish sidekick who somehow is still alive at the ripe age of 175 or so.  His former boss goes to see him back in the old lumber town and damn if doesn't fall head over heels in love with the saloon girl's daughter.  Who looks just like her mother, by the way.  Makes sense since Frances Farmer played both characters.  Yeah...he falls in love with his Swedish sidekick's daughter who looks just like her momma.


So he brings his Swedish sidekick, the saloon girl's daughter and her cousin back to Chicago with him.  He doesn't try very hard to hide his feelings for the young girl, but she almost immediately falls in love with the lumber baron's boring son.  Phew.  Lots of creepy, creepy stuff goes on including the father punching his son out when he catches him kissing the saloon girl's daughter.  I can't even begin to tell you how creepy this film was.

But it was the jaw-dropping racism that pervaded the film that had us watching most of the movie with our heads in our hands.  And not just Walter Brennan's portrayal of the Swedish sidekick.  No sirree Bob.

The waiter on the train ride to Chicago was a black fellow named Snowflake.  As in "Hey Snowflake, bring some food from the kitchen car for the ladies."  "Sho, boss" Snowflake replies.  I'm just gonna let that scene speak for itself. 

Wow.  I mean, I know this was 1936 and the film was portraying race relations from an even earlier period.  But wow.  And it didn't end there.  There was this charming little line delivered about by the lumber baron about his boring son:

"He goes on that way all the time.  Like a negro preacher!"

Anyway, after it was all over I, of course, had to immediately look up the actor who played Snowflake.  Turns out he was a character actor named Fred "Snowflake" Toones.  I shit you not.  He generally played butlers, porters, slaves and waiters in his career.  And many of his characters were named...you guessed it...Snowflake!

Turns out he ran the shoe-shine box at Republic studios from the early 1930's to the late 1940's and filmmakers just kept on using him in stereotypical walk-on roles.  Most of the time he wasn't even credited. I can't even imagine the logistics of how this all happened.  But it was Hollywood in the so-called "Golden Age".

What an odd little piece of our country's sad history this all turned out to be.

*I know it's not nice to make fun of the mentally ill by calling them crazy, but it made a nice segue.  Besides, it turns out that she wasn't nearly as "crazy" as she was portrayed in those biographies.  The guy who wrote the most famous one admitted in court to fabricating many of the incidents he wrote about. 


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Snowflake?  Really?

Jan 4, 2010

2010 - The Hugo Awards

One of the things that I am hoping to accomplish in 2010 is something that I really should have done by now already. As a fan of science-fiction, I really should already have read every novel that has won a Hugo award. I haven't and that's something I plan on rectifying this year.

For those of you who aren't quite nerdy enough, and you know who you are, the Hugo Awards are given to outstanding works of science fiction or fantasy and they are named after Hugo Gernsback, the man behind the sci-fi magazine Amazing Stories.  You gotta love a guy named Hugo.  They give out awards for Best Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Non-Fiction Book, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  But I'm only gonna focus on the Best Novel winners.

So I'm gonna give it a go. I've read a bunch of them, but I have my work cut out for me as I don't really read quite as much as I used to. So wish me luck. Here are all the winners since 1953 with those that I've read in boldface:

1953 - The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester
1954 - no award
1955 - They'd Rather Be Right by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley
1956 - Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
1957 - no award
1958 - The Big Time by Fritz Lieber
1959 - A Case of Conscience by James Blish
1960 - Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
1961 - A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
1962 - Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
1963 - The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
1964 - Here Gather the Stars by Clifford D. Simak
1965 - The Wanderer by Fritz Lieber
1966 - (tie) Dune by Frank Herbert
1966 - (tie) ...And Call Me Conrad by Roger Zelazny
1967 - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein
1968 - Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
1969 - Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner
1970 - The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
1971 - Ringworld by Larry Niven
1972 - To Your Scattered Bodies Go by Philip Jose Farmer
1973 - The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov
1974 - Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
1975 - The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
1976 - The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
1977 - Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm
1978 - Gateway by Frederik Pohl
1979 - Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre
1980 - The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke
1981 - The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge
1982 - Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh
1983 - Foundation's Edge by Isaac Asimov
1984 - Startide Rising by David Brin
1985 - Neuromancer by William Gibson
1986 - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
1987 - Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
1988 - The Uplift War by David Brin
1989 - Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh
1990 - Hyperion by Dan Simmons
1991 - The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold
1992 - Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
1993 - (tie) A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
1993 - (tie) Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
1994 - Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
1995 - Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold
1996 - The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
1997 - Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
1998 - Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman
1999 - To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
2000 - A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge
2001 - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
2002 - American Gods by Neil Gaiman
2003 - Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer
2004 - Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold
2005 - Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
2006 - Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
2007 - Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
2008 - The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon
2009 - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Phew!  57 seven winners since 1953 including ties and I've read 28 of them.  I was hoping it was gonna be closer to 35 or 40. 

That leaves 29 books that I am tasking myself to read in 2010.  I know that I'm glad that I read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell when it first came out because I don't think I could go through that again.  Don't get me wrong...it was great.  But it was about 5,000 pages long or so.  OK, maybe not that long, but it was pretty massive.

I don't know in what order I am gonna tackle this list.  Maybe by author since there are a lot of repeat winners up there.  I dunno.   Time to break out the old library card.

Again...wish me luck!


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. A return to reading for 2010!

Jan 3, 2010

Original Sin

performed by Nina Simone
(click on title to listen to the whole album on Lala)

Eve and Adam had a garden.  Everything was great
Till one day a boy says Pardon, Miss my name is snake
See that apple over yonder, if you'll take a bite
You and Adam both are bound to have some fun tonight

Go and eat (forbidden fruit)
It's mighty sweet (forbidden fruit)
It's quite a treat (forbidden fruit)
Go ahead and taste it you don't wanna waste it

The Lord had said in the beginning, everything here's free
Except that apple that leads to sinnin' so let that apple be
But Eve got tempted and tried, and as all chicks do
Teased her man till he decided he'd just try some to

Go and eat (forbidden fruit)
It's mighty sweet (forbidden fruit)
It's quite a treat (forbidden fruit)
Go ahead and bite it I bet you'll be delighted

I hate to tell you what followed.  The Lord was most upset
Saw them making love and hollered, what have you to et
And when they made a full confession, the Lord said hmm I see
I guess I'll have to teach you a lesson about not minding me

Go and eat (forbidden fruit)
It's mighty sweet (forbidden fruit)
It's quite a treat (forbidden fruit)
You all went and did it, now you're gonna git it

The Lord made Evie Adam's madam, have his kids and all
Placed some labor laws on Adam, and he made the snake to fall
Ever since the days of Eden, folks been sinful my
Nowadays, they're even eating apples in their pie

Go and eat (forbidden fruit)
It's mighty sweet (forbidden fruit)
It's quite a treat (forbidden fruit)
Go ahead and taste it you don't wanna waste it
Oh go ahead and bite it I bet you'll be delighted
You all went and did it, now you're gonna git it

(forbidden fruit)


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. Go ahead and bite it, I bet you'll be delighted.

Jan 1, 2010

New Year...new trivia

Well, it's officially 2010. Sigh.

But enough about that. Since today is the first of the month and the first day of the new year (and decade depending on your definition of that) I just wanted to remind you about the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge. Yeah, I know that I should probably rename it the Verdant Trivia Challenge or something, but let's not quibble.

This month the schedule is as follows:

Sunday - History 1: Easier
Monday - Music 2: Intermediate
Tuesday - Sports: Baseball: Difficult
Wednesday - Custom Trivia Challenge (see below)
Thursday - World Trivia: UK
Friday - Movies 3: Difficult
Saturday - Literature 1: Easier

Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm doing baseball trivia on Tuesdays this month. Screw it. It's only gonna be 4 days out of the month so suck it up people. And I know nothing about UK trivia, but I included that because we have a few players from over there and the rest of the trivia is very American-centric. I'll be mixing up the categories every month, so this is only for January.

Since today is the day for starting your resolutions, perhaps one of them should be to play my trivia game every day. One of these months someone is gonna be the top dog other than Limpy or myself. Right, badgerdaddy?

Oh, and one more thing.  Wednesdays are Prince Spaghetti Day.  I mean Custom Trivia Challenge Day.  So leave me some suggestions here for upcoming Wednesdays.  Pick anything.  Anything at all.  Some stuff might be too general or too specific for me to use, but you never know.


Note: Remember to play the Bug-Eyed Trivia Challenge every day. I'm stoked for Tuesdays.