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July 2004 Archives

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July 31

Went with a new look. Miranda hadn't seen her Daddy this way since she was born. Whitlock thinks I look more like my father now. Bought new workout shoes.

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather". Five gangsters are killed in a barber shop that serves as a front for a number racket. The boss who was targeted requests Monk help via his nephew Fat Tony. Adrian doesn't want to take the job but Sharona insists because they need the money.

Fat Tony, a younger man who has recently lost a lot of weight, charms Sharona. She and Monk visit the only witness, an San Francisco mint employee. He implicates the Tong, who later tell Adrian and Sharona they had no involvement in the barbershop hit. While the two are in Chinatown, they experience a firebombing.

The Italian boss says the molotov cocktail came from some kids trying to impress him. FBI agent Colmes convinces Adrian to work undercover and to wear a wire to get bag the leader, promising to speak on behalf of his reinstatement. Monk returns to the scene of the crime. The killers broke the back window with a gumball machine to escape and took the machine with them. The killer was the mint employee use walked off with five valuable misprinted pennies. He spent them in the gumball machine for safekeeping until he lost the mint officers tailing him. When he came back to steal the gumball machine, he was stopped by the mobster in the barber chair, grabbed his gun, then proceeded to kill everyone. The mint employee confesses, but Colmes refuses to testify for Monk since he couldn't give up the mob boss.

Meanwhile, Fat Tony tells Sharona he intends to finish his MBA and start a bookstore. This was all ruse. I have a hard time someone inexperienced with guns could kill five, mostly armed, variously skilled mobsters, without getting at least wounded himself.

July 30

It's very difficult to take a parent's word for a child's performance but WOW! Miranda has been at the BlackRock Arts Center for an art, dance, drama and music camp for the past two weeks. Today was the end-of-camp performance, a play in four parts based on fables. The teachers did a totally amazing job in drama and choreography to get the kind of performances they got from the kids in just two weeks. They didn't just remember their lines and moves, the kids acted with their faces and body postures as well. If there was actually another performance, I'd be screaming for you to go out and see it. My guess is that there will probably be two more camps before the end of the summer and performances on August 13 and 27.

Miranda's fable was the widow and the donkey. This is where the widow is going to town with her two daughters to sell their old donkey. Along the way, they argue about whether any of them can ride the donkey or whether the people should carry a donkey. Miranda was a gypsy, which was about half the cast. They did a gypsy dance with all the gypsies banging tambourines. At one point a lawyer and a judge arrive on the scene, threatening jail, which turned into a "Jailhouse Rock" number. At one point everybody was free to dance anyway they like. Miranda did her version of breakdancing which mostly consisted of wiping the stage with her butt.

July 29

The Athletic Reporter has Ken Jennings joining the Evil Empire.

July 28

So Miranda is watching The Amanda Show. In this particular sketch, Amanda plays a middle-school babysitter who, when the parents have gone, acts very much like a small child. Her two charges are named Justin and Kelly.

This is just coincidence since it preceded American Idol. Are there twin boys out there named Ruben and Clay or twin girls named Fantasia and Diana? Maybe three puppies should be named Barker, Berger and Kidder.

July 27

Buzz Kill: How I defeated the seemingly unbeatable Ken Jennings. James Quintong on the circuit. And via James, here's The question: Is he ever going to lose? from Jon Couture. I also tell people I think I can beat Ken Jennings and they just laugh. The circuit is like Jeff Gordon, Dale Junior and Mark Martin racing for fun on some dirt tracks and nobody knows about it. At least three former Who Wants to Be a Millionaire players have appeared on Silver Screen Test, including million-dollar winner David Goodman. This doesn't include those who have appeared on Jeopardy! and The Weakest Link.

Of Shaved Ice, Barking Dogs and Baseball. Marc Fisher reports:

No such luck when it comes to Peter Angelos, the man who stands between Washington and Major League Baseball. In his pathetic quest to stop baseball from moving the Montreal Expos to the District or Loudoun County, Angelos went on Baltimore radio station WBAL-AM and pronounced that "there are no real baseball fans in D.C."

If that's the case, then we're good to go. The Orioles owner can't claim damage to his business if a place that has no potential customers is removed from his customer base.

Or like the man who moved the Senators to Minnesota, is "real baseball" a codeword for "white"?

Angelos Hitting Below the Beltway. Tom Friend is a little harsh on the Baltimore fans of today. I certainly have more faith than Angelos that they will continue to support the Orioles. I'm sure most Baltimore fans would happy to get rid of the Washington fans who come to root for the Yankees and Red Sox.

Watched the Cold Case episode "Gleen". In 1983, a five-year-old girl is witness to her mother's death by bomb. Today the girl's father is about to take on his fourth bride and the caring future stepmother brings her into Rush. The victim was scheduled to testify against a flasher who had threatened her and now he's getting out on parole.

The husband and father is a fireman who has always been controlling toward his wives and obsessed with the wedding ring. Searching the grounds twenty years later amazingly turns up a box of Gleen, the laundry detergent, as the bomb container, which points towards someone close and away from the flasher. I was convinced the killer was a fire investigator who had fallen for the victim. I theorized he intended to kill the husband and the wife died by mistake. A bomb seemed too impersonal a weapon for the husband.

It turned out to be the husband after all, making a phone call with those portable units telephone repair man have, to lure his wife out to where the bomb was. The flasher is released, but the girl continues to obsess on him.

I was particularly aware of the anachronistic Total Eclipse of the Heart, which was a big hit in the latter half of the year, not May when the murder takes place. The original house has remained abandoned for twenty years, which enables the forensic investigators to find the pieces of the detergent box. Unless the entire neighborhood consists only of crack houses, I find it hard to believe a property in Philadelphia would remain undisturbed that long. Someone would have torn it down long ago for a McMansion. This was the second episode of the series and the performances seemed rough with obvious exposition.

July 26

Jorja Fox and George Eads return. TV Guide got this one right.

July 25

Planted both nandina and harbour dwarf nandina in the well.

July 24

Watched the Fairly Oddparents "Channel Chasers" movie. Timmy escapes into television shows and along the way he has to stop Vicki from taking over the world. They land in Scooby Doo and the dog is actually Snoop Dogg. In the "Walnuts" Hannukkah special, Timmy is called Chuckie Black. In The Simpson parody, Timmy writes a hundred times on the blackboard,"This is the sincerest form of flattery."

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk Gets Fired". A beautiful woman with a foreign accent is hacked up in a garage by her lover. We learn she is a Lithuanian who was cleaning house for her lover's ex-wife. The motive is never explained.

Monk accidentally deletes several years of coroner files while cleaning off the keyboard, which gets him fired by the police commissioner played by Willy the Snitch from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While unemployed, Monk hangs around the hospital where Sharona now works. He gets an interview as a fact checker for a magazine and is offered the job.

Although there is much circumstantial evidence, there is nothing to link the torso found to any DNA connected with the missing woman and to the suspect. It turns out she gave her hair to a wig maker who made the Commissioner's toupee.

Glenne Headly returns to make documentary of the police department.

July 23

Normally a contest to win a date with Trista and Ryan Sutter from The Bachelorette would not spark my interest. Until you look at the sponsor.

Watched the Tru Calling episode "Death Becomes Her". When this episode was originally broadcast, Fox decided to put in a half-hour American Idol special that pushed the start of Tru Calling, which means that I didn't tape the entire episode.

An actress named Carly Anders takes a tour of the morgue as research for her next role. She turns up dead in the water after making a 911 call that someone was chasing her. In the rewind, Tru finds a reporter who has been blackmailing Carly for several years. Her secret was that her sister was really her daughter, born when she was 16. Tru figures out that Carly is merely faking her death in order to start a new life with the child, but saves her from the SUV that ran her over the first time around. Tru and Davis allow the faked death to happen. In the B-plot, Jack convinces Harrison to act like a jerk that results in a breakup with Lindsey.

I don't think a mere teen pregnancy would destroy someone's career. I also don't know why should she fake her death, rather than just quit the business.

Leesburg Honda Toyota Hot Button Poll Results. What is the Greatest Championship Streak? 6-Lance Armstrong ('99-'04) 35.2% 35-Ken Jennings on Jeopardy 29.6% 7-UCLA Basketball ('67-'73) 14.8% 8-Celtics ('59-'66) 13% 5-Yankees ('49-'53) 5.6% 5-Canadiens ('56-'60) 1.9%
Ken Jennings is a choice on Comcast Sportsnet's Hot Button Poll.
July 22

Ken Jennings is now mentioned with Lance Armstrong and John Wooden's UCLA Bruins. See left.

Also from the same web page, Comcast has trouble telling Joe Gibbs and David Newhan apart.
Comcast Sportnet Mid-Atlantic web page. Picture shows Joe Gibbs behind 3 Super Bowl trophies. Caption reads DAVID NEWHAN SLIDES ACROSS HOME PLATE ON AN INSIDE THE PARK HOME RUN IN THE SEVENTH INNING.

July 21

While waiting for my blood to be drawn, I read the novelette "The Chop Line" by Stephen Baxter. Baxter likes to recycle characters and situations. In this story, the narrator is an ensign when a starship appears, heavily damaged from a battle with the alien Xeelee. She and a male crewmember friend are ordered to meet the crippled ship's captain who turns out to be the ensign from twenty-four years in the future.

The main point is that the captain disobeyed orders by failing to break off from the engagement with the Xeelee and sending her son on a kamikaze mission. While the messianic overtones are strong enough, the son was her child with the aforementioned male crew member. The science is a lot of hand waving, but suffice it to say the powers of Earth are trying to manipulate the laws of probability to eventually result in human victory over the Xeelee. To this end, the military discharges the captain, permanently sabotages the ensign's career and separates her from the father of her child. There was a matter-of-fact attitude to the characters that made the situation somehow believable. I love the exchange between the younger and older selves that ends the story.

"Do we have free will?"

"Oh, no, ensign. Not us. We have duty."

This also suggests a ridiculous sitcom of a young character and that same person 20-30 years in the future with the following tagline:

He's a rookie cop. He's the same guy from 25 years in the future. They fight crime!

Wouldn't you more easily take advice from your older self than your parents?

From The Corner via The Sideshow.

My wife & I were at the Linda Ronstadt performance in question, at the Aladdin in Las Vegas, and quite frankly, Aladdin President Bill Timmins' account of what happened is complete crap. There was mixed booing and cheering at Ronstadt's pro-Michael Moore comment, and that was about the extent of the "bedlam" that supposedly broke out. I saw no posters being torn down or cocktails being thrown in the air, and if people stomped out of the theatre unhappy, it was because 1) that was the last song Ronstadt performed; it was her encore; and 2) she mainly sang her standards repertoire, with the Nelson Riddle orchestrations, and a large part of the crowd wanted to hear more of her rock-'n'-roll stuff; she got the biggest round of applause for doing a lackadaisical run-through of her version of "Blue Bayou."

Frankly, my suspicion is that Timmins is way overdramatizing what happened, in order to justify giving Ronstadt the boot. It simply wasn't that big a deal.

July 20

More on the Ken Jennings watch from Craig Barker. This time Brad Rutter speaks. The Spoof claims Jeopardy Staffer Leak: Ken Jennings Streak Ends at 38.

In other television news, George Eads and Jorja Fox are still fired. TV Guide thinks there will be a reconciliation. Right now, only the most intense fans really care. Eads and Fox made around $2.2 million, which is about what an average regular major league shortstop makes and I think they mean less to the show than most starting shortstops mean to their team. I always wonder why we rarely hear complaints about the salaries of entertainers.

July 19

From Gene Weingarten's chat:

Washington, D.C.: Gene, does an aptonym have to be a person's name? If not, I think this could work:

Bethesda (AP) - A suspicious fire destroyed a vacant house in Bethesda early Saturday morning, amid claims by the home's owner that firefighters didn't do all they could to save the property.

The home in the 9100 block of Charred Oak Drive burned to the ground just after midnight.

At least eight other fires have occurred there in the last two years. Neighbors said the home had been an eyesore.

Gene Weingarten: HAHAHAHAHAHA. Superior!

This Used To Be An Airfield:

This parking lot was once a runway.
July 18

This Used To Be An Airfield, Part Three.
Turbo-Porter Field. In the 1960s, Fairchild built the Pilatus Turbo Porter and sometimes flew them from this runway. Whitlock remembers seeing the planes as her family drove along Interstate 270. The facility stopped being used as a runway sometime in the 1980s. The former Fairchild buildings are now owned by an office building company and the runway is a parking lot.

I filled in bare spots in the lawn with discarded sod. I dug up some dead bushes and replaced them with purple splendor azaleas. I also put down weed blocker and mulch.

Watched the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Blackout". Monk is with Sharona and Benjy when a blackout hits. Someone planted a bomb at the power plant and an inside job is suggested. Suspicion falls on an anti-miltary radical who died in 1995, but may have faked his own death. He kills his old friend, a tree-sitter played by Judge Reinhold, and creates another blackout before being caught in Monk's apartment.

The reason for his crimes is that he was accidentally filmed at a Willie Nelson concert. He's trying to prevent it being shown and exposing him. I don't know why he didn't just go into hiding again or just steal the tape.

The sub-plot involved the power company's PR woman who falls for Monk. They arrange a date at a restaurant on the 52nd floor. Monk insists on walking up. The stair scenes were filmed in a much lower building because the railing were so ornate. Stairs in high-rises tend to be bland and utilitarian.

July 17

Cleaned up after the meeting, then went grocery shopping. We went to visit some people you're not supposed to know about.

This Used To Be An Airfield:

Natural gas storage facility on the former Gude Airport.
Four girls in cat costumes.
Haunted House.

Ice Skater.

Irish dancing.

Jazz dancing.
July 16

This Used To Be An Airfield, Part Two.
Gude Airport. Opened at about the time Congressional Airport closed, it wasn't too far from the Gude Nurseries or the still-extant Gude Drive. Gude Airport closed sometime in the mid 1970s, although I don't have much memory of it. Today a natural gas storage facility is on that site. Judging from the aerial photos, the location is large enough to hold a baseball stadium.

Miranda had a recital for her two week drama and dance camp at Metropolitan Ballet Theatre. It began with two plays, written and performed by half the class. The first play was "The Funky Nutcracker" where a different version of the Tchaikovsky became the premise for brief individual dances. One girl called herself "Peace Out," in the requisite bell bottoms, peace sign pendant and granny sunglasses. However, the music she used was the disco era Le Freak, which makes as much as sense as wearing Jennifer Beals' leg warmers and torn off-the-shoulder shirt for Toxic. I'll cut the ten-year-old some slack. Miranda's play was "The Haunted House" where she played one of four cats that trash the house of two witches.

The next segment consisted of one-minute dances by each of the girls. Miranda wrote out this particular page of the program. Her dance was called "Ice Skater," done to a Mozart piano concerto. They finished off with an Irish dance and a jazz dance to a disco version of If You Could Read My Mind. Afterwards, I submitted two episodes of Silver Screen Test.

We hosted the Knossos meeting. The book was Timeline by Michael Crichton. World-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster picked the book and promised to put a paper bag over his head if it was really bad.

Like Jurassic Park, a corporation, specializing in physics instead of genetics, headed by a megalomaniac, who is young instead of old, is using time travel, rather than cloning, as the basis for a theme park. Unfortunately, something goes wrong and academics are sent back in time to fight knights rather than dinosaurs.

The scientific basis is pretty much a lot of hand-waving so Crichton wastes our time with an explanation of quantum mechanics. At one point, the time travelers need to be stranded in the 14th century by a malfunction in the time travel equipment. However, Crichton achieves this by the rather ludicrous means of a security officer accidentally setting off a hand grenade. While in Jurassic Park, the megalomaniacal Hammond was appropriately dispatched by a pack of procompsognathi, we are to believe that the ruthless and megalomaniacal Doniger could be tricked into traveling to the 14th century alone and contracting Bubonic Plague.

Near the end of the novel, Doniger is explaining the rationale for the theme park - that people want authenticity, not a sanitized corporate version. I can tell you from a week in Central Florida, the great mass of people crave artificiality and the authenticity of historical worlds that never really existed.

For some, this book might be their idea of fun, but for me, I've had fun and this wasn't it. The characters were cardboard and the plot predictable. There were many action scenes that probably sounded better if put in a movie. I haven't seen the movie version of Timeline yet. They come off like Indiana Jones or James Bond - you know they're going to get out of these sticky situations - just not how and you want to see how they pull it off. But reading such scenes for me is just plain boring. For mindless fiction, I'd prefer something humorous, or a franchise novel where the character background has been firmly established.

Martin thought the book wasn't bad enough to put a paper bag over his head, although the plurality of those attending thought he should do so anyway on general principal. He was among the half of those who read the book and liked it.

I started the meeting by playing poetry readings by Walt Whitman and Marge Piercy. Later I showed the current cablecast of Silver Screen Test at 10:30 pm.

This Used To Be An Airfield:
Low-rise condos under construction
Congressional Village
Shopping center
Congressional Plaza
July 15

Inspired by Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields, I give you This Used To Be An Airfield, Part One. Today, Congressional Airport. Opened by the Congressional School of Aeronautics in 1929, it featured aerobatic demonstrations. Sometime in the late 1950s, it was closed to make way for Congressional Shopping Plaza. A hangar-like structure was used for a roller rink and became the last remaining remnant of the airport when it served a furniture store.

There used to be a J.C. Penneys on the site and local gamers knew it for Dream Wizards. Today I go there for Tower Records and the Container Store. Congressional Village Condominiums are going up where Dream Wizards used to be.

Mormon Church Investigates Ken Jennings in The Spoof. Dana Stevens is looking for suggestions on a Jeopardy! Drinking Game

July 14

Doug Hill was at the baptism of my nephew and godson Ian. Okay, he was there to be godfather to some other kid. Now he turns up in a wedding at Bears Will Attack.

The best moment, in terms of narrative significance, was when Washington-area TV weatherman Doug Hill, fairly hammered, got the entire wedding bus to be very quiet, and then sang us a song in French.

July 13

Jeopardy!'s Babe Ruth. So Ken Jennings is characterized in the CBS News headline I got from Craig Barker. Actually, it's not CBS News calling him that, but the previous record holder of seven consecutive days - Tom Walsh.

Maybe he's the Babe or maybe - to take the religious analogy a little too far - Ken Jennings is Dale Murphy. Not that there's any shame in comparisons to a two-time MVP. It's just that the competition is not necessarily structured to find the best opponents for him. It's like pitting Tiger Woods time after time against adversaries that range arbitrarily from public links champions to Ernie Els. There are at least a dozen names behind the blogs in the right-hand margin that could give him a knock-down drag-out fight, not to mention other people with better things to do than blog. Some of them are ineligible because they've been on the show before or know Ken personally.

This is not to denigrate Ken's performance. I'm not sure I could maintain the intensity, game after game. While I think I could beat Ken, I don't think I could match his streak. After cruising past overmatched opponents, I could imagine myself being blindsided early by a player who grabbed Daily Doubles before I had a chance to catch up and figure out what hit me.

Skip Sauer, the Sports Economist says:

The interest in watching "Ken the Merciless" on Jeopardy! has a parallel in sports competition. In the old days of barnstorming in baseball, fans bought tickets in droves to see the Cincinnati Reds. They were unbeatable. But once other teams became competitive, it took structured competition in the form of a league to sustain interest.

So perhaps this is our hope. Ken's success invites structured competition. We could be the structured competition. We could quit our day jobs and join the professional quiz circuit. After all, Poker and Dodgeball are now on television. Stranger things have happened.

And even if it's not The Onion, The Spoof has some choice bits from an "anti-game show activist".

"Though it's not well known, game shows are the number three cause of Alzheimer's in females; behind soap operas and bearing more than one delinquent child..."

Long has at least forty notebooks full of single spaced scribblings detailing her suspicions about Jeopardy and it's reigning wunderkind.

Detail of Texas senatorial districts highlighting the 14th district represented by Gonzalo Barrientos
State senatorial district around Austin, Texas.
July 12

From Kevin Drum on the cross in the LA County seal:

Now, as it happens, I think the ACLU has better things to do and should let stuff like this go. At the same time, though, I also get a little tired of revisionist "history"...

Rather, just like "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Confederate battle flag motif used in Southern state flags, it was a belated addition of the Eisenhower era. Both the cross and "under God" were added as part of a wave of religious iconography that swept the nation in the 1950s in response to fears of "godless communism," while the Confederate flag was added to demonstrate contempt for the growing civil rights movement Ś and to rally local support for continued enforcement of Jim Crow laws.

That's the historical backdrop for LA County's cross, not some mystical attachment to religion's place in urban history or even a celebration of the Catholic church missionaries who founded El Pueblo de Nuestra Se˝ora la Reina de los Angeles de Porci˙ncula in 1781.

Like I said, I think the ACLU is wasting its time with stuff like this, but I'm also tired of hearing patently absurd implications that these icons have been around practically since our country was founded and therefore form a core part of our historical tradition. The fact is that they were added 50 years ago for specific reasons, and they're no more a "tradition" than the stucco house in Garden Grove that I grew up in.

POSTSCRIPT: By the way, this is also what distinguishes these things from equally religious symbols like "In God We Trust" on our coins or the name of Los Angeles itself. Those things really are rooted in longstanding historical tradition and deserve their place as genuine reminders of our heritage. Johnny-come-latelies from the 50s just aren't in the same league.

July 11

Went to Home Depot to get some materials related to landscaping.

Beltran back on All-Star team -- on NL side. Justice is done.

Went to see the Germantown Black Rox play the Maryland Redbirds at Ridge Road, which is ridiculously close to my house. It literally takes 5 minutes to get there. The Black Rox used to play in the Clark Griffith League but now play in the Eddie Brooks League. The team consists mostly of Montgomery College-Rockville players and the league plays with wooden bats.

I arrived for the last two innings of the resumption of a game that ended in a 6-3 win for the Black Rox, capped off by a bases-clearing double. The Redbirds dressed in medium blue shirts with various cardinal images all over, but only one I could readily identify with the St. Louis baseball team - a coach wore a hat with a single cardinal on a bat. Their batting helmet had the cardinal logo from the Arizona football helmet. Their shirts replaced the "D" in Maryland with a cardinal that was shaped nothing like a D. The Black Rox could have been playing Marylan.

The maximum attendance was probably twenty. Unlike last year's Clark Griffith model, there was no public address system, so you had to keep score yourself or ask someone. In that eerie silence, you could hear every conversation. One Redbirds coach brought up Mickey Rivers, which drew a blank from the Black Rox headman. The Germantown manager was definitely under 40 and could have been under 30. One pitcher recovering from hand surgery suffered his injury punching his brother in the head in a fight over pizza.

The quality was pretty low. There were plenty of errors and runs walked in. The pitchers didn't have enough velocity to result in balls fouled straight back. I still haven't seen a home run. Despite all that, I can't get over being only five minutes from a ballgame. The kids in attendance loved running after foul balls. I could hear the arguments with the umpires and the disciplining of players.

I left in the seventh inning of the second game when I heard thunder. I didn't want to be sitting on metal bleachers behind a metal backstop. No further scoring resulted after I left and the Black Rox won the nightcap 7-4.

July 10

From Fark via The Sports Economist.

Good news: Saddam could face the death penalty.

Bad news: David Beckham will probably take it.

Mary Icon...

Separated at birth? Tommy Pickles from Rugrats and Gollum from The Lord of the Rings.

Finally watched The Return of the King. I didn't care for the battle scenes because they were overdone. At some point, I got numb and desensitized, except for the attack of the ghost warriors. Of the three films, I think I prefer The Fellowship of the Ring for its intimate character development and The Two Towers least, because of it was mostly the Battle of Helm's Deep although I liked the natural/technological dichotomy in Battle of Isengard. Certainly Sean Astin should have received an Oscar nomination as his character remains pure and uncorrupted.

Eowyn eventually finding love with Faramir was largely glossed over. I would have cut the battles down some and eliminated dialogue in the coronation, except for honoring the hobbits. Aragorn's reunion with Arwen could have been clipped onto the awakening of Frodo. That might have given room for Eowyn and Faramir.

While talking with producer Catherine Hand, interviewer Frank Garcia noted:

...a feature would have emphasized strong special effects and adventure over television's natural inclination toward intimate characterization, a smaller budget and a longer running time.

If we take these assumptions about the essential difference between television and film as true, would the rise of inexpensive large screen televisions lead to the tube becoming more like the movies - with more special effects and mindless adventure? Would there be even fewer shows with wit and intelligence, after all who needs to see Jerry Seinfeld being funny in HD?

The Lord of the Rings takes full advantage of its medium, to me, in the spectacular helicopter scenes of New Zealand. For others, it may be the battle scenes. However, I think the experience would be lost if cut into a television mini-series. Readers who have undertaken the trilogy marathon themselves may have their own opinions. Similarly, the Dune mini-series both took full advantage of television with their more intimate presentations.

If I were to remake Casablanca today, I wouldn't change much except to perk up the chase scenes with new technology. Otherwise I would leave the dialogue alone and look for luminescent actors to fill up the screen.

July 9

Bud Selig's Home Runs. Padres owner John Moores defends Bud Selig the way a golddigger defends her sugardaddy.

But after a decade of participating in the councils of Major League Baseball, I can come to only one conclusion: In the executive category, Selig belongs in the Hall of Fame.

I'm sure anyone who survived ten years in the inner circle of Saddam Hussein would have said nice things about the Iraqi leader as well while he was in power.

He has made heroic efforts to bring fiscal sanity, competitive balance, and growing national and international popularity to baseball.

As well as cancelling a World Series, trying to totally realign the leagues geographically, threatening to contract two teams, presiding over a tie at the All-Star Game in his home ballpark and deciding Spider-Man logos on the bases was a good idea.

...paving the way for new ballparks in 15 cities since 1992.

In the same period of time the NFL has also added 15 new stadiums. This only proves Bud is as equally adept as Paul Tagliabue in blackmailing municipalities and state legislatures.

They [the Blue Ribbon Panel] produced a report that analyzed the game's dysfunctional economic structure, particularly as it relates to competitive balance. That was an issue players and owners agreed was vital to the game's future.

Players are not interested in competitive balance. They just want to be paid more.

...and he has an impressive blueprint for the future.

Which is what? Realigning the leagues geographically, contracting teams and putting advertisements on the bases?

Bud also continues to demean his own product, saying the players are overpaid and actively discourages attendance in small markets by advocating the viewpoint that they have no chance of winning right at Opening Day. He frequently acts in the Brewers interest alone, such as trying to contract the Twins, whose territory would naturally default to Milwaukee. Tagliabue, David Stern or Gary Bettman would not have let the Montreal problem fester this long.

By trying to placate Peter Angelos, Bud is sacrificing the greater good of the industry, i.e., the new market and revenue coming from Washington vis-a-vis Montreal, which is certainly not in the best interests of the game. Angelos has not been cultivating the Washington market in ways such as subsidizing the trains that no longer run from the Washington area to Camden Yards. For Havana Pete to get indemnity for a Washington team would be like a landholder who owns a junkyard, then wants to get paid for lost revenue as if he'd built a shopping center there. Of course, that analogy assumes he actually owns the Washington market when MLB would tell you MLB owns the Washington market.

I don't fault Bud for his monopolistic practices anymore than I fault a shark for attacking an injured seal. The politicians allow this state of affairs to continue and, as long as they get away with it, will continue to saddle taxpayers with the bill.

July 8

The air conditioning and elevators are working again, thank you.

A song that doesn't sound dirty in German.

Japanese Owners Discuss Merging Leagues. How do you say contraction in Japanese?

July 7

There are only three baseball rivalries: Yankees-Red Sox, Dodgers-Giants and Cardinals-Cubs. There is no real fourth. Even a Senators-Orioles rivalry next year could be called a fourth.

Late yesterday, the air conditioning went quiet at work just before I left. Now I could turn off my space heater. When I headed for home, the elevators weren't working so I took the stairs down.

This morning, the elevators still weren't working so I walked up to the 9th floor. The air conditioning still wasn't fixed so it was quite stuffy in here. I don't think it got over 80°. I'm glad I'm not a smoker who had to weigh feeding the habit and the nine flight climb.

July 6

Through Craig Barker I've been informed that Thomas Jefferson believes they have been misrepresented by the Post article. While I withdraw my characterization of TJ, there's an amen chorus on that thread that's happy with what turned out in print.

Some articles on Expos relocation. First the three-part series from the Washington Post. Part One, Part Two and Part Three. And a commentary from the San Francisco Chronicle.

July 5

From Daniel Gross, The Capitalism of Soccer: Why Europe's favorite sport is more American than baseball.

To different degrees, Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the NBA are examples of European-style socialism among billionaires and Fortune 500 companies. They share revenues, tightly regulate admission to the cartel, and bargain collectively with powerful European-style unions, which act as barriers against reform. Losers not only can prosper, but they get first dibs on next year's crop of talent...

In other words, the European system rewards ambition and ruthlessly punishes sloth and incompetence.

There's finally a page dedicated to world-famous media fan Martin Morse Wooster at Disinfopedia. Thanks to Wendell Wagner for the link.

July 4

Went to Stadler Nursery and got some advice on what to do with that narrow area between the stairs and the house. George the plant expert thought for at least a minute. He eventually came up with Nandina domestica AKA Heavenly Bamboo. When I looked back at the well, there was a new hole, probably a sinkhole there. I imagine I could put two nandinas in there to replace the two bushes that lost it.

Miranda is staying with her Grandma tonight who will take her to the fireworks displays.

Whitlock and I watched Big Bucks: The Press Your Luck Scandal about the Michael Larson, the unemployed ice cream man who won $110,237 on Press Your Luck by figuring out the board, which hadn't been sufficiently randomized. We watched the first round of the actual show, but fast forwarded in the later segments.

We learn his trick that two squares never have a Whammy. As I fast forwarded, I could see the monotony as he always stopped on the same two squares. It was very entertaining.

Went on to the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Panic Room". The record producer Ian Blackburn is at home and he's talking to his wife, the pop singer Chloe, played by Carmen Electra. After he hangs up, the security alarm is set off and he takes Darwin, a chimpanzee, into the panic room. When the police arrive, the get no response from the panic room. When they break into the panic room, they find Blackburn dead from gunshot wounds with the chimpanzee holding the gun.

The record producer took four slugs, one to to the head, one to the chest and two to the back. I don't believe any reputable police department could believe a monkey capable of firing four accurate, lethal shots. When Sharona discovers Darwin will be euthanized, she rescues him and stows him in Monk's artment. There's a funny scene of Monk attempting to deal calmly with a chimpanzee trashing his home.

Very early, we find Darwin reacting adversely to a bald animal control officer. Obviously we think it's him. However, the chimpanzee is not a totally reliable witness as he does that to all bald men. The culprit was the designer of the security system. Chloe's lover, he snuck into the panic room by a hidden entrance, set off the test alarm, then shot Blackburn, framing Darwin.

Whitlock and I tried out Dance Dance Revolution for the first time. She's feeling hooked on it. At the least, there was a lot of sweating.

Ice rink and stop sign in Fredericksburg, Virginia
Even the stop sign is in art deco font. Isn't that just so fricking cute?
Flyer for Ashland, Virginia with two boys in St. Louis Cardinals uniforms
What's with the Cardinals uniforms in Virginia?
July 3

Went to Fredericksburg, Virginia to go shopping for bedroom furniture for Miranda. There was one section done up like a silly art deco theme park.

I picked up a flyer for Ashland, Virginia because we liked the quaint homes we saw while passing through. The promotional material barely mentioned them.. The cover had two boys in St. Louis Cardinals uniforms that were signifying the strawberry festival, but you can hardly see the strawberries.

July 2

Adams' voice in radio Hitchhiker. This is not fraught. For me, the defintive Hitchhikers is the radio version. I'm glad the later books will go on audio.

Not that anyone bothers to tell me, but Silver Screen Test has a regular slot:
Fridays, 10:30 pm, Channel 19 on Montgomery County Cable.

July 1

What annoys nerds is not that Jack Ryan went to sex clubs, but that he couldn't get it up for Seven of Nine. This is the Borg Babe we're talking about. Couldn't you have taken some Viagra?

Similar thoughts with Clinton. I think he could have done better than Monica.

Watched the Cold Case episode "Disco Inferno". In early 1978, a disco king is shot in one of the back rooms of disco, followed by a fire. The requisite Trampps song plays. Twenty-two people died in that blaze. A twenty-third is added when Benny, the dancer shot, is found recently in the rubble.

Although much of the investigation centers around dance contest rivalry, they couldn't have committed the murder and the arson since the building had to continue to stand for them to win the dance contest. It turned out to be the son of the owner who had many inferiority issues.

There's a funny scene where a con who has a crucial slug in his butt demands 2k for the bullet. He eventually settles for a reduction of his parole time.

There were many musical anachronisms. "I Will Survive," "I Love The Night Life," "Last Dance" and "Le Freak" all appeared either in late 1978 or early 1979. They could have moved the story over a year to 1979 and fixed the problem without changing anything else in the story. The ghost closing has Kite dancing very badly with Rush.

The Undertow...
|Stories I Shouldn't Tell|
|The Bulwer-Litton Fiction Contest|
|Meet the New Boss, Same As the Old Boss|
|Animated Flags|
|Annandale McMansions|
|Contour Fashion BA|
|Want Jobs?|
|Summer College Baseball Leagues|
|Internet Speculative Fiction Database|
|Double Entendre|
|Gagging the Fuzz, Part 6|
|The Fredom to Be a Crank|
|Working Girls|
|The Single Greatest Event of My Life|
|Umm..for the Rainforest?|
|NCAA-Sanctioned Summer Baseball Leagues|
|Hillman Wonders of the World|
|Reagan Pyramid Near Completion|
|Evil Bible|
|Lawmakers Ask Ashcroft Why Suspect Freed|
|Alan Bean Gallery|
|Hardcore Victorian|
|Random Kitten Generator|
|Bush Holds Election Four Months Early|
|Ask the Tech Girl|
|The Slumbering Lungfish|
|Shard's Fancomic Guides|
|He's Not a Liar, He's My President|
|The Don't Worry, Be Happy List|
|One Million Spoiled Ballots|
|The World According to Bush|
|Iraq and FDR|
|How to Disable Autorun on Windows|
|Walt Disney Pix|
|Madeleine L'Engle|
|Ana C.P. Mašanita|
|Noreascon Four Not the DNC|

|128 Hours|
|The Answer Guy|
|Athletic Reporter|
|BallPark Digest|
|Dave Barry|
|Bears Will Attack|
|The Best of Both Worlds|
|The Black Table|
|Boing Boing|
|Margaret Cho|
|Chronicles of Ednoria|
|Bill Conlin|
|Jessie Connolly|
|Cooch's World|
|Kathryn Cramer|
|James Dinan|
|Dispatches from Tanganyika|
|Sean Eustis|
|Fables of the Reconstruction|
|The Al Franken Show Blog|
|The Gadflyer|
|Games * Design * Art * Culture|
|Ginohn News|
|Girls Are Pretty|
|Heck's Kitchen|
|How Awkward|
|The Humbug Journal|
|Idle Words|
|It's Not Me, It's Him, Right?|
|Juliepede's Bug House|
|Making Light|
|Management by Baseball|
|Meanderings of a Wanderer|
|Media Matters for America|
|Now That Everyone Else Has One|
|Nuclear Ember|
|Penguin in the City|
|Political Animal|
|Random Neuron Firings of a Unique Individual|
|Shorter Quizbowl|
|The Sideshow|
|Sports Economist|
|Stochastic Thoughts|
|Supermodel Personals|
|Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company|
|Thought for the Day|
|TRASH Times|
|Unqualified Offerings|
|Oliver Willis|
|Would you Eva?|

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Last revised July 31, 2004
© 2001-2004 B. Barrientos. All rights reserved.