February 28, 2005

Do you know this man? Well, don't take any wooden nickels from him.

Damn, I'd say it's time for something light, fluffy and frothy around here, wouldn't you?

What we have here is the new "head" of the U.S. five-cent coin, beginning with nickels issued into circulation today. The article I initially cribbed the pictures from (I'd link it, but it's AOL so about 95% of you couldn't access it) called it an "Extreme Makeover" for our Mr. Jefferson. How wonderfully au courant of them, no? You might think they could have botoxed the crows feet a little for him if they were going to go that far.

It's nice to know that he did, in fact, have a right side to his face and that, since we can no longer see it, we don't have to wonder what color the ribbon on his little ponytail was. For an article on the changes and such, please go here.

The "tail" of the nickel is also changing, and this is the first new image:

Would someone please tell me whether this is a buffalo or a bison? The article says, "The backs of the coins depict the American bison, familiarly known as the buffalo." However, I was pretty sure that they were actually different animals, and that bison we still have but buffalo we don't because we were stupid way back when and hunted them out of existence right out from under the native Americans. So is it the bison of today or the buffalo of yesterday that is pictured?

Anyone else childishly amused that they didn't emasculate the poor thing and actually have a little doo-dad (don't know what you call them on buffalo/bison) where there's supposed to be a doo-dad? I would think it's the American Way to turn him into Buffalo Ken...accessories sold separately.

Hey, is this discussion making anyone else crave a bucket of Buffalo wings right about now? I'll bring the bleu cheese dressing.

February 25, 2005

Friday Funk

First off, I wanted to say thank you all for your comments over the last couple days. Even the ones on the post with no words, even if I didn't sound all that appreciative yesterday. They were all pretty funny, but I guess I wasn't in the mood to fully appreciate them just yet.

I'm still not feeling terribly perky about things, but the weekend is here and I'll get over it. In the meantime, however, I'll share the funk I was in earlier today. I read this article by one Michael Gorman, whose condescension made me see red for a little while. So, with apologies to Emma Lazarus, but none to Michael Gorman:

With quiet fingers. Give me your weary, your disillusioned,
Your unpublishable masses yearning to write free,
The untrammeled refuse of your ivory tower.
Send these, the "Blog People," media-belittled to me.
I lift my laptop beside the golden browser!

I find this man's posture annoying, though not surprising. And I certainly find the manner in which he characterizes bloggers, lumping us all together in a grammar-less, useless, meaningless, unworthy heap he terms "Blog People" to be lacking in both grace and intelligence.

How many times do you think Mr. Gorman has "Googled" himself to actually see what reaction, if any, the "Blog People" have had to his patronizing missive? High irony, indeed, if he has.

You know what, Mr. Gorman? Not all of us "Blog People" think Googleness is next to godliness. I've written before about how I came late to the Google party, and I certainly do not ascribe to it attributes or benefits it does not have. To many of us, Google is a tool, nothing more. And those of us who know how to use it do not find that the results are "in no very useful order." Perhaps that is whence your problem stems. You may not be a Luddite, but perhaps you are simply not computer-literate enough or, more accurately, Internet-literate enough, to get meaningful results out of what is a valuable tool. To suggest that it is anything else is, as you put it, "absurd."

Your obvious attempt to marginalize us by giving us, as a group, some B-movie moniker does you no credit in your bid to appear scholarly. Some of us "Blog People" are, in fact, "devoted to buying books and providing librarians for the library-starved children of California," although we do not have the wherewithal to affect how Google chooses to spend its R&D dollars. For you to assume otherwise is as mindless as you characterize our combined intellect to be. Your too-low-key-and-mild-to-be-a-rant rant should therefore be directed at Google the entity, not Google the product used by bloggers and millions of others.

As the founders of Google have announced their intention to fund a Google Foundation to do charitable works with an aim toward "ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems," perhaps they will do the very thing you criticize them for not doing, although I wonder if you took the time to find out what kind of donations Google has already made to our local schools, libraries, and other charities, which they doubtless have done as good corporate citizens.

The op-ed piece he mentions in the LA Times, which I'm not about to pay to access, has the subhead "The problem is, information isn't knowledge." I would agree with that. But, without having read the piece (see above about not paying), I can only argue that there is no knowledge without information, either. And Mr. Gorman did not gather enough information about blogs and "Blog People" to form an opinion that deserves much credence.

February 24, 2005

Thoughtful Thursday

How do you keep making yourself go into a building you've come to hate, when you'd rather sit in your car and cry instead?

How do you not feel a little miffed when a post in which you write absolutely nothing gets more comments than those you literally spent hours writing?

How do you adequately apologize to a friend for saying something you didn't realize would be taken as hurtful because it wasn't meant as such, but you don't find out about it until two days later?

How do you not scream when, for the 487th time, someone asks, "Just one?" when you go into a restaurant alone?

How do you "keep looking" with any sense of purpose, even with the encouragement of well-intentioned people, when apparently he doesn't want to be found...at least not by you?

How do you not want to verbally take someone's head off when they know you're an intelligent person yet out of left field they patronize you in an unexpected way?

How do you complain about having a pretty down and crappy day in your head without sounding completely pathetic?

How do you not feel bad for whining about things when your problems are so tiny compared to so many, many other peoples' problems?

February 23, 2005

Wordless Wednesday

February 22, 2005

Trivia Tuesday

Hmm, what to do on a night when there is still a week until Amazing Race 7 starts and there's nothing much on TV? That's right, go play some trivia!

Last week we discovered that there is a trivia contest at my favorite local restaurant each Tuesday, but we weren't able to stay and play at the time. We went back tonight to see how well we could fare at QuizBang, which I saw described as "a tournament of knowledge, music, skill and speed," and I'd say that is fairly accurate. I won't go into the details of how it all works, but there are a bunch of rounds and you play in teams to answer 40 questions.

I love trivia games and I'm generally pretty good at them; I'm the kind of person who really enjoys things like Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy. I didn't earn the moniker "Queen of Random Shit" for nothing, you know.

For something like this, when you play with someone else you usually have the advantage of combined knowledge. Well, I think you need a whole tableful of people to have a chance at covering the breadth of topics the questions touch on. Some of the questions were hard!

For instance, do you know what city the Jetsons live in? Or which terrorist claimed that the U.S. Army had implanted a chip in his butt in order to control his mind? Or who completed the first successful heart transplant? Or what instrument Django Reinhardt is famous for playing? Well, neither did we.

But if you did...what are you doing next Tuesday?

February 21, 2005

Morose Monday

It seemed as though there was nothing but bad news today. Not that I had time to read much of it during the day, but the headlines were pretty sobering whenever I looked.

Honestly, when I first scanned the headlines in the morning, I had to stop and consider whether it was some cruel April Fool's Day or something. (I'm not at my sharpest first thing in the morning, okay?)

Sandra Dee died.
John Raitt died.
Killer mudslides in Southern California.
Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide.
Killer bird flu for humans could be on the way.
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and his wife are separating.
Killer avalanches in India.
Personal data security breach bigger than first thought.
Killer ferry disaster in Bangladesh.
Poor Paris Hilton's address book was hacked and spread around the Web.

And then, just as I'm getting ready to start my post tonight:
Killer earthquake in Iran.

Wow. Welcome to Morose Monday.

The one bright spot in the "news" today? Peri is, in fact, the official Espresso Sarcasm Mascot! If you have a chance, be sure to go over and share your joy at this news with Norman.

I can't speak for him, but I can sincerely say that this is a dream come true for me.

February 18, 2005

Consider Me Gone

So, another week has come and gone, and what have we learned?

Well, I have learned that either:
a) No one enjoys the same music that I do;
b) No one thinks what I've been doing here this week is all that amusing; or
c) No one pays all that much attention when they're here each day.

Another option, I suppose, would be d) All of the above.

It's kind of no fun when you're playing a game and no one else is playing along. But if I told you what the game is, there would be no game. I hope that's cryptic enough to make you take another look and see what you've missed.

But many of you were paying attention yesterday and today and turned out in force over at Norman's for the Cutest Kitten contest. You did a fabulous job and I'm hoping that there will be good news to share tomorrow.

Many thanks to everyone who voted, especially one super-special person whose inimitable style, cleverness, and persistence are greatly appreciated. She knows who she is and she has both my admiration and gratitude. I suppose that wouldn't buy her so much as a cup of coffee most places, but if I ever get the chance, the honor would be mine to buy her a cup...or three.

February 17, 2005

Send Your Love

Those of you who have been coming here for any length of time will no doubt recognize this face:

For any of you who are a bit newer, alllow me to introduce my family's cat, Peri. She doesn't live with me (she lives with my mom), so I don't get to see her every day and, honestly, the sight of that little face makes me melt every time I see this shot.

She is our first cat, and the memories of those early days when every new thing she did was a delight and you had a bunch of adults falling over themselves to please a handful of fur are very happy ones. This picture brings that back for me the best.

So, why am I mentioning all this? Well, the delightful Michele has taken over as guest blogger at Norman's this week and, being a woman after my own heart, she has infused that bastion of anti-cat, anti-cute sentiment with a welcome sunbeam of sweetness.

She has created The Softer Side of Espresso Sarcarsm, where readers have submitted the cutest cat pictures they could find. I have submitted this picture of Peri, as well as one of Squeaky and another cat doing the cute thing. On that site, there's a contest going on, but not just any contest.

Yes, folks, starting now and going until midnight (ET) on Friday, you can help me win a highly coveted Nubbie award; an honor that is a one-of-a-kind, certainly never-to-be-repeated...EVER opportunity. Not only that, but the winning cat will become Norman's Mascot Kitty! I get a little weak just thinking about it...the same way I'm sure Norman does, but for completely different reasons.

So please share a little love for my favorite fuzz-face and go here to leave a comment under the entry with Peri's picture above. I suggest "Peri sent me," but you're free to go your own way. The cat with the most comments by the cutoff time wins. Michele has decreed "Vote early and often... " so get over there as much as you can and make it happen!

February 16, 2005

Be Still My Beating Heart

I'm in love. It happened so suddenly and so unexpectedly that it has left me a little breathless.

I was just going along, doing the things one does with one's evening when one doesn't really have anything one is actually supposed to be doing. Among them was going to the grocery store, pretty much to see what there was to see and to pick up a few things that probably weren't necessary but since I had the time to go I figured I would.

Who knew I'd walk in to my local Safeway with no expectations apart from a few good buys and maybe finding a penny or two on the floor at the cash registers, and walk out with the world at my feet? Certainly not I.

After walking up and down almost every aisle without much to show for my efforts, I went to check on whether my household's favorite ice cream novelty was still on sale, since I intended to eat the last one when I got home. And it's just not nice to do that without at least trying to get more for everyone else, right?

To my consternation, however, they were no longer on sale. I stood there, hand on hip, an ironic yet frustrated smile gracing my face, when a very nice man walked by and chuckled at my expression. He stopped and I learned that he mistook my grin as being overwhelmed by the pretty impressive selection. We chatted and I explained why I was smiling while staring at the spot on the freezer shelf where the sale sign should have been.

And that's when it happened. My heart stopped and the world shrunk down to the wonder I suddenly saw before me...No, no, not him, he had moved on and, nice as he seemed, my attention was elsewhere.

My eye was drawn to a sale tag in the adjacent freezer -- there it was, the one I'd been waiting for all my life. The perfect Ben & Jerry's flavor, Chocolate Therapy, a new limited-edition flavor that I personally believe was conjured right out of my dreams. My hand trembled a bit as I pulled open the door and reached for my piece of personal Nirvana.

Being shameless, we went home together and I dove right in. Who says there's no such thing as heaven on earth?

We expect to be very happy together for as long as it lasts, and we'll be registering soon at a grocery store near you.

February 15, 2005

It's Probably Me

I'm going to guess that you probably did not watch Dr. Phil's "Romance Rescue" tonight. And for that I commend you.

But I decided that I was going to suck up any distaste and watch and report on it since I felt a tad responsible after mentioning it a couple times and having so many people come by here because of it. I don't know how likely it is that very many of those people will be coming back, but once you make a commitment to something as silly as this, you might as well stick with it.

Really, having Jonathan and Victoria take part was like the fluffy, but defensive, cream filling in the Oreo of this show. They were stuck in the middle between two other segments -- though those were broken up to spin out the non-existent suspense --and were more or less the draw to make the cardboard-like parts seem more interesting. (I should note that I'm not a huge Oreo fan, so this analogy makes perfect sense to me.)

The other two segments consisted of a recently engaged couple who is already on the rocks, and a woman who just can't seem to find Mr. Right. I could tell you a lot more, but it broke down to the couple being afraid of each losing something (her: him, him: sex) and needing a second chance to start the engagement over, and Ms. Right was a control freak who froze up on dates. Not surprisingly, Dr. Phil made everything hunky-dory for them in the end.

With Jonathan and Victoria, however, it seemed more like an attempt at damage control for them -- they weren't there to have Dr. Phil "rescue" them. We had the standard Jonathan quotes, "I'm not the person that I've been portrayed[sic]," and the person we saw on the show was a "heightened version" of him, not a reflection of his "true character." Of course, this was all interspersed with clips of them being kissy kissy kissy kissy in order to really show the "softer side of their relationship," as Victoria put it.

The best bit of double-talk from him was when Dr. Phil asked how he could have treated Victoria that way over the infamous backpack shove incident. He said, verbatim: "Victoria has a component to her that allows her to go past a normal sense of reaction." Therefore he doesn't react to her reaction like everybody else (i.e., normal people) would. I heard: I'm so used to her screechy, hysterical way of dealing with stressful situations that I'm able to ignore it and expect her to get the hell with my program.

I got the impression that this was taped in the wake of their appearance on the Early Show following their elimination, and they were still smarting from all the bad clips being shown again and again and again. The upshot? "America doesn't need to be worried about Victoria." She's O.K.

Now that we know that, can we put them back on the margins of our real lives again and just think of them as a footnote in an otherwise great season of Amazing Race? Good. I'm glad we agree.

February 14, 2005

Shape Of My Heart

That seems like a good one to start with. We'll see how long it takes for someone to figure out what I'm talking about.

So, another solo Valentine's Day has been survived by yours truly. If you can't understand why I use the word "survived," I ask you to read this article. If you don't understand after reading it, this may not be the blog for you.

How have we come back around to the point where "A woman on her own...is simply unnerving," can you tell me? Divorce shouldn't be stigmatized, so I'm glad that is changing but, geez, don't cast me in the role of some sort of a new-age spinster and make assumptions about who I am because I don't "conform to the same shape" your life has taken. Please. (After all, I may be "weird" but I am also polite.)

In case you didn't know it, today was also International Quirkyalone Day. Never heard of Quirkyalone? For most of you, I'm not terribly surprised. Why would you? You're probably neither quirky nor alone. But if you are, here is my greeting to you today:

February 10, 2005

18 days and nothing's on

Suddenly, March 1 seems just so far away and I find myself in need of an Amazing Race fix.

1. Freddy and Kendra were on Live with Regis and Kelly today. Thanks to the wonder that is TiVo, I got the thrill of seeing it without even trying. (I couldn't care enough to tape their appearance on the Early Show on Wednesday.) As soon as they got settled atop the stools, Kendra's hand shot out and landed high up on Freddy's thigh. I think he decided that wasn't the place for it to be on national TV, so he grabbed her hand and moved it out of harm's way, and kept it clutched in his the whole rest of the time.

We got the story of how they met, how Freddy decided she was the woman for him, blah blah blah, and got insight into their strategy for the Race. Did you know that their plan was to play low-key, not to be too aggressive and thereby not always try to push their way to the front but just "not be last." So, in other words, they only let the other teams think they were in contention, but really these two masterminded it so that no one saw them as huge threats. Gee, guess if they had a plan that clever, they deserved to win. (Can you tell I'm still just a little bitter over the result of this season?)

And, oh, it had to happen. Just as they were about to wrap it up, Regis jokingly offered Freddy another million dollars to repeat his Hungarian soup adventure. Kendra, true to form, immediately turned and offered him what I think is the only encouragement she knows: Go, baby!

2. Isn't this such a nice picture of three of the final four couples?

There's Kris, with her ever-present perkiness, Jon with his never-fail smile. Aaron doesn't quite look like himself there, but he and Hayden obviously haven't imploded under the weight of her hysteria. He looks highly amused by Adam's glasses. And Rebecca, honey, open-mouthed laughs are fine, but ditch the gum. Cattiness aside, it's a nice shot, and clearly everyone is having just a wonderful time.

But you know what's coming, don't you?

Mmm-hmm, you see that bit of camel coat and you can just sense it, can't you?

Mmm-hmmmmm, that's right.

Unfortunately, this is what the uncropped photo looks like:

While looking, out of curiosity, to see how many people were still coming here in search of Team Spousal Abuse on that special next week (Answer: Lots), I ended up clicking on That Couple's Web site. Yes, it was "oh, look, a car wreck, is there any blood?" curiosity, but I couldn't help myself.

Their main page has a pretty thin blog and featured this picture from the night of the finale. Does anyone else wonder why Victoria is the only one who looks miserable? And this is the photo you choose to put up for the world to see how normal and happy you actually are. Right.

3. The difficulty encountered by two teams in trying to get on earlier flights in Japan during the AR6 finale sparked an interesting conversation with a friend of mine. He commented on how implacable the JAL employees were in enforcing the strict "company policy" about not letting them onto the flight even though there were open seats and in the face of a supposed crying, distraught mother. It was clear that there would be no bending of the rules, for any reason.

He said that was a good "example of how we Americans are more flexible when it comes to rules." I think the teams truly expected to be able to cajole them into letting them on, and I imagine most of us thought at first that they would, too. This difference in attitude toward rules reminded him of something a close German friend of his said to him about 9/11, "If this happened in Germany everybody would have died because after the first plane hit they told people all is OK and to stay in the building. Good rule-following Germans would have stayed."

That really gave me pause, because I never gave much thought to following the rules -- or not -- as being a cultural trait. But then I thought about something else that had been intriguing me for a while. I do a lot of surveys for the Harris Poll Online, some of which can be really dull and others of which are very interesting. Every once in a while they have these same standard questions at the end of a poll, and one of them is, essentially, "Do you believe that rules are meant to be followed or made to be broken?" I've never really understood why they ask that one, but since it's an international pool of respondents, perhaps this is something they keep an eye on to see how attitudes change or can be anticipated based on country.

So, where do you fall: Are rules in place to be followed for the safety of everyone, or are rules a flexible guideline that are meant to be broken? What do you think about it being something that varies by nationality?

February 09, 2005

When life gives you lime(rick)s...

There once was a girl by the Bay,
who again had little to say.
She felt pretty bad
and hoped people wouldn't be mad,
but she needed to call it a day.

February 08, 2005

Can't Get Enough of You, Baby

April pointed out on Saturday that this Smash Mouth song, which we were listening to at the time, would be the perfect title for this final Amazing Race 6 post. She was right, but actually, yeah, I have had more than enough of you "baby." This two-hour episode almost broke my resolve to keep counting, there were so freaking many of them.

But first let's take it back to Shanghai. (This spot reserved for the obligatory comment about Bolo completely mangling the name of the next city, Xi'an, China, at the start. We miss you, Bolo.) The remaining four teams set out for the final elimination leg with a pretty strong-looking Hayden and Aaron leading the way, followed by Freddy and Kendra, then Kris and Jon, with Adam and Rebecca once again bringing up the rear. (Insert your own joke here.)

I'm not going to do a point-by-point recap -- go see TVgasm if you missed the show or any portion of it, because I guarantee the recap there will surpass what I could do here -- so I'm going to just touch on some highlights and my favorite moments and lines.

- I thought maybe I was the only one who remembered this movie, but while they were spray-painting the car shell Adam said, "I feel like Michael Keaton in 'Gung Ho.'" It was the first time I had really a warm and fuzzy feeling toward P-boy. (I'm not going to repeat what I called him a few episodes back, because it resulted in some really...um...interesting Web searches.)

- Seeing the Museum of the Terra Cotta Warriors (link may be slow to load) was really something. It almost made me want to go to China -- almost -- and I certainly would have been tempted to linger there a bit longer had I been in the race.

- I didn't keep track of who did which Roadblocks throughout the Race, so maybe Aaron couldn't have done the one that involved the keys and what appeared to be thousands of locks. But, given the state Hayden had worked herself into, having her do it seemed like a mistake right off the bat. I've never seen a team skip a challenge and take a four-hour penalty, but they looked like they had just had enough. Because Rebecca found her lock at just about the last possible moment, that move cost them a spot in the final three. But all was not lost. In a rather unusual Pit Stop moment, Aaron and Hayden edged out Rebecca and Adam to the mat, but then got eliminated. Before we could recover from that, Aaron shocked everyone by taking to one knee and proposing to Hayden. Even Phil welled up a bit when, speechless, she accepted.

- I was really nervous about the ability of my new best friend, Adam, to do the final Roadblock. As Phil so kindly pointed out during the initial recap, Adam's fears had held the team up a number of times along the way. So as soon as he said he was going to do the sky diving, I envisioned a mile-high anxiety attack. Lo and behold, he had this look of utter determination on his face and he leaped out of that plane with nary a "Tell my mother I love her!" (Well, that we saw, as my brother pointed out.)

- What to say about Kendra? Apart from that she's $500,000 richer now, that is. I was disappointed that she and Freddy won, because I think Kris and Jon were the better team in so many ways. But Kendra did have more memorable lines, tonight and throughout. Nothing could ever top her "it's like they choose to live this way" comment (which they also thoughtfully showed again at the outset) but there were a few gems tonight. Such as when she declared that she and Freddy weren't "going to be the nice, sweet people" they had been up to that point. I'm sorry, was she talking about the same Race I was watching? And when she suddenly turned on the waterworks at the airport in Japan to try to get on an earlier flight, wailing "I have a sick child in Honolulu!" For me, the oddest was her sudden new proclivity to cast Freddy as a super hero. As he landed in the water after sky diving, she sang out, "Come to me, Superman!" and referred to him multiple times as her "little hero." But things reached their crescendo at the very end when Freddy declared that "Kendra is the most perfect human soul...for me." Thank you for that clarifier, bud, because I was about to lose my pizza, even though it wasn't deep dish.

Oh, there were many others, but it's time to face that it's over and there's nothing left to do but add up the "babies" and "honeys." Yes, it's the final version of the Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™. As I mentioned, there were a whole lot of them, as we had the top three serial offenders in these last two hours. (Rebecca, wisely, chose to not use any endearments on Adam this time out.) So take a deep breath with me and ride out this storm of affection to its thrilling conclusion!

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Finale = 128

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Season 6 in toto = 554

But wait! There's more! It may not be possible for this number to be surpassed next season -- which starts on March 1 -- but in the preview for AR7, they showed one contestant letting out one big ole "Yeah, baby!" so there is a glimmering chance. Which means...we'll be back!

February 07, 2005

A Little Nap'll Do Ya

Before I get to the point of this particular post (should there actually be one), a little note for the oodles of peoples who have been coming here looking for information on the upcoming Dr. Phil special, "Romance Rescue," featuring this blog's favorite dysfunctional couple, the ELIMINATED Jonathan and Victoria from The Amazing Race 6: The show is on February 15th, on CBS, 9 p.m. ET/PT. Check your local listings. (I've always wanted to say that.) Go here for the CBS page with info and a video preview.

I really didn't know whether I was going to watch it or not -- I'm not the world's biggest Dr. Phil fan, though it's not like I can't stand him, I just don't watch much -- but now I feel a little compelled to do so, if only so I can take the hit for other AR6 fans who wouldn't touch it with a pole the size of Jonathan's ego and write about it here. I also am intrigued because I find it ironic that they're showing this the day after Valentine's Day -- build up all that romance one day, only to rip it down the next.

Anyway, that was my public service announcement for the day. Now all about me, me, me!

My weekend was a pastiche of football, food and naps, mixed in with a little shopping, a few errands and some quality Internet surfing time. The football wasn't just The Semi-Super Bowl, though. Saturday night we went to see the home opener for the San Jose SaberCats, our Arena Football team. Okay, well, some people may have been there to see the SaberKittens. I can't blame them, because those are some fine cheerleaders. (They've certainly got the now-defunct "Anorexic Girls" of the San Jose Stealth beat, both in talent and hotness, sorry girls.) Sadly, their page does not yet have kitten photos up yet -- a form of kitty blogging that I think even Norman could have *ahem* gotten behind -- but check back soon and see if you can tell the difference between Kristi, Kristen and Kristina!

Anyway, the SaberCats are the defending ArenaBowl Champions and they kicked the behinds of the visiting team from Las Vegas. The game was good, but I was tired after a point (the beer with dinner did me in), so I took a nap for a little while during the third quarter -- yes, it appears I really can sleep anywhere. But it got me refreshed for the free concert that followed from hometown band Smash Mouth. They were pretty good, and I think their upcoming new album will be successful based on the new songs we heard. I felt a little bad for them when they did "Walkin' on the Sun," because the bunch of kids they brought up on stage didn't know the words and the lead singer obviously expected that they would! But, I think they were a little too young -- most of them were just out of diapers when that song was a monster hit. And, I might add, a seminal song of the 90s, in my opinion.

You have no doubt read and heard all you need to know about the Super Bowl and the mostly lame ads, so I'll pretty much skip over that...other than to mention that I took a nice nap in the third quarter of that game, too. Oh, well, actually, it started during the halftime show, but I guess that's really no surprise. I roused myself in time for the food, of course. We had some lovely crudités, crackers and cheese, including some herb- and nut-crusted goat cheese balls I made (I love those things), and Burns-style chili, then topped it off with a delicious lemon Bundt cake. That probably doesn't sound like traditional football fare, but it worked for us.

Hmm, I think I need a snack now.

February 04, 2005

And the winner is...

Again, thanks to those of you who submitted entries for the reality show contest, and to those who expressed interest in general. It was fun to see what people came up with and I hope to do it again soon, with a different theme. Next time I'll leave a little more time for sending in entries. You'll just have to put up with more reminders!

So. There were some very diverse ideas, and each of them was unique and took totally different spins on the genre. But in the end, choosing the winner was the easiest part of the whole shebang. I guess there's no need to draw this out any longer -- I'll let the results and the spotlighted entries speak for themselves.

The Grand Prize winner of the One Ping Only First Anniversary Contest is...

...Ann! Her entry, Wrongfully Accused,* wowed the judges and unanimously took the top honors. It's a show we love the idea of and we would be interested in seeing how it could be brought to...uh...reality? Congratulations!

Taking the First Prize is...April! If it made it onto the air I know I wouldn't last a single episode on her show, which I dubbed In the Chips, but it would certainly be an education. We could really picture the whole concept and see how the mechanics of getting to a winner would work. Nice job!

There are two other entries I want to spotlight, because they were creative and interesting, and they made the judging challenging! The first one is from Grins. Her show, which I think of as The Chat Boat, could be the Temptation Island of the high seas.

Last, but most certainly not least, is Trading Everything from Fat Dude. His is a funky combination of pure originality and unabashedly cribbed elements from a host of actual shows. Compelling as it was, it's actually a good thing he didn't win this, because it could have blown his mojo for the far cooler contest he won today. Go wish him a great trip to party like a rock star in El Lay.

Thanks and congrats to you all!

* Boring stuff: 1. The ideas expressed in the entries linked here are the copywrited property of the participants who submitted them. So don't even try to steal them. E-mail them nicely and offer them lots of money. 2. If you don't have Adobe Acrobat and want to read any or all of the entries posted here, e-mail me and I can send them in Word. 3. Ladies, I'll be in touch soon to get your prizes to you.

February 03, 2005

Hello...is this thing on?

Where has everyone gone? Sixty-seven people stopped by today and no one but cbeck had anything to say? Wow. Hope you're all off doing something interesting. (And thanks, cbeck.)

Tonight I went out for dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants, Pasta Pomodoro. Have you ever gone to a restaurant that you've been to a hundred times before and, all of a sudden, they change the menu? That's what I encountered tonight. Usually I walk in there already knowing what I'm going to have because I know...I mean, knew...the menu like the back of my hand. (I should mention that I eat out quite frequently, and this place is a real standby.)

The menu available at the link is the old one. Now it's really, really different. I was thrown for such a loop that it took me a very long time to decide what to have. In the end I decided to try two things from their new "small plates" selections to make a meal.

I happen to love Brussel sprouts, and they have a neat new dish where they're seared and it's absolutely delicious. (Has anyone else noticed that Brussel sprouts are showing up a lot more on menus lately?) It was a nice surprise; if they added a little bacon to it, it would be just about perfect. I combined that with some simple spinach and ricotta ravioli in pomodoro sauce (ravioli di magro). Perhaps an unusual pairing, but it really worked together and I was very well-sated in the end.

The waitress was really cool about my floundering around the new menu and before we left she made a point of giving me one of the to-go menus to take with me so I'd be prepared next time. (Look, Kendra! I'm doing research!!) Good way to get a nice tip.

Anyway, we topped the evening off by renting Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. What a funny freaking movie! I'd heard that it was, of course, and meant to go see it while it was in theaters but just never got there. I'm kind of glad I didn't, though, because I think I would have embarassed myself if I'd watched it in public.

The movie gave me a real craving. For, um...burgers, naturally. Good thing I was already full from dinner. Though I probably could have gone for a Krispy Kreme run. Can't wait 'til the new one opens here next month or so, as it will be a lot more accessible for late-night munchies. Ahhh, bliss in a box.

February 02, 2005

Stuck on the hump

This is one of those rare times when I find that I have little to say. I had a mostly crappy day at work and, while the evening was better, nothing crossed my path to inspire me much. So perhaps it's more like I have stuff to say, but it's not really worth saying.

Instead, I'd like to take the opportunity to point you in the direction of some blogs I've recently added to my Pingworthy list, in case you haven't perused it lately.

Over the Road - Go over and take in a few tales from Trucker Bob, who has crisscrossed this continent and has boatloads truckloads of stories to share about that life. This and this are particular favorites of mine. I think with a little encouragement, we can get him to bust out a few more anecdotes that will make us all wish we had been along for the ride. And no, I'm not just sending you there because he said nice things about me.

Tinfoil Hat Pundit - All the fake news that certainly isn't fit to print, but it sure as hell is funny.

Puglet Ponderings - What do you get when you take one overworked pastry chef in a crazy bakery, stir in two pugs, an addiction to Nutrageous bars and a fuzzy sock fairy, add a touch of medical maladies, and whip it all up in NYC? Puglet, that's who.

Petite Anglaise - A) A multi-award nominated blogger; B) An English bird flying in Paris; C) A woman who can order Ben & Jerry's in multiple languages; D) All of the above.

Last Girl on Earth - She rocks. Literally. I suggest you Listen To This.

Go. Read. Enjoy. Come back eventually and tell me what you thought.

February 01, 2005

"Do you have a clue?"

I hate to say it, because I did enjoy the episode overall, but watching tonight's Amazing Race felt like a bit of a letdown. The thrill is gone, friends, with no one compelling to root for among the remaining four teams.

My brother -- Whose generosity, it should be noted, actually makes One Ping Only possible and whose ongoing support contributes to its continued life. If this were Hollywood, he'd probably get an Executive Producer credit. But it's not. So he won't. -- commented early on that he missed hearing Bolo destroy the name of whichever city they would be headed out to from the Pit Stop, and it really hit me that a lot of the fun had gone out of the game with their departure.

No more barbarian insults. No more adventures in counting. No more implant jokes. They were the last of the teams with real personality that wasn't defined just by bickering. Oh, and I miss their bickering, too.

So I'm feeling a little like, "Okay, let's get it over with, hand Kris and Jon the money and look forward to next season with Amber and Boston Rob." That fleeting wish almost got a little closer to being impossible as Team Smiley faced a barrage of dreadful cab drivers in China and came very close to going from first to last...not to mention almost getting creamed by a bus while running across a traffic-filled street on the dash to the Pit Stop. They edged out Rebecca and Adam, who were spared by a non-elimination round.

At least I was right in one of my predictions, since Kendra wasn't the offending honeymeister tonight, it was Rebecca of all people. I think she took her decision to continue playing along as Adam's girlfriend a little too much to heart and went overboard with the endearments at the Detour. As much as I sometimes want to smack her a little because she ever got into that relationship in the first place, I do admire her spunk. When Adam chastised her for the third time about calling him "honey," she shot back, "All right, ass."

A few odd moments from tonight:

- The sight of the racers dashing amidst the tai chi practitioners all dressed in white and moving in unison, looking for masters of the art, repeatedly asking them if they had the clue they needed. Aaron topped it off by telling one of them, "You look masterful."

- The Dr. Phil "Romance Rescue" commercial featuring Jonathan and Victoria, where Dr. Phil asks Jonathan, "Are you a jerk? Is that who you are?" Did the look on Jonathan's face say "YES!" to anyone else?

- As Phil was describing the aspects of the two tasks for the Detour, while walking along a sidewalk in a street in Shanghai lined with curious people, a Chinese woman totally and blatantly checks out his khaki-clad ass. How do you say "Nice pants" in Mandarin?

And now, the penultimate edition of the Official One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count™, which was almost evenly divided among "babies" and "honeys" this week, thanks to Rebecca's and Adam's efforts. As a bonus, there was a sweetheart thrown into the mix, but that doesn't actually get counted. We have to have some sort of standards around here, you know.

One Ping Only AR6 "Baby" Count: Episode 11 = 57