Friday, May 30, 2008

Maintenance and Stuff

Hey folks, sorry for the lack of reliable posting this week, it's been a crazy one at work. Several projects are starting to come together at the same time which makes me a very busy assistant. Anyway, I wanted to feel my readers out on a couple of changes that might be coming soon.

First, looking back at it, I think my crossword times are pointless and self-serving. I was basically using them as a crutch to force me to post something every day. So, no more of that. HOWEVER, I may be starting a new blog dedicated entirely to crosswords. Would any of you read that?

Second, I may be moving on to Wordpress. This probably won't happen for a little while, but I'm working hard to turn into something worth visiting. Once that happens, I'll probably use Wordpress to host the blog locally on my site. Does anyone have any experience transferring from Blogger to Wordpress like this? I know there's an importer available, but I'm cautious to try it. I don't want to accidentally nuke this blog and not have it backed up somewhere. Also, should I move the site, I believe I can make it so that this site always points to the new blog. Alternatively, the ability to post on my main blog and have it show up hear as well would be cool, but I don't know if that's possible. Again, anyone have experience?

That's about all I've got. I'm polishing up my graphic design skills and digging into Flash to try and make my website worth visiting (If you go there now, it will just redirect you to this site). Keeping my fingers crossed.


ps- Feel free to leave answers as comments. Comments make me feel like a big man.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Last night I had a waffle with bacon baked into it and bacon on top of it. I thought I had died and gone to breakfast heaven. The only issue was that it was a Belgian waffle, and I prefer standard (which are getting to be harder and harder to find nowadays if there isn't a Waffle House nearby). It was a strange, dinery kind of place on the bottom floor of a large office building. It was called, appropriately enough, The Waffle. It made me wish I had a dog so I could order the "Woofles" they sell as pet treats. Long story short, I enjoyed myself immensely.

I went with Melissa, Mike, and Bailee after we went to see Cartoon Dump. It's a show where cartoon historian Jerry Beck showcases some of the worst cartoons every made. Here's an example of how bad we're talking about (just check that theme song):

Cartoon Dump is a kind of sketch show built on the idea that it's an inappropriate children's show with the maladjusted hosts Compost Brite (Erica Doering) and Moodsy the Clinically Depressed Owl (Frank Conniff). Speaking of Frank Conniff, he was on MST3K, perhaps my favorite show ever. It ties into this post because there was an episode where each of the "host segments" revolved around waffles (including one where Crow was a waffle fairy who showed Servo what it was like to live in a world without waffles, and another where Joel just walked on screen in a smoking jacket, looked lustily into the camera and said, "Waffles." That was it). But I'm seriously digressing.

The show (Cartoon Dump) is great fun, although the sketches are almost verbatim from month to month. You're really there for the cartoons, though, and they also have a guest stand-up. Last night it was Jimmy Pardo, marking the third time I've seen him (which is a lot considering I don't see much stand-up). He's hilarious. He's one of the only comics I've seen who can start you laughing right from the start and never let up until his set is done. A ball of energy this one!

Anyway, that's probably long enough for today.


NYT- 12:46
CS- Kept getting phone calls, no time.
LAT- 6:24
NYS- 7:23

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the ZZZzzzz....

Before I get into this, I don't want anyone to read that title thinking I was bored by the new Indiana Jones movie. Far from it. But, I went to a midnight screening last night and that makes for a very tired work day the next day.

I won't give any spoilers except to say that I really enjoyed the movie. The action is great and there's a lot of chemistry between the cast members. Shia LeBeouf, who had me worried when I first heard he was in the movie) actually gave a very nice performance and he and Harrison Ford had an easy rapport that was fun to watch. And it was a delight seeing Karen Allen again.

Yes, there is some silly stuff in there that some people will say doesn't feel like an Indiana Jones movie. Maybe I'll go into more detail on this subject in a couple of weeks, but suffice it to say that it wasn't any more far fetched than an ark full of Nazi-melting ghosts or a series of grails that grants eternal life or instantly kills those who choose poorly.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a hell of a lot of fun, and I'm even considering seeing it in the theaters again, something I almost never do. Is it as good as Raiders? Of course not. Raiders is a nearly perfect movie. But I would say it's on par with Last Crusade or Temple of Doom (probably just a hair behind Last Crusade and just a hair ahead of Temple).

I was worried that wearing the Raiders shirt that Melissa bought me at Disneyland would be too nerdy, but it actually made me one of the least nerdy people there. At least I wasn't wearing the hat and jacket.


NYT- 9:58
CS- 7:27
LAT- 7:41
NYS- 13:21

Monday, May 19, 2008

I've Created Life!

Well, sorta. I told you I was learning some animation programs. Well, here's the fruit of my first attempts:
That's right, I made a man today. And I put a silly hat on him. Yeah, it's crude and it doesn't look like much and it took me most of the day to make it; but hey, how many people did you make today? (If you're a professional animator, please do not answer that question). So, what do you think Pixar? Did I just blow your mind? Ready to hire me now?


NYT- 5:11
CS- 5:44
LAT- 3:33
NYS- 3:50
I managed to out-think myself on the NY Times today. I didn't pay attention to the theme and I tried to cram "Pyrrhic Victory" in a space that should have read "Hollow Victory." They're not going to use the word "Pyrrhic" on a Monday.

Friday, May 16, 2008

100 Posts!

This is my 100th post, apparently! Hooray! Sorry I didn't post anything yesterday, but something was wonky with Blogger or my internet or something. No matter, I can't say you missed much.

I've decided once again to try and teach myself some computer animation in my spare time. This mostly involves a hobby project that I'm not ready to tell you about yet, but with my unnatural obsession with cartoons I figure it's a good thing to know how to do. So, I dusted up the old copy of Flash and downloaded a fresh version of Blender for my Mac and set out to find some tutorials. After one day's work, I can successfully open and close both programs and have the basic interface figured out. With complicated software like this, that's a surprisingly big step. I'll start posting some stuff here once I figure out how to do more stuff.

On a quirky note, go check out the Something Store. Basically, you give them $10 and they send you...something. As far as I can tell, it's not like Let's Make a Deal in that I don't think there are any donkeys or piles of bricks. But, what you get is completely random. I'm totally going to try this. I think there's a way to have fun with this as part of a white elephant exchange or something, but I haven't quite figured out how yet. By the way, if anyone wants to buy me something, feel free!

All right, everyone, have a good weekend!


NYT- 11:43 (one of my fastest Fridays)
CS- 8:44
LAT- 13:13
NYS- 21:42

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Word of Device

Kinda busy today, but I have some advice for you. If you're ever copying a script that is printed on two-sides, and you need 3 copies printed on 1 side, make sure you have the "2 Sided->1 Sided" setting turned on. And don't just think you turned it on, double check before you hit start. Otherwise you'll end up with six stacks of paper that you need to compile by hand into three scripts. That's exactly as much fun as it sounds like it would be. I hope everyone can benefit from this advice.


NYT- 11:36
CS- 4:49
LAT- 6:42
NYS- 7:36
The Sun had a tough, but absolutely genius theme that I couldn't even begin to describe accurately. It also had a "Muppet Babies" clue. Best. Crossword. Ever.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thank God For Aliens

Vatican: It's OK to believe in aliens - Yahoo! News

This is the kind of news that makes me smile. First, did you know that the Vatican had a chief astronomer? I didn't. And I bet Galileo would be pissed if he knew that the Vatican would have one some day.

"See! I told you so! Geez, you guys didn't have to be so mean about it."

I do wonder where a Vatican scientist's loyalties really lie. Let's face it, church and science are usually farther separated than church and state (especially these days). Is a Vatican scientist obligated to report any scientific findings that conflict with church doctrine? Does he tell the Pope what he finds so the Pope can decide what he wants to tell people about and what he doesn't? Or does the Vatican astronomer just go straight to religion first?

He looks into the telescope. He scratches his chin. He jots down a few notes. He stares thoughtfully skyward. Finally, he turns to address his gathered colleagues.

"It's God."

There is a smattering of polite, hushed applause as the Vatican scientists stand impressed.

This is one of those things that bothers me about organized religion. If I believe that Aliens exist, or even if I have some kind of proof, I don't want to have to turn to some guy in a silly hat with fancy robes and jewelry and ask, "Is it ok to think this?"

Also, I'm amazed that the church doesn't use this excuse from the linked article for everything that causes controversy:
"It would still be part of creation."
Seems to me like that pretty much covers everything there is.


NYT- 4:15
CS- 5:23
LAT- 6:02
NYS- 6:30

Monday, May 12, 2008

I've Got....Happy Feet!

I've Got....Happy Feet!
Originally uploaded by EliCubs
So, after suffering from shin splints for a couple of weeks, I realized my running shoes were pretty well shot and I needed a new pair. So I went to Sports Authority, tried on a few, and found a pair of Asics that felt nice. Great.

The next week, I ran Monday and Wednesday, then on Friday I felt my shins tighten up again and I think I may have started to overcompensate. As a result, I twisted my ankle and ended up with tendinitis in my left foot. It was incredibly painful and forced me to go to a podiatrist (I hate goin to doctors offices). He told me that I needed some wider shoes. So, not two weeks after buying a new pair of shoes, I'm back at the shoe store.

This time I went to Phidippides in Encino. It's owned and staffed by runners and they take the time to work personally with you to find the right shoe. I told them what the podiatrist had said and that I was getting orthotics in another week. Apparently, dancing in college probably messed up my feet pretty bad. Both the podiatrist and the shoe salesman told me that dancers are far and away the people most likely to have foot problems. He brought up three pairs of shoes in my size (11 2E) and had me try each and go for a little run outside. I gave him my opinion of each before he told me what he saw in my gait. What he thought would be best for me and what I thought felt best were the same: Brooks Beast. It's a very large, wide shoe, but more comfortable than anything I've ever run in. I looked around at the employees and every single one of them was wearing this shoe. That's a good sign.

Today I went for my first run in them. On doctor's orders, I kept it to just over a mile. My foot is still a little achy, but I figured I felt good enough to try. And even with the achy foot, my legs and feet feel better than they ever have after any run. These shoes are incredible. It's possible that the leg and foot pains I've come to associate with running are just the result of having the wrong shoes. I can't wait to get back out running again on Wednesday!


NYT- 4:45
CS- 6:46
LAT- 3:54
NYS- Never posted online, depriving me of one of my favorites.
I'm starting to think I could do better on the NY Times if I did it online like the rest of my puzzles. Unfortunately, I don't have my own subscription, so I guess I just have to learn to write faster.
On a related note, I went to the website of the national crossword tournament and did their test puzzle. It said that a 15 minute time would be competitive in the tournament, and under 10 would be excellent. I finished in just over 6. Maybe I'll enter some year when I'm in a job that allows me to take time off.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What the Eff LA?

Hey, LA? You ever hear people refer to you as "Sunny Southern California?" Well, what's the deal? It's May and it's been overcast and a little chilly (relatively speaking) all week long! How does that happen, and who do I ask to stop it? Where's all this global warming the kids are talking about*? Not that I'm looking forward to the 100 degree temperatures of summer, mind you, but it feels like March in Georgia out here right now. And we've had temperatures in the 90s already this year, so it's not like you don't know how to do it. These wild weather fluctuations are not fun on one's sinuses, and I'd appreciate some stability. Plus, we put our comforter away after a week of 90 degree heat and I'm starting to get cold at night (and no, we're not going to take the comforter back out...that's inefficient)! So listen up, LA! Bring back my sun or else I'

*As an aside from this rant, it drives me nuts when people see cold temperatures and proclaim that global warming must not be real (I've seen "experts" on news channels talk about how when there's a cold snap in the northeast that it's proof that we're not having much of an effect on the environment). You won't be seeing too many changes in daily weather. It's a gradual process people, like evolution.

By the way, I kept seeing headlines about superdelegates today and read one of them as "Supper delegates." That just struck me as funny. "The esteemed gentleman from Ohio will be dining on Mr. Obama's meatloaf. Thank you." I don't know. It's not that funny on paper, but in my head...MAN!


Crosswords kicked my butt today, but that's what Fridays are for.
NYT- 16:14
CS- 5:48
LAT- 12:48
NYS- 16:50

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Crossword Crossover

Hey everybody! Today was one of those days where I could just stare at my computer screen and totally space out. My mind was like a shaken etch-a-sketch- empty. Ideally, one's mind should be like a shaken Polaroid- always coming into clearer focus.

Did I just say something profound? It was either profound or stupid. It's a very very thin line.

Anyway, I was wondering what in the world I would blog about today. Should I blog about how emotionally invested I am in whether a cartoon cat cheats on his fiance or not in a web comic I read (Achewood- and Roast Beef, you better not treat Molly like that!) No, kind of sad and not that interesting to non-readers. Perhaps I should mention my podiatrist appointment yesterday and the x-rays I'm having tomorrow. No, save that for tomorrow when I might actually have an x-ray picture to post. So what then? There's nothing going on.

Then fate (and habit) had me play the crosswords. There's a strange phenomenon I've noticed where I will learn something in one crossword and it will show up in another one THAT SAME DAY! I mean, what are the odds? Example: Today's New York Sun clued one answer as, "Highest Mountain in the Rhaetian Alps." The answer was "Piz Bernia." I had never heard of it (or the Rhaetian Alps, for that matter). Then along comes Yahoo, and they have the clue, "Piz Bernia, for one." And the answer, which I now knew instantly, was "Alp." What are the odds? Something I've never heard of or seen in a crossword before showing up in two puzzles on the same day? These things are finished WAY in advance, so I don't see how they could be looking at each others' tests. And to make matters more intriguing, they both used the answer "Fey," one clued as "30 Rock Creator" and one as "Liz Lemon Portrayer." Weird.

I may dedicate an entire post to these crossword crossovers. It happens all the time, I'm just waiting for a day with a ton of them for you.


NYT- 8:30 (Great time for a Thursday for me!)
CS- 5:15
LAT- 6:50
NYS- 11:31 (had I done Yahoo first and known Piz Bernia, this would have been much lower)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Sad Attempt At Political Discourse

I try to mostly keep this blog politics free (I assume that the internet doesn't need any more political opinions clogging it up), but after last night's thrilling (honestly!) primaries, I figured it couldn't hurt to pipe in with my two cents on the Democratic elections. I don't know if this will be smart or funny- if you want smart and funny, watch Stewart and Colbert. These are just my opinions, take them or leave them.

I'll start be reasserting the fact that I'm fine with either one of these candidates getting the nomination. They'd both be fine presidents. At the very least, they're both a massive improvement over what we've got now (hell, even McCain's a slight improvement). I get why no one's dropped out of this primary yet. Really, I do. It's close enough that it just seems silly to drop out at this point. Still, Obama has a lead that's practically mathematically insurmountable. Clinton, however, continues to say in speeches that she's in this fight to the end, no matter what the numbers say. First, I think the end is coming pretty quickly for Mrs. Clinton. The numbers just aren't there for her, overall. Second, I realized this morning why Hilary has been rubbing me the wrong way for the past few weeks: She sounds like George Bush. Not policy-wise, of course; it's the rhetoric. "Not backing down, no matter what" is just a paraphrase of "stay the course." The kind of stubbornness that causes people to stick with their plan long after the evidence started to pile up that the plan wasn't working has not proven to be beneficial to our country. Last night, both candidates were steering their speeches toward unity, and I hope that's where the message stays for the rest of this process.
Another thing that worries me about Hilary is her campaign spending/financing. After Pennsylvania, Clinton made a HUGE point of the fact that Obama had greatly outspent her in the campaign and still come up short. Let's be honest- Hilary would have tripled what Barack spent if she had the funds to do it. He was spending the money because he had money to spend. Hilary keeps throwing her own money, large sums of it, into her campaign just to keep it afloat. This raises two issues with me:
1) Clinton is trying hard to court her rural base and play up Obama as an elitist. She's wants to paint herself as more of an "ordinary" person. Well, ordinary people couldn't afford to put $6 million of their own money into their own campaign. I'm just sayin'.
2) Our country is in an economic crisis. It doesn't bode well for Clinton that she's having such a hard time keeping her campaign fiscally solvent. Is she capable of keeping the country out of debt when she can't due the same with her campaign? I just don't know.

As for Obama, well, I guess there's the whole Jeremiah Wright thing to discuss. Now, I've been to churches where I don't agree with everything the pastor is saying. Heck, most of the churches I go to I don't agree with the pastor. But then again, I don't go to church very often. And I'd guess that Barack Obama isn't the most religious person in the world, either. He doesn't strike me as the type to attend church every Sunday (I should note that I'm basing this entirely on a guy instinct, I have no evidence to back it up. I could be way off base here). He obviously could never actually admit this or the media would have a field day with it (Obama Hates Jesus! Film at 11, only on Fox!). But basically, I'm not going to criticize him for something that someone else said, even if Obama did attend his church. I would hope that John McCain has the common sense not to bring this up in the general election. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell said basically the same thing that Jeremiah Wright said about 9/11, and John McCain likes them enough to speak at Falwell's university (even though there is ample video from various talk shows of McCain condemning Falwell and saying he'd never speak there- straight talk, indeed). I'm certainly sick of hearing about it.

Anyway, that's what I've got for today. Now you know where I stand.


NYT- 10:11
CS- 4:29
LAT -3:49(!)
NYS- 11:33
This was a Wednesday? The New York papers were tough on me, but the other two! Wow! I even accomplished a personal goal and beat the venerable Orange on the LA Times and came close on CrossSynergy. This was a big day for me.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Spice of Life

When in a rut, it's the little things that pull you out. I just found a great little thing to help me. Wasabi Mayonnaise from Trader Joe's. I put a bit of that on my turkey sandwich- instant happiness. The sandwich can be one of the great gateways to a rut. Even if I vary the deli meat inside of the sandwich, eventually they all start to taste the same. Last week I made a big batch of tuna salad and took that every day. It helped a lot, gave me something to look forward to at lunch. Now I'm going to be looking forward to my wasabi turkey sandwiches. It ends up tasting a bit like horseradish, but with just a bit of that Asian kick. It took a plain old turkey and lettuce sandwich and made it taste like something I would buy from the sandwich shop downstairs. I highly recommend it.

I don't, however, really recommend Trader Joe's rice cracker assortment. I try to mix up the "snack" portion of my lunch every week with a healthy-ish option from TJs. I've had very good experiences with bagel chips, wonton chips, and the sour cream and onion rice crisps. These rice crackers, however, are mostly bland and just not that pleasant. Actually, I take that back. They are half pleasant. There are four shapes of crackers- squares, pillows, rods, and crescents. The squares and pillows both taste like nothing. The rods are kind of sweet and the crescents are kind of spicy, but unfortunately there's not enough of them. If anyone from Trader Joe's is reading this, I would like an all rods and crescents rice cracker pack. Thank you. As it is, I pick through my little cracker tupperware and eat all of the squares and pillows quickly. This leaves me with the rods and crescents to end with nothing but goodness. I do the same thing with lots of foods. Gummi Bears (leave the yellow and orange), Lucky Charms (leave the marshmallows), Skittles (depends on what I'm in the mood for, but the reds are always eaten first), and so on. I'm not a picky eater at all, I just choose to arrange my food so that the maximum enjoyment is at the end. It's like the big finale at a fireworks show- always leave on a high note.

Unfortunately, I can't think of a high note to leave this post on.


NYT- 6:34
CS- 5:42
LAT- 7:00
NYS- 5:23

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Early Movie Thoughts

So, after a long hiatus from the movie theaters, Melissa and I hit the Arclight with a vengeance the past two weekends. So, here's my movie thoughts:

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL- If nothing else, I now know the next Muppet movie will be awesome. Jason Segel is hilarious and I trust my beloved Muppets in his hands. Forgetting Sarah Marshall features great Muppet references and a fantastic puppet sequence. Oh yeah, it's also really funny. It's not a perfect movie (Jonah Hill, while funny, is pretty unnecessary to the movie). Still, if you don't mind full frontal male nudity, I'd check this one out. Raunchy? Yes. A little silly? Yes. But, in true Apatow form, there's a lot of heart in there, too.

BABY MAMA- Like everyone else on the face of the planet, I was under the impression that Tina Fey wrote this movie. She didn't. She should have, but she didn't. The end product is an ok movie, don't get me wrong, but it's not as sharp and clever as it could have been. I love Tina Fey, absolutely love her, and she is funny in this. I also love Amy Poehler and she is less funny. Not her fault, really, but her character just didn't pop. The script winds up feeling very formulaic and cheesy. When it's funny it's very funny, but it isn't consistently funny. The best part? Steve Martin is fantastic. I didn't even know he was in it and he stole the movie. My verdict- good enough movie, but feel free to wait for Netflix.

IRON MAN- I love comic books. I especially love Marvel comic books. Now, that being said, I never read much Iron Man. I knew the basic story and he popped up in my collection from time to time, but I wasn't as familiar with his story as I was with Spiderman and X-Men. So, going in with an indifferent air towards the character, I came out loving this movie. It's exciting, flashy, and well-performed. Robert Downey, Jr. is just plain fantastic. I've been loving him since Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and the love fest will continue. I think he looks hilariously offensive in Tropic Thunder. But I digress. Go see Iron Man. You'll have a good time. Oh, and it manages to be pretty smart, too.

As for the upcoming films, I'll be seeing the new Indiana Jones at a midnight screening the night it comes out. It looks pretty cool, but there's almost no way it can live up to my high expectations. The Dark Knight could end up being one of the best movies of the year, let alone the summer. And don't forget Wall*E. Pixar hasn't let me down yet, and I think this could end up being their best. A gorgeous, minimalist robot love story set to the score of Hello, Dolly? I'm SO there. Plus, every new poster I see for it has Wall*E in a new pose, and they're all just too damn cute. With all of the excitement over the franchise pictures, it's hard to believe that this movie is the one I'm most excited about. But it is.


NYT- 4:17
CS- 4:02
LAT- 5:14
NYS- 5:29