Friday, February 2, 2007

Chris V in Space

I think the last time I or my family subscribed to HBO was in 1985 (sorry, Six Feet Under fans), but/so the above opening is very firmly planted in my brain as cool. I consider it one of those great things about the 80s.

Originally created in 1983, "HBO Feature Presentation" (nicknamed "HBO in Space" or "Starship HBO") began with a family watching cable television, then backing out of the window and zooming through a working model of a city street and finally flying into space. The score was composed by Ferdinand J. Smith. The full opening is here:

One site claims the HBO logo is high tech CGI, but another claims it was actually a real metal logo. The latter story fits in with the overall presentation, as the city is obviously not CGI, and the comets/rainbow look more like hand animation than computers.

Anyway, if you ever watched HBO in the 80s, this is familiar to you.

An additional thought on the near Boston Massacre 2K7

I do not believe it is correct to criticize the bomb squad wrong for doing its job, although if you see some photographs or video, the Mooninite art is being taken down by guys on ladder. Hardly bomb squad protocol for potentially dangerous devices. However, the people shitting their pants over low-level art and guerrilla advertising are overreacting. It's like the people suing Sasha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Borat), except Turner and these so-called artists didn't trick anyone, it was the Boston public officials who made themselves look like fools.

This is quite similar to other incidents in which people tried to display their craft in public and were shut down because of "terrorism" threats. Take this, for example:
Five teenage girls in Ohio are in big trouble after playing a little Super Mario Bros themed prank. The girls found instructions on the net of how to create real life Mario question blocks and created 17 of them and placed them around their town. Over-excitable members of the community reported the blocks and the Bomb Unit was brought in to deal with the potential threats.

Those are the same blocks shown over at Dinosaur Comics' Ryan North's website.

This is what we've come down to. Anything (or anyone) out of the ordinary slightly jostles our pretty little world, and we have to bring down the hammer on them. If some kid throws his old sneakers over electrical wire, do we need to shut down half the city? Is the guy in the chicken suit outside of Chick Fil-A going to Guantanamo? Does the nerd carrying around a TI-85 need to be detained to determine if he was using a calculator or a detonation device?

Real questions in the United States of Hysteria.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Yankees sign Mooninite Err to 1 year deal

In a stunning move, Err has signed a one year, $375,000 deal to play first base for the New York Yankees in 2007. GM Brian Cashman said the move was "obvious" after the city of Boston was brought to a halt when various advertisements featuring Err and fellow Mooninite Ignignokt were displayed, an event described as "our 9/11" by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. Massive panic and hysteria were reported in the New England metropolis due to the Mooninite signs, and this latest news about Err is sure to cripple Red Sox nation.

"We hope Err brings a different type of 'bomb scare' to the AL East," Cashman said in reference to Err's power at the plate. "He also provides solid glove work on the field."

In related news, the Yankees have offered Ignignokt a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training to try out for the back up catcher position.

"How can he possibly be alive?"

"I mean, the man had, like, seven heart attacks."

Thanks to Google for the truncation.

Pinstripes on the March

Jon Heyman has an article about Bernie Williams future with the Yankees up over at SI (Bernie, along with Roger Clemens, is the current hot talk of NYY baseball). The article simply says the Yanks "have made Williams a standing offer to come to spring training as a non-guaranteed, nonroster [sic] invite," then discusses his options. Nothing bad, except Heyman makes a statement I cannot believe: "Manager Joe Torre always has been a Williams fan."


In 2005, Torre insisted on playing Tony Womack in the outfield, either starting him in center or playing him in left, forcing Hideki Matsui to play center. During that season, Bernie started only 100 games in center, while Womack started 58 in the OF. During that time, Williams had a .991 Fielding Percentage, a 2.42 Range Factor, and an .865 Zone Rating. Womack, meanwhile, had a .984 F%, 2.04 RF, and an .863 ZR. To put those in perspective, Torri Hunter went .987/2.51/.891 and Andruw Jones went .995/2.48/.878 in 2005. Womack was not an improvement. Offensively, Williams hit for a .249 AVG, .321 OBP, .367 SLG, 12 HR, 19 2B (in 485 AB), while Womack simply crushed the ball...nowhere, going .249, .276, .280, 0 HR, 8 2B (in 329 AB). No one with 300 at bats in 2005 had a Slugging Percentage worse than Tony Womack.

So, Womack was worse defensively, and abysmal offensively. Is that how much Joe Torre loves Bernie Williams? I sent Jon Heyman an email explaining my position, and asked him, "So why would Torre do that if he loved Williams? Either he doesn't really love Williams all that much, or Torre is insane." Heyman will write back to me, as he always does, and will give me an actual answer, not a dismissal (he once humorously misspelled Yankees as "ywankes," but that's another story). If he says anything good, I'll let you know.

Update 2/1/07 10:29 AM: Heyman replies, but I won't quote him directly because he didn't know he would be on record. He basically reminds anyone (me) that might have forgot that Torre is a small ball/steals manager, and also arguably not the best judge of talent in baseball. Thanks Jon Heyman, you're a credit to your profession.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I wanna be a New York Ranger

I wanna live a life of danger! (and downloading free Misfits songs!)

On Boston Legal last night, the character of Claire Simms, played by actor Constance Zimmer, a known Yankees fan, went to a costume party dressed as a New York Ranger. Also in the show, it was revealed that she is dating Clarence Bell, played by actor Gary Anthony Williams. An attractive young woman making a lot of money dating an obese man with severe psychological issues? That's how you know TV is fantasy.

I had a chance to watch the Rangers play the Bruins on VS (pronounced "versus"), a channel that shows...athletic and other forms of competition. Perhaps such a channel is not needed (the same goes for ESPNU), but if it lets me watch hockey without paying extra, I support it.

A little over a week ago I decided whatever team in the Atlantic finishes at .500 would win the division. I also decided the Knicks would not be able to reach that plateu. Despite the win against the Lakers last night (minus Kobe Bryant, it should be noted), I still do not think they can do it. They would have to play 7 games above .500 just to finish with a 41-41 record. This team? Even without injuries, I doubt they can do it. They're welcome to prove me wrong, of course.

In closing, the MSG network shows two programs, Knicks in 60 and Rangers in 60, highlighting the last game the team played in an hour long program. The former is blacked out, the latter is not. Why? Stupid television service providers.

The opportunity to think you have an opportunity

Seeing as how Colbert already covered it, I better get off my ass and get around to talking about the homeless who were taken to see "The Pursuit of Happyness" [sic] on the mayor's (I supposed taxpayers') dollar. From the Washington Post:
D.C. officials took a group of homeless people from city-run shelters to a special screening yesterday of the movie "The Pursuit of Happyness," hoping that the story of a single father's determination to make a home for his young son would encourage them in their struggles.

I think it's great they took some homeless out of the cold and into a dry martini a warm theater for some free entertainment, and I don't think they want the homeless to believe they can become millionaires ("We don't want people to think it's about becoming a millionaire" - homeless activist Arafa Speaks), but the theme of the movie does underly what makes America function. No, it's not an iron will, or hope in the face of adversity, or the ability to rise above your means; it's the idea that people can rise up when, in reality, it is far easier to fall downwards on the class scale.

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, explains the situation: "[E]ven though people are working harder than they ever have in their lives, they are not making it today." He says our society's class system is like a ladder, and the "middle rungs on that ladder are not there any longer."

Yes, many Americans spend frivolously, but all of us are a major illness or unforeseen job loss away from dropping down the ladder. Furthermore, the value of the dollar and of the wages we earn is pitiful, as the New York Times explained:
The median hourly wage for American workers has declined 2 percent since 2003, after factoring in inflation. The drop has been especially notable, economists say, because productivity — the amount that an average worker produces in an hour and the basic wellspring of a nation’s living standards — has risen steadily over the same period.

As a result, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of the nation’s gross domestic product since the government began recording the data in 1947, while corporate profits have climbed to their highest share since the 1960’s. UBS, the investment bank, recently described the current period as "the golden era of profitability."

In other words, we work more for less, and the only people who benefit are on the highest rungs. As I mentioned earlier, Ford is seeking to reward its upper-management with bonuses after they had to endure the terrible ordeal of massive layoffs...of lower employees. It must be tough for them.

Some conservatives would tell you to suck it up and enjoy this modern world of ours - we have TiVo, iPods, and DVDs, for crying out loud! Who cares if you can't afford them? Roy Edroso breaks it down:
Grumpy liberals want you to live like 70s cavemen! If it were up to them, you wouldn't have Grand Theft Auto. So shut up and work, drone!

Neither Galt nor Winterspeak name the mechanism of action by which we trade purchasing power for mod cons. Maybe there's a Star Chamber of Commerce that decrees things like, "Allow us lay off 10,000 auto workers and make everyone in those communities work at McDonald's, and you can have Clarinex and flat-screen TVs."

More likely, they haven't thought of how it might work, but decided that a positive-sounding message was all the explanation anyone would ever need. This is America, after all, where no one likes a Gloomy Gus or a Negative Noam.

Ah well, working in America might suck, but we have all these cool toys! At least you don't have to pay any stinkin' unions! You sure showed your corporate superiors!

As America currently functions, we keep the upper class wealthy and the rest of us placated. We tolerate getting paid less (despite being productive), getting little vacation, receiving no benefits, and being treated like dirt because we believe maybe we can become wealthy, too. Maybe we'll hit the lotto or become a celebrity. If not, at least we can one day buy a plasma television or a cell phone that latches on our ear. The truth of the matter is, it's bullshit. The whole system we live under is bullshit. Americans refuse to see the situation they're in, so they don't demand the changes they need, and they don't work together to force the system to concede some simple, basic things. The gears keep our expense.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Every day is Saturday when you're dead

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to see Mr. Dead Guy and Baby Cheezwits perform at The Underground in West Philadelphia. I highly recommend the show to anyone that enjoys morbid yet zany stand up, vaudeville, and ventriloquism with a horror theme.

Monday, January 29, 2007

NBC Sports' Greatest Hits: January '07

Hopefully the guy comes up with the headlines got a bonus for these gems.

Quick hits and fresh bruises

England's Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, the Duchess of Cornwall, were in the Philadelphia area over the weekend. I'm not even sure major Hollywood celebrities would bring this much excitement. I dislike celebrity worship, but royal worship is the worst. The British taxpayers give £36.8 million ($72.1 million) to the queen each year, which is fine if that's what they choose to blow their money on. In America, we like to spend our money on missiles that don't work; In the U.K., they like to spend their money on a monarchy that doesn't work. What I don't understand is why Americans give more than an ounce of a damn about another country's royal inbreds. The United States fought and won a war of independence against England well over two centuries ago just so Americans could masturbate over self-made celebrities like Tom Cruise. He is our prince, sirs and madams; we do not need those who inherit their titles (except for Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, etc...but at least our tax dollars don't go towards their wealth...directly).

Speaking of royalty, one of probably a number of things that would bother me if Hillary Clinton became president is also one of the things that bothered me about George W. Bush - political dynasties need to stop. This may seem hypocritical for someone that still has a small crush on Robert Kennedy, but he had his brains blown out so it doesn't count. I've seen it in Pennsylvania politics for years. A father infests a public seat for decades, and then when he's too old to waddle anymore, his son is elected to the same seat. Is that what we want our presidency to be? George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Chelsea Clinton, Barbara Bush (the one with the perky tits), Cyborg Neil Bush, etc. It needs to end. If Hillary Clinton does win, however, it will be in part thanks to the efforts of those who voted for George W. Bush, ironically enough. If Kerry had won the election in 2004, he would be running for re-election in 2008, and it is more than likely that no major Democrat would have opposed him, Clinton included. Besides the failure in Iraq, that's another nugget for Bush supporters to chew on.

In closing, I noticed a tag on a pair of pants. It read, "Specially Treated. Wrinkle and Stain Resistant." Man, maybe they should use that chemical on women. Sure, it may burn, but between the waxing, shaving, plucking, painting, moisturizing, et al, that women do, they're probably up for it. Do it for the sake of vanity.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Poor, misunderstood Hitler

Back in 1942, there was a short feature called "The Devil With Hitler" in which the Board of Directors of Hell (apparently Hell is a capitalist society) decide to replace Satan with Hitler upon Hitler's death. In order to prevent this, Satan decides to convince Hitler to do a good deed, thus assuring Satan's place as the ruler of Hell.

The 44 minute vehicle is about slapstick gags and making fun of Hitler as well as Benito Mussolini and Suki Yaki. It's not available on DVD or even VHS, apparently, but you can watch it on Turner Movie Classics whenever they air it. You can also click the above link to read a full synopsis with pictures.

I mention this because I just read a review about it on the International Movie Database wherein user dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York, made this comment:
Its a very odd feeling watching the Devil run around trying to prove Hitler isn't all bad, especially when he uses examples of Hitler's cruelties that are actually much worse in retrospect than what was known when this film was made. In its way the film is almost an exercise in bad taste as a result of the revelations that followed.

The worst Hitler does in the movie is order the execution of people...I don't know what planet "D. B. Borroughs" is from, but it's possible he's from Planet Moron.