Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I made the claim last Friday that "Lost" is the best TV show on Planet Earth. Well, Entertainment Weekly has not gone QUITE that far this week, but it has come darn close. By the way, for all of you Losties out there, I highly recommend EW.com as a regular source of news, reviews and mild spoilers for not only Lost, but also Survivor, Dancing With The Stars, House and most other popular TV shows... Don't leave the couch without it!
This baby is one of the newer John Matthews in the world.
Some John Matthews are black. This one was a Vegas lounge singer. How cool is THAT?
And this John Matthews is a champion fisherman!
Some John Matthews are politicians! I found a couple of state Senators named John Matthews, but this guy is a Green party candidate in Wales!
And this John Matthews was a British soccer star in the 1970's.
Some John Matthews are writers. This one wrote a book about Goat Disease!
And then there's this teenage John Matthews... Wait a minute - that's ME! I found this while looking up the others, and it did not come from any of my family's websites... There's a fun story behind this... but more on THAT tomorrow!
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Please accept my apology in advance if an ad airs BEFORE the video, but I think it's worth the wait...
Monday, April 28, 2008
Some people apparently think they can control how much of their personal information gets out on Facebook and other similar pages... But loopholes abound, and besides - your privacy only extends as far as your online friends allow it to. In other words - even if you DO want to show discretion about yourself, it doesn't mean your "friends" will!
Some of the teachers in the Post article said they felt their personal lives are no one else's business. I totally agree. But the privacy rule only applies if you keep your private life private!
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Miley Cyrus said she's embarrassed by an apparently racy photo spread appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair..
The photos, by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, were taken to accompany an interview with the 15-year-old pop star and her father, singer Billy Ray Cyrus. They include shots of the teen reportedly topless and wrapped in a blanket.
The Disney Channel, which airs Cyrus' TV show "Hannah Montana," was also critical of Vanity Fair.
"Unfortunately, as the article suggests, a situation was created to deliberately manipulate a 15-year-old in order to sell magazines," a network statement said.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Rachel - Please be sure to have a slice or two at the Varsity for me!
I have many friends who ventured to "Lost" with me nearly four years ago... watching the program every week and dissecting it ad nauseum in the office the next day. That lasted through season one and into the first half of season two.... After that, however, many of my friends figuratively "left the island". They grew tired of not having their questions answered.... They wanted "Lost" to be like every other show on TV. In this short attention span world of ours, they wanted the conflict raised before the first commercial break, and resolved by the end of the hour. Thank God the producers didn't go for that, because Lost would have never survived.
I do have a couple of friends who managed to jump in late to the game, thanks to DVDs... Watching "Lost" by DVD is like mainlining heroin, though. You spend a couple of weeks watching episodes back to back... then once you get caught up, you go through excruciating withdrawal immediately. Even in-season, you only get a fix once a week... and then once May comes, you have to wait another eight months!
Anyway - for those of you who once watched and have now fallen off the wagon, let me assure you that "Lost" is alive and well. If your justification for falling off the bandwagon was that the show left too many plotlines unresolved, I can assure you that your justification still works. But I will also tell you that the "Lost" experience is as rich as ever for those of us still watching. We have placed our faith in the producers of the program to guide us to its conclusion in another 41 episodes. If I see a polar bear running on the beach, I will not ask why. I'm confident the show will tell me why it its own time.
Google tells me it was Faust who said "It's not the destination, it's the journey that matters"... I don't know - I thought it might have been Arthur Frommer who said it... but it any case, when it comes to "Lost", it's the truth. No matter what happens at the end of the program, it certainly won't be as sweet as the ride on the rollercoaster that will get us to the end.
And with all that said, here's a tasty taste of next week's fix:
No, this entry is about the shape of the anti-illegal immigration sentiments that have swept the nation, and most specifically, Northern Virginia, over the past 2 or 3 years. For pretty much all of 2007, it was the ONLY thing being discussed in Prince William, as the county's top elected official whipped his one and only issue like a flea-bitten nag in a horserace. He won the race, but may have killed the nag in the process. The rest of the board of supervisors went along and unanimously ordered police to check the immigration status of all criminal suspects, and turn over all illegals to ICE for deportation. Well, what happened? The county jail is now filled beyond capacity with illegals, the federal government says it can't keep up with the county's pace of arrests, and now lawmakers are discovering the cure may be worse than the disease... enforcing immigration policy at the local level is proving to be too damn expensive.
How much longer will the residents of Prince William County be willing to fund this loser of a social experiment? Well, guess what? There are already cracks forming in the resolve of the county board:
MANASSAS, Va. (AP) _ Prince William County supervisor Frank Principi says he will propose that the county repeal a policy that directs police to check the citizenship or immigration status of criminal suspects they believe might be in the country unlawfully.
Principi is the first member of the board of supervisors to challenge the enforcement element of the county’s recent crackdown on illegal immigration. The crackdown was approved in October, when Principi was not on the board. The policy denies services to illegal immigrants.
Since the policy took effect in March, the county jail has become more crowded and police have asked for video cameras in patrol cars to protect officers from allegations of racial profiling.
Supervisors voted Tuesday to cut more than $3 million from the next budget that was to be allotted for the cameras and enforcement of the policy.
At a time when inflation is on the verge of explosion (by the way, read THIS if you want a good scare about that!), and taxes are rising for everyone, will people really want to pay to warehouse illegal immigrants who are not going to be moved out anytime soon? And what about the cost of paying for services that are currently being provided on the cheap by illegals? If you scare them away from Prince William, who's going to clean your house or cut your grass? Be ready to pay MUCH more for services like those.
For all of the people who think they've taken the high moral ground by demanding that illegal immigrants be driven out of the country, let's see where that political resolve is when gas hits four bucks a gallon and a loaf of bread costs five bucks. Frank Principi is on to something. It's probably too late in the long run to salvage the political careers of those lawmakers who were elected in the glow of the anti-illegal immigration movement, but here's a piece of advice for you anyway -
It's STILL the economy, STUPID!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Well, today we run smack into the annual "Take Your Child To Work" day. That's never been an issue for me because I used to go to the office at 4:30 in the morning, so it was never very tempting for my kids to see what it was like at Dad's job. Now, I AM going to take Spencer to his Mom's job today - he'll sit in Robin's classroom and watch her teach her pre-schoolers. Meanwhile, my older son, Brad, has practically begged for me to take him to MY job today... ha ha ha. Smart ass.
Still - things could be worse. To be honest, I always hated "Take Your Child To Work Day", because having kids around the office is a big distraction. At least in my experience, they always seemed more bored than engaged, and it always seemed like a good excuse for their parents to take a long lunch and/or skip out early. But boy, I'd sure love the opportunity to take my kids to the office now!
But now, I believe opportunity has come a knockin'! Read on:
Dear John Matthews,
I am the representative of the large Ukrainian firm, which is engaged in software development . At the moment regional representatives are required to us. Good payment, flexible operating conditions. If you are interested to work with us , please send your resume(CV) to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .Our managers will contact you in the nearest time.
--Best regards, HRM.
You know - I think perhaps I've always wanted to work for the large Ukrainian firm... I just didn't realize it until now!
Have a good day, comrades!
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Having said that... you've gotta love a guy with a sense of humor, who doesn't mind putting himself out there to make a point. For those of you who have not seen John McCain's sendup of Barbra Streisand, this might just help to sway your vote. Enjoy!
Monday, April 21, 2008
- Oprah Winfrey hosting on auto-pilot. You can tell she devoted absolutely no time to the show. She read everything off of a teleprompter, and she more or less played the role of Santa Claus on the show... handing out cash to the contestants as though they had been touched by the hand of God.
- A completely meaningless cameo appearance by Jennifer Aniston. She was brought in just long enough to help Oprah give away some cash. She walked on... played the role of Jennifer Aniston, and walked off. She did nothing for charity or nothing else on the show. She was merely Jennifer Aniston.
- Two of the final three contestants raised piles of cash for charity - about 160 grand - in the final episode... But the third finalist - a beauty pageant queen - decided the best thing she could do to make a difference in the world was to beg a chef at a high-end restaurant to give a cooking lesson to some wheelchair-bound children in a hospital. The chef made something with a gooey white cheddar sauce. I'm not sure how this was supposed to give these children a better life - Perhaps they had one more product placement obligation to squeeze into the show.
- The "purpose" of the show was supposedly to demonstrate that anyone can raise money for charity and make the world a better place... But let's face it. The only reason ANY of these people were able to get anything done was because Oprah Winfrey's name was attached to the whole thing. Last night, they were supposedly able to get "Blue Man Group" to put on a free show AND to donate 100,000 dollars for charity - all on less than 24 hours notice. Do you suppose any of that could have happened without them dropping "the big O"?
- The biggest sin of all - especially for someone who has at least a little knowledge about how the media works - is that the show had AWFUL production value. Oprah's voice was dubbed in in several places, and you could tell it was done to cover up for badly shot or missing video. The dubs were apparent, not seamless... and the editing was awful. On more than one occasion, the scene went from applause to silence instantly, obviously because they either had to make up a different ending or attempt to make the show's ending more palatable than originally envisioned.
Is it just me, or do you agree that Oprah could have had a much bigger impact if she had taken all the money invested on this stinker and given it directly to charity herself? Let's hope "the Big Give" does NOT spawn a sequel someday!
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Friday, April 18, 2008
Finally... When we moved into our current house four years ago, I made Robin get rid of all of our old record albums, because we had not played a single one of them in the 13 years we lived in our old house, and we had long ago replaced most of them with compact discs. However, I did save ONE album... a 1981 recording of Syracuse University's Hendricks Chapel Choir (Hear a clip of the 2007 version of the choir here). If you look at the liner notes on the album, you will see my name in the choir directory, along with that of Jonathan Greene, one of my best friends and the guy who introduced me to my wife! My friend, John Patti of WBAL has one of those turntables that can hook up directly to a computer, and he has agreed to transfer that old album to digital music files for me, so I can annoy the family by playing 18th century music on road trips. And I'm sure you'll soon be able to hear some old clips here at Life on The Beach as well! Lucky you!
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Nothing gives me the giggles more than hearing the automated attendant say in a loud, clear voice, "Please move your - YAMS - to the belt..." or "Please move your - GREEN BEANS - to the belt...". Of course, some fruits and veggies are funnier than others. Apples... Oranges... meh. Cherries... better. Zucchini... Bananas... a slight chortle, perhaps. Cantalopes? Melons? Gets me every time!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
I love my Civic. It is neither plush nor cool, and it has a couple of battle scars thanks to a couple of scrapes with pillers in the Jenifer Street garage over the years. However - it gets nearly 30 miles to the gallon, and it is reliable with a capital R. It could also make the drive to Connecticut Avenue to my old job by memory after more than a decade of commuting. The reason I'm writing about my Civic now is that we have observed an important milestone - Today, it reached the big 100 K.
The milestone was reached in Gaithersburg, near the Quince Orchard Swim Club, where I was dropping Brad off for a community service project he was involved in. We reached the pool with a mile or so to spare, so I drove around a traffic circle at a nearby school a half dozen times so we could experience the big flip together. A true father-and-son bonding experience!
It was especially signficant that I shared this moment with my oldest son. He is going to be 15 this fall, and it is certainly possible, if not likely, that the Civic will someday be Brad's first car. My first car was my grandfather's 1972 Ford Maverick, which was on its last legs when I inherited it, and which was spewing oil and smoke within a few months on its way to the scrap heap. I'm betting Brad will be getting a much better deal a couple of years from now!
Kilauea Volcano has exploded again. Officials say a small explosion that sent rocks more than 200 feet up onto the rim of the volcano's main Halemaumau crater occurred Wednesday night, hours before the park reopened.
The park was evacuated Tuesday and remained closed Wednesday because of elevated sulfur dioxide emissions.
The U.S. Geological Survey says Wednesday's blast at Halemaumau crater was much smaller than a similar explosion in March, but still enlarged the new vent in the wall of the crater about 15 to 30 feet.
Scientists say they found lava splatters and rocks ejected by the blast, which also contained volcanic glass shards.
They say there is increasing evidence that molten lava is collecting about 300 to 600 feet below the new vent.
Now - this might sound pretty frightening and dangerous (and it is), but that's what makes Volcanoes National Park so fascinating to visit. I've been a lot of interesting places... Luray Caverns... Colonial Williamsburg... even South of the Border! - But none of them can possibly compare to the site of seeing and feeling hot steam venting from the ground or watching fountains of boiling lava explode as it pours into the sea.
Unfortunately, the last time we visited the volcano last summer, it was during a quiet period, and there was no visible lava flowing at the park. But in previous trips, we were able to hike in from the end of the road and watch nature's fireworks. There is no Disney theme park ride (yes, I said it, dammit!) on Earth that can match the thrill of seeing the goddess Pele do her thing!
Now, as I mentioned, we did not see live lava on the last trip, but Mrs. Matthews did manage to find several small pieces of shiny lava rock known as "Pele's tears". These are valued because they are smooth and shiny, as opposed to most lava, which is rough and dull. Mrs. Matthews was tempted to pocket the pebbles, but the boys and I forced her to toss the rocks down a vent shaft instead. It is considered KAPU (forbidden) to take lava away from the volcano. Whether that's merely an old wive's tale or not is unclear... But you remember what happened to Bobby and Cindy Brady when they took that idol from the construction site in Hawaii... Big time KAPU! We weren't taking any chances!
Friday, April 11, 2008
The secret behind the special blend about to go on sale at an upmarket department store is that it is made from cats' droppings.
While such an ingredient might leave many spluttering into their cups, Peter Jones thinks it is on to a winner.
For the rest of April, it is serving espressos, Americanos and lattes made from the droppings in its in-store coffee shop in Sloane Square, central London.
And for those who want the ultimate talking point over the after-dinner mints, the coffee beans are also on sale at £50 for 100 grams.
The store, part of the John Lewis partnership, has bought 60 packets of the exclusive blend of Jamaican Blue Mountain and the Kupi Luwak bean.
The bean is rare, with less than 450lb harvested each year.
The beans are extracted from the droppings of the palm civet, a cross between a cat and a monkey which lives in Indonesia.
The civets eat the soft coffee cherries, digest the fruit pulp and excrete the beans on the forest floor, because they cannot digest the beans.
Plantation workers then collect the beans, which are sold as Luwak coffee.
The civets are said to pick the best and ripest coffee berries.
It is also thought that their gastric juices may add to the flavour.
Now Peter Jones customers can taste flavour for themselves, with all proceeds from sales going to a cancer charity.
One, 23-year-old Hannah Silver, said: "I was a little apprehensive before I tried it but I actually really liked it. It was very earthy and it tastes very smooth.
"It wasn't too bitter and the earthiness really came through - probably because of where the beans have come from.
"It is a delicacy so I can definitely see someone wanting to pay £50 for this, perhaps for a present."
A Peter Jones spokesman said: "We wanted to give our customers a really special experience."
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
Adding to the bleak picture, the department said a combined 152,000 jobs were lost in January and February, compared with a previous estimate of 85,000. The unemployment rate jumped to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent, the highest since September 2005.
"There doesn't appear to be any silver lining. It shows that we're right in the middle of a recession," said Carl Lantz, U.S. interest rate strategist at Credit Suisse in New York. "Our expectation is that it will be a longer recession than the last two, and we're just in the beginning."
The White House said it was "not happy" with the jobs report, saying it expected growth to be flat in the first quarter, but pick up later in the year.
On a happier note, I spent some of my jobless time today replacing most of the old incandescent light bulbs in my house with those new model florescent jobs. I may be a bit late to the conversion, but we had tried "green" bulbs once before - buying up a schissel of them at IKEA about four years ago - and those earlier models just didn't shine bright enough for us. Today's models work just fine, though... and they save a ton of electricity. I wish I could tell you I am being a good earthling doing my part for Al Gore and the environment, but I'm not. I'm being cheap!
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I have applied for several dozen jobs in the past month, and I'm generally encouraged by the progress I've made so far. Some of the possible careers are in news (radio and otherwise)... some are in media relations... and there are others involving varying degrees of writing and P.R., among other things. I'm really anxious to see how this search is going to turn out for many reasons. First and foremost, of course, is that I could use the money! But beyond the obvious, there is also this... Friends, you may find this hard to believe (ha!), but I have opinions! The problem is, because I've worked in news, I have not been able to share most of those opinions publicly. Instead, the patient people I worked with in the WMAL newsroom had to endure my diatribes over the years.
So where am I going with this? See - I'm still reading the newspaper and scanning the internet on a daily basis, and I'm seeing plenty of foolish stories involving foolish politicians and other public figures out there. I'm anxious to find my next career path, because if it's not in news, I'm gonna open my mouth and let it GO! If I do go back into news, you won't hear a peep, because I can't be slamming people who I might have to cover again someday...
I can say this... Lord, there are a lot of TOOLS running our governments... and we only have ourselves to blame.