Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Not So Super: Since I bored you to tears with my football predictions back in Nov/Dec, I was a good boy and stopped. But I think the Super Bowl is worth an exception.

I was rooting for the Raiders. The question of whom to root for in a game wherein one feels no particular loyalty to one team or another is a complex one. Some people go through superstitious contortions to come up with a reason: "Tampa Bay is in the same division as my team and no Super Bowl winner in a year with a zero in it that was held west of the Mississippi has ever won their division the following season so I'm rooting for Tampa Bay cause I want them to be hosed next season." Some people go on the basis of who has the cooler uniforms, "That orange color of Tampa Bay is sooo 2001." The most valid reason is, of course, that you've placed a bet (I didn't).

I always like to root for the good guys, so that means I have to rationalize who the good guys are.

In Tampa Bay's favor:
  • I like Chucky. I bet he's a lot of fun in the clubhouse. He also gave the least charismatic QB in the league, Brad Johnson, a chance at success after Dan Snyder sacked him in DC because he's "got no arm". He became an MVP candidate and the top passer in the post-season.
  • I like the Florida Gulf coast. Not that it has anything to do with football, but still.

Against Tampa Bay:
  • Warren Sapp is loud and obnoxious.
  • Keyshawn Johnson is more loud and obnoxious than Warren Sapp.

In Oakland's favor:
  • Some players with a whole lot of class: Gannon, Rice, Rod Woodson.
  • Lots of old guys - not much younger than me in some cases. This counts double, in my book.

Against Oakland:
  • Al Davis - A freak in a sweatsuit.
  • Bill Romanowski - A pharmacologically maintained Neanderthal.

In the end I got behind Oakland because of the classy old guys. That worked out well.

You may have been following the story of the Raiders Pro Bowl center, Barret Robbins, who showed up drunk as a skunk for a team meeting and was subsequently told he was out of the lineup. In a plot twist worthy of Six Feet Under, it turns out that the guy is bipolar (I know I sleep well at night knowing there are 325 pound bipolar individuals roaming freely in society, how 'bout you?) and had gone off his meds. Under the pressure of the upcoming Super Bowl, he cracked and found himself going mental in a bar in Tijuana. Picture this: A 325-pound no-neck in a south-of-the-border dive, alternately buying rounds of Tequila for the house and crying in suicidal despair at the possibility of letting his teammates and family down.

The Raiders team, along with virtually all sports talking heads around the country, have been declaring that, while it was an unfortunate incident, it was not the reason the Raiders lost. Sorry, but it very much was.

If there is any consistent theme in football, it is that the play of the offensive line is ALWAYS underappreciated. This is done even by folks who make a career in football. In the first two seconds of a play, if the offensive line doesn't achieve it's goals - open the right lanes, form a good pocket, pick up a blitz - I'd be willing to be that the odds of a play succeeding drop by about two-thirds. And it is not just a matter of stopping a defender in a strength on strength battle. Defenses have all sort of tricks and shifts and strategies to confuse the o-linemen into missing their blocking assignments. The o-linemen have to work as a unit to adapt to these and pick up the right defenders. (Interestingly, the NFL regularly does some sort of IQ test for all players and it turns out offensive tackles come out on top position-wise.)

After losing four in a row early in the season, the Oakland o-line had been phenomenal. At least as good as the Tampa Bay defense, which has been heralded as one of the best in history. They were responsible for consistently giving Gannon enough time be one of the most accurate passers ever, and, in the few situations where a ground game was called for, the RBs had openings just as if they were the first options.

Generally quarterbacks and running backs understand this. That's why, since offensive linemen don't make the big bucks QBs and RBs do, the QBs and RBs buy extravagant gifts for their linemen. I read this year it was common to buy a $10,000 plasma TV for each of your linemen. Think about that. Linemen are so important to those who play the glory positions that they don't mind dropping round about a hundred grand to keep them happy.

All this was blatantly on display in the Super Bowl. There were instances where the Oakland o-line was out-of-sync or even confused. More than once Tampa Bay rushers went by virtually unimpeded. The result: Gannon sacked 5 times, and when not flat on his back, he was so thoroughly pressured that he coughed up 5 interceptions - so much for Mr. Accurate. If you think the o-line just happened to have a bad day and Barret Robbins had nothing to do with it, it's time to check in for a news update from Reality. Never underestimate the importance of the offensive line.

So, yes, it was Barret Robbins fault. Or it was the fault of his DNA sequence that made him bipolar. Or it was his bad judgment in going off his meds. But, as harsh as it sounds, there is one person to look at when assigning responsibility.

What a story, eh? A man's fatal flaw (bipolar disorder) combines with his fear of failure to bring about the failure he feared. A Greek tragedy in real life.

Poorer quality drama came after the game. Raiders fans, disappointed at their teams defeat, decided the stores and buildings and cars of Oakland were at fault. The intellectual rigor behind this strategy was exemplified by a two-bit rapper, improbably named Hannibal Willis.
"We lost, and that bothers a lot of the young people out here," said Hannibal Willis, a member of the rap group Hazardous Materials. "A lot of them are real Raider friends. I ain't gonna lie -- if we had won, we would have done the same thing, but milder."
But then, why give out your name when you can provide more solid evidence of your own criminality.
About 10 vehicles were set on fire and crowds broke the windows of at least one television news van, police and witnesses said. One group of young men set debris on fire in the middle of a street and then posed for news photographers.
Yes, in future neutral match-ups, this will count heavily against the Raiders, despite all their classy old guys. Time for Weird Al Davis to move the team again.

As a final close to football season, it's appropriate to review predictions by the football intelligentsia over the past few months. No one does that better that Gregg Easterbrook, Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Check out his final column of the season for a review of the prediction carnage.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Toolin' Around at a Dead Stop: You may now read the details of my arduous journey 50 miles east to the North American Auto Show in Dee-troit. Sadly, it didn't turn out to be so much about cars.
Industrial Suicide Watch: The radio industry continues its self-immolation, as thoughtfully documented in this longish feature (5 pages) in the Washington Post. Start with this apt description of the current state of affairs.
Owing to a growing sophistication in audience research, light-speed consolidation of radio ownership and the attendant rise in value of FM stations, the commercial FM dial has been essentially reduced to six musical formats: Pop/rock, hip-hop, country, classical, Spanish-language and variations on the theme of "adult contemporary," a sort of light pop or R&B. Research has shown radio owners that these are the moneymaking formats, and this is where they've flocked. Swept off the dial are niche formats, such as blues, bluegrass, easy listening and jazz, except for Kenny G-style "lite jazz," which falls neatly in the adult contemporary category.
One good point is the answer to the question of why we even care if radio exists.
Sure, you can download your entire CD collection onto your iPod and walk around with it. But those are the songs in your library, and even in random play there is a certain joyless satiety to that. The magic of radio long has been and will continue to be: You're alone in your car, flipping the dial, and, every so often, at exactly the right moment, exactly the right song comes on the radio. It makes you slap the steering wheel with happiness. The serendipity is spellbinding.
We are treated to a brief history of FM radio and Lee Abrams, who, in the early 70s, took FM from the free form, DJ programmed broadcasts to scientifically programmed playlist. As described by Ben Fong-Torres, nostalgic hippie magazine editor, immortalized in the movie Almost Famous.
"At its height in FM, you could look to the announcer as a person to inform you about not only the music and artists, but about the community at large," says Fong-Torres, 57, who lives in San Francisco and is a writer and lecturer. "They could bring in personal sensibilities to his or her broadcast day and, by their mood, tell you what is going on in the world around them. Then, if you happened to fall in and match their mood, they could play music that would be an underscore, an underpinning to what you have in common. Whatever you're thinking politically or socially; if you're coming down from a high or getting high, whatever. At the right moment with the right person on the radio, you could go on a little journey together."
Yet despite this, it turns out corporate programmer Lee Abrams may actually be the one to bring radio back as a big wig at XM radio, the 100 channel satellite network. Abrams, and anyone else who's at least partially sentient, seems to believe that Clear Channel (eew! ick!) took his system to an insane extreme.
Ten years ago, the nation's more than 12,000 radio stations were owned by 5,100 companies and individuals. Now, that number stands at about 3,800 owners. San Antonio-based Clear Channel Communications may own more than 1,200 stations, but the issue is larger than sheer numbers. Because many of those Clear Channel stations are in the nation's largest cities, fully half of the U.S. population hears the company's stations every day. (The eight stations Clear Channel owns in Washington are the maximum allowed in one city.)

On the upside, a lot of mom-and-pop station owners became instant millionaires and retired happy. On the downside, these new, huge radio chains were saddled with debt. Tiny, privately owned companies became big, publicly traded companies now subject to the demands of Wall Street, which expected continued growth and escalating earnings.

To meet the Street's demands, stations had to increase revenue and cut costs. Cutting costs meant consolidating jobs. If a company owned five stations in one city, it might fire three program directors and put all five stations under the charge of two PDs, who could hardly devote their full attention to the sound and music selection of all five stations. The big chains fired local on-air hosts and replaced them with syndicated shows.

To raise revenue, stations increased the number of commercials they played. Once in the 10-minutes-per-hour range, most stations now more than double that, often playing the ads in uninterrupted blocks.

Individual radio stations -- some of which big chains paid more than $100 million to acquire -- simply became too valuable to become laboratories for anything chancy, such as trying an unproven music format, tolerating extended deejay disquisitions or spinning a song that wasn't a guaranteed hit.

Stations became slaves to the kind of research Abrams pioneered.
Amen. This has gotten me excited about XM radio and it's competitor Sirius. I'm gonna shop around.

For added spice, Wired is running a couple of related articles. This one speculates what would happen if the music mega-firms actually disappeared, and this one highlights one way the music industry is, not surprisingly, misguidedly trying to fight the inevitable. Embrace or die, dudes.

Monday, January 20, 2003

It's Not TV: The hotly anticipated (at least by me) follow-up to my critical appraisal of HBO Original Programming is submitted for your approval. WARNING! I discuss the action in detail. If you haven't seen the latest seasons of The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, or Sex and the City and want to be surprised, DO NOT read the review. You have been warned.

In case you decide not to read it, you should know I have created a new word - Ozworthy - defined as: a plotline or event in a dramatic presentation that exists solely to for the sake of voyeuristic shock. I will use this word in the future without explanation.
Say What?: A couple of pages I found courtesy of Bill Simmons, the ESPN Page 2 Sports Guy, inventor of the Unintentional Comedy Scale, and writer for Jimmy Kimmel's new talk show.

First, a home page for Drobnjak Manjaks, center for the Seattle Supersonics. Words simply cannot do this page justice. It's mostly made of Flash animations, but they are small and quick to download. And be sure you are somewhere where you can listen to the narration. Your reward for doing so will be absolutely gut-busting unintentional comedy. Don't miss Advice for Children, and be sure to click on "This blob shape is my country. Now you know."

Second, Greg Hall, sports columnist for the Platte County Landmark (Missouri) has developed an intriguing method for covering sports. He just reproduces quotes and comments on them. Simple, original, and very effective, it seems to me. Anyway, he collected some quotes from a former Chiefs defenseman turned annoucer. It is a cruel irony to say they speak for themselves.
Neil Smith’s comments made during his appearances on Channel 5 for their pre- and postgame shows this past season resulted in a new phenomenon here in the land of OTC that I dubbed "Neilbonics." If Neilbonics were a Broadway show, it would be sold out for the next year. That is how popular the former Chiefs’ defensive end’s verbiage was to those who frequently read this column. Here is a heaping helping of some of Neil’s more "perceptional" quotes and my comments as they originally appeared.
  • Actually this guy (Troy Brown) had a perceptional year today. ... I think he went 10-for-10 or 12-for12. ... His completion percentage was great. I love the way he was catching the ball.

  • You know why? I think why. This is the reason why. Because I think what New England did today, they axe-ually they just everything you could probably the reverse they tried to do all kind of trick plays.

  • Here’s what I think is going to happen. The coach, Dick Vermeil, is going to overlook everything and there will be some changes here (on the defense). I think what’s going to happen is that they are going to have to putting some players and benching them.

  • They always come through because they always says what they have to mean.

  • Rod Smith actually did have a great game but what when he did come back and redeemed himself early he dropped the football.

  • Only thing he do is he go along the line of scrimmage and no one untouched him.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Go here, and check out the entries for 1/6/03.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Life Imitates Dilbert: Hot air in the summer, A/C in the winter; an article in the 1/15 WSJ explains why you can't do anything about it (it's subscriber only, but I will quote liberally).
Looking for an office thermostat that actually works? Good luck and Godspeed.

You may never find it. The controls for your company's heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) are likely hidden in the office ducts. If you do spy a thermostat, it's probably locked, or encased behind shatterproof glass.

Even worse, HVAC experts acknowledge what millions of office workers have suspected all along: A lot of office thermostats are completely fake -- meant to dupe you into thinking you've altered the office weather conditions.

The specialists are unrepentant. Fed up with of complaints from sweaty men and shivering women, HVAC technicians install dummy thermostats to give workers the illusion of control. In some leased buildings, even the corporate tenants don't know the thermostats are useless. Other times, it's the companies themselves, barraged with calls from workers, who ask the landlord's HVAC technicians to "fix" things.
And there's more.
Richard Dawson, an HVAC specialist from Homer, Ill., who has several landlord clients, says too many office workers feel their environment is "anything but what they want it to be." Better to install a dummy when they're out to lunch, he figures. He estimates that 90% of office thermostats are dummies (others say it's below 2%).

Does he feel bad? "I did what my employer told me to do," Mr. Dawson says. The complainers in the cubicles wore him out. "You just get tired of dealing with them and you screw in a cheap thermostat. Guess what? They quit calling you."
I guess we know what becomes of over-the-hill game show hosts now. But wait there's more.
That's just one of several examples where the mere illusion of control seems to satisfy us. Plenty of placebo buttons give the same false impression. That "close door" button on elevators? It won't work unless you're a fireman or an elevator operator with special access to the system. The rest of the time, in deference to various building codes, it's deactivated, according to engineers at Otis Elevator.
I don't know if I buy that. I swear those buttons work; maybe only 10 percent of the time, but still.
The average office worker almost has to be a NASA engineer to get these thermostats working. That's exactly what Scott Packard is. The 39-year-old staff engineer, who works for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., has used various illicit techniques to control climate at the different offices he has worked in, including obtaining a rare wrench to remove a thermostat cover.

He and other suffering employees have been known to hold a desk lamps or computer monitor up to the sensor to fool thermostats into turning on the AC. For heat, they strap a baggie full of ice water to it.
Non-working thermostats would be a luxury for me. The thermostats where I work are designed to react randomly to any adjustment. To address the problem the HVAC folks posted a sign over the thermostat that says, "Watch the swearing, please."
Life Imitates Dilbert 2: Or perhaps, life imitates a scene from Office Space.
A 32-year-old Boulder man who had opened his apartment's patio door to enjoy Wednesday's unusually warm weather was later overheard screaming threats and seen waving what appeared to be a handgun, prompting a maintenance worker to call police.

Officers, as a precaution, evacuated the man's apartment building and called SWAT officers to assist in defusing the situation.

It turned out that the man was simply upset at his computer - which he had called a "bitch" he "wanted to kill," police said - and the gun was a plastic pellet gun, not the .45-caliber automatic handgun it was made to resemble.
Maybe he thought this (415k) was an instructional video.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Don't Mind Me: Still being a posting slug. Actual content coming Real Soon Now, but I simply must finish this this wicked cool jigsaw puzzle. A one and a two and... Found on Who would buy that?, a blog of weird ebay auctions - check it out.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

The State of Me: I have been a slug about posting new material, as Miss Kate pointed out recently. Sorry, I've had a good bit to do in other areas of my life, including work which has suddenly gotten a rather busy and is eating up my weekends, as it always does at this time of year.

Fictionwise, I have completed what I hope to be the final revision of A Pleasure Doing Business With You and it being evaluated by a literary agency on an exclusive basis. Not as exciting as it sounds, more often than not, these things don't work out. But I am confident that it will be published this year, one way or another. I have about a third of the first draft of my third novel Misspent Youth completed, which means that completion is a long ways off. It will go faster once APDBY is out and off my plate.

The other thing I really need to get going is a follow-up essay to my previous HBO essay, now that all the shows have been through new seasons and next seasons of both Sex and the City and The Sopranos are likely to be the last. Also, it looks like I will be attending the North American Auto Show at some point in the next couple of weeks. You can expect to hear about that experience too.

Then, of course, there is the site re-design that I obsess over yet never complete. I recently bought a copy of Eric Meyer on CSS which has given me all sorts of new and dangerous ideas - a great book if you have a smattering of CSS knowledge and need some examples of how to apply it. Naturally in my case, this makes me want to just go back to the drawing board entirely and throw away. It is a character flaw. Also, I've become envious of Sheri, the her new blog, Life is Suck...(except when it doesn't), is really cool. She has all sort of nifty little things going on, including allowing her readers to post comments. It uses a posting engine called Moveable Type, as opposed to Blogger which is what I use. Moveable Type is a lot more flexible, but to use it I'd have to change my URL from which would be a bit of an upheaval and would, of course, take time. I suppose I will have to continue to obsess from afar.

Enough blather...
Life Imitates Satire 6: The most widely publicized senselessness of late is the Raelians claim of have produced a cloned human through their research company called Clonaid. (Word is that Willie Nelson showed up one day volunteering to play. Bada-bing! Thanks, I'll be here all week..) That these whacked-out nut cases would pull such a stunt is to be expected; the real stupidity is in the press, who reacted with breathless journalistic pseudo-prose to this Watershed Event That Would Challenge All Our Cherished Beliefs To The Very Core. Funny isn’t it, that the finest scientific minds have been struggling with cloning for a long time - they've done mice; they managed to get a sheep done, but it didn’t work out all that well. But wait! - they missed something important: cloning humans requires detailed instructions from extraterrestrials on the planet Moron. Reporters fell for it, including one malletthead in particular who guaranteed verification. What a story! Front page above the fold! Of course, when it came time to actually verify the claim, the lights were out, the blinds were drawn and nobody answered the door. Lo and behold, it seems, we've heard that song before.
A specialist on the Raelians said she would not be surprised if the entire cloning episode was a stunt designed to attract new members and money.

''The only way they can succeed in that is to court the media,'' said Susan Palmer, religion professor at Dawson College in Montreal.

Palmer, who completed an 80-page report on the Raelians for the Vatican library, said swelling membership rolls is crucial to the sect's success.

The Raelian movement claims 55,000 members, mostly in France and Canada, though Palmer said active members number far less. All members must turn over 3 percent of their income, said Palmer.

Clonaid is no stranger to questionable claims. In 1998, the group made waves by boasting it would create a cloning lab in the Bahamas. It later admitted the entire operation was a publicity ploy never amounting to more than a post office box.

''For a minimal investment, it got us media coverage worth more than $15 million. I am still laughing,'' wrote Rael about the venture in his 2001 cloning manifesto, ''Yes to Human Cloning.''
Did it not occur to anyone the Rael is not quite real?
Life Imitates Satire 7: I'm generally annoyed by protests of any sort but this one looks interesting.
A group of Marin County women plan to march naked through San Francisco on Jan. 18 to protest the possibility of war with Iraq.
It's a shame more women won’t shed their…um…apathy in this manner.
Poison Gas Attack in England: You can always depend on Michael Moore. The walking mound of blubbering waste emitted a truly noxious outburst while in London, suggesting that the reason hijackers succeeded on 9/11 is that the passengers were white.
During one performance, according to the New York Post's Page Six, Moore shocked attendees of his road show by calling the passengers on the hijacked 9/11 planes "scardey-cats because they were mostly white."

His implication was that people of color, had they been a greater percentage of the planes' passengers, would have been able to disarm and disable the hijackers.
One regrets Moore was not on one of those planes. The hijackers would have been rendered helpless by his bovine odor, that is if the plane could have actually taken off with all that weight. Moore subsequently went on to piss off just about everyone else.
...But Moore didn't stop with the one outburst. On one of the last nights he was scheduled [to perform], the massive moviemaker turned bellicose blusterer, fuming at his "measly $750 a night" compensation and, according to the Roundhouse manager, criticizing security, even though Moore himself was responsible for it.

"He completely lost the plot," a member of the stage crew told another London paper. "He stormed around all day screaming at everyone, even the 5-pound-an-hour bar staff, telling them how we were all con men and useless. Then he went on stage and did it in public."
These are the sorts of things that should be videotaped. Is that asking too much?
Stick it to the Man: In the realm of useful information, many states are generating Do Not Call lists in an effort to fight telemarketers. Sadly Michigan is not one of them, but this page has a list of States that do and links to their lists. Check it out and sign up if you can to stop the irritating pests. The rest of us may have to wait for the proposed federal list. Now if they would only come up with a do not spam list.

I'm not sure if how is going to work out, but as a result of the recent price collusion suit lost by CD distributors, you may be owed a share of the settlement. If you bought a CD retail from between 1/1/95 to 12/22/00 you are eligible. Theoretically, you just fill out the claim form on line and you get a check for somewhere between $5 and $20. I have no idea how they decide who gets what (I'm sure if you wanted to wade thought he site you could figure it out) but it took all of 90 seconds to complete the claim form, so I say go for it.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Bits and Pieces: Just in case you haven't used your share of bandwidth for 2003 yet.
  • I think we need mandatory sentences for cookie related crimes. Can you imagine the tune-up the perp would have gotten if this was over a donut?

  • Marx. Harpo Marx. At least you know that if he was caught, he wouldn't talk.

  • Think first. Then speak. Lake Superior State U. gives it's annual list of words and phrases to be banished. Some aren't so bad. Weapons of Mass Destruction is used pretty accurately. I'm glad they brought up using "challenge" instead of "problem". Maybe next year they will include opportunity. Anyone who says there are no problems, only opportunities should be struck with a blunt instrument. Repeatedly.

  • The Diary of Samuel Pepys - a 17th century diarist who, through his ten year long diary, provided the a excellent view of the Restoration in England - is being reproduced as a daily weblog. Neat idea.

  • Speaking of history, the First World War looks to be pretty comprehensively documented at this site.
  • If you live in your Mom's basement and have way too much time on your hands, try Star Wars Origami.

  • Stop in to visit Ginger Girl, a blogmistress who reads a lot, is crafty, and links to me.
  • A strange attempt to meld words, music and the web, I'm not sure what to make of Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Curious. Very curious. (Watch the language in some of the presentations.)

  • Stupid Drunk Tricks.

  • It seems that even casual web surfers are pimp-slapped with pop-up ads everywhere. Some browsers, such as Mozilla based browsers, offer a way to turn them off, but Internet Explorer doesn't, since Microsoft doesn't want to risk alienating potential advertisers. To the rescue comes EMS Free Surfer. Load it up and you get no pop-ups, it's that simple. Recommended even if you aren't a web-head like me.

  • Nothing to add to Dave Barry's year in review.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

DAMMYs and SLAMMYs: A DAMMY is the coveted award given by yours truly for outstanding performance, exceptional quality, and general coolness. A SLAMMY is a metaphorical flip-off; a modern equivalent of a scarlet 'A' to identify evil wherever it may thrive. These need not be timely, they just have to have occurred to me in the last year or so. Herewith, the 1st annual DAMMYs and SLAMMYs

Category: Music

DAMMY - Pizzicato Five. This is the now defunct Japanese pop ensemble that I still listen to more than anything else at the moment. I don't understand the lyrics, but the perfectly crafted tunes carry me along. In a lot of ways, it reminds me a combination of '60s bubblegum and '60s pyschedelica and '60s groovy movie soundtracks and contemporary laser sharp production. Anyway, I like it; you probably won't. I have a friend who refers to this as Japanese Squirrel Music because, she claims, it sounds like highly caffeinated chattering squirrels. But then, she likes Creed. Which brings me to...

SLAMMY - Creed, the plodding, mopey, hurl-inducing chart-toppers, formulated in the foul depths of Clear Channel headquarters. I am still looking for ways to erase their very existence. You could add their weak sister Nickelback in there also.

SLAMMY - Divas (your Britneys, your Whitneys, and so forth). They have two volumes: Loud and Ear-splitting. They accurately mimic the sound of a gargantuan duck being given a roman candle enema. Dress like a slut, yowl like a banshee, and Clear Channel will beat a path to your door.

DAMMY - The Anti-Divas: Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Norah Jones. These three jazz influenced singers demonstrate how bad most popular female vocalists are. Complex and subtle phrasing, a full range of emotions. Singing this good becomes and expression of humanity.

DAMMY - and for their song previewing, and whoever makes those listening stations in Border's and Barnes & Noble where you can preview any CD in the store. We are saved from buying CDs only to discover they were nothing like what we wanted.

SLAMMY - Clear Channel (you were expecting otherwise?) for succeeding in reducing popular music to it's worst state since the mid-seventies. As a bonus, they did it all in the name of greater profits and ended up in dire financial straits. Way to be.

Category: Movies

DAMMY - Ocean's Eleven. A truly fun movie. Fun pacing. Fun acting. Dialog destined to be repeated ritualistically for years to come. HRH Miss Anna can already quote some good lines.

DAMMY - The Godfather Saga. Godfather I & II, recut in chronological order and with many missing scenes added. Whereas many think the Godfather movies are the best of all time I never thought them more than just good movies. This version moves it into the great category.

DAMMY - The Graduate. An old classic, still funny, still interesting, still more original than most current movies, probably because it never went through "script development" in front of a focus group.

SLAMMY - All the sci-fi/fantasy blockbusters ranging from the passable (Harry Potter) to the insipid (Star Wars) to the monumentally tedious (Lord of the Rings).

Category: Tube

DAMMY - Nero Wolfe. Tremendously well done dramatizations of the Rex Stout mysteries. Stylish and clever. The best acting on TV. Best show on TV.

SLAMMY - A&E. Cancelled Nero Wolfe.

DAMMY - Larry Sanders. Now rerun twice a night on Bravo and as funny as anything ever produced. Only show equal to Seinfeld at it's best, even edited from it's HBO form.

DAMMY - Blue Planet, for the most amazing nature footage ever shot.

SLAMMY - OZ. Totally depraved. Superficial characters, poorly portrayed. I suffered through a few episodes for the sake of my review of HBO Original programming and I found it to be thoroughly without artistic, intellectual, or social merit.

Category: Personality

SLAMMY - Barbra Streisand, Shakespearean Scholar.

SLAMMY - Mike Tyson. After getting noogied silly by Lennox Lewis, he announced he was going to "fade into bolivian." A few months later he announced his return saying, "I'm tired of being stupid."

SLAMMY - Michael Moore. To paraphrase Dean Wormer: Fat, stupid, ugly, ignorant, smelly, dishonest, greedy and poorly dressed is no way to go through life.