Monday, April 30, 2007

I'm a knife. Knifin' around. Cut cut cut cut...

Hillary and I got to hang out with friends Adam and Brandi over the weekend, checking out the Mt. Laurel Spring Festival. We had a great time, even though we managed to come away without buying anything from the dozen or so vendor tents that were set up. The weather was spectacular, and there was even a live band playing in the park, which, if not necessarily good, compensated admirably with pure enthusiasm. I think our respective womenfolk are considering renting some vendor space for upcoming weekends.

Mt. Laurel is a neat little town; it kind of reminded me of Sandpoint. Except twice as expensive (and that's saying a lot). We had an excellent lunch at the little bistro right off the town square, which had a fairly eclectic menu. I had the most unusual (but delicious) bowl of chicken and dumplings I've ever eaten, though the "shrimp and grits" dish was strangely appealing and may require a future visit.

Lately, Hillary and I have been playing the hell out of Guitar Hero 2 on the Xbox 360, which becomes an entirely new dimension of fun when you go multiplayer. Few joys in life approach blasting through Rage Against the Machine's "Killing in the Name" (with the volume cranked and yelling the uncensored version of the lyrics back at the screen, of course). Settlers of Catan is apparently due on Live Arcade this week, so I predict some overtime hours for the Xbox.

We were a bit disappointed, if not surprised, at Fox's quick cancellation of "Drive". It wasn't a quality show, but it was good, dumb fun. Captain Malcolm Reynolds as an everyman with a dark past forced into an illegal cross-country race by a shadowy, seemingly omnipotent underground organization? Yes, please. And it didn't hurt that the series co-starred the very definition of "oddly hot" that is Melanie Lynskey. Oh well, I guess they needed that extra hour of network time every week for such masterworks as "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" and "The War at Home" (quite possibly the worst sitcom ever created, now enjoying its second season). I almost wish they'd go ahead and cancel "House, M.D.", just so I'd have an excuse to never watch Fox again.

Okay, I'll admit that "American Idol" is a guilty pleasure. Which I'd be somewhat ashamed of, except that I know most of the people reading this watch "America's Next Top Model" religiously. To each their own. =)

Friday, April 13, 2007

The PC police claim another victim

It's rare that anything in the news gets me fired up, but the whole debacle over Don Imus this week (and his subsequent firing) has angered me more than anything I can remember in recent years.

I didn't watch or listen to Imus' show. The (very) few times I'd seen it on MSNBC, it was like watching paint dry. So I'm not making this post from a standpoint of a fan whose hero has been taken down. However, the way he has been crucified over an offhanded (and forgettable) remark greatly pisses me off.

This is a guy who has donated millions of dollars to charity and has set up a "getaway" ranch for kids with cancer who have very little to look forward to other than an early death. This is a guy who does a "radiothon" every year to raise even more millions of dollars to help sick kids and the families of babies who have died of SIDS. To have his forty-year radio career destroyed by a bunch of politically-correct thugs because of a two-second (admittedly rude) comment that had no hatred or malice behind it isn't just wrong -- it's insane.

Slimeballs like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson do nothing but sit around and look for things to get offended about, and then call for the cameras and raise a gigantic fuss until they get what they want (and more often than not, any concessions that their target du jour makes are never enough to satisfy them). If there's such a thing as a non-violent terrorist, they fit the bill: "Do what we want or we will do bad things to you." For all their crowing about trying to represent the African-American community, Sharpton and Jackson have done more to damage race relations than any racist or bigot organization in history.

It's not so much Imus I'm concerned for (he's got plenty of money and will be fine whether he tries to resurrect his career or not), but the bigger picture when it comes to the suppression of free speech. MSNBC and CBS both caved to pressure from the relatively tiny portion of their viewer/listenership that made the most noise about Imus' comment. Corporations are terrified of being portrayed as supporting racism, or even the perception of racism.

Now that Imus has been successfully destroyed, Sharpton and company will move to their next target. The next offhanded comment or slip of the tongue he latches onto will be even less offensive than "nappy headed hoes" (is that even racist?). And now that the first battle has been won, companies will jump even faster at the chance to distance themselves from the perception of any wrongdoing. Saving face is more important than sticking up for your guy, or even doing what's right. That's sad. And cowardly.

So what's the solution? Well, you can certainly write to both MSNBC and CBS Radio and let them know what you think about the firing. I know that personally I'm done with MSNBC altogether, and I've already told them so. Will it do any good? Probably not -- I don't have the resources or media coverage of a Reverend Al. But I do what I can.

This may well be the final year of Imus' "radiothon" charity drive (the radio firing actually happened DURING this year's event -- classy, CBS). I called and made a donation this morning, both because it's a good cause and because I want to help make the point that this is a good man who does good things, regardless of the occasional verbal slip he may have made on the radio. Every dollar the drive raises this year is not only helping sick children, but it's a slap in the face to the self-aggrandizing dickbags who would destroy a man's career over a couple of badly-chosen words.

I strongly encourage anyone reading this to consider donating to the charity drive. It's almost over, but there's still a little time left. You can call 877-877-6464 or go to the Radiothon website (note that they've already taken his name off the site, but it's the correct one). When they ask for comments, tell them you support Imus and free speech.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

One more thing...

My favorite band, Silversun Pickups, were on Last Call with Carson Daly (who I can't stand, but that's another story) not long ago. You can see the videos online over at LiveDaily. Be sure to watch the ones for "Kissing Families" and (especially) "Lazy Eye". The live performances are amazing.

*tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

Apologies. I knew blog updates might be a little scarce while we performed the Big Move, but I didn't mean to go quite this long without updating.

We're back in Birmingham, for better or worse. As much as I missed our friends and the city life (well, parts of it), our time in Huntsville sort of made us realize that our "hometown" had grown a little culture of its own. After living in rural Idaho for a year and a half, it's taking some time to re-adjust to actual traffic and having (gasp) things to do.

Our distractions haven't changed much in the last few months. We're still enjoying the hell out of Lost (which was slow at the beginning of the season, but it's starting to get nice and creepy again), and we're slowly catching up on the second half of the Battlestar Galactica season.

The World of Warcraft expansion turned out to be pretty good, so I've been playing again with a passion. Dungeon raiding is a lot more intimate now (at most, 25-person groups rather than the old 40-person affairs), and individual effort counts for a lot more than it used to. That's how it should be, really -- before, it was possible for a few people to not pay attention and "slide by" because the rest of us were picking up the slack. Now? If you decide to look away from the screen during a boss encounter, expect to be walking back to your corpse shortly.

I'm also loving Guitar Hero 2, which I passed over on the PS2 in favor of waiting to play it in full HDTV widescreen glory. I wasn't disappointed. By the game, that is -- our TV turns out to have a fair amount of input lag even with component video, so I had to tweak the game quite a bit to get it playable (close enough for me to five-star Freebird -- Ronnie Van Zant is rolling in his grave). Supposedly there are going to be frequent downloadable songs (possibly weekly?), so I'm really looking forward to that. I miss a lot of the old GH1 songs, especially SRV's "Texas Flood", which I could play nonstop for hours. You just can't go wrong with a tune where the entire thing is a guitar solo.

Anyway, we're getting settled in, and I'm looking forward to seeing all of our Birmingham friends again. I promise I'll update more. =)