Tuesday, March 30, 2004

101 Jan-mations

There was a reason Jan was always the insecure one in the Brady Bunch. Not in contention as the cute "baby of the family" like Cindy, and at that gawky early teen stage, how are you gonna compete with Marsha, Marsha, Marsha?!?

Jans 1 - 100) Sometimes movies suffer the same ignoble fate. Maybe they got crushed at the box office because they happened to be released on the same weekend as 2Faster2Furiouser II (or would that be 3Fast3Furious?). Maybe because the studio had no clue how to market it. Maybe the audience just didn't "get it" at the time. Maybe it was an indie film that just didn't have the bucks to get shown on 547,000 screens like Scooby Doo 2:Electric Boogaloo. Whatever the reason, CHUD.com feels their pain. Here is their list of 100 Movies That Deserve More Love. (via A Small Victory)

Jan 101) Speaking of Jans, back in the days when WKRP In Cincinnati was in prime-time, everyone made a big fuss over Loni Anderson. But there, under the radar, those of us in the know bypassed the obvious choice and pined instead for Bailey Quarters, played by Jan Smithers. After 'KRP, Jan moved to Canada (another underappreciated asset) and pretty much retired from the limelight. Cloth Monkey has not one, not two, not three, but FOUR pages devoted to Ms. Smithers. You may begin your Jan-worship here.

Interesting sidenote: Much of the music used in WKRP In Cincinnati has changed ownership many times since it was originally aired in the 1970's. As a result, due to licensing issues, most of the songs have had to be edited out and replaced with "generic" rock music created by studio musicians. Occasionally, this wreaks havoc with the storyline. In one episode a Russian diplomat applies for asylum in the WKRP lobby. He also falls in love with Bailey. Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" was an integral part of the original show, and the diplomat's final line to Bailey before leaving again for Russia, was "Hold me closer, tiny dancer". However, even spoken lyrics are subject to licensing, and after the re-editing, his line turned into the somewhat less romantic, "Hold my order, terrible dresser."

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The Passion of... The Brian?

Rainbow Film Company has announced that it will be re-releasing "Monty Python's Life of Brian" in US theaters next month as an alternative to all the hype Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" is generating. Romans Go Home! What did they ever do for us, anyway? I mean apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

(via Slashdot)

Turn it up! They're singin' about me!

Famous songs that refer to actual people:

"You're So Vain" - Carly Simon - Carly has kept the identity of who she was singing about a secret for aver 30 years. Some think it refers to Mick Jagger, some think it's about her James Taylor or Warren Beatty. Last August, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports and NBC Olympics, put in a winning bid of $50,000 in a charity auction to have Ms. Simon personally reveal the name of the mystery man. He has sworn he will never reveal Carly's secret, but did give a clue. He has the letter "e" in his name. Ooh, gee, thanks Dick. So out of the 3 billion men on the planet, I can rule out... what, John Goodman and Gary Burghoff? Great! Only 2,999,999,998 to go.

"Smoke On The Water" - Deep Purple - They were going to start recording their new album in a concert hall called the Casino in Montreaux, Switzerland. Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention were playing the last show of the season before the hall would close down for the winter, and the members of Deep Purple, invited by Zappa, were in the audience. An unidentified someone in the audience fired off a flare gun in the hall, striking the ceiling and touching off a fire. Everyone escaped with their lives, but the entire building and all of Zappa's equipment burned in the blaze. I sometimes how Mister Flare Gun feels when he hears the song, knowing he is immortalized in rock as "some stupid with a flare gun"

"You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet" - Bachman Turner Overdrive - Randy Bachman wrote the lyrics on the fly and sang the stuttering vocals (B-B-B-Baby, you just ain't seen n-n-nothin' yet), but he did it as a joke, and only intended it to be heard by one person: his brother Gary, who suffered from a speech impediment. Not believing it was very good, he tried to talk their producer at Mercury Records from putting it on their 1974 "Not Fragile" album.

"I Don't Like Mondays" - Boomtown Rats - In 1979, Boomtown Rat's singer Bob Geldof and keyboardist Johnnie Fingers were doing a radio show in the US when news came over the telex that a 16-year-old Brenda Spencer from San Diego had shot teachers and children at the elementary school across the street from her house. During the seven-hour standoff outside her house, a reporter phoned in and asked her what was her motive. She said simply, "I don't like Mondays".

Brenda is currently serving 25-to-life. She was denied parole at a recent hearing.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Fifty Worst Dates

"Worst. Chronological System. Ever." - Comic Book Guy Probably. If he was ever consulted on it.

"Never ask a Trekkie the time, unless you can convert stardates and speak Klingon." - Nobody. I just made this up, too. But it's probably true.

STARDATE 319210.6 -- Pity the poor Star Trek fan. Pasty, out-of-shape, and roundly mocked by most everyone (except maybe the Furries, but that's a whole other story... It's kind of complicated. Here's a handy guide to the Official Geek Hierarchy (thanks for the link, Bonnie!) for the "big picture" of who gets to make fun of who in the land of Dork), the Trekkie gets no respect.

As if things weren't bad enough, he's got to try and explain Star Trek's crazy "Stardate" system of timekeeping. Generally, sci-fi and fantasy geeks like their little universes to be internally consistent. When Tolkien has Galadriel recite Elvish poetry in one of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy, the hardcore "Ring"ers not only memorize it, they spell- and grammarcheck it as well.

The thing about the Stardate system is that it really doesn't make any sense. No doubt it was invented so that actual dates were not used, keeping the show set in the distant future without actually pinning down an actual time. The writers of the original Star Trek, and Gene Roddenberry (the creator of Star Trek) were no doubt just happy to have a show on prime-time TV, and pulling down a steady paycheck. Making sure that the Stardates Kirk rattled off made sense had to be pretty far down on The List Of Things To Worry About. Probably right down there with making sure all the Tribbles' fur was well-groomed in that one episode.

So how tortured is the explanation of Stardates? Behold the Stardate System Explained in all its 6-part glory (yes, I said six parts). And you think switching to metric is a bitch...

Trekkie communicators? Beam 'em up!

Okay, sure, before some Comic-Book-Guy-wannabe points out that it should be "beam 'em down, us being Earth-bound and all. But nonetheless... badge communicators that activate with a touch and connect to someone by saying their name are no longer in the realm of sci-fi.

Vocera Communications in Cupertino, CA have been offering their communications badge for over a year now. A large portion of their customers are hospitals or health care workers. According to the Forbes.com article:
It turns out that communication in a hospital is often an amazingly inefficient affair. Nurses and doctors spend a lot of time playing phone and page tag. Nurses need approvals for treatments from doctors who often aren't easy to find. Paging the doctor usually takes several minutes, by which time a nurse may have left the station where she was waiting. Then the whole process starts over until finally one catches up with the other.

So, cross communicators off the list. Let's get to work on that holodeck technology!

(via Slashdot)

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

So that must be why life on Mars died out!

"I drank what?!?" - Socrates

City officials in the small town of Aliso Viejo, California became alarmed when they stumbled across an environmental website warning of the dangers of "dihydrogen monoxide". Described as "an odorless, tasteless chemical" that can be deadly if accidentally inhaled, they considered voting to ban styrofoam cups when the website went on to explain that the chemical was used in their manufacturing process.

Only later did they learn that the website is a prank, and that "dihydrogen monoxide" has a much more familiar name that even you non-Chem majors might have heard of: Water, or H2O.

You mean they actually exist?

If nobody responded to spam emails, they would go away. But the fact is, there are enough takers to keep the them in business. Spammers claim that just one buyer per 10,000 emails sent is enough to justify the costs. This story from the Wall Street Journal covers that 10,000th guy, who truly must qualify as a spammer's wet dream. His name is Orlando Soto, and he can't wait to come home each day and pore through his daily dose of 150 or so amazing, incredible, it-can't-be-legal-it's-so-cheap offers so he can pick up even more tea tree oil and bee pollen vitamins. Can we kill him yet?

(via Slashdot)

Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words are just a pain

Ah, the joys and mysteries of the English language! Here are but a few links that caught my eye today:

yourDictionary.com has a feature article on the 100 Most Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English (via zannah at #!/usr/bin/grl) and the 100 Most Often Mispelled Misspelled Words in English. Hey, maybe we can joyn the fite to chanje English spelling at the Simplified Spelling Society, which paradoxically, spells its organization's name with no simplification.

Also at yourDictionary.com is the Word of the Day (today's is Blarney, natch... Happy St. Patrick's!) while their Gameroom sports a cubic buttload of links such as Antagonyms (words that mean two contradictory things), and how to count to ten in over 4,500 languages.

And whether you're happy as a clam or hell-bent for leather, the origins of 400+ words and phrases can be found at Wordorigins.org.

A tip of the toque to my northerly neighbours (see how I put that 'u' in there, eh?) with this column on CBC called Words: Woe and Wonder

Dear me, How are you going to be? I was fine...

Time travel? Not possible yet. Try something a little more modest. Send an email to yourself in the future. Kind of like a time capsule. Only, you know, with emoticons and a killer sig.

(via srah blah blah)

Sunday, March 14, 2004

9415116094 (or so...)

Hope you had a transcendental Pi Day, which comes around every March 14th (3.14) in celebration of perhaps the most famous and studied number in the history of mathematics.

Actually, Pi Day kicked off officially on 3/14 at 1:59:26 or so today, but who's counting? Apparently, some people are, with the current world record holder for pi memorization sitting at reciting the number to over 42,000 places. Here you can see the previous record holders, plus other astounding feats of memorization in general. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Other interesting pi links include:
(3.) Search pi out to the first 100,000,000 digits to see if a specific number appears. For example, the number 867-5309 (see previous post) shows up starting at position 9,202,591. And 1234567 shows up not too much later at position 9,470,344. My phone number is in there (minus the area code) in the 6 million range.
(1) Play the Pi Trivia Game!
(4) Did Alabama state legislators really try to pass a law to round pi down to 3?

PS.The title of this post contains the just first 400 digits of pi, not counting the 3 at the beginning.

PPS. I would have posted the Pi Day post a little earlier today, but.... well, I forgot.

Friday, March 12, 2004

A Tale of Three Cell Phones

Tale #1: Remember last month when we heard about a guy trying to sell his cell phone number on EBay because the number was the same as Tommy Tutone's 1982 hit 867-5309/Jenny, and he managed to get the (212) are code version of it? Bids had reached upwards of $80,000 when Verizon halted the auction, claiming that he can't sell the number because he does not own it.

Yeah, so that's old news, I know. I was just using it as a preface to a site I found that lists names and addresses of 867-5309 owners in every area code. Maybe. One wonders if there are some privacy issues here, but for now the site is up, though no info on when it was last updated, or how the data was obtained. Presumably, the guy phoned up and just asked. The (212) number is not listed on here, so it might be years out-of-date, for all I know. By the way, the page is verging on unreadability, with a dark gray on black scheme. Squint and mouse over the underlined area codes to see where all the Jennys are.

Tale #2: I work in the IT department for my county government. We used to have an intern here at work named Sean who kept getting calls on his cell at all hours from people trying to reach, apparently, the previous owner(s) of his number. Sometimes they would ask for Kevin, sometimes other names. It was all very mysterious. One time, after someone asked for Geronimo(!), and after explaining for the umpteenth caller that the number is no longer Geronimo’s/Kevin’s, the caller asks Sean if he could “you know…hook a brother up”.

Turns out that the number used to belong to an undercover vice detective (also employed by the county, coincidentally), and this guy was hoping to score some weed from what he thought was a dealer. Presumably, Geronimo and Kevin were a couple of his street names… Later, Sean and I happened to be making service calls in the same department that “Geronimo” worked, so we stopped by to let him know that someone was still looking for someone to hook a brother up. :-/

Tale #3: Fellow blogger Laura tells her story of how she got Chris Rock’s old cell phone number, and for five glorious weeks, entertained calls from Adam Sandler, Spike Lee, and Jack Nicholson, er… well, Jack Nicholson’s assistant, anyway.

(via Boing Boing)

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Khan: I've done far worse than kill you, Admiral. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her: marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet, buried alive. Buried alive.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Khan: Ah Kirk, my old friend. Do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold? It is very cold in space.

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan

For those of you who have ever been stuck in a crappy minimum wage, dead-end job more mind-numbing than a brain freeze brought on by slamming a 72 oz. SuperGulp frozen Coke in under 60 seconds, this tale of Everyday Low Prices uber-revenge from Mentally Incontinent may be the best story you've read all night. Just don't let the shift manager catch you.

Monday, March 08, 2004

How to save 274 minutes

The Exorcist in 30 seconds -- (A savings of 121 minutes 30 seconds!)
Apocalypse Now in 30 seconds -- (A savings of 151 minutes 30 seconds!)

Oh, and uh, did I mention that they're reenacted by bunnies? 'Cause they are...

(via Incoming Signals)

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

"OK, double or nothing... I bet you can't drink all this ant poison in one gulp!"

Homer: Well crying isn't gonna bring him back! Unless your tears smell like dog food. So you can either sit there crying and eating can after can of dog food until your tears smell enough like dog food to make your dog come back, or you can go out there and find your dog!!

Bart: Your right! I'll do it!

Homer: Rats, I almost had him eating dog food!

Teacher bets student $20 that he can't jump out of a second-story window without getting hurt.