Friday, July 30, 2010

...For The Ride Home: More on this LeBron story, Ellen and Kara out on "Idol" and we'll see y'all in a week!

A hell of an afternoon. Such is the life we live in. We send Week 18 off into the twilight with a picture of a beach. Why? That's because, yes, though we love you, the two of us will both be somewhere far, far away on vacation all of next week. This will be a bit of a departure from the vacation I recently took, in which the other half of this operation stayed with you by offering his usual two posts a week. This time around, we will both be gone, thus leaving you with a blank space in your heart for a week. I know, I know. How many vacations could I possibly need? Answer: Whatever the amount, it's not enough. This doesn't mean we both don't still love you, and, for that matter, we pray we see you back here in a week, ready and excited as ever. We promise there will be no more vacations for a very long time after this. Pinky swear, in fact. So alas, we leave you lovely, attractive readers with the following links to hold you over until a week from Monday, a date I believe is August 9th. Until then, please, please keep in mind that no matter how many breaks we may take, or how far away we may be, as always, love you, miss you.

This makes me laugh every time I read it. (Twitter)

More on this LeBron James story that I find fascinating. Also, this is exactly why The Big Lead is my favorite blog on the planet: A real in depth look at how things probably happened for those who don’t know about how these things happen. (The Big Lead)

Five things you should know before dating a journalist. “Yes, we think we’re smarter than you.” So, so great and so, so true. (Rock My Car)

As I’m certain you all heard: Ellen is out. Kara’s probably out. Looks like J-Lo and Steven Tyler are in at “Idol.” (Rolling Stone)

Very good idea. Taking the WikiLeaks stories and making them your own. (Columbia Journalism Review)

Wacky news agency hangs it up after three decades. Where are we going to get our “A bear walks into a bar…” stories? (AOL)

Sandy’s pissed. She needs to catch a break. Just one. (E! Online)

Ten cities perfect for young adults. Just can’t agree with Lansing, Michigan. (Yahoo)

“I Gotta Feeling” is nearing the six million mark in downloads. What is wrong with you people! (Pollstar)

Turns out Matt LeBlanc has gray hair, and has had gray hair. I don’t see anything wrong with this. Why did he dye it before? Gray is such a nice look. (USA Today)

Blogspot Banter: Placebo Journal Blog

July's Blogspot Banter takes a look at Dr. Doug Farrago of the Placebo Journal Blog, a blog that is a bit of an extension of a print magazine and newsletter of the same name. In big letters on the top of the blog's homepage, you will find the phrase, "Medical Humor With A Purpose," and that's pretty accurate.

In addition to relaying important information within the medical world (something I admittedly know absolutely nothing about), Farrago sprinkles in bits of wit, comedy and a desire to explain such information in a manner that is easy enough for even idiots such as myself to understand. In other words, even if you don't have much interest in medical issues and health topics, it's still certainly worth your time to check out if you happen to come across an few extra minutes.

Much like our previous subjects, the Placebo Journal Blog was once listed as a Blog of Note on Blogspot's homepage, and, just in case you forgot, this also has an actual magazine attached to it. Yes, friends. This is the real deal. The man behind the blog was nice enough to take a few minutes out of his day to answer some questions regarding how incredibly long his day can be, his patience with breaking through into the television world and, of course, his will to not want to anger his friends.

You can visit Farrago's blog here. We encourage you to look, leave him a nice comment or two, and spread the blogosphere love that we enjoy sharing with each and every one of you fantastically intelligent readers. Now, without any further ado, we present you with Dr. Doug Farrago, the man behind the Placebo Journal Blog. Enjoy.

Q: You’ve had your blog since 2007, I believe. That’s almost three years you have been running now. What gave you the idea to begin a blog mixing humor with medical issues? Did you come across any bit of inspiration for this particular blog?

A: The Placebo Journal blog came as natural extension to our print magazine, The Placebo Journal. It was a way to keep current (magazines don't really do that) and also comment on medico-political news.

Q: Your blog seems to have a consistent base of commenters. What advice would you give to a blogger starting out in regards to how to gain readership? Were there any struggles you had to begin with, and how did you overcome them?

A: Thanks for the praise, but blogs are always up and down. Only blog if you like writing or it's a release. Persistence and determination and patience will take you the rest of the way.

Q: How do you find time to blog around your professional career? Would you like to make a career around your blog and/or blogging?

A: I am a practicing physician (as well as editor to the Placebo Journal). I get up at 4:45 AM and take care of my dogs. Then I read email, do some work and then write my blog on current medical events. I then go to the gym and then to the office. I do not foresee making a career out of blogging but stranger things in life have happened.

Q: How important is the comments section/readership numbers to you?

A: It is good to know people care enough to have an opinion.

Q: Is this blog up and running for fun, and your own personal enjoyment, or is this something that you only find gratification in when you know other people are reading?

A: Both. It is a stress relief as well to write back about the lunacy going on in the health care profession.

Q: That said, have you become discouraged and have you ever considered giving up your blog because you thought no one cared/read? If so, how did you overcome those feelings?

A: I have a niche and a game plan. No one else competes with me with medical humor and sarcasm. I own this space and though it is small, it is all mine. I would love to grow it and keep going with all my writing. I do an e-newsletter (Placebo Gazette), videos (Placebo Television) and the print journal (Placebo Journal). I also travel the country doing keynote talks on "Humor and the Art of Medicine." All my stuff are spokes that are part of the same wheel or brand. I do get discouraged as opportunities (two possible television series) have come and gone for bigger things, but I am a patient man. It will come.

Q: How important do you think a name can be when beginning one’s own blog? Does it need to be catchy? Is a hook imperative?

A: Forget the name. Create your own brand and everything that goes along with that. The name should follow.

Q: What’s your favorite movie?
A: "Rocky"
Q: Favorite food?
A: Ice cream
Q: Favorite television show?
A: "The Office"
Q: When you are not working or blogging, what do you enjoy doing the most?
A: Taking a nap.
Q: What’s your favorite blog?
A: I don't want to piss any of my friends off, so no comment.

Double Feature: Dinner For Schmucks & Charlie St. Cloud

Each Friday, we will offer up two movies that are scheduled to be released within the accompanying weekend. We know, we know. It’s hard to come across blogs who ever actually get movie talk right. That’s why we won’t say much. A trailer. A paragraph. And boom – all you need to know about what new movies you can take your beautiful object of affection to see this weekend. It's like going to the drive-in movie theater. Remember those? So much fun. Thank us later, not now.

Dinner For Schmucks

It honestly, truly surprises me when people come up to me and say they really can’t wait for this movie to come out. Why? You can’t sell me anything particularly original and/or innovative about it. Sure, it might get a few laughs, and we all have our opinions on Steve Carell, but to say this is a movie you just can’t wait to see? Honestly? That’s like claiming to be excited for “American’s Got Talent” to come on. “To me, religion is like Paul Rudd. I see the appeal and I would never take it away from anyone, but I would also never stand in line for it.” That quote comes from Jeff on “Community” and it couldn’t be any more true. Maybe if “I Love You, Man” didn’t suck half as much as it did, I would be more inclined to be excited for such a movie, but really, have you ever seen a movie Mr. Rudd stars in that is exceptionally good in any aspect? Didn’t think so. Still, Carell is charming in his own right, and seeing him do the immense amount of press he’s done for this movie makes me want to support him in some odd way. Can’t imagine not waiting for the DVD, though. Movies are expensive these days.

Charlie St. Cloud

“It’s like his brother dies, and he likes to play baseball or something.” That’s what my roommate said when I asked why Zac (without a K or an H) Efron was on the television we were watching. It’s intriguing to me that he’s still getting as much work as he’s getting. It’s clear he wants to be taken seriously, or, at the very least, more than just a mere Disney Channel alum. But “17 Again” seemed too Disney for someone who wants to expand his horizons. That said, I admit I have yet to see “Me And Orson Wells,” a movie the kid reportedly shows some chops in here and there. But why is he so eager to be taken seriously? He’s only 22. That’s young. Besides, he should know by now that the best way to do that is to go away for a little while (three to five years), come back with a crazy-good film that earns rave reviews, and begin Act II of a career that people once dismissed as impossible. For his sake, I hope he eventually takes that advice. Until then, we will be subjected to such movies regarding a kid’s dead brother who likes to play baseball. Or something.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Taking a look at "Palinese," Jessica Simpson could be the next "Idol" judge and RIP Lorenzen Wright

It may be a week later, but I finally had the opportunity to look up Ms. Jan Jones' recent time on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." I only do this because I have never, ever seen her in an interview setting that made her look good. She simply just seems detestable on every single level. And I love "Mad Men." This time? Well, she referred to people in the audience who like to get autographs as "you guys," and it was in a context that seemed awkward and insulting, as though she's better than those who watch the show. Then, she was utterly dismissive of earning an Emmy nod. So, yeah, this sounds as though she didn't earn any nice points this time around, either. But she seemed happy, at least. Every other interview she's done has felt annoyed. Why root for her now, though? Because she recently started dating Jason Sudeikis, the coolest dude SNL has these days. She best not break his heart. Anyways, say hello to the final Thursday of July. You know what this means, right? A brand new Blogspot Banter for you tomorrow! Be excited. It also means the weekend is almost here! Be even more excited for that. Unfortunately (or fortunately), before any of those things come to fruition, we must offer some links to help the time pass by more quickly. You see. We love you. Really. We do.

Former NBA star Lorenzen Wright was found dead. This is probably the best column you could read on it. (The Commercial Appeal)

An ombudsman attacks PBS for developing something called “Palinese.” I’m sure you can figure it out. (PBS)

The classic should they or shouldn’t they when it comes to magazine cover designing. In this case, it’s Time magazine. (Time)

Well, this is interesting. A group of reporters cover and write the same story. Now, readers can choose which of those stories will actually run. Seems like a cheesy tactic. (Washington Post)

Why the hell would they give Jessica Simpson the “American Idol” seat? Still love “With You,” though. (Reality TV World)

Been meaning to post something about this, but I just keep forgetting. Argentina ousted Diego Maradona as manager from the country’s national team. Here’s a piece concerning what the eclectic star is going to do now. (CNN)

Yesterday Facebook. Today, Twitter. Tomorrow, Tumblr? The real reason we link this: His new album will now longer be called Good Ass Job. (New York Magazine)

CBS will introduce more gay characters on its shows. Wait. What was “Two And A Half Men” about, then? (The Celebrity Café)

Back To The Future

Early this week I did something I’ve never done before: I bought a laptop. And while this may seem like no big deal to most of you, I’ve always taken a bit of a hard-line stance against these machines – mainly because the cost to benefit ratio seemed positively ridiculous to me. But in the wake of stories like these, paired with the fact that my wonderful wife wanted one for some classes she’s taking, I figured now was as good a time as any to take the proverbial leap into 2005.

And of course, I bought the laptop right before I read the aforementioned article.

Such is my life.

But all in all, I’d say I’m happy with the purchase so far. We ended up going with a Toshiba Satellite something or other that was a steal according to the online reviews I looked up prior to (insert link to consumer reports post from a few weeks ago). The laptop was only $299! And in a rare stroke of good fortune, I checked a few days after I bought it and the same model went up to $369. Nice.

After looking at a couple different places, I bought the laptop at Best Buy. I would say my experience was good overall. I knew what I wanted before getting there, told the kid in the laptop section what I wanted and that I was in a hurry, he tried to sell me an extended warranty and the services of Geek Squad (two minutes tops), I declined, paid and was on my way.

The only hiccup was that I was paying in cash, which is apparently a new concept there. The kid ringing me out had to have a manager confirm that he counted my $316 correctly – and of course it took five minutes or so for a manager to make her way over to us. Really? You’ll let this kid sell high-tech equipment, talk about warranties and finance options but he can’t count less than $500? Lame.

And another question – I looked online for awhile the other day and I just can’t figure it out: When you buy a new computer from Best Buy, what EXACTLY does Geek Squad do? Last night I spent an hour or two setting our preferences, uninstalling the useless pre-set programs and favorites (who chooses that stuff anyways?), installing the anti-virus and networking the laptop to my wireless connection. Is that really worth $129 or whatever it costs? The only thing I haven’t done yet is create a Recover disk, and I’m sure Windows 7 will walk me through it pretty simply.

But I digress. There are obviously millions of people who would rather not spend the two hours setting it up, so Geek Squad, I suppose you win. Although I’m actually considering buying stock in the company just so I can get a peek at what they actually do. I picture this back room full of nerds playing cards and looking at Playboys from the mid 90’s, laughing at all the people who pay to give them their computers to work on for 15 minutes then sit on a shelf for a day and half.

Final question: Anyone know where I can get a cheap copy of Microsoft Office? Just kidding! I really don’t need Bill Gates’ legal team tracking me down.

See you at 4 p.m.., friends. Ride Ride Ride.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Kanye West has new songs, Kate Winsley has a new boyfriend and classic stories have a new home (kind of)

The best celebration in the history of sports. That's a bold statement, I know. But can you think of anything better? Especially in soccer, a sport that showcases celebrations more than any other sport, really. So funny. Welcome to Wednesday, the official half-way point of the week. I can't explain how much it angers me when people who I feel don't have good reason to say bad things about me, say bad things about me. Does this annoy you, too? This is a hard, hard life, you know. No matter how much you try, no matter the things you do, and no matter the steps you take in the right direction, some people can't get up from the low road. I know I'm not the best. But for the first time in a very long time, I'm fairly certain I'm not the worst either. Anyways, I now have a decision that I turn to you, my wonderful friends, about. I finished the second season of "Dexter" last night (crazy good), and, because I timed it perfectly, the third season arrived today. Do I begin watching that, or do I sit down with what Netflix has offered, "Whip It?" All suggestions would be much appreciated. It could be like an interactive game we play. Though before I'll be able to sit down with said television show or movie, I must offer the following links for your viewing pleasure. I sincerely hope you have a wonderful hump day. Be good, now.

Eminem is still at No. 1 after five weeks. This, friends, is awfully impressive in today’s fickle music world. Dude’s almost at two million. (MTV)

ESPN posts story about a night with LeBron. ESPN takes down said story about night with LeBron. Deadspin got to it before that happened, though, and you can read it here. (Deadspin)

It’s a new age for writing, that’s for sure. Here’s a look at classic magazine stories that recently popped up on Twitter. (The Pitch)

Chuck Todd on both Journolist and the WikiLeaks. It’s on the second page, but it’s worth it. (Politico)

Kate Winslet has a new boyfriend. “The Reader” was good, but “Revolutionary Road” was better. (Showbiz Spy)

Kanye West went to Facebook and didn’t poke anyone. Hehe. Get it? (All Hip-Hop)

Brad and Angie. Who’s the bread winner? (Fox News)

The best ballparks, logos, mascots, uniforms and team names in baseball. (Bleacher Report)

A salad is a salad is a salad is a salad.

So, I came across this last night. Wait, what? How the hell did you mindlessly come across this out of nowhere? I had a salad last night for dinner, silly. Or, as some may refer to it as, a dinner salad. It came from the world-renown salad-making power-house, Pizza Hut. I ate the salad, thought about salad, and then typed the world “salad” into a google news search, and that link is a result of what I found.

I’ve always loved salads but until the last couple months – months dedicated to losing weight and being healthy – I never gave the notion of a salad serious consideration when considering dinner. Around 30 pounds lost later, a highly decreased running regimen, one vacation behind me and another on its way (more about that Friday), and it’s safe to say I’m off the wagon when it comes to this healthy thing.

But I still love salads, though, which is maybe the one thing I can take away from the last couple months of the Hell that is not eating and running 60,000 miles a day. What this gives me is nothing, really, other than a longer timeframe before I inevitably put all of that weight back on. But, hey. At least I’ll look good for the rest of the summer, right? Wait, you can’t see me.

Anyways, this particular recipe kind of grossed me out. I love BLTs. And I love salads. But a BLT salad? Honestly? It just doesn’t sound right. Why do salad-makers always have this burning desire to pair any type of awkward food with other awkward foods? Or elaborate dishes with other elaborate dishes? It’s like a quest for each chef to bring entire dishes together (ala a BLT salad) to try and form some super-meal. Why? What’s wrong with having a BLT and a salad separately, but as one meal? Seems perfectly fine to me.

You know what’s really good? A simple chef’s salad, or a salad one gets while ordering some bigger, elaborate and expensive meal. Think about it. A tiny bowl with nothing more than lettuce, maybe a tomato and/or cucumber, a couple croutons and a damn good dressing to go with it. These things are completely over-looked these days with trendy diets and elaborate eat-right plans. It’s a shame, really. Because a salad is a complement to a better meal first and an entire course second. Those who think otherwise are totally missing out on some true salad fun.

And speaking of salad fun…

Always nice to get a Monty Python video in to start the day.

Now, does anyone out there know any good salad recipes? Thought I'd ask. It'd be impolite not to.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

...For The Ride Home: M.I.A. is the best, yet another no-hitter is thrown, U.S. media is the devil and fall fashion is here!

Found myself up unusually early Sunday morning. It finally, after a week's worth of stalling my Netflix que, gave me the opportunity to sit down and watch this movie. Remind me again why I like Jake Gyllenhaal? Oh, yes. It was "Zodiac," wasn't it? I don't know. It's hard for me to not like movies, but this one came up a bit short. Mr. Spiderman was pretty good here (especially toward the end), but as a whole, there was something inherently uninteresting about it. And Natalie Portman isn't all that attractive. Anybody out there who agrees with me? Didn't think so. Anyways, welcome to Tuesday, or, as July-lovers may call it, the final Tuesday of July. Beautiful day today, and even found the time to play a little tennis. Always good to get out and feel as though you weren't a particularly pathetic slob for all of the day by spending time in the sun and moving semi-quickly around a tennis court. Need to get some work done tonight, and if I manage to achieve such a goal, you can rest assured that a happy man I will be, if even for a few minutes. Before tonight comes around, though, I must offer up these links, remind you all to be nice to those you enjoy being around, and consider having pizza for dinner. Why? Because it just seems right. Be good, now.

A power ranking for “Mad Men” characters. A bit obnoxious at times, but interesting nonetheless. (Lisanti Quarterly)

Reason No. 361 to love M.I.A.: She blasts Lady Gaga in this interview. Fabulous. (Time Out)

Please, please don’t do this, beloved New York Jets. (ESPN)

Matt Garza threw the 250th no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season last night. A pie was thrown. (St. Petersburg Times)

Whoa. A new way to track newspaper circulation. One step? Counting one subscriber multiple times. This seems like one step forward, five steps backward. (Editor & Publisher)

And speaking of newspapers. According to this brand new, Earth shattering WikiLeaks device, the United States pays Afghan media to write nice stories. Something tells me this WikiLeaks thing is going to end up being much more important than people predict. (Yahoo)

Aretha Franklin and Condi Rice: Making lovely music together. (Christian Science Monitor)

$15,000 for porta-potties? Honestly? (TMZ)

Ten things you’ll need to consider when getting your fall wardrobe together. Hey, it’s never too soon to consider seasonal fashion. Besides, it’s almost August already. (Esquire)

Learning to fly

Saturday was one of the highlights of my summer, as myself, my brother, my better half of this blog and my better half in real life went to the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers concert in Pittsburgh.

Absolutely. Fantastic. Time.

The day exceeded expectations in every category. The traffic, usually a soul-crushing, schedule-destroying terror for concerts at this particular venue, was a breeze. The tailgating was tremendous: no grill this time, but we brought fried chicken, cole slaw, chips and french onion dip, all washed down with lots and lots of beer. The conversation was light and fun, yet inspired and honest at the same time. The heat was dreadful, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh, and then came the concert. We skipped the first band, The Drive By Truckers or something (???); they sounded very Americana, but somewhat watered down like many modern country acts. I could be way off here, mind you. Then Sir Petty (yes, I realize he has not been officially knighted but dammit maybe he should be) hit the stage with an earnest, driving set that was deemed “nearly perfect,” although I still say he could have played a hair longer.

There was, however, one thing that was unmistakably imperfect: a slight screw-up coming right out of the box. As the band went to ring out the first note of the night, someone came in too early, someone else came in too late and someone else didn’t come in at all. The band immediately cut the botched note off, regrouped and struck the chord in unison, beginning the show the way rock titans should.

But there it was, plain for all to hear. This iconic band, these gods among men, messed up their intro. It wasn’t colossal… it was barely noticeable in fact. But it happened, and we all heard it.

And it was awesome.

In an extremely poetic way, it was truly ironic. Here’s Tom Petty – the man. At that point, I related to his words and music even more than ever before, because those words and notes were being communicated by a mere mortal, not a myth or legend or deity. This is a man who falls short, who’s worked hard to get where he is, who can laugh at his mistakes.

For some people, I think seeing a hero slip can be a crushing experience, but I guess I’m at the point where my personal heroes need to be human and real. It’s a great feeling.

Now go pick up the new album “Mojo” and then Ride with us at 4 p.m.

Monday, July 26, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Super mega tour is announced, LeBron needs to shut up, and welcome to your official "Mad Men" thread

Put serious thought into a "Mad Men" Monday post to generate conversation about the show the day after a new one premiers. Wasn't quite sure how it would go over, so I'm going to use this valuable space to discuss all things "Mad Men" come Mondays. Please feel free to offer any opinions. I'll be sure to check back regularly throughout the day to get a word in with anyone who would like to speak about such things. But, wow. How great was the first episode? Betty reaffirms that she is the worst mother since Hitler. Don's date went absolutely fabulous, and count me in the minority if you have to, but I hope we see more of those two together. Oh, and the lines of the season may have already been uttered - one, when Don explains to Betty how "temporary" certain things are, the other, when he tells Peggy there's no room for a girl in the meeting. And the way the season opens, with the journalist asking the one question that the entire show has been centered around for four years now, "Who is Don Draper?" you know we may be in for quite possibly the best season the show has seen. Yeah, yeah. I know I jump to conclusions. Buy my God, I missed that show. OK. That's just me. Now it's on you (if you so choose, that is). As you do that, take a look at a few of these links, and begin your week in style by checking out the wonderful Hanson tonight on "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon." You see. It all comes full circle.

So now LeBron James has a hand in Chris Paul’s whereabouts? Come on, now. (The Big Lead)

I really, really like Rufus Wainwright. I do. (Popmatters)

Writer is ma-a-ad about being listed as a member of the now-defunct Journolist. Calls conservatives conspiracy hounds. (Village Voice)

So, everyone loves this “Top Secret America” series, right? (Politico)

The Huffington Post makes one dollar per year per reader. Didn’t know that. (Newsweek)

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Saves The Day, Motion City Soundtrack and Say Anything are touring together? This makes me feel equal parts young, old, excited, sad and happy. Goodness gracious. (Alternative Press)

I want one of these. In a total non-creepy way, of course. No, but seriously. I do. (Fox News)

This seems to be the story of the weekend: Pigeons poop on the Kings of Leon. Insert your own hipster “Kings of Leon now suck because they sell records” joke here. (CNN)

In an mmmbop, they're gone. (But now, they're back).

I got to do something I haven’t done in a looooong time Friday night (the extra o’s are to emphasize exactly how long it’s been): I found myself awake, slightly drunk and in front of a television with a cable package that features VH1 at three in the morning. This, of course, provided me the opportunity to take in this week’s VH1 Top 20 Countdown, a countdown that has seen more hosts than the Game Show Network.

This is important because it allowed me to see the Hanson video for “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’” for the first time in a long time. Because of this, as I traveled over the weekend, I made sure the band’s latest album, Shout It Out, was by my side as I drove down whatever road I happened to be on. Very, very manly, I know.

But it’s just so damn good. The music is happy. It’s got a little bit of soul to it. The sound is pure pop, and the kids’ voices have all matured (we think). Sprinkle in a horn section here and there, a few songs about how damaging a romantic break-up can be, and what you have is a serious candidate for Album of the Year. Or, well, to me, at least.

What adds to the album’s goodness is knowing that those dudes still make music. We’ve never seen them caught up in any type of scandal. They are all married, now. This is something like their 93rd record. None of them opted for a solo career. And, most importantly, they bring a glance back to what will end up being the last golden age of pop music that dominated the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

The other acts that shared the radio space with them around that time simply proved to lack substance and staying power, while these kids were taking time to hone their skills. Think about it. The Backstreet Boys? Sure they are still at least trying to have a music career, albeit with only four members, but did you honestly know that they released an album last year? (Side: Once interviewed A.J. for a piece I was working on and the entire experience couldn’t have gone any worse. It was a few days after Brian came down with the Swine Flu, and he happened to be sick as well. Oh, and so was I. Each question turned into us complaining to each other about what it’s like being sick. The piece ended up being awful.) ‘NSYNC? Remove Justin Timberlake from that equation and what you have is a bunch of guys who have absolutely no idea what they are going to do with the rest of their lives. Besides, they could never churn out anything better than “Pop,” so why try? 98 Degrees? Wait. Who?

Yes, I know these comparisons are boy band heavy, but remember, that’s what Hanson essentially was when “MMMBop” first hit. Plus, they were young. And heartthrob-y. You can’t name a 15 minute span of radio between 1997 and 2003 when you didn’t either hear any of the aforementioned groups, Savage Garden or Britney Spears. It was all pop, all the time, regardless of if you played your own instruments or not (which, I remember thinking it was possible none of Hanson actually did at the time, anyways).

So what’s my point? Well, Hanson wins, and they made it look easy by simply sticking to the book. They slowly got better at what they wanted to do for a living, they kept their respective lives in check, and seemed to have decided early on that they didn’t really care if it all went away tomorrow (which it did) by continuing to make music today. It still might not be completely cool to be a fan of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, group, but to say you don’t respect them would be a bit unfair. Besides, I could post this video every day for the next six months and never get sick of it…

Friday, July 23, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Atmosphere is going to tour, Bieber to star on CSI, Matt Barnes goes to L.A. and don't forget "Mad Men"

Week 17 comes to an end today. More importantly, we bid farewell to our second-ever themed week here at The Ride, Soul Week. Which do you believe is better? Soul Week or Norah Jones Week? That's tough, we know. Sending us off is Booker T & The MG'S with the classic "Green Onions." We saved these guys for last simply because they were the glue that held nearly every soul record together in the 1960s. The impact they had on the music is unmeasurable. So sad to see it go, though. So sad. Alas, we welcome Friday with open arms, ready to dive into the last week of July. Goodness, gracious, where did this summer go, friends? Hopefully for you, you have a bunch of crazy good plans for the weekend, much like we do. If you don't, though, do not forget about Sunday's "Mad Men" return, a return we stupidly proclaimed happened last weekend. We know it's true this week, though. Jan Jones will be on television tonight and Ms. Hendricks looked stunning last night. Before we get to any weekend shenanigans, we must offer a few links for you to mull over as your Friday night takes shape. We sincerely hope you enjoy what's left of July and you make this sultry summer night a night you may never forget. Be good, friends, and of course, as always, love you, miss you.

Atmosphere is touring. Anyone else know/like them? Takes me back. (Pitchfork)

Matt Barnes signed with the Lakers last night. Have to wonder how Kobe’s going to respond to that after the two provided us with one of the best moments of last season. (Los Angeles Times)

Only because we linked Whitlock’s attack on Mitch Albom earlier this week: The columnist now compares Reggie Bush to a slave. (Fox Sports)

Haven’t been this excited for a sports book in a long, long time. Jim Miller talks about what people can expect in his book – with the fabulous Tom Shales, I may add – regarding the ins and outs of ESPN. Fireworks will be had. (Sports Illustrated)

One of the greats, Daniel Schorr, died. He was 93. (NPR)

Remember that damning Rolling Stone piece about the general? Yeah, that was supposed to go to GQ, but the magazine turned it down. (The New York Observer)

Again, don't forget that “Mad Men” kicks off Sunday. Here are 10 questions with Don Draper. (Time)

Justin Beiber is going to be on CSI. No way he lives up to Taylor Swift’s guest spot. (People)

Oh, we love you, Tracy Morgan. (TMZ)

Double Feature: Salt & Ramona and Beezus

Each Friday, we will offer up two movies that are scheduled to be released within the accompanying weekend. We know, we know. It’s hard to come across blogs who ever actually get movie talk right. That’s why we won’t say much. A trailer. A paragraph. And boom – all you need to know about what new movies you can take your beautiful object of affection to see this weekend. It's like going to the drive-in movie theater. Remember those? So much fun. Thank us later, not now.


How convenient. A movie about a female Russian spy hits theaters right after…a female Russian spy stirs up controversy in the good, old U.S.A. Saw the extended trailer for this before “Inception” earlier this week, and to be honest, it brought the movie from “no way I’ll ever, ever see this” status to “well, if it’s a Sunday afternoon, and there’s nothing on, and TNT happens to be the only channel to come in clearly on my television, I’ll give it a shot” status. Angelina Jolie looks oddly good in these previews, though, right? Sure, blonde isn’t quite her color, but how sexy does she look in that jet black hair? And I don’t even like jet black hair. Plus, she seemed to have dropped 15 pounds for this role, bringing her total weight to somewhere around 62. This seems interesting enough, and for people who love spy and/or action movies, why not give this a shot? After all, “Wanted” wasn’t really all that bad, right?

Ramona and Beezus

Because there is absolutely nothing else coming out this weekend, we take this, a film starring the not-so-kid-anymore actress Selena Gomez in a family comedy that is sure to rake in 10s of dollars over its opening weekend. Fun fact: Did you know she was once in the Barney show? I didn’t. That sure earns her a boatload of cool points, though. I came across an interview with her promoting the film this week, and both her and the subsequent host were absolutely gushing over the little girl who shares the spotlight with the Disney star. Could this be a new Abigail Breslin on our hands? Highly unlikely. Still, though, Ms. Gomez celebrated her 18th birthday this week, so if you own kids, and you want to go to the movie theater, why not give the star your hard earned money, if nothing else, because she made it to 18 without having to check into rehab. Now if I could only find out why her Wikipedia page as the band Forever The Sickest Kids listed as an “Associated Act.”

Thursday, July 22, 2010

...For The Ride Home: The Beach Boys are going to reunite, host of 'Nightline' is on his way out and an interview with Taylor Hawkins

Oh, it's going to be so sad to see Soul Week come to an end tomorrow. Today, we offer up one of the most important songs by one of the most important artists in the history of the music, Rufus Thomas' "Walk The Dog." This is a neat video, too. I wanted to get a performance of it that would stay true to the original recording, and lo and behold, I stumbled upon this. And it's even in black and white! So what's up? Not too much here, either. I felt sick yesterday in an awfully weird way. I was super hot. Then I was super cold. My body ached. I didn't really want to eat anything, but that didn't mean I wasn't hungry. And it wasn't as though I needed to hoark. I just didn't want to eat. It was awful. I'm still a bit hazy, even. Don't really understand what's going on with my body. Maybe it's the non-stop fun of Soul Week. That may be it. In any case, here's hoping that you, the fabulously pretty reader, don't feel as physically awful as I do, allowing you to take a gander at a few links below. One more day and then the weekend. You ought to be excited, you know.

The Beach Boys are going to reunite. No, honestly. They are. (Rolling Stone)

I know I’m five seasons behind, but I still love “House.” Hope this stuff doesn’t end up being too damning. (TMZ)

“Do I like a lot of what I hear on rock music radio? No, not for the most part. I’m not a fan of the regurgitated Pearl Jam and Nickelback crap.” An interview with Taylor Hawkins. (Popmatters)

Martin Bashir, the host of the greatest show I never have time to watch, “Nightline,” is leaving the program for MSNBC. (The Huffington Post)

ESPN’s ombudsman tackles the mess that was the LeBron James special. It’s like putting a golf ball on a tee and being promised you could smash it 350 straight down the fairway. Come on, now. Who isn’t going to kill that? (ESPN)

Rapper Lloyd Banks wins an assault charge case. Anybody remember “On Fire?” That was the jam for around six minutes. (All Hip-Hop)

The guy who won the British Open told his caddy that he would be fired after the tournament. Guess how that turned out. (Sports By Brooks)

Bristol and Levi: Poster children for the dumbing down of America. (Washington Post)

The cultural phenomenon that is CAPTCHA

Today’s post is ridiculously pointless and irrelevant – consider yourself warned.

Thanks to this blog, a Facebook page, an RSS feed, e-mail blasts and other methods of sharing information online, I’ve become supremely aware of CAPTCHA – the coding that dissuades spammers from… well, spamming I guess.

You know these things, even if you didn’t know what they were called: when you go to post a link on Facebook and you have to type two blurry words first… that’s CAPTCHA.

Background complete. Begin rant.

Not to get all Seinfeld on you, but what’s up with these CAPTCHA things, and who’s the person who writes them? I want that job. Seriously, the other day I had a series of these random terms that ran the gamut of odd: “unusual armpits,” “Wilson intends,” “boompow doofus” and “not chunk.” Apparently the CAPTCHA programmers over at MIT and Carnegie Mellon have unhealthy obsessions with anatomy, pop culture, long-retired eighties-era insults and the Goonies.

And why do you have to be an ink blot specialist to even read half of them? The bulk of these things look like a faxed copy of a fax that was faxed to the fax machine in my office that still has a rotary dial on it. Can we not come up with some type of universal standard for delineating between “0” and “O” or “8” and “B” or “1” and “I”? And for God’s sake, am I supposed to capitalize the first freakin’ letter or not?

To what standard do we hold the writers of CAPTCHA phrases? Does culture influence the CAPTCHA or does the CAPTCHA influence society? Hmmmmmm… That’s a question for all my old Mass Comm professors I guess…. Not that they’re reading this anyways. :-)

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the writer of one of those things accidentally spelled one of them wrong? A mistake like that could result in thousands of Facebook links not being uploaded, millions of concert tickets not purchased and, like, three people not sending this blog post to a friend. Hehe. (Did you notice the new share feature on here? See below, friends.)

Love you all – See you at 4 p.m. for some actually pertinent info and links.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

...For The Ride Home: College newspapers cannot do the Web well, "Idol" is awfully close to making a huge mistake and a media fight!

Soul Week continues with one of the greatest songs ever written, Otis Redding's "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay." A legend, the man was. Fun fact: The whistling at the end was supposed to be a rap that was originally written for the man to sing. Because he forgot the words, he decided to fill in the spot by whistling, and the take turned out so good, everyone decided to keep it. The Unusual Suspects: Your source for all fun facts. So how do you do? It's Wednesday in July. That means the middle of the week is here and now it's all downhill, right? Poking around the InterWebs, I never fully realized how slow of a time the summer months can be for news. Two years ago, the presidential election was heating up, so that provided a bunch of entertainment, but aside from that, I can't recall a stretch between June and August that typically has earth-shattering/intriguing news. And sports? Goodness, the summer's a bad time for sports. It's baseball, and more baseball. I'm even a bit eager for the college football season to begin, and I can't remember feeling like that in a long time. In any case, before we get to any non-summer related instances, we must first complete the summer. And as you do that, we would be honored to offer up a few links for you to check out. Besides. What else do you have to do? Go see "Inception?"

OK. This was brought to my attention last night, and if we weren’t fully immersed in Soul Week, it would have been the top video. First, follow this link. Then, follow the link at the end. If this isn’t some of the funniest stuff you’ve ever seen, I don’t know how much I could help you in the future. (Funny Or Die)

Jason Whitlock attacks Mitch Albom. Like, really, really, attacks him. (The Big Lead)

Taylor Swift is going to release a new record in October. Was really hoping to run into her recently. Didn’t happen. She still kind of looks like a rat. But I still love her. (Pollstar)

An entire newspaper’s sports section staff walks out on newspaper. Silly sportswriters. (SB Nation)

Very, very, very, very true. College newspapers in print form are great. Online versions of the paper? Not so much. But why? (The Huffington Post)

Chris Isaak may replace Simon on “Idol.” This is such a bad move. Harry Connick Jr. is clearly the answer here. (On The Red Carpet)

Sarah Palin does not approve of her daughter’s engagement. Really? We thought she would have already picked out a church. (The Celebrity Café)

An argument for the death of compact discs. Interesting. (CNN)

Mixing and matching + romance = fun

As evidenced in yesterday’s Ride, I saw “Inception.” It’s rare that I get to write about a movie after I’ve actually seen it (hehe), but to be as short as possible, it was exactly what I thought it would be, and that’s OK. I was the best “I don’t really like this” movie I’ll see all summer. Why? It’s pretentious. But we all know that, right? That’s what Chris Nolan does, and he’s become a very rich man by doing so. It pretended like it wanted to be smart, but it didn’t quite get there, and once it bubbles up to suggest there is a possibility of it becoming consistently clever and intelligent, more things get blown up, and more people walk sideways on walls.

But I digress. I admit that I probably wouldn’t have seen it if any of the big three weren’t in it. For some reason, even after the grossly predictable “Shutter Island,” I trust Leo enough to think his movies are worth going to see. Ellen Page is an absolute doll and will forever hold my heart in her hand after “Juno.” And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is absolutely impossible not to root for after “(500) Days Of Summer” and that fabulous night hosting “Saturday Night Live.”

Seeing the latter two on screen together, I began thinking of how wonderfully fantastic it would be if Mr. Gordon-Levitt and Ms. Page started dating. It would literally be the dream couple for pseudo hipsters that most anyone with a heart could never be against. She’s adorable and he’s bringing back the vest-over-tie look that this world seems to need now more than ever. It’s a match made in heaven. Really. It is.

That said, I began thinking about who I would mix and match in the world o’ movies had I the opportunity to do such a thing. Who are my favorite people to see on the silver screen, and more importantly, who do they seem like they would gel with best. Yes, these are the things that go through my head after watching a movie based around the intricacies of how dreams can work.

So I thought I’d share. Below is a list with a comment here and there. Yes, there are a few absences that I just couldn’t find partners for, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still love them (I’m looking at you, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman, Rashida Jones and Drew Barrymore, to name a few). It should also be noted that I specifically left Carey Mulligan off the list simply because my heart couldn’t stand the thought of her ultimately not marrying me. Come on, now. A boy can dream.

In any case, without any further ado, below is a list to ponder. All suggestions are encouraged in the comments section and any and all disagreements are welcome. Be nice, though. I wouldn’t want Ms. Mulligan to stumble across this here blog to find you people trashing the things I say.

Julia Styles & Mark Ruffalo
She’s great in the “Bourne” movies, and he’s great, well, in everything. Yes, even in the awful “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.” There’s something about them both that seems to be sexy in a smart way, and that’s ultimately why this would work best. Plus, their movies suggest they both know how to dance. And a good couple always needs to gel correctly on the dance floor.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman & Laura Linney
Have you ever seen “Savages?” Have you ever seen that chemistry? My goodness. There’s way more there than simply the fact that they are both excellent actors. It’s the smart, middle-aged couple. And those kinds of couples are the best.

Matt Damon & Penelope Cruz

She’s a goddess. And he looks like he deserves a goddess. That’s all.

George Clooney & Sandra Bullock

They both come off as smarmy, sarcastic, intelligent people whenever giving speeches, interviews or anything of the like. And she needs a man. I mean a MAN. Clooney is the consummate man. I mean MAN. They can be the elder statesmen of A-listers.

John Krasinski & Amy Adams
Because in the right light, she kind of looks like Jenna Fischer. And the will they/won’t they Jim and Pam storyline on “The Office” will never be topped on television.

Mila Kunis & Ryan Reynolds
It’s like mini Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz. Just hotness everywhere.

Kirsten Dunst & Leonardo Dicaprio
Both of them just always look so damn pissed off and aggressive. Plus, he’ll always look like a boy, and she kind of seems like she would go for cute over hot at this point. I root for her, though. Reports say she’s a sad sap like me. What better way to happiness than to date the boy from “Titanic?”

Kevin Spacey & Amy Ryan
Brilliant actors. There will never, ever, ever be a better white trash woman than she was in “Gone Baby Gone.” And there will never be a better crazed shrink than he was in “Shrink.” Not so sure I would want to be in the same room they are in though. They’d be way too intimidating together.

Rachel McAdams & Kevin Connolly

Oh, how adorable would this be? On a scale of one to 10, it’s like somewhere between Care Bears and color "light blue."

Anna Kendrick & Michael Cera
Both young. Both smart. Both, I love. He was on the greatest television show I’ll ever see, and she was in one of the greatest movies I’ll ever see. Plus, this gives me the opportunity to embed this trailer…

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

...For The Ride Home: The Virgin Mobile Festival lineup is announced, Lindsay is in jail and Skip Bayless is rock solid

We continue Soul Week today with Wilson Pickett's "634-5789 (Soulsville USA)." The age-old trick of using a telephone number in the chorus of a song is always fun to come across, don't you think? Me, too. This will be a short introductory paragraph because as you can see, we are running a bit late around these parts, but when you have the opportunity to see "Inception," you must go see it when you look at your calendar to notice all your days are filled until 2017. And yes, more on that movie tomorrow. As for now, continue to enjoy Soul Week, your Tuesday, and the fact that you don't have to worry about turning your heat on during the summer months. Because that can get expensive, you know.

First, it was Alex Chilton, and now, a mere four months later, Andy Hummel, bassist for Big Star passes on. Way more influential band than most give them credit for. (Rolling Stone)

The Wall Street Journal may have figured the world of news video out. Who would have thunk? (The Big Money)

Playboy claims its site is safe to look at while at work. Naturally, experts find out that that’s not true. (The Morning Call)

Amen to this: Only privileged kids get the good internships at media outlets. Damn right. (Washington Post)

Skip Bayless is strong. No, I mean it. Look at him! (Deadspin)

Lindsay Lohan is in jail. And that’s all. (People)

Because I got it wrong yesterday and the show starts this coming Sunday as opposed to this past Sunday, here’s an interview with Matthew Weiner, creator of “Mad Men.” (New York Magazine)

The Virgin Mobile Freefest lineup was announced today. I found my way to it last year, and with LCD Soundsystem on the bill this year, I may just have to make the venture again. (Virgin Mobile)

Kovalchuk deal shows a major chink in the NHL's armor

First things first – a hearty welcome back is in order for my blogging-better half. Oh how we’ve missed his witty repartee and essential Ride Home links… He’s going to read this and think I’m being mean-spirited and sarcastic, but I assure you, friends, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, since his arrival a few days ago, I have not heard from him in any way, shape or form, which has been upsetting for me. I suppose in due time. Maybe he’ll post a comment today.

On to the matter at hand: I’ve used several thousand words on this very blog to express my criticisms of aspects of various sports (most notably football), but I have given the National Hockey League a pass so far.

As I’ve noted before, the NHL is my favorite professional sporting league; however, there’s one thing that, to borrow a line from Peter Griffin, really grinds my gears – the ridiculously lengthy contracts that are doled out like those cheesy biscuits at Red Lobster (I’m hungry).

Case in point is the New Jersey Devils’ signing of Ilya Kovalchuk. At 27 years old, Kovalchuk just inked a 17-year, $102 million deal… so if my simple math is correct, that would make him a Devil until after his 44th birthday. Unless Kovalchuk somehow has the same tenacity, vigor and mental illness of Mark Recchi (who I think is still looking for a team to sign him at the ripe age of 48), then something is just wrong with this picture.

Why even bring a deal like this to the table? I realize this contract will in all likelihood never be fully carried out – and yes, I know people will say “who cares” for that reason alone – but at what point is hockey making itself the butt of a joke with these contracts?

For a sport like hockey that is fighting tooth and nail to reaffirm its spot as a top sport in the U.S., laughable stories such as these are detrimental to the image of the league. Part of the allure of the game is that its players are not like the A-Rods, Roethlisbergers and Kobes – and by them I mean spoiled rich kids.

According to (and as reported by NHL Blogger Adam Gretz), in addition to Kovalchuk, here are some of the longest NHL contracts in the last decade:

Rick Dipietro (Islanders): 15 years, $67.5 million
Alex Ovechkin (Capitals): 13 years, $123.5 million
Henrik Zetterberg (Red Wings): 12 years, $73 million
Vincent Lecavalier (Lightning): 11 years, $84.7 million
Marian Hossa (Blackhawks): 12 years, $62.4 million
Roberto Luongo (Canucks): 12 years, $64 million
Johan Franzen (Red Wings): 11 years, $43 million

Of these players, the average age at the start of the contract was 27. The average age by the end of these contacts is about 39 and some change. A bit much in my humble opinion. Perhaps it’s time Commissioner Gary Bettman considers a maximum contract length rule… unless he prefers to have his contemporaries snickering behind his back.

Snickering… I told you I was hungry. Go enjoy some lunch and check back in at 4 p.m. for your Ride Home links. Love as always.

Monday, July 19, 2010

...For The Ride Home: A funny writer says funny things, Mike weighs in on LeBron and Soul Week kicks off!

Good news! Week 17 is going to be our second themed week! Two exclamation points means business. For those of you who may remember, we first did such a thing here at The Ride back in April, when the showcased a video featuring the lovely Norah Jones each day. This time, and because no, I will not share the gamillions of stories I came by during my week away from you, the always-loved reader, we offer Soul Week, a week dedicated to soul music. Each day's Ride will contain a video that features various artists rooted in what everyone who knows me knows is my favorite kind of music: Soul music. This begins to today with (by my calculations) the fifth greatest song to ever be written and recorded in all of music (rock, pop, country, hip-hop, polka, etc.), Johnnie Taylor's "Who's Makin' Love." If only more videos of these artists existed, I would post live versions of these songs much like we did with Ms. Jones. But alas, such things are few and far between. Soooooo, with that behind us, how are you? How have you been? Did you miss me? Yeah, I didn't quite think you did. My friends always tell me how I should take vacations and how much I deserve/need them, but I don't think I've ever invested in that notion until now. It was so nice to press the reset button, make 5,000 memories, remove myself from the entire world (and this, I learned, also provided me with the time I most enjoyed not having a cellular phone), and stumble upon some of those rare slices of life you can only be so lucky to encounter every now and then. Goodness. Listen to me. I sound like a Christmas card. In any case, it's good to be back, and as July continues to fly by on this muggy Monday, take some time to check out a few links, enjoy the first installment of Soul Week and watch the season premiere of "Mad Men" again. Be nice.

Yes, sir. Michael Jordan says LeBron is stupid for playing in Miami with the overrated Chris Bosh, the bound-to-be-underutilized Dwayne Wade and Mr. James’ personal butler, Big Z. Have to love Mike. (New York Post)

Twenty questions with Gene Weingarten. If you care at all about newspapers or feature/humor writing in general, you really ought to check this out. Funny: “Q: You feel best in Armani or Levis or? A: Natalie Portman.” (Popmatters)

Geeky, but I have to offer it up. A list of winners for this year’s Alt Weekly awards. (Alt Weeklies)

Wasn’t able to get back in time last night to check out the first episode of this season so no spoilers please. That said, this guy talks about revealing too much when writing about the best show AMC will ever see. (Variety)

There was only one thing news story that leaked into my peripheral while I was gone and it was completely by accident. Here’s a discussion concerning the idea of George Steinbrenner being in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Think what you want about him, but I came across a priceless quote he once offered: “If you do something nice for someone, and more than two individuals know about it, then it wasn’t worth it.” (The Big Lead)

Tiger’s former mistress is going to be on the next installment of “Celebrity Rehab.” So, what’s the definition of celebrity again? (ABC News)

Glenn Beck is going blind. This one’s too easy. (Kansas

Comic Con begins this week. I only know what Comic Con is because of “Entourage.” Victory! (Washington Post)

Because I was gone and couldn’t link it then. Jason Whitlock’s take on LeBenedict. Dude got booed at the ESPYs? (Fox Sports)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Picky eating = new eating disorder?

An interesting story popped up on my RSS feed the other day, and although I fought the inclination to post about it right away, I can’t fight this feeling anymore (oh yes, I just said that).

The story was about how the University of Pittsburgh and Duke University launched the first national registry of picky eating in adults – and some researchers are thinking about considering it an officially recognized eating disorder.

Yes, you read that correctly, picky eating may become an OFFICIAL eating disorder in the same vein as anorexia and bulimia.

The premise of the argument stems from the idea that these picky peoples’ eating habits prevent them from getting all the necessary nutrients one needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and thus are at a disadvantage. Ok, fair enough. But do we really need an officially classified disorder to give people yet another excuse to engage in unhealthy behavior?

If you hate the taste of carrots and broccoli, that’s your preference and you’ll probably develop some vitamin deficiency. If you avoid a party with friends because you know the host makes weird, outlandish food when she entertains, that’s your prerogative and you’ll maybe lose a friend or have someone think you’re strange. Why must it be a disorder all of the sudden?

I can’t stomach asparagus or uncooked tomatoes – maybe I need to see a psychiatrist. My wife hates all seafood for the most part – maybe she needs to take a pill. Is that a stretch in the not so distant future?

My beef (hehe) is this: at some point someone needs to draw the line between disorders/addictions and weaknesses/shortcomings.

I am nothing special – let me say that first. I do not consider myself to be any healthier, smarter or more socially adept than anyone else. However, the following statements are true…

I understand that eating nothing but red meat and fried food can be detrimental to my physical health. I CHOOSE to try to avoid fast food and eat healthy. I understand that gambling can get me in trouble financially and possibly legally. I CHOOSE to not gamble very often. I understand that cheating on my wife has many ramifications. I CHOOSE to be faithful.

But the guy next door can say his heart attack and extreme obesity was caused by his picky eating disorder, his house was foreclosed because of his gambling compulsion and his wife left him over his sex addiction that made him cheat on her with multiple women.

NO – you made poor decisions and succumbed to weaknesses that millions of people fight everyday.

I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, but I say we chill out with making everything official. Maybe some people just make “officially” poor decisions sometimes. Maybe some of us are “officially” bad people.

All right, enough ranting and raving for one day. Give me your thoughts, if you have some – and I know you do, you wonderfully intelligent, opinionated readers you. ;)

See you on Monday, when we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled, twice a day programming. Please try to contain your excitement. Xoxoxoxo

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Consumer Reports and the iPhone 4 in a steel cage match

Today is one of the few dark days in the typically sunshiny Apple world. The technology superpower took a pretty stiff uppercut to the chin as Consumer Reports just announced that it can’t recommend the iPhone 4 due to a signal problem with the phone/web browser/mp3 player/game console/camera/video camera/time waster (did we mention phone?).

Specifically, Consumer Reports’ engineers found that the phone’s signal decreases significantly whenever the user touches a spot on the phone’s lower left side. The report did mention, however, that the phone has the best display and video camera of any phone ever.

So why does this matter to me, the simple blogger with an outdated LG EnV 3 (which I love by the way)? Actually, nothing. Based mainly on price, I will probably never own an Apple product other than my trusty outdated, clunky 30 GB iPod. I use a Mac at work for graphic design, but that’s about the extent of it (and I didn’t pay for it of course).

Then why post about the shortcomings of this gadget, you ask? My response: Forget about the iPhone – I want to talk about Consumer Reports!

Consumer Reports has almost gone the way of the buffalo in the current era of user reviews and social media, hasn’t it? Whenever we make any purchase worth mentioning, almost all of us research the products on the Web before making our decision. I’m so “thrifty” (cough “cheap” cough) that I research purchases as little as $50, to ensure I'm getting the most for my money.

But the difficulty of researching products/services online is the lack of accountability of the users. How much can we really depend on the opinions of Weirdo1117 or CraigsListKiller96? Isn’t it always in the back of our minds that maybe it’s a disgruntled ex-employee leaving the negative reviews and the marketing director leaving the positive ones?

Consumer Reports
though, those dudes don’t mess around. They are downright scientific in their testing – and now, with this latest review of the “infallible” iPhone 4, it’s clear that they’re pretty objective too. I mean who in their right minds says anything negative about Apple?

Oh wait, Adobe just did that. Hehe.

So… User Reviews vs. Consumer Reports. The war continues, but today my friends, Consumer Reports is celebrating a victorious battle. Thoughts?

Come back on Thursday for a good time, winkwink. xoxoxoxo

Friday, July 9, 2010

...For The Ride Home: LeBron and ESPN, the greatsest front page ever, more "Avatar" and don't forget about the World Cup

We send you off into the weekend at the end of week 15 with a little Tom Petty for you to chew on. I would normally then use this space to blabber about LeBron James and his decision last night, but there are three links below to help quench that thirst. Besides, that should probably deserve its own post, right? Right. And speaking of posts, that is precisely why I am not able to use this space to rant about LeBronedict. Instead, I shall use this space to explain to you lovely faced readers that I am not going to be here next week. Yes, that's right. I know. Grab those tissues and formulate your own dart board with my face on it (though I'm assuming you don't even really know what I look like). This is the first of two very, very, very, very much-needed week-long vacations that I am taking from life, this blog, work, more work and yes, even more work. It was suggested to me that I blog about what I am about experience, and yes, I will have access to a computer, but barring some burning flame within me that just insists upon writing, I can't imagine using my time away from time to consume myself with silly technology. Combine that with the cell phone I no longer use, and I will have completely removed myself from this depressing world I struggle with each day more and more. This doesn't mean I don't love you, the fantastically loyal reader, though. And you have to know that by now, right? You have to. That said, considering I am responsible for each day's ride, two normal posts a week, and that silly movie piece every Friday, you will probably notice how thin next week will end up being. No worries, though, friends, because even though I spoke with my better half about this, he insisted on writing his usual posts during the week on Tuesday and Thursday. That doesn't mean he loves you more than I, though. Damnit. Anyways, I look forward to coming back completely re-energized and ready to chat about any and every thing. That may or may not include posts about the following: The World Cup final, LeBron, Heat, Food, Vacations, "Inception" or books, among other things. And yes, if you only understood how disappointed I am that I won't be able to tackle "Inception" the week it comes out, that means you'd understand how disappointed most Cleveland residents are. Anyways, be good. Don't forget to check back periodically next week, and as always (especially if I don't make it back alive) miss you, love you.

Oh wait. You didn’t hear? Oh. LeBron James went to Miami last night. Let the ESPN bashing begin! (New York Times)

That’s still not enough? Here’s how the hip-hop community responded. Hint: Mc Hammer loves the idea. (MTV)

And finally, yes. This is the greatest front page the world has seen in years. Words like “classic” and “genius” are warranted. (Twitter)

What the Associated Press’ oil spill reporting team plans to find out. They are taking over 200 journalists. Something’s got to give, right? (Columbia Journalism Review)

Told you I was going to keep linking these. Today? 2010’s numbers up to this point. Goodness the music industry is dying. (Pollstar)

The octopus picks Spain. Hey, look at this. So did we! Over a month ago! We even had the Netherlands in the final four! Don’t forget to tune in Sunday. Then all you soccer haters can breathe easy. (Washington Post)

Oh my God. Are you kidding me? Another version of “Avatar” is coming to theaters. And it’s longer. (Vanity Fair)

For all my indie friends in the house. She & Him’s video for “Thieves.” (Spin)

So far, it’s been the summer of “blah” movies. Yes, yes. That is correct. Here’s hoping “The Kids Are All Right” changes pace a bit. (CNN)

Double Feature: Despicable Me & The Kids Are All Right

Each Friday, we will offer up two movies that are scheduled to be released within the accompanying weekend. We know, we know. It’s hard to come across blogs who ever actually get movie talk right. That’s why we won’t say much. A trailer. A paragraph. And boom – all you need to know about what new movies you can take your beautiful object of affection to see this weekend. It's like going to the drive-in movie theater. Remember those? So much fun. Thank us later, not now.

Despicable Me

Steve Carell. Jason Segel. Russell Brand. Will Arnett. Jack McBrayer. Mindy Kaling. Kristen Wiig. Miranda Cosgrove. Julie Andrews. Yes, a lot of people’s voices appear in this. You want to know something about this movie? Aside from the part when one of the kids asks the big guy if the cheek noise she’s making classifies as an “annoying sound,” there isn’t a part in any trailer I’ve seen that makes me laugh. And I like all of those aforementioned people. They seem to be trumping the fact that you can see this particular film in 3D as though there are no other movies that have succumbed to the 3D tag in recent months. IIIII don’t know (that was supposed to be said in a voice featuring a sigh, in case if you didn’t get it by the use of the five “I’s). Don’t like cartoons. Don’t care about 3D. And Steve Carell has kind of worn out his welcome, don’t you think? But hey, it’s July, and sometimes these movies strike a nerve. Venture to the theater at your own peril.

The Kids Are All Right

Now this. Finally, after a few weeks of being forced to write about movies I won’t even sit through on a sick Sunday afternoon in the middle of winter as they appear on USA, I finally come to something that looks promising. Mark Ruffalo might be my favorite non A-List actor in the world. “The Brothers Bloom” was brilliant. “Zodiac” was excellent. Hell. He even made “Shutter Island” watchable. Combine him with a goofy-ish storyline, a couple kids I know nothing about (though one, I hear, I should love), and Julianne Moore (who was brilliant on this last season of “30 Rock”), and what you have is a recipe for a July surprise that is sure to entertain during the dog days of bad movies or, well, the summer. It’s only out in seven theaters this weekend, so if you happen to be near one, feel free to leave a message or two concerning it living up to the hype or not. Sure, I may have to wait for Netflix, but in a July filled with vampires and cartoons, this is the first flick to instill some movie hope into my soul this summer. And that’s always a great feeling, you know.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

...For The Ride Home: Emmy nominations are out, all LeBron all the time, Jen Aniston dates and Ronaldo has a baby

It's here. Having seen "Precious," "Up In The Air," "An Education," "The Hurt Locker" and pretty much every other important movie from last year (aside from "Crazy Heart," which will be here soon enough), I am now confronted with one of the last celebrated movies of 2009 I have yet to see. She better bring it. I'll be rooting for her to bring it. So hopefully, well, she brings it. If nothing else, that scene when the two kids start grooving in the car always makes me smile. So it's got that going for it. Welcome to Thursday, the second to last day of the week. It's been an odd week, hasn't it? I just haven't found my footing. Maybe I'm already in vacation mode (more on that tomorrow). Maybe the heat is just getting to me. Maybe I need to take a break from running as I come up on a month straight of running at least five miles a day, every day. Maybe I'm just restless. Maybe I can't get over that new "Downfall" show. Who knows. All I know is that we had LeBron going to the Heat first yesterday, and that's all that matters. Speaking of that, we have provided not one but two links concerning the said topic below, links that we sincerely hope you find interesting. While you're at it, we suggest clicking on a few others, too. What else are you going to do? Sit next to an air conditioner all day? That's what we thought. Now don't forget to be nice to others.

Because the only themed week we’ve ever done (so far) had to do with Norah Jones: An extensive Q&A with the singer. (AV Club)

All signs point to Bob Bradley leaving the United States Men’s National Soccer Team head coaching position. Or, well, we can only hope. (The Big Lead)

Mitch Albom attacks LeBron, the media and pretty much everything surrounding this whole mess. Well done. (Detroit Free Press)

Speaking of that, here’s Michael Wilbon’s column relating the NBA free agents to his own experience as a free agent. (Washington Post)

2010 as the year of “no comment.” Interesting. (Politico)

It’s really weird to think the Emmys are only a month and a half away. Nominations we will be rooting for: Anything “Dexter,” “Mad Men,” “30 Rock” and “Modern Family.” (Los Angeles Times)

Cristiano Ronaldo has a baby. And names it…well, you won’t be surprised. (People)

Jen Aniston goes on a date with some guy from “True Blood.” This is supposed to be important because everyone loves “True Blood” and not “The Bounty Hunter.” (Showbiz Spy)