Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

As I said before, the Halloween party was a success! I took as many photos as I could before succumbing to my g-Host-ly duties. Here are a few:

The plural of Elvis is "Elvii".

A few of our favorite heroes stopped by for a beer.

Our guests who won the award for "travelled from the location with most maximum security to get here."

Such a touching scene, man and man's best friend, Hell-style.

More photos later!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Devil's Night

The Halloween party was a success, and I'll post pictures this week.

Today more pressing things are going on.

It was six years ago today, six years ago from right now, that I was getting married.

That was a great day.

And things went very well, as well as a Devil's Night wedding could go.

Although 65 clowns did crash our wedding.

Happy Anniversary, baby. I love you, and here's to many more years.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Plastic Tacos Debuts on November 3rd!

My friend Erika will be making her debut on the big screen next Friday, when the film Plastic Tacos debuts at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak.

Plastic Tacos is a mocumentary about discgolf. In the film, Erika plays Rene, a swinging single mom who meets a man who introduces her to the sport. She discovers she's hooked, but will the sport be enough to help her shed her wild ways?

I'll be at the premiere, and I will be posting photos of the stars and a review of the film here next week. More information and a trailer can be found on the Plastic Tacos Web site, and directions to the theater are available on the Main Art Theater site.

Showtime is at 7:30, and tickets are only $5; so my local visitors should be sure to come out on the 3rd to help support local independent film.

Every holiday needs some Scrooges, I guess

For those of you who like Halloween fun: if you were not overly impressed with yesterday’s virtual pumpkin carver, here’s another that’s more detailed, if less entertaining.

For those of you who don’t like Halloween fun, here’s a news story out of Massachusetts. Apparently, a “handful” of parents complaining that Halloween offended their religious beliefs was enough to get the celebrations cancelled for Underwood Elementary School.

The parents threatened to not send their children to school on that day if the celebration continued.

''When I hear that kids won't come to school because of what we're doing on Halloween, I have a problem with that," Castelline said.
This is just another example of the overextension of political correctness to kowtow to a vocal minority. If the parents want to keep the kids out of school for the day, that’s fine. That’s their prerogative.

While the kids would probably rather be celebrating with their classmates, if that can’t happen I’m sure they’d rather stay home than be “the kids who wrecked Halloween for everyone else.”

I can guarantee that, if you monitor these people for a few years, they will be the same parents who protest sex ed. for their children, and keep them out class that day. They’ll probably soon discover themselves the parents of pregnant teens as well.

Seriously, give these kids a Halloween. You're injecting morality into a holiday that, to a kid, is simply about costumes and candy.
Link to story

Halloween suicide fails to attract notice

A 42-year-old woman in Delaware committed suicide earlier this week by hanging herself from a tree, and everyone thought her body was a Halloween decoration.

Even though she was hanging next to a busy street, her body remained hanging there for hours after she was noticed before anyone called the police.

I wasn’t surprised by this story; it seems like simple Halloween news. I was most surprised that it took place in Delaware. I mean, come on, when was the last time you heard anything about Delaware?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

In this town we call home, everyone hail to the pumpkin song.

Halloween is coming up pretty fast. As I’ve mentioned before, Halloween is my favorite holiday, for many reasons.

Last night we began decorating for our annual Halloween party, to be held this Saturday. With about 50 RSVPs, it should be a big event and a lot of fun. I will take plenty of pictures. I will also be unveiling a special surprise for the members of Team Angry Monkey.

To help you all get into the Halloween spirit, here is a link to a virtual pumpkin-carving tutorial that my father-in-law sent me today. It’s fun, and the music is great.

Elmo Will Pay for His Crimes

In a crackdown on what they called "aggressive begging”, the LAPD arrested three men dressed as Elmo, Mr. Incredible and the hooded villain from the movie Scream.

The trio was arrested for allegedly harassing tourists on Hollywood Boulevard for money to pose for photos with the costumed impersonators.
"We were leaving to get something to eat," Mr Stockton told the Los Angeles Times. "We had our heads off and were walking about a block away to our car when they pulled up."
"They jumped out of their cars with guns drawn," said Mr Harper, who says he makes up to $400 a day in tips.
They claim they were handcuffed and taken by police car to the Hollywood Walk of Fame where they were then paraded in front of shocked tourists and other impersonators.

They were eventually released on a $100 bond. Am I the only one who entertained the daydream that the guy in the Elmo costume was a dangerous felon who yelled, “you’ll never take me alive, coppers”; then attempted to pull a tommy gun from his suit and then went down in a hail of bullets in front of everyone, and that “Elmo Gunned Down by Police” appeared on the front page of newspapers nationwide the next day? Seriously, is it just me?

Woman shot in plot to eliminate cow

BBC News had a quirky little story about a man in Australia who was shooting at a cow, missed, and accidentally hit a passing motorist.

It was all purely accidental; he fired at the cow while inside a shed, and the bullet passed through the back wall of the shed and hit the passing car, wounding the driver in the leg.

The driver recovered, the shooter was fined $1,000, and he voluntarily gave up his firearms license. All’s well and good, but don’t you feel like stuff is being left out?

First of all, how bad of a shot do you need to be to be shoot at a cow from inside a shed and miss?!?!

Second, and I think this point is key, is that the shooter, one Rudolf Stadler, agreed to shoot the cow for a friend because the cow was “troublesome.” How exactly does a cow become “troublesome,” especially so “troublesome” as to warrant a bullet? Was she using his debit card online without permission? Threatening to go to authorities with select knowledge about mad cow disease that shouldn’t get out? Or just simply always snapping her gum in an irritating way and refusing to quit?

This sounds like a definite cover-up; and with the cow dead, we'll probably never have the complete story.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Anne Rice finds God, loses Goths

In a recent Newsweek interview, Anne Rice announced that she’s devoted herself to God. She hasn’t so much been “Born Again” as she has returned to the Catholic Church. Her latest novels will reflect this.

In two weeks, Rice will release Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. The novel will be the first in a series; this book will be about Jesus at seven years old and will be narrated by him. Critics, and even Rice herself, are acknowledging that it’s a bold move that may alienate her following. But I have to question - is it really?

Anne Rice’s novels have always delved deeply into Catholic mythology; Memnoch the Devil, arguably her best book thus far, dealt almost exclusively with it, and it was hardly the exception. Just as her books have dealt with vampires and witches, they also explored their places in a Roman Catholic world, and how the characters felt about their places and dealt with their beliefs.

If you have been a regular reader of Rice, you’ve probably noticed that her plotlines have begun to fizzle out anyway. Seriously, there was not much more exploration she could do with her vampires, and many of the storylines had gotten tired.

As far as the issue of “alienating her following”, this issue is a really big pet peeve of mine. If your work as a writer alienates your following, they’re not your following. This is an issue that Poppy Z. Brite has dealt with in recent years, as she transitioned from horror to realistic fiction surrounding the restaurant industry in New Orleans. Her writing style hasn’t changed; it has developed and gotten stronger, but hasn’t changed. I still enjoy reading everything she writes.

Brite was often compared to Rice simply because they were both women who wrote vampire fiction (to be fair, Brite only wrote one vampire novel, the excellent Lost Souls, and yet she couldn’t escape being lumped in with Rice). Rice may now be held up to Brite’s example as an erotic horror veteran who, gasp, switched genres.

I’m looking forward to Rice’s new novels; I am sure they will be creative and offer new perspectives that haven’t been explored. I’m also sure that her depiction of the devil will be, once again, very interesting and charismatic.

And one more comment on the “alienation of the following”; as with Poppy Z. Brite, I’m sure that the only portion of Anne Rice’s readers that will be disappointed will be her contingency of teenage goth kids and, really, can you blame her for switching genres to get rid of that bunch?

Link to Newsweek Article

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

It will take more than this to make Royal Oak part of the Real World

MTV recently leased 8,812 square feet of space in downtown Royal Oak, adding weight to rumors that the next season of Real World will be based in the city.

It makes sense, really. The Super Bowl is coming to Detroit, and could be part of the new season, but MTV would never go so far as to put its cast in the new lofts in the city. Aside from the fact that the lofts are built like fortresses in many places because the neighborhoods have not caught up to the safety level desired by loftdwellers yet, Detroit may be a little too “real” for the Real World.

Royal Oak is a nice little Emerald City of restaurants and hipster bars, with some boutiques and chain bookstores thrown in. It wasn’t always like this, but it has over the years become a caricature of a cool city. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and go get yourself an overpriced margarita while we quietly finish pushing out the original merchants who helped Royal Oak become the nice overpriced urban suburbia it has become.

All in all, I can’t see my life being affected by the Real World’s presence all that much; in the unlikely event that the Royal Oak cast ventures into the city, or even into Ferndale, I can’t picture them slumming into any of the local dive bars, except for the possibility of one or two episodes where they display their edginess by venturing into the seedy underbelly of the local hillbilly hangouts. And on those nights, if I’m there I will make a point of constantly swearing loudly enough to prevent them from getting any good audio.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Now, if we can only find a use for Coors

A recent news story reported that Coors Brewing Co. is using the waste from its beer production process to make ethanol.

The waste undergoes a 2-hour refining process to become ethanol. The ethanol is then mixed with gasoline and sent to gas suppliers in the area.

With gas prices on the rise, any alternative fuel sources are a welcome bit of relief to reserves that are already stressed and over-priced.

It does nothing to address the real problem - the fact that Coors is producing its nasty swill of a beer in the first place.

Proof that astrology is unpredictable at best

An astrologer in India predicted his own death last Thursday, and hundreds of people turned out to see it happen.

I don’t know if it was out of morbid curiosity or a desire to glimpse the supernatural that brought all of these people to witness the event, but they didn’t get what they came for. The guy lived.

The astrologer's family was quoted as saying that many of the people who gathered were praying for the astrologer, which was the reason for the 75-year-old man's survival.

There is no mention in the article of how those gathered felt when the guy didn’t croak, but I’d imagine they felt the same way you feel when you go to the zoo on a hot day and all of the animals are lying around or sleeping; it’s not a total loss, but you still really didn’t get to see anything.

The article does offer this tidbit:

Malviya's prediction is not the first of its type by an Indian astrologer. But in the past, crowds have beaten up astrologers when their predicted demise failed to occur.

I guess that's one way to make sure your prediction comes true.

Free Music For Everyone!

Writer Mom asked me for a good deal on downloaded music, and we all know the best deal is free, so I thought I’d pass this one on.

Amazon is not only a great place to buy just about anything, but it’s also a great source for downloading music. They offer sample tracks by a lot of great artists. The range runs from Leadbelly to Rancid, so you’re sure to find something you like.

Based on a brief glance at their listings, I would personally recommend checking out the Dropkick Murphys. They play great Boston-Irish punk rock, and Amazon has eight tracks available for free download.

Here’s a link to Amazon’s download section, and a link to their 200 most-downloaded tracks.

Paris is Always a Good Idea

My wife turns 30 next month. In an effort to make her 30th the best day possible, I did it. I bought her tickets to Paris.

This is first and foremost in my brain right now. We're going to Paris. I was in Paris once, 16 years ago, but I didn't really appreciate it much I'm afraid; the primary thrill of my visit was sneaking to McDonald's for beer (that's a big thrill for a teen).

This time I will be able to truly appreciate it, and have someone to appreciate it with.

Before Paris, however, is Iceman. And while the mystery illness sidelined much of Team Angry Monkey last weekend, I am happy to say we found the time to hammer out nine miles yesterday at a near sprint. I am very happy with the results. We're pushing the envelope, and not only are the speed results coming in well, the "after-pain" is minimal.

I am being extra careful in the training, though; no log jumps, big drops, stupid stunts or catching air. Two weeks out from the race, I am thoroughly unwilling to sideline myself with a stupid injury. I already cracked a rib this year, I'd like to save any new injuries until next season.

But man, Paris. That's huge.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Animal Rights Activists Angry Over Alleged Chicken Choking

An Australian animal rights group is speaking out against a toy chicken that squawks and flails about when you choke it.

From the Jaycar Electronics Web site, where they advertise the toy:

Grab him by the neck and he will squawk and cluck like mad, flapping his wings and feet wildly as if he is really being choked.
From a statement by Michael Beatty, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals:

What's next? Burn a cat? Shoot a dog?
Regardless of how you feel about the ethics of manhandling a toy animal, it appears that everyone involved is ignoring the best part of the story; it’s a kid’s toy called The Choke-A-Chicken! Is everyone just being too polite to mention that, or does that slang just not carry to Australia?

Link to The Choke-A-Chicken site
Link to news story

Punk Cabaret is Freedom! Dresden Dolls, St. Andrew's Hall, October 21, 2005

Ever since she first heard the Dresden Dolls, my wife has been in love with them, and she quickly made me a fan. We missed them at the Magic Stick, and then, right around the time their tour would have brought them back to Detroit, Nine Inch Nails snatched them up as an opening act, delaying their return to the Motor City by almost a year. Last night we finally got to see them, and it was by far the best show I’ve been to this year, and it probably hits my Top 10 concerts of all time list.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Dresden Dolls, their shows are not just concerts; they are events. While it’s hard to pin them to a genre, their self-described label of “punk cabaret” works quite well. Their performances are loosely based on cabaret shows, with a bit of vaudeville thrown in.

With an introduction by Krin Maren Haglund and Jonas Woolverton, two veterans of Montreal's Cirque Eloize who were our host and hostess for the evening, the show opened up with a set by Faun Fables. Picture a Rennaissance musician with a voice like a huskier version of Sinead O’Connor. That’s her. She started her set with an a cappella tune and a spoon solo played on an empty wine bottle, then threw off her shawl (“I’m done looking like your mother for now”) and picked up a guitar. Brian Viglione, the drummer for the Dolls came out to accompany her on a few tunes. Her set was short and sweet, and very much worth being there from the beginning.

Another vaudeville aspect of these shows stems from the fact that the action is nonstop. Between bands, a sort of center ring is set up on the dance floor, and various performers entertain the crowd. First up was a contortionist, Alexa (whose livejournal can be found here). Alexa was even willing to entertain a few questions about contortionism after the performance from a drunken showgoer, namely me.

Q: Does it hurt?
A: Not usually.

Q: Do you have any special abilities for this, or is it just a lot of stretching?
A: It’s all just stretching. I stretch for three hours a day.

There you have it. If you have the time and dedication, you too can be a contortionist. Even with this secret out, I wouldn’t worry about job security. There are a lot of things I could master with time and dedication; I don’t seem to have much of either.

Next up Krin and Jonas did a surreal performance that involved ballet, an accordian and wig juggling. Any further attmpts to explain would be even more confusing. We’ll leave it at that.

The next act was DeVotchka. This band defies description, but may be one of the best party bands I’ve ever heard. With a sound that’s very Eastern-European, blended with jazz and a bit of mariachi; they reminded me a lot of the Leningrad Cowboys without the goofy outfits. Their set was awesome, and at one point they broke in to The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs”. They had such a great take on it, that it wasn’t until I realized I was singing along that I knew the song. Nice.

The range of instruments was amazing as well, with all of the band members switching up. Let me sum up their set with this statement: when a band has an accordian, tuba, and a mandolin going at the same time, and the mandolin player is also playing a theremin with the neck of his mandolin, well you know that band has to rock! They are the favored band to play my plague party!

In between the sets Krin and Jonas came back and did another bizzare bit of performance that involved rolling around in a giant hula hoop. I don’t know who comes up with this stuff, but I was amazed.

Now, the moment we were waiting for; the Dresden Dolls took the stage. The lights weren’t up, but I quickly realized they were dressed as the White stripes, with the black suit and red dress. As they groped and and mashed a little bit on the stage, I was seriously laughing to myself as they mocked one of Detroit’s more popular music acts.

As the lights came up and they took their positions, it became even funnier; vocalist Amanda Palmer was dressed as Jack, and Brian was Meg! They tore into a cover of “My Doorbell”, which was even funnier to us, because that was the last song on the radio as we had parked outside St. Andrew’s, and we had bitched about it being stuck in our heads (Dammit! Now it’s in my head again.) Brian even did his best to imitate Meg White’s rudimentary drum skills.

After “My Doorbell”, the Dolls pulled a move that was funny and entertaining. As “The William Tell Overture” played on the PA, assistants rushed on to the stage where, in a few seconds, the Dolls changed clothes and applied their tradtional makeup right in front of the crowd. Once they were the Dolls we were used to seeing, they blasted through the rest of their set.

The rest of the set was sensual, surreal and fun. At one point, and acrobat performed stunts suspended over the crowd, at another point, while Amanda pounded out a frenzied “Girl Anachronism” on the piano, Krin and Jonas danced through the crowd dressed up as injured cheerleaders.

The Dresden Dolls played all of my favorites (with the exception of “The Jeep Song”, but it’s rare to hear every song you want at a show, isn’t it?), and yet their set was over too soon. As the house lights came up and we stumbled off into the cold, I couldn’t help but think I had just witnessed something amazing, and I felt really fortunate to have been there. When you see a lot of concerts, it’s rare to get that feeling (I don’t think I’d felt that way since the New York Dolls reunion), so when a show does that to you, it’s a great feeling.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Whatever happened to Portugal?

Remember these names from Elementary history?

Ferdinand Magellan
Henry the Navigator
Vasco da Gama

They were all Portuguese explorers.

At one time Portugal was a world power. You don't really hear much about it anymore. I know people in Brazil speak Portuguese. Sepultura makes some rocking Portuguese death metal (Ratamahatta is a great song!). You just don't hear much about Portugal as a country anymore. What happened?

Just wondering.

Thursday Night Dance Party will not be taking place at home tonight, as we are going to St. Andrew's to see the Dresden Dolls. I'll let you know how it was.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

You can't get there from here (my anti-traffic rant)

The M-10 is down to one lane, so it takes me 30 minutes longer to get to work now. I spend a lot of time just sitting in traffic lately because of construction, and things are getting worse.

A recent study revealed that Michigan’s roads are headed toward a crisis. Despite constant construction, one-third of Detroit’s roads are listed in “poor” condition. Like I need to tell that to any of my local readers; Detroit’s highways often look like minefields, our traffic reports are filled with warnings of car-eating potholes that cause flat tires and massive backups during rush hour. The shoulders of our expressways are littered with hubcaps shaken from vehicles by the rough terrain (there is a hubcap from my wife’s Scion xb somewhere along the Southfield – if you see it, please let me know).

The long-term prognosis ain’t so good, either; current projections say that $70 billion is going to be needed over the next 25 years to bring Detroit’s roads up to snuff, and only $40 billion is going to be available.

While I realize that weather and traffic put a strain on Michigan roads, there are better alternatives than the $1.3 billion the state spends on its roads each year. Some of the money could be focused on giving Detroit a viable mass transit system. This would reduce congestion, both reducing wear on the roads and the need to widen any of our highways.

Automakers are, historically, opposed to mass transit. And the Big Three own Detroit, for as long as the Big Three last anyway. They will do what they can to prevent any development of mass transit in Michigan or anywhere else for that matter; GM destroyed the US streetcar system in the 20's, and they never looked back (link).

Our esteemd ex-governor John Engler bears some of the responsibility for Detroit’s problems as well; his last act as governor was to quietly veto a bill that would help create mass transit in Detroit. He literally did it as he was walking out of his office on New Year’s Eve, and it is largely viewed as a vindictive act toward real or imagined slights from Detroit politicians. That was at the end of 2002, and the bill has yet to be revived (link).

I am so jealous of my friends elsewhere who get to take a train to work. Just to have that time to nap or read, and my commute wouldn’t feel like time stolen from my day. I would love to live in a place where I could walk or ride my bike to work; urban sprawl prevents that. Instead, I live in the 10th-worst rush hour in the country, where drivers waste an average of 57 hours each year just sitting in traffic, like I do on the M-10.

I have a quarter tank of gas, which would get me home from work in non-rush hour traffic. Hell, it would get me home and back again, and home one more time. Because of the current state of my drive, though, I need to get gas so I know I’ll make it home. This pisses me off, too; it not only wastes gas (clogged roads cause the average Michigan motorist $318 a year in wasted fuel), but gas by my house is 2.49/gallon, while out here it’s 2.65.

I also hate the fact that individual drivers have the ability to ruin my day. Just because you can’t drive, or you were on your phone, or you decided that you had to drive like an ass and get two car lengths up, you caused a fender bender, and now I am stuck here because of you.

Many times it’s the same makes of cars involved, which leads to a conundrum; do certain people drive certain makes of cars because they are jackasses, or does owning these cars cause you to become a jackass? If you own a Lexus, please let me know your take on your driving personality.

The people I feel worst for, though, are the guys in the traffic choppers. Imagine this scenario: you’re in a helicopter, you’re flying, you can go anywhere, but your job is to sit, if not in, over the traffic, and watch it. Just like the rest of us poor schlubs. You could get away, but you’re not allowed to. You’re stuck in traffic because we are.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Mahalo.

Today's Fresh Catch is... YOU!

In Australia and California they are seeing a sharp increase in shark attacks, and there have been many theories as to why this is occurring. A prominent Australian marine biologist believes that sharks may now be actually targeting humans as a source of food.

Dr Scoresby Shepherd believes that over fishing has caused a decline in the numbers of fish such as tuna that have previously made up a large part of the sharks’ diets. And what happens when a shark can’t eat what he wants? He eats something else. From the interview:
My speculation is that if the natural prey is decreasing, then they're more likely to be hungrier than they were before. And so they may be well be turning their attention to whatever else is available.
Perhaps it’s even more insidious than that. Perhaps the sharks are cognizant of the fact that we’re responsible for the decline in their favorite foods and are doing what they can to eliminate their competition. Gun-toting dolphins don’t sound like such a bad idea now, do they?

Night of the ZOMBIE WORMS!

The director’s cut of George Romero’s Land of the Dead came out on DVD yesterday. I of course picked up my copy of what I feel is one of the best movies released this year. In honor of the DVD release, I have a “zombie-related” item from the news this morning.

A UK-Swedish team of scientists has reported the discovery of a new species of marine worm off the coast of Sweden. The worms are called “zombie worms” because their diet consists of the bones of dead whales. After a whale dies, and his bones drift to the ocean floor, these “zombie worms” are part of the cleanup crew.

I think the coolest part of this new discovery, though, is the name they’ve given this new species. From the article:

Adrian Glover and Thomas Dahlgren tell the journal the new species has been named Osedax mucofloris, which literally means "bone-eating snot-flower".
I am totally going to have to remember that one. It almost sounds like a classical Roman insult; “Pipe down, you bone-eating snot-flower!” Man, the possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Mirrormask: Lots of flash, very little fire

After some cold Newcastle Brown Ales and a Big Chief burger at Duggan’s, we made our way to the Main Art to see Mirrormask last night.

A film collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean with special effects from The Jim Henson Company, it’s obviously an award-winning combination of some of today’s most talented visual visionaries, right?

Well, yes and no.

Mirrormask is the story of Helena (Stephanie Leonidas), a young girl who performs in a circus run by her parents. Helena desperately wishes to leave the circus and be a part of the “real” world. Shortly after she has a fight with her mother, her mother falls seriously ill and is in the hospital. Helena has a strange dream, which finds her in a mysterious land filled with wondrous creatures. The land has, until now, been kept in balance by the rule of two opposing queens, but the White Queen has fallen ill and it’s up to Helena to find the Mirrormask, the only thing that can save the White Queen and restore balance to the world.

The movie is visually stunning; it literally looks like a dream. Many of the surreal characters are a bit fuzzy around the edges, and you catch yourself squinting, trying to force them in to sharper detail. The surroundings are constantly changing and morphing, and the laws of physics don’t always apply to every situation.

That being said, the story is very thin. Helena moves from situation to situation without the audience getting any idea that the plot is moving toward any sort of resolution. You have no idea which elements are important, or which characters will continue to be major players. In this way, it’s very much like a dream as well.

At almost two hours, a lot of the movie seems to happen without anything really happening, and you find yourself caring more about what’s going in the real world, which plays a minor part in the film.

As a whole, the movie is eye candy, but it really wasn’t able to hold our attention the entire time. Some of the visual effects are so amazing that you’re sucked in to watching them while your mind is zoning out at the same time. At the end of such scenes, you’ll be hard-pressed to actually repeat what just happened.

As one friend at the film described it, “It’s your typical story of a girl going on a quest through a dream world while wearing bunny slippers.”

As my wife put it, “This is why I didn’t like Neverending Story. It goes on and on, but nothing really seems to happen.”

Both statements are accurate.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I fear that by the time you read this, I may already be dead…

Another journal-style weekend recap…

So the remnants of the sickness still harass my body in the form of a nasty-sounding chunky cough. It’s not pretty at all.

Team Angry Monkey encountered a setback this weekend; three of us, myself included, have been sidelined with this illness, and one member is injured with a bike-related bruised and/or cracked rib. This setback is only temporary; we still have almost three full weeks until Iceman.

Physical weakness aside, it was an interesting, although typical, weekend. Drinks with friends on Friday; on Saturday we spent the entire day driving from end-to-end in this city, looking for a new entertainment center. You’d think this would be a simple process – it’s not. After several hours of serious looking, we have yet to find the right one.

Saturday night we went to a fundraiser for the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project (MAPP). My friend was volunteering there, and while it’s a worthwhile cause and I will mention the organization here now, I was not a huge fan of the place it was held at, and will not mention their name. It was one of those Ferndale bars that desperately wants to be a New York bar, and tries to achieve this by charging too much for the drinks and behaving as if it’s a huge inconvenience to give you any sort of service, never mind good service. That being said, I will erase this place from my mind and simply not go there anymore (Although I can't truly erase it from my mind, lest I accidentally go there again).

Sunday was another charity event, as well as simply a good time. My wife and I went to the Michigan Mountain Bike Association/Team Tree Farm Fall BBBB (Bulletin Board Biker Bash) out at Lakeshore Park. Team Tree Farm set out a great grilled spread, and I was part of the chili cook off.

I know this photo isn't great, but they will get better, I swear! I was really not feeling well this day, and I had been up since early in the morning making chili. I ate, took a fast picture, rode the trail, and left. I wouldn't even have gone if I hadn't promised to bring a pot of chili.

Unfortunately, on Sundays in Michigan, stores don’t sell beer until noon, so I arrived at the park at 12:05, moments after the chili was judged. Even so, my chili was quickly devoured, leading me to believe that a favorable response from the public is good enough for me. The pot of chili was a charity act on my part as well; everyone who ate chili had to make a donation that went to Trips For Kids. Trips For Kids is a non-profit that provides mountain bike outings and environmental education for kids who would not otherwise be exposed to such activities. So the contest was not the reason I did it anyway.

Even with our illnesses, my wife and I broke away from the bbq for a while to hammer out nine miles of trail. Physically I feel good; my legs are ready for the race, I just need my lungs to heal up.

After a day of beer, hot dogs and chili, we needed to recultivate our palates, so we went out for a nice seafood dinner at McCormick & Schmick's. A bottle of wine, raw oysters and mounds of fresh seafood left us feeling happy with how the weekend had ended, even if we were still diseased and could not find the right entertainment center… good food is funny that way, isn’t it?

Friday, October 14, 2005

La Grippe

There's a flu bug getting passed around
And it's Spreading like fire through the town
There's a virus holing up inside us
Everyone that I know is coming down

Thursday night is Dance Party Night at our house. It’s when my wife and I just hang out and listen to music very loudly, dance in the living room, have a few drinks and talk about the world and how to solve all of society’s problems (I’ve got the solution, but I’m not sharing). It’s a chance to hang out, catch up and hide from friends and family for an evening.
There's an Asian influenza
Infecting us all by the score
And it's turning into pneumonia
We must go out once more

It’s also a chance to dig up old music that we were really into at one time, and may have forgotten about. This used to involve rifling through stacks of records and CDs for forgotten gems, but in the advent of iPods, it’s become much simpler; just rip a few more discs to the ‘Pod each day. The playlist gets very Schizophrenic; last night it ranged from Ike and Tina to Big Rude Jake to the New York Dolls to Golden Earring, and so on. And of course we spent some time with the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
There's a fool moon howling at the night
And it's bark is much worse than it's bite
So we must go out and dance around
Yes we must go tonight

Our first exposure to the Squirrel Nut Zippers was many years ago, on a trip to Charlotte, NC. We got engaged on that trip, and in our search to find entertainment, some young punk in a Best Buy gave us a flyer for a warehouse record release party for a local band. We ended up seeing the Squirrel Nut Zippers play a swinging Dixieland concert in a warehouse on the railroad tracks. It felt like a Prohibition speakeasy party, and remains one of my fondest concert memories.
So the doctors came on the evening train
With their flasks and their caskets and vials
Mass psychosis was their diagnosis
So we all cashed our checks and went wild

Last night, as we listened to “La Grippe”, we talked about this latest flu scare. If you listen to some sources, 75 percent of us are gonna be dead by the time it’s done tearing through here. They’re calling it a pandemic, which is apparently bigger than an epidemic, but either way, it’s gonna suck if you get it. So what do you do? Hole up, hide out and wait for it to pass you by? That’s probably not what you wanna do; if it’s gonna get you, it’s gonna get you. We’re going to throw a “Plague Party.”
There's a fool moon howling at the night
And it's bark is much worse than it's bite
So we must go out and dance around
Yes we must go tonight

So when this Avian flu hits Detroit, and we’re all wasting away and dropping off, you are all cordially invited to our “Plague Party.” It will be an event of massive decadence, loud music, flowing wine, bonfires and dancing in the garden. We’ll even roast a pig, I think. Drain your bank account and bring the most expensive liquor you can find. Get a new outfit, and plan on destroying it with wine stains and sweat from dancing and fever. As my wife said last night during Thursday Night Dance Party, “I would hate to know I only had a few days left and totally waste them.”


Thursday, October 13, 2005

It's all about the Font Rock... aka trying to make good on my promise to Magazine Man.

I received a package on Tuesday from Magazine Man containing the new digital camera I won in his “Giveaway of Crap”. It’s amazing! In return, I promised to use it for good, to promote my fair city of Detroit, and generate all of the positive buzz that I can about our fair city’s art, music and culture.

With this intention in mind, I allowed myself to be dragged down to Club Bart last night for a Helvetica show. By saying I was dragged there, I am not implying that I didn’t want to go; I am saying that I was suffering from the most debilitating cold I’ve encountered in a while. My head felt like my sinuses had been packed with sand, and yet the sand was porous enough to allow a constant drip of fluid out of my nose and down my throat. Blowing my nose was useless; it just filled back up again.

With that lovely picture of my failing health in mind, I was unable to do much more than prop myself up at table with a cold pint of Labatt Blue in front of me (it may be placebo but beer made me feel better). This explains the low-quality, uninspired nature of the photographs. I was able to get one good photo of vocalist Eric Livingston when he stopped to chat at our table before taking the stage.

Club Bart has an interesting setup, to say the least. The stage is actually up behind the bar. And it’s a small stage; standup comics look good up there, but bands are crammed in, the members seemingly piled right on top of one another. It looks a bit awkward, but they do it. I just hope I’m never in a band booked to play there, as I would be sorely tempted to grab liquor from the shelves in the front of the stage!

Helvetica has a great sound. What they themselves describe as feedback-driven indie-pop doesn’t really do justice to the sound that describes shades of Love and Rockets, Radiohead (sans Thom Yorke’s hideously whiny voice), The Church and a liberal dose of shoegazing. There is a definite wall of sound projecting from the stage, washing over the crowd in waves of soothing noise.

Unfortunately, the sound at Club Bart is not ideal for this, and I was very aware of the fact that I was missing a lot of the intricacies in their songs; it was like seeing a velvet curtain in light too dim to make out all of the embroidered detail. I can’t wait to see them again in a space with a better sound system and cleaner acoustics.

The headlining band was Lisboa, and they seemed to have a decent sound, but at that point I was succumbing to the effects of my illness and had to go home and to sleep. Sorry guys, I can give you a better listen when I’m feeling better.

Local readers will want to check out Helvetica at the Painted Lady in Hamtown on November 4th. I will not be in attendance however, as that is the weekend that my fellow members of Team Angry Monkey and I will be staging our polar assault on Traverse City in the Iceman.

So there you have it: my first pro-Detroit post in the era of the new camera. I apologize for the low-quality MM, and I promise to do better next time, provided my diseased body allows.

The revolution has begun... And the revolutionaries have no legs.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who noticed this, but pythons have been all over the news recently. It’s especially happening in Florida, where apparently escaped pets have reached the point where they are a viable population, and the weather is pretty conducive to their survival. I thought the stories were just curiosities, and was going to post them here as a quirky funny story. Until I noticed these stories are popping up all over the place, almost daily, and I realized it was my duty to alert you of the threat these giant reptiles present.

The first story I noticed was gruesome, but funny in a macabre way. Apparently, rangers in the Everglades discovered the remains of a battle between a 13-foot python and a six-foot alligator. The python won and he swallowed the alligator whole, as pythons are wont to do.

"Encounters like that are almost never seen in the wild... And here we are."
Unfortunately for the snake, however, he had bitten off more than he could chew. The alligator was either too big or still struggling, and the snake, well, he popped. Just like a balloon.
Link (Warning: gruesome picture!)

Next up, in Florida again, a woman lost her cat. Her husband found a snake in their yard. A fat snake.

Experts said that bulge in the 12-foot snake is probably the missing 15-pound cat.
Yeah, thanks “experts.” It’s nice to know all those years of expert school have paid off.

Elsewhere in Florida, a python sneaked (sneaked? snuck? Ok it's sneaked; I looked in the dictionary) into a poultry farm and ate a turkey. He then could not fit back out through the hole in the fence that granted his admission.

"The moral of the story," Cruz said, is that pythons "are eating more than they can chew."
These snakes must be surviving out of sheer tenacity, because it’s not on their intelligence.

In one more Florida story, locals have been calling authorities because there are snakes roaming their neighborhood.
Florida Fish & Wildlife officers were able to find and capture one of them, a 13-foot male. The eight-foot female is still missing.

Now that’s comforting thought. Just knowing that thing is out there, roaming your neighborhood. It’s like living next door to that freaky kid with the close-set eyes. Why won’t they just haul him in and get it done with?

Next up, we head to the west coast. In California, a sleeping 12-year-old boy awoke to find a 4-foot python latched onto his arm. You’re probably thinking what I was, but before you blame his parents:

The family just recently moved into the northwest Fresno home and doesn't own a snake. "We have no idea where it came from," said Michael's mother, Christina Esqueda.
It wasn’t even their snake. It just showed up, like a drunken college student who stumbled back to the wrong dorm room. Drunken college students don't generally try to eat the people they find in the room, though.

Now let’s head to Missouri. Missouri is having its own share of snake problems. First, a family moved into a new duplex apartment, and found a surprise; there was a 4 1/2-foot python under their dishwasher.

A previous renter in the duplex admitted the snake was his. He said it had escaped and he decided he didn't want it anymore.
OK, when I’ve moved out of rentals, I’ve left coat hangers, and maybe some cleaning supplies or canned goods, but I have never left a giant snake behind.

And as if Missouri isn’t having enough problems with escaped giant snakes, one guy is trying to make more! He had a nine-foot python mailed to him. It didn’t quite get there, though.

Ostermeyer told Williams he got the delivery last week but discovered the box was empty. He said he tried to flag down the driver and then put in a claim with UPS.

The python was later discovered in the back of the UPS truck, and is now happily with its new owner, so he can get on with his master plan of creating more snakes to hide under our furniture and eat our pets and children.

Elsewhere in the world, patrons at a pizza place in Austria were understandably distressed when a ten-foot long python was slithering through the restaurant.
Authorities said they were mystified as to how the python ended up in the pizzeria, and were checking with local snake breeders to see if any of their reptiles was missing.
I’m not sure which is more disturbing: the snake in the restaurant, or the fact that local authorities have multiple breeders to call up, looking for the response, “Oh yeah, that’s one of mine. I was wondering where he got off to.”

And, to round out the latest round of giant snakes in the news, we travel to England, where they win the award hands down for the most sensationalist headline.
That’s not to say that the snake has killed any children, or that it plans to, just that, if it wanted to, it could eat a baby. Not to cause anyone to panic, we just want you to know that it could happen.

Seriously, what’s the world coming to when people’s escaped pets are reaching the point that they are coming back to kill the pets that haven’t tried to escape? It’s almost like these snakes are seeking to punish us. Detroit is just as guilty, but in our case it’s the packs of feral dogs that roam the city. Maybe if we had a warmer climate, the snakes would take care of them, too.

I remember, at one time, thinking snakes were really cool. I wanted a snake of my own. I think I outgrew that desire right around the time I was in college. I had a little iguana named Sid, who seemed to want me dead. Every time I entered my bedroom, he would hiss and lunge at the glass. I grew to hate him. I, however, gave him away. I did not leave him in the apartment when I moved out, so that he could terrorize or try to eat the next residents.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pay Attention - This may be the ONLY time I criticize George Romero

As I've mentioned before, Land of the Dead comes out next week. I am eagerly anticipating this Director's cut of what was probably my favorite movie this year.

Then, I was e-mailed this press release, straight from the source:


NEW YORK, NY, and UNIVERSAL CITY, CA (October 3, 2005) – Horror movie fans can kick off the Halloween season with the premiere of one of the most eagerly-awaited DVD releases in the genre ― the never-before-seen Unrated Director’s Cut of GEORGE A. ROMERO’S LAND OF THE DEAD ― in an exclusive one-night only screening in 36 Regal, United Artists and Edwards movie theatres across the country on Monday, October 17 at 8:00 p.m. local time.

Presented by Fangoria Entertainment, the parent company of America’s horror entertainment news and information destination Fangoria Magazine, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and National CineMedia, a joint venture of AMC Entertainment Inc., Cinemark USA, Inc. and Regal Entertainment Group (NYSE: RGC), this special premiere event will also feature an exclusive big screen interview with director George A. Romero. Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release GEORGE A. ROMERO’S LAND OF THE DEAD on DVD the following day, October 18.

GEORGE A. ROMERO’S LAND OF THE DEAD Unrated Director’s Cut will be presented in high-definition and cinema surround sound in markets nationwide including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington DC, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle, Tampa, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Cleveland, Miami, Denver, and Pittsburgh among others.

How cool is that? An opportunity to see it one more time on the big screen, with the added footage.

One problem.

It's not coming to Detroit.

That makes me mad. Not only are we a major metropolitan area (we have sneak previews of films before the national release here quite often), we are the city that spawned Bruce Campbell, so our horror roots are pretty strong, too.

Oh well, I'll still be buying Land of the Dead on DVD on October 18, and you should too.

Here's a link to the list of where the film is playing, just in case it's in your area.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Spider is Back - And This Time, He's Out for Blood!

Scientists have discovered a spider in Africa that craves human blood.

This jumping spider actively seeks out mosquitoes that have fed on human blood; it hangs out on tree trunks and buildings, where it stalks its prey, rather than building webs.

From the article:

Lab experiments conducted near Lake Victoria showed the spider preferred female mosquitoes fed with human blood over all other prey, including male mosquitoes, which don't feed on animal blood. Tests of the spider's prey preferences showed it went for blood-engorged female mosquitoes in 83 percent of cases when offered a choice of two similar-size insects. When it came to making a choice based on smell alone, with the two meal options hidden from view, around 90 percent of jumping spiders selected the blood-filled mosquito.

The article says that this is the first known predator that deliberately feeds on vertebrate blood by eating mosquitoes, and goes on to say that this is the only animal known to select its prey based on what the prey has eaten. That apparently does not include humans, unless these scientists have never tasted milk-fed veal.

Although the spider is currently not a threat to humans, there is no speculation yet as to what will happen when the spider realizes the stuff tastes better on tap than in a bottle.

Maybe they just did it because they missed the Bauhaus reunion tour...

So now France is dealing with the “Goth Problem”.

Two teenage girls committed suicide by binding their hands together and jumping from a 17th-story apartment window. A note found in one of their pockets read “Life isn’t worth it.”

The girls were into goth, wore black clothes and had body piercings. I know this because the media feels that it’s an important item to point out. One of the girls also kept a rather hate-filled blog, and quoted lyrics from a favorite French Black Metal Group called Anorexia Nervosa(shown). A recent album is called “Suicide is Sexy.”
“I hate you. I vomit on your soul and family. Death to your parents. Torture and rape to your children. I hate you to death,” go the words. “You are the whore of human weakness … worthless.”
The lyrics hopefully sound better in French, because that’s some pretty lousy songwriting. Maybe it's got a nice beat, something you can dance to.

The band's label representation was quick to blame "society":

“If you want someone to blame, blame society. Just turn on the TV. Look at the violence children are faced with from the day they are born. Society is the problem,” he said.

Again, I hope that recycled rhetoric also sounded better in French. I do think it’s closer to the truth, though.

I don’t think I need to tell anyone who reads this blog that some kid’s favorite music is never the reason they commit any act. Gangbangers don’t shoot up a neighborhood because Tupac said so, kids don’t shoot up schools because Marilyn Manson said so. There is always a deeper reason, centered on environments, upbringing, or the simple fact that this is a severely messed-up kid who didn’t get the attention and care that he/she needed. Music is an easy blame for the papers. It allows them to close the case and move on. It allows the readers to realize that this can’t happen to their kids, because their kids like Britney Spears. It’s a dangerous way of thinking.

Unfortunately, suicide happens, and until we recognize that the reasons are not always easy to find, we will see it happening more and more often as the youth of today deal with more complex issues than we did, just like our issues were more complex than our parents had, etc.

Is your kid into goth? Or punk? Do you talk to him/her? Do you know what they’re up to? If you answered yes to those questions, your kid is much better off than any suburban soccermom who has no idea where her kids are.

On a lighter note, there is this quote from the article:
“If anything, being part of a goth group decreases the likelihood of suicide, because, in my experience, they are mutually very supportive.”
That’s from Fran├žois Poublan, “a Catholic deacon who works with Goths.” When did the Vatican create that position? What requirements do you need for that? Are you allowed to listen to The Sisters of Mercy? And does the uniform involve a much bigger crucifix than your colleagues with more traditional positions?

Waiter, bring me a bottle of your cheapest wine... And an extension cord.

I am a big fan of wine, and although there is nothing I like more than a really good bottle of, say Kenwood Jack London Zinfandel, my budget doesn’t usually fit with this. When it’s not a special occasion, I have no choice but to drink wine with a smaller price tag.

This has lead me to some interesting discoveries. While perusing the bargain bins of my local wine shop, I’ve found some excellent wines in the $6-$8 range. Occasionally I’ll even take a risk and try one of those $3-$4 bottles of wine that nobody has ever heard of.

Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. I have found a few excellent wines very cheaply, and watched as they quickly became popular and their prices went up. This was especially true in the mid-nineties, as vineyards from Chile were just getting noticed.

Sometimes I am not so pleasantly surprised. I have bought a few bottles of wine that were just way too young to be on the shelves. Then again, I should have known that little good would come out of that $2 bottle of Hungarian Cabernet.

This may no longer be a problem, if the claims of Japanese scientist Hiroshi Tanaka turn out to be true. He claims to have invented a device that, through the use of an electrical current, ages wines instantly, making them more complex and indistinguishable from older, more expensive vintages. From the article:

Without diluting the wine, the electrolysis causes a rapid rearrangement of the hydrogen and oxygen atoms around the alcohol molecules, which would normally take place over years if the wine were ageing naturally.

The device should become commercially available in January, and it’s a machine I want at my house. If nothing else, it could make for really fun wine-tasting parties. Have a glass of the cheap stuff, and then compare it to a glass of the same wine that’s been instantly “aged”. I’m really hoping to find this machine at a local shop very soon. I’m thinking it could even lead to a price drop in some of the more expensive vintages. If this thing really works, there will be no need to go for expensive bottles, unless you’re an absolute purist.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Getting in the Holiday Spirit

This is one of those brief weekend recap posts for the benefit of my out-of-town friends. If you don’t care about my life, check back later today for my usual blogging…

Action-packed weekend, this one was…

Friday night I had the opportunity to watch my friend Angela get married. Congrats, I wish you both lots and lots of happiness, and so forth.

Saturday began with freezing my ass off on the bike trail for about 11 miles. It was a good ride, aside from a few bruises I picked up on a few uphill accidents; but man, I was cold! I need to toughen up a bit, especially with only four weeks left until Iceman.

Saturday night we went up to the Magic Bag to see Zeke and Nashville Pussy (Thanks for putting us on the guest list, Amy!). It was a rocking time. Zeke was loud fast and sloppy, and Nashville Pussy was hard and raunchy (as if their name hadn’t already lead you to that conclusion).

Another Era ends: Andy quit at the Magic Bag. Saturday was his last night. Andy ran the Bag, and could always be counted on to help get you on a guest list if your regular connections didn’t work out, but more than that, Andy is a good friend. I first met Andy about 10 years ago on the other side of the state, when we both worked at Bilbo’s when we were in college. He wants to get away from night club hours and get back to the 9-to-5. I hope he gets the job he wants.

Sunday was a great day as well. We’re starting to really get in to the Halloween spirit, for all kinds of reasons. Halloween is seriously the mostest bestest of holidays. Devil’s Night is our wedding anniversary as well, so we always throw a big party. We ran around Halloween shopping (picked up the Jones Soda Halloween Brews pictured), getting ideas for the party, just having a really good day, capped off with a couple of Boddington’s with some good friends.

Next weekend, I am entered in a chili cookoff for the MMBA, so I had a test run. Let me just warn the MMBA guys now; my chili turned out so well on the test run that I am fully prepared to talk a whole lotta trash before we do this cookoff next weekend.

New music purchases this weekend:
You could have it so much better - Franz Ferdinand
New York Dolls - New York Dolls (I know, I can't believe I didn't have it yet, either)
Past, Present & Future - Rob Zombie (Guilty pleasure from the past, but man, it's been a long time since the world has had some good guitar-heavy evil industrial music!)

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Why Do These Fish Sticks Taste Like Aluminum Foil?

The London Aquarium's latest attraction is a display of robotic fish. The fish, designed around carp, are very lifelike and can swim around their tank all by themselves. From the article:
Future generations may be used for seabed explorations, detection of leaks in oil pipelines, or even as spies.
That's all well and good, but I think they are missing out on much better potential applications. What if they became fully autonomous and we're released into the oceans? They could be armed with weapons and used to patrol beaches, keeping away sharks, armed dolphins, and fat hairy men in Speedos.

What if they were built so lifelike that you couldn't tell they weren't real. They could fill aquariums with them and you'd never know the difference. We could pollute our rivers, lakes and oceans beyond repair, and just stock them with robofish. If we could do the same with lifelike robotic animals, there would be no need for conservation.

Think of it: 20 years from now, you could go to a zoo, and the animals would really be lifelike robots, and you'd never know the difference. Just like the first time you went to the Hall of Presidents, and had no idea that wasn't really Grover Cleveland up there, on display like a performing pony. I actually knew then I never wanted to be president, as you spent your retirement performing for overweight tourist with dirty sticky children.

The robofish will be named by local schoolchildren in a contest. The current favorites are "Fishinator 5000", "", and "Steve".

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Of course the Redwings rule, science said so.

In keeping with today’s theme, I would like to refer everyone to findings released this summer that show another reason the Redwings rule. According to a study carried out by British anthropologists, findings show that when opponents are evenly matched, the team or athlete wearing red is more likely to win.

The fact that they're British and don't even watch hockey allows us to accept these findings as unbiased; and while this study should in no way be interpreted as suggesting that the Wings would ever be lowered to the status of being an even match to anyone, it does serve to put one more advantage on their bench.
Red seems to be the color, across species, that signals male dominance and testosterone levels.
It is an iteresting thory; but then again, when the Wings beat St. Louis tonight, you should probably realize that it’s because of the fact that Keith Tkachuk is a punk, and really has little to do with red uniforms. Link

Hey Hey Hockeytown!

Two more walls were painted in the living room last night; two more walls to go. I don’t know how much painting will get done tonight though; it’s the home opener of the Detroit Redwings!

All of my Detroit visitors will appreciate this, but for my out-of-town readers, Detroit has been hurting for hockey. With the strike last year, we’ve gone 16 months without hockey, and we don’t really have any other sports worth watching. Our Tigers and Lions are horrid, and while the Pistons have done great, with one championship during our hockey hiatus, even, it’s just not the same. Plus, the Pistons don’t even play in Detroit; they’re out in Pontiac.

Redwing fever is taking off. Mickey Redmond was on the radio this morning talking about how excited he is for the new season, how we should probably see some “Old Time Hockey” this season, although there probably won’t be any “Bench-clearing Donnybrooks”.

For those of you out of our broadcast area, you have no idea what a great color commentator Mickey Redmond is. An Old Time Hockey player himself, he is well-known for his "Mickeyisms” (many of which have been compiled here); my all-time favorite is “Coast to coast with buttered toast,” which he uttered a few years ago when Yzerman carried the puck from one goal to the other and scored unassisted.

Speaking of our captain, Yzerman is back. In fact, even with the salary cap, we have a lot of familiar faces coming back. We lost some favorites, such as McCarty, but there are still more familiar faces than new ones.

Redwings Roster
Center: Robert Lang, Pavel Datsyuk, Kris Draper, Johan Franzen, Mark Mowers
Left Wing: Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Holmstrom, Dan Cleary
Right Wing: Jason Williams, Mikael Samuelsson, Steve Yzerman*, Kirk Maltby
Defense: Niklas Lidstrom, Matthieu Schneider, Jiri Fischer, Chris Chelios, Jamie Rivers, Andreas Lilja, Brent Lebda, Niklas Kronwall*
Goaltender: Chris Osgood*, Mann Legace, Jimmy Howard
*Denotes injury

It’s good to see Ozzy back in net as well (or it will be, once he gets healthy).

All 30 teams are playing tonight; it’s the first time ever this has happened in the history of the NHL, so no matter who your favorite team is (although it probably is the Redwings, if you’re a real hockey fan), tune in tonight and welcome hockey back.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Germans Do It Again - Another breakthrough in beer technology!

Just a few hours after I reported the advent of interactive beer coasters, Fark posted a story reporting that German Scientists have once again advanced the standard of living for the beer-drinking citizens of the world; this time, it's beer with nicotine.

The scientists claim that the intent is to help smokers quit, rather than make the beer addicitive. I'll buy that, because it's not like you need to add anything to beer to make it addictive. Another possible reason for the beer is to keep your ass glued to a barstool while drinking in a nonsmoking establishment, rather than stepping out for a smoke.

I can see this also really helping those people who claim they only smoke when they drink (and of course they are always saying this as they are reaching across the table to take another one of your smokes).

Regardless of the reason, nice job again Germany. Set one of these on an electronic coaster and heep 'em coming...

Do you have to pay for it if the coaster ordered it?

In a story on the New Scientist Web site, they are reporting that German scientists (in their greatest beer innovation since the Heineken keg can) have invented a beer coaster that registers the weight of your mug and orders you a refill when your glass gets low.

Additionally, the coaster's interactive technology can be used for interactive drinking games. It's amazing what people can do with today's technology to further the cause of good.

It comes as no surprise that the Germans are still at the forefront of beer-related technology; but check out the photo they ran with the article (shown at the top of the post). It's obvious that their photographer was not a drinker; I don't know anyone who'd accept a drink in a bar with that much foam on it.

Growing up, one room at a time.

Look out! It's another one of those journal-styled "what I did on my weekend" entries!

I am coming off of a very productive, yet restful weekend. Friday, was payday, and so followed the payday ritual of my wife and I going out for a nice dinner.

This time it was Mitchell’s Fish Market, an excellent seafood place. A plate of raw oysters, an excellent array of seafood, including shrimp, scallops, salmon, mahi mahi; combine that with a couple of cold beers, and I was dead asleep on the couch by 11:00.

Saturday continued the preparations for Iceman. We only had a nine-mile trail ride this time, but it was a good ride. My wife set the pace, and we hammered through at a solid rate without really breaking a sweat, just confirming that training is going as planned, which is good, we only have four more training weekends!

Saturday afternoon called for another platter of raw oysters and some sushi, this time from Tom’s Oyster Bar. Again, cold pints of lager were called for as well. I think lager is the best compliment for raw seafood, don’t you?

Sunday we decided to grow up a little more. After five years in our house, we started painting over the white walls it came with. To be fair, we did the kitchen and bathroom last year, but we’ve been unable to commit to any colors in out main living area.

It was funny how it happened; we went to the Home Depot to pick something up (and we still can’t remember what we were there for originally) and instead left with three gallons of paint and various supplies.

I did a whirlwind move of all the furniture from the dining room to the living room, and a few hours later we had two blue walls and two yellow walls, and a dog running around with one blue paw, and a cat with four yellow paws; and pawprints on the hardwood. It’s cleaned up now.

I grilled up a great dinner Sunday night while we painted, too. A Tuscan beer can chicken. I’m sure everyone here is familiar with basic beer can chicken. If not, here’s a recipe. The Tuscan variation came from bon appetit, which offered a few “upscale” beer can chicken variations, listed here. I skipped the prosciutto ( too expensive), and used white wine because Trader Joe’s was out of Prosecco, but the end result was delicious and low effort on my part.

So does that sound like a weekend of someone who’s finally becoming a grownup? If there’s any doubt, tonight I am touching up some paint in the dining room, and then canning tomatoes! But I will be sure to get mildly drunk while I do so.