Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stupid Election (Grumble, grumble)

John McCain's much publicized ad comparing Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton is the most retarded, childish, asinine thing I've heard this week. Yes, Obama's popular so he must be on the same level as a couple of blonde super whores. That just makes a ton of sense. People are popular for all kinds of reasons. I guess that means Obama's like Will Smith, Alex Rodriguez, and Harry Potter, too! Yay! The fact that McCain is reportedly proud of this ad is infuriatingly stupid. Is this really the only argument you have against the guy? That he's popular? You might as well go home and hand him the election if that's the best you can do. Yes, throngs of people came out to see Obama on his recent world tour, but what was telling to me was how much the LEADERS of those countries seemed to admire him. I bet they would be a little less friendly with Grouchy Ol' John McCain.

Hell, if inconsequential, non-sequiter similarities are what define us as people, why not run an ad for McCain comparing him to Wilfred Brimley and the crazy guy who talks to himself at the bus station because their all old. It's distressing how early this thing has digressed into name-calling stupidity.

I've said it before and I'll certainly say it again - Got To Hell, John McCain.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Earthquake Redux!

Yes, I'm reusing the picture from one of my earliest posts. As I'm sure everyone on the planet is aware of by now, there was a moderate earthquake in Los Angeles yesterday. I certainly felt it in my office (and believe me, the 10th floor of an office building was not my first choice of places to be in such a situation). It basically felt like the building rolled around a bit for about 15 seconds. That was it.

Contrary to what you may have seen or heard from the media, this caused little to no turmoil in most parts of LA. My office paused for about 30 seconds and went right back to work. Everyone I talked to had pretty much the same story. "I freaked out when it first started, but then I realized that it wasn't that big a deal." Some people evacuated their buildings, per building policy, but I think it was mostly to get out of the office for a while. No one thought that there was any signifcant damage.

When I got home last night I went around my apartment to survey the damage. I just got earthquake insurance a few months ago and wanted to see what I could be reimbursed for. My findings? My toothbrush had fallen over on the bathroom counter and the Darth Vader action figure on my desk had tipped over. I'm going to ask the insurance company for $5003 dollars ($5000 for emotional turmoil, and $3 for a little stand for Darth). My friend Mike suggested that I knock my TV to the ground and tell them that it happened in the earthquake to see if they'll buy me a nice new one. I think my window for this fraud has passed, however.

Seriously, the only thing that worried most Angelenos was that this wasn't the Big One. These smaller earthquakes serve as a reminder of what could happen in the future, at a time when we're not so lucky. We're all thankful that this wasn't that time (except perhaps for the news media, who seemed to be craving something more disasterous to report on that what actually happened).

I'm fine.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Feeling Stimulated

Melissa and I finally received our Economic Stimulus payment yesterday. As some whose social security number ends in the 90s, I was in the last batch to get it. I plan on stimulating the economy by paying off the rest of my credit cards (Yay!) and paying the rest of my stupidly high podiatrist bills. I don't know how much that will do for the country, but it will certainly help my personal finances.


Monday, July 14, 2008

TV From the Sky

So, last weekend, Melissa and I made the switch from cable to DirecTV. We had had a series of horrid customer service experiences with Time Warner and just weren't that impressed with the product. We have been much happier with AT&T as our internet provider, so we cut the cable company out entirely.

Installation was pretty painless. They sent someone out on the 4th of July. I felt bad for the technician who was working the holiday, but I couldn't argue with the convenience. Instantly, it was an improvement. The HD-DVR they gave us (pictured) doesn't sound like it's constantly overheating the way our cable box did. The picture quality seems a little more stable and less compressed than what I was seeing from Time Warner. The DVR options and interface are much more robust than what I was seeing before. Oh yeah, and we also went from getting about 20 HD channels to getting about 50. And more are scheduled to be added in September.

And what did all of this upgrade cost us per month? Well, full price, the whole package will end up being about $10 cheaper than our cable service. However, we won't be paying full price for another 2 years. For the first year of service, we get $23 a month off of the package's full price (plus they threw in free Showtime for a year. Score!). On top of that, we get a AAA discount of an additional $10 of for 2 years. So, where our cable bill had been a little over $100 a month, after adding a ton of channels and getting better equipment we will be paying under $50 for the next 12 months. Not bad.

Of course, there are a few quibbles. We haven't experienced any weather outages yet, but they'll probably come. Apparently the new technology is less prone to interference, and I live in southern California (where it never rains, dontcha know), so I'm not expecting huge problems. If I do miss something, sites like or BitTorrent provide me with everything I might miss. The only real complaint I have is that the majority of the cable channels are shown in the east coast feed. While most channels still reair their shows late at night for the west coast, it's taking some getting used to. Daily Show coming on at 10pm and Adult Swim starting a half hour later doesn't feel right yet. And TBS is tricky because when I want to watch My Boys, it comes on at 6:30. With the DVR, though, I don't think I'll notice it much. I'll get a new late night TV schedule set and everything will be fine.

I look forward to many nights of television being beamed into my house like on Star Trek. The future is now!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Hello, Wall-E!

Hey folks, I've been too lazy to post much for a while, and I apologize. I'm back today with my review of Wall-E. I actually saw this over a week ago, and I still can't stop thinking about it. That being said, this review will likely contain spoilers, so if you haven't seen the movie (which you should have), stop reading now.

I'll get it out of the way now- Wall-E is probably the best movie I've seen in years. It's sweet, smart, entirely original, and just superbly executed. The first 40 minutes or so (according to other reviewers, I wasn't timing) take place on a deserted Earth with virtually no dialogue. It's amazing how you don't notice that no one's talking. This little robot is so expressive and captivating that you're just sucked into his world. There were (many) times that I forgot that what I was watching was animated.

During this time, Wall-E encounters Eve and falls in love. How did a robot learn about love? From musicals, of course! I've heard many people comment on how strange the choice of Hello, Dolly! was for this movie, but I think it was the absolute perfect choice. Hello, Dolly! at its core is about finding love and the loneliness of those who aren't in love. It's about stretching your boundaries and exploring the world around you and taking advantage of the moments of opportunity life gives you. This is exactly what Wall-E is about. Wall-E IS Cornelius Hackle, albeit a smaller, more metallic version. This movie opens with Cornelius (Michael Crawford) singing "Out There, there's a world outside of Yonkers" to Barnaby over a beautiful view of the universe. The music fades as we find Wall-E working on Earth. He knows that there's a world (Space) outside of his own Yonkers (Earth) and he wants to go there an not "come home until [he falls] in love." Plus, when Wall-E uses a trash can lid as a straw boater and shows Eve that he can dance along to Put On Your Sunday Clothes, it's about the cutest thing ever (I have a toy of it on my desk).

The movie loses none of its magic when it leaves for space. It just manages to get smarter when it goes. We meet the future of the human race- lazy, overly complacent, blobs who have never had to do anything because they had machines to do it for them. They float on hover chairs and are fed information through video screens all day. These humans are hilarious, but it's also a very poignant caution. If we let technology take over our lives entirely, then are we truly living? Seeing these humans one by one getting knocked out of their own safety zone and realizing how much world there was to live in was very rewarding (and also happened to fit in further with the Hello, Dolly! themes). It was also smartly done to not place the blame for obesity and laziness on the people themselves. These people had just never known anything different.

There is also the issue of Buy 'N Large, the massive store/corporation that basically took over and ruined the planet. Fred Willard plays the President/CEO of Earth in live action shots that shockingly don't feel out of place. I always like to see something take a shot at the massive corporations, especially when that corporation is Wal-Mart (after which Buy 'N Large is clearly modeled). Still, it is a bit strange that Disney/ABC and Pixar/Apple put up the money for this. Corporations don't get much larger than that.

In conclusion, I'm not sure I have anything to say to anyone who didn't like this movie. I just don't know what there could be not to like. It's the best love story Hollywood has put out in years, and it just happens to be between two robots. Go figure.