Thursday, June 25, 2009

RIP Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009


My Random Michael Jackson Thoughts
  • I am really in shock that he is dead, part of me doesn't really believe it
  • I can distinctly remember sitting on the floor, two inches away from the TV watching all his "world premiere" videos (Thriller, Bad, Remember the Time and Black or White).
  • Driving home from work today, a woman had her windows rolled down and I could hear the news reports about Michael Jackson in the hospital, she was crying.
  • No doubt his personal life appeared a little crazy, but no one can dispute he was a phenomenal talent and earned the title "King of Pop"
Essential Songs (from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)
  • Billie Jean
  • Beat It
  • Thriller
  • Bad
  • Black or White
  • Rock With You
  • Wanna Be Startin' Something
  • Man in the Mirror
  • Don't Stop Till You Get Enough
  • Scream
Photos (fans reacting to the news from

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Podcasts – Are you listening? [Reviewing]


I enjoy podcasts. They help me walk to work, work during work, wait/sleep for/on planes and feed my geekiness.

For those who aren’t down (yet), podcasts are audio files made by individuals who generally discuss whatever the hell interests them. Basically, podcasts are blogs for your ears.

I like blogs so it’s a natural progression for me to like podcasts, so if YOU like blogs you better get on the podcast train before it leaves the station.

I will briefly discuss some of the podcasts I subscribe to and enjoy (or used to enjoy). If you know of podcasts I’m missing out on, please leave a comment so I subscribe to that too! NOTE: I got tired and couldn’t review all the podcasts I enjoy (and don’t enjoy) but don’t worry I will review more in the future (that is, if you even care).

Smodcast was my first podcast I listened to (at least I think it was). I can’t recall how I stumbled upon it, but I can only assume it’s because I’m a fan of Kevin Smith the writer and director of such films as: Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Dogma (said in the voice of Troy McClure).

But I can distinctly remember their first podcast I listened to, it was called Harry Scotter and the Order of the Penis. Yes, you read that right. Throughout the podcast Kevin Smith mocked Scott Mosier (his co-host and friend) for being a fan of Harry Potter. Apparently Kevin was shocked that Scott was a big Harry Potter fan (maybe big is too strong of a word) and asked him to discuss the final book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As Scott describes what happens in the book, Kevin mocks Harry Potter, gillyweed, and all the characters, even discussing what Ron will probably do to/with Hermione (you can only imagine). I gotta say it was the funniest podcast I’ve heard to date.

That single podcast got me hooked to Kevin and Scott. Their podcast doesn’t really follow a formula (Harry Potter isn’t a big hot topic for them) they actually discuss whatever is going on in their lives, such as Scott’s vasectomy, Kevin’s sadness over Zack and Miri Make a Porno, and other random stuff. But starting a couple months ago Kevin’s been talking (a lot) about hockey and his love of Wayne Gretzky, and well I’m not a hockey fan (go Flyers) so this podcast has moved towards the bottom of my listen to rotation.

But I highly recommend it for those who are easily amused and like random stuff but be warned, this is certainly rated M for mature.

Being a big Star Trek The Next Generation fan, I was in heaven when I found Make It So. This group of Brits discuss all matters related to Star Trek (not just TNG) and I thoroughly enjoyed it for at least 30 - 50 episodes. Then I started to realize these guys might not be as knowledgeable about Star Trek as I originally thought. I would often find them saying stuff that wasn’t exactly cannon (which is understandable, it takes years and years of geekiness to become a Star Trek expert and I can confidently say I’m NOT a Star Trek expert), they often aren’t prepared for the podcasts (they tend to be a bit unorganized to me), and they often go OFF topic (which is rather annoying when they discuss personal friend stuff).

I will give them some slack because they have completed over 100 Make It So episodes and I’m sure it’s hard to come up with new stuff to say but at least you can be organized or have a real topic to discuss. But I guess my biggest gripe is that they don’t get very deep with Star Trek (probably because I don’t feel like they are the super Star Trek geeks), they tend to discuss the surface and silly issues (such who’s the worst character, how much Wesley Crusher sucks, the best first officer, etc.) which is cool but sometimes you want to dig deeper.

But I’m still a fan and encourage all those Star Trek fans to subscribe, but it’s not in my top MUST listen to immediately rotation.

Apparently (according to wikipedia) Simply Syndicated is the largest independent podcast network in the UK. They have 14 different podcasts with 2 affiliated podcasts.

I feel like they are a group of Brits in their early 30’s who like a lot of random stuff (mainly TV and movies) and have a lot of podcasting gear. I’ve only listened to:
  • Movies You Should See – I can’t say I’m a big fan because, well, their movie choices don’t usually interest me. I like that they select random movies (one week Big and the next week The Odd Couple), but the randomness of their movie choices leaves me to only listen when I actually like a movie they are reviewing. And please take the word “review” very loosely.
  • Richard & Allison’s Super Happy Fun Time – I tried to listen to this (I really did) but it was so hard because they literally don’t talk about anything. And I don’t want to be too cruel, but they aren’t that interesting to listen to their ramblings. There are some podcasts where someone can talk about nothing but because that person is interesting or funny you will listen, sadly this is not that podcast.
  • The Definitive Word – I occasionally enjoy this podcasts because they do cover interesting topics such as, vegetarians, winning the lottery, virginity, and the top 5 sitcoms to name a few. I will admit they get off topic a bit but its okay because it’s more of a free-flow podcast.
But I encourage you to check out all their podcasts, I do enjoy getting the point of view of our cousin’s across the pond.

I love this podcast. You know why, because these guys (and one gal) are smart and get deep with the Star Trek and all things science fiction. They have unique points of view on everything and I love it.

The first podcast I listened to was Episode 16.5 The New Movie, where they discussed the new Star Trek movie. Since I loved the film (the geek in me couldn’t help but watch it 4 times), I assumed this would be a love-fest and they would rave about how the movie rocked. Uh, no.

Karen (who I want to call the voice of reason) explains in detail why she didn’t like the film. And you know what? I totally understand her reasons because she fully explained her argument and I didn’t go into defensive geek mode and get angry at her, but I ended up agreeing with a lot of what she said. Sadly I realized maybe I hyped this film too much in my head and felt silly because I didn’t see all the holes Karen saw in the film (I was on my new Star Trek film high, impervious to anything negative about Star Trek - what plot hole? Who cares that Nero could have actually SAVED Romulus!). But on the other hand I loved that Rick liked the film was excited about the film and Kennedy’s Burger King toy (sadly my Burger King was all out).

I think the thing I love the most about this podcast is that they are adults.

So if you want an adult view on all things science fiction you MUST subscribe to this podcast.

In the upcoming days, I plan to review:
What are your favorite podcasts?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

True Blood - Keep This Party Going [Quick Review]


I have to say I really enjoyed this week True Blood episode, Keep This Party Going.

Here are my quick notes from the show (warning spoilers):
  • The show starts off exactly where it left off last week - Eric just finished killing his prisoner. He nonchalantly throws the severed arm at Lafayette, which hits him in the chest. Then Eric is concerned he has blood in his hair and says, "Pam is going to kill me" -hilarious!
  • We watch Bill and Sookie - post coitus, discuss the behavior of Jessica (Bill's child). It was pretty funny watching them discuss Jessica, like they were "real" parents. Oh, and I laughed out loud when Bill said they didn't want to be "one of those couples". That was the first time Bill actually made me laugh.
  • So we find out Lafayette is locked up in the basement of Fangtasia!
  • Once Lafayette was taken upstairs and after he was interrogated by Eric, why was Chow struggling to take him back into the dungeon? He's a vampire, it should be easy to subdue Lafayette.
  • Ugh - we finally get our first look at the Light of Day people on the bus to "church camp" with Jason. Do people like this really exists? And why does their "happiness" bother me?
  • Wow! Eggs is hot. I didn't realize he was that big and buff.
  • We do see a photo of Sookie and Tara with Gran (Sookie's Grandmother) when they were kids - but, why did Gran look old in the photo? Couldn't that photoshop that to make her look younger? I'm just saying.
  • I felt so bad for Lafayette stuck in the dungeon with pieces of the body of Eric's last kill. And when Lafayette grabbed his legs to get his metal hip was gross - but good thinking by Lafayette, even if it was unsuccessful.
  • Finally Tara voices her concern that things may be too good to be true with Maryann. Uh, duh!
  • Side note - I just realized Michelle Forbes who plays Maryann also played Ro Laren on Star Trek The Next Generation. I don't believe I didn't realize that sooner!
  • Sookie finally meets Maryann and listens to her thoughts - only to hear chanting in some foreign (ancient) language. Umm... I wonder what's up with that.
  • "Jesus asked me out today" - yes, that was the name of the song sung at the church camp concert. Ha! That "concert" was hilarious. A sexy Jesus song - wow!
  • Continuity error - the blood on Jessica's face while she was crying and talking with Sookie kept changing.
  • I loved the whole Bill and Eric in clothing store scene.
  • I absolutely LOVED when Bill yelled for Sookie to "shut up" at Jessica's parents house.
So - what's Bill gonna do? Will he kill Jessica's father? He did kill Sookie's Uncle for abusing her. But I'm pretty sure he will just glamour and erase their memories.

Will Lafayette become a vampire? I don't know why all three vampires had to bit him? Usually you just need one vamp to turn you into a vampire. Maybe they were just sucking his blood as punishment for trying to escape?

Can't wait for next week!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ralph Ueltzhoeffer - ART

You might have to move back from the screen to properly view this one.

I found some cool art I can dig, thanks to the blog, Le Zèbre bleu.

The project text portrait is an internet art project, that with the help of partly automated search programs, looks for biographies of public characters (Public Person) to list, rank, categorize and evaluate in order to create the visual portrait. The choice of the portrayed person is made partly by Google keywords-search, meaning, who is searched for in a specific timeline in a category.

The art project text portrait combines photos and text to a so called „TEXT PORTRAIT“. The internet art project text portrait is a non-profit-project, meaning, the project does not have any commercial or marketing strategies.
You can view more text portraits here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Iran - A Nation of Bloggers

Protesters in Iran

If you caught a glimpse of the news in the last couple days, I'm sure you've seen the political unrest in Iran over their 2009 Presidential Elections. Many people feel as though the election was rigged.

To a laymen like me, I gotta say, the whole thing stinks to high-hell. If the people demand a recount, then give them a recount.

I gotta say when I see the images of people in the streets protesting this election, I can't help but think of our own election mishap in the 2000 United States Presidential Election (Bush/Gore). I wonder if the whole thing would have turned out different if we went to the streets and protested loudly and often? Would the United Supreme Court (Bush v. Gore) ruled differently if they heard the roar from the streets?

Protesters in Iran

One of the most interesting aspects of this political fight is the utilization of the internet by the protesters. Fighting to get news out since the government kicked out many foreign journalist, shut down cellphone service and disrupted satellite internet connections, the savvy and young Iranians are using the web, primarily twitter, to communicate and organize.

A screen cap from the video Iran: A Nation of Blogger

The video is an "infographic" video from a Vancouver Film School that powerfully tells the story of how millions of young bloggers are challenging the conservative government of Iran.
A screen cap from the video Iran: A Nation of Blogger

It's a nice informative video and I highly recommend it! Watch below:

Monday, June 15, 2009

True Blood Season Premier [SPOLIERS]


Last night I watched the season premier of True Blood on HBO. I was pretty excited because I enjoyed season one, which caused me to read the Sookie Stackhouse series, which was the inspiration of the television show. Not to mention I would get a chance to watch my current crush Alexander Skarsgard.

I have to say I was under whelmed by the episode. As many have stated on the “interwebs”, the episode felt like a “catching up” with what’s going on in Bon Temps (where the fictional world is based). Which I guess is fine, but for hard core True Blood fans (there are many, just check out the HBO boards or fan Wiki of the show) it was just okay.

SPOLIERS - I will discuss episode spoilers now, so stop reading if you plan on watching.

What I liked:
Yes, it started out with a pretty good shock. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) was NOT the body in Detective Andy Bellefleur’s (Chris Bauer) car (the cliff hanger from last season)! Okay Mr. Alan Ball (the show’s creator), you tricked all the readers of the novels (Lafayette does in deed die in the novel). Well played Mr. Ball, well played indeed sir.

Nelsan Ellis as Lafayette on True Blood

Lafayette was one (if not the best) stand out characters from the first season. Nelsan Ellis owns this character and plays him so effortlessly it’s almost like he’s not acting (you know what I mean).

After suffering through the ridiculousness of Sookie and Bill (check out what I didn’t like below) the show ended on a high note. We got to see Eric (the vampire Sheriff of Area 5)! Mr. Northman (Alexander Skarsgard) walks into his “dungeon” to collect one of his prisoners, when he is hit in the face with a silver cross (first, I don’t think the “real” Eric would allow this mere mortal to get the drop on him like that, but whatever). The enraged Eric picks up the man, breaks his back, bites into his chest, and rips him apart. It was pretty gruesome but totally awesome. It was a nice way to show how powerful this 1000 year old Viking vampire really is.

The teaser for next week’s episode also peaked my interest. We see Lafayette lying down with Eric standing over top of him, Lafayette says, “make me a vampire” and Eric replies “I beg your pardon?” Wow! I would love to see vampire Lafayette!

Promo shot of Alexander Skarsgard as Eric Northman (I'm not digging this photo)

What I didn’t like: (I have to do this in bullet points)
  • Sookie is as annoying as ever (but I guess that’s to be expected she’s annoying in the books too).
  • Bill is so boring. As much as I am barely tolerable of Jessica (Bill’s new child), I felt her pain sitting on the couch testing out which True Blood blood type she liked the best. But of course, I knew he was boring, even in the books he’s the dullest vampire ever.
  • Bill and Sookie’s relationship. Okay. Their “fight” over Bill killing her Uncle was so over the top! Ugh. Enough with the campy melodrama. But I will say, that “make-up sex” scene was wild! The little girl from The Piano really did grow up.

My random questions:
  • Was it just me or did Jessica look different?
  • Was Eric getting highlights? That is just hilarious!
  • What was up with the device the prisoners were locked to in Eric’s dungeon? Did their moving in a circle serve a purpose? Were they chained up in the basement of Fangtasia?
  • Why didn’t we see the face of the other girl locked in the dungeon with Lafayette?

Even though I wasn’t “wowed” by this episode, I’m certainly eagerly looking forward to next Sunday at 9pm!

What did you think?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Long Time...

Sorry to sound trite, but I've been crazy busy lately and have neglected my blog. Even though I'm still rather active on twitter (it's just so easy to give 140 character updates... maybe I should consider tumblr).

If you care, here's what I've been thinking, doing and stuff:
  • I've had my laptop for quite a while and it has a camera. I only used the camera the first day I got the laptop to check it out, but since then it's been a non entity. So I'm very interested in getting in to skype (even Oprah skype's her guest). So I'm wondering are there skype chat rooms? Or do you have to know someone personally to skype with? I will investigate this whole "skype thing" further.
Harry Potter fan fiction is addictive, but certainly NOT for children (most of it)
A walkway in Chicago's O'Hare airport decked out for the 2016 Olympics
  • I had a mini-vacation in Seattle. Unfortunately I missed my 6:00am flight and it took me 12 hours to reach the west coast. By the way, Chicago O'Hare airport is rather nice and is all decked out for their 2016 Olympics bid.
The first Starbucks store in Seattle
  • Seattle is a beautiful city. I haven't seen that many TREES in a long time. Of course, I was suspicious of this city - it was too beautiful and the people too nice! I felt like I was on a movie set with their cute little homes, clean streets and general cool vibe. Also I realize I could never live on the west coast. They are always BEHIND (the time difference is too significant for me)! All the action happens on the east coast baby!
I took a photo at one of the "new technology" demos at Microsoft Vistor Center. (that's me)
  • I got a mini-tour of Microsoft while in Seattle and geeked out a bit. I remember when I first started college back in the day (I majored in Computer Information Systems) and every one's dream job was to work for Microsoft. I'm sure the dreams of new computer students may be working for Google or something these days. But it was pretty cool driving around their 100 plus buildings and visiting their vistor center.
Cardboard cut out of the founders of Microsoft at the MS Visitor Center
  • Sadly, I think my love of Alexander Skarsgard is waning. How quickly the passion fades, huh? I guess it has something to do with an interview I listened to at work today. I was rather excited to listen to the live interview, but it was just, meh. Maybe Alex was tired/bored, or maybe it was just a bad interview, but he didn't sound like the Alex I know and love. True Blood starts Sunday, so maybe my feelings will change once I start seeing him on a regular basis. Dude, this sounds so crazy, I don't even believe I'm writing it. Any-who...
Oh Alexander... what happened to us?
Amy Winehouse, no matter how "crazy" her life seems... I love her album
Hopefully, I'll get a chance to start updating the blog regularly, this weekend I should have a moment to breath and relax, so we'll see!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My Kindle Arrived!

I ordered my kindle Tuesday, paid an extra $13.60 for two-day delivery, and here it is today!

Kindle in the box and my green cover.

The kindle had additional packaging.

Nice packaging.

I finally open the box.

Yup, it looks just like I thought it would. It weighs only 10 ounces!

It's super thin (1/3 of an inch)!

The instruction booklet is only 6 pages long (with large font and images).

Well I'm going to let it charge and start my downloading of books. I really hope this is worth it, rather, how long will the newness and excitement last? I mentioned in the comments of my first kindle post, that I'm still a fan of "real" books. I enjoy physically turning pages, because you get a sense of accomplishment. I wonder if I will have that same feeling clicking the Next Page button on the kindle.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Book Review: Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson


The novel Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson was recommended by a co-worker, who is a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series, like me. She explained the story takes place in the same “vampire world” as Sookie (meaning the vampires have similar powers). Since I finished all the Sookie novels (even the new one released May 5, Dead and Gone) I was eager to try a new vampire series. She did classify her recommendation by saying it was vampire chick lit, so I was warned (I’m not that big of a chick lit fan but will read if it’s a compelling story).

Warning: I will reveal spoilers. Also, if you are a fan of the series or novel, you probably won’t like my review because I will admit; I’m going to be a little harsh on the main character. Consider yourself warned.

The UK cover of Undead and Unwed

The story is told in a first-person narrative by our protagonist, Elizabeth “Betsy” Taylor. Yes, her name is Elizabeth Taylor. I can only assume the author choose the name for comedic reasons, but to me it was a little over the top.

The story starts with Betsy describing the worst day of her life, the day she died. Spoiler alert – she rises as a vampire.

As she describes her life and we learn more about our heroine, I realize I don’t like her. Betsy comes across as self absorbed, vain, not too bright, and arrogant. Now, I’m sure the author meant to portray her this way because she beats us over the head with Betsy’s materialism and daftness (she refused to fight against the vampires who are trying to kill her until she's bribed with expensive shoes). As the story continues, I grow more and more annoyed with Betsy, almost to the point that I don’t think I’ll even finish reading the book. She annoys me with her need to always “talk back”, her unnecessary use of profanity (I’m not a prude, but don’t cuss just for the sake of cussing) and how she refuses to listen to logic. Seriously, her decision making process is ridiculous.

My favorite vampire is Eric Northman, in the Sookie Stackhouse series, played by Alexander Skarsgard on HBO's True Blood

After Betsy becomes a vampire we realize she isn’t like your typical vamp. The hunger for blood doesn’t consume her (she can go days without drinking), sunlight doesn’t burn her, holy water and religious paraphernalia doesn’t harm her. Her odd vampire status brings her to the attention of other vamps. Similar to the Sookie Stackhouse series, two vampire factions are at “war”.

My mental picture of Betsy, the chick from the movie Confessions of a Shopaholic

This novel didn’t bring any real nuance to the vampire world. The author basically turned Paris Hilton into a vampire. And to be honest, I don’t like the real Paris Hilton and the vampire version, I dislike even more.

The novel continues with Betsy being annoyed with all vampires (even the ones who try to help her), one vampire faction trying to kill her and the other trying to get her to join their side. I won’t give away the ending but I’m sure you can predict what happens.

Now, I can only recommend this novel to someone who:
  1. Doesn’t get annoyed easily
  2. Who really enjoys chick lit
  3. Needs a quick vampire fix
The author MaryJanice Davidson with her shoes (photo from her website)

If you like Dead and Unwed, you might also like the rest of the books in the series:

In conclusion
I will admit, part of me wants to read the rest of the novels since I read the first one (if I start something I like to finish it), but I keep remembering how annoyed I was at the main character. Of course, I was annoyed at times with Sookie Stackhouse, the main character from the Southern Mystery series (she makes stupid decisions at times), but Charlaine Harris’s story is a lot more compelling and her vampire world sucks me in. The Queen Betsy novels aren’t new or that compelling to me. But with that said, I might just download the rest of the books for my new kindle!

Additional Reading

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Getting me a Kindle

The Kindle 2

I purchased the Kindle 2 today. I will admit part of me just brought it because I wanted a shiny new gadget and another part just wanted something to play with on my long flight to Seattle this weekend.

But honestly, I like the idea of having immediate access to numerous books and blogs.

Now, I will say that sucker was expensive, the Kindle 2 (6”) was $359.00 and of course I had to get a cover for it, which was $44.99. So now I’m in the hole for $417.59 (taxes and shipping). So this thing better bring me hours and hours of joy or else I will feel very silly.
The kindle cover I purchased
(green is my favorite color, if you haven't noticed)

After I was sent my shipping confirmation email from Amazon, I received my “Welcome to Amazon Kindle” email. The line that stuck out to me was, “You can start building your library before your Kindle even arrives by shopping for books, newspapers, magazines and more at the Kindle Store on”

After reading that I thought, “Ah ha! That’s how they get you!”

The kindle hasn’t arrived and they already want me to start spending money, but I guess that goes with the technology.

By the way, I know they are launching the Kindle DX (9.7") June 10th (the newest version), but it's $130 more expensive and it's bigger. I figure I don't need something that big or that expensive ($130 counts).

Those Obamas making me jealous...


This video is only 11 seconds long but hot-damn the Obamas are making me jealous again.

The video is from the campaign trail (I just stumbled across it today). Michelle and Obama are playfully dancing and then he whispers in her ear.

I would give $10 (hey, it's a recession) to know what he whispered in her ear.

Want some more Obama goodness, check out this video from June 2008 of the Obama's "flirting".

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