This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO sMoRTy71.com -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Improv Everywhere
Before we went to The Hives show on Sunday night, Amy and I had dinner with our friends Scott and Jill. Scott's friend Birch, who was in town from New York, joined us. Turns out that Birch is part of the Upright Citizen's Brigade and does a lot of improv comedy stuff.

One of the funnier things that we discussed was the stuff that he had done with Improv Everywhere. IE is an improv comedy troupe that stage "conquests" around New York City. It is sort of like flash mobs (which I hate), but much funnier.

I'm not going to try and explain all of them; however, check out "Best Gig Ever" and "Anton Chekov" for a little taste of what they're all about. Unfortunately, their site uses frames, so I can't link to the individual conquests without losing all of the navigation. Here is the main "Conquests" page.
No more DirecTiVo?
It looks like DirecTV is finally acting on the long-standing rumor that they would replace TiVo as their DVR software provider. Ever since being acquired by News Corp., rumors have circulated that DirecTV would switch over to DVR software developed by fellow News Corp. company NDS.

According to this USA Today piece, DirecTV will introduce a new NDS-powered DVR device in the second half of 2005. While DirecTV is saying that this new device is merely an "alternative" to TiVo, I have a feeling that it is just a matter of time before I have to kiss my DirecTiVo goodbye.

This is also bad news for TiVo. 61% of their 2.3 million subscribers are using DirecTiVos.
FFL: sMoRTy71 120, Madmen 100

Week 12 of Fantasy Football turned out to be a big one for me. Not only did I get my 10th win of the season; however, more importantly, I clinched the division title. I am now 2.5 games ahead of the other teams in my division with only 2 games to play.

I was still without Priest Holmes, but a couple of other players stepped up. Willis McGahee, who was a backup when the season started, scored 37 points and Marvin Harrison, who had been underperforming for much of the season, scored 30 points.

And I must also mention that Deuce McAllister scored 11 points against the team that abandoned him when he was injured earlier in the year. Thanks again, Michael.

Next week, I get a rematch against the only team to beat me this season - the 8-4 Jim's Underachieving Bums. I should have Priest Holmes back, so hopefully I can avenge that earlier loss.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Review: The Hives in Memphis
The Hives
To cap off our trip to Memphis, Amy and I caught The Hives at the New Daisy Theater on Sunday night. I had heard that The Hives put on a great show; however, they exceeded all of my expectations. It was the most fun I've had at a concert in quite awhile.

As expected, the band looked great. They were wearing black shirts, black pants, white ties and white jackets. They coordinated their outfits nicely with their all-white drum set and Hiwatt amplifiers. Kind of reminded me of early Urge Overkill.

After opening with "Abra Cadaver," they tore through just about all of the songs from "Tyrannosaurus Hives" and "Veni Vidi Vicious." They closed the show with "B Is For Brutus" and "A-K-A I-D-I-O-T." I think my personal favorite was "Diabolic Scheme." Pelle's voice and campy deliver were hilarious. Plus, right before the little guitar solo, the whole band literally froze for about 30 seconds. They didn't move. They didn't even blink. Very funny.

Lead singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist may be the greatest frontman currently performing in rock and roll. He kind of looks like Don Knotts doing an impersonation of Mick Jagger. When he wasn't screaming or kicking or twirling the mic by the cord, he was encouraging the crowd to cheer louder for him (and presumably the rest of the band). Before one song, he had the crowd repeat "Pelle" over and over (he wanted it louder each time). Then, he had us repeat "I Love You, Pelle" over and over, too. At one point, he half-jokingly commented, "The Hives are doing great. Memphis could use a little work."

There is a post on HivesMusic.com about their visit to Memphis. I have uploaded all of the photos from the show to Flickr.
Thanksgiving in Memphis
I just got back from almost a week in Memphis. We were spending time with Amy's family over Thanksgiving. I took a bunch of pictures which I've organized into a set on Flickr. Check them out here.
Friday, November 26, 2004
Black Friday: Where are the deals?
For the first time in several years, I slept in on Black Friday. After looking through all of the sales flyers for Best Buy, Circuit City, Wal-Mart and Target, I was really surprised at how few good deals there were.

In years past, one of the aforementioned stores would always have something at such a ridiculously low price that getting up at 5AM seemed worth it. This year, there wasn't a single item that I felt was priced low enough to warrant the early morning trip.

I have a theory that retailers have figured out that most consumers are ignorant of what items should cost. As long as they open at 6AM, they know a ton of people will still show up whether they discount things or not.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Pixies setlist & DiscLive CD
Finally came across the complete setlist from the Pixies show we attended in Chicago on November 17th. If you use Rhapsody, I have created a playlist of the songs in order.

Bone Machine
Gouge Away
In Heaven
Where is My Mind?
Holiday Song
Nimrod's Son
Crackity Jones
Something Against You
Broken Face
Isla De Incanta
Hey
Mr.Grieves
River Euphrates
Caribou
Cactus
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Wave of Mutilation
No. 13 Baby
Head On
U-Mass
Dead
Debaser
Tame
Gigantic

Encore:
Here Comes Your Man
Vamos

BTW, DiscLive was selling CDs of the concert after the show; however, I didn't pick one up. It looks like you can order a copy of just about any of the Pixies shows from the DiscLive website for $25. Here is the Pixies page.
Beware: Kodak warranty service
As anyone who reads this site regularly knows, I am pretty loyal to the brands and products that I like. I'll blab on about them all day if you let me. However, if you give me bad service, I get very upset. The latest company to give me bad service is Kodak.

I recently sent my wife's digital camera, which is less than a year old, back for a warranty repair. During one of Mahlon's football games, The "Telephoto / Wide" button, which zooms in and out, fell off and I couldn't find it. As you can imagine, it is difficult to take good pictures without the ability to zoom in or out.

In order to get the camera back in time for our Thanksgiving trip to Memphis, we mailed the camera out last week. This meant that I couldn't take pictures of my trip to Chicago (which was a real bummer); however, we definitely wanted to have it for Thanksgiving. Plus, Kodak promises that warranty repairs will be back in the hands of the customer in 7 days, so we were all set.

Well, this morning, I got an e-mail from Kodak saying that they had voided my warranty and wanted either $120 to repair our camera or $35 to send it back! Huh? So I called the toll-free number provided in the e-mail and got, you guessed it, a recording. In order to talk to anyone about my claim, I would need to leave a message and wait for a return call. I imagine that they have gotten a lot of angry callers from people who received their "shakedown" e-mails. Otherwise, I can't figure out why they would put such a frustrating call system in place.

Anyway, I finally get a call back from Sue. She explains that Kodak does a thorough inspection on all of the cameras and that it appears that our camera sustained some water damage (which is absolutely not true) which is going to lead to corrosion which is going to lead to slow painful death for our camera. And, of course, water damage voids the warranty, so they aren't going to fix the button since the camera isn't under warranty. Brilliant, huh?

After several calls back and forth (I must point out that Sue was very helpful throughout the process), Kodak agreed to fix the button and send the camera back free of charge (which is all we asked for in the first place). Now, however, we won't have our camera for our Thanksgiving trip, so I'm still not pleased.

I guess the silver lining in all of this is that, when our camera does die, I'll have one less brand to have to choose from.
Dan Sweeper: sMoRTy71 hater
I got a funny little call from my friend Dan Sweeper (I've changed his name to protect his identity) last week. He called to tell me that he (finally) got an XBOX and Halo 2. I was in shock. Dan is notorious for taking forever to make purchasing decisions (I guess 3 years is about right for the XBOX, but Halo 2 was really quick).

After telling me about his wild shopping spree, Dan asked me to guess his XBOX Live Gamertag. I tried "Sweeper," "The Sweeper," "Dan Sweeper" and even "Tirekicker," but I was wrong every time (even though the ol' tirekicker is kicking himself for not thinking of that last one).

Dan let me know that the first part of his Gamertag was "Vanderlay." He has used that as part of his team name in Fantasy Football for the past 5 seasons, so that made sense. He said the last part was a number. I figured it would be "44" for his age (Hey-O!) or maybe his birth year. But no, Dan chose "71." That's right, "Vanderlay 71." Dan was, of course, very proud of himself for this little bit of player hating that he has perpetrated against me. Very clever, Dan. Very clever indeed.

To show my appreciation, I am now posting some of the Photoshop pranks that I pulled on Dan during our 4 years as co-workers. How do you like that one, Vanderlay71? I SAID, HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT ONE?

1. Beavis & Butthead
I can't remember the story behind this photo; however, it is still pretty funny.

2. Danny Crocker
Dan loves to bake. So, naturally, I took that love and mocked it.

3. Metal Dan (Shown above)
Dan loves to rock and he doesn't care who knows it. He used to wear the codpiece to the office over his khakis.

4. Mac and Tosh
Dan (and his foosball partner) were sickening with their compliments to each other during the few games that they managed to win.

I am now bracing myself for Dan's retort.
FFL: sMoRTy71 88, Dungville 76

Although it wasn't pretty, I was able to win my 6th Fantasy game in a row last night. I was without Priest Holmes for the second straight week; however, fortunately, I didn't need to score as many points as I usually do to win. Otherwise, I would have been in trouble. Check out the scoring comparison here.

As you can see from the standings, this win puts me at 9-1-1. Next week, we move back into division play. Because we have the toughest division, I am a little worried about how I'm going to finish.

I play the 4-7 Motorcity Madmen next (without Priest Holmes again). Although I pummeled them in Week 1, the Madmen have been surging lately. While winning the past two games, they have scored over 100 points.
Monday, November 22, 2004
When family portraits go wrong
First, let me say that I absolutely hate getting family portraits taken. The whole process is just way too stressful. We have to get the kids dressed up, keep them from getting their clothes dirty on the way, and hope that they act OK once we get there.

Tonight at Sears, we reached an all-time low. The session, which usually lasts about 15 minutes, took almost an hour. But this time, it wasn't because of the kids, it was because of the "photographer." She was just a total mess. She couldn't figure out how to get us posed. She couldn't remember the kids names (so there was a lot of "uh, move your hand...no, not you, the other one"). And, worst of all, she couldn't keep her thong in her pants.

The photo at right is one of the shots she accidentally snapped while trying to get Mahlon and Miles posed for a picture. She was holding the trigger for the camera between her legs when she set it off. Yes, that is a rhinestone star on the back of the thong (Only the best at Sears).

When we checked out, the photographer took a marker and blacked out the photo on the proof sheet. However, Amy had been there before, so she knew that the proof would still show up online.

We ended up getting one decent shot in our session. Check it out here. Plus, the kids got to see (and get a picture with) Santa at the mall.
The battle over a dumb idea
Roger Avary, who co-wrote "Pulp Fiction" with Quentin Tarantino, is suing Microsoft over a video game idea he claims MS stole from him. Turns out that Avary does consulting for video game storylines (good to see that Oscar has opened the doors to the big time) and was asked to help MS conceive of a game to engage women. The resulting idea was for a game that leads players through yoga poses.

Avary claims that MS tried to get him to sign away the rights to his idea (with no compensation, of course). Avary declined. Recently, MS has announced a new game called "Yourself! Fitness" that leads players through... you guessed it, yoga poses.

While, from the very little bit of information in the article, it looks like Avary has a case, I'm not sure why in the world anyone would think that a yoga video game is a good idea. I mean, wouldn't a DVD do just fine. Or maybe it is competitive yoga. But I think, to paraphrase one of Avary's lines from "Pulp Fiction," that kind of competition would go against the whole idea of yoga.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Recap: Chicago trip

The marquee at the Aragon Ballroom.

As I posted in the weeks leading up to the trip, my friend Pat and I went to Chicago earlier this week to see The Pixies & Urge Overkill concert at the Aragon Ballroom. Here is a brief recap of our trip:

Day 1: We left Louisville at about 8:30am Eastern. We wanted to get to Chicago early enough to get checked into our hotel and get ready for the show.

Everything was going smoothly until we stopped at the McDonalds that is nestled in the middle of the Tollway just outside of Chicago. Pat and I both went in to use the restroom. After washing my hands, I noticed what Pat refers to as "the mystery stain." It was a large wet spot on my upper thigh. I couldn't tell if I had somehow pissed myself or if I had simply splashed water there while washing my hands. Either way, it definitely didn't look good. After deciding that it wasn't that noticeable, I attempted to walk to the car. However, outside it was glaringly obvious that I had had some sort of unfortunate mishap in the restroom, so I took off my jacket and covered the "stain" just as we passed a burly truck driver. The last thing I wanted was for a rumor that I pissed myself to hit the trucker circuit. Pat, who was doubled over laughing all the way back to the car, decided to preserve the "stain" forever with a photo. It's a classic.

We ended up getting to Chicago a little bit too early to check in, so we headed up to check out the Aragon Ballroom, the site of the concert, which is located "Uptown."

Unfortunately, there really isn't anything else to see in that neighborhood (other than guys asking us for fifty cents or a cigarette), so we decided to head to the hotel and see if we could check in early. I had used Priceline.com the night before we left to get a room downtown for $89. I wasn't sure what to expect from an $89 hotel room in downtown Chicago; however, it turned out to be a bargain. It was at the Holiday Inn City Center which is a couple blocks from both Michigan Avenue and the Navy Pier. Our room was on the 15th floor and had a great view of both Lake Michigan and the downtown skyline. The sign on the door of the room listed the maximum rate for that room as $530 per night.

After checking in, we ventured out on foot to find something to eat. A woman in the elevator of our hotel recommended a place called Boston Blackie's. It was an old school bar and restaurant that specializes in half-pound hamburgers. It was the kind of place you would imagine the guys from "Good Fellas" going if they visited Chicago. The food was really good. Total bill for both of us (with Pat's requisite Captain and Coke) was $24.

Because we still had several hours until the concert, we decided to hit Michigan Avenue for some sightseeing. I have to admit that I was a bit underwhelmed with the whole Magnificent Mile thing. Don't get me wrong, I love to shop; however, stringing together Nordstrom's, Guess, Crate & Barrel and the GAP ain't "magnificent." Bored, we hit Starbucks and headed back to the room.

We still had about 3 hours until we needed to leave, so Pat crashed out and took a nap. I tried to watch a little TV over his freight train-like snoring, but there isn't much on at 4pm on a Wednesday. The most entertaining thing I did watch was the weatherman on the local CBS affiliate. He had to have been a last minute substitution for the regular weatherman because he had no idea what the hell he was talking about. At one point, he marveled at the temperature difference between Minneapolis and St. Louis. They are 650 miles apart! "We've got some different temperatures over this area of land." And when he looked at the radar image, he said "As you can see, we've got some clouds swirling around right about here." Brilliant.

By 6PM, we were ready to go, so we headed out to find the train to the Aragon Ballroom. We needed to take the red line train, so we had to walk about 6 blocks to the station. Like a couple of tourists, we fumbled around trying to buy a CTA card for the $3 round trip fare. Because we were catching a train out of downtown, it was packed with people trying to get home from work. Even though we were standing right next to people, no one would make eye contact. It was really funny. People would look you in the nose or the chest, but never in the eye. Many had iPod earphones in; however, it seemed that some people weren't even listening to music (they would react to conversations around them). The earphones seemed to be just another way to avoid interacting with their fellow commuters.

The nausea-inducing train ride took about 30 minutes and dropped us off directly across the street from the Aragon at around 7PM. After going through the security shakedown out front (Pat was able to sneak a camera in), we found ourselves in a dilapidated old ballroom that looked like a poor man's Louisville Palace. The main floor was only about 1/4 of the way full, so we worked our way up into the crowd until we were about 5 people back from the stage.

Urge Overkill's equipment was already set up. This time around, all of the amps had the big UO logos on them which looked awesome.

Because they were opening, Urge played a much shorter set than the last time we saw them. They cut out songs like "Woman 2 Woman" (one of my favorites), "Stalker" and (thankfully) "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon." After Pat and I screamed for it for the last 3 songs, they finally finished with a fantastic version of "(Now That's) The Barclords."

While I thought the Urge set was really, really good overall, it seemed to lack
the energy of the Lexington, KY show I attended with less than 70 people. I think the tame crowd is mostly to blame. For example, in Lexington, "Positive Bleeding" really got the crowd wound up and they stayed up for the rest of the (longer) set. In Chicago, "Bleeding" didn't get any response at all. It wasn't until the last few songs that energy of the crowd picked up (and the band's as well). In fact,
it seemed that after realizing the crowd wasn't fully with them, Nash
would only look at the pockets of UO fans. We were jumping around and
singing along (we were standing about 5 people back from Nash's mic) ,
so we got quite a few smiles and "yeahs." But otherwise, he seemed to
look a little disappointed.

Pat kept saying that UO was much tighter than before;
however, they seemed to miss a couple of more times than the previous
show we saw. In addition to the weird cigarette break (in which Nash's
cord kept getting more and more tangled around his leg) in "The Break,"
Ed very obviously lost his place in Sister Havana (it was the same
place where the drummer from The Last Vegas messed it up in
Lexington). I believe it was during the "there's no time to lose"
section before the chorus kicks back in. And in "Erica Kane," they did
a 3rd "she's got the rhythm now" verse. It may have been part of the
show; however, it was a bit awkward and seemed, by the look on their
faces, that they had missed the transition back to the faster part of
the song.

As for the Pixies, they were incredible. Super tight. Charles' voice is just as amazing live as it is on record (as is Kim's). Getting to watch Joey Santiago reproduce all of the weird guitar sounds from the records was pretty impressive, too. They seem to make much more noise than what you would expect from just 4 people. And, unlike the UO set, the crowd was going nuts.

They played a ton from "Doolittle," "Come On Pilgrim" and "Surfer Rosa." Just a couple from "Trompe Le Monde." I believe they opened with "Bone Machine" and then "Gouge Away." The second half of the show was much more uptempo stuff like "Crackity Jones," "Head on"(which really got the crowd going), "No. 13 Baby" (another crowd favorite), "Debaser" and "Tame." During those faster songs, I could feel the floor of the Aragon flexing under my feet. Not the most reassuring feeling in that dumpy old building, but the show was so good I didn't care.

The difference in crowd response (between the UO set and the Pixies set) was the most evident prior to the encore. After they went around saying "Goodnight" to each other on the mic, Charles, Kim, Joey and Dave simply walked around the stage for a couple of minutes. The crowd was going absolutely ape shit. Everybody was jumping up and down and screaming their heads off. I've been to a ton of concerts and I can't remember a more raucous ovation.

I can say without hesitation that this was easily one of the best concerts I've seen. I would like to show you some photos from the show; however Pat was too afraid to take any so we only have the one blurry shot above. We saw some drunk getting thrown out (for being a drunk BTW). However, Pat reasoned that the guy must have also had a camera.

After the show, we waited over a half of an hour to file out of the Aragon. The only way in or out of the concert hall is via a single staircase in the back. So, as you can imagine, it takes quite a while for a couple thousand people to leave.

We waited for the train for about 20 minutes and then took the 30 minute ride back downtown. It was now around midnight. We hadn't eaten since our late lunch at Boston Blackie's, so we started looking for a good restaurant on our walk back the hotel. To our amazement, just about every restaurant in downtown Chicago closes before 11pm. We ended up at our hotel's cheesy sports bar where we planned to make due with some bar food. After our waiter brought us our drinks, he informed us that they didn't serve food after 11:30 (he acted as if we should have known this already). And he also said that room service had a very limited menu at night, too. "Maybe a turkey sandwich or some cheesecake."

We ended up at an Irish pub across the street from the hotel called Timothy O'Toole's because their kitchen is open until 2AM. I had Irish nachos (basically french fries with cheese, bacon and onions) which isn't the best idea at 12:30AM.

Day 2: I was awakened at 8AM by the person delivering our complimentary USA Today. For some reason, they felt compelled to knock to let me know the paper had arrived. Thanks!

So I woke up Snoring Beauty, we packed our things, hit the Starbucks around the corner and then checked out. Next stop...IKEA! Because it is way out in Schaumburg, it took us about 40 minutes to get there from downtown.

We spent about 2 hours picking out our plastic and/or laminated Scandinavian products. Pat dropped about $150. I did about $125 worth of damage.

On the way out of town, we hit a Denny's for a quick French Toast Slam. We arrived back in Louisville around 9PM wishing we had skipped Denny's.

Monday, November 15, 2004
DualDisc controversy brewing
CDRInfo.com is reporting that several consumer electronics companies, including Sony, Pioneer and (one of my favorites) Onkyo, are warning consumers that the new DualDisc format may not be safe to use in their products.

I thought that DualDiscs were simply a DVD on one side and a CD on the other; however, it turns out that the "non-DVD" side of the disc doesn't actually meet the specifications in order to carry the "CD" designation.

Here is part of Onkyo's statement:
"Onkyo understands that, although these discs may refer to a CD side, the 'non-DVD' side is not compliant with the Compact Disc Digital Audio specification due to its decreased thickness and therefore does not bear the CD logo.

"Onkyo recommends that consumers not use DualDisc titles with any Onkyo products, including CD players, CD Recorders and DVD players. Until Onkyo has an opportunity to test the new commercially available hybrid discs, Onkyo does not know whether Onkyo products can safely handle these new hybrid discs, or whether these discs may damage your Onkyo products."

The only DualDisc I have encountered is The Donnas "Gold Medal." I had no problem playing either side of the disc.
FFL: sMoRTy71 103, B.B. Bombers 72

I don't really have too much to say about this (my 8th) win. I was without Priest Holmes (who averages 25 points per game) and I still beat down Bryan Peabody's Big Blue Bombers team by 31 points. Maybe I should have only started 7 players. At least it wouldn't have been embarrassing.

Interestingly enough, on Friday, Bryan was talking a lot of smack about the upcoming game. I wonder what he'll be saying today. Bryan...? Bryan...? Anyone...?

My record is now 8-1-1. Next week, I face the 3-7 Dungville Heap. Yawn...
Sunday, November 14, 2004
ODB is dead!
I just read on CNN.com that ODB collapsed and died in a Manhattan recording studio. The cause of death is still unknown. He was 35. Damn, first Rick James, now ODB!
NowHouse.org hollas back
As my loyal reader(s) know, I mentioned how much I liked the NowHouse project a few weeks back. I just got my latest Google Web Alert and found that the NowHouse.org has a link to my blog item on their "Press" page. The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, The Mercury News...and sMoRTy71.com. Sounds good to me.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Rumor: 3 versions of XBOX Next
The Inquirer is reporting that Microsoft is planning 3 different versions of the next-generation XBOX. Supposedly, there will be a basic XBOX Next, which won't have a hard drive, and an XBOX Next HD, which will include a hard drive and PVR functionality, launching in the Fall of 2005.

In the Fall of 2006, the XBOX Next PC will launch. It will basically be a PC in an XBOX's clothing. According to the article, the XBOX Next PC will run "Windows and all standard PC software. It also includes CD Burner, Wireless keyboard, mouse and controller and will work best connected to a high-definition TV or PC monitor. Media Center functionality - like movies, music and photos - is also included. The device will also play most available PC games." I think that the ability to play PC games will be the one feature that allows Microsoft to finally take the lead in the console wars. I just wish that was part of the basic model.

BTW, he source for all of The Inquirer's info is a slide from a presentation given to analysts last year. I guess we'll have to wait and see how this all shakes out.
XBOX for distributed computing?

The guys over at AnandTech wanted to see if they could build a distrbuted computing environment using 8 XBOXes. The cost of buying a similar environment is around $4,000, so using 8 XBOXes and mod chips (for around $1,800) would be significantly cheaper.

I won't spoil the results of their performance benchmarks; however, regardless of the outcome, there is something cool about seeing 8 XBOXes stacked together like that.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Mark Cuban talks music
Mark Cuban has another interesting post over on Blog Maverick. This time, he is challenging the music industry to find a viable model for distributing digital music rather building a wall around their industry with lawsuits and legislation. I've been arguing the same thing for a long time; however, no one cares what I think. It's nice to see someone like Cuban speaking out on the topic, too.

I, personally, would rather not have to buy another CD ever again. I would much rather continue using a service, like Rhapsody, that provides music as a utility. One monthly fee gives you access to everything. You can access it at home, at work, in your car. Rhapsody is pretty close to perfect. It's two biggest issues are that it's catalog is missing a few major artists and it isn't (yet) portable to where you can access in your car. Once they do that, I'll be hooked for life.
Bungie's Halo 2 stats page
Bungie is maintaining a stats page for Halo 2 online play. As of this posting, there have been 259,566 players online in the past 24 hours (and just under 8,000 on right now).

In addition to usage stats, the page also keeps leaderboards for each of the online modes.
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
King Kong video blog
Peter Jackson is keeping a video production diary of the making of "King Kong." Started back in September, the diary has around 20 posts that include behind-the-scenes video. I think the idea of video blogs is really cool and hope to see more filmmakers (and others) doing them. Check it out.
Picked up Halo 2 this morning
I decided to forego all of the midnight sales and wait to pick up Halo 2 at Target this morning. I got to the store about 10 minutes early and found that 8 other people had the same idea. By the time the doors opened, there were probably 15 people waiting. What was interesting was that the majority were women (and most were in their early 40s). At first, I thought that they were just waiting for the store to open; however, all of them went to the electronics counter and bought Halo 2. Hmm. So either they are playing the game themselves or they are buying it for their underage kids.
FFL: sMoRTy71 92, Lyndon Llamas 88

It's becoming really hard to stay humble this FFL season; however, I'll try to stay strong. After all, as I tell my players each week, "Act like you've been there before and that you plan to be there again."

This week, I was facing a tough (at least I thought they would be tough) Lyndon Llamas team without my starting QB Brett Favre. After Llamas coach Tom Osborne encouraged other FFL owners to snatch up all available QBs ("haterism is a trip"), I was stuck with underachiever Kerry Collins. To make matters worse, Priest Holmes strained his MCL and didn't play for the second half of the game. Plus, I made a coaching mistake (ah, there's some humility!) by not starting Willis McGahee who scored 20 points. It would seem that all of these things would spell victory from the Llamas... but it didn't. The rest of my team, especially the Ravens D, stepped up and I got a 4 point win (some would call that a "mandate").

I am now 7-1-1 which is the best record in the league. I am also second in the league's "Power Ranking" before the SF Reamers. Next week, I play the 5-4 Big Blue Bombers without Priest who is expected to miss the game due to the MCL injury.
Monday, November 8, 2004
Halo 2 earns 9.4 from GameSpot
Just in case you wanted to see a review before rushing out tonight at midnight to purchase Halo 2, GameSpot has given the game a 9.4. Also included is a video review which you can check out here.

I'm still debating whether to go to BestBuy or EBGames at midnight or wait until tomorrow morning and hit Target when they open at 8am. Target is throwing in a free strategy guide, so I may just wait the extra 8 hours. I'm not going to be able to play it until Tuesday evening anyway. I just don't want to miss out on getting a copy.
"Arrested Development" returns
I said it last season (and I will say it again after only 1 episode), "Arrested Development" is one of the 3 funniest shows on TV ("Reno 911!," "Curb Your Enthusiasm").

Last night's season premiere was great: Tobias and the whole Blue Man Group thing; Gob taking over the company and finding a contract between his father and Saddam Hussein; Buster combing Uncle Oscar's hair; Michael letting George-Michael sit on his lap to drive (and getting pulled over by the police). I could go on and on.

I think my favorite moment had to be when Michael is going around the room and telling all of his family members how he is no longer going to be there to bail them out (he was planning to move away to Phoenix and leave them to their own devices). When he gets to his sister Lindsay, he says that he won't be there to hear her cry about how she thinks her husband Tobias is -- (right when he is about to say "gay," Tobias "accidentally" blows Lucille's "rape horn," drowning out Michael's last word).

And since our local FOX affialite went to HD earlier this Fall, "Arrested Development" now airs in high-definition widescreen. Cool.
Sunday, November 7, 2004
The Donnas "Gold Medal"

I got the latest Donnas CD on Friday and it is really good. I've been down with the Donnas since 1998's "American Teenage Rock n Roll Machine"; however, I had skipped the last couple of albums.

The tracks on "Gold Medal" are so damn catchy that I fear Paul Stanley may reinjure his recently replaced hip from shaking his ass. You can definitely hear many of their hair metal influences including KISS and Motley Crue. After hearing "Gold Medal," I may go back and get the last two albums that I skipped.

The CD is the first DualDisc I've encountered. One side has the album. The other side has a DVD with videos. While the concept seems like a good idea at first, I think it would still be better to just have two discs since you will have to manually flip it over if you are playing the CD in a DVD player. Plus, you'll not be able to take advantage of the DVD content in most car CD players. Just give me one disc to leave at home (the DVD) and one to take with me (the CD).

Anyway, check out "Gold Medal." Here is the Rolling Stone review.
Friday, November 5, 2004
Urge Overkill Flickr Group
I've started an Urge Overkill group on Flickr to let other UO fans post photos from shows. While the UO.net site has a photo area, this Flickr group will allow people to upload full resolution images that other members can download and print (if they want). Plus the RSS feed will allow members to be alerted when new photos are added.

I've started the group off with a few photos from the Louisville and Lexington shows. I'm sure I have a bunch more to add after the Chicago show with the Pixies. So far, my friend Pat is the only other member; however, I've posted a link on the UO.net message board, so hopefully there will be more members soon.

If you have a Flickr account and wanna join, go here.
TiVo's Hot 100, Top 25
TiVo is making some usage statistics available on its website. For example, you can see the Top 100 Season Passes based on an anonymous sampling of 20,000 TiVo households. You can also see the 25 most-watched shows.

The biggest surprise for me is that "Desperate Housewives," "The Apprentice" and "Lost" are the Top 3 most-watched shows and are also in the Top 5 for season passes. I've tried to watch each of those shows, but just can't get into them.

I currently have season passes for 16 of the shows in the Hot 100; however, only four of those shows are in the list of the 25 most-watched.
Stores selling Halo 2 early?
GameSpot is reporting that several retail outlets in Midwest states are selling Halo 2 before its November 9th release date. Meijer, which we have here in Kentucky, is listed as a source of the early sales. I may just swing by Meijer on the way to work.

BTW, the GameSpot story includes an authentic-looking photo of the game box, game inserts and game discs.
Thursday, November 4, 2004
Lego Cryo Mouse
I'm not really big on doing hardware mods. The only one I've ever done is turning an Iopener internet appliance into a Windows 98 PC. However, this Lego Cryo Mouse that I saw on Hack A Day is pretty cool. Basically, it puts a little Lego figure inside a faux cryogenic chamber in a Microsoft Intellimouse.

The only downside of this is that I would need a Dremel and once I have a Dremel I would have no excuse for not doing more hardware mods.
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Kentucky gets a new brand
It turns out that "Kentucky - It's That Friendly" isn't really working out as a brand for the state of Kentucky. I'm not sure why anyone really thought that it would especially when you add in the creepy Teletubbies-inspired license plate graphic.

So now, the people of Kentucky are being asked to vote on new branding. Currently there are four choices:

Make History
This one looks like the logo to a 70s theme park that would be based somewhere in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Plus, the book makes it seem kind of dated.

Unbridled Spirit
This would be the logo for our NFL team if we had one. Seems a little too slick for a state logo, but I think I dislike it the least.

Where Legends Are Born
Similar to Unbridled Spirit. Horse image seems to be too tall and too far to the right (maybe that was on purpose).

Limitless
This would be the logo for our arena football or minor league hockey team. Too "new country" for me. I would expect to see something like this on the back of an acid-washed denim jacket in Nashville.

Vote for your favorite here.
"Purple Rain" club closes
First Avenue, the club featured in Prince's 1983 "Purple Rain," has closed its doors after the club's current owner filed for bankruptcy.

It is unclear as to whether the club will be reopened. Shows scheduled for First Avenue, including a November 24th Urge Overkill show, are being moved to other venues.
TV Snapshot
Satellite TV customers in Europe who use their PCs to watch TV (Gee, why can't US satellite companies do that yet?) will have that experience enhanced by a new app called TV Snapshot.

TV Snapshot extracts supplemental data from the satellite transmission and saves it for the user on their PC. So satellite companies could send additional information about the shows or movies (director, actors, etc.) that users could display and use.

One of the most compelling uses is the ability to link up with e-commerce sites. For example, if you are watching MTV (when they are actually showing a music video) and want to buy the CD for the band in the video, TV Snapshot could allow you to link to an online retailer. And since the data is stored on the PCs hard drive, the info is available to users who are viewing a show that they recorded earlier.

I would like to see it go even farther. For example, if you are watching a show and you like an actor's shirt or the cellphone they are using, you should have the ability to see more information about the product and actually purchase it.

Something like that could replace the 2 minute blocks of commercials that currently interrupt programming. Of course, knowing how thoughtful most TV execs are, we would probably end up with something that looked like "The Truman Show" where characters stop to discuss the merits of their brand of coffee.

Here is the demo of TV Snapshot. Also, they have a list of things that TV Snapshot won't do (to ease broadcaster fears of piracy).
Tuesday, November 2, 2004
Halo 2 preview on Nov. 4th
GameSpot is reporting that there will be four Halo 2 events this Thursday. The events will be held in movie theaters in New York City, Schaumburg IL, Austin, TX and San Francisco, CA.

Event attendees, who will receive a commemorative DVD and lanyard, will see a video from the ILoveBees.com serial story and, most importantly, will be able to play the game online with event attendees at each of the other locations.

Even though I am dying to play the game, I don't think I feel like driving to Chicago to do it.
TV2ME
We've heard for years that eventually TV would be delivered via the internet. I've always seen that as kind of a pipe dream based on our current broadband infrastructure.

However, Ken Schaffer, the guy who invented the wireless microphone, has developed a product, called TV2ME, that allows someone to stream TV content from one PC to another. For example, Schaffer has a home in Moscow and a home in New York. TV2ME allows him to watch live Moscow TV in his New York home. According to Bob Cringley, who demoed the system at Shaeffer's home, the picture quality is very good. He claims that it looks just like "regular" TV. The most amazing part is that TV2ME allows this level of quality over a 384k broadband connection.

This type of technology coupled with wireless display devices (i.e. video iPods) could have people watching live TV programming originating anywhere in the world from anywhere in the world. Really cool!
Interview with Oddworld creator
GameSpot has an interview with Lorne Lanning, the creator of the Oddworld series of games, and EA executive producer Scot Bayless. They talk about the upcoming (and long-awaited) game "Oddworld Stranger."

The biggest surprise in the interview is that the new game will be an action-based shooter instead of a puzzle/platformer (like "Munch's Oddysee").

GameSpot has also added 32 new screenshots for the game. Check them out here.
Monday, November 1, 2004
FFL: sMoRTy71 134, Hotspurs 66

Wow, it appears that last week's performance was no fluke. Yesterday, I was able to post 134 points (even without Deuce McAllister). Because of McAllister's BYE and the benching of my third RB Travis Henry, I was forced to pickup Henry's replacement Willis McGahee. In his first NFL start, McGahee ran for 102 yards and 2 TDs (22 Fantasy points)!

While I would love to talk more trash over my win, I can't because I need to work a trade with Louisville Hotspurs owner Eric Brinley in order to have a QB next week (Brett Favre has a BYE). Good game, Eric! You're a winner! You'll get 'em next week! Keep your chin up (OK, that should do it)!

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.