Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The night the music died. Or the SUCKIEST American Idol EVER.

OMG. Was this some April Fool's joke?! Of all the nights to suck! This was the Idols chance to be CONTEMPORARY and GREAT, and most of them were neither.

And someone please point me to where the heck on "the top iTunes downloads" you can find "Play That Funky Music White Boy"?! I like the song, but really? I don't think that's been on any Top Pop chart in, oh, 30 years. More. Ditto the rest of them.

Send the whole lot home, I say. Okay, except for Danny Gokey and Kris Allen, who were very good. And I'm not even a Kris fan.

To quote Simon Cowell, it was DREADFUL. The whole evening.

Song choice, song choice, song choice, baby.

Really, Lil? That was the best song you could think of, something by CELINE DION? Come on, Dawg!

And while I know Scott MacIntyre is blind, I wasn't aware that the judges were DEAF. WTF were THEY listening to? Talk about a karaoke bar performance, and not a very good one at that.

I could barely watch -- or listen.

My prediction: Megan Joy is gone, though Anoop and Scott are not far behind her. (And listen Anoop fans, I like Anoop, but he doesn't have IT.)

J-TWO-O out.

What President Obama needs is an Easy button; Plus my picks for Car Czar

As President Barack Obama is fond of saying, he only gets the messy problems. "If it was easy, someone else would have solved it."

But I say, just give the man a Staples easy button.

Seriously, have you seen what those things can do?

So just imagine what an easy button could do for President Obama!

Need to organize the budget?

[Presses easy button.]

That was easy!

Need to solve the health care problem?

[Presses the button.]

That was easy!

Need to clean up that financial mess?

[Presses the button.]

That was easy!

Need to help the Detroit automakers come up with a bailout plan?

[You get the picture.]

And speaking of Detroit, I have the PERFECT candidates for Car Czar: Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers (aka Tom and Ray Magliozzi) of Car Talk fame.

Seriously, think about it. NO ONE knows as much about fixing automotive messes like these guys. And think of the press conferences and radio addresses! It would give Car Talk whole new meaning!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Are people who use Twitter Twits?

For those of you (hi Mom!) who may be unfamiliar with Twitter, the hot microblogging tool/service, here is the official definition from the Twitter website: "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick [140 characters or less], frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

(Whatever happened to just picking up the phone?)

(Btw, I find it interesting that Twitter was unable to describe what it does in 140 characters yet expects others to describe what they are doing in that small space.)

But you want to know what Twitter really is? (I'm so glad you asked!) Twitter is a service for narcissists, the self-centered, and the self-absorbed, who feel it necessary to hyper-communicate their every move and connect with people of equal or (preferably) greater egos by broadcasting the answer to one simple question: Am I the most fascinating person ever or what?

Indeed, the beauty or genius of Twitter is not that it helps people connect with one another (which it indisputably does) but that it instantly confers upon the Twitterer, or, more appropriately, the Twit, a certain sense of self importance and celebrity.

Look at me!
says your Tweet. Or, more accurately, in Twitter parlance, Follow me! Why? Because I am so incredibly interesting and important -- so much so that reading an article about me or reading my blog or having a Fan page on Facebook just won't do. You need to know what I am doing and who I am doing it with NOW!

Okay, folks. I get that celebrities (and others) have a hyper-inflated sense of sense, but time to get real. Think about it: Is there anyone out there that fascinating or newsworthy (or, as my good friend, G., says, "all that and a bag of chips") who necessitates you (or others) knowing their every move, besides, perhaps, for the President of the United States and Stephen Colbert?

I think not. And if you do think so, you need to get a life -- your own, and not some celebrity's.

And speaking of celebrities (and I use the term loosely), while there are many glitterati who actually use the service, many others, the folks who put the Twit in Twitter, aren't actually using Twitter, though you may think they are.

And you want to know why the likes of 50 Cent and Britney (and many others) can't be bothered to take 30 seconds to type a 140 character or less message to their followers (the new lingo for fans)? (Okay, I'm guessing most of you reading this don't give a hoot what 50 Cent or Britney is doing or not doing, but stay with me here, folks.) They're too busy (or lame).

Got that? There are people out there who consider themselves too busy or important to send a 140-character message from a computer or PDA or mobile phone, but expect others will have the time and inclination to read whatever they Tweet multiple times a day. So what's a busy narcissist to do? Why hire a ghost Twitterer (or Twit) to do their Tweeting for them! (FYI, should any of you need a ghost Twitterer, I'm available. Tweet me. Oh wait...)

All sarcasm aside, I am sure that there are some good, work-related uses/benefits of Twitter. I just can't think of any that replace sending an instant messaging, texting, emailing, a blog post, or, yes, picking up a phone. But feel free to leave a comment and disagree with me if you think I'm wrong. Better yet, send me a Tweet. ; )

Friday, March 27, 2009

Cats, laps, and laptops

I have a very healthy codependent relationship with my cat, Felix. I sit at the computer all day researching or writing articles (amongst other things), and Felix sits or sleeps quietly on my lap, keeping me warm (and company).

However, the other day, for whatever reason, Felix decided to forgo my lap and instead opted to curl up on my laptop.

This wouldn't have bothered me so much, except I was actually trying to get some work done. (Yes, jjv, I actually do work on occasion.) And Felix decided to rest his head and shoulders on my laptop's Caps Lock key.




Thursday, March 26, 2009

I guess growing and/or selling marijuana was not the kind of "green" job President Obama was talking about

Once again, President Barack Obama is answering the big questions facing this country, like whether we should legalize marijuana.

Indeed, many pundits and journalists have been wondering for days whether the President would take the time to address what I like to refer to as "the Spicoli question" during today's digital/live town hall meeting at the White House. And they were not disappointed.

About halfway into the proceedings, President Obama stopped the regular questioning to address the two (albeit related) questions that thousands of concerned, eco-minded citizens had given high marks to in the Jobs category:

Popular questions:

"Should our government decriminilize [sic] marijuana, so that millions of new green jobs can be created, such as building fuel-efficient vehicles, and supplying pharmaceuticals for needy medical marijuana patients, and etc.?"
Green Machine, Winchester,Va

"I'm not a fan of smoking; however, I think legalizing marijuana could be good for our economy. Not only would it create lots of jobs for the public, it could help to boost the economy and get it going again. Could this be a possibility of the future?"
Shades of Grey, Tampa, Florida

"Help boost the economy"? Really? Well, at least junk food manufacturers and the Girl Scouts would see an uptick in sales.

"I don't know what that says about the online audience," Obama joked. But the answer, he said, was "no, I don't think that's a good strategy to grow our economy."


What Went On: American Idol Motown Night (abbreviated version)

Welcome Matt. You got it ON, Giraud.

And how sweet was Kris Allen?

I'm good 'n' 'Tyred of Scott.

Got no Joy from Megan. She better hope the voters need her.

Ah-Anoop, baby, baby.... It just wasn't that good for me, Dawg.

Good thing Michael Sarver ain't too proud to beg, cause he SUCKED.

I'm hot for Lil Rounds, but that performance left me lukewarm.

Take a good look at Adam Lambert. Not a hair looked out of place, and he had the audience, Paula, and Smokey in tears. (But I still think he's a bit of a clown.)

I was so ready for Danny Gokey. And while that performance wasn't outta sight, he did more than all right.

I know you're depending on me to tell you the truth, and Allison Iraheta was stone cold awesome.

My Final Four prediction after last night: Matt, Kris, Danny, and Adam

(Note: I really want Matt, Danny, Lil, and Allison, but I don't think the girls have a chance this year. Disagree? Lay it on me.)

UPDATED 3/26/09 AT 9:45 A.M.: For more on last night's American Idol, check out MSNBC.com contributor Craig Berman's commentary. He (like me) has been covering Idol for years, though this year he just seems to be regurgitating what the judges said. Also, DialIdol.com predicts that Scott, Megan, and Michael will be in the bottom three this week.

SLIGHTLY O/T, THOUGH STILL MUSICAL: Since yesterday I have had Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" playing nonstop on the mental jukebox. And I have NO IDEA what the video has to do with the song. I'm going to file this one in the same category as KC & The Sunshine Band's "That's the Way I Like It." Uh huh uh huh.

UPDATED 3/27/09 @ 7:45 A.M.: As predicted, Michael Sarver got the lowest number of votes and is heading back to family and rig. I would have preferred to have seen Scott go, but soon come. And I was floored that Matt was in the bottom two. Huh? Wha? And I even voted for the guy. Hmm... Until next week, Idol fans. (Btw, for the record, I watched the NCAA Basketball Tournament during most of Idol. Go UConn (who beat Purdue to move on to the Elite Eight)! Though the Pitt-Xavier game was darn fine basketball, too.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Strange Love or: How I learned to stop hating and love Britney Spears. Plus Flo Rida takes me for a spin round memory lane.

It was a cold, gray morning, when I first heard it. I was driving to the gym, going through the presets on my radio, looking for something upbeat to help motivate me, when I heard it. That song with the catchy chorus that instantly sticks in your brain -- but you have no idea who the artist is or even the title.

Then, a day or two later, I heard it again, and still couldn't make out the artist or the title (or, really, the words). But it was so catchy, I wanted to hear it again. And then, finally, I did, Sunday, driving home from the gym. (I do all of my radio listening in my car, to or from the gym, which is about 12 minutes from my house, and a really boring drive.)

And then it hit me: Oh. My. God. Could that be... Britney Spears?! It was just a hunch, but I just knew in my heart I was right.

So as soon as I got home I jumped on my laptop (metaphorically, of course), and entered the only words I could make out/recall from the song -- all of the boys and all of the girls -- and sure enough, I wasn't the only one to Google them. And yes, as I suspected, the artist in question (and yes, I use the term artist loosely) was... Britney Spears.

I know what you're thinking (particularly you, Another David S.), and I don't disagree. But this... this... whatever it was, was bigger than me. And next thing you know, there I was on YouTube, watching "If U Seek Amy," Britney Spears' latest single/video.

But wait, there's more. (God, I am so ashamed. But I hear confession is good for the soul.)

After viewing/listening to "If U Seek Amy," which I really liked (the song, not the video), I checked out Britney's other new hit, "Womanizer," which... I also really liked.

Oh my God! Is nothing sacred?! WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!

But getting back to Britney, is it just me or does she look, like, five years younger, happy, and in really good shape? You go girl!

Yes, yes, I know Britney has had her problems, but haven't we all? And isn't it time we separate or learn to distinguish a song from the singer? A good pop song is a good pop song. And it's not like I became a fan of Britney on Facebook (yet).

In other music news... I also recently happened to hear the new Flo Rida (pronounced Flow-RIDE-ah) song, "Right Round," which is way too naughty to include here. (Mamas, do not let your babies grow up listening to dirty rappers or rap songs.) But I bring this up because it samples one of my favorite songs/groups from my New Wave/Techno Pop phase in the early/mid-1980s, Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)."

Makes you want to run right out and get a disco ball, don't it?

Well, back to work...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quick, get a virgin, before Mount Redoubt blows its top and Alaska is cloaked in darkness!

Though really, would any one notice? It's, like, light for what, two hours, in Alaska this time of year?

But getting back to today's big story: Mount Redoubt in Alaska is erupting again! And unless the good people of Anchorage (located just 100 miles Northeast of the volcano) want to wind up like the citizens of Pompeii, they better pony up a virgin.

(Btw, the last time Mount Redoubt erupted was nearly 20 years ago, not long after Sarah Heath lost her virginity to Todd Palin. Coincidence? I think not.)

Clearly, the gods are angry at us humans as just last week another (albeit undersea) volcano erupted off of Tonga, in the South Pacific.

What's next, Yellowstone?

Clearly, if we want to appease the gods, and save our national parks, there is only thing to do: make a sacrifice.

I believe King Julien in Madagascar 2 does a good job of explaining how the process works:

(For the latest news and observations about Mount Redoubt, visit the Alaska Volcano Observatory's website. FYI: We are up to a Code Red alert.)

Sunday, March 22, 2009


No, that is not a reference to the people (supposedly) running this country or to the executives who ran AIG (or insert name of big bank/financial institution here) into the ground. I'm talking about breasts, bosoms, ta-tas, hooters, honkers, jugs... Capiche?

And why am I bringing up this topic yet again? (Though, does one really need an excuse to talk about breasts?)

So last night the spouse and I watched The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet on TBS's "Movie & a Makeover." (Great movie, btw, if you like totally unrealistic romantic comedies, with gorgeous scenery, and drool at the thought of Jude Law as a sexy, celibate, lovestruck widower with two adorable moppets.) The show is hosted by Mia Butler, who is, shall we say, rather buxom (similar to the model pictured above right), and was wearing the most low-cut purple sleeveless dress ever. Indeed, Ms. Butler, or certain parts of her, looked as though at any minute they would bust -- I mean, burst -- their flimsy confines. (Hmm... I wonder if Ms. Butler shares the same personal shopper or stylist as Paula Abdul?)

Anyway, despite their in-your-face nature, literally (nice work, camera guy), Ms. Butler's breasts would normally not have elicited more than a "So, do you think they're real?" comment from me. (For the record, both the spouse and I thought they were.) But last night's makeover recipient was a two-time breast cancer survivor who had lost her breasts. And to me, Ms. Butler's attire (or lack thereof) was a real slap (or boob) in the face to this poor woman, who was forced to stand next to Ms. Butler during the big reveal (hers, not Ms. Butler's).

And I was not the only one who thought the display in poor taste.

While watching the Syracuse Orangemen dominate the Arizona State Sun Devils earlier this afternoon, the spouse made a point of stating that he found the juxtaposition of Ms. Butler's boobs with the makeover recipient's lack thereof disconcerting and showed poor judgment on TBS and Ms. Butler's parts. (He also noted that both Cameron Diaz, who appears in just a bra, and Kate Winslet, who is fully clothed at all times, though does appear in a low-cut, sleeveless black dress near the end of the film, were both rather "flat chested." His term, not mine. Though he found both women very attractive.)

So am I making a mountain out of a mole hill -- or creating a tempest in a D-cup?

Maybe. And maybe I wouldn't be making such a big deal out of this, if, like Salma Hayek, I had been more religious as a girl and dipped my hands in holy water and prayed to God for breasts. (Sadly, dipping one's hands in Manischewitz does not yield the same results.)

And while we are on the topic of mammary glands, here's an amusing little article I came across while researching this sensitive subject, titled "5 Things You Didn't Know About Breasts."

Friday, March 20, 2009

Here's a money-making idea for the Girl Scouts: How about Maui Wowie cookies?

Times are tough all over these days, even for the Girl Scouts. Apparently, sales of Girl Scout cookies have been down across the country, so the Girl Scouts announced this week that they are extending cookie sales until March 29.

But if the Girl Scouts really want to make more dough (or sell it), perhaps they should try a different strategy. Instead of trying to sell more cookies, maybe they should offer a little something extra with (or in) each box, like these three enterprising souls did. They could even use a special name for these special orders, like Maui Wowies.

And I have the perfect celebrity pitch man, Michael Phelps.

Requests for the new cookies are already pouring in from the State of Michigan! Apparently, not only do the new cookies taste yummy, they're medicinal.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

For the man whose home is his starship... Plus, to boldly smell like no man has smelled before

The new J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie (technically Star Trek IX) does not open until May, but already there is considerable hype and product tie-ins. Indeed, thanks to the devotion of its many fans, the Star Trek franchise has lived longer than its creator, Gene Roddenberry, ever imagined, and prospered quite nicely, going far beyond its five-year mission.

While I consider myself a Star Trek fan (does that make me a Trekker or a Trekkie?), my appreciation of the various series and the movies pales in comparison to other, more hard-core Star Trek fans, such as Tod Sturgeon, a 40-year-old manager of a private security firm, pictured above (in a photo from the NYT), who built and painted his own Star Trek captain's chair. And he is not alone, according to this fascinating article in today's New York Times.

Don't have the time to build your own Star Trek captain's chair? No problem. For just over $2,700 (plus $400 for shipping) you can have Scotty over at Sky Mall beam you up this lovely model.

If you don't have the dough and can't make it so -- and/or your spouse complains it won't match the decor -- you can still feel (or should I say smell?) like the captain of your own starship with these official Star Trek fragrances.

Ah... to boldly smell like no man has smelled before... Though why anyone would want to wear Red Shirt (whose tagline is "Because tomorrow may never come") is beyond me. But you gotta love the call to action: Live every day as if it could be your last, with ‘Red Shirt’ cologne. Other scents include Tiberius ("Boldly go") and Pon Farr (designed to "drive him wild").

What else will the Star Trek marketing wizards come up with?

Me, I'll just be happy to go see the movie, which looks... fascinating.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thoughts on last night's American Idol and America's new favorite reality show, AIG

I wasn't going to blog about American Idol or American International Group (aka AIG) today, because, frankly, I have had more than enough of these two reality shows. (Don't believe AIG is a "reality" show? Then you must not have a TV. Think Simon's tough? Ha! His comments are downright tame compared to Republican Senator Charles Grassley's admonitions. Simon's worst criticism is calling someone a karaoke singer, or suggesting the only place for them is at some karaoke bar, whereas Grassley wants bonus-baby AIG executives to commit a form of Seppuku. Though after listening to some past American Idol contestants (Sanjaya), the judges may have wanted to kill themselves.)

So re last night's American Idol, where the show's producers showed, once again, how out of touch they are with their so-called target demographic (16 - 35-year-old women)...

Grand Ole Opry?! Are you effing kidding me? Hey, I like country music (okay, SOME country music), but when I hear "Grand Ole Opry" I think Minnie Pearl and Buck Owens (even though, as we learned last night, Carrie Underwood is now a member). Couldn't they have at least called it "Hot Country"?

Despite the heinous name, last night's show, while not as funny as Hee Haw (sadly), was almost as entertaining, with a few standout performances.

Last night's winners: Kris Allen, Anoop Desai, and Matt Giraud, who were just all right for me last week, Dawgs, NAILED it this week. They were dope, the bomb, brilliant (to quote Randy and Simon) -- and all three should be safe.

Last night's also rans: Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, and Megan Joy (where did the "Corkrey" go?) all gave solid performances and should move on. Megan was the weakest of the three, but she looked great and considering she had Influenza B (thanks for the heads up, Paula), did an amazing job.

In the "that was just all right for me, Dawg" department: Michael Sarver, Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre, and Alexis Grace. None of these performers sucked, but none of them did themselves any favors last night. And I REALLY like Lil, but she totally chose the wrong song. Ditto Alexis (re song choice). As for Michael and Scott, a good story and being "likeable" (whatever that means) will only get you so far in what is in theory a singing competition, and I have a feeling Michael is going to be gone after tonight, though I wouldn't share a tear if Scott got the ax (though I don't think that's going to happen for a few more weeks).

And in the "WTF?! I though New Wave died, like, 25 years ago" department: Adam Lambert! It was like watching Morrissey (or Jim Morrison on a bad trip, as the spouse commented), though Nine Inch Nails meets Johnny Cash also works. "Self-indulgent rubbish"? Absolutely. But you can't say it was forgettable!

As for that other reality show, known as AIG, and the latest "bonus" round, I am having trouble putting my thoughts and feelings into words that will not cause me to lose my PG-13 rating.

I was more than ready to let AIG fail/go bankrupt months ago (even though it would mean my AIG stock would go to zero, which it pretty much has anyway). And I still don't quite understand the whole "too big to fail" rhetoric. (By that logic, wouldn't it behoove all companies to get too big to fail by any means possible, regardless of the consequences?) But what do I know? I'm not the Treasury Secretary (thank God) or the President (ditto) or an economist. I'm just a lowly taxpayer, who has no or little say in how my tax dollars are being spent.

Getting back to the bonus brouhaha, I am all for people who make their firm money being rewarded, within reason. But getting paid regardless of performance, indeed, for failing? And getting a bonus for not taking another job (i.e., retention bonuses)? What up with that? Btw, in the case of the later, AIG has now proved they don't work.

But what really bugs me is the lack of contrition on the part of these multimillion-dollar-earning executives for the damage and destruction they have caused. I'm not calling on them to commit Seppuku, like Senator Grassley, but a sincere apology -- with an explanation -- would be nice. But we all know that ain't going to happen, because these people believe they deserve every penny. And that's the problem.

Salaries and bonuses -- not just on Wall Street but in sports and Hollywood as well -- have gotten so outrageous, with the top wage earner making 400 times more than the average wage earner at the same company or organization, they are detached from reality. Is anyone really worth $100 million?

I'm not advocating socialism or Communism here, and yes, I understand the basic principles of capitalism and am all for being paid more for doing more, but it galls me, truly galls me, that teachers and cops and firemen, many of whom work 50 or 60 or more hours a week, make so much less than an executive at AIG or a trader at Merrill Lynch or a backup quarterback.

Disagree with me? Go ahead. Jump all over me. I need to get back to work, so I can (hopefully) make a few hundred bucks this week.

UPDATED AT 4:44: So did those AIG execs offer to give back half of their bonuses before or after Congress threatened to impose a hefty tax on their (mostly) ill-gotten gains?

UPDATED AT 7:35 P.M.: Per disgraced former NY Governor turned Slate columnist Elliot Spitzer, "The Real AIG Scandal" isn't the bonuses. "It's that AIG's counterparties [Goldman Sachs, Merrill, Deutsche Bank...] are getting paid back in full." Your tax dollars hard at work.

Btw, I find much of the "moral outrage" somewhat disingenuous. I don't recall hearing much complaining or questioning of methods when the bankers/these businesses were making money. That's because we love easy money -- or the promise or lure of easy money. That's why there are casinos (and part of the reason why you can find me at Mohegan Sun two or three times a year) and Ponzi schemes. If people only wanted to earn money the old-fashioned way, there would be no Mohegan Sun and no Bernie Madoff.

Also, I know plenty of people who work or worked in the financial industry, who worked hard, made their firms money, and deserved to be compensated. This isn't about them.

AMERICAN IDOL UPDATE: So much for saving Grace -- Alexis Grace, that is. I am not totally surprised, but still... I thought it would have been Michael Sarver who would have been voted off American Idol this week, though he was in the bottom two. And I was sure up until the last minute that the judges would save Alexis. Well, until next week, Idol fans, when we have to endure 120 minutes of Motown. (Not that I don't like Motown, but yet again another night of songs written and sung long before any of these contestants were born. Sigh. And I have a strange feeling Danny Gokey is going to sing "Heard it through the grapevine.")

Can men and women be friends?

Or was "Harry" right?

Thoughts? Opinions? Leave me a Comment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Time for shamrock shakes and green carnations

I have never been a fan of St. Patrick's Day, which has precious little to do with honoring St. Patrick, who was actually Welsh, and everything to do with getting royally pissed and being obnoxious, not exactly saintly qualities. However, the "holiday" (for lack of a better term) had two saving graces for me as a kid: Shamrock Shakes from McDonald's and green carnations.

(My memories of Shamrock Shakes involve Uncle O'Grimacey, but the only YouTube clips I could find featuring Grimace's Irish uncle -- saints preserve us -- were pretty grainy.)

As for the green carnations, admit it, you thought they were cool, too.

And they are kinda pretty, in a "ooo look at the pretty green flower," synthetic-y kind of way.

Every year, I would save my $1 allowance until I could buy one or two, and would wear or flaunt my pretty green carnation proudly -- while slurping down my Shamrock Shake. Ah... those were the days.

And then we got old and jaded, and traded green milkshakes for green beer and other forms of green alcohol (Grasshopper anyone?). Btw, for those of you interested in making your own green beer or other green-colored beverage in honor of St. Patrick's Day, check out this how-to article on DiY Life.

I also "discovered" other St. Patrick's Day "traditions," surely not practiced in St. Patrick's time, such as the annual green dyeing of the Chicago River in Chicago.

For some reason, this scene always brings to mind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Btw, for those of you who have always wanted to know how and why the city of Chicago turns the Chicago River green every year for St. Patrick's Day, check out GreenChicagoRiver.com. (FYI, they turned the Chicago River green on Saturday, March 14, this year.)

As for me, I no longer celebrate St. Patty's Day, though will be drinking a toast to me late departed Da, who died suddenly six years ago this St. Patrick's Day and was fondly known as "the Jewish Leprechaun."

Wishing you all a healthy and happy St. Patrick's Day...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Apparently Henrik Stenson has the balls to play golf

The big story out of the Doral Open (aka the CA Championship) this past week was not the return of Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson's masterful play but this guy, Henrik Stenson*, a 32-year-old Swedish golfer who clearly has balls. [SEE BOTTOM -- of post -- FOR THE LATEST ON HENRIK!]

After hitting his ball (the official one) into a bog on the 12th, Stenson, not wishing to take a double bogey or muddy his attire, stripped down to his skivvies to recover his ball -- and game. (Just keep pretending to look at the scorecard, sweetheart.)

"Because of the mud I couldn't really afford to play in any of my clothes as they would have been a real mess down the last six or so holes so I had no option," Stenson explained. Uh huh.

Stenson's final score for the round, a three under 69.

All I can say is J-TWO-O will now be covering (or uncovering) Mr. Stenson a lot more often.

UPDATED 3/15/09 at 11:15 A.M.: Just saw this amusing post titled "Five Golfers We Hope Pull A Henrik Stenson (And Five We Don’t)" and wanted to share. Agree? Disagree? Got some names to add to either list? Let me know via a comment. Btw, I'll be watching the CA Championship (when did it stop being the Doral Open?) this afternoon, and will let you know if I spot any near-naked golfers. (That Nick Watney looks kinda cute... )

UPDATED 3/16/09 at 7:40 A.M.: Apparently, clothing encumbers Mr. Stenson's play as he shot 73, 73, and 83 the remaining rounds of the CA Championship, putting him practically in last place for the tournament (though still first in many female hearts). As expected (?) "Lefty" Phil Mickelson, he of the "man boobs," finished first, though relative newbie Nick Watney put up a strong fight, finishing second. (Tiger finished nine strokes back.) As for me, I hope we will be seeing more of Mr. Stenson in future golf tournaments.

UPDATED 5/11/09: HENRIK STENSON WINS A MAJOR, THE PLAYERS -- FULLY CLOTHED!!! Apparently Henrik Stenson has both the balls and the wood to win a major, as he did, decisively yesterday (Sunday). With a bogey-free round of 6-under 66, putting him four shots ahead of the pack, the fully-clothed Stenson won THE PLAYERS Championship, making him the first Swede to do so. For more about Stenson's win at THE PLAYERS, click here.

*For more pictures of Mr. Stenson in the buff -- I mean rough -- click on the link.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Because who can resist a little pussy?

Super Felix

Flora and friend

And a really funny video on how to care for cats...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bernie Madoff sent to jail; Levi Johnston sent packing; Tiger Woods heaven sent

Big news day, folks! And frankly, I am not sure which of these stories is making the mainstream media (MSM) and blogosphere giddier. Is it:

a) Ponzi scheme millionaire Bernard Madoff pleading guilty and being immediately sent to jail (after telling the judge how sorry and ashamed he was -- no doubt for getting caught)?

b) Bristol Palin (the teenage daughter of Alaska Governor and erstwhile GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin) and fiance Levi Johnston calling it quits?


c) Tiger Woods playing in his first major after nearly a year's absence (thanks to knee surgery)? (Apparently, golf fans everywhere are thrilled Tiger is back, as, no doubt, are the PGA and the networks covering golf, all of which have suffered because of Tiger's absence.)

What's that you say? What about the continuing economic crisis? Or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Or the healthcare crisis? Pshaw! No one wants to hear about those Debbie Downer stories. The public craves vengeance (Madoff), gossip (the Palins -- and how about that Meghan McCain mouthing off about Ann Coulter?! You go girl! Though what's with the motorcycle cap?), and the return of a legend (Tiger!)!

So getting back to the real news of the day, here are my thoughts:

a) Where are Bernie's billions? Apparently the money isn't in his personal bank accounts. So where is it? The guy could not have just blown through $50 billion. Would also still like to see him tarred and feathered.

b) So why did Bristol and Levi split? They say it was mutual, but you don't really believe that, do you? And who's taking care of the kid(s)? And when did "nanny" become a bad word?

c) I don't really have a lot to say about Tiger's return to golf, except YEA! I've always been a big Tiger fan and will probably watch the final rounds of the Doral, but I have no idea how he'll do. Still early days.

Thoughts? Leave me a comment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Time for Anoop to "Beat It" and Jorge to "Say Goodbye." Plus, my "American Idol" predictions

For a show where the judges are constantly nagging the contestants to "be current," American Idol sure does seem hypocritical, picking the most non-current singers to feature in its theme weeks, and this week was no exception. Michael Jackson?! When was the last time Michael Jackson had a Number One song? Hey, I loved Michael Jackson in the 1980s, but most of the current contestants on American Idol weren't even born in 1982, when "Thriller" came out.

VISUAL ASIDE: The spouse was the one who pointed this out to me, but have you noticed that new American Idol judge, Kara DioGuardi, is a dead ringer for Valerie Harper as Rhoda in the early days of the Mary Tyler Moore Show?


Here's how I rate the Top 13:

Lil Rounds: She really knocked me out. LOVE HER. A-

Scott MacIntyre: Eh. It was just okay for me, Dawgs. (Seriously, if this guy wasn't "visually impaired," he would have never gotten this far. He's a good singer but...) B

Danny Gokey: I want to love you... Dan-ny Go-key... A-

Michael Sarver: Oil rig operator with buried talent. Picking the right song. And the kid with the "Vote 4 My Daddy" t-shirt. Priceless. Already forgot what he sang, but I remember he did better than we expected. B+

Jasmine Murray: Looks 10, Song 3. Okay, not that bad. She can sing, and she looked great, but she's just not doing it for me. And bad song choice. Yawn. B

Kris Allen: Again, better than I expected, but totally forgettable. In fact, I already forgot what he sang. B

Alison Iraheta: The girl can sing, and rocked it out, but she leaves me cold. A- (given grudgingly)

Anoop Desai: Song choice, song choice, song choice. Time for Anoop Dawg to "Beat It" back to Chapel Hill. C

Jorge Nunes: Again, BAD SONG CHOICE. Time to say goodbye, Jorge, or as they say in Puerto Rico, adios amigo. C-

Megan Joy Corkrey: She may have rocked her last robin. Time to fly back to Utah. C+

Adam Lambert: Clearly the judges saw and heard something we didn't. If that wasn't a cruise ship performance... Begrudgingly, B+

Matt Giraud: Did NOT like that performance, though I like Matt. B

Alexis Grace: Ouch. Talk about choosing the wrong song. It was like watching Molly Ringwald trying to sing Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog."

Like Simon said, it was very over the top, and not as good as Alexis thought it was. B (and that's being generous)

Btw, the reason the show used "1-866-IDOLS-36" and not "1-866-IDOLS-13" for Alexis, who was the thirteenth singer of the evening, is because it's owned by a phone sex operation. (Don't worry. The link goes to an MSNBC article, not the phone sex operation.) Apparently host Ryan Seacrest discovered this little tidbit Tuesday morning, after dialing the number on his radio show.

So who will be singing for his or her supper elsewhere next week? I'm thinking adios Jorge and buh-bye Desai -- and am looking forward to seeing Kelly Clarkson perform "My Life Would Suck Without You" tonight.

(For the record, I voted for Lil and Danny, both of whom should make it into the Top 5.)


No big surprises last night, except for Kelly Clarkson singing off key (and looking a little more "substantial" than in her video -- I know, "meow"). By rights, Jorge and Anoop should have gone home, or Jorge and Megan, as American Idol is supposedly a singing contest, but Jasmine blew it with her song choice (and it wasn't the first time), and the judges were right not to "save" her.

And yes, that is the new rule mentioned on Tuesday. Up until the Top 5, the judges can save a contestant from elimination once (i.e., if that person gets the fewest votes the following week, he/she is going home), but the decision has to be unanimous. And if someone gets saved (cough, Adam, Danny, Lil, Allison, and Scott), then two people supposedly get eliminated the following week, unless one of them is saved. Got it?

On a somewhat related note, it's "heartleSS," with an s at the end, Kanye, not "heartleh." Or maybe I'm just not dope enough to get how the kids these days are pronouncing it. (And what was the deal with the towel and low-butt jeans and the black leather gloves, Kanye? You planning on working on one of your rides after the show? Doing a little plumbing?)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Forget wind power and solar power. It's time to invest in hamster power.

According to a new report on Discovery.com, scientists at Georgia Tech have figured out a way to harness hamster power. No, not by attaching some sort of apparatus to the hamster wheel. That would be too straightforward.

(Just think of the electricity that little guy could generate!)

But no, what these intrepid researchers did was sew electricity-generating threads one-fiftieth the width of a human hair into a yellow jacket worn by the hamsters as they ran. That's right, folks, they made the hamsters wear jackets. (You can see a picture of the hamster in said jacket by clicking on the link above.)

And the Georgia Tech scientists have only begun to experiment with hamster-jacket technology. Soon we could have hamster-powered vacuum cleaners, hamster-powered computers, and hamster-powered cars. (Oh wait, I think GM already invented that.)

And scientists are not stopping at hamsters. A human-sized jacket, capable of powering an iPod, could be ready in as little as three years.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Happy 50th Birthday, Barbie! You still don't look a day over 20!

I can't believe Barbie is 50! Just goes to show you what a little plastic surgery, a good stylist, and some bronzer can do for you. I swear, Barbie's boobs look just as perky as they did 30 years ago -- and her hair doesn't have a streak of gray in it!

If only those of us who grew up with Barbie had aged as gracefully. (For a fun look back at Barbie over the years, check out this nifty Barbie retrospective on ABCNews.com.)

Though, as I recently found out, some Barbies have not aged quite as gracefully as others...

[H/T to Amy at i could cry but i don't have time.]

And while my daughter has never had any interest in Barbie dolls (she much prefers stuffed animals), I had many, as well as a few Kens. (More about Ken later.)

I loved all my Barbies equally, though had a special place for one in particular, Growing Up Skipper, though it was more of a love-hate relationship, truth be told.

Ah yes, Growing Up Skipper, Barbie's little sister or cousin or neighbor (I was never sure which one it was) who, with a twist of her arm, grows breasts as well as taller. If only it was that easy.

Just thinking about the endless, futile arm circles I did back in the day -- with nothing to show for it (still) -- makes my right arm hurt. Indeed, I became so frustrated I believe I may have ripped Skipper's head off. (Served the little bitch right.)

Still, I'd like to think I ultimately did better than Barbie (despite not having a D-cup) as my Ken is anatomically correct and never flirted with Francie.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Barbie!

UPDATED @ 1:30 P.M. EDT:

For those of you who do not regularly read The Washington Post, check out this very funny Barbie article by Sarah Haskins, which was sent to me by blog reader Powaqqatsi.

Also, friend of the blog Dave S. asked me to post this picture of "Star Trek Barbie and Ken," which I found on Amazon.com and sent to him over the weekend. (We are both BIG Star Trek fans.) I have made it so, Dave.

Friday, March 6, 2009

So how did A-Rod (aka Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez) really injur his hip?

Was it:

a) Too many performance enhancing injections? (Though five doctors swore to the Daily News that that was not the case. Uh huh.)

b) Too many late-night performances with Madonna?

c) Too many years of dancing "the bump" as a kid?

d) He was bitten by a rabid Red Sox fan?

3/8/09 @ 11:20 A.M. ET: THIS JUST IN: Rodriguez is now going to have hip surgery TOMORROW. Per the NYTimes.com report, A-Rod will be having hip surgery in Vail, CO, and will be out a minimum of six weeks. And doctors say he will likely need another surgery after the season. So who will the Yankees get to replace A-Rod's bat? And do you think the doctors will be putting bionics or nanotechnology into A-Rod? Let the rumors start flying!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I used to like American Idol, but now I think it sucks. Plus: Now these guys know how to play piano!

I admit, I love the idea of American Idol, i.e., an on-air talent show for singers. But let's face it, despite what Simon says, American Idol is a popularity contest or really a warped beauty pageant where the talent happens to be singing. And often we don't really get to hear much singing until the show goes live, over a month into the season, which annoys me (though I know there are plenty of folks who take pleasure in watching people humiliate themselves or fail and adore the audition phase).

But this season of American Idol, the eighth, may very well be my last (though I think I swore that in Season 7, too). While I applaud the show for helping to find and launch some great talent -- Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry -- the singers and judges have gotten to be so predictable and boring, I can barely watch.

Sample American Idol judges comments:

Randy Jackson
a) Yo, yo, yo, dawg. That was the bomb!
b) Yo, yo, yo, what's going on, dawg? You know, that was just all right for me.
c) Yo, yo, yo, dawg, you doin' all right tonight? I don't know, man. (Winces.) That was kinda pitchy. Definitely not your best performance.

Paula Abdul
a) Eyes red and teary, unable to speak, then bursts into some emotional rant.
b) I. LOVE. YOU. I love you, I love you, I love you.
c) I love you. You know I do. But I would not have picked that song for you. You have a great voice, a great instrument, but that was not the right song for you. Sorry. But you know I love you.

Simon Cowell
a) Right. If I'm being honest, that was dreadful.
b) Brilliant. Best performance of the evening.
c) I'm not sure what's going on here tonight. That was like karaoke singer meets cruise ship performer. It wasn't awful, but there are millions of bar singers and wedding singers who are doing that night after night. No one's going to remember that performance.

Kara DioGuardi
a) You have a beautiful instrument.
b) A nicer version of whatever Simon said.
c) A harsher version of whatever Randy said.

Seriously, print out my judges comments and next time you watch American Idol see if I am wrong.

As for the format this season, I hope they ditch it and go back to the 12 girls, 12 guys format of last season. The current 36 semi-finalists singing for the 12 finalist spots format has been downright painful.

And speaking of those 12 finalist spots, if blind singer Scott MacIntyre makes it into the finals (and there is an excellent chance he will), it will be further proof that the show is a popularity/emotional sob story contest and not a singing competition. Scott was okay, but nowhere near as good as the judges would have you believe. Trust me, if you didn't watch the performance or know anything about this guy but just listened to the song, you would be scratching your head about how this guy even made it to this point.

Yeah, yeah, I know he has a great story, and can play a mean piano. But is he really as good or as entertaining at the piano as these guys?

(Remember guys: It's not the meat, it's the motion.)

But getting back to Season 8 of American Idol, here's who we're rooting for in our house: Danny Gokey, Alexis Grace, Lil Rounds, Megan Joy Corkrey -- and Kristen McNamara and Felicia Barton, though they don't stand a chance of making it into the finals. (There were other contestants we really liked, too, or did -- Matt Giraud, Jasmine Murray -- but they totally blew it with their lame song choices and performances in the semi-final round.)

Btw, for the inside or early scoop on who won the evening, check out Dailidol.com. The site's predictions are typically accurate.

I am now off to sing in the shower.

UPDATED 3/5/09 at 8:10 a.m.: It is now confirmed: American Idol SUCKS this season, though the J-TWO-O family is pleased with the Wild Card picks, except for Tatiana Nicole Del Toro (Del Terror?), which we all know was purely for entertainment value (though she can, technically, sing). And as much as I hate to admit it, I have been sucked (or suckered) into watching tonight's Wild Card show (the power of children), though I like the Wild Card singers more than many of those who already made it into the Top 12 (yes, I am talking about you, Kris Allen, and you, Scott MacIntyre, though I also think Allison and Jorge don't stand a chance). Feh. Maybe they should call the show American Vile.

UPDATED 3/6/09: And now we have our first Top 13. I actually think some of those Wild Card picks (Jasmine, Matt, Anoop) are better than some of top nine (Kris, Scott). All in all, a pretty good show last night, with only Von Smith really blowing it, thanks to a lame song choice. So, maybe there's hope. Btw, I love the idea of Simon picking the songs one week. Then he only has himself to blame if the choice turns out to have been a bad one.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

More powerful than the Large Hadron Collider, it's Facebook! Plus, a stimulating new migraine cure!

While scientists and journalists have been debating whether the Large Hadron Collider, the gigantic particle accelerator located under the border of France and Switzerland, could create a life-sucking black hole that would slowly pull all of mankind into its maw when it is finally switched on in September (by actor Tom Hanks, no less), they have entirely neglected an existing, much more life-threatening, life-sucking, gigantic instrument of destruction. I am, of course, referring to Facebook.

Don't believe me? Well then, what about the numbers? And we all know numbers don't lie.

Facebook currently has more than 175 million active users (including yours truly), with the over 30 crowd being the fastest growing user group. If Facebook was a country, it would be the sixth most populous, just behind Brazil and ahead of Pakistan. And according to Facebook, its citizens spend more than 3 billion minutes (combined) each day on the site. Three billion minutes, folks, gone. Never to return again. Scary.

And just like the Large Hadron Collider has lured scientists to do unspeakable things in the name of science, Facebook has lured hundreds of thousands of application developers and entrepreneurs to create unspeakable applications and tools for the site. But that's just the tip of the iceberg -- or event horizon of the black hole that is Facebook (to not mix metaphors).

Every day, millions of Facebook users go to the site, ignoring their work, their families, and loved ones to post photographs (more than 850 million photos are uploaded to the site each month), videos (more than 5 million of which are uploaded each month), leave comment-inducing status updates (more than 15 million of them each day), form or join groups, and create fan pages.

Can this be good for productivity? I think not.

Case in point, on Friday I was writing an article, which happens to be about managing social media (i.e., Facebook) in the workplace, when I get a ping from Facebook, from a girl I went to elementary school with, who I haven't heard from in, like, over 30 years, who commented on a picture of me from third grade, which a mutual Facebook friend put up.

So I, of course, had to write her back.

Then I go back to my article and the spouse walks into my office. And, of course, I now have to show him the photo of me (and this girl), which I put on my Facebook profile, again taking time away from working on my article.

The spouse looks at the photo, then looks at the notes on my desk, and he says "Facebook is the reason this country is in a recession." I think that might be a little harsh, but I'm going to put the question up for comment on my Facebook page and see if others think it's true.

In other scientific news... As many of you know, I suffer from migraines. I have tried many cures and methods of prevention over the years, with varying degrees of success, but it never occurred to me that a cost-free cure had been right next to and available to me all the time. I am, of course, referring to sex.

Yes, dear readers, scientists have found that having sex may actually alleviate a headache, especially a migraine. Of course, when I first heard about this new cure, I thought it was simply a male plot, but I have actually experimented with this concept several times now and it does, in fact, work, or at least alleviate the pain temporarily. (For more on this stimulating topic, click on the link, which includes a short video.)

I would write more, but I feel a headache coming on, and I have yet to check Facebook this morning.