Friday, June 26, 2009

The best reason to hate the 24-hour news cycle - Michael Jackson

Yesterday my girlfriend ran downstairs to tell me that Michael Jackson was dead. Well, not really dead, or not yet, but maybe, and probably, and he wasn't breathing, or at least she thinks, and possibly in the hospital or perhaps not and he may or may not be in cardiac arrest. She wanted me to come upstairs and help her watch television, since I know what channels are all-news. A "Breaking News Announcement" had interrupted whatever Oprah-related show she was watching, then disappeared. So I started flipping between CNN, MSNBC and FOX "News". At the time, there wasn't much happening except for the news ticker at the bottom of the screen. Wolf Blitzer was wheezing his way through a piece about Iran, Chris Matthews was taking a deeper look at the philandering Governor Sanford, and Glenn Beck was having a "who's-crazier contest" with the (possibly) equally insane, (and definitely more stupid) Michelle Bachmann.

As the Michael Jackson story took off, Blitzer was the first to switch to constant coverage. Still breathless and wheezing, he turned the screen over to a few people who may or may not have had any information about the incident. All they really knew was that he had been taken to a hospital, and that there was a chance he wasn't breathing. However, they had to fill the next half hour. So I got to see an animated explanation of cardiac arrest. There was this big artery on the screen, you see...and Blitzer was going through the various things that could have caused Michael Jackson's cardiac arrest, if he had indeed suffered a cardiac arrest, but of course we still don't know for sure...

Then I started seeing people comparing Michael Jackson to Farrah Fawcett, who had also died earlier in the day, and how "we Hollywood watchers" were expecting the death of Fawcett, but not the illness of Jackson, and he was thinking about a comeback so we all thought he was OK...blah blah can find pundits for everything. I do feel bad for Farrah Fawcett though - this was a pretty big upstaging here. But seriously. How many times can people tell me that Michael Jackson's Thriller was a popular album? Or that he was once acquitted of child molestation? Or that he was famous for his white glove? I know this. I don't need it forty times while the networks wait for an actual story to develop. Go on with your scheduled programming until you have an actual story.

I ended up going to bed long before he actually died. Or, at least, long before his death was actually reported. And the long, boring coverage had apparently been going all that time. Now I see, this morning, (on wikipedia!) that his cause of death was "cardiac arrest". Seriously. Thanks, wikipedia, but "cardiac arrest" cannot possibly be the cause of death. Something else has to cause the "cardiac arrest". How do I know this? From Wolf Blitzer's helpful little animation! Cardiac arrest is merely the stopping of the heart, which happens during death anyway, but could be caused by a myriad of factors - heart attack, bear attack, snack attack, stroke, lung failure, skin failure, shock, rattlesnake bite, eating rat poison, or a few other things. Thanks Wolf Blitzer! The only thing I hate more than your 24-hour news cycle is wikipedia.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My backyard is so full of life.

There is a lot of wildlife in my backyard. I think the lady who in my house before used to be all about feeding the birds. I think this because when I moved in the trees where jammed full of bird feeders and there were birdbaths in the corners. I'm quite the sleuth, aren't I? Now, the birds keep coming because the bugs are everywhere, and I don't have to remember bird feeders, so everyone wins. (The bird feeders appeared to actually be squirrel feeders anyway - maybe she was all about feeding the squirrels, and I'm not a brilliant deducer after all). So I've got bugs (which my dog eats), birds (which my dog chases), chipmunks (she stalks those), rabbits (she scares them) and squirrels (they scare her).

But now, I have two favourite animals in my backyard. One is a crow that often sits on top of my shed. This bird, although it's a crow, and they're pretty darn ugly and unpleasant and they sometimes chase the cute little chipmunks which distresses my girlfriend, is awesome. It's awesome because it has become the nemesis of my dog. And Muffin desperately needed a nemesis. She has several protectors, several subservient rabbits and chipmunks, and a couple of rabbits who occasionally join her on play dates. But my dog is an angry, barky little jerk, and she needs a nemesis, a wisecracking alter-ego, a Joker to her Batman. And this crow fits the bill (no pun intended!) and then some. It sits on top of the shed, and it barks at her. In fact, it sounds almost exactly like my dog. And Muffin barks back. And the crow looks down, (way down - she's about seven inches high) and cocks it's head, laughs at her a bit, then barks some more. And it's hilarious.

Come to think of it, my little dog, if she were a huge dog, would be a savage maniac. Perhaps she's the villain here - like, she's Moriarty and the crow is Sherlock Holmes. Wow, that was a weak analogy. The other animal I love in my backyard scares the hell out of the dog. It's a bumblebee, which is pretty normal, but it's the size of my fist. My girlfriend recently commented that she could see this bee all the way across the yard. I thought that was an understatement. I could see this bee from space. It's monstrous. It was in the basement, flying around, when we met the first time, and with some help from the kids, I managed to trap it in a Maytag box and release it outside. Now, it hangs around and I see him every day. And for such a large bee, it's pretty sneaky. I would think you could hear it flying, like a Spitfire buzzing the tower, but no. It's stealthy. Which means it sometimes flies right past my head, and I think someone's throwing a baseball at me. And the dog takes off across the lawn as though Freddy Krueger just showed up in the backyard. (Freddy Krueger, I assume, started with dogs like all serial killers. I also assume that Muffin knows this.) And the crow laughs at her some more.

This is great too.

Thought I'd throw this video up too - hilarious. some of the most memorable sports press conference moments, mixed down into a song. Fantastic!

Playoffs? Practice?


I have a Guitar Hero video game at home because the kids like to play it. I like it too, if only because there are some good tunes. And it's fun to play with the kids. Even if they keep skipping over "Holiday In Cambodia". I don't have this Rock Band thing though, because I figured having one of the two was good enough. I'm starting to think otherwise, though. I think I may have to pick up Rock Band, at least when the Beatles version comes out. It would be worth it just for this:

That's what they call the "opening cinematic", I guess the screen that loads up when the game begins. It's directed by the guy who did all the animation for the Gorillaz - remember the "Clint Eastwood" video? Probably not...I'll throw that in here:

All of this is pretty cool. Looking forward to The Beatles: Rock Band in a big way - you catch the yellow submarine in there? Or the "Blue Jay Way" poster? Very cool.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here's a thought...

I was reading this morning that Ryne Sandberg, one of my baseball heroes growing up, has suggested that Sammy Sosa does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Not that there's anything particularly newsworthy about that statement in and of itself (Sandberg points out that the word "integrity" is right on the Hall of Fame's logo and seal, and that's about the only thing that stood out about his comments). But I read the story, and I thought, of course Sosa doesn't belong in the Hall. Of course McGwire and Bonds and Palmeiro and Clemens and Rodriguez and Ramirez and every other superstar in baseball over the past ten years do not belong in the Hall of Fame.

But then again, it's going to become a big issue, and soon. With McGwire up for election, and the others to soon follow, there will be a massive number of tainted superstars vying for a spot in Cooperstown. However, I'm not even thinking about the superstars now. I don't think any of them will get in, and so it should be. But now I'm thinking about those who ought to be in there, but won't be. Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine are shoo-ins, and I don't think there's anyone suggesting they used steroids. But what about the guys who were just pretty good during the steroid era? Pitchers who were just good pitchers? Hitters who were pretty good hitters? They had to play against steroid-fueled monsters - if you had to bat against Clemens in the last few years of his career, you were playing against steroids. If you were pitching to Barry Bonds, you were pitching to steroids. That's going to affect your numbers, in a big way.

So there's no way to know who the true greats were in the era. What if Mike Mussina or David Cone were the very best pitchers not on steroids? What if Larry Walker and Nomar Garciaparra were the two best pure hitters who did not take the juice? The chances of those guys making the Hall of Fame is slim, because they played in an era where there numbers didn't stand out against the eye-popping figures put up by Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, A-Rod, and the rest. Not that I'm saying those guys are clean. Because who knows, really? But what's going to happen here is that not only are the biggest names in the game not going to make it to Cooperstown, the guys who should have been the biggest names in the game, who would have made the Hall of Fame in another era, will be forgotten. Maybe that's the saddest legacy of all in the steroid era.

Maybe twitter is useful, after all.

Or at least entertaining. I use my twitter to let people know when there are new Cynical Cinema reviews, or new Breaking Rock News stories, or new blog posts - check Twitter! I will have posted a link to the very post you are reading right now! Most of the time, it lets us know who has a rash, or who is tired, or who has discovered the joys of Skippy peanut butter on Royal Gala apples. In short, it's boring. But sometimes, it is totally worthwhile. Like, in Iran right now - not only are young Iranians taking to twitter to add emphasis to their protest over the rigged elections, but yesterday there was an Iranian blogger who sent a question, through twitter, to a reporter who was at Barack Obama's press conference, and Obama then answered that man's question from thousands of miles away. That's pretty cool.

Then, there is Perez Hilton. Who is a sizeable douchebag who runs a celebrity gossip site where he takes existing stories and then draws cocaine on pictures of Lindsay Lohan, or pictures of junk going in her mouth, all using a John Madden-style telestrater on his incredibly juvenile and yet somehow popular website. And then he says the meanest things he can think of on that website. And then over the weekend he got punched for it, by the entourage of the Black Eyed Peas. And the world thought "oh. Good." And then he posted this incredibly hilarious, tearful video complaint about the incident. Oh - and back to the twitter - while he was being, apparently, savagely beaten by this thug, the police told him that they had real emergencies to deal with, and that they might get there eventually. So he took to twitter. And the police department was flooded with phone calls from as far away as Singapore as people leapt to this idiot's defense. More on twitter in a second - first, you have to see the video.

OK. Now that you've watched that, and laughed, here is the benefit of Twitter. I am no fan of John Mayer's music, but he's worth following on Twitter, because he's dang funny. And he too has no time for Perez Hilton. (Full disclosure - I lifted this twitter exchange off the Rolling Stone website, they have the full story posted here.) It's pretty funny when it's just Mayer and Hilton exchanging barbs, but when Kirstie Alley for some reason gets involved, it's priceless. A sample :

Mayer: I love that @perezhilton uses his cellphone to log on to twitter to post a tweet to ask his followers to call the police for him.

Mayer: Last year P!nk kneed me in the nuts outside Chateau Marmont. I was pissing blood for days. Did I make a scene?

Mayer: @perezhilton’s video statement is so long that by the end of it his cut healed.

Perez: @johncmayer That’s real funny! Ha ha! And I’m sure you also think I “deserved” to get hit!

Mayer: @PerezHilton Not true. In fact I’d like to train you in Krav Maga. Then you’ll have the situational awareness not to get in someone’s face.

Mayer: @perezhilton I also want to train you in an old martial art called “Never Call A Black Dude a F****t Jitsu.”

Mayer: @PerezHilton agreed. So let’s meet up this week and I’ll give you your first krav maga instruction. We’ll break the event down and learn…

Perez: @johncmayer Ok.

Mayer: @perezhilton people don’t want to see you hurt, they want to see you experience something equalizing.

Mayer: @PerezHilton by understanding the genetics of a violent incident you can learn to avoid them. And if you can’t, you will learn to end them.

Mayer: @PerezHilton this will be the last public mention of it. You know how to find me. Words have cause and effect, even if the effect is wrong.

Perez: @johncmayer Dude, I get it. I GET IT. But it’s not f*****g funny to me. Karma would be me losing my site and going bankrupt or what have u.

Mayer: @PerezHilton Yah, you’re not getting it… OOH! OK. It’s like the Matrix. You live in the Perez Matrix. You wrote the program, you can fly.

Perez: @johncmayer Karma is NOT getting punched in the face!

Mayer: @perezhilton from the heart, what you experienced these last 24 hrs is a profound lack of control. You can’t blog the world, my friend.

Mayer: @PerezHilton then you leave the Matrix, and oh, what the hell, you’re not gonna get it. You’re a sweet guy though.

Perez: @johncmayer I can never tell if ur being sincere or not. It doesnt matter. Have Harley email me contact info for this so I can do on my own.


Kirstie Alley: Perez…in the future…must only duke it out with lentils…leave the black eyed peas to the big boys

Perez: @kirstiealley I’m 31 years old. You’re 58. But it seems like you have the mental maturity of a 13 year old. Way to go!

Perez: @johncmayer I cant DM u and Im not trying to play this out publicly. B well. I dont wish u harm. I talk sh** but I sincerely wish no 1 harm.

Perez: @johncmayer And people DO want to see me hurt. That’s what I’ve been reading over and over again. But it’s cool. I’ll be back 2 normal tomm.

Mayer: @PerezHilton you might have a gash on your face for a few more days, but the real healing? It’s happening right now.

Perez: @johncmayer Once again, we agree! I live in my own world. And in my world, I would never punch someone. And in my world, that’s illegal!

Mayer: @perezhilton now you sit down behind that Tandy computer and you hash out a Doogie diary. Be sure to pause, think, and keep typing.

Mayer: @perezhilton because today, the fourth wall came crashing down. Mario, you are human. I call upon Twitter to be kind to you. #perezisokbyme

Perez: @johncmayer I’m not human! I’m a monster! Good night, John Mayer.

Mayer: @PerezHilton Good night Perez, you dumb sh**. #perezisokbyme

Kirstie Alley: JOHN MAYER…you are in the wrong biness…you funny, singer boy…you real damn funny…

Kirstie Alley: @johncmayer I have comedy CRUSH on you…you are one funny singing sensation…I heart your timing…love, K

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cyincal cinema - movies coming out tomorrow

Crossing Over - It wants to be Crash, but instead it's crap. And Ray Liotta is botoxed up a lot.

Inkheart - A seriously flawed movie starring Brendan Fraser that has terrific moments.

Inside the Koran - One of the most thorough religious documentaries I have seen.

The Bible Unearthed - How much is based on fact, how much is invented? Fascinating.

Frost/Nixon - An amazing movie, some terrific performances, real tension.

The International - Decent action-intrigue flick about murderous international banks. And Naomi Watts.