Thursday, May 31, 2007

Longer hiatus needed

Maybe it's the impending summer, or something, but I think I need a longer hiatus from the blog. I've been posting five days a week for about a year and a half now, and I love doing it, but I think now I need to figure out how I want to continue with this, and what, specifically, I'm looking to get out of it.

Plus, posting something new every morning is starting to feel like a bit of a grind. Like something off my to-do list at work. And hey. That's not why I got into the blogging business. Speaking of business, when do I start making money off this thing? Where are my big checks? Where's the return? It doesn't necessarily need to be monetary...ah, I don't know.

Anyway, consider me on hiatus until further notice. I want to come back...hopefully not all of my readers will have deserted me. Keep me on your RSS, huh? That's a good way to monitor it. As for this guy, I've got some serious thinking to do. I'm gonna be walking in the woods. Stroking the chin. Climbing up the mountain. Drinking from the bottle. Et cetera. Take care then, until next time. -MSH

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This just in: Bush Defends ______, Calls Critics ______

Back from my little hiatus, I somehow feel even less rested than before I left. But such is life. So it goes. I can't complain because who would listen. Nothing is certain but death and taxes. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Speaking of certainties and Bush, I notice that not much changes anymore in terms of presidential headlines. There's really not much in the way of news access down at the seashore, but I feel as if I've missed nothing. I think there's a good chance we'll be stuck in the same news cycle until early 2009.

And that news cycle is as follows: Bush staunchly defends his policy on Iraq/immigration/global warming/political appointees/surveillance programs/various mishandling of various situations, and calls out any dissenters as stupid/unpatriotic/gay/godless/haters/jealous of how hot he is. Today, the issue just happened to be

Those who dislike the bill "haven't read" it Bush said. Yes, yes. That's the ONLY explanation that comes to my mind as well. No need to argue...Congress just don't understand! They don't get the depth of his policies, or they just don't bother. And that's all. Next question. Oh, wait. I'm not taking any more freaking questions. Smithers, release the hounds.

Now, that's better. Maybe now we can get on to the next news cycle, when I will defend X. That will be a refreshing change. Can't wait!!!

Bush Blasts GOP Immigration Critics [Washington Post]

Monday, May 21, 2007

On Hiatus

I'm going to take a break from the bloggery as part of my Memorial Day decompression proceedings. I look forward to resuming said bloggery next Wednesday, May 30. Until then, feel free to plumb the archives. Good day then.

P.S. Got a new layout! But it's still not in finished form. We're taking it to the next level, baby.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Recap of The Office: The Job, parts 1 and 2

Well, it was the two-part season finale last night. Lots of interesting stuff happened, but I feel like they wrote this using the old detective pulp mystery method -- that is, coming up with the big surprises first and working backwards through the beginning. There were some funny moments, but overall these episodes -- as most season finales are -- were simply a dual engine designed to drive the story toward the obligatory cliffhanger.

So here's what happened in a nutshell: a big job opens up in Dunder Mifflin's New York corporate office. Michael, Karen, and Jim all head up to interview for the position. Michael is so certain he's a lock to get the job that he sells his condo (on Ebay) and names Dwight as his successor at Scranton. Meanwhile, Jan comes back to ask if Michael will get back together with her. Michael wants to say no, but then he realizes that Jan got a boob job. So he takes her back.

There is fallout from Pam confessing to Jim in front of everyone that she missed him. The worst was probably Kelly calling her "patheticville." Ouch.

Overall, there weren't a whole lot of laughs. Of course, Michael flames out in his job interview, but it became less humorous because the bossman interviewing him doesn't get put off by the antics. That happens with Michael all the time.

So we're just meandering through the episode -- Jim and Karen galavanting through Manhattan, Dwight messing up the Scranton office, Michael acting a fool, Pam pining for Jim, yadda yadda -- and then in the last five minutes, all the plot revelations get dropped on us. It reminded me a little of that novel
The Picture of Dorian Gray, because the story just languidly kicks along, and then comes together in this huge way in the last half page or so.

For starters, Jan is confirmed to be legitimately disturbed. Her work has been erratic lately, and it is -- dunh dunh duuuuunh -- HER job that Michael et al are interviewing for. That's right -- Jan is being fired! Michael finds out, tells Jan, Jan makes scene, Michael doesn't get corporate job, they leave, Michael offers to let Jan stay at his condo (he'll withdraw the sale, despite the risk of negative Ebay feedback) and Jan proclaims that she can "wear stretch pants and wait for you to come home at 5:15." Oof.

Secondly, under as-yet-unexplained circumstances, Jim drives back to Scranton sans Karen and -- dunh dunh duuuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnh -- asks Pam out on a date. Whoa, dude! What gives there? What the deal? What end is up right now? I think this means it's the end of Karen's regular appearances on the show, thus essentially closing the loop on the Stamford branch storyline (with the exception of Crazy Andy, who of course at this point is completely integrated into Scranton).

But so who got the job at the corporate office? As the episode wraps up, we see the big wig congratulating the recipient of the phone. And we see that the new job goes to -- DUNH DUNH DUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -- Ryan the former intern (played by show executive producer B.J. Novak). And I've got news for you, my friend. This spells trouble. With a capital T, that rhymes with C, and that stand for, er, Corporate Office Guy. There have been hints that Ryan was a jerk for a while now, and now he will exact revenge on Michael, Jim, and anyone else he sees fit to do it to. Of course, he never made a sale there, but I guess corporate didn't care about that? Anyway, look for Ryan to become the serious black hat on the show. Now that Roy is gone and Andy is more mellow (for now), there really weren't any prominent jerks on the show. Until now. Prepare to see a serious villain next season. Villain, thy name is Ryan. Dunh dun duuuuuunh.

The Office [NBC]
Previous recap of The Office [No One Appreciates Me]
The Picture of Dorian Gray [Amazon]

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

I think I might hate the San Antonio Spurs

I was talking with some people the other day about this guy we all knew. A painfully quiet guy, to the point that if you walked up to him and said "hello," chances were 50-50 that he would make any kind of verbal response. And since he sat there in front of the television like your proverbial bump on a log, we all found him to be fairly boring. However, at the same time, we assumed that he was this great guy with a lot to offer once you got to know him. But as time went on, we found that to not be the case. At all. His hair-trigger temper emerged. He was a poor sport, both as a loser and a winner. He pouted all the time. He picked on his girlfriend. He literally laughed at the misfortunes of others. Needless to say, we don't see much of him anymore.

All of this is to prove the point that, just because someone is quiet, it doesn't automatically mean they are nice. And if they are not nice, you feel even worse about it in retrospect because you feel duped. This metaphor extends to the San Antonio Spurs.

I have previously equated the Spurs to a team of robots, just emotionlessly executing their game plan. But after the dirty play of the last few days, and the really jerky way they've handled themselves, I am concluding that the Spurs are not robots. They are evil robots.

The San Antonio Spurs execute yet another flawless evil game plan.

Of course, last night, Tim Duncan more or less had his way with Kurt Thomas in the Spurs close win over Phoenix. Thomas was standing in for Amare Stoudemire, who along with teammate Boris Diaw was suspended for leaving the bench to defend his teammate, Steve Nash, who had just been shoulder-blocked to the floor by Robert Horry. Horry was suspended two games, but the Suns lost two of their best players for one game. Can you believe these athletes today, leaving their benches all the time and what not? I'm telling you...our society is crumbling. In a world where bench-leaving is so rampant, what else is far behind? Religious war? Some kind of global disaster in which the planet experiences massive flooding and famine? Amid all the bench-leaving, anything is possible.

Of course, there is video evidence that Spurs guards Bruce Bowen and Manu Ginobili play dirty. Observe:

But of course, nothing happens to them. Such is the insidious evil robot network. Anyway, I really have nothing witty to say. I just dislike the Spurs.

Short-Handed Suns Falter Late [Washington Post]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Update: Baby drop box stumbles a teensy bit out of the gate

Remember two days ago? I know, it's kind of hazy for me, too, but I wrote a post about a new baby drop box set up at a Japanese hospital. Well, guess what? It's follow-up time! Just days after its inception, and just days after a hospital official hoped their service "would never be used," the drop box had its first customer...HUZZAH!

But wait, wait. Hold your huzzahs, people! That may have been a premature huzzah. Because that's not the whole story. And I get the whole story, dammit. That's right -- I read to the bottom of every Internet article I click on, and I don't care whose feathers I ruffle. So are you ready for the twist? Ready? Here it comes: the unwanted baby was not a baby at all. It was a pre-schooler!

Two words. Okay? And those words are naughty, and naughty. That's all I got to say. A rather inauspicious launch for the unwanted baby drop-off program, one suspects. After all, who would have thought a baby drop box would be -- *gasp* -- MISUSED?!?!?! Certainly not this dewy-eyed Pollyanna. I am sitting here as I type, just beside myself with surprise that the first user of the baby drop box would do so in a -- *gasp again* -- IRRESPONSIBLE FASHION!!!! Oh my gosh...I think I'm swooning, judge! Someone catch me! Quick! Run along and fetch a damp cloth for my forehead!

A nurse demonstrates -- one more time --
the kind of unwanted human you are
supposed to drop in the baby drop box.

The boy, who was reportedly in perfect health, was questioned about the incident. Son, why did your dad abandon you in this baby drop box when you are clearly not a baby? What within his soul, in your opinion, allows him to flout clearly stated instructions in such a blatant manner!?!?! The instructions are conspicuously posted right beside the drop box, and they clearly state, if you will indulge me: "Please only put unwanted babies in the baby drop box. Unwanted toddlers are NOT permitted, under penalty of ardent tongue-clucking."

What is your response to this, my young friend?

The boy's response? "I came with Daddy."

But Daddy! I don't want to go in the box! It's
for babies! I'm a big boy. Right, Daddy? Daddy? Daddy?

As a result of this incident, many a chin is being stroked. Many a hand wrung. Said one national newspaper editorial: "We must rethink the meaning of the baby drop-off."


I'm no Henry McHasty. I'm no Harry Shoot-From-The-Hip-Shooter. But I might go out on a limb here -- just this once -- and agree. This whole dropping-unwanted-babies-in-a-box dealy bob may require a little tweaking. A little retooling, if you will. Because if people are going to flout the rules and use the baby drop box for, you know, selfish reasons, then that violates the whole idea of the baby drop box! So wake me up when you get a real, honest-to-goodness baby in there. Okay? Then, and only then, will I celebrate.

Think of all the money they'll save on trash bags [No One Appreciates Me]
Dad dumps preschooler in box for unwanted newborns [CNN]

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Melinda Doolittle? Your journey ends here tonight.

Interesting final three performance last night. Each contestant sang three songs, and there was nary a clunker in the bunch. Everyone's a talented singer at this point, but each one of these people seems particularly poised. I especially have to give it up to Blake Lewis, who has grown on me over the weeks and gave some great performances last night. In fact, he might be throwing a wrench in the works of the presumed Melinda-Jordin finale. But more on that in a second.

First, back to Jordin. Last night -- and next week -- will have decidedly less tension than a lot of previous Idol culminations. Because Jordin is winning this competition. Throw your retirement fund in the back seat of your car, drive the whole thing to Vegas, and double your money. It's happening. That said, last night was an off night for her. For starters, she had some weird songs. Simon's pick for her -- "Wishing on a Star" by Rose Royce -- was good. But then her other songs -- "She Works Hard For the Money" and "I Who Have Nothing," an absolute funeral dirge of a song that I have no idea why she insists on singing -- were not so good. But on the bright side, she got a star on the walkway of her local shopping mall, oh my gosh! I have ALWAYS wanted, like, some kind of mall recognition. And oh my gosh, it was right in front of the escalator! Right in between the Baby Gap and the Things Remembered! That is prime real estate.

But here's the real downside to Jordin's night: That pink dress she was wearing for part of the evening. Last week, you may remember that
I was vacillating on whether I found Jordin attractive. Well, in that dress, she was not. Now I admit it -- I'm no fashionista. Which is all the more reason to wonder why someone (or a group of someones) whose presumably sole source of income is to make a group of young people look stylish could march Jordin out in that pink grocery bag of a discount-rack Easter dress. It appeared to be cinched just below the breasts, for minimum cleavage and maximum burlap-sack effect. And the frizzy hair doesn't help anything either. The stylists should be accentuating Jordin's pretty face and Amazonian figure, not concealing it. I couldn't find a full photo of it, but if you saw it, you know what I'm talking about. Just an awful, awful piece of clothing. But maybe they can get five bucks for it from a high school student somewhere in North Dakota, who may not have a date for the prom, but dammit, she's gonna go anyway. For ten minutes. Body issues be damned.

This doesn't even begin to paint the picture.

Melinda was good, too, but her best quality -- consistency -- is maybe her worst at this point as well. Which is why I predict that Melinda gets the boot tonight, with Blake losing to a hopefully better-dressed Jordin in the final. Not only because people might take her for granted, but because Blake has come on in these later rounds, and now has a growing and dedicated army of fans, especially girls. People who are voting for Blake are voting for Blake. But the people who vote for Melinda are probably in the same (or at least a more similar) pool as those voting for Jordin. So I could see people with short attention spans -- and do you think any of those people watch American Idol? -- getting bored with Melinda and hitching their wagons to the clear favorite.

And at this point, Blake is becoming more interesting. When he's on, his beat-boxing is actually really tight. (Sir Mix-A-Lot crowned him "The New King of Sea-Town" last night. I wouldn't go that far -- or anywhere near that far -- but still.) And that sweet rendition of "How Deep is Your Love" that he did with Chris Sligh and (I think) Phil Stacey in the Hollywood round was still, for me, the musical highlight of the season.

But over and beyond that, Blake is the real underdog here. Not only because he is the least talented on paper, but because he's the only one who either hasn't already made it in music (like Melinda) or was born with a silver spoon in her mouth (like Jordin, who is the daughter of
former NFL player Phillippi Sparks). I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm rooting for Blake -- I'm really not rooting for anyone -- but him advancing at this point would be the most interesting story. For whatever that's worth.

It will be interesting to see how it all pans out tonight. It will be the final vote that is even remotely suspenseful, before Jordin claims her pink bubble gum throne next Wednesday night.

A Melinda-Jordin Final? Not So Fast, Sings Blake [Washington Post]
If I was 12 or retarded, I totally would have voted for Lakisha [No One Appreciates Me]
Glendale teen advances to next round on 'Idol' [AZ Central]

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

News Flash: Twinkies may contain weird ingredients

Did you ever hear that urban legend about how Twinkies are not actually cooked, but are rather created through a strictly chemical reaction? That there is no heat involved in the process of creating a Twinkie? Well, I don't know if that's true or not, but the truth is, most of the ingredients in a Twinkie are petroleum or mineral-based. And when you eat a Twinkie, you are eating five different kinds of rocks.

That's the main hook in this new book called Twinkie Deconstructed. Think Fast Food Nation for processed foods. The book is a look into what, exactly, all those polysorbates and bisulfates and disporidium gum arabics really are. We eat them all the time...makes sense that we should know what the hell they are. And as for the minerals, there are the expected ones like baking soda, but the author of the book says that a lot of the Twinkie's "colors and flavors rely on basic chemicals derived from crude oil or natural gas." Now that's just weird. Just weird enough to be believeable.

Just for the heck of it, a deep-fried Twinkie. Good God!

So yes...I think I'm going to go out and buy some Twinkies now. All this talk of Twinkies is making me really want a Twinkie. Yee-ha. Good day.

Dissecting the Dessert [Washington Post Express]
Twinkie Deconstructed [Amazon]
Fast Food Nation [Amazon]

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