Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Radio you can beat off to

Two entries today. Make sure to check out my first post as well.

At the risk of sounding like a corporate shill, I really love my Sirius radio. It is perfect for me. My six presets are three music channels (all of which play *gasp* new rock/alternative, without commercials), CNBC, Howard Stern 100, and NFL Radio. I get 24-hour NFL talk, 24-hour Howard Stern replays, every NFL/NHL/NBA/NCAA game, Jim Cramer, and the dreamy Maria Bartiromo. She pins down truth-dodging CEOs on tough questions like no other interviewer I've seen. She told one well-respected executive that she'd be happy to let him read his scripted responses...after he answered her question. One of her coworkers called her 'unconscionable' on the air. Excuse me while I wipe the, uh, drool off my keyboard.

I'm too lazy to download MP3s, but I can almost always find one decent song between the three channels. I never sit in my car for 4.5 hours straight, but I can listen to bits and pieces of the Howard Stern show as it is replayed throughout the day. Unfortunately, I missed yesterday's show, where three porn stars sampled these *NWS* machines *NWS* live on the air. One listener called up and suggested that Howard give the girls their own 30-minute show, where it was just them and the machines, "you know, no talking or anything." Hey buddy, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. I hear there is porn on something called the Internet. You can beat off all you like while actually looking at naked chicks, not just listening to them.

Movie Review: V for Vendetta

Pleasantly surprising.

Yes, most of the characters are as deep as a saltine. Sure, there are plot holes you could drive a train through. Naturally, the message is as subtle as a jackhammer. Certainly, my analogies are trite and cliche.

But I have to give the movie some credit. It satisfied my intellectual arrogance with quotes from Shakespeare and Thomas Jefferson, music by Tchaikovsky, cultural references beyond the grasp of a vapid teenager, and a hero that pulled off the unobtrusive use of the word soubriquet. The heavy historical influence drove me to read about Guy Fawkes.

Evey and the Inspector weren't exactly complex, but they were developed characters. Despite the 2.5-hour length, I remained interested and compelled throughout. While this movie has plenty of flaws, they weren't enough to get in the way of my enjoyment. There's a good dose of swashbuckling action, a clever scene or two, a fanstastic explosion, a little bit of revolution, and some really bad guys that get their comeuppance.

Tiny bit of a spoiler to follow.

Two things I was quite happy with were 1) they resisted the temptation of making Natalie Portman's character into the action sidekick, and 2) V dies heroically. He isn't saved from the brink of death by love. Furthermore, despite the fact that he becomes a martyr for his cause, the movie refuses to draw Jesus parallels. (Yes Matrix Trilogy, I'm talking about you.)

As far as comic book movies go, this one ranks right up there with the original Batman, and that's high praise from me. While this movie lacks a performance like Jack Nicholson as the Joker, it makes up for it with a higher level of sophistication. And although it doesn't have Mary Jane in a wet t-shirt, it (thankfully) also lacks the smarminess of Spiderman.

Easily the best movie I've seen in 2006. Ok, that's not saying much. But I enjoyed watching it. It has a very broad appeal that can be enjoyed on different levels, so I'd recommend it to nearly anyone. Compared to the usual crap churned out by Hollywood, V for Vendetta is a pleasant surprise.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A hockey player said what?

Tight game, we're tied 3-3 near the end. Puck is cleared out along the boards to my side. The offensive player is skating along the boards, head down, staring at the puck as he tries to catch up with it. What would YOU do if you were the defenseman?

After he gets up, he says...not joking, apparently...Play the puck next time, asshole. Yeah hey, great idea. Except that sport is called field hockey, and played by girls with a ball. Dumbass.

Sadly we ended up losing 4-3, so I guess Mr. Field Hockey gets the last laugh.

Monday, March 20, 2006

From each according to his ability...

So you thought that tearing down the Berlin Wall was the end of socialism? Not even close.

While Eastern Europe goes on an economic tear, buoyed by free market momentum, Western Europe is holding on to its socialist roots for dear life. Pensioners in England (retirees who no longer work, didn't save for retirement, and are living off the generosity of consumers and taxpayers) are demanding more help to pay their fuel bills. Meanwhile, 1.5 million rioters in France are threatening to strike over a law that the government hopes will reduce the 23% unemployment rate. At the same time, governments in Luxembourg, France, and Spain are considering scuttling the takeover of Arcelor because it might cause *gasp* job cuts in their countries, already bloated with unemployment.

Ironically, French companies enjoyed a banner year in 2005, because they found a way around France's wacky worker protection laws. They simply stopped hiring people. Congratulations to the unions and other socialists in France, who have made it impossible to fire the've prevented competent people from being hired as well.

Socialism never worked, it doesn't work today, and it never will. But as long as there are people interested in having someone else provide for their needs, socialism will enjoy strong support.

Speaking of working hard for your money, I've had two great weekends of poker in a row. Combined with a $5 gain in Genentech on Friday, I'm thinking early retirement!

Friday, March 17, 2006

They're playing basketball

For all the semi-bragging about my hockey skills I do in this blog, basketball is an equal dose of humility. I'm just terrible at this sport. Embarrassing really, if I cared about things like that.

I played again last night with some old co-workers in what is shaping up to be a regular game. I couldn't even score until the fourth game, in spite of a dazzling array of comical airballs and blocked shots. And this all in spite of my new Nike basketball shoes! (Money, it's gotta be the shoes!)

But at least it's a decent workout. It keeps me from getting so fat that I need a sturdier toilet seat.

Poker tonight. Cross your fingers for me!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Back in black

Last night was my not-so-triumphant return from my suspension. We were destroyed 8-3. I did have two goals, at least, but it's a far cry from satisfying to lose like that. And I'd like to report that my Games Without Being Suspended streak is currently at one and counting!

Sears was up a stunning 15 smackers yesterday. Now if we catch another $10 on the upside, I'll actually break even! Sad but true. Honestly, I think the stock is just starting its run. Not too late to get on the train, slackers!

Zi-Thuuli of the Granite Claw was slain this week as my EQ guild ventured into the Demi-plane of Blood for the first time! Man, I'm a geek.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A pleasant swim

Yes! Coldwater Creek reported blowout earnings last night and the stock surged today. So far the stock is up 39% since I bought it. I quickly dumped half my holding to lock in some profit, and I'm letting the rest ride. Nice to be right once in a while!

Aren't election-year politics great? Or at the very least, sickening? House Republicans, feeling threatened by predictions of Democratic victories in November, are making a political football out of the Dubai ports deal. There's absolutely no basis in fact to feel threatened by this deal...the UAE is a staunch ally in the war on terror, and most of our western ports are owned by foreign companies anyway (China, for instance.) But Congress is playing off America's (understandable) Islamophobia to get a boost in the polls. Pathetic.

South Dakota doesn't have any state income tax, and when I was an independent consultant, I worked with a few people that incorporated there to save a little dough. But then they go and do something like this. Gratz to all those who voted for increased government spending and curtailed individual looks like your dreams are coming true! Now you'll have an extra 800 babies a year growing up with the spectre of "If mom and dad lived in North Dakota, you wouldn't be here right now" hanging over their heads. I'm sure they'll get all the love and attention that small children deserve, and they'll live happy, fulfilling lives.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Hippie chimps

Looks like the list of living species is about to get shorter by one. The Congolese monkey known as the bonobo, or 'hippie chimp' for its peace-loving ways, is being hunted to extinction.

Here's a species of monkey described as both 'peace-loving' and 'tasty'. They greet each other with genital handshakes and have sex to settle disputes. Yet the female gives birth to exactly one offspring every five years. Why does this species sound like a mistake that Darwin's Law will soon correct? Do we really have an ecological responsibility to save creatures that are only slighted more suited to survival than the Screamapillar? Predators have been killing off Nature's mistakes for millions of years (or much less) so I'm not positive that the viability of the world's ecosystem is as stake here.

Surely the world could use more genital handshakes, not fewer, but is that enough reason alone to preserve the bonobo? Maybe we could worry instead about global warming, which we all know isn't real, but simply a myth perpetuated by the hippies at Greenpeace.

Meanwhile, tonight is the final game of my four-game suspension. Next week I'll be back in action, and I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Short attention span

My interest in curling seems to have faded as fast as my interest in blogging. The men's team played in the bronze medal game sometime since my last post, and I neither watched the match, nor did I take two seconds to look up the results. So we either won a bronze medal or we didn't. /yawn

I took my profits in Cummins and it's up $3 more since then. I never know when to get out of a stock. But I figured I should be happy with a 20%+ gain in a $4 billion company, over the span of a couple months. Too bad all my investments don't work out that well, like the Comcast that I also sold. Talk about a dog.

Started to play Civilization IV some this weekend. And by "some", I mean "forgetting to eat, drink, or sleep for long periods of time". This is a really solid game, especially for anyone who enjoys epic strategy and ancient history (guilty on both counts.) Many thanks go to my wife, who has shouldered the burden of my near-constant play and resulting detachment from reality. (See honey, I mentioned you in my blog! Brownie points for me!)

In closing, I leave you with some timeless dialogue from the Simpsons:

Coach (lying on the ground): Why did you [hit me with that chair]? I was begging for mercy!
Homer: I saw my advantage and I took it. That's what heroes do. (turns his head to the right, fists on hips, striking the classic Superman pose)