Monday, February 13, 2006

Cool Site Recommendation: Television Without Pity


Are you a TV fan? C’mon, it’s okay to admit it, you’re among friends. Guilty pleasure, perhaps?

If so, this is the site for you. I recall the day I stumbled upon it back in 2001, when I was doing a search for sites about Big Brother 2. (I realize by typing that how pathetic it sounds). Once I found it, I was hooked forever, and it is a site I visit daily.

This advertiser supported site boasts some of the coolest forums you will ever see, covering topics on all things TV, with the emphasis on snark. The name is apt, as very few topics are off limits. The boards show a community of members who show an amazing breadth of intelligence, humor, and snarky comments, which provides an addictive time consuming pastime. Be careful, however, if you decide to become a member and join in the fun: the boards have some very strict rules, and failure to adhere to these results in warnings and bans. Trust me, I speak from experience here. Read the FAQ, and when you’re finished, read ‘em again.

What sets it apart form other sites, though, are the Recaps. A number of shows are in rotation for which the staff provide long, detailed, recaps of each episode. While these are extremely useful if you’re trying to catch up on missed viewings, you will love reading them even if you’ve watched. The writers are outstanding, and the recaps are gold. (Personal fave: the amazing Miss Alli). Reading these talented scribes tear down Reality shows is about as much fun as you can imagine, but it’s also insightful to read how shows like 24 or Battlestar Gallactica are dissected.

I suppose the highest praise I can muster is that I’ve actually taken up watching shows based on them being recapped by TWoP. I now would not dream of missing The Amazing Race after reading the boards and recaps. It’s even sweeter when you begin to watch a show, then find out it has joined the rotation on the site.

If you love TV, or if you love yelling at your TV, this is the best place to visit. What are you waiting for?

Hair Apparent

I composed the below piece a few months ago, but never posted it. It was an admittedly vain piece regarding my hair, and some of the subtle changes that were beginning to occur as aging set in. It was intended to be somewhat tongue in cheek, but didn’t really come off as such.

[Trivial Vanity Break]
With apologies and acknowledgement to Dave Barry, who has probably already covered this topic with a lot more wit in the past….

Found my first gray one a few weeks back. Ugh. The only upside is that I haven’t lost any of the hair on my head. This was a trade off I always said I would accept, so I guess I’m okay with it. Heck, I knew guys who started losing their hair in their twenties, so I feel like the follicles are on borrowed time anyway once a guy hits 25. The flip side is that now, not only is hair springing up in previously hairless places (ears, nose), but some existing hair is doing odd things. To wit, I’ve noticed a few rogue hairs in the eyebrows begin to take on lives of their own, and shoot off in wildly different directions. When these few rebels decided to assert their independence, I don’t know. I never received a list of demands, or a deadline, they just took off. Are they to be plucked? Ow, that seems really painful, but if you’ve looked at Andy Rooney lately, you see what happens when the rebellion isn’t crushed early. Think about how pointless your eyebrows are in the first place. What is their purpose? Of course, you would look like a pretty large freak if you shave them off, so I guess they’ll have to stay, even they start wandering. Makes me really appreciate how much crap women do all the time to keep themselves beautiful.

Like most other guys who’ve never had facial hair, I am about to make my annual attempt at the Mid-Life Crisis Beard. It should be noted that every other attempt can be classified as an abject failure, but I am undeterred, or perhaps just delusional. Last years effort was the lengthiest one yet, and despite my wife’s constant admonition that I just looked like I had a dirty face, I pressed on for about three weeks before giving up. (She was sorta right). This attempt will likely result in a similar fate, yet I forge ahead in the futile hope that this time will be different.

[/Trivial vanity break complete]

First things first, the facial hair experiment failed, yet again, and possibly for the final time. Whatever.

I didn’t post this item because after reading it, it sounded like so much self-indulgent bullshit, which was not my aim when setting up this blog. This would be the kind of stuff that nobody would ever care about, other then perhaps to have a quick laugh.

Perspective arrived in the form of a fund raiser being coordinated by some folks in our office. The organization is called St. Baldrick’s, which is a group that raises money for pediatric cancer research. The hook is a simple one: gather people who will solicit donations from friends and co-workers, who sponser a few brave souls who will shave their heads. The literature puts it in plain English – these kids are about as brave as one can be, undergoing painful chemo (which causes their hair to fall out), so the least we can do is undergo some temporary humiliation to help the cause by showing some solidarity. Besides, it’s gonna grow back eventually, right?

I hemmed and hawed a little on this, trying to make sure that if I decided to do this, it would be for the right reasons. Donating a few bucks was one thing, but I began to contemplate becoming a “shavee”. It’s fun to be the center of attention and all, and I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to participate to make myself look good (not in a physical sense, obviously).

Eventually I got around to browsing the St. Baldrick’s web site, and it got me. I contacted the team leader for our company and signed up. Now there is no turning back! My dome will be revealed on March 16th in all its glory. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully will be able to raise a lot of cash for a worthy cause. Those in attendance might want to bring sunglasses to combat the glare from my lilywhite scalp, which hasn’t seen the light of day since I was an infant.

Please check out my site here, and make a donation if you have anything to spare. It is tax deductible, and most appreciated. The "Before" photo is up, and the "after" shot will be posted shortly after the event.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rockin’ To An Early Grave, Baby

God, are we still having this discussion? This has to be a joke, right? This site produces a pretty comprehensive list of anyone who could be associated, however loosely, with Rock & Roll over the past 50 years, and who is now dead. The conclusion? Simple, really: getting involved with The Devil’s Music will lead you to an untimely demise. (Average age of the dead people on the list: 36.9). Honest. They provide scripture quotes and everything. Oh, and in case you forgot, it’s 1958.

Man, where do I begin? First of all, the list conatins such noted Demon Worshippers like John Denver, Karen Carpenter and Jim Croce. Would you even remotely consider any of those three “Rock” artists? No knock on them, but they sang nice songs, none of which would even be thought “dangerous” or “subversive”. Are they listed merely to pad the numbers, thereby making the list look more impressive? Should the really be listed anywhere on the same page as Tupac Shakur?

Second, some of the people (Promoter Bill Graham, for example, who was 60) had a pretty long life. Why didn’t this supposedly vengeful God claim these guys a lot sooner? Sure would’ve saved a few more souls, I imagine.

Finaly, how do these self righteous folks sleep at night? Thousands of “good” people die every single day, some tragically at young ages. How is this explained by these folks? “God called them home early, as He needed them.” So, presumably “good” folks (like 8 year olds with cancer) die before their 30th birthday because they are needed by God, but Jimi Hendrix died because God disapproved of his lifestyle choice? Why did He let some members of Lynrd Skynrd survive the plane crash? Why did he take Ozzy’s guitarist, Randy Rhodes, and not bird biting nutjob Ozzy himself? Why did He let Kurt marry Courtney? I have so many questions!

Most artists are people who tend to live outside the mainstream. Some of the greatest painters the world has ever known would be considered, well, a bit “off”. Van Gogh cut off his freaking ear for God’s sake! There is an obvious correlation between troubled people and good art. After all, since when do really shiny happy people create lasting, memorable art? Musicians are no different, many being troubled souls, which could lead to some pretty bad choices like drug abuse, alcoholism, or associating with some unsavory characters. This makes them human, not damned, and if the art they produce helps one person through a tough time, or just makes someone’s day better, how can that be a bad thing?

The bottom line? Shit happens. People die. Nobody really knows why. The ones who do know are dead, so they can’t enlighten us. Instead of spending time condemning people for choices they made while alive by claiming you know what God wants, why not take the time and money you’re wasting on spreading this garbage and help someone?

I plan on corresponding with these people, and will publish any responses I get. Should be fun!


NFL Picks - Super Bowl XL Edition

Many were surprised to find Pittsburgh listed as the favorite, as they were the lowest seeded team in the AFC. Not me. The balance of power has been tilted toward the AFC for several years now, and it would be fair to say if the Steelers were in the NFC North, they would walk away with the division title. If this were Indy or Denver representing the AFC, the line would be way higher than 3 ½, trust me.

Seattle is a bit of an unknown entity. Yes, MVP Shaun Alexander had a record setting season, and Matt Hasselbeck is among the top quarterbacks in the NFC, but other than those two, the average fan would be hard pressed to name more than five starters. Having exorcised their post season demons by winning their first playoff game in 21 years, the Hawks come in, presumably very loose. They’re underdogs, despite being the top seed in the NFC, and most people are picking Pittsburgh on Sunday. Still….I’m getting a “just happy to be here” vibe about them, and that doesn’t bode well. Couple that with the Steelers just seeming to have everything falling into place for once, and I’m taking Cowher’s Crew on Sunday.

Consider what has happened for the Steelers on the road to the Bowl:
Kansas City, which had the tiebreaker advantage over them, somehow forgets how to tackle Tiki Barber on a Saturday game in New York, and finished 10-6, one game behind. During the last six weeks, the Chiefs managed to beat New England, Denver, San Diego and Cincinnati, yet still come up a game short, opening the door for the Steelers. (Can you tell I’m a Chiefs fan?)

Carson Palmer is taken off the field after one throw, a 60 yard completion. The Steelers harass the heck out of John Kitna to advance past Cinicinnati.

Peyton Manning remembered his post season record, and is still seeing Troy Palamolu in his sleep. They then overcome the ridiculous call on the Palamolu interception AND the Bettis goal line fumble and win in Indianapolis. (Nice kick, Idiot).

Jake Plummer reverts to his old self, Champ Bailey drops a pick with nothing but open space between him and the end zone, and Denver is handed its first home loss of the season.

If those facts don’t add up to a team on a roll, I don’t know what does.

Will it be close? Perhaps, but I can see Seattle tightening up and committing either a big special teams mistake, or a critical turnover that leads to big things for Pittsburgh. Defensive guru Dick LeBeau should have something new in his bag of tricks to slow down Alexander and force Hasselbeck out of his rhythm. Offensive coordinator Ken Wisenhunt is also good for throwing in a gadget play (probably one that he’s been sitting on all season) at just the right time. Ben Rothliesberger has been on a remarkable roll, and I think the running game, which has been somewhat sub-par in the playoffs, will be able to move the ball and grind some clock, and The Bus will ride off into retirement with the Lombardi trophy held high.

The pick: Pittsburgh 31 Seattle 20

Last week: 1-1
Overall: 5-5