I Got My Hulu Invite

// November 14th, 2007

I finally got my Hulu invite last night - not through work mind you - and have been messing around on the site since then.

As many bloggers & reviewers have already said, the site is actually quite impressive. The interface is clean & neat, the videos are in great quality & play quite seamlessly, and the experience is quite enjoyable overall. Contrary to what many people expected, this joint venture between NBC Universal & Fox might actually have delivered on its promise.

I’m going to catch up on some of the shows I’ve missed since moving out here to LA like Heroes and K-Ville (although there is currently only 1 episode available). I guess the only downside so far with Hulu is that entire archives of shows are not available as of yet. On the other hand, Hulu is an impressive advancement in the IPTV space

Here’s the first episode ever of Alfred Hitchcock Presents embedded below:

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Malibu Is Burning

// October 22nd, 2007

I’m moving to SoCal tomorrow & before I even get there, the place is already burning down.

Malibu’s under attack by wildfires yet again. 40,000 acres, or 62 square miles, of land have already burned.

SoCal is quite a beautiful place of nature, despite its smog!, but by the same token, it’s also vulnerable to all sorts of natural disasters.

I can’t wait!

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I Love NY

// October 21st, 2007

I’m going to miss this city in all its grimy, loud, hustle & bustle splendor. New York is all I know. I’ve never lived anywhere longer than I have here. I was born here over 30 years ago in the borough of Brooklyn & have spent the last 13 years on this island of Manhattan. I love this city with all of my heart & all of my soul. It is in my blood & now that I am about to leave it for who knows how long for the first time ever, I am taking in every moment, every person I see, every street I walk, as if it were my last…

I will return soon enough, but there’s just this gravitational pull that keeps me from wanting to leave at all. I know that sunny Los Angeles beckons me & my future, but somehow, I never want to leave my past nor my present.

6 years ago, I swore I’d never leave this place. I would die here. Perhaps I still will. For now, however, it seems that I will make another city my maiden - one whose roads I will wander at the wheel of an automobile, isolated from all those around me. A world where image rules & substance is lacking. Will I survive there despite the fact that I’ve survived in one of the toughest cities on this planet? The irony is that I am so accustomed to the ways of this metropolis that I wonder whether or not I will fit in in Hollywood?

Every time I walk a street,

I know not if it is my last,

For years with every heartbeat,

This city has consumed my past,

Although my future lies by the palms & beaches,

I shall soon return to this city & its outer reaches.

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Celebrities Are Just Like Me & You

// October 11th, 2007

A new friggin’ hilarious site called Planet Hiltron just came to my attention & has had me laughing all day long.

As VSL puts it:

The cult Website Planet Hiltron taps into the Schadenfreude of seeing the Beautiful Ones made homely, but without that pesky jolt of guilty human empathy. The site contains impeccably Photoshopped snaps of tabloid regulars doctored to look like more everyday (and generally older) folks: J-Lo and Mark Anthony line-dance in bad velour pants, while a balding Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner appear to be just another overweight, beer-guzzling couple. Paris Hilton, star of the site, becomes a nurse with 1980s bangs.

The funny thing is that some of these celebrities were rather regular-looking before they became famous & had stylists, trainers, hair & make-up people to make them look like the stars they are. I think this real photo of Paris Hilton proves that point (also why she’s not really hot):

Here’s 2 of my favorites:

Check at more at Planet Hiltron!

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Yet Another Masterpiece From R. Kelly

// October 9th, 2007

R. Kelly aka Mr. Showbiz has just blessed us with yet another masterpiece. Words can’t do it justice, just watch & enjoy:

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My Last Visit to The House That Ruth Built?

// October 9th, 2007

Last night, I had the great misfortune or fortune of being in attendance at the Yankees’ ALDS Game 4 loss to the Cleveland Indians. It was the end of the series, and possibly the end of the Yankees dynasty of the last 12 years. It was also quite likely my last game at The House That Ruth Built.

I am moving to LA very soon & had to go to one more Yankees game up at The Stadium. I was hoping I might get to go to more, like another Yankees-BoSox ALCS, but alas, thanks to insect swarms, a lack of clutch hitting & weak pitching from the Yanks (Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, a bit of Joba & Mariano being the exceptions) & strong pitching from the Tribe, it was not meant to be. Hopefully, I’ll be back in NYC next summer to at least catch a game in Yankee Stadium before the new one opens in 2009, but if not, it was a symbolic send-off for me. It wasn’t the victorious send-off that I imagined, but it was significant nonetheless. This very well might have been the last game for some of our heroes over these years: Joe Torre, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, A-Rod even?

More than anyone, the axe hangs over Joe Torre - our calm leader, a former All-Star, the only player with 2,000 hits & 2,000 wins as manager, and the 8th winningest manager in MLB history. The Boss has said that Torre would pretty much be fired if the Yanks didn’t win the championship this year - as he does almost every year - but this time, it looks like it will happen. Despite all my criticisms of Torre this post-season - his not pushing for a delay of game while Joba was being swarmed by bugs, his not playing small ball & bunting to advance runners (ahem, Jeter) & his seeming lack of fire when the team needed a good jolt - I consider myself extremely fortunate to have bore witness to this man’s amazingly successful work over the years in leading this Yankees dynasty, which ended an 18 year championship drought & rivaled the Yankees of the ’50s in its dominance.

If Mr. T does indeed lose his job, I was honored to be in attendance to pay my respect for our manager during his 2 visits to the mound in the 8th inning, chanting “Joe-oh Tor-ee, Joe-oh Tor-ee” with the Yankee faithful, just as I did for our warrior Paul O’Neill back in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series (perhaps my greatest baseball experience).

As always, Torre showed nothing but class in the post-game press conference:

I’m not going there. You know, this has been a great 12 years. Whatever the hell happens from here on out, I mean, I’ll look back on these 12 years with, you know, great, great pleasure based on the fact that, you know, I’m a kid that had never been to the World Series other than watching my brother play in the 50s and paying for tickets otherwise, and to have been in six World Series and going to post-season - I can tell you one thing, it never gets old.
The 12 years just felt like they were 10 minutes long, to be honest with you. You know, I bury myself in my players, and I just finished telling them how proud I am of what they did. I mean they dug themselves out of a hole. They learned how to be a team.

You certainly can’t ignore it. These fans are very special. They’re certainly very special. I mean, you can feel their heartbeat. Not hear it. You can feel their heartbeat. They know their stuff and they never quit on you.

Jorge Posada, who is a free agent after this season (don’t let him go!), had this to say:

Joe Torre is the best manager in baseball. It’s not his fault. He used the same lineup from April till now, the same guys. He doesn’t throw or hit or do anything on the field. He does everything possible to keep us positive and get us to win.

Potential names for new managers being thrown about are former Yankees Don Mattingly aka Donnie Baseball, Joe Girardi, former Yanks’ manager Buck Showalter, Bobby Valentine (really?), and even Tony LaRussa. I’d love to see Jorge as a player/manager, but that’s a bit of a stretch. It’s looking like Donnie or Girardi will get the ball.

Whoever the new manager is, the Yanks need to return to what won them those 4 championships starting in 1996 - small ball, advancing runners, skilled home-grown talent & role players & a scrappy team unit. I’m so glad that hey held on to young talent like Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Joba Chamberlain & Phil Hughes this year & resisted the urge to pay more mid-30s veterans millions of dollars to contribute not much to the cause. If we’ve got to rebuild, so be it, but at least it’s for the future & not living through our past.

As always, I’ll be eagerly watching, though from the west coast (do they have YES out there?), and no longer from the Bronx. Like Joe Torre, I’m ready to leave NY, albeit with a heavy heart. I will miss real Yankees fans. I will miss the real Yankee Stadium. I’ve had many great memories there (some not so much), met many fine people (some not so much), been thrown out of it & assorted other hijinks. I can’t think of a better place to be for a game (well, maybe Wrigley Field).

Thanks for the memories, House That Ruth Built, and thanks for the memories, Joe.

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God Is A Yankee Fan???

// October 6th, 2007

We Yankee fans like to say that god is a Yankees fan too. It makes all the sense in the world - the legends, the mystique, the championships. Yet last night, the Lord showed that he/she/it might actually not be a Yankee fan at all - that is, unless he/she/it is trying to wake us up or something.

You couldn’t even make up what occurred during last night’s ALDS Game 2 between our beloved Yankees and the Cleveland Indians. A pitching gem between Andy Pettitte and Fausto Carmona yielded only 1 run through 7 innings, that one coming from Melky Cabrera’s solo home run. Never mind the fact that the Yanks’ heart of the lineup has been absolutely atrocious, with A-Rod, Hideki, and Jorge all hitless, Jeter & Damon with not much more.

In relief of Pettitte came our wunderkind Joba Chamberlain, who has been lights out all season. But at the same time, a swarm of midges or Canadian Soldiers or whatever you call these gnats, descended upon Jacobs Field and all over Joba’s neck, face, and uniform. Joba was clearly distracted & lost his control, walking one batter, throwing 2 wild pitches, hitting one batter & almost hitting another. And so, by the grace of god, the Indians were able to tie the game, which ended in the 11th when Luis Vizcaino gave up a bases loaded single to Travis Hafner aka Pronk.

Where was Joe Torre to ask the umps to stop the game for the swarm to pass? Why did he leave Joba hung out to dry out there? Had Joba been able to pitch under normal conditions, he most likely would’ve shut down the Indians in the inning and set up the game for Mariano Rivera to save, giving the Yankees a hard-fought 1-0 win. Instead, we’re heading back to the Bronx down 0-2 and wondering yet again what’s gone wrong with our team in the postseason.

For what it’s worth, Joba refused to blame the insect swarm:

Bugs are bugs. It’s not the first time I had a bug near me. You just keep your mouth closed. No excuses. I let my guys down. Disappointed is an understatement.

Apparently, Torre did go out in the 8th inning to umpire chief Bruce Froemming to ask for a game delay, but in Froemming’s opinion, “It was just a little irritation. We’ve had bugs before. I’ve seen bugs and mosquitoes since I started umpiring.” However, that didn’t stop a game between the Indians and Angels in September 2004 from being stopped several times for the same reason. And this is the playoffs!

From Y! Sports:

Perhaps, after all these years and all these Cleveland losses, God decided to become an Indians fan. He certainly couldn’t have picked a better time or the better Old Testament vengeance for fouling up the Yankees.Drought, mildew and famine would have lacked the immediate impact. Pestilence would have been too mean; fire mixed with blood too messy; grasshoppers, probably too obvious.

The midges were just enough.

Of course, neither divine intervention nor the fly patterns of gnat-like insects are responsible for the pathetic Yankees offense.

Biblical, Hitchcockian, bizarre - call it what you may - but I’ve never seen a thing like this before. Maybe it’s a sign from god. Canadian soldiers invaded the field of Jacob to bring the pestilence of an insect swarm over the Yankees, the symbol for America. Is our country on the brink? If god’s no longer a Yankee fan, I fear it may be so…

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9/11 Is Over

// October 2nd, 2007

Thomas Friedman’s op-ed this weekend in the New York Times (that bastion of the liberal media that helped build the run up to an illegal war against Iraq!) touched upon something that I personally, as well as many of my fellow New Yorkers I’m sure, have been thinking for some time now:

9|11 is over

Giuliani and various other fearmongers have invoked 9|11 incessantly over the last few years, and it’s about time that they stop. The analogy I liken it to is that of having a family member pass away several years ago and having someone constantly bring it up when you’d like to just move on with your life - but they just won’t let you.

These politicians won’t let you move on because they have nothing to offer for the future as they are mired in the past. They need for you to be afraid so that you have no hope. As Friedman succinctly puts it:

I will not vote for any candidate running on 9/11. We don’t need another president of 9/11. We need a president for 9/12. I will only vote for the 9/12 candidate.

What does that mean? This: 9/11 has made us stupid. I honor, and weep for, all those murdered on that day. But our reaction to 9/11 — mine included — has knocked America completely out of balance, and it is time to get things right again.

And I, for that matter, will not vote for any candidate that advocates war. It is time to right our ship before we descend upon our downward spiral!

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SpiralFrog Is A Joke

// September 17th, 2007

The hype machine announced the launch of the delayed & much-ballyhooed free ad-supported music download service SpiralFrog today - a self-proclaimed iTunes competitor (are these guys for real?). The service offers free song & music video downloads that are preceded by 90 second commercials in MSFT’s WMA format with PlaysForSure DRM.

Beyond the major problem that no one wants to hear a 90 second commercial before every song they listen to (goodbye playlists!!!), WMA files aren’t compatible with iPods (~80% of the mp3 player market) nor Microsoft’s own Zune player! But things get even worse. There is no burning to CD available and registered users must renew their subscription every 30 days to keep downloading music & every 60 days to keep listening to files they have downloaded. So far, SpiralFrog’s catalog consists of about 800,000 songs from Universal Music Group & some independents. This service is basically rendered DOA - dead on arrival.

It’s yet another new internet service that gets the hype, but just doesn’t get it. It’s a joke. I wonder if anyone behind this stupid idea of a company actually downloads music or has a clue who their consumers are.

Maybe that’s why their initial launch was delayed for 10 months from last December, followed by the departure of its CEO Robin Kent, 5 executives & 3 board directors. Kent proclaimed last year that

Offering young consumers an easy-to-use alternative to pirated music sites will be compelling. SpiralFrog will offer those consumers a better experience and environment than they can get from any pirate site.

He must have been just saving face by trying to pretend he believed in this stupid idea before he was going to jump ship OR maybe he’s just never downloaded music before & thinks that kids haven’t either.

Would anyone actually want to use this service? We’ll soon find out, but let’s just say that the chances of me winning the Mega Millions lotto tomorrow night are looking much rosier than their chances of success.

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Looking Back & Looking Forward

// September 11th, 2007

6 years ago today, it was a beautiful, clear and sunny day…and then the sky fell upon us.

Today, it is T-storming and pouring torrentially. The gods must be angry.

It’s been 6 years since the tragedy of 9|11. Despite the fact that we still do not observe this day as a national day of memoriam, it is a time to reflect on our past and our future and how they were affected by that one day in our collective history. When I reread my memoir from 6 years ago, I am deeply saddened, dismayed, and ashamed of what has transpired since then.

Our government has engaged in occupation wars with no end in sight. They give us false reasons, circular logic, and tell us we are safer while putting us in fear and innocent people die every day overseas. Now they want war with Iran. Don’t let it happen again. I promise you it will result in both a political and military disaster that could threaten the well-being of our republic. There is too much at stake to allow these military/energy industrial elitist autocrats to continue to act barbarically in our name without recourse. They care not about you nor our soldiers, nor our country, they only care about themselves. Do not allow the ruling elite class continue to keep us under their thumb.

Remember Katrina and never forget 9|11.

She [America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy… She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit….
- John Quincy Adams

Fear is only as deep as the mind allows
- Japanese proverb

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