Friday, March 31, 2006

"....and out like a lamb"

March came in like the proverbial lion. Only this was a lion with rabies...and mange...and a bad attitude. Roawrrrr!

This was my driveway earlier this month. Today, I was out in that very same driveway, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, shooting hoops in the 70-degree sunshine. The crocuses (crocii?) and daffodils are coming up, and buds are budding on all the trees.

Speaking of basketball, I'm doing pretty good from the foul line, but I'm still a bit random from 3-point range. Meaning, I'll either completely miss everything or hit nothing but net. But hey, I got all summer to practice!

Tomorrow is April Fool's Day. I'll have to think of something adequately silly for the blog. Or maybe nothing, depending on my mood.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Looks like fun!

If you've always dreamed of a nice peaceful ocean voyage, where you can enjoy a glass of wine while strolling on the promanade deck of a luxurious ocean liner...then this ain't the show for you!

"The Deadliest Catch" season two premiered this week on The Discovery Channel. The Deadliest Catch is a thrilling documentary series about one of the world's deadliest jobs - that of the Alaskan crab fisherman. Each week the series follows the captains and crews of five ships on this dramatic voyage as they struggle against treacherous conditions to earn a living and, in many cases, to uphold family tradition that has lasted for generations.

Forty-foot waves, freezing temperatures, swinging 700-pound crab pots, a nearly 100 percent injury rate ... but also the chance to earn enough money for a family to live on for a year or more, for just a few months' work.

I'll admit, it looks pretty damned thrilling. They showed a little bit of what the camera crews had to put up with, and even though it looked slightly less dangerous than what the fishermen were doing, they were still out there in the frigid cold on a boat that could sink (they often do) in the Alaskan seas. Not a job for the weak of heart.

Tuesdays at 9PM ET on The Discovery Channel.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Postponed due to illness...really

Last night we were supposed to do a test taping at the studio for Lori's music video. But nature, in the form of a stomach virus, had different plans.

Lori called me Monday morning, and said she had a touch of the flu and didn't want to get us sick. Then, when I called Anthony, he said he needed to skip the taping because his wife was sick and he was taking her to the doctor. I told him it was already cancelled, so not to worry.

Then as the day went on, I started feeling crappy. Then, more and more crappy. I came home around 3PM, and by 6PM I'd given up on trying to feel better and went to bed. Today, I felt even more nauseous, but I didn't puke.


Hopefully another night's rest will put me right. I hate getting sick just when the weather is finally getting nice. We'll reschedule the studio time for next week if possible.

Oh well...if you didn't get sick once in a while, you couldn't appreciate how good it feels when you're healthy.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

An outtake from "March Of The Penguins"


(Click on the image to enlarge it)

Visit "Partially Clips" for more comics.

...and the UConn Huskies got knocked out of the Men's NCAA Tournement by the scrappy upstarts from George-Mason, the 11th-seeded team who simply outplayed #1 seed UConn to win in overtime by 2 points. Well done G-M, and make history in the Final Four.

The UConn Women's team is starting the Sweet Sixteen round in Harbor Yard, Bridgeport; about 5 miles from my house. I never got around to buying tickets this year, so I'll watch it on TV. Go Huskies!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

UConn wins a thriller

I'm wide awake at 1:00 AM, and trying to keep the noise down so my wife can get a good night's sleep before having to get up at 5:45 AM for work.

But it's hard, because UConn had just put together a stunning comeback to tie the Sweet Sixteen round game against U-Dub (Washington) and force overtime.

UConn had trailed Washington by as much as 12 points, and was all but eliminated, down by 4 points with 21.2 seconds left. But a foul shot, some great defense, and a last moment clutch Rashad Anderson three-pointer tied the game and set up a dramatic victory.

Rashad Anderson and Marcus Williams

Marcus Williams bagged a lot of 3's and scored 26 points. UConn took control in the overtime period and won 98-92.

Although they won, UConn had an unbelievable 26 turnovers and were slow to rebound on the defensive boards. Their next game is against George Mason (who?) an 11-seed on Sunday. Unless the Huskies sleepwalk through that game, we should see them in the Final Four next week.

And what the hell happened to Duke yesterday? Those idiots messed up my bracket, because I had them going to the finals. Looks like I'm going to finish out of the money now because of them. Morons.

Now it's 1:30 AM. I'll post this later today, but now I have to crawl into bed without waking Joyce up.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Never, EVER, piss these guys off...

Some people you just don't mess with:

The Mafia
Colombian drug lords
Dick Cheney while hunting

And then there's Trey Parker and Matt Stone. You do NOT want to make it onto these guy's shit list.

In a widely publicized story, Isaac Hayes (the voice of "Chef") recently left his gig on "South Park" (otherwise known as "The Easiest Job In Show Business"), claiming he didn't like the way they disrespected religion. He quit after the rerun episode on Scientology was taken off the schedule after pressure from Tom Cruise. It apparently didn't bother Hayes, a longtime Scientologist, when the show lampooned every other religion over the years.

But Scientologists are famous for their complete lack of anything resembling the ability to laugh at themselves. Talk about a joyless way to live..."Don't laugh, Xenu might be watching!"

Parker and Stone, while not mentioning Scientology by name, portrayed Chef as being brainwashed into becoming a child molester by something called the "Super Adventure Club". Anyone familiar with the South Park episode on Scientology will definitely get the jokes.

Chef is punished by Parker and Stone by being killed in the following ways:

Catching on fire,
then falling off a cliff,
then being impaled on a branch,
then being mauled by a lion,
then suffering repeated gunshots by people trying to kill the lion,
and finally being dismembered by a grizzly bear and the lion.

And then his corpse crapped his pants.

Like I said, don't piss these guys off.

The show ended somewhat ambiguously, with the door left open for a Darth Vader-like Chef possibly making another appearance.

Let's see what that whinging asshole Tom Cruise has to say about THIS episode.

And to learn more about what a travesty Scientology actually is, check out Operation Clambake.

"It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham."

(props to Woody Allen for that quote from "Bananas")

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Back to the Studio

Next Monday I've scheduled some studio time for my friend Lori Fogler. She's the creator of "Grandma's Kitchen" in addition to being a singer and pianist. She wants me to shoot some video of her performing in front of the green screen, with the intent of illustrating her songs with images/videos behind her.

Anthony's gonna work with us on this, and we're thinking of setting up a two-camera shoot. We still need to work out how we're supposed to mic the whole setup, but Lori is working on some suggestions I had, and hopefully by Monday she'll have it figured out.

It's been a while since I've done anything in the studio. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

March Madness update

Well, the first two rounds of the tournement are over, and we're down from 64 teams to 16, with two more weekends of basketball to go. The first place seeds in all four brackets are still in; the UConn Huskies, Duke Blue Smurfs, Memphis Belles, and Villanova Dung Beetles (I'm not 100% sure of the team names on those last three) are all well on their way to Final Four berths.

UConn's Rudy Gay shoots a three-pointer against Kentucky

Today my wife called me from work to let me know that going into the Sweet Sixteen round I'm leading the prize pool (her boss is running it). So far I'm doing about 75%, which is good enough for now. The big games start next weekend, and I'm hoping that I continue with my percentage; there's only one game where I don't have either team selected, and in the two other games where I have one team picked, they're both big favorites. What that means is that out of the 8 games next weekend, I definitely will win 5 of them and have the favorite in 2 more.

Dem's pretty good odds dere!

Joyce already told me that I have to buy her dinner if I win.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Health Club update

OK, so why do they call it a "Health Club"? They should call it a "Muscle-Soreness Producing Torture Pit" instead. That would be truth in advertising.

Because I can barely move without screaming this morning. I mean, I'm not stupid. I knew that I was going to feel the workout this morning. But because of the advanced state of mushiness my muscles had been enjoying up until yesterday, they weren't ready for a full-body workout.

So, today they're letting me know about it.

This is what I'd look like if all my skin was peeled off of me. I bet it wouldn't hurt any worse than it already does.

Anyway, I'm coping with the proper amount of rest (a lot), applying the heating pad, and taking the prescribed medication for recovery (see below):

Ah....I'm feeling much better now!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Yeah, I joined a gym...

...because I accidently gained like twenty pounds in the last 18 months, so I figured it was time do something about it.

I originally thought watching TV and drinking beer was a good fitness strategy, but apparently it isn't. Who'd have thought that?

I figured it couldn't hurt to join a gym, and as a bonus there might be imaginary hot babes (see photo below) working out there.

So I signed up with Planet Fitness, the nearby and quite reasonably-priced health club. They charge a mere $49 sign-up fee, then a measley $10 a month; and you can quit any time, which is quite important to a slack-ass like me.

I made an appointment for the orientation with a personal trainer. Unfortunately, there weren't any slutty whore vixens in stars and stripes hot pants working out, just your usual normal people. Which was pretty much what I expected.

But then I saw the guy who was supposed to be my fitness consultant, and I got a little worried:

Actually, Gary the Personal Trainer Guy looks nothing like that, but I thought it would be funny. Gary is a Brit (or an Australian, or a Kiwi, Canadian, Welshman, or one of the many other bastard Englishmen-types who've washed up on our shores to confuse us with all their continental talk of kilograms and Celsius degrees and national health care) and in spite of that he's a fairly cool guy. He patiently explained how an out-of-shape mushy guy like me can avoid debilitating injury by using the equipment properly. I paid attention.

My diligence must have paid's a photo of me after just ONE session:

Wow! My wife wanted to know why I shaved my chest and beard; and why my man-nipples descended so low on my pecs. I told her that in order to be as awesomely ripped as I've become, something had to give.

So there went my man-ples.

Friday, March 17, 2006

"It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!"

By that, of course, I mean it's March Madness time!

Yes, it's the Big Dance, that special time of year when the Top 64 NCAA basketball teams battle it out over several weeks to choose a National Champion.

Part of the fun of March Madness, aside from watching the incessant TV coverage of the games, is the Tournement Bracket betting pool.

I'm in for $10 this year, and if I win I'll end up with 70% of the prize pool. Second place gets you 30%, and for 3rd you get your ten bucks back. I could win a G on this.

Here's an image of the 64 team bracket:

After yesterday's sixteen games, I stand at 12-4, which isn't too bad, but the first round is usually easy to pick because there are so many top seeds playing against bottom seeds. The one upset I didn't foresee was Texas A&M (12) over Syracuse (5); and the Oklahoma (6) loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee (11) didn't help much either.

Going to the Final Four, I've picked Duke, UConn, BC, and Gonzaga. If these teams all make it, I'm pretty much in the money. For the final, I got Duke over UConn, with 155 total points scored (the point total is the tiebreaker if someone else picked as many winners as you). I'm a big UConn fan, but if they lose while Duke wins and it makes me money, I'll somehow get over the disappointment.

Whatever happens, it's still a great time of the year. Spring is just around the corner, and I'll soon take the cover off my sailboat "Full Tilt" and get ready for a fun summer.

The Amazing History of Computers (Redux)

UPDATE: Apparently my Blogger server has been acting squirrely, so I apologize for the multiple posts that appeared today. I deleted them and retyped my post. And I added something cool at the end.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Nah, not really. But there's plenty of geeky type stuff below.

About 25 years ago I got my first grownup-type job, and I was an earnest young computer tech. These days, I'm a tired old computer tech, but that's besides the point. I recently found a cool website called DigiBarn, which is a sort of computer museum.

The DigiBarn website has photos of antique computers, mostly from the '70's and '80's. Here's some of the ones I worked on more than 20 years ago:

The Sol 20 was one of the first "true" fully packaged personal computers. Note the wooden sides made of fine walnut. And the dual 5-1/4" floppies were AWESOME! Single-sided 180 kilobytes of raw data, times TWO!

The NorthStar Horizon was another computer that had wood in it's case, like a 1950's television. They ran MegaBasic, which to this day I don't know anything about. NorthStar was one of the earliest computer companies to use Novell networking to connect it's later PCs.

The Commodore 2001 PET was another early networked computer. We used Corvus networking, which I'm pretty sure is defunct these days. Check out that snazzy data cassette drive BUILT RIGHT INTO THE COMPUTER! WOW!!!

Finally, an early notebook computer. Well, more of a portable computer. Meaning you can pack it up and carry it like a suitcase full of bricks. Lead bricks. The kind of lead bricks that Superman's X-Ray vision wouldn't have a CHANCE of penetrating. The Kaypro was a very successful computer, actually.

For it's time.

Which is over.


There's many more ancient computer pictures on the Digi Barn website. Click the link above to check it out. Maybe I'll post more pictures sometime.

If I'm bored.

Or if I'm completely out of blog ideas.

Like now.

And for something cool, check out The Amish Laptop.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Slap shoot

Tonight I was asked to fill in to run the camera at a hockey game. I figured, "hey, why not?"

So I drove to the Yale rink, and met up with Vince Cerrillo, the hockey announcer.

The camera was set up about 8 feet up, so it would have an unobstructed view of the ice. They stacked up two pairs of milk crates, so I had to tape the entire game standing on top of this rickety setup.

The two teams were Notre Dame (Fairfield) and Trumbull. I played football against Trumbull about 30 years ago, when I was a tackle at Milford High School (Class of '77). I remember (vaguely) one time after a play ended I was on the ground, and some gutless bastard kicked me in my helmet. Rang my bells something fierce.

I was dizzy as hell for the next 10 minutes. I was playing both offense and defense, so I couldn't take a break...I almost threw up on the field.

I never forget about that. So when Notre Dame beat Trumbull in the overtime period tonight, I was happy. Even though it was hockey, not football.


It's pretty damned difficult shooting a hockey game with a single camera! By the 3rd period my neck was killing me, my back was sore, and my feet were tired from balancing on the milk crates. The overtime didn't help.

But it was cool...and I'll get to see it on Public Access in a week, so I'll post an update about how it looks.

St. Paddy's Parade in Milford

We had awesome weather for the parade last weekend. L to R: Joyce, her sister Jean, with daughter Jackie and husband John.

We were located at a kind of bottleneck for the parade, so the bands often had to stop and we got to hear them play an entire song. John is a long time friend, so we sat there making fun of the parade. We were joking about how the kids were behaving, and we got an idea for a "Toddler Obedience School", where we'd get Gunnery Sargeant Hartman from "Full Metal Jacket" to discipline the children.

We imagined him standing with his hand out in front of him, yelling "Now lean forward and choke yourself!" to a little 3 year-old. Of course we were laughing like maniacs.

Fortunately, the wind was light, so all the children watching weren't traumatized. I've worn a kilt once before, and I developed a real understanding of what the gals go through daily while wearing skirts. One little gust, and everyone sees your "twig and berries" (as Austin Powers would say).

I guess that's why they call it a "stiff" breeze!

LOL! ROFL!!! WTF!!!!! OMG!!!!!11!!1!ELEVEN!1!!1!!!...

...I'm just too funny sometimes.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

From The "Maybe We Should Have Told The Cops" Department

Being something of a filmmaker (I like to kid myself), I'm aware of the millions of tiny details that have to be addressed when shooting a film. Such as coordinating the schedules, budget, locations, equipment, etc. But whenever you shoot on location (even if you have a permit), it's a good idea to let the local authorities know what you're doing.

Especially when you're filming at a commercial airport.

And especially when your actors are posing as terrorists with assault rifles attempting to hijack a Lear jet. Read on...

Sikorsky Airport

"Police Steal Scene During Movie Shoot"
Cruisers storm Sikorsky airport after pilot spots men with rifles
by DIRK PERREFORT - Connecticut Post, March 12, 2006

STRATFORD — Police with lights blazing and sirens blaring descended on Sikorsky Memorial Airport Saturday after reports of a dozen armed men of "Middle Eastern origin" on the tarmac.

What authorities found instead was the crew of a low-budget independent film called "Soldier in the Shadows." Crew members were dressed in dark-colored clothing and carrying large black rifles. The political thriller is shot in a post 9-11 world that involves a former Delta Force operative searching for an Arabic terrorist in New York City.

Stamford resident Kit Redding, who is co-producing the feature film with Umo and David Olivera, said they were shooting one of the last scenes at the airport around noon when police in about six cruisers burst onto the tarmac.

"The scene involved an Arab extremist who is trying to get away in a Lear jet with some important information," Redding said.

The film crew began shooting at the airport on Friday and wrapped up Saturday. Kurt Sendlein, superintendent of operations for the airport, said it was an embarrassing miscommunication that resulted in the response by both the Stratford and Bridgeport police departments.

He said a pilot who saw several armed men of Middle Eastern descent near the planes contacted the control tower. The tower personnel, however, failed to tell the pilot about the movie and the pilot then called 911.

"The pilot did what he was supposed to do," Sendlein said. "He saw something that was suspicious and he contacted the authorities. Unfortunately, we had a breakdown in communication. It was more of an embarrassment than anything."

Right. The kind of embarrassment that can get you killed if the cops happen to show up in the middle of an action scene.

The article states that a similar situation occurred earlier in the shoot while filming on a rooftop in lower Manhattan. The cops burst down the door with guns drawn.

Sheesh! You'd think after THAT they'd figure it out. But nope, no way. Maybe they think their movie would get a lot of publicity if a couple actors got blown away during the shoot. (Trust me, there's directors out there who would drool over notoriety like that!)

Thirty years ago, when I was shooting a high-school film (Jesus H. Christ, has it really been that long?), we had our actors running all over downtown with fake guns drawn, and nobody blinked an eye. These days, living in this post-9/11 world, I'd have to be clinically insane to try something like that.

Then again...if it would get me on the news...hmmmmmm.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"The Office" (NBC)

The tradition of NBC having good sitcoms on Thursday night has been revived, with the addition of "My Name Is Earl" and "The Office" to it's lineup.

Steve Carell ("The 40 Year-Old Virgin" and former "The Daily Show" correspondent) heads a fine ensemble cast in this show about, well, an office. Apparently this show was adapted from a BBC sitcom with the same name.

The unusual way the show is taped looks something like a documentary, but without any narration or (to me, anyway) point. The characters are viewed in an almost voyeuristic way, and have frequent pauses of self-consciousness that brings the viewer into the moment in an uncomfortable way. Which is half the fun of this show; awkward moments and embarrassing situations abound.

Not only is the writing superb, but Carell is joined by a solid group of actors featuring Rainn Wilson, B.J. Novak, Jenna Fischer, and John Krasinski, who each week bring depth and humanity to the chaos.

Check it out.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Independent Spirit Awards

Yesterday was the Independent Spirit Awards, indy-film's answer to the Academy Awards.

Sarah Silverman, a lovely and spectacularly crude comic, hosted the awards with just the right amount of snark and filth (a somewhat difficult act to pull off). She discussed how the Independent Spirit Awards recognize the work of struggling artists, "such as Ang Lee and George Clooney".

She proceeded to describe how her vagina "smells like a mountain breeze." Then the AMC network bleeped a full 8 seconds of her followup must have been a good one.

She pointed out a bunch of actors in the audience, then went "Oh my god, there's Felicity Huffman...I'm such a big fan of his."

Best Supporting Actress - The simply adorable Amy Adams, "Junebug"
Best Screenplay - Dan Futterman, "Capote"
Best Documentary - "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room"
Best First Feature - "Grand Canyon", no, I mean "Crash"; I'm always confusing them.
Best Female Lead - Felicity Huffman, "Transamerica"; her performance justified the recognition...she's a creepily convincing pre-op tranny.

Kevin Smith presented for Best Director, and he didn't fail to deliver laughs:

"I know we're here to honor the nominees, but I'd like to give a shout out to our host, Sarah Silverman...'cause finally, there's an award show host you'd wanna fuck!" (huge laugh)

"Kinda like Jon Stewart...I could see myself getting all Heath Ledger on him," (spits in his hand) "you know, that kinda thing."

He then went on to recall his last appearance at the awards, eight years ago when he won for "Chasing Amy", and how that night he boned his future wife for the very first time. Call him what you will, but Smith's a romantic at heart.

Ang Lee won for Brokeback Mountain, and Lee graciously accepted the award from Smith with the remark, "Now that's a director!"

Philip Seymour Hoffman won Best Actor for "Capote", although it had to be a close call between him, David Straighthorn ("Good Night and Good Luck") and Heath Ledger ("Brokeback Mountain").

Best Feature was (no surprise) "Brokeback Mountain", which has been mislabeled as the "gay cowboy" movie; it's much more accurately described as a tragic love story...

...between homos.

Next up: The Academy Awards!

OSCARS UPDATE: I totally knew "March of the Penguins" would beat "Murderball" for Best Documentary. See my post from December 16th about that. "March of the Penguins" was cute and heartwarming, but c'mon, it's only about BIRDS! "Murderball" is about people who have overcome staggering disabilities to reclaim their self worth. "March..." was good and all, but it was made by French people.

French people made "Irreversable" too. If you've never seen it, take my advice, DON'T! Sick bastards. That's a movie I wish I'd never seen. Who knows, maybe they tortured the penguins to death as soon as the cameras were turned off.

Actually, I have nothing against the French. It's just kind of funny how pissed off they get when you make fun of them.

Philip Seymour Hoffman snagged Best Actor, "Crash" was arguably the Best Picture, Reese Witherspoon was a dark horse yet won Best Actress, Ang Lee deservedly got Best Director, Rachel Weisz won a Supporting Oscar for "The Constant Gardener", although her character could have technically been catagorized as a starring role, and George Clooney, who clearly was having a good time tonight, won Best Supporting Actor for his work in "Syriana".

He commented when he won his award early in the evening, "I guess now I'm out of the running for best director."

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cold plus precipitation equals...

...more snow.

Not as much as last time, but enough to run my snow blower. It works great! Look at how it plastered the snow on my neighbor's fence...

For some reason, the snow plow drivers go like bastards when they pass my house. EVERY time I shovel the walk, they go flying be and bury the sidewalk again.

So I cleaned it for the third time just now. Even though the streets are clean, it's a foregone conclusion they'll drive by one more time, just to bust balls.


UPDATE: Funny how the snow goes away when the sun hits it. The photos below are about 5 hours later; the sidewalk is clean, and the snow melted off the neighbor's fence. The driveway is on the north side of the house, so it didn't get as much sun; hence the thin layer of stubborn snow.