Archive for July, 2010

Wake, Bugs and Daffy

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Tim Wakefield, my favorite Red Sox pitcher, just met the Looney Tunes!

Check out this article from the Boston Globe: “Wakefield, Looney Tunes helping out kids.”


World’s Top Selling Beer

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

What’s the top selling beer in the world?

If you said Bud Light, you would have been right, two years ago.

But not today. Today it’s Snow beer (who?) from China (oh!).

According to beer research firm Plato Logic in 2008 the world’s leading beer brands are (in million of hectoliters):

1. Snow – 61.0
2. Bud Light – 55.6
3. Budweiser – 43.4
4. Skol (Brazil) – 35.4
5. Corona – 32.7
6. Heineken – 29.1

A hectoliter, by the way, is 100 liters, or 26.4 US gallons, or since we’re talking beer, 211.33 pints.

BP Photoshop Exercise

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

Did you see the story earlier this week about how BP has faked photos of their command center? It’s been all over the blogs as well as some articles in the press, like this Washington Post piece: “Altered BP photo comes into question.”

Anyway, I took it upon myself this morning to Photoshop a few more screens for BP. Hope they like them:

Happy Birthday, Hermano!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

It’s my brother’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Dan!

Josh, Dan, Dreamfinder and Figment
at EPCOT Center, 1984

Soccer in Fenway

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

With the Red Sox on an almost two week trip to the West Coast this week Fenway Park, Boston’s nonagenarian baseball stadium, is hosting an exhibition soccer game tomorrow – the Fenway Football Challenge.

The two teams playing are Sporting Clube de Portugal from the Portuguese Liga and Celtic FC of the Scottish Premier League.

So which team do you think Bostonians will root for – “Sporting” or “Celtic”?

Those poor Portuguese …

Maine International Film Festival

Monday, July 19th, 2010

The 13th annual Maine International Film Festival ended yesterday, we managed to get up to Waterville on two different days to check out five films.

Apparently they play fast and loose with the whole “international” aspect of the festival; three of the films were produced in the United States. But they were flicks that would be tough to see in the real world, so it worked.

Here’s a list of what we saw, with the descriptions from the website. All were interesting, but I think 3 Idiots was our favorite. And with the genius of the iTunes Store we were able to download two of the songs from the soundtrack, something that would have been impossible only a few years ago.

The Silent Enemy (1930) USA
From the early sound era comes a striking film shot amongst the Native American tribes still living on the land in southern Quebec, near the Maine border, some 80 years ago, and presented at MIFF in an amazing 35mm print. A unique and now unrecreatable record of a lost way of life – even though itself a somewhat romanticized fiction – The Silent Enemy was seen as that even at the time of its release, as witness this review from the day in Time Magazine: “Every schoolboy knows that the Indian has not yet quite vanished from the forests of the continent that was his. But no schoolbook, museum or government bureau will ever preserve the vestigial red man as this picture does…. The cast was recruited from the Ojibwas of upper Ontario…The time is before Columbus. A famine year is upon the forest. Baluk, the tribe’s big-muscled hunter, reports to Chetoga, the old chief, that their people should go “many moccasins” north without delay to the crossing place of the caribou. Dagwan, the malicious medicine man, makes it a condition of the plan that if game is not found, Baluk must die. The north wind and great snows meet the Ojibwas on their march. The Great Canoe (Death) comes for Chetoga. “The land of the little sticks” (Hudson Bay barrens) is reached…”

3 Idiots (2009) India
There’s a reason why 3 Idiots has become the biggest Bollywood film ever. Actually there’s several. First, there’s a complex and charismatic lead performance by Aamir Khan (who MIFF audiences saw last year in a different Bollywood film, the intense psychological thriller Ghajini), now easily the biggest Bollywood star on the planet. There’s an intriguing and involving story: Two friends embark on a quest for a lost buddy. On this journey, they encounter a long forgotten bet, a wedding they must crash, and a funeral that goes impossibly out of control. And there’s a winning mix of the comic, the dramatic and yes, even a fine musical number or two. “A superstar for more than two decades, Aamir Khan has never been more popular than he is today, in his mid-forties. In writer-director Rajkumar Hirani’s tuneful, enjoyable college comedy, 3 Idiots, Khan plays “Rancho,” an engineering student so brilliant that he barely has to break a sweat to place first in his class. Rancho always has plenty of energy left over to wage a guerrilla war against the institution’s emphasis on rote memorization…. In the ingenious extended finale, Rancho serves as a deus ex machina guru/savior to the ordinary mortals he has befriended along the way. Hirani embraces melodramatic convention with open arms, but he is also a crafty entertainer who smoothly choreographs his overpopulated storyline” – David Chute, Village Voice.

Ahead of Time (2009) USA – AFI Project: 20/20
An inspiration not only for her ground-breaking career, but for her vitality and humor at 98 years old, Ruth Gruber has led a life almost impossible to believe. Born in Brooklyn in 1911, she became the youngest PhD in the world before going on to become an international foreign correspondent and photojournalist at the age of 24. With her love of adventure, fearlessness and powerful intellect, Ruth defied tradition in an extraordinary career that has spanned more than seven decades. The first journalist to enter the Soviet Arctic in 1935, Ruth also traveled to Alaska as a member of the Roosevelt administration in 1942, escorted Holocaust refugees to America in 1944, covered the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and documented the Haganah ship Exodus in 1947. Her relationships with world leaders including Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, and David Ben Gurion gave her unique access and insight into the modern history of the Jewish people. The film interweaves verite scenes with never-seen-before archival footage, and is an unforgettable portrait of an unforgettable woman.

Cell 211 (2009) Spain
Nominated for no less than 16 Goyas (Spanish Oscar equivalents), this tough as nails, absolutely riveting prison drama won eight, including Best Film of the Year this year. The story of two men on different sides of a prison riot—the inmate leading the rebellion and the young guard trapped in the revolt, who poses as a prisoner in a desperate attempt to survive the ordeal – Cell 211 is a tension-filled drama with complex characters, a tight focus and real integrity. Its Goya winning lead acting performance by Luis Tosar is unforgettable.

Sita Sings the Blues (2008) USA
Not for nothing does this utterly wonderful and utterly unique film come trailing universal raves like Roger Ebert’s: “Astonishingly original. I am enchanted! I am swept away!” Or the Boston Globe’s: “An almost indescribable pleasure, delightful!” Sita Sings the Blues is flat out the most fun you’ll have in ages. Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920’s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “the Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.”

iPhone Drama

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

I’m actually glad I didn’t buy an iPhone 4.0.

And I’m not even being facetious.

Did you see how “Apple Offers Free Cases to Address iPhone Issue” and that Apple even admitted “iPhone 4 Drops More Calls Than iPhone 3GS“?

Yep, I’m waiting for iPhone 5.0. Well that, and a job.

Waterford Oil Spill

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Today’s the 50th anniversary of an oil spill in North Waterford, Maine.

I never really though about it, but the Portland–Montreal Pipe Line runs through town on its way to Montreal. Apparently there’s also a pumping station there (along with the one in Raymond at the mouth of Plains Road).

Here’s the story from July 18, 1960’s Lewiston Daily Sun:

A break in the Portland Pipe Line a short distance from the pumping station at North Waterford made that area of Waterford a potential powder keg early Sunday morning. The pipe carrying crude oil broke on the hill above the Waterford pumping station and a brook of oil came rushing down the hillside and across the highway and into a small brook where it put an eight inch coating of oil over the water.

The Oxford County Sheriff’s Department and State Police were alerted and road blocks were set up to keep spectators away from the area.

Dee C. Hutchins, superintendent of the Waterford station said that the crude oil was highly combustible.

The Norway, Paris and Oxford Fire Departments were called to the scene to be ready in case something should happen to ignite the fumes which filled the area.

All available bulldozers from the area were rushed to the scene to build earth dams in the brook to keep the oil from getting into Crooked River. Hutchins estimated that over 1,000 barrels of oil spread over the area.

Authorities confronted with the hazard decided to burn the accumulated substance, later Sunday. This was done in the brook which the bulldozers had turned onto a series of pools separated by earth dams.

With an abundance of fire equipment standing by, the oil was burned one pool at a time. The smokey fire drew much attention from motorists in the vicinity.

It’s no Deepwater Horizon, but still, it’s something for a little town like North Waterford …

Happy Birthday Disneyland

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California.

After 55 years, I think it’s safe to say to truly is a source of joy and inspiration to all the world.

Rory McIlroy

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

I don’t give a hoot about golf (much to the chagrin of my in-laws, no doubt) but I did see a clip of 21-year-old Irish phenomenon Rory McIlroy, who tied a record at the British Open today.

I also saw who sponsors him, Dubai’s Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts (as seen in this clip from ESPN):

I guess he won the Dubai Desert Classic last year, as well. Huh.

Red Sox Fun Fact

Monday, July 12th, 2010

At this All-Star Break the Boston Red Sox have the fourth best winning percentage in all of Major League Baseball – yet they’re still only in third place in the American League East.

Says something about that division, doesn’t it?

How BP might be the cause of the Apocalypse

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

I’ve never heard of this Helium (the publication, not the noble gas) but the headline is quite striking: “How BP Gulf disaster may have triggered a ‘world-killing’ event.”

Key quote:

The bottom line: BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling operation may have triggered an irreversible, cascading geological Apocalypse that will culminate with the first mass extinction of life on Earth in many millions of years.

They compare it to Permian–Triassic extinction event. You know, the one scientists affectionately nicknamed “the Great Dying”.

In that case? I’m going back to bed. And when I wake up? Real bacon instead of this turkey bacon malarkey.

UAE Male Infertility

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

This is the kind of shit that drove me batty about Dubai; check out this article from the Gulf News: “Pollution, diet blamed for male infertility in UAE.”

So you’d think there’d be, you know, facts and figures about pollution and diet trends to support the premise of the article.


In fact, I wonder if there is any infertility at all. This quote specifically makes me wonder:

According to a recent World Health Organisation study, there has been a decline in births in the UAE from 5.7 children per woman down to less than two children, over the past two decades.

Perhaps this “male infertility” is just the UAE joining most other developed countries where fertility rates decrease to levels below replacement rates?

How about that?

Daily Show is Spot On

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

You probably saw late last week Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele called the country’s conflict in Afghanistan “a war of Obama’s choosing.” Here’s the New York Times piece: “G.O.P. Leader Draws Criticism Anew.”

This guy is nuts. Completely detached from reality.

And there’s really only one answer to why/how he’s acting this way; Larry Wilmore and the Daily Show had it dead on back in April with a piece they called “Republicans Want Michael Steele to Fail.”

Quick synopsis: “Instead of Republicans trying to tell America that a black man will steer us all to ruin, they’re using Michael Steele to show us.”

It’s completely genius, although it has some salty language, so be advised:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Republicans Want Michael Steele to Fail
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

The Nahyans to BP’s Rescue

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Ah yes, the old “when in doubt, sell out to the Gulf’ move.

Right on.

Check out this morning’s Wall Street Journal: “BP Eyes Stake Sale to Abu Dhabi.”

Happy Fourth of July!

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

I was going to be patriotic today, but I’m not great at that. So instead? Disney lesson!

You might remember this chap below from a Newlywed in Dubai blog post two years ago today (see 4 On The 4th).

His name is Sam the Olympic Eagle, he was the mascot of the 1984 Summer Olympics, and was designed by artists at the Walt Disney Company.

What makes this interesting (at least, to me) is that there are two other Sam Eagles out there, both also owned by Disney.

From 1974 to 1988 Disneyland park’s rotating Carousel Theater was home to the America Sings attraction which was hosted by “Eagle Sam” who was voiced by Burl Ives.

Interestingly, once the attraction closed most of the Audio-Animatronic animals were reused in the then-being-constructed Splash Mountain, which opened the summer of 1989.

The other Sam character is Sam the Eagle the censor and cultural moderator of the Muppets, who are now owned by Disney.

My favorite Sam the Eagle line is from the Disney theme park attraction MuppetVision 3D. In charge of the show’s grand finale, Sam says he has planned “a tribute to all nations, but mostly America”.


Anyway, thanks for putting up with this lesson, and Happy Fourth!

Happy Canada Day

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I bet you thought I forgot that today was July 1, eh?

Nope, I’d never forget Canada Day!

Go celebrate with your loved ones.