Sunday, December 23, 2007
We've been getting most of our news from Al Jazeera or EuroNews lately, mostly because Jon Stewart is still off the air due to the WGA strike, Keith Olbermann has been on vacation for the last week (and we can't STAND Alison Stewart), and the CNN World news-readers scare the holy hell out of us.

Seriously. There's this one zombie lady from Russia or somewhere and then this hideously old man who looks 95% dead - I'm wondering if the zombie lady is slowly sucking the life from him. Like when he started he was dashing and handsome and in his mid-thirties - now he looks about eighty. Either way, the two of them are the worst anchor-people ever.

Anyway, this week the big news was the inclusion of nine countries into the European Union's borderless Schengen zone. One can now travel between the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden without a passport. Heck, without a border guard either!

Then there's the United States. On the same day as the pomp and ceremony of border openings in Europe, Congress delayed a requirement that people entering the US from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean show a passport when arriving by land or sea until at least June of 2009.

After that there'll be no more going to Canada with just a drivers' license.

Same with Mexico.

Of course, the Department of Homeland Security wanted to require passports starting in June of 2008.

Anyone else think it's just amazing that while the United States is slowly tightening its borders the EU is opening theirs?

Is the US crazy?

Is the EU?

Because one of the two certainly is, but I don't know which ...
posted by Josh at 9:14 AM | 0 comments
Monday, December 17, 2007
We are truly living in the golden age of Super Hero movie. I present to you the trailer for next summer's The Dark Knight.
posted by Josh at 9:38 AM | 0 comments
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"W00t" is Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year for 2007?


I think I hear Noah Webster spinning in his grave right now.

Was "w00t" picked by the editors, or did they let the public vote? Because if there was a poll I would have assembled a crack team to stuff the ballot boxes with words such as "quagmire," "impeach," and "lame duck." Yeah, to me those sum up 2007 much better than some esoteric gaming slang.

I mean, last year's word was "truthiness," popularized by Stephen Colbert, which is somewhat goofy. But "truthiness" can be broadly applied to the politics of 2006, as well.

But "w00t"?

I bet next year the world will be "pwned".

Yep, this is just solid proof that we're heading towards the future as seen in Mike Judge's Idiocracy.

posted by Josh at 12:00 PM | 0 comments
Monday, December 10, 2007
I don't want to imply that it's all about the winning, really, but it kind of is. So isn't it pretty amazing that the Patriots are 13-0 and the Celtics are 17-2 right now?

I just read that after last night's win Bill Belichick improved to 100-39 as Patriots coach, including the playoffs.

That's a .719 winning percentage.

So I had to do some digging but I determined that Red Auerbach's record with the Celtics was 1037-548 a .654 winning percentage.

So right now Belichick is better than Auerbach?

I know one has only coached 8 years and one was there for close to thirty, but still, someday I can picture a hoodied statue to join Red's statue at Quincy Market in Boston.

For the record, Terry Francona has 682-645 with the Red Sox so far, a .514 winning percentage, and Doc Rivers has only 119-146 with the Celtics, a .449 winning percentage.
posted by Josh at 8:45 AM | 0 comments
Sunday, December 9, 2007
Hmmm, so I was wary when I first heard of Nalgene / Lexan polycarbonate water bottles, what, three or four years ago? I mean, they have happy chemicals so they don't get gross-smelling? Happy chemicals that don't hurt us? It sounds too good to be true!

Well, now it looks like Lexan leaches bisphenol A, a chemical that some studies have linked to cancer.


So Canada's Mountain Equipment Co-op and the States' Patagonia have stopped selling products that contain bisphenol A.


Guess if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is ...
posted by Josh at 5:07 PM | 0 comments
Monday, December 3, 2007
So last week the Vancouver and Whistler folks in charge of the next Winter Olympics released the first images of their new mascots. Check them:

Vancouver 2010 Olympic Mascots

Sumi is an animal guardian spirit, and actually the mascot of the Paralympic Games.

Quatchi is a sasquatch. And apparently a highly tattooed one.

Miga is a “sea bear”, which I think might be even more fictional than a sasquatch.

People on the internet tubes are hating these guys, calling them overly cute and kiddish. Um, what about the five fugly Fuwa for Beijing? Those are actually frightening!

Actually, so was Izzy from Atlanta. And so were Athena and Phevos from Athens. Wow, has there been a non-creepy mascot since Sam the Eagle from Los Angeles?

I think these guys are cute in a Cartoon Network-y way.
posted by Josh at 4:12 PM | 0 comments
Sunday, December 2, 2007
The proper ratio for cinnamon sugar is three parts sugar, one part cinnamon.
posted by Josh at 10:39 AM | 1 comments
Saturday, December 1, 2007
This week I meant to post about Conan O'Brien's decision to pay his staff out of his own pocket, but I never got around to it. And now we have the other end of the spectrum ...

Hollywood Reporter
Shocked Leno staffers fired as strike drags on
By Paul Bond
November 30, 2007

LOS ANGELES - A couple of days after the Writers Guild of America strike began November 5, the star of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" told some 80 of his idled staffers that they need not worry about their finances.

Leno was so adamant about paychecks being safe, many didn't bother looking for new jobs even though NBC was forecasting layoffs.

So it came as quite a shock Friday when the entire staff was told that they were not only out of a job but also that they weren't guaranteed of being rehired once "The Tonight Show" returns.

"Some people were crying. Some people were screaming," said one employee speaking on condition of anonymity.

NBC declined comment on the firings beyond a brief statement that it had "regretfully informed the people who work on 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno' and 'Late Night With Conan O'Brien' that their services are not needed at this time due to our inability to continue production of the shows."

According to several staffers, tensions at "Tonight Show" have been mounting for weeks, and matters weren't helped by news that other late-night hosts have been preserving the jobs of their nonwriting staffs or paying those who had been laid off. O'Brien confirmed Thursday, for example, that he would pay the salaries of at least 50 nonwriting "Late Night" staffers out of his own pocket on a week-to-week basis.

Some "Tonight Show" insiders are angry at Leno, because of an upbeat conference call he held shortly after the WGA strike began.

"He was on speaker phone," a staffer said. "There were 80 of us. He told us not to panic. He said to trust him. He said: 'I can't get into details, but nobody will miss a car payment or lose their house. We're family. Trust me. I'm going to take care of this.' But that was the time we should have been looking for new jobs."

More recently, a letter NBC sent to now-laid-off staffers said, "If your services are needed, we will contact you."

"That's standard boilerplate," said Joe Medeiros, a striking writer who has worked with Leno for 18 years. "It's corporate butt-covering."

According to insiders, the early confidence that Leno expressed stemmed from several options in the works, including the hiring of guest hosts. Leno himself guest-hosted for "The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson" during the 1988 writers strike, according to the WGA. This time around, comedian Wanda Sykes was a top pick, but she turned down the offer. Using rock stars on a rotating basis also was considered, insiders said.

Another option was having Leno do a show without a monologue or writers, relying heavily on musical acts and stand-up comedians.

None of the options, though, came to fruition, and "The Tonight Show" has continued airing reruns.

Beyond Leno's misplaced optimism about the financial well-being of his staff, he further damaged himself -- in the eyes of some workers -- with his public behavior. While he privately expressed concern for the jobs of all staff members, to the media he seemed preoccupied with supporting striking writers, including handing out doughnuts to picketers and mugging for press photos.

"He even joked that because of the writers strike, he had more time to work on his car collection," a staffer said. "That didn't sit well with us."

Medeiros said that Leno made his doughnut appearance on Day One of the strike at his request. "I asked him to come out and he did. We thought it sent a message to end the strike."

Asked if writers would object to Leno working without them during the strike in order to save jobs, Medeiros said: "I can't answer that. The story to me is that the corporations are doing this in order to pit groups against each other and break the strike."

The fact that some of Leno's writers are paid $500,000 or more annually also didn't sit well with suddenly out-of-work production staffers who make a fraction of that amount. Writers also are getting residuals on "Tonight Show" reruns that air during the strike.

The final indignation was a Christmas bonus that many thought lacking. Staffers with a couple of years on the job were given $200. Some higher-paid employees were awarded three days of salary or a bit more, about the same bonuses they got last year.

The Leno representative defended the bonuses as well, pointing out that they amounted to $500,000 in aggregate out of Leno's pocket. He also noted that Leno handed out $2 million five years ago to staffers in celebration of his 10th year as host.

"Jay is a very generous man," added Medeiros. "I don't know what people expected. How much more should he give over a situation that he didn't cause?"

But, said one staffer: "When the most powerful man in TV tells you to relax, then you relax. That's why we expected the bonuses to cover us through the strike. He could've at least covered us through Christmas. That would have been nice."

© Hollywood Reporter
posted by Josh at 6:30 PM | 0 comments