Monday, March 31, 2008

Cubs Lose

The Cubs lost in their opener today. Carlos Zambrano pitched brilliantly, and newcomer Kosuke Fukudome went 3-3 with a double and a game-tying homer in the ninth, but no one else on the offense decided to play baseball today. Hopefully the rest of the series goes better.

On a positive note, I started carpooling with Mike today. We live close enough and work close enough to each other that it didn't make sense not to carpool. With gas prices reaching $4 any day now, only having to drive half the time makes a lot of sense. And, sure, it's good for the environment. I doubt that taking two small-to-midsized cars off the road is really doing that much good in Los Angeles, but hey, what are you doing? That's what I thought. It should also cut back on the number of posts I have to make complaining about traffic, as I will now have someone in the car to complain to directly. I worry that this will be hard on Mike's schedule, as he's the one who has to make more drastic changes with our current plan, but I think in the end it will hopefully balance out.

Good day on the crosswords today, including a personal best for the New York Times. As for Yahoo, well, I might stop recording times for Yahoo. I've started solving most of my puzzles in Across Lite (or by hand) and Yahoo doesn't use that format. Having to switch to Yahoo's format after a day of Across Lite makes it tough to navigate the puzzles. Anyway, here's the times:
NYT- 4:17
CS- 4:25
LAT- 5:14
NYS- 4:15
Y!- 9:19


Friday, March 28, 2008

Rumor Mongering

There seems to be a healthy business on the net in prognosticating Apple's product releases. Even if there's no money to be made in it, it should at least drive traffic to your website (or humble blog). So I'm gonna get me a piece of that sweet, sweet pie (apple pie? Too obvious). I will preface this by saying that I have no sources or insider information. This is just good old-fashioned guessing.

There's a lot of buzz that a 3G version of the iPhone is imminent. It only makes sense. If you have the most powerful phone from a computing standpoint (and like it or not, there's not much even close to the iPhone in that regard), then it stands to reason it should run on the fastest networks. Recently, the founder of (which I admit I've never been to) postulated that the new version of the GodPhone (as some technorati have dubbed it) will have a camera on its face in addition to the one on its back. Why? Video conferencing, of course! He speculates that Apple will include a mobile version of iChat and equip it with a camera that you can hold to your face so your friends can see you. This is a cool idea. I mean, if you had told me when I was a kid that we would have pocket video phones by the time I was 25, I probably would have squealed and giggled like an excitable school girl (yeah, I wasn't popular).

Here's where my rumor mongering begins: Assuming that Mr. Digg's guess is true (which many people seem to believe it is), I believe that there will be a folding, external keypad on the new iPhone. People won't want to hold a phone the whole time they video chat, and they won't want to carry around a piece of plastic to prop it up on. Apple's big on form and ease of use, so it only makes sense that they build in a stand. Plus, as sleek and classy as the current iPhone is, the lack of a real keyboard is still a big gripe for a lot of people. So, build a keyboard into the back of the phone that slides out, but can also be folded back to become a stand for video conferencing. I would draw a mockup, but I don't think it would do a better job of getting my point across.
It only makes sense, and I truly believe that not only will Apple work this in to the iPhone in some form, they'll also make it look damn good.

And whether any of this is true or not, I want one.


Crosswords (typical difficult Friday)-
NYT- 16:05 (made it harder than it needed to be)
NYS- 13:39
LAT- 17:40
CS- 5:02
Y! - 8:25

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just the Puzzles

Not a pretty one today. I may have had a real post for you all, but I'm so bummed and exhausted from the puzzles that I just can't summon the strength. Here's the times, feel free to mock me:

NY Times- 16:41
CrossSynergy- 7:03
LA Times - 10:22
NY Sun - 21:20 (brutal)
Yahoo- 8:31

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

In Cold Blood

I finished reading Truman Capote's In Cold Blood today for my book club meeting tonight. It's a very captivating, almost disturbing novel and I liked it quite a lot.

It's odd, really. I started out reading it in Capote's high pitched, nasal voice. It was an amusing way to read, but I couldn't keep it up. Mostly because it really doesn't fit the tone of the book at all. It's not even close to the right voice. People talk about writers having a "voice" all the time, and since we know what Capote's actual voice sounded like, it's interesting to note that the "voice" of the book is so vastly different from the voice of the author. It's strange to think that this odd little sprite of a man would be capable of writing something so dark and grim. All of you fans of "true crime" novels? You might as well start calling them "Tru crime" (see what I did there?) books because you have Mr. Capote (and In Cold Blood in particular) for pioneering the genre.

It's my turn to pick the book for our club, and I've decided on A Confederacy of Dunces. I'm always hearing about how great and funny it's supposed to be, and I thought it was about damn time I read it. I'll let you know what I think.


Pretty good day on the crosswords, today, with the exception of the New York Times. It was the theme that threw me. One of the theme clues was "Dinner specialty of an R&B singer" and the answer was "Sam Cooke's Steak." Sure, I get it, but there's a weird noun/verb thing going on. The clue implies a noun and the answer is a noun, but the surnames of the musicians are used as verbs. Once I got the first one, it was easier, but it wasn't easy to wrap my head around. The rest of my times were fine. I got interrupted MANY times during the Yahoo puzzle today, and won't bother posting the time because it is entirely inaccurate.
NYT- 12:13
CrossSynergy- 5:31
LA Times- 7:30
NY Sun - 6:35


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Traffic Laws

Dear City of Los Angeles,

Please allow me to go over a few things you may or may not know about traveling by car.

First: Putting your hazard blinkers on does not give you permission to park in the middle of the street. I'm talking to you Coke truck on Vineland. And moving truck on Aqua Vista. And the 4 or 5 SUVs (always SUVs) every day on Hesby. If someone plows into the back of your parked car, you deserve it. Please find a place to park or just stay off the road entirely.

Second: The right lane on Laurel Canyon is a right turn only lane at Mulholland. It is clearly marked as such for about a mile ahead of time. If you are in the right lane, you are REQUIRED to turn right. Deciding you want to cut ahead of traffic at the top of the hill and then coming to a complete stop in open traffic until someone in the other lane comes to a complete stop to let your dumb, arrogant ass over is what causes the traffic jam in the first place. There is a special place in hell reserved for people who do this. I'm talking to you overly trendy girl in a giant pickup truck. And 90% of all cars in the right lane on Laurel Canyon every morning.

Third: If you are at a red light, and want to turn right on to a road where traffic has backed up, you are REQUIRED to wait until the light turns green to do so. "Right on Red" never has right of way and is only permissible if you are clear to turn. If someone stops before they block the intersection, this is not an invitation for you to turn, it's just so that you aren't blocked when the light turns green. Similarly, no matter how fancy your gated community is, you are required to stop at stop signs before merging into oncoming traffic. Oncoming vehicles have no obligation to stop and let you out. I'm looking at you, people with more money than sense or good taste on Laurel and Mulholland.

Fourth: You live in LA. You have no business owning a pickup truck. It seems to me that the kinds of people who would want to own a giant truck in a big urban area shouldn't be allowed to drive in the first place. I'm looking at you again, dumb bimbo who broke the second law.

Fifth: A law for pedestrians. If you cross the street and you are not in a crosswalk (or at the very least at an intersection), then when you get hit by a car it's your own damn fault. This is doubly true at night time. The crosswalk is only a few feet away, don't be so damn lazy.

Lastly: Los Angeles- you are far too large of a city not to have a decent mass transportation system. The car is proving itself to be a wasteful, inefficient mode of transportation but there is no viable alternative here. You want to do something about congestion? Build trains that go places people want to be. I'm about 5 miles from the nearest metro station at my office and that's just not acceptable. Once gas prices get much higher, I fear this city is going to have a riot on its hands.

Ok, glad to get that out of the way. I wish this blog was more popular so that the people who need to hear these things might actually read it. On to the crosswords:

I'm almost embarrassed to post my times today. It figures that on the first day of my posting I would have a complete mental block and post atrocious times. I hope I can get better.

New York Times- 7:33- not bad, I guess, but I spent too long just staring at the West/Northwest section of this puzzle.
CrossSynergy- 8:30 - unacceptable
Yahoo- 9:41 - even worse
New York Sun - 11:30 - even though it's my highest time, I'm no too ashamed. This was a hard puzzle, especially for a Tuesday.
LA Times- 5:20 - The only decent time of the day.


Monday, March 24, 2008

A New Feature

It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me (and I assume that everyone reading this does) that I love crossword puzzles. On last count, I do five of them a day: New York Times, LA Times, Yahoo Daily, New York Sun, and Houston Chronicle. The NY Times is obviously cream of the crop. Their puzzles are just more fun; it seems like the creators really care about making the puzzles an art form. Bravo, Will Shortz. LA Times isn't bad, but I don't find myself loving it. I just started doing the Sun last week- challenging and well-crafted. Yahoo's crossword is usually pretty basic and the theme clues are often cheap and silly. Finally, the Houston Chronicle, which actually runs a puzzle called CrossSynergy which is syndicated over many MANY papers across the country. It's not as bad as the Yahoo puzzles, but it's certainly not on the level of the New York papers or even the LA Times.

So, why do I mention all of this? I've been trying to force myself to update the blog on a more regular basis (daily, ideally). What better way than to have something substantive to publish every day? Why not crossword times? Why not, indeed, sir.

So, I will be posting my crossword times at the bottom of my blog entries. Please do not laugh at me, I'm no champion solver. Monday through Wednesday my times are respectable (usually around 5-7 minutes), but Thursday and Friday can be brutal. Hopefully I can see some improvement as I work.

I fully intended to start this today, but apparently my timer didn't start when I clicked on it for the NY Times (I'm using a photocopied version until I can afford to subscribe to their online puzzle service, which times it automatically). I didn't notice until I had finished the puzzle, which is a shame because I FLEW through it today. I would be surprised if I was done in 4 minutes today. Oh well, tune in tomorrow to see how it goes.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Woman dies after ray strikes her -

Woman dies after ray strikes her -

I know, I know, this is a terrible tragedy. But is it bad that when I saw the headline, my first thought was, "Well, was it a death ray? Because that's what those are supposed to do. And what mad scientist finally came up with a death ray, anyway? Or was it a heat ray, freeze ray, or shrink ray mishap gone horribly wrong?" Sigh. I watch too much TV.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Thought I'd have some fun today and dig through the spam messages in my various e-mail accounts. Join me, won't you?

Intense orgasms - The secret- "Miracles can happen. Click here to add inches."
Celebrity camel toes- "Have a larger, thicker and more muscular tool today."
Our physicians recommend- "Bluemed is a good way to gain in hardness"
Don't put your health at stake!- ""Make your baby-maker bigger and stronger!"
My regular partner is boring so I had sex with someone else- body unreadable
I wanted to break up a rival's relationship by having sex with his/her partner- body unreadable
I wanted to see what it would be like to have sexx while stoned (eg oon marijuana or some other drug)- "I was embarassed by my small equipment in the mens locker room."
So long it made her gag- "Don't let your girl leave you because you are inadequate."

What did we learn from Gmail? Well, apparently I have a tiny penis. I had no idea. Also, no matter what the subject line says, it's all about making my junk bigger. I love all of the various phrases they use to try and get around spam filters (ie- baby-maker, tool, equipment, miracles). My favorites in this bunch were the one about getting back at their rival (his/her partner? You mean you don't know? Maybe small genitals weren't your problem) and having sexx while stoned. The "eg oon marijuana or some other drug" just seems so helpful. You know, in case you don't know what "stoned" means. That way, your grandma can get this spam and still know what it's about (though the actual e-mail isn't about drugs at all...uh oh, grandma's confused again).

View photos of [local singles] on the web
Make a regular income processing rebates
Bank of america fraud alert!
Christian work at home opportunities

Hm, insurance coverage, phony job offers, Christians? Hotmail spammers are downright decent folks! I love seeing typos in phishing scams (I'm sure Bank of america doesn't know how to spell their own name properly) and getting offers for Christian things. It's usually jobs or singles, but how gullible do they think Christians are? Just because they believe in a magic man who comes back from the dead doesn't mean they were born again yesterday. I mean, do you think adding the word "Christian" to your scam will make them more likely to click on it? Actually, I take that back. I've known several people in my life who probably would. Sigh.

I want to buy your house
Test and keep:Dell computer
Pleasure for you and the lady ghnzhbg
No Pumps! No Pills! No Surgery!
Ron Jeremy uses our products

Ah the melange of Yahoo. Nothing too shocking. Except that I don't own a house and free is too much money to pay for anything Dell makes. Seems like pretty standard spam.

Oh well, I guess that wasn't as much fun as I was hoping it would be. Tune in next time, I'll be more entertaining.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Can Has Syphilis?

This was the headline on today:

Study: 25 Percent of Teens Has STD

Maybe my grammar skills are off, but something about the subject/verb agreement in this headline seems wonky. Has LOLSpeak invaded the news media? It's funny when cats talk like this, but not reporters.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Garfield Minus Garfield

Just in case you haven't seen this, check out this site:

The basic premise is to take the character of Garfield out of Garfield comics, turning it into a vision at a single man's battle with loneliness and insanity. Some of the strips are downright hilarious, just pointing out how unnecessary Garfield's punchlines are to the script. If nothing else, it makes you read the strip differently. The punchline is usually delivered by Jon, and then Garfield makes a snarky comment about it. Here's another of my favorites:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Keith Richards is new frontman for Louis Vuitton - Yahoo! News

Stones guitarist is new frontman for Louis Vuitton - Yahoo! News

I'm trying to come up with a "leather face" kind of joke, but nothing solid is coming. Just know that I'm trying. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.

It's a good thing this is for a print campaign. Can you imagine Keith Richards slurring his way through a commercial?


Monday, March 3, 2008

Words of Wisdom (Teeth)

I've been out of service for the last few days after having my wisdom teeth taken out on Friday morning. Things are OK now, but I'm dying for some solid food. I was only really in pain the first day and now I'm just waiting for the stitches to dissolve and the swelling to go down. So, I'm back on my feet and ready to blog! It's going to be another random thoughts collection today, but I promise I'm not making these a habit. One of these days I'll have a posting with a coherent theme, I swear.

Saturday Night Live- Your opening sketch last week about Obama getting preferential treatment over Clinton in the media was funny. It was, however, at least 3 minutes too long and Fred Armisen did a horrible impression of Obama. Your opening sketch THIS week about Obama getting preferential treatment over Clinton in the media was tedious. Maybe its because it was THE EXACT SAME IDEA as the one that was 3 minutes too long last week! You took something that was too long already and made it nearly 10 minutes longer! Sure, having the real Hilary there was fun, but she didn't add anything to the sketch.
And Fred I'm not a fan of his in general, and this Obama impression just made it worse. I don't care that he's a white guy playing a black guy. There's no black guy in the cast right now, so you do what you've got to do. The impression just makes it look like he's never even heard of the man he's impersonating. By the end of this week's sketch, I expected him to ask the moderator of the debate for a Pic-a-nic basket. Have you ever thought Obama sounded like Yogi Bear? Apparently Fred Armisen has. Mr. Armisen- I'm sure you're a lovely person, but you have once again failed to show me any real talent. Go find an improv troupe that's looking for a guy who can do a fake Brooklyn accent (seriously, 80% of the characters he plays use this same voice) and leave SNL for the professionals.
Maybe he's a better writer than a performer, I don't know. I just haven't ever been impressed. And writers? Give me something original this week. I can't suffer through that sketch again.

Commercials- Denny's? Those commercials with Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos? I have a few questions. Why would he go to a restaurant just to give a clerk fake money for a "fake" breakfast? If you don't like a place, you don't have to go there. There seem to be a lot of commercials where irate people take things out on cashiers and customer service reps. You shouldn't encourage this kind of behavior. I understand that we as Americans feel entitled to having everything catered to us, but if we don't get our way, we shouldn't be taking it out on the poor folks on the front lines. It's NEVER their fault. Please treat your customer service people with respect.
McDonald's? You have a commercial for your breakfast burrito in which one guy gets mad at his roommate (presumably) for buying breakfast instead of making it. He says, "Hey, the deal was that you'd MAKE me breakfast." What deal? What is this man trading for breakfasts? Young man, you should never debase and degrade yourself for cooked eggs. They're easy to make youself...have some dignity.
One more thing- should we just make a commercial for our country saying, "America- lie to your wives and girlfriends and do whatever you can not to work!"? Because that's the general idea that 90% of our commercials are espousing right now. If I see one more commercial about a guy who comes up with a crazy scheme for getting away from his wife to hang out with the guys, I'm going to lose it. Here's a crazy scheme- Tell your wife you'd like to hang out with your friends, and if she's too controlling to ever let you, maybe there's a bigger issue and you should be spending some time with her instead of finding ways to smuggle cheap beer into important events in her life. Sheesh.

And finally, briefly, Politics- Hilary Clinton today says that she's, "Just getting warmed up." Um, Hilary? I admire the sentiment and I'm certainly not counting you out, but isn't it a little late for warm ups? Even if you were leading, this thing is coming into the home stretch. The bottom of the ninth isn't the time to start warming up your starting pitcher. Maybe you should have gotten warmed up in December or January. Just sayin'.

Ok, that's enough long-windedness.