Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Top 10 Christmas Specials Special

It's that time of year again, or rather it has been since before Thanksgiving. I think the first Christmas ads started creeping in around November 15 this year. But now that it's actually getting closer to the holiday and the snow has started to fly, it's a lot nicer to take in the decorations and whatnot. And like every year, the holiday specials and movies and shows are going to start popping up on your television. I thought I'd list some of the more noteworthy ones that I've seen in past years. Some of these aren't your typical Christmas fare, a lot of them have a TV-MA (or at least a TV-14) associated with them, but all of them have a rather unique feel to them.

10. South Park, "Red Sleigh Down"

Yes, Santa Claus with automatic weapons. I'm susceptible to humor that involves the cross-pollination of genres, so I particularly liked this episode, which puts a Christmas spin on Three Kings and Black Hawk Down. The basic plot: evil hellspawn Eric Cartman asks Santa to bring Christmas to Iraq, a good deed big enough to blot out his naughty deeds over the past year, but the plan goes awry when a rocket-propelled grenade takes down St. Nick's sleigh. Adding to the twisted special is a commando-like intervention by Jesus Christ to save the jolly fat man.

Other honorable South Park mentions: "Woodland Critter Christmas," another Cartman tale featuring adorable if Satanic wildlife, abortions, the Antichrist, and another heavily-armed Santa.

9. The Simpsons, "Marge Be Not Proud"

The Simpsons had a longstanding sweet spot between a shaky first run of episodes and a slumping quality in later seasons. This story falls in the midst of the show's strong period, and ends up being one of the more heartwarming tales. After he is caught shoplifting, Bart must try to make up for his crime to his mother as Christmas approaches. He succeeds, of course, and gets a horrible golf-based video game for his efforts.

Other honorable Simpsons mentions: "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," the first full-length episode; "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace," where Bart undoes whatever good he did by framing a Christmas disaster on a nonexistent burglar; and "Grift of the Magi," if only for its hilarious Furby knock-offs.

8. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, "Cybernetic Ghost of Christmas Past"

What can you say about a Christmas special in a show that involves a trio of anthropomorphic fast food items and their surly neighbor? This episode ever so briefly follows along the lines of A Christmas Carol before the robot begins rambling on about a Santa Ape and enslaved Martian elves and events that happened THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO. The episode premiered just shy of New Year's Eve, which is closer to the mark than the actual Cybernetic Ghost, who pays Carl a visit in February. There's the slightest bit of Christmas happiness as the hapless Carl finally catches a break, turning the tables on the Aqua Teens and leaving them with a neighbor they can't stand.

Honorable Aqua Teen Hunger Force mentions: "Mail Order Bride," in which Carl and Master Shake both chip in to purchase a Russian bride for their Christmas gift, and "T-Shirt of the Living Dead," where Meatwad summons a pissed-off Santa from his summer slumber and mistakenly inflicts horrible pain on him.

7. Mystery Science Theater 3000, "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians"

It's good to know that even a man imprisoned on an orbiting spacecraft while being forced to watch horrible movies can celebrate Christmas...even if he has to do it while viewing a movie with a premise that was apparently cooked up with the help of an experimental marijuana-LSD hybrid. Martians try to kidnap Santa to cheer up children on the Red Planet, and an evil antagonist goes to all lengths to try to stop his return, including an attempt to blast Santa out of the spaceship's airlock. Joel and his robot friends riff the hell out of the movie, and vow to have a "Patrick Swayze Christmas" based on Roadhouse.

Honorable MST3K mentions: "Santa Claus," the only other Christmas-themed episode, in which the gang takes on the story of Kris Kringle...if he lived in a castle in space with a horde of apparently abducted children, flew a wind-up set of reindeer, and did battle with Lucifer.

6. Futurama, "Xmas Story"

Another gun-toting Santa, and the only evil one to appear on this list. Unlike Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, the idea of a haywire robot who lives on Neptune and wreaks havoc on Earth every Xmas since 2801 because he misidentifies everyone as naughty instead of nice somehow seems plausible. In the interests of diversity, the holiday characters later grew to include Kwanzaabot and the Hanukkah Zombie.

Honorable Futurama mentions: Bender's substitution for Robot Santa's villainy, first with good deeds and then with more villainy, in "A Tale of Two Santas;" the entire holiday ensemble's key role in reclaiming Earth from an invasion of alien scammers in "Bender's Game."

5. Moral Orel, "The Best Christmas Ever"

A show loosely based on the wholesomeness of the Davey and Goliath cartoons got its start by premiering the finale of the first season. The promos were deliberately misleading, making it seem like it would be a cute and cuddly Christmas special. Of course, a midnight Adult Swim show with a mature rating had little chance of actually offering that, so I don't know how many people were fooled. After mistaking his bratty younger brother for the Second Coming, number one Christ fan Orel Puppington learns on Christmas Day that his parents are splitting up.

Honorable Moral Orel mention: the series finale, "Honor," in which the whole show comes full circle with another Christmas episode. Though the entire last season and most of the episode were a depressing romp through the overly moral town's coming to terms with their own demons, it ultimately had a pleasant ending: Orel growing up to be a happily married man with a loving family.

4. Dinosaurs, "Refrigerator Day"

This hilarious show used what may have been the 90s standby for a Christmas special: a family confronted by the lack of a Christmas bonus or other such difficulties learn that Christmas is about family and love, not gifts. Dinosaurs gave a unique spin to the holiday special by correctly realizing that the Sinclair family couldn't celebrate Christmas millions of years before the birth of Christ. Instead, they celebrated the refrigerator, considered the most important dinosaur invention ever. Even better, the show kept the joke going by wishing viewers a happy Refrigerator Day of their own.

Honorable song lyric: "On the second day of Fridge Day, my true love gave to me / Two ice trays and a place to put the ice..."

3. A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
A Colbert Christmas: Jon Stewart
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorU.S. Speedskating

A parody of the seasonal Christmas specials of old; though I don't remember any of these, it's impossible not to watch Stephen Colbert's faux-conservative take on one and not laugh. As Colbert is trapped in a mountain cabin by a bloodthirsty bear, he is visited by a number of musical guest stars who teach him about Christmas and Hanukkah. The Jonas Brothers drown, there's a highly suggestive song about nutmeg, and Willie Nelson contemplates giving pot to baby Jesus. One watcher complained that the message about peace and love that snuck in was an overdose of religion, while a Christian commentator all but said the show was defiling God. Everyone else apparently didn't have a stick up their butt and had a good time.

Honorable song lyric: "And still that wonder weed is flaring (Are you high?) / Looked like that special star above (You're so high) / Pass it around in endless sharing (Dude, man, dude) / And let not mankind bogart love (You're really high, I'm gonna tell your Savior)

2. A Charlie Brown Christmas

The Peanuts comic series led to a few other Christmas specials, but those have all disappeared into obscurity behind the first and most well-known one that was made. The special is actually quite depressing until it gets to the end, when Charlie Brown's fair weather friends learn that the holiday is about love and the birth of Jesus and end up rescuing his scrawny Christmas tree before singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." I'm fully convinced that if humans ever reach the year 3000 of Futurama, this special will still be airing when December rolls around.

1. A Christmas Story

How classic is this classic? I'm pretty sure the Family Channel (or ABC Family or whatever it's called now) still runs it over and over again for a 24-hour marathon on Christmas Day. It's practically the opposite of Charlie Brown's anti-commercialism crusade: Ralphie spends most of the movie hoping he'll get a Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle despite warnings that he'll shoot his eye out. Is there a moral? Certainly not one as blatant as some of others on this list, but somewhere among the tongues frozen to flagpoles and Chinese carolers and electric sex glowing in the window, the tale spins out like something a particularly interesting relative would tell you over a hot toddy on Boxing Day. And if the writer and director of Porky's can also create an iconic Christmas film, anything seems possible.

There are plenty of honorable mentions that simply couldn't fit in, ranging from It's a Wonderful Life, which you'll also no doubt find airing sometime this season, to a couple of classic episodes of The Twilight Zone. Wikipedia has a couple of lists of Christmas specials, films, and TV episodes, so feel free to track some other ones down. Just don't go spending all of your time in front of the television. Happy holidays, and a happy New Year!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Greatest Thing of Anything: WEQX

I grew up in western Massachusetts, which was home to a few radio stations and got most of the other signals from Albany. And none of them were all that good. Quite a few fell along the lines of what I heard one comedian describe as something like "Kill Yourself Radio:" a lot of sad dreary songs about lost love, some with the sideshow of minor league baseball broadcasts. The others were your standard pop tripe, with the DJs apparently getting paid to overplay the latest hot single. Ultimately, I had to hunt and peck through the different frequencies, hoping to find something to like and not commercials.

That was how, in the late 1990s, I stumbled across WEQX.

The EQX crew in 2004 or so

I don't know why I didn't discover the station sooner. It may have been because it took me awhile to warm up to some of the harder rock, or it may have just been a little fuzzy until the antenna was pointed in the right direction, or it may have just happened to be on a commercial whenever I went past it. Whatever the case, I ended up tuning in to find nearly nonstop alternative rock, most of which the other stations had never bothered to pick up. The dial stayed there until I moved out of the area.

WEQX was founded in 1984, and has operated since then as an independent radio station. It prides itself on being more about the music than the commercials, and it lives up to the promise. The commercial breaks are short and mostly local, with the on-air talent often providing their voices to promote local events and businesses. So while some stations have commercial breaks that practically outpace the music, WEQX somehow manages to get by on breaks that are relatively non-obtrusive and, incredibly, mostly not annoying. The specialized programs include an all-request hour during the traditional morning commute (including a "Top 5 at 5" based on the most-requested songs throughout the day), a midday "retro lunch," a Saturday morning of acoustic and other more mellow music, and a Sunday night three-hour look at new music. The station has sponsored concerts and won several awards, including Rolling Stone's Best Radio Station of the Year three times.

Rather than some drab downtown brick structure, WEQX is based in a Victorian house in Manchester, Vermont. I've unfortunately never been there, though I'd be interested to see how it's divided up. The studio seems to be about standard size, and I'm sure most rooms are used for advertising and other such purposes. But the fact that they're broadcasting from a house just makes them that much more endearing. They even have pets, for crying out loud. Formerly it was just the EQX cats but now a pug has been added into the mix.

Fred, the EQX cat

Even the transmitting tower is in good company. WEQX broadcasts "from high atop Mount Equinox," a 3,848-foot-high peak in the Taconic Range from which the station gets its callsign. The mountain seems to be a little version of Mount Washington. One gets to the summit via a 5.2-mile toll road, and the tower is located within sight of a mountaintop hotel known as The Inn Atop Equinox that was established in the late 1940s. Assuming Wikipedia is to be believed, the mountain once held a NORAD defense station and also includes the remains of a tunnel system installed in the 1960s by a Vermont company seeking to install a cryonics system to freeze people with high IQs. What's more, the mountain includes a one-of-a-kind monastery on its slopes.

How the magic happens

I'm not sure if radio, like everything else on the planet, is in danger of becoming obsolete thanks to the Internet. I no longer live within listening distance of WEQX's transmission, and if I'm in the mood for rock or alternative I'll turn my radio to a similar station called WCYY. Most of the time I listen to NPR, the other station I heard a lot of growing up and one which, thankfully, has not changed much at all. But I spend a lot of time on the computer, and it's hard to compete with something like Pandora where you can simply plug in the songs and bands you like, not have to deal with commercials, and even skip a song if you don't like it.

So it doesn't have those perks, but WEQX is still something I'll be sure to keep tuning in to; thankfully, they're online too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Here with you

I've had a girl say pretty much this same thing to me. I wasn't thinking about dinosaurs. I wonder if she was...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Apex of Crazy

I have a friend who probably never thought he'd have something in common with the fringe of the Christian right: Bible destruction. We were both on the cross-country ski team at our college, which took us on quite a few overnight trips to go racing. On one trip, he was feeling particularly sacrilegious and tore a page out of the motel's complimentary Bible. He may or may not have flushed it down the toilet afterward.

The point? To show that God wasn't going to destroy him for such an infraction.

While the motivation is different, the Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, North Carolina, has decided to do something similar for Halloween. These seem to be the kind of folks who consider trick-or-treating, drunken costume parties, haunted houses, and perhaps even a pleasant church event with hot cider and games to be the devil's work, so they've opted for the old standby: a book burning. Which, in and of itself, wouldn't be too noteworthy except for the fact that they're going to be torching Bibles.

If the Bible hates gays so much, why is it so flaming?

OK. So apparently God wrote the King James Bible, and Satan wrote every other version? Or perhaps the translators of the King James version were all true believers and everyone else was an evil Unitarian? What it boils down to is a church believing that one translation of the Bible is so unimpeachable that they're destroying any and all other versions they can get their hands on, despite the fact that it's all pretty much the same message. Seriously, how far to the right do you have to go to think that the Bible is a book that needs to be destroyed? Political thought might well be a circle, because I think you can see the far left from that vantage point.

I wonder what this church thinks of a project by Conservapedia (a right-wing Wiki) to re-translate the Bible. The idea has gotten a lot of flak, considering how the site has an obvious slant with article subheadings such as "Liberal Hysterical Criticisms." So people have been having fun suggesting how the users will translate the Bible, with well-known passages being horribly misinterpreted to become little more than Republican screed.

They'll be lucky if the project even gets off the ground. Right now, users have only taken a few stabs at a couple of passages. Still, despite the bent of the site, the project at least seems to have the reasonable goal of producing a translation of the Bible based on user input. While it would be more accurate to do so under a site like Wikipedia, which is edited by people across the political spectrum, it's still a worthwhile project and one that will have an interesting outcome.

Even if it's totally satanic.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Read This Book: Last of the Donkey Pilgrims

Snopes has declared that this was not in fact the last photo ever taken by an out-of-control motorcyclist in Ireland.

A month without an entry? Ouch. I'll knock a quick one out tonight and try to keep them coming, since I do like doing them. This time around: a book review!

I had plenty of fun on campus in college, so my excursions into the city usually involved walks or runs in the immediate area of St. Paul. Shortly before I graduated, I took a stroll down Grand Avenue, a line of mostly small businesses set up in residences, to see some of the shops I hadn't stopped in. One of them, Irish On Grand, specializes in a wide variety of Celtic products, ranging from jewelry to books. I was pleasantly surprised to see the above book, Last of the Donkey Pilgrims, on the shelf, since it shows that it made it at least 1,000 miles from its point of origin.

The author, Kevin O'Hara, gave me a copy some years after I interviewed him for a middle school project about his parents, who had immigrated from Ireland. O'Hara lives near my hometown and has a column in the local paper every St. Patrick's Day recounting adventures in Ireland. It seems like he's had a lot of them, though the biggest one came during an uncertain period in his life when he was staying with relatives in Ireland after serving in Vietnam. Eventually, he lighted on the idea of touring around the coast of the country using a donkey and cart.

Kevin demonstrates how the oil industry can literally kiss his ass.

Since O'Hara's journey was well-publicized, he had the advantage of an entire country alerted to his idea. As such, he pretty much had to knock on a door once the sun started to go down and politely ask if they could put him up for the night (and give his donkey, Missy, a place to graze, of course). The book is full of his experiences with the kindness of strangers, the beauty of the countryside, and the nervousness of a different time as he carried his journey over the border into the more contentious northern part of the island.

The one downside to the book is probably the opening in which O'Hara and his relatives reminisce on the experience and consider that no one could probably do it again due to an increase in crime and other factors. So it's inspirational if you want to embark on an adventure of your own, just so long as that adventure doesn't involve orbiting Ireland with a donkey. Nonetheless, the excellent characterization of himself, the whole range of Irish folk, and even Missy makes this memoir a real gem.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Roman times

Once upon a time, I did blog entries with a few different sections to address some random topics. I haven't done one of those in some time, so I thought I'd give it a shot.


When this state is buried under a solid crust of snow or ice, or deluged in rain, or some such thing, I generally don't get out for huge weekend excursions. The nearest hopping city is Portland, which is a good hour or so away, and in general I don't mind just hanging out for the weekend, even in the summer. A typical boring weekend:

  • Friday evening: watching TV, chatting online with people, playing video games, reading.
  • Saturday: all of the above, plus some chores, a bit of exercise, and research for the political scandal blog.
  • Sunday: church, a bit of exercise, a lot of reading, some scandal research, and TV
I managed to take a trip to see friends in Minnesota and family in Vermont earlier this summer, but that was before we apparently decided to use a weather machine to steal everyone else's rain. In the past few weeks, the sun has returned and the weekends have been like this

  • Friday: about the same (July 24); playing some Settlers of Catan with friends (July 31); First Friday gallery walk (August 7)
  • Saturday: hiking Mt. Jefferson (July 25); checking out a state park and a free concert in Freeport, then deciding to stay up until the crack of dawn instant messaging a friend in Minnesota (August 1); driving up to East Orland for a wedding (August 7)
  • Sunday: about the same, aside from an August 8 journey back from East Orland that included a visit to Fort Knox in Bucksport.
This weekend is also set to be nice and productive, as I visit my sister in Biddeford, head to the beach, and go to another free concert. These weekends have all been awesome, and I'm glad to make up for lost time. Unfortunately, it happens to make the whole break go past like a shot, while the lounging weekends only really seem to have gone by too fast on Monday morning. Still, it makes for a better story to tell co-workers when they ask how your weekend was.


I'm going to be turning 26 next month. A lot of my friends have recently hit 30. The point of this numbers game? It seems like a ton of violent crime in Maine is committed by 32-year-olds. I started to notice this some time ago, and I'm sure the 31-year-olds are implicated as well, since there's a fair amount of time when a person is 32 when they're convicted, not when they committed the crime. In the past few years, people in this age range have been convicted of six murders, some nasty domestic incidents, and burning down most of the downtown of a tiny northern Maine community.

Maybe I've just gotten a mindset about how 32-year-olds are evil, especially since the last few major incidents in the county were apparently committed by people in their late teens or early 20s. So maybe it's something in the water, maybe it only affects the bad apples, maybe there's been a whole temporal shift that's passed me by...whatever the case, I think I need to get out of here within the next five years.


I grew up in Massachusetts, I moved to Maine, and most people don't seem to hold it against me. There's definitely some resentment toward outsiders that crops up at times, though; I've been told that a "flatlander" refers mainly to Massachusetts, but any other state as well despite the fact that the White Mountains are next door and conceivably make Maine a flatlander state. For the record, I lived in the mountainous western part of Massachusetts that's also known as Lower Vermont.

Anyway, Maine is probably the state where the word "Masshole" is uttered the most. It even has its own Wikipedia article. I've never been called one myself, but have found myself using it on a few occasions. I love the state, but Maine's a popular vacation destination and sometimes the people from Massachusetts can't drive.

The spirit of Massachusetts is the spirit of America...

Most recently, I called someone a Masshole on the way back from this weekend's wedding after a car with Massachusetts tags managed to scoot past an oil truck in the not-really-passing area where the climbing lane ends and the road starts to narrow. Call me crazy, but I'm not a big fan of near-accidents at 60 miles per hour where tanker trucks are involved.

Of course, every state has its jerks, and I think they all deserve some moniker. And no, I haven't sat down and thought of too many, but it might be a project to consider at some point. A Mainer who acts like an idiot, however, is clearly a Maine in the Ass.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Break out the sad tissues: "No Children" by The Mountain Goats

I was going to do a post about how I always seem to be mildly depressed when I come back from vacation. I spent a little more than a week in Vermont, generally indoors out of the rain and reading, working on The Downfall Dictionary, and watching TV, though there were a few trips elsewhere as well. But all things considered, I've come back from trips feeling much sadder; I'd probably just reiterate what I said in the St. Paul entry about how it's sad to unpack after a long trip. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. Plus there's an arts festival and bachelor's party this weekend, so one more day of work and I'm set.

But I'm still a little blue, so I thought I'd do another sad post of sorts, this time focusing on the song "No Children" by The Mountain Goats.

All told, it's almost funny. The singer basically seems to be telling everyone and everything to jog on, and the inflection of his voice makes it seem to be joking for much of the song. But the lyrics are pretty depressing, and the way the music is played seems to make it pretty clear that it's serious. What's it about? Well, that's for the people on to figure out. An unhappy relationship would seem to be the simplest explanation, and probably the right one.

I first heard this song on this episode of the Adult Swim show Moral Orel. The show, which followed a wholesome Christian boy named Orel and his well-meaning but disastrous attempts to interpret and implement the lessons he learns in church, was generally a hilarious take on Davey and Goliath which nonetheless had a pretty dark undertone related to his parents' unhappy marriage and father's alcoholism. These themes came to a head in an episode where Orel is forced to see his father for who he really is instead of a flawless role model. The song was used in one of the first episodes following that point, and generally highlighted the misery of the marriage. Plus the band's songs were used in a few other episodes, so I guess they specialize in folksy depression.

Well, that's enough of that. I'm going to go watch some of The Big Bang Theory and return to a state of levity.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Solutions to Everything: Government


As far as I can tell, everyone knows a government is needed to regulate various things and pay police officers and pave the roads and so on and so forth. And yet everyone hates governments of all shape and size for various reasons. From some of the shenanigans I've researched in my blog on United States political scandals, I think I can see why. But here are a few complaints I've heard regarding the various branches:
  • The federal government: being overpaid; invading or not invading various countries; weighing down every single bill with hundreds of riders appropriating money to fund projects in various constituencies; castrating ministers; taking bribes; giving bribes; endlessly getting mired down in political partisanship; abandoning official duties to fly to Argentina for sex; and so on.
  • The state government: wasting time debating what the state sandwich should be; absconding with bags stuffed with treasury money; any measure of taxation; taking bribes; giving bribes; and so on.
  • Local government: graft; conflict of interest; land assessments; funding the fire department, for some reason; embezzlement; and so on.

Robot Government!

President Android Jackson and his Cabinet

The solution is obvious, isn't it? Fire all government officials and replace them with robots! That means a robot President, 435 robot congressman (plus 6 nonvoting robot delegates from U.S. territories and the District of Columbia), 100 robot senators, 50 robot governors, and countless lower level state legislators and mayors and boards of selectmen. I challenge you to find any constitution or set of bylaws anywhere that prevents a robot from taking office.

Of course, there will be concerns that the robot government manufacturers will be biased and program them to, say, support gay marriage or ban abortion. So we'd have to wait for the singularity to occur, at which point the robots would create other robots of superhuman design who can come to their own conclusions.


The great majority of complaints against the government, if not all of them, relate to human weaknesses like greed and lust. Unless robots turn out to be like Bender from Futurama, that's not something we'd have to worry about in a robot government. No robot politician would have any use for bribes or kickbacks, or indeed any money at all; that's a huge savings in salaries. Aside from that, robots would probably be better able to analyze budgets and economies and such, could not likely be accused of conflict of interest, and in general would not make as many errors (unless Microsoft designs them).

And, of course, you might have Summer Glau as your governor.

You thought Sarah Palin was hot? Fuck's sake, man, you're amateur...



Thursday, June 11, 2009

Five reasons why Apollo 12 was awesome

The Apollo 12 mission to the Moon in November of 1969 falls between the first-ever landing on the Moon in July of that year and the drama of Apollo 13 in April of 1970. In general, the Apollo missions, save the two more dramatic ones, don't seem to garner too much attention. However, after reading a book on the Apollo 11 mission that briefly makes note of the following voyage to the Moon, I looked into it a little more and found that there are at least five reasons that it was a pretty incredible and awesome trip.

5. Surviving the storms

They say lightning doesn't strike twice. They are wrong. The Saturn V rocket carrying the three-man crew into orbit was hit by lightning not long after launch, and again soon after. A good deal of equipment went a little haywire, but the rocket was not seriously damaged and lunar module pilot Alan Bean was able to get the systems back online with some help from Mission Control. Here's a dramatized clip:

Also kind of cool, one of the stages of the rocket was supposed to be jettisoned into solar orbit; it didn't quite make it, but is in enough of an orbit that it revisited the planet around 2002 and should be back again in about 30 years.

4. "First" words

The first words spoken on the Moon were actually "Contact light," spoken by Buzz Aldrin as part of the technobabble of the landing and, as far as I know, simply letting Mission Control know that a light indicating that the lunar module had touched down had come on. Of course, the first words spoken on the Moon by a person on the surface were those of Neil Armstrong: "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Evidently in a bet to a reporter, or perhaps just a flub from a misstep, Charles "Pete" Conrad Jr., commander on Apollo 12 and a little shorter than Neil, said upon dropping from the ladder, "Whoopie, that may have been a small step for Neil but it's a big one for me!"

3. Flying ships!

Searching for Odin, my love!

The insignia for the mission is a friggin' flying clipper ship. Literally a big sailing vessel, propelled by rocket fuel and displaying the United States flag, as it flies around the Moon. Take that, Apollo 11's insignia of an eagle depositing an olive branch on the lunar surface as a sign that we came in peace for all mankind!

2. They brought Playboy

Sexy women on the Moon...the sci-fi writers were right!

has been on the Moon. Or, more accurately, scans of the magazine hidden in the lunar manuals for Conrad and Bean with the hilarious caption, "Seen any interesting hills & valleys?" So technically, this might mean that Misses September 1968 through January 1969 were the fifth through ninth people on the Moon.

It's just too bad that the backup crew didn't also hook up command module pilot Richard Gordon, Jr. with an issue. I'm sure he would have liked to "just read the articles" while orbiting the Moon waiting for the astronauts to come back.

1. Visiting an unmanned spacecraft

In my opinion, one of the more interesting plot pieces in any science fiction work involves the crew of a manned spacecraft visiting an unmanned space probe. Just the idea of sending something away from the planet and checking it out again when the species gains the ability to see it again in person is one that appeals to me. The Mars landers and other space probes are like interplanetary time capsules.

So I was pretty surprised to see that Apollo 12 already went there.

Look at this primitive piece of 1967 crap!

Part of the mission involved touching down in an area where a few unmanned probes had landed, and so astronauts actually visited an old American lander (the Surveyor 3) and broke off a few pieces to take back to Earth. Granted, the lander was only about two years old, and efforts to land a person on the Moon were well underway when Surveyor was launched. Still, this has to be one of the coolest images from the Apollo missions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Leaving St. Paul Never Easy

I saw the light fading out...

I just got back from an extended Memorial Day weekend in St. Paul, Minnesota, where I spent the better part of four years attending Macalester College. I missed our most famous alumnus, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, by a day as the school dedicated a bust of him at the new international center and had him sign a Ping-Pong table in the new athletic center...both buildings that have sprouted up and changed the campus a bit since I graduated three years ago.

Overall, it was a great trip, aside from a broken shower at Weirdalopolis John's place where I was crashing. I think most people that read this blog were either there when I was or randomly stumbling across the site, so I won't go into too much detail. Suffice it to say, it included the Science Museum of Minnesota, a Brewers vs. Twins game, the Como Park Zoo (much less depressing than I remember when I walked down there one time in the off-season), checking out the giant IKEA store and Mall of America, strolls around Macalester and the old hangout of the Groveland Tap, other strolls around St. Paul and the Mississippi River, and generally kicking back and chatting with Mac friends like the good old days. And it was beautiful weather every single day of it.

A couple of friends, married couple Jim and Kelly (sadly siteless, I think), made the trip from Wisconsin to stay for a couple of those days. Jim commented how it seemed so natural to return to Macalester and the Twin Cities in general. It was more expensive than I remember, but the atmosphere of the place was still intact. I know part of the reason I loved the Twin Cities was being in college with great friends, and that accounted for some of the joy of the return trip. But overall the place just presents such a great mix of places. For every place I like here in my little Maine town, St. Paul has it and at least a couple of clones, and other cool places to boot. Plus...young people! Overwhelmingly large numbers of young people for someone in an area that seems mostly a 40-plus area, and this is after the colleges are out of session!

It seems like unpacking after a satisfying trip is one of the saddest things you can do, along with packing up and leaving a place that you grew attached to. More than likely, I won't be returning to Minnesota for another two years...unless I take the belated route that a lot of my friends took and find a job or grad school out there. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the summer here and try to upload a bunch of random shots I took to Facebook over the weekend.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Whiny personal post: adventure difficulties

The recent Macalester Today had a short article on a friend who I knew from the cross-country ski team. The gist of the article is basically how she's ended up leading kayaking expeditions and such in the Midwest and the Amazon. I've got another friend who did something similar, giving up a job to teach English in Japan.

It's nice having a job and being somewhat settled down in an area, but sometimes it just seems like it will be difficult to do any sort of lengthy adventure. There are a few loans to pay off, there's an apartment full of stuff that would have to go into storage or completely sold off or something, and I'm not sure how employers generally view gaps in employment that occur when someone quits their job to bike across the country or some such thing.

The example I always think of is the Appalachian Trail. Another friend took off for the Georgia trailhead immediately after he graduated from college, and finished up in the fall. So he was able to do that in the gap between graduation and student loans kicking in, even if it took a little while for him to get started on a job hunt. Conversely, it seems like if I wanted to do the same thing, I'd have to somehow get a big leave of absence from work, pay off loans and rent in advance, and of course come up with the money to actually do the hike. I suppose it would be within the realm of possibility if I was a teacher with a few months off anyway, but still difficult.

But then again, it seems like some adventures would be taking a bit of a leap of faith in terms of whether it would even be enjoyable. It would probably be nice to take a few weekends with lengthy hikes and camping. That's more manageable, and would be an investment toward hiking the Appalachian Trail if I enjoy the smaller trips and I'd have the equipment to do it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The X-Files Body Count

I've decided, perhaps stupidly, to start up The X-Files Body Count. The show's been off the air for several years now, but it seems like movies might still come out every now and then and a significant fan base might still be around. Plus I don't mind going through the episodes again, even if it will take ages to finish (especially when the shows I'm watching now start coming back on the air in the fall).

Anyway, check it out here or from the link on the side.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Main Street's death or revitalization

I usually take a walk down Main Street of Norway, Maine when I'm going to church on Sunday morning. I was away with friends for the two weekends prior to this past one, so it was the first time in awhile that I took that stroll and checked out the businesses in town. Almost everything in town is closed on that day, but I was kind of surprised to see how three businesses have gone elsewhere.

This is the middle of town, and I'd guess it was taken sometime in mid-2007. There's a business in the white house to the left, some sort of clothing store if I remember correctly, which has become home-based since then. A computer repair place moved in for awhile, but now it's empty. The building to the right has done better. It has a satellite TV place in it here, which has since moved to the town next door; it now has a gaming shop and gift shop existing side by side.

According to the signs in the windows that I just noticed recently, a scrapbooking business has moved off Main Street (its third move in the past couple of years), a graphics business (the one in the first brick building in the photo up top) has moved to another town, and a physical therapy place has disappeared. In other vacancies, there's a small brick building that three restaurants have failed in (with another one evidently about to give it a try before long), the aforementioned white house, several storefronts in the towered Opera House building (due to questions over the building's stability and a couple of legal battles), a building which has given up two gift shops, and a space that has been occupied by a women's clothing store, a small antique place, and a Democratic Party office.

The relatively rapid change of businesses is probably due to a lot of factors, including the disappearance of a couple of major manufacturing businesses from the area and odd mixture of building types. One end of town has the Opera House, several restaurants, and a bookstore, yet it also contains a boarding house frequently visited by the police. Another factor is probably Norway's location. A half-hour drive to the south is Bridgton, which has a very nice downtown but seems to benefit from being closer to the Sebago/Long Lake region (it also seems to fall along the Maine tourism model of having several businesses shut down during the winter). Another 45 minutes to an hour away to the north is Bethel, another small town with a more solid downtown that benefits from being close to the very popular Sunday River Ski Resort. Norway, meanwhile, has the downtown but only some of the pull from recreational areas and things to do.

For all that, though, it seems like Norway is moving toward a more sustainable downtown and community. There are a few more places that seem to be creating a draw, including a terrific coffee and sandwich place on one end of town and a Vegan cafe on the other. The game shop is proving popular, and much more interesting than a satellite TV place. Moreover, there's quite a good food scene; it's hard to believe that we have a food co-op, along with a great farmer's market that shows up in the summer. There are also a few Friday night events, including a gallery walk and some open mic nights.

I lived for awhile in Brattleboro, Vermont before coming here. Brattleboro is more populous than Norway and seems to have more young people, and it also includes a huge variety of places such as coffeehouses, some night venues, a music shop, a few bookstores, some fairly unique small businesses, and a much more expansive First Friday gallery walk and farmer's market. But for its size, I guess Norway is doing all right.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Greatest Thing of Anything: Keepon

Hey, remember those dancing plastic roses? Sure you do. My computer teacher had one in elementary school. It was the coolest thing in the world; of course, this was a time when computers had green screens that you could control with the color and contrast knobs, and you usually had to go and yell at your classmates to check the little red light next to the envelope symbol to make sure they got that message you sent them about how they're a jerk.

But just in case you don't remember, these things were potted plastic roses with guitars and sunglasses and little microphones in them, and if you played music near it the plant would wriggle around and the petals would open and close to make it seem like Elvis Petaly (yeah, well, you come up with something better) would open and close his stamens and pistols to make it seem like it was singing.


It was...meh. It ran on batteries, as far as I remember, and those usually ran out pretty quickly. And it wasn't long before you realized that the flower had about all the dance moves as your average white high school freshman and it got kind of boring.

Enter the 21st century, and Keepon!

It's Keepon. I just said that, dumbass.

Keepon was developed by Hideki Kozima, and it's basically the dancing rose taken to the next level, namely sophisticated robotics for scientific study. Keepon's eyes are cameras, and there's a microphone in its nose. Despite its appearance (I believe a friend once described it as a "creepy Peep snowman") it has much more of a range than a dancing plastic flower. In addition, this is evidently being used to study the interactions with children and autism and whatnot.


Kozima, now a professor, could be a friggin' millionaire with this thing (and maybe he is), but it seems the only way you can obtain a Keepon is for educational or research purposes. Which means that you can't just write in the creators and say that you want a Keepon to keep at your cubicle to add some entertainment to your soul-crushing work day by making it dance to Spoon. Which is completely hypocritical on the part of the creators, of course, since they realized the full potential of Keepon to dance to Spoon. And not just one song, but two. Observe!

In conclusion, I want a dancing robot. Preferably Summer Glau, but Keepon will do.

Keepon vs. will be a ratings smash hit

Friday, April 17, 2009

Hilarious Sprite commercials

Isn't the Internet wonderful? It seems like YouTube is filling up more and more each year with random nostalgia from back in the day. Today's entry hearkens back to that wonderful part of the 1990s that wasn't contaminated by the 1980s (nice as some things in that decade were). A time without DVRs, so people actually had to watch the commercials during things other than the Super Bowl, and so they actually had a bit of effort put into them.

One YouTube channel is made up entirely of videos from a fellow who worked as a writer and director of several commercials. Perhaps "SmartAdvertising" is a little self-applauding, but hey, these were good ads. Not only do I remember, them, but I remember what they were for. Notably, he's done quite a few Sprite commercials that were part of a line that ironically said that you shouldn't trust commercials, at least the ones that rely on overblown promises of what a beverage can do for you (ie, Powerthirst). I actually remembered most of these verbatim, and they've been off the air for 10 years or so.

And here we go:

Jooky looks like it would probably taste terrible, but the theme song is awesome. Judging by their appearance, I'd guess the two ski bums are too stoned to realize there's not really a party in the can. So perhaps it doubles as an anti-marijuana PSA.

Jooky Junk is kind of ironic, since Sprite is owned by the Coca-Cola company and the stuff you can get with Coke Points is pretty much the same old junk: more soda, T-shirts you'll use to paint stuff, crappy stuffed animals, etc. Plus they expire after a little while. How the hell am I going to save up enough to get that plasma screen?

Sun Fizz is probably carbonated, like those godawful sports drinks that someone thought would be a good idea to burn out the throats of runners after a 10-kilometer race I did once. But I'm sure this is ribbing Sunny D, which was a perpetual enemy of soda and whatever the purple stuff was (Jooky, perhaps?). What's creepy is that the logo gives no indication that he's going to do anything malevolent, but you know he probably is.

The effeminate guy on the left really steals this one, but the other two have some great body language as well.

I showed this to my friend John, who runs Weirdalapolis (sort of) in the list at right, and he said that he had to take a bit of a break because he was hurting too much from laughing. He also described it as a Sprite ad he'd think Seth MacFarlane would write. As far as I can tell, that kid is actually doing his own stunts. Or maybe a midget with a taste for punishment for some of the bigger ones...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Christine (semi-spoiled)

A B-52 accidentally dropped an atom bomb on a South Carolina neighborhood in 1958. And Khrushchev became the Soviet Premier. Oh, and this car came out, I guess.

I just finished reading the Stephen King novel Christine today. I remember discussing Stephen King in general with my neighbor, who cited the novel as one of the author's lesser works. I'd have to agree. It's a good enough read, but it's kind of repetitive. And I suppose our hero doesn't fully realize how the '58 Plymouth Fury can fix its damages after splattering people or getting beaten up, but he has some idea of that. And yet his master plan to destroy the evil car is still "smash the hell out of it" (after deciding against burning it or blowing it up).

Hey kid, you seem smart. Here's an idea. Ever seen a car, haunted or not, drive on its friggin' roof before?

Volvo Christine, forever smote

Just get a big forklift or something and flip the thing over. Like these construction workers with a Maserati belonging to a former Miss New Zealand gal.

In their defense, it was probably evil.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Damn you, quality television!

Perhaps I'm just forgetting some TV shows I used to watch way back yonder in the late 1990's and earlier this decade. Or perhaps TV really just sucked enough at that point that I spent all that time reading books, drawing, and writing phenomenal pieces of fiction. That time, as far as I remember, was when a few reality shows started having success so every network seemed to say, "Hey, we don't need to put actual effort into our programming! Let's just create some premise for people to compete for money or love and run with it!"

It seems like the reality shows have died down to some of the early contenders which were the only good ones anyway, namely Survivor and The Amazing Race...neither of which I really watch, but both of which I enjoy on the occasions I catch them. They're also the only ones I can think of that look like they'd be entertaining to be on and worth the potential prize.

Now that I'm employed and independent, my free time might just be compromised in general, and though I've been getting a lot of reading and even historical research done, I'm going to have to try to cut down on the TV I watch. This is thanks to decent shows on the networks that are joined by other ones on cable that I've been introduced to by friends. Some might not survive; some are already well on their way and likely to hang around.

And here's the breakdown, as far as I remember, in lovely alphabetic order:

Adult Swim: A programming block rather than a show, these are generally easier on my time because they tend to be only about 10 minutes long and somewhat precarious as to whether or not they'll survive. Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Robot Chicken have been around and amusing for a long time; a show with tremendous promise, Frisky Dingo, unfortunately wrapped up without resolution after two seasons when the studio that made it closed.

Animation Domination: Another programming block, this one on Sunday, these have been declining a bit (The Simpsons has been around for 20 friggin' years, after all), but are still a nice way to end the weekend.

Breaking Bad: Something I caught up with that's currently in its second season, this show involves a chemistry teacher with terminal cancer cooking crystal meth with a high school dropout as a way of building up a nest egg for his family. Aside from being hilarious and depressing in equal parts, it really shows what Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle) can do with a darker role.

Hal snaps

Dexter: A show about a blood pathologist who is also a serial killer who takes out bad guys in his spare time. Would you look at that? A crime show that doesn't come with the CSI or Law and Order stamp pre-approved to go before whatever the actual title of the show is!

: I think Buffy and Firefly were probably stronger than this is right now, but it's a good idea for a show and it seems to be doing fairly well.

Fringe: I'm watching it right now! In another little box to the right. It's no X-Files, but it's got more kick and creativity than the endless cop and doctor shows that are starting to die off and, I'm recalling, were another reason I watched less TV not so long ago.

Lost: This show was originally pitched as focusing on the survivors of a plane crash trying to cut it on a desert island, literally Cast Away: The Series. Someone got the idea that the show would be more interesting if the island wasn't really deserted, if it had polar bears, and a variety of other things that would take up too much space to go over here (go over them here instead). The creators say they have a plan to wrap up all the questions before the show concludes next year, and I trust them, but the seeming blank slate of the whole thing is amazing. How we got from the standard "What are they going to eat?" question to the "What happened to the hydrogen bomb?" question over the course of a few seasons is probably one of the larger leaps a show has ever taken.

My Name Is Earl: Can be somewhat hit-and-miss, but has a lot of good humor (you'd expect that from some Kevin Smith veterans, right?). I also find it amusing how a show with a basic undercurrent of a guy trying to make up all of the bad things he did to people over the years can still be denounced by the Parents Television Council.

Mythbusters: Like any other man on the planet, I wish I could work with these guys.

Rescue Me: Catching up on this show on Hulu after managing to catch the first four episodes and the entire third season. It's having the dangerous effect of making me want to run off and join the FDNY, provided I don't have to constantly get involved in messed up family situations, alcoholism, and fights.

South Park: They're relying on current events more than odd ideas more, but the show can still find ways to approach plots in completely unconventional and hilarious ways.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: It's had a few missteps, but it's got a compelling enough story; a friend of mine complains that it's messed up the continuity presented in the movies, if there was one, but we are talking about time travel here. As an added bonus, you also get Summer Glau kicking ass and looking good doing it.

The Sexy Robotics Institute rejected both my application and my suggestion to get dinner somewhere.

The Colbert Report: Fox News is so vain, they probably think this show is about them. Stephen Colbert's complete cut-up routines and quest for personal glory are probably some of the best things on TV right now. I also want to see him fill in every state in Better Know a District one day.

The Daily Show: It led to the Colbert Report, and it's still one of the better reality checks on the government, cable news, and various other crazies. It's also good to see that they can continue to be funny and thus disprove the theory that only mockery of a Republican President can sustain such a show.

The Office: A nice send-up of working life, but those guys really shouldn't complain...they don't even have to deal with cubicles. I can understand how some people think Steve Carrell's batshit insane regional manager is far more squirm-inducing than anything else, but anyone who can't laugh at an exchange between Dwight and Jim has no soul.

I'm not sure I've even seen 1,000 places total

I stopped into the local coffee shop today, which has a pretty sizeable library in one of the sitting areas. The fare ranges from Dan Brown to surfing magazines to Lord of the Rings. I came across 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and was surprised to find that it's about as heavy as a brick. I first came across the book at Heathrow International Airport in London, having visited a handful of sites listed in England. I probably haven't seen many more sites since then.

I have somewhat mixed opinions about this book. On the one hand, it's probably the most comprehensive travel guide ever made, covering the planet as it does. It probably leaves a fair amount out, considering a follow-up book lists 1,000 places in the United States and Canada alone. One thousand places and events out of the roughly 510 million kilometers of planetary surface might seem a little scant, but most of that is probably just ocean anyway. But at the very least, reading through the brick of the book is sure to be educational and help you decide on a few vacation destinations.

On the other hand, the very title of the book almost seems to mock you. It might be possible to see all of these places before you die...just. The owner of said coffee shop has managed to get around to four continents over the course of his life for work and play, and has probably seen a good chunk of the listed sites. Aside from that, you'd probably have to hit something like 15 places per year over the course of your vacations. And most people probably get a later start or don't exactly have the resources to go bumming around Tunisia at age 83.

Flipping through the book, I was a little amused that some places simply don't show up. You don't need to see anything in the state of Kansas before you die, including a museum that includes the command capsule of Apollo 13 and a huge range of other space race artifacts.

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, which you don't need to see before you die.

I found out about this interesting-sounding location in the flats of tornado land via Wikipedia, after checking to see if the rumor really was true and there's nothing interesting in Kansas. The book also contends that there's nothing worth seeing in the area of Maine where I've lived for the past two years. Some days that seems true, but some of the hikes around here certainly seem worthwhile.

Friday, April 3, 2009

"Videotaping this crime spree is the best idea we've ever had!"

Yesterday, we posted this story on our breaking news section. For those of you who just can't muster the energy to move your mouse over to click that link, here's the gist: a bunch of teens and old-enough-to-be-charged-as-adults set off some Molotov cocktails in a vacant building. They weren't supposed to be in the building, and you're not supposed to make homemade explosives to set off in buildings you're not allowed in. That's what those in the law enforcement community call burglary and arson.

These Rhodes scholars were kind enough to not only record these felony crimes, but also to scroll a line of credits listing the names of all of those involved. Police subsequently charged seven people with crimes that could result in 40 years in prison if the judge throw the book. Note: that won't happen. Burglary charges are generally let off easily, and even arson charges seem to result in a matter of months in county; given the age of these kids, they'll probably get even less.

One of the first comments we got was a question of whether we can charge people with the crime of stupidity. On one level, it seems like a good idea. A misdemeanor, for sure, but a bit of a punishment for being so damn brainless as to make everyone wonder if humanity is looking for a jackhammer to get past rock bottom. Then again, stupidity might fall more along the lines of insanity: a way of getting one's sentence reduced because they simply didn't know better. At any rate, crimes of stupidity free up police time to tackle other crimes, so it might be difficult to argue that it's a bad thing.

I remember criminals having the urge to film themselves breaking the law since videotapes were in fashion, so it isn't surprising that YouTube idiocy seems to be on the rise. Here's a story on some drug dealers bragging about selling crack in a rap video; here's one on some people who threatened their neighbors with illegal weapons online; and here's one on police investigating a fatal gang beatdown that was posted on the site. And these are all from browsing through the past week of news that returned hits on "YouTube arrest."

You know what? Screw those jagoffs. Here's Chocolate Rain.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Break out the sad tissues: Dinosaurs finale

Dinosaurs opening screen

The dinosaurs went extinct. So if you're going to make a TV show about the lives of a dinosaur family, the plot of the finale seems kind of inevitable. It doesn't make it any less sad, though.

Quick overview: Dinosaurs ran from 1991 to 1994 and followed the lives of the Sinclair family of thunder lizards. It was virtually identical to the Simpsons setup (blue collar father Earl, homemaker mother Fran, son Robbie, daughter Charlene, and infant Baby) but evidently Jim Henson had the idea for the show as far back as the 1970s. The characters were voiced by some fairly well-known voice actors (including Kevin Clash, the guy behind Elmo, for Baby Sinclair).

I was seven years old when the show started, so of course I was more drawn to the show because there was a character with a funny voice who hit his father on the head with a pot and said, "Not the Mama!" By the time it ended, I think I had grasped that there were a few other layers of humor that I wasn't quite appreciating, and watched reruns on the Disney Channel when I was in middle school. Most people seem to remember the show mainly for the Baby's antics, but there was a surprising amount of adult-themed subtext. For example, the dinosaurs discovering a "happy plant" or an entire episode dubbed "What Sexual Harris Meant."

The dinosaurs themselves were done with animatronics, and the range of movement and expression is still impressive today. The cost of operating the dinos and a declining audience were apparently the reasons behind the show's cancellation.

The dinosaurs were actually Cylons

The plot of the final episode basically had the moral "Don't try to fix the environment by fucking it up even more." A migration of beetles fails to appear as usual to feast on cider poppies because WeSaySo, the company Earl works for, has built a wax fruit factory on the beetles' breeding ground. The poppies grow out of control, and the dinosaurs respond by going Agent Orange on them, wiping out all plant life on Earth. WeSaySo gets the brilliant idea to bomb volcanoes to make clouds to make rain and bring the plants back, but it causes the planet's temperature to drop and...well, this is how the series ends:

When I first saw the finale, I didn't see the episode listed as the last one or something like that, so I was in active denial that it was ending. In a way, I was right; seven other episodes never aired but came out while the show was syndicated. When I saw the finale for the second time, I was in tears. The episode itself has an undercurrent of despair but still manages to be funny, until that last scene. Everything about it, from the music to the snowdrifts to the fact that no other show I know of ended with the death of all of the characters you'd grown to know and love, is extraordinarily depressing.

I also didn't notice until watching the clip again that Howard Handupme, a regular character and the newscaster who closes the show, is probably better at his job than anyone on cable news today. He closes a report on the end of the world with sorrow and gravitas that is downright Murrow-esque. Whereas CNN would probably be spending time trying to get unnecessary graphics to function, Fox News would be trying to pin everything on the liberals, and CNBC would be telling you that it's a good time to invest.

Dinosaurs was finally released on DVD some years ago. The announcement was made not long after I figured it was never going to happen and got bootleg discs of the 65 episodes that aired. I think the official DVD includes a featurette on the finale, but I wasn't able to find it online. I'll probably break down and buy the DVDs at some point. The bootlegs can still be valued if for no other reason than they've captured some old commercials from the era in which they were taped ("Whatever it is, I think I see...becomes a Tootsie Roll to me!!").

Welcome to your doom!

This isn't so much a new blog as an updating of my old one on Xanga. I started that one back in the day when several of my friends started up blogs and it was a nice way to goof around with them online. Then we all graduated and people gravitated away from the Xanga blogs, sometimes permanently and sometimes to other platforms.

I started up The Downfall Dictionary, my other Blogspot account regarding political scandals, in November and like the format here. It's all part of Google's plan for world domination, I'm sure, but they seem to be benevolent overlords. The tracker on the Xanga site has been picking up nothing but some sort of RSS checkup from California for weeks; hopefully this site will fare better in visits, for whatever content I end up producing.

My personal blogging has suffered slightly since I can't comment too much on politics or on work, so what's left are the hours of free time where I pretty much do the following: read, watch TV, play video games, write on my other blog, sleep, and hang out with friends. I'll probably still be somewhat short on time, but hopefully I've got a better way of producing entries now. My plan now is to expand into more reviews, game ideas, what encyclopedias are good for now that Wikipedia is all-consuming, etc. And if something exciting actually happens to me, I'll let you know.

Be sure to set The Rendezvous Point coordinates in your favorites or RSS reader, and I'll be back in just a bit with a legitimate entry!