Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Poll finds polls like these state the obvious

The Associated Press published this story about an AskMen.com poll that came to this shocking conclusion:

Men want actress Jessica Alba as a girlfriend.

Really? I never would have thought men would want a totally hot celeb-babe for a girlfriend. And even more amazing is that fellow actresses Sienna Miller and Angelina Jolie round out the top three.

Wow! Fascinating stuff.

Of course, the funny thing is that, according to the AP story, "readers of the online magazine were asked to vote according to the woman they would most want a relationship with, would consider marrying or thought best-suited to be the mother of their children."

Now, Miller and Jolie seem to have the motherhood thing down so I can see where they would at least meet some of that criteria.

But I'm trying to figure out what Alba has done except look super hot to make men desire her as a girlfriend. Of course, there is this reason, which is always a good one. The other could be that men think she really is the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman (as in the photo above)...and they would like a girlfriend who would just disappear sometimes.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Remembering Challenger 20 years later

NASA Photo: back row: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik; front row, left to right: Michael J. Smith, Francis (Dick) Scobee and Ronald McNair.
At 11:38 a.m. EST on January 28, 1986, Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off from launch pad 39-B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, FL, with a crew of seven aboard, including Christa McAuliffe. McAuliffe, a teacher from New Hampshire, was selected as the winner of a nationwide contest conducted by NASA to be the first teacher in space. She had planned to give lessons from space to students around the world.

McAuliffe never got the chance.

Seventy-three seconds after liftoff, Challenger disintegrated in a ball of fire as it streaked into space miles above the Florida coast. A design flaw in the O-rings of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters (SRBs) in conjunction with freezing temperatures produced a leak in the seal on the right SRB. A lateral flame from the broken seal compromised the external fuel tank and caused a catastrophic structural failure of the vehicle.

I was always fascinated by the space program. One of my favorite shows as a kid was PBS' "Cosmos" with Dr. Carl Sagan. I was a freshman in high school in January 1986. Because of McAuliffe's presence on the mission, many schools gathered the students in auditoriums to watch the launch as a group that morning. My high school did no such thing. I was sitting in my Italian I classroom as one of the students filing in said rather nonchalantly that the space shuttle exploded. It stunned me. I was assuming it was just some accident on the launch pad, but my classmate described pretty much what actually happened.

As someone who has been a space/science geek and a news junkie since a very young age, I was itching to get out of school and to watch the news coverage and see it for myself. Fortunately, a snow storm led to an early dismissal that day.

While I was on the school bus, the Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town" came on the radio. There's a line in that song that says, "It was winter 1963...it felt like the world would freeze...with John F. Kennedy and the Beatles." The JFK reference stuck with me. Kennedy was a major supporter of the U.S. space program and the complex from which the Space Shuttle launches bears his name.

Tragically and, sadly, fittingly, the Space Shuttle Challenger had become my generation's equivalent to JFK's assassination in '63.

NASA Photo -- back row, left to right: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis and Judith Resnik; front row, left to right: Michael J. Smith, Francis "Dick" Scobee and Ronald McNair.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Oprah to Frey: FTBSITTTD

I must say that I don't watch Oprah Winfrey or care very much about what she has to say, but I admire her for changing course on her opinions about James Frey's faux memoir, "A Million Little Pieces," which was revealed by TheSmokingGun.com to be more fiction than fact (that link also includes the definition of FTBSITTTD for those who don't know it).

After coming to Frey's defense in a phone call to "Larry King Live" two weeks ago, Winfrey yesterday brought Frey back on her show, where "Pieces" was named to Oprah's book club last fall. This time, however, Winfrey ripped into Frey for deceiving her, her viewers and the general public. She also grilled Frey's publishers and apologized for making that phone call to Larry King.

So now I am eagerly awaiting Frey's true memoir titled "A Million More Little Pieces: My Shattered Career as an Author."

Some recent AP mistakes

I love catching mistakes by the Associated Press. Granted, it's not difficult since there seems to be at least one every hour, but obviously I don't spend that much time looking at every headline and every story.

But the following were very easy to spot.

I am a big fan of the AP NewsFlash on NJ.com and I check the site quite frequently during the day for breaking news and interesting stories. This set of technology headlines caught my eye yesterday:
As you can see, the story sent at 5:45 a.m. has the headline U.S. scientist intangled in stem cell scam. A few hours later, the AP remembered how to spell and sent the story again at 9:15 a.m. with the corrected headline, U.S. scientist entangled in stem cell scam.
As you can see, the story sent at 5:45 a.m. has the headline U.S. scientist intangled in stem cell scam. A few hours later, the AP remembered how to spell and sent the story again at 9:20 a.m. with the corrected headline, U.S. scientist entangled in stem cell scam.

The other day, a big story in the sports world was that Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon, was against a movement to retire baseball great Roberto Clemente's No. 21 throughout professional baseball, as they did for her father

All day I had seen stories about Jackie Robinson's daughter, Sharon, saying she did not agree with a movement to retire Roberto Clemente's No. 21 throughout Major League Baseball, as they did for her trailblazing father in 1997.

So it was a bit odd when I saw this headline on Newsflash:
Sharon Robinson: Retire Clemente's numberNow, wait a minute. Did she change her mind? Of course, she didn't. The AP headline writer just screwed it up because he or she failed to see the word "not" in the lead, as you can see in the actual story:
NEW YORK (AP) — The daughter of Jackie Robinson thinks Major League Baseball should not retire Roberto Clemente's No. 21, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday. The Hispanics Across America advocacy group wants Clemente's number set aside the way the late Robinson's No. 42 was nine years ago. But Sharon Robinson said that honor should remain for her father only.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What the deuce? Stewie to host Web talk show!

Stewie Griffin, the one-year old obsessed with total world domination from "The Family Guy," will serve as virtual host of an Internet talk show starting later this year, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

I think it's time for a sexy party...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Steve Jobs: King of the Castle

The Walt Disney Company announced today it plans to purchase Pixar for $7.4 billion in a sale the two companies hope to complete this summer.

Pixar is the computer animation studio responsible for a string of Disney hits, including "Toy Story," "The Incredibles," "Monsters, Inc." and "Finding Nemo." Pixar's chairman and chief executive officer is Steve Jobs, more widely known as the CEO and co-founder of Apple Computers.

The deal will make Jobs the largest single Disney shareholder and will put him on Disney's board of directors.

Although he won't supplant Robert Iger as Disney president and CEO or George Mitchell as the company's chairman right away, this sale makes Jobs an even more powerful force in Hollywood and effectively hands him the keys to the Magic Kingdom.

Press release

CNET News.com Special Coverage

2007 Tour de France will feature London start

I love the Tour de France...and I love London...so I am happy with this news.

From a Reuters story via Yahoo! News:
London will host the first stage of the 2007 Tour de France, the city's mayor Ken Livingstone announced on Tuesday.

"I am proud to announce that London has successfully bid to host the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in July 2007," Livingstone said in a statement.

The route will be announced at a later date and is expected to include landmarks like Queen Elizabeth's residence Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the Houses of Parliament.

Livingstone said the prologue, or warm-up, stage would be held on July 7 and stage one would be held a day later.

Read the very short press release.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Just a quick update on my health

Apparently, I'm completely fine...and since around the time I first saw the cardiologist on Dec. 23, I haven't really had any of the chest pains I first experienced Nov. 18 (I remember the date because it first happened while I was at a Rider basketball game).

I had a follow-up appointment with the cardiologist Friday and -- after two hours in the office's waiting room -- he told me all my tests and exams came back normal. He wants me to go back to my regular doctor -- the one who quickly had me concerned about heart disease -- so he can find a cause for the pain, but since I'm not experiencing it anymore I'm not sure how I'm supposed to approach it. I mean, do I walk in and say, "Well, doc, I'm fine...cure me?"

But my cardiologist wants me to follow through with it so I guess I have to make the appointment. Yeah.

Oh, just before leaving for another patient, the cardiologist asked me a question I didn't want to hear: "Do you drink a lot of coffee?"


Of course, the answer to that is "yes." I have been trying to keep it to just two cups a day since this all started, but if I have to completely give up coffee, I might as well just let my heart rot away.

And decaf just won't help either...please, what the hell is the point of decaf?!

The Iran hostages and Baseball's "golden ticket"

I came across this fascinating story in The Washington Post about a gift presented by Major League Baseball to each of the 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days from 1979-81.

The gift was a lifetime pass to any major league or affiliated minor league baseball game. Some of the recipients stored the passes away, but others used them to help rebuild their shattered lives...

Safe at Home

(Photo: Ricky Carioti - The Washington Post)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The end is near...Reese and Kirsten wore the same dress three years apart...whatever shall we do?

I love Hollywood...only in a town built upon the superficial and trivial can a scandal arise over two actresses wearing the same couture dress three years apart.

It seems Reese Witherspoon (right) wore the same Chanel dress to this year's Golden Globes ceremony that Kirsten Dunst (below) wore to Golden Globes after-parties in 2003, resulting in "damage control" from both the Witherspoon and Chanel camps.

Osama bin Laden just threated the USA again...New Orleans and the Gulf Coast area are still trying to rebuild and recover from Hurricane Katrina...and, according to The Onion, the U.S. government is going out of business.

But none of that matters in Hollywood...where two women wearing the same dress three years apart equals a disaster of Southeast Asian tsunami proportions.

I haven't been this "passionately apathetic" about something since the world-shattering Kate Moss scandal.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Hmm...God seems especially wrathful these days

Either God is REALLY pissed off...or people are totally putting words in His mouth.

I mean, Pat Robertson tells Dover, Pa., residents to expect the wrath of God in Nov. 2005 after they "voted God out" of their city when school board members who favored the teaching of creationism -- under the guise of "intelligent design" -- in public schools were not re-elected.
"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city," Robertson said on the Christian Broadcasting Network's "700 Club."

And then Robertson struck again...or rather God did...when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a major stroke Jan. 4 -- just weeks after suffering a minor stroke.
"He was dividing God's land, and I would say, 'Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America,'" Robertson told viewers of his long-running television show, "The 700 Club."

"God says, 'This land belongs to me, and you'd better leave it alone,'" he said.

And then there is this from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event today...
"Surely God is mad at America. He sent us hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it's destroyed and put stress on this country," Nagin, who is black, said as he and other city leaders marked Martin Luther King Day.

"Surely he doesn't approve of us being in Iraq under false pretenses. But surely he is upset at black America also. We're not taking care of ourselves."

Nagin also promised that New Orleans will be a "chocolate" city again. Many of the city's black neighborhoods were heavily damaged by Katrina.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Busting up a Starbucks

Well, this isn't really about "Busting up a Starbucks," but the Mike Doughty song of the same name seems somewhat apt for this post.

I came across this story about Starbucks' "super-secret" cappuccino and found it quite interesting. Apparently, there is an unadvertised "short cappuccino" that most Starbucks stores will sell you without hassle...albeit quietly. An excerpt from the Slate.com article...

The drink in question is the elusive "short cappuccino"—at 8 ounces, a third smaller than the smallest size on the official menu, the "tall," and dwarfed by what Starbucks calls the "customer-preferred" size, the "Venti," which weighs in at 20 ounces and more than 200 calories before you add the sugar.

The short cappuccino has the same amount of espresso as the 12-ounce tall, meaning a bolder coffee taste, and also a better one. The World Barista Championship rules, for example, define a traditional cappuccino as a "five- to six-ounce beverage." This is also the size of cappuccino served by many continental cafés. Within reason, the shorter the cappuccino, the better.

I'm not a real cappuccino person, but I think I'm going to try this the next time I visit a Starbucks.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fantastic! "Doctor Who" back in the USA

Sci-Fi Channel and the BBC announced a deal today that gives Sci-Fi the U.S. rights to broadcast the first season of the BBC's new "Doctor Who" series. "Doctor Who" will be part of the network's Sci-Fi Fridays and will air Fridays at 9 p.m., beginning March 17 with the inaugural episode titled "Rose."

While this news is fantastic (a favorite word of last season's Ninth Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston), it does come with a price for U.S. Whovians.

The 2005 season of "Doctor Who" was scheduled to be released on DVD in the United States on Feb. 14. However, within the past couple of days, many TV-related Web sites began reporting the set would be delayed. Well, the reason for the postponement was this impending deal with Sci-Fi. Now that Sci-Fi will be airing the series in the USA, the DVD set will not be released here until July 4 (and my birthday is two days later...hint, hint).

Also, Sci-Fi Channel will be a full year behind and only has an option to pick up the rights to the second season, which begins airing this spring on the BBC with David Tennant playing The Doctor. Therefore, Americans -- like me -- who want to stay up-to-date with "Doctor Who" will still need to download current episodes via BitTorrent.

Still, I hope the BBC and the Sci-Fi Channel can put together an effective joint promotional campaign to get people watching the new "Doctor Who" here in the States. The modern version of "Doctor Who" is light years from the grainy looking show with cheesy special effects that you may have come across on PBS stations in the 1980s and early 90s. New "Who" is sharp, crisp, intelligent, witty and even a bit edgy.

If you decide to give "Doctor Who" a try, here are two words to remember...Bad Wolf.

Forgot to mention this when I first posted this, but a big thank you to my friend Jason for being the first to tell me the good news about "Doctor Who" coming to Sci-Fi Channel.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The long-awaited first post of 2006!

Well, it certainly has been awhile since I actually wrote something for this blog o' mine. I just noticed that the previous three posts were all done from my mobile phone...man, that is REALLY lazy.

However, I don't really have a lot to say right now so I'll just update everybody on the suspected heart disease I mentioned in this Dec. 16 post.

I have seen a cardiologist and have undergone some tests...my blood pressure is fine and the EKG was normal. I had an echogram done and they didn't send me right to the hospital, so I take that as a positive sign. Next up is a chest X-ray and a stress test on Monday. After that, I see the cardiologist again on Jan. 20, at which time I guess he'll tell me what's going on based on all the information he will have collected.

The cardiologist put me at ease a bit when I first saw him when he said that he doubts I have heart disease. He didn't rule it out...but he doubted that was the case.

Actually, I haven't really felt the intermittent chest pain I had been experiencing for a couple of weeks. I still don't feel my heart is beating quite like it did before all this began, but I'm not getting that pain so I guess that's good.

OK...onto more upbeat news...I was happy to see my long-time friend Jason, who was visiting NJ from Colorado, during the holiday week. We took a ride out to Philly on Dec. 26 and went out to dinner in Center City (see the previous post for a picture I took of Philly's illuminated City Hall with my cell phone's camera).

The next day, we took a ridiculously overcrowded train into New York City and went to the Museum of Modern Art -- or MoMA -- for the Pixar: 20 years of Animation exhibit. That was really cool stuff and we went on a day the museum theater was showing the very first Pixar animated short, "The Adventures of André and Wally B." from 1984. In fact, the company wasn't even known as Pixar then...it was still a part of Lucasfilm Ltd., and known simply as the "Lucasfilm Computer Graphics Project."

After spending a couple of hours in the Pixar exhibit, we took a walk around the rest of MoMA. I consider myself open-minded when it comes to art and I actually like music and art many would consider avant garde. However, I must say that a lot of what I saw on display at MoMA just didn't do anything for me (well, except for the blonde in the "furry" boots Jason and I noticed somewhere around the fifth floor).

Following MoMA, Jason and I took a walk to Rockefeller Center because I wanted to see the famous Christmas tree (or should that be Generic Winter Holiday tree?). Before we got there, though, Jason found a restaurant nearby that he enjoyed when he interviewed for a job at NBC a couple of years ago so we decided to get a bite to eat.

After dinner, we went to Rockefeller Center. I took some pictures of "the tree" and a little bit of video of the "musical snowflake" display on the side of the Saks Fifth Avenue building (check back for links to those photos and the video...I haven't had time to get that stuff online yet).

And call me a Scrooge if you want, but I couldn't wait to get the Hell away from all those freakin' people at Rockefeller Center. People with strollers, here's some advice: "Your kids are probably too young to remember what you are taking them to see. And even if your kids could remember, they're probably sleeping anyway. So, please...stop causing pedestrian gridlock and keep the freakin' strollers at home! Thank you."

Other than hanging out with Jason in Philly and NYC, the highlight of my holiday break was watching "The Christmas Invasion," the Doctor Who special aired by the BBC on Christmas Day. Of course, it took me about five days to download it via BitTorrent (I was on a slow connection that was cutting out from time to time), but it was very much worth the wait. I can't wait for the 2006 season to start!

OK...I think this post shall suffice. Oh, one more thing...

Happy New Year!