Monday, July 31, 2006

Trading spaces

In a sign of growing obsession, I spent the entire day reading the local newspaper to find out whether our baseball team was going to trade anyone before the 3 pm deadline. I was so very nervous, especially since the rumors were we were going to lose three pretty decent players (including our best pitcher) for one player who apparently is God's gift to baseball or something. Big sigh of relief as 3 pm came and went; no trades, the line-up is intact, and I still have hopes that our boys can pull it together and make it to the wild card. Of course, I have this thing for underdogs, and I hated the idea of a struggling player -- who did *so* much for the team over the last couple of years -- on the trading block.

I think if you know you're on the trading block, that your team is willing to get rid of you to get someone better, emotionally that's gotta take a toll -- especially if you've spent most of your career with one franchise. I don't think you'd ever look at your team again in quite the same way. I understand baseball isn't just a game -- it's a business and the players know that when they sign up. They know it's possible to get traded, that if they don't perform, they'll get demoted to the minor leagues, but still. Hearing you're on the trading block has got to blow in so many ways.

Good thing I'm not a baseball player; my skin's not thick enough for this kind of thing. It's hard enough being a fan, wondering if your team's about to get decimated just to get one guy who may or may not get us to that magic 0.5.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Go me!

Yesterday was seriously the running around day from... I don't want to say hell, but it was pretty hectic, and by the time 10:30 pm rolled around, I was fast asleep on my futon, not even being able to make it through my customary episode of "Sex and the City."

Basically, the day started early, like it always does, around 7 am, and then by 9 am, I was at the gym for body pump. At 11, I was in my neighborhood again, picked up a couple of gifts, came home, made rice, cleaned the bathroom, hopped in the shower, made a shopping list and by 11:45, was on the road again. While on the road, I used my hands-free set to talk to Liz about our upcoming vacation, and at 12:20, I was at the restaurant, where I made another quick call to Florida Girl to see what she was up to. at 12:30, had lunch with some friends from the MBA program, and at 2:30 pm, was back on the road to my neighborhood again.

At 3:15, I was at my local grocery store; there were others closer by, but when I'm in a rush, I prefer my usual grocery store because I can whip through there fast and I know what they have and what they don't have. At 4 pm, I was at home, I made a quick call to the Fainter to tell her I wouldn't be able to join her on the Great House Search, and just a bit after 4, I started cooking. I made chocolate mousse, a cucumber salad, spankopita, rice salad, and mushroom soup -- all from scratch, with the exception of the mousse which I had a little help from in the form of powdered chocolate. And oh, I bought fresh mushrooms pre-sliced and washed, and bought roasted peppers instead of roasting them myself (price was comparable yesterday), but I did de-stem the spinach, instead of buying the already de-stemmed and washed bag.

I finished all the cooking, cleaning and gift wrapping by 6 pm -- the soup was still simmering on low, because it's a cream-base, it can't be boiled, so I needed to keep the burner on. At 6:01, I sat down, and watched the first inning of the Home Team meeting up with Liz's team, and then around 6:15, my company arrived. We watched more of the ball game, ate around 7:30, and then at 8:30, saw that the Home Team had won the game (finally!), and then we listened to a variety of music from Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, trying to figure out which Sarah Brightman song had been in the background during PBS' fabulous series on "The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance."

They left around 9:45, and I made a feeble, half-hearted effort to clean up, but then decided I really, really liked my futon, and so that's where I ended up camping out and eventually falling asleep. Around 11:30, I got up and went to sleep in my bedroom. I slept like a log and this morning, annoyingly, I did wake up at my usual 7 am, but I was able, with some effort, to turn around and go back to sleep until about 8:30.

Today is going to be a more relaxed day. I plan to go to the gym (pilates), and then putter around doing some things around the house, including cleaning up after yesterday's dinner. I owe a few phone calls and emails, and I need to get some writing done. Also, I'd like to finally watch the last hour of the first "Pirates of the Carribean," which has been in my DVD player since... the first week of July. I also have "Bride and Prejudice," which is Aishwarya Rai's crossover from Bollywood films. And finally, of course, the last part of the Medici series will be on tonight.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Hey Andy, did you hear about this one?

Last night, the Fainter, S and I went to a fundraiser for the Red Cross, benefitting Indonesia, which has had its share of natural disasters in the last two years. The format was very cool -- Indonesian food, music, and arts and crafts for sale -- plus a pub style trivia contest. Twenty-percent of all purchases went to the Red Cross, as did the $3 donation required for each person who wanted to paticipate in the trivia contest.

You could take part in the trivia contest in teams, with up to six people on a team and so we were a team of 3. I said from the very beginning that I was going to be the purely ornamental part of the team, as I know nothing about Indonesia except its general location on the earth, that its capital is Jakarta, that there was something Not Nice (tm) happening for a long time with East Timor and... well, that's pretty much it. The other category of questions were going to be tea-related, and I know very little about tea except that I do like to drink it, preferably either Earl Grey (that would be the JLP influence), and/or English Breakfast (which would be the hangover from my massive UK crush). However, we got lucky and while some of the questions concerned tea (where was Thomas Lipton from? Glasgow -- we didn't get this; we guessed Edinburgh) and Indonesia (What was the loudest sound ever recorded? The explosion of Krakatoa -- which thanks to the wonder that is PBS, we *did* get), it turned out to be a more general trivia contest.

The contest was set up in five rounds, 10 questions each. We did well on the first round, getting five of the questions correct, including the answer to which queen was the state of Virginia named after (Elizabeth I). We managed to name three of the countries where German is the native tongue (we missed Switzerland -- said Luxembourg instead), and came very close to knowing just how far away the pitcher is from home plate. In rounds 2 and 3, we fell behind, earning a measly 2.5 points in each round. We didn't know what was the second largest island in the world after Greenland (New Guinea) and we (read: I) punted badly on naming the two countries which are bordered by the most countries (Russia, China). In round 3, our second 2.5 of the night earned us an editorial remark from the graders --- "Ooooh!" --- which didn't sit well with us at all. It was on.

Our new strategy was to go with our initial gut answers to the questions. The thing was, we'd come up with an answer, debate it, decide it was wrong, and then go with something else. This happened with the baseball question when I ventured that I thought the pitcher's mound was 60 feet away, but decided maybe 60 feet was too far, and let's do 50 instead. The answer was 60 feet and 6 inches, and yes, they were giving partial credit. The Fainter answered "The Dutch" on one question, but got overruled by us, and guess what the answer was? The Dutch.

In round 4, we came roaring back with 7 points out of 10, with answers to questions like name the five countries that start with the letters M, A, and L (Malta, Maldives, Mali, Malawi, Malaysia) and name the small country in the Pyrennees where Spanish, Catalin, and French are spoken (Andorra) and the longest river that ends in the same country it starts in (Yangtze). We also knew the ancient capitals of China included Xian and Bejing and that there are approximately 18,000 islands in Indonesia. I think at the end of round 4, we had a total of 17 points.

In round 5, we pretty much got all 10 of the questions correct, including the national sport of Indonesia (badminton), colonizers of Indonesia (Britain and Japan), identifying a quote of Abraham Lincoln's and the name of the volcanic formation Indonesia is part of (the Ring of Fire).

The cool thing is, we still thought we were in pretty much at the bottom of the heap, given our poor performance in rounds 2 and 3, and so when they started with the placements (last place = team 9), I don't know what we thought. I assumed we'd be around 5th or 6th place, because the few times they'd read the subtotals out-loud, everyone else was scoring gazillion points to our 2.5 points. However, place 5 went, then place 4, at and at third place, we just kind of stared at each other. Could we, the benefactors of the snarky comments in round 3, actually have *placed* high enough to win a prize? Could we actually have *won*? Third place came and went, and then, our team name -- Bambang, a reference to Indonesia's president -- was called. We'd gotten second place.

To say we were thrilled is a major understatement. We'd been so convinced that we were at the bottom of the heap that placing had never even occurred to us. And yes, while we'd done awesomely in rounds 4 and 5, we assumed that everyone else had too. Anyway, we won prizes -- a bag of loose leaf tea, a tea strainer, and little cake, all nicely packed into a cute pottery bowl. It was all very nice, but more exciting was the thrill of actually placing and the fact that we did it in support of a very worthy cause.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Good eatin'

In my never ending quest for good and healthy food that's easy to prepare and ideal for one person, I stumbled across a pretty tasty wrap this week, and so far so good. Total prep time is about 2 minutes, which is awesome, especially since it feels like my stomach is about to eat itself by the time I get home from work and the gym. My usual quick meal is sunny side-up eggs and toast, but this evening, I got creative because a salad, while planned, just didn't appeal to me. Don't get me wrong -- I like salad, especially creative salads that just pop, but the plain old lettuce, tomato, croutons and cucumbers get old after a while, and while I was surveying the contents of my fridge, I was suddenly inspired.

I spread salsa lightly on a flour tortilla, sprinkled shredded chedder cheese over the salsa, put fresh spinach leaves on top of that, and added sliced portobello mushrooms, and then wrapped it all up. It's amazingly tasty, and much more appealing than a plain old salad. I also tried this wrap with fresh diced tomatoes and roasted red peppers and that tasted good too. Plus, the clean-up time is next to nothing, and that's always a major plus. (I used, btw, the freshly washed and cut spinach from Salad Express, and pre-sliced portobello mushrooms; the chedder cheese was also pre-shredded. Tortillas were store-brand, and salsa was actually Pace picante, mild).

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Down Memory Lane

I was re-reading some of my old entries, specifically some from the summer of 2002, and in retrospect, the heavy emphasis on fandom in those days is nothing more than escapism (much as it was during 1997-1998), with the occasional Real Life intrusion.

At the time, I had just returned from a couple of months in Europe and was struggling with the decision to leave my job for good. I was desperately conflicted at the time, and some of those old entries reflect that. Re-reading those entries tonight, I felt a tinge of sadness again because in between the fannish meta and the fic recs, I was awfully honest about what was happening and how horribly betrayed I felt.

Before I could get too sad over what happened four long years ago, I came across this little piece of fun from back then: The Mod Quiz: Which Zendom Mod are you? I retook the quiz and am very happy to discover that despite the passage of time and the change in attitudes and interests, I am still me (albeit no longer purple). And you are?

Monday, July 24, 2006


Recently, I re-discovered my folder of original fiction and it was shocking to me just how *much* of it there was. Usually, when someone asks to see my stories, there's a particular one I send out -- "Nocturne" (Harry, you may remember this one) -- and it's like the other stories just don't exist. So I guess it's not true that every writer has her favorite story -- mine is most certainly "Nocturne" (I'd even forgotten that I'd written a sappy, schmoopy sequel to that one because some now former colleagues of mine had disliked the ambiguity of the original ending).

It's been interesting to re-read them and figure out what's changed over time, what's stayed the same. As a writer, I don't think my focus has changed -- I still like writing about little moments loaded with meaning, little moments that can change a shape of a relationships. My momentary flirtation with space battles aside, I prefer the quiet and the ordinary, and I like dialogue that is restrained and held back, because in real life, I think we wish people would be honest and direct, but conversations don't always go that way; what people don't say is often just as important, if not more, than what they do say.

I was much more sparse with my prose back then than I am now. I don't think I'd quite accomplished the balance between exposition and dialogue and description is something I'm still working on. I was also seriously influenced by short shorts or 'sudden' fiction, and I've gotten way, way away from that style of writing now. I loved the idea of crafting a short story that encapsulated an entire mood or sentiment in just a few pages, and while I acknowledged it was difficult back then, I know even better now: it's very, very difficult to pull off a short story and make it work. Most of my stories now hover around around the 3,000-word mark at the minimum and I've written novels with 100,000 words or more. Medium-length to novel-length stories are much more forgiving, I've found (g).

I also realize that I drift from writing style to writing style, or maybe 'genre' is a better word, I don't know. There was a time when I only wrote news stories, and then I did some news mixed in with editorial, and then I was a full-time editorial writer with the very occasional news story (usually covering for someone else). Then came the burst of original fiction (helped by the creative minds and inspiration over at the dearly missed Story Exchange). Then came the fanfiction burst. And now, I think I'm a full-time blogger (stop laughing, everyone!*). I've never actually said *good-bye* to any of these forms of writing, because I think I'm still capable of writing in those genres if I wanted to. I just don't. I blog these days, and I don't write much of anything else.

That's one of the reasons why I'm really glad I'm getting involved in a writing group, and just how positive it felt to be around those women, and their talent and their ideas. I'd like to write something again, and not have this blog be my (mostly) one and only outlet for writing.** We'll see how it goes. At any rate, it's been both fun and scary to read some of that old, old stuff. It's always nice to have a roadmap of where you've been, so you can figure out how you got to where you are.

* I know one of the criteria of being a blogger is actually, y'know, blogging multiple times a day and not going AWOL for a week like I just did, but a girl can have delusions, can't she?

**Not, btw, that I have any intention of giving up this blog.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Link round-up

Links from this past week or so...

Here's an interesting article on a secret journalists kept years ago in the interests of national security.

I don't quite fit the portrait of a blogger.

The results of the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest are available.

I blogged about modest swimwear way back when, but y'know a fashion's arrived when it shows up on the WP.

Glad to see Congress continues to worry itself about something important. I'll be really glad when this election year is over and senators and representatives on both sides of the aisle stop pandering.
Pop culture

Reading: Naked by David Sedaris
Watching: Narnia
Listening: The Wreck of the Day by Anna Nalick

Saturday, July 22, 2006

An out of this world adventure

Got $15 million?
Better off I sparkle on my own

Last night, I went to a writing group meeting. It was my first time with this group, and it was at a Starbucks in a part of Sweat Sock City that has always existed in theory, but in practice I've never been. Anyway, I took the scenic route instead of the interstate and in the process, got lost. I pulled over and called the phone number I'd been given in the group email, thinking I was calling the group leader. Nope, it was Starbucks.

"I'm lost," I told the guy.

"Where are you?"

"Somewhere on Memorial."

"Where exactly on Memorial?"


"Did you see an elementary school?"

"No... I'm trying to turn around. I have no idea where I am. Wait, how do I get to the Beltway?"

"Are you trying to get to Starbucks or the Beltway?"

"I'm trying to get to the Starbucks at the Beltway and Memorial."

"Okay, that's us. We're right next to the Beltway."

At this point, I saw a Starbucks next to a Blockbuster. "Are you near the Blockbuster?"

"No, we're a few blocks down from that."

"So I'm not really lost?"

"No, you're only a few minutes away."

"Great," I said. "Thanks. I bet this is the weirdest call you've gotten today."

"Nah, we get calls like this all the time. People have a hard time finding us for some reason."

"Whew, as long as I'm not the only one."

"No, no. Anyway, you'll be here in a few minutes. Can I take your order? It'll be ready when you get here."

Anyway, I gave the guy my order and sure enough, it was waiting when I got to the Starbucks. I was very impressed. Not only did the guy not laugh at my obvious flakiness and complete lack of knowledge as to where I was, but he was kind and reassuring, *and* was sharp enough to make the sale right there on the phone. Starbucks would have gotten my money anyway, but by asking for my order, he eliminated the whole standing in line waiting thing, which when one is already running late for a meeting is a very good thing. So kudos to the nice guy at the Starbucks!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Reach out and touch someone

Yesterday was my lucky day when it came to all things AT&T. AT&T, all is forgiven!

It started with the mystery cheque. I ripped it open, it was for quite a bit of money, and I was very confused. The usual deal is that *I* send AT&T money, not the other way 'round. Had AT&T, in a bout of generousity, randomly decided to send its customers money? And if so, for what? I called the phone company of AT&T and they denied all knowledge of said cheque. I had no promotion, no rebate, no nothing. But the service rep was very kind and tried about 80 gazillion things to figure out the cheque. I apologized for taking up her time and gave her my sob story about having all my identifying information stolen a few months ago, and was wondering if this cheque had something to do with that or was it one of those deals when I cashed it, I was suddenly and automatically locked into some hideous program, possibly one with the evilest of all evil, call waiting?

Finally, we figured out that the cheque had to do with my cable service, not the phone or the DSL (my phone and DSL are in my initials, my cable in full name). Turns out that AT&T had stopped charging for my level of cable service about five months ago and was refunding ALL THE MONEY BACK TO ME. And on top of that, they will NO LONGER CHARGE ME. I nearly fell over. "Are you sure?" I kept asking. Who gives away cable service for free? Granted, I only get local service, but *still*. For *free*, people, for *free*.

And then I wanted to get the DSL thing straightened out. The last time I'd talked to AT&T, they'd said if I added like 80 gazillion services to my phone, including the bane of my existence, call waiting, I could keep the $14.99 rate for DSL. Reasoning with the rep didn't seem to work at that time, because he didn't seem to understand the concept of math, and addition, and how adding $19 worth of stuff to my phone to get $15 worth of DSL still added up to $34/month and that was exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place and in the second place, why would I -- a girl with TWO cell phones -- need $19 worth of stuff on a landline I barely use?

Anyway, yesterday, they re-upped my DSL for $14.99/month, up a nickle from my previous rate, but hey, I think I can find a nickle in my sofa cushions to pay for the increase. Turns out if you just *call* AT&T to renew prior to expiration, they will re-up you at the same rate. Plus, according to the rep I talked to, I'm not in a 1-year agreement either; I can cancel anytime without a termination fee. However, the rate itself is only guaranteed for a year.

So go me. Not only did I get what I wanted for the DSL, I now get free cable.

Maybe I should go play the lottery now.

Friday, July 14, 2006


How media leaks affect the war on terror. The headline is misleading as it's really missing the words 'or not as much as you might think', but it's an interesting article from the Christian Science Monitor, which makes the point these leaks are more of an embarassment or a PR nightmare, rather than a real security threat. Here's some background on the story, also from the CSM.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006

The tofu problem

As promised, today I'm addressing the complicated and sisyphean task of drying out a block of tofu. If you've ever tried this, you know it's not as simple as pouring the liquid out of the package once you've opened it. Nor can you be lazy about it, because wet tofu doesn't taste that great, and in some cases (especially when baking), the stuff can explode (and you guys know I'm totally speaking from experience).

Over the last year or so, I've gotten close to my dream of nearly dry tofu. I say 'nearly' because tofu is a sponge, which an endless and hidden source of water. You think there can't be any water left in the damn thing after wringing it endlessly, but oh grasshopper, how wrong you would be.

My method involves two plates (preferably plastic or otherwise unbreakable), four cans of various condiments -- I typically use a combination of black beans, Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable soup, chick peas, and Del Monte's diced tomatoes with garlic -- and two boxes of crackers (one mostly empty, the other brand new). I also use a small lid from a tupperware container. I also use at least one paper towel; your mileage may vary.

First, open the package of tofu and dump the water out. This is the easy part. Put the tofu on one of the plastic plates. Now take the second plastic plate, turn it upside down, and put it on top of the tofu. Now, weigh the top plate down with at least two of the previously procured cans. Slip -- gently -- the tupperware cover under the bottom plate. Now, you can walk away and answer email.

Come back fifteen minutes later, and drain the water that has pooled beneath the tofu. Wrap the tofu lovingly in the paper towel, pat it gently, and then remove the towel. Replace the tofu on the plastic plate, put the other plate on top of it, and this time, load it up with three of the cans. Again, walk away and do something nice for yourself.

Come back after twenty minutes, drain out the water, lovingly dry the tofu off, and then flip it over on the plate. Replace the top plate. Add four cans. For good measure, you can also add the two boxes of crackers on top of the cans. Walk away from another fifteen minutes. Come back, drain, and if you aren't starving by now, repeat one more time.

After the fourth time, I usually slice up the tofu into slabs and then pat each slab dry with the paper towel. In theory, every time I slice, I should pat it dry again, but I rapidly lose interest in this excercise, and rarely pat it dry after the slap step. Still, if you get through the four drainage steps, your tofu should be fairly dry enough to cook. It's never going to totally soak up the marinade (I've never tried, btw, the method of freezing tofu first, then thawing, and THEN marinating it), but getting a lot of the water out will increase the chances the tofu will actually absorb the marinade, rather than simply wallowing in it.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

What's for dinner?

After having been online since the very early '90s, let's say around 1992 or so, I've reached the last page of the Internet, which means there's nothing left online to entertain me while I'm waiting for my tofu to marinate. So while I'm waiting for dinner, I thought I'd share with you tonight's recipe, which is from an awesome cookbook -- Simple Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin. If you're looking for a good vegetarian cookbook, 2 out of the 3 cooking members of the G family recommend this one because all of the recipes are fairly easy to prepare and they use a lot of the same ingredients, and in the tradition of Rachel Ray, Lemlin doesn't require you to buy weird ingredients either -- which is a really good thing.

Baked Thai-Style Tofu

The marinade
* 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (I use regular soy)
* 1 tablespoon oriental sesame oil
* 1 tablespoon canola oil (I use vegetable oil)
* 1/2 teaspoon minced gingerroot (I don't like ginger, so I usually skip this)
* 1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

* 1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes and patted very dry (tomorrow's blog will deal with drying tofu)
* 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips (I used 2 tonight, because I love red peppers)

The sauce
* 1 tablespoon natural-style peanut butter (I use creamy JIF)
* 2 tablespoons lime juice (eh, I used lemon juice)
* 1 scallion, very thinly sliced
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh basil, or 1/4 teaspoon dried (I usually use dried, but today I have fresh, and it smells absolutely wonderful)
* 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh mint, or 1/2 teaspoon dried (I usually skip this one, mostly because I forget to pick it up and I don't have any dried)

1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the tofu and red pepper to coat them evenly with the marindade. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 8 hours chilled. Toss occasionally (I deviate slightly here in that I mix the marinade in a small bowl, and then mix it with the tofu and red peppers right in the baking dish).

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the tofu mixture and any remaining marinade in a large shwllow baking dish so that the tofu rests in one layer. Bake 15 minutes, tossing once with a spatula after about 7 minutes (I use a 9 x 13 baking dish. I have a larger one, but the 9 x 13 is more cozy).

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce by stirring all its incredients together with a fork (::gulp:: I used a spoon). Remove the tofu from the oven. Spoon on the sauce, then using a spatula, tause the ingredients together until everything is well coated. Return the dish to the oven and bake undisturbed for 10 minutes. let the tofu sit at least 10 minutes before serving it.

Bon appetite!

What to do with 35,000 pounds of manure? Now you know.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Totally unplanned double-blog today (well, I guess that there *is* the definition of blogging, huh? Sometimes, I can't believe I've been doing this more than five years because honestly, it's like I just rolled off the blog haywagon). Anyway, I really enjoyed dooce's piece on Britney Spears and that I'd pass it on for any of you who are also fascinated by this particular trainwreck of a woman because somehow, dooce manages to redeem the poor girl (which I thought was next to impossible after the Matt Lauer interview and that awful, awful television show, "Chaotic", and the various babygates). Excerpt:

It was once Britney got pregnant, though, that I really had a hard time believing what I was seeing: the many, many times she was photographed barefoot in public or looking like she hadn't showered since last century. Why would someone as rich as she is, with as much fame and attention, walk out of the house looking like that when she knows a picture of her bra-less nipples are going to show up the next week in magazines across the country? It was less a disapproving reaction than a confused one, and I was fascinated with the anthropological implications of this superstar showing up in photographs screaming: PLEASE JUDGE ME HARSHLY.

CNN explains it all

CNN explains it all

originally uploaded by seemag.
I took this screenshot Thursday morning, because wow, that typo answers so many questions about the unknowns we know about and the unknowns we don't know about and everything in between. The typo was corrected about 5-6 minutes later, but the damage was already done. Hat tip to Jessica, my fellow media watcher, for pointing it out as I'd already been to CNN that morning and would have totally missed this absolutely wonderful typo*.

ETA: Here's the larger, more readable version.

*And yes, I know, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Friday, July 07, 2006

America's got talent

In my summer doldrums, I've been watching bits and pieces of "America's Got Talent" on NBC. It's interesting because it's such a hodge-potch of stuff, and I'm not quite sure how you can compare an 11-year old with a fabulous voice with an young woman who performs a striptease. It seems all very... random. That and the fact it seems nearly everyone who performs gets through. Standards, people, we need standards! Didn't Simon Cowell teach us anything?

On this past Wednesday's ep, David and Dania performed. You can read more about this duo over here. What gets me is that these people aren't necessarily amateurs, but professionals and here they are on stage, going for a million bucks. Not, btw, that I wasn't entertained by them -- I surely was -- but I don't agree with professionals going head to head with amateurs. And now that I know more about them, I wonder if NBC even 'seeded' the talent with professionals just to put on a good show. In which case, hell with the contest -- just put on a variety show, right?

I also think this guy -- Skip Banks -- was on the episode and note that according to his website, he appeared on an NBC variety act show in 2002 (the pictures aren't clear enough to see his face, but really, how many people go around enveloping themselves in a Pepto Bismal pink balloon?) He didn't pass through to the semifinals like David and Dania did, but still.

"America's Got Talent" for sure, but I think some of it is rigged and that's totally not fair to the viewers or the contestants themselves.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lay down your burdens

Ken Lay has died. Immediate reaction was cynical. One person thought the CIA had something to do with it -- kill off Ken Lay to protect the George Bushes, both of whom had a business relationship with Enron's founder. Another person thought Lay had faked his death and was probably sitting on a private island in Barbados, sipping margaritas and being fanned by grass-skirt wearing beauties. And yet another person combined all of the theories, warning that the coroner better take DNA tests and do a thorough autopsy and provide pictures of the poor man's body to the press so we can all see that yes, Ken Lay is dead. Me, I was crass enough to wonder how he *still* had a vacation home in Aspen when so many others were left penniless when Enron went under.

Very little sympathy for Ken Lay in Sweat Sock City, that's for sure.

That he died of a heart attack was not at all surprising. He's been under tremendous stress, and with what amounted to a life sentence coming his way in October, it was probably more than his 64-year old body could handle. Ken Lay should have been that story we all aspire to -- a man with humble beginnings, but tremendous intellect, but somehow, he let greed and personal gain motivate his actions, and in the end, it's not so much his philanthropy that people are remembering today, but rather that their 401(k)s were decimated.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Those summertime rerun blues

In an effort to defeat the dullness and tediousness that comes every summer with reruns (I am SO over Chef Ramsay's bullying on "Hell's Kitchen", I mean *really*. What's the point of a cooking show with NO COOKING? And "Treasure Hunters"? It's an "Amazing Race" wanna be, but the product placement is ugh), I've been watching little clips of shows on You Tube and then I went over to NBC to check up on "The Office". NBC has plenty of video goodies over here, including the fake PSAs. I'm especially excited for the webisodes that begin on July 13. Kevin, Angela and Oscar are on the hunt for a missing $3,000.

The webisodes should be interesting, not only from an entertainment POV, but how it does technology-wise. All three networks now deliver some kind of programming online, which signals a shift in behavior and attitudes of both networks and watchers. ABC is especially intriguing because it reruns episodes of four of its shows for free, though with commercials (which is a trade-off I'd make). Personally, I like this trend, because it means I don't have to worry about taping something if I'm out or if I don't feel like watching something, I can always find it online later.

(Wow, this sounds curiously like an ad for "The Office", doesn't it? I assure you all, I'm not on NBC's payroll and I'm certainly not part of that fake group of friends who chat about their favorite television shows every morning on the radio. I mean, we all know better -- aside from "My Name is Earl," "The Office," and "Deal or No Deal" -- who watches NBC for three hours a night anyway? Actually, a better question is, am I the only person who gets bored with three hours straight in front of the television? I have to be dead tired to be able to handle that).

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Thanks for the memories

File this under "What was she thinking?" Connie Chungs sings. It's hard to take her seriously after watching this hilarious video.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Independence Day

I'm going on vacation through the Fourth of July. I'm really looking forward to some time off, but no, I'm not going anywhere exciting. I'm just not going to be near my keyboard. However, the blog will continue through my time away due to the magic of 'canned' bloggishness, but email responses will be spotty and AIM-presence non-existent; regular, uncanned blog programming will resume on Wednesday.I hope you all have a great holiday weekend and if you're traveling, be safe.