February 14, 2007

Bonnaroo Lineup!

Posted in Music, News at 1:54 am by Calico Jack

The sixth annual Bonnaroo festival is being held this June in Manchester (Tennessee, not England), and yesterday Live Music Blog leaked the list of bands scheduled to perform (artists that I would kill to see are highlighted in bold):

The Police
Tool
Widespread Panic
The White Stripes
Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
Flaming Lips
Wilco
Manu Chao
The String Cheese Incident
Franz Ferdinand
Bob Weir & Ratdog
Damien Rice
Ween
The Roots
Gov’t Mule
Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers
The Decemberists
Kings of Leon
Spearhead
Wolfmother
Regina Spektor
The Black Keys
DJ Shadow
Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
Spoon
Keller Williams
Sasha & Digweed
STS9
Old Crow Medicine Show
The Hold Steady
Galactic
Lily Allen
North Mississippi Allstars
Fountains Of Wayne
Hot Tuna
Feist
Hot Chip
John Butler Trio
Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys
Aesop Rock
The Richard Thompson Band
Xavier Rudd
Tortoise
T-Bone Burnett
Mavis Staples
Clutch
Cold War Kids
Paolo Nutini
Brazilian Girls
RX Bandits
The Slip
Girl Talk
Railroad Earth
Martha Wainright
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Annuals
Tea Leaf Green
Sam Roberts Band
Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Charlie Louven
Sonya Kitchell
Apollo Sunshine
Ryan Shaw
Uncle Earl
The National
The Little Ones

Wow…if I can swing it, I’ll be there. This almost makes up for the bitter taste in my mouth at being unable to go to Coachella this year, due to the small obstacle of living on the other side of the country. (Any festival that has the Arctic Monkeys; Interpol; Amy Winehouse; Rufus Wainright; Silversun Pickups; Placebo; Kaiser Chiefs; the Fratellis; Jack’s Mannequin; The Good, the Bad, and the Queen; Benny Benassi; José González; Fair to Midland…okay, you get the idea).

Still, Bonnaroo’s lineup isn’t bad at all — and even more importantly, it’s within a long day’s driving distance. I’m going to clear my calendar and see if I can get a group together; this would be so much fun to attend.

February 1, 2007

Attack of the Terrorist Lights

Posted in News, Politics, Random Oddments at 9:00 pm by Calico Jack

Last night, the entire country was abuzz with the revelation that foot-tall signs covered in blinking LEDs and batteries were hanging from overpasses and bridges in Boston — never mind that they had been up for weeks in cities all across the United States, and no one had cared until yesterday. Wil Wheaton has a pretty good summary of what happened:

1. [adult swim] has a clever viral marketing program.
2. People begin to notice the clever viral marketing program.
3. Someone wets their pants, because LEDs in an odd shape clearly mean we’re all about to die.
4. Police City Officials overreact. (Corrected. Bostonians say police acted appropriately.)
5. Media overreacts.
6. Entire city of Boston is f***** for an entire day.
7. Entire city of Boston is (understandably) pissed.
8. Media, which overreacted and labeled the viral marketing campaign a terrorist hoax, decides that [adult swim] and Turner somehow owe people of Boston an apology, and also owe city all the costs the city incurred as a result of Media-induced hysteria.

The two men responsible for placing the signs were arrested and charged with placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct. During the arraignment, Assistant Attorney General John Grossman revealed his keen intellect to those in the courtroom:

“It’s clear the intent was to get attention by causing fear and unrest that there was a bomb in that location…The appearance of this device and its location are crucial,” Grossman said. “This device looks like a bomb.”

Ahem.

Yep, that really looks like a bomb to me.

Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens pleaded not guilty this morning and were released from jail…after which they held a press conference. It must be seen to be believed:

Those guys certainly are fearless, aren’t they?

I agree with Wil: most of the blame here should be placed on city officials and the media for overreacting. You can’t really fault the police for doing their job, but it shouldn’t have taken long to realize that this supposed bomb threat was nothing more than a bunch of lights hooked up to batteries. By labeling this incident a “terrorist hoax,” the media is only encouraging weak-minded people to become paralyzed, recoiling in fear at anything that could possibly harm them. Caution is wise, but a colossal overreaction such as the one in Boston yesterday is inexcusable. The greatest danger to society is crying “Wolf!” too many times. Eventually, just like car alarms, people will grow tired of acknowledging warnings and we will be too slow to react to a true crisis.

January 1, 2007

Rose Bowl Champions

Posted in News, Sports at 10:29 pm by Calico Jack

©LAT

32-18.

That is all.

December 24, 2006

Dinosaurs!

Posted in News, Random Oddments at 9:15 pm by Calico Jack

This gets my inner dino-geek going:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Scientists in Spain have found the fossilized remains of one of the largest animals ever to walk the Earth, a gargantuan plant-eating dinosaur up to 125 feet long and weighing as much as seven elephants.

Turiasaurus riodevensis, named for the region and village in Spain where it was found, lived about 145 million years ago and was a sauropod, that familiar kind of dinosaur with a long neck, long tail and massive body that walked on four stout legs…

Alcala said Turiasaurus weighed between 40 and 48 metric tonnes and was between 118 and 125 feet long — longer than an NBA basketball court. By comparison, Tyrannosaurus rex was about 45 feet long and six tonnes.

The humerus, the bone in the front leg that extends from shoulder to elbow, was as big as a full-grown man.

Turiasaurus rivals the size of the largest known dinosaurs, all sauropods, and its remains were more complete than those of many of them. These include the African giant Paralititan, Seismosaurus in North America and Argentinosaurus and Puertasaurus in South America.

Is it embarrassing to admit that I’m familiar with each and every one of the dinosaurs mentioned?

September 9, 2006

New Casino Royale Trailer

Posted in Movies, News at 6:56 pm by Calico Jack

I wrote about the upcoming James Bond movie Casino Royale earlier, but now the new full-length trailer has finally hit the internet — and it looks pretty cool. Check it out:

August 15, 2006

Whom do you call?

Posted in News, Personal, Relationships, Technology at 1:03 am by Calico Jack

A new Swiss study reveals some interesting facts about the way we communicate in the 21st century. According to Stefana Broadbent of Swisscom, 80% of our cell phone conversations are only with four people. On first glance, such a claim seems rather unlikely. But then I thought a little bit more about the people I actually spend the most time talking to, and I think Broadbent’s right. Many of us don’t necessarily use our cell phones to get in touch with casual acquaintances. We have a myriad of options when it comes to communication, from cell phones to instant messaging to email to social networking sites such as Facebook and the cesspool of the internet, MySpace. With so many choices available, I often IM or email someone if I want to drop them a note or ask a question. It’s my close friends and family with whom I take the time to communicate personally.

This doesn’t mean that I only have a select few with whom I only talk to my cell; a quick glance at my recent calls displays quite a few names. But the ones who show up most frequently, and for the longest duration, are only a couple of people. If I’m planning a party, I’ll call a bunch of people to see if they’re able to come. But I doubt I’ll spend much time talking to them on the cell, especially if I spent an hour instant messaging them the previous night.

I’m not sure that this study actually means much. What it does point out is that we have many diverse ways of communicating, and we use each medium for different purposes. One hundred years ago, people didn’t profess their love for each other through telegrams — they wrote letters instead. But for business, telegrams were much more practical and efficient than waiting a week or more to receive a letter in the mail. Our ways of connecting are different than our forefathers’, but we are alike in one respect: we seek closeness with other people. However, I wonder if we aren’t less connected with each other than we used to be.

Nothing compares to actually talking to someone face-to-face. It is nearly impossible to read emotions through text, and a phone call removes our most important way of expressing ourselves to each other — through facial expressions. Communication has largely become something that is stripped down to its bare essentials; many people can’t even be bothered to write out full sentences when they write each other. The richness of sincere, leisurely conversation is absent, and I suspect few mourn its passing.

So check your cell phone records, and see how many people you actually call on a regular basis. And think about how many names are on your buddy list who you never IM. Instead of trying to have superficial relationships with as many people as possible, make an effort to develop true friendships with a few people. I suspect we’ll all be better off if we do that.

July 26, 2006

Nothing says “Monopoly” like a debit card

Posted in Games, News at 2:32 pm by Calico Jack

In their latest edition of Monopoly, Parker Brothers has decided to drastically change the way their classic game is played. Instead of using the traditional brightly-colored bills, players will now be given a mock Visa debit card to keep track of their bank balances. No longer will the banker be required to count out everyone’s savings before the game starts; now he can simply swipe everyone’s card through the plastic reader to adjust their earnings and payments. According to spokesman Chris Weatherhead, “The new electronic Monopoly reflects the changing nature of society and the advancement of technology.”

I’ll be the first to say that Monopoly isn’t my favorite board game to play. It’s a decent party game when you have eight people at your house and no one is up for strip poker, but the game takes forever and you can usually tell who’s going to win after five or six turns. Having said that, however, I think this new cashless version is going to strip (no pun intended) whatever fun can be had playing this game. For example:

  • How are you supposed to be able to put all of the players’ taxes in the middle for Free Parking? That’s definitely the most common house rule, but without any cash Free Parking becomes a dead space.
  • You can no longer team up with another player to take over the board by combining properties and assets. The whole point of teamwork (apart from being really fun) is to make it harder to go bankrupt. But if you can’t combine the balances on your debit card, it sort of defeats the purpose of being a team. I suppose you could just use the second card once the first one expires, but you’ll have a much harder time convincing the rest of the players that you are teammates. With cash, you can’t separate your incomes once you make a big pile of money on the table.
  • Speaking of these debit cards, how will players be able to keep track of their balances unless they use sheets of paper? With cash, it was always very easy to quickly glance at your pile and estimate your assets. But won’t it be an annoyance to make the banker swipe the card every time you want a balance?
  • And finally, how are you supposed to be able to cheat? Everyone knows that if you can grab a few extra $500s before the game starts, it’s much harder to go bankrupt. I’m joking…but this will also eliminate under-the-table deals that are so much a part of the spirit of Monopoly.

Using cash also teaches kids how to count and make change. And Monopoly is such a classic game that it doesn’t need to be modernized or updated. Stick with our Monopoly money (even the annoying $5 and $1). Thankfully, this new electronic version won’t replace the original; you’ll always be able to find the regular one. But I have a feeling that we won’t be seeing the Visa edition for long.

July 15, 2006

Jessica Simpson’s artistic side- no, really!

Posted in Celebrities, Music, News at 7:13 pm by Calico Jack

I never thought I would be writing about Jessica Simpson on here. But alas, she is a major part of pop culture; and her latest publicity stunt demands that I devote a paragraph or two to her–or, more accurately, to her “music.”

I’m sure I’ll be getting hate mail from Jessica fans after this, but I honestly think Jessica is one of the most processed pop singers today. Everything she does is carefully designed to promote an image. Yes, Britney Spears competes with her for the media’s attention, but Jessica does it better. Now her latest single “A Public Affair” has hit the airwaves, and unfortunately (haha) it isn’t being well-received by the public. So what must a pop singer seeking to reconnect with her multitudes of adoring fans do?

She personalizes her single, of course! Starting on Tuesday, gullible fans will be able to purchase and download a customized version of “A Public Affair.” Simply choose from a list of over 500 common first names, and Jessica (well, someone who sounds like her) will sing, speak, warble, or screech your name three different times in the song, making it truly soulless. Don’t have a common first name? Just wait a few weeks for the Powers that Be to approve your request, and you’ll have your very own custom single…from Jessica!

Personally speaking, I can’t tell you how happy I am that a major pop singer has finally decided to become so individual with her audience. I’ve always wanted to feel close to a singer, and here’s my opportunity! Every time I listen to her say my name on the single, I’ll think about the connection that she and I share. This is the best idea ever!

July 11, 2006

Tobacco: the new pandemic?

Posted in Celebrities, Health and Fitness, News at 11:04 pm by Calico Jack

A new reference guide, published by the American Cancer Society in conjunction with the WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggests that as many as a billion people could die as a direct result of tobacco use over the next hundred years. Currently, 1 in 5 deaths from cancer are linked to tobacco use, and lung cancer is the most diagnosed among the 10.9 million new cases every year.

With thousands of studies and decades of statistical evidence showing the harmful effects that tobacco has on the human body, why do so many people continue to ignore what is right in front of their eyes? Over 1.25 billion people currently use tobacco, and it is expected that the numbers will continue to gradually grow over the coming decades. If the WHO is correct in its estimates, tobacco use will kill ten times the number of people in the 21st century as it did in the 20th century. Unlike fifty years ago, however, the claims are now irrefutable: Tobacco is directly responsible for not only all kinds of cancers, but also severe cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Cigarettes are full of carcinogens and nitrosamines, and even non-smoking tobacco can cause cancer of the mouth and throat.

Again, I ask: Why? Why would anyone voluntarily choose to pump his body full of chemicals? It can no longer be that smoking is perceived as the cool thing to do. Years of public health warnings have given everyone all of the facts they need to make an informed decision. Even Hollywood, for the most part, doesn’t glamorize tobacco use like they did in the ’40s and ’50s. Yes, people still smoke in movies; but does anyone actually think “Wow, that’s so cool!” when they see Jude Law lighting up in Alfie? Throughout their lives, children are warned about the dangers of smoking. Yet somehow, every generation raises up a new wave of smokers to ruin their lungs and stain their teeth. When will it end? When will people finally wake up and say “No more!” to tobacco use? What will it take to break the mindset that one can be a smoker and stay healthy? Tobacco kills; it’s been proven time after time. And there are potentially a billion future deaths that could easily be avoided, but only if people choose to say no.

July 10, 2006

Dead Man’s Chest smashes box-office records

Posted in Movies, News at 11:15 pm by Calico Jack

©Disney

All of us thought that Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest would have a big showing at the box office, but almost no one suspected that it would be this big. Most analysts, in the weeks leading up to the film’s release, were predicting a $70-$80 million opening weekend–that is, until websites like Fandango reported that they were selling tickets for the movie at a faster rate than ever seen before. All of a sudden, Dead Man’s Chest looked to hit the $100 million mark for the weekend, but everyone was cautious as to whether or not it could stand up to Spider-Man‘s record $114.8 million opening weekend. On Friday, Fandango was selling Dead Man’s Chest tickets at an average rate of ten per second, and it finally hit people that this was going to be a huge opening.

Well, the final numbers are in: Dead Man’s Chest has officially destroyed every record it could. With a $135.6 million opening weekend, it is the largest opener in history. Dead Man’s Chest also holds the records for biggest opening day ($55.5 million), the fastest movie to $100 million (two days), and the most money per theater for a wide release ($32,817 per site). In three days, it has made 46% of the entire box office run of Curse of the Black Pearl. 

However impressive this opening weekend is, the real test for Dead Man’s Chest will happen next weekend. With no major releases in the forseeable future, Dead Man’s Chest has the box office all to itself; but the second-week grosses will give an indication as to the film’s stamina. Many movies open well, but sharply drop their second weekend–as Superman Returns did by free-falling 58 percent when going up against Pirates. In contrast, however, Cars was not expected to make it past $200 million; but it has only been dropping 30 percent or so each consecutive weekend. Now it stands at over $205 million, and it will likely go noticeably higher.

However you want to look at it, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is the biggest film of the year. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re missing out on the most fun you’ll have at the movies all summer.

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