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I kind of like finding new music via television commercials. The most recent song that I love is, I have learned, “The Golden Age” by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, a Danish outfit. The song is featured in a Heineken beer commercial.

Part of the reason why I like the commercial is because of how the main character interacts with each person he comes upon. Then I started thinking about it more. Do I like the commercial in general because I am influenced by loving the song?

No. I like it because it’s well done all the way around. It’s essentially Heineken’s version of Dos Equis’ The Most Interesting Man in the World. Only Heineken got it right. (Links to all videos at the end.)

The problem with the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man in the World is that he just sits there, attempting to exude smugness but coming off as arrogant, as he or the announcer tells you why you should be creaming your pants over this guy.

On the other hand, the dude in the Heineken commercial actually does interesting stuff. Clichés become clichés because there’s some element of truth in them. Actions do speak louder than words. The Heineken guy is doing interesting stuff and the people around him are reacting in a way that lets the viewer know that they adore this fellow. And so do I. Well, I’d at least like to be at that party.

The Most Interesting Man in the World just sits there looking creepy, assuming that the voiceover will convince us that he is. Interesting, that is, not creepy. But creepy he is. I would not like to be one of his arm candies.

I do try to be fair and give credit where credit is due. While watching the Most Interesting Man in the World compilation, I smiled when the voiceover said, “People hang on his every word, even the prepositions.” But that doesn’t make up for the rest of it.

And in the interest of point-counterpoint, as a flute player myself, I do not believe for an instant that the Heineken guy is actually playing that flute. Twirling it perhaps (though most likely computer generated), but not playing it. You can always tell by how they hold it and how unbent their fingers are. The rest of the commercial/video more than makes up for that. Everybody knows actors don’t really play their instruments.

So check them both out and tell me what you think.

Oh, and I do know that when I’m finished posting this, I’m running right to iTunes to buy everything The Asteroids Galaxy Tour have for sale. You should, too, says I!

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour/Heineken full-length video

Heineken commercial (1:30 version)

Dos Equis The Most Interesting Man in the World compilation

photo by The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (Facebook)

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I’ve never been a big game player. Oh sure, back in the day I was pretty good at Centipede and then Joust. Tempest held my interest graphically and I was just dumb-lucky enough at spinning the dial thingy around to keep going for a while. I think you can immediately tell from the preceding discription that, though I sometimes find a game that I find interesting and easily understandable enough to play a second time, you could hardly call me a gamer. I’m not.

Once I got my computer I, um, didn’t really start playing games. In the early days (we’ll call it 1996-ish) on my Mac, I enjoyed Peter Gabriel’s Secret World, which I borrowed from work, but my home computer was never quite beefy enough to make that a satisfying experience.

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In about 2004, I finally found a game I could get behind—Super Text Twist. I play the desktop version, not online. I don’t care if I match my prowess against a bunch of people I don’t know. Initially I played the untimed version, but it didn’t take long before I took on the greater challenge (such as it is) of always playing timed. Of course, it helps that I figured out a sort of cheat that helps me figure things out if I’m having trouble.

Then I got my iPhone and boy, did things ever stay the same. I have a bunch of games on it, but my favorite is another timed word game—imagine that—Scramble CE. I don’t like, a little bit, that it’s by Zynga, but it’s free and I can play by myself. I do like that I have to think rather than shoot. There again, I play the slightly more challenging “Advanced” option, in which I have to find—oo-oo-ooh—four- rather than three-letter words.

And shooting brings us to, what else, Angry Birds.

I feel about Angry Birds sort of like I feel about the iPad. It would be fun, but I don’t really need it. Nevertheless, I forked out the US$1.06 for it because, let’s face it, that’s a lot more affordable than $400 or $600 or whatever the iPad is.

I know people who are obsessed with Angry Birds (well, really, and iPads, too). I’m sure you know someone. I am not one of them. Right now it is only a way to relax in bed for a few minutes before switching to Scramble and falling asleep, or maybe to reading a little, too (still on iPhone), and falling asleep. Though I do admit that, because I have failed screen 9 of Poached Eggs at least thirty times (see screen shot at top), the victory smirk(s) of the pig(s) is(are) beginning to get to me and I can see how it could become compelling to those with weaker resolves. I suppose there are cheats posted online, but fortunately I don’t care that much yet.

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Anyway, Scramble and Angry Birds get to be out loose on page 2 of my iPhone. The rest of the games are combined into folders, one for the ones that I play occasionally and the other for the ones I don’t. I am going to give Crazy Penguin Catapult and Tangram Pro honorable mentions. Those are the other two that I like to play. The gameplay in Crazy Penguin Catapult is similar to Angry Birds—you fling penguins through ice blocks at polar bears.

I don’t know. I think the penguins in their battlefield helmets with their salutes are a lot cuter than the angry birds, and I know I like polar bears better than pigs, although pigs are very intelligent and I find that appealing. Plus, I paid a dollar for it so I feel like I should play it in order to get my money’s worth.

Starring as me

August 16, 2010

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Who would you want to play yourself in a movie? I’m not asking who is your celebrity doppelgänger. I’m asking who would be able to channel the inner you on the big screen? 

Figuring this out occupied my thoughts as I laid in bed last night waiting to fall asleep. I had initially thought that maybe Zooey Deschanel could be the one, because I love her quirkiness, but she’s also kind of wispy, and I’m not wispy. The second name that popped into my head was Janeane Garofalo. I thought that I should try to consider more possibilities but quickly realized that there was a reason why Ms. Garofalo came to mind.

I thought about what I know about her. If put under pressure to name movies she was in, all I’d be able to come up with without looking is The Truth about Cats and Dogs and that superhero one (by the way, that skull bowling ball that she used wasn’t just a prop). What I remember is that she does dorky and class clown, awkward and a little attractive, wallflower but underestimated.

I figured she’d be the one to be able to pull off portraying my type of personality in a believable way. I’m not a starlet, glamour girl type, and it was just a happy coincidence that there was a little more of a physical resemblance (beyond the dark hair) than I had realized.

Through the years there are celebrities I’ve been said to resemble. In my early twenties, it was Joan Jett and Martha Quinn. More recently, it was Mary McDonnell. I don’t really see it beyond hair color and/or style.

Back to doppelgängers. I learned of the website myheritage.com, where you can upload a photo of yourself and it will come up with celebrity look-alikes. I did it five times with different photos. I didn’t try to trick it for four of them, though when I kept getting a particular result, I did, as a last resort, give it the sunglasses photo just to test it. Naturally you have to take these things with a grain of salt. First, my matches were almost all men. I accept that. But second, some of the more outlandish matches it gave me included Prince Harry, Desmond Tutu, and Jessica Simpson. What?

I was relieved that it did return Janeane Garofalo one time (coincidentally, the same photo that I chose to use of her). And I was a little bit flattered that it gave me Gary Oldman twice, because I really like him. But who was the celebrity that it gave me all four times? James Spader. I’m not sure what to think about that!

 

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From my office???s kitchen window, I look down on two relics from the past???public pay phones. I can???t remember the last time I used a pay phone. No, wait, I can. I was in a pub in West Drayton, London, UK (in about 2000, before Stu moved to Newcastle) and wanted to phone someone I was trying to meet up with. Though it???s true I had had a couple of beers, I remember that the concept of adding money as necessary during your conversation flummoxed me and I lacked the necessary multitasking skills.

But here in the good old U S of A, I can???t remember. Heaven knows I was not an early adopter of the cell phone, but now that I am completely portable and it???s 2010, I can???t believe that everybody doesn???t have one. Or that they wouldn???t be walking with someone who had one.

So I am always fascinated when I see someone down there using one of those babies. I think I always assume that they???re a drug dealer who doesn???t want to be traceable, or some other nefarious type.

These pictured are at Hennepin and 4th Avenues. The only other blue pay phone that I used to see was at the corner of Blaisdell Avenue and 28th Street. I thought that one had been removed because it was well-known to be a favorite of evil-doers, but in this??Street View??I see a phone book dangling which implies that there is still a telephone.

I also have to share with you this oldie???the indoor phone booth. This is in a corner of Rostamo’s Bar where I like to sing karaoke, which I???ve been going to for a few years. It was only a few months ago that I noticed it, already relieved of its device.

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June 3, 2010

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When you were a kid, was there something that your family always did on a particular day of the week? The one I remember was grilled cheese sandwiches and sardines in front of the tv on Sunday nights.

I have doublechecked with my parents who are visiting this week and according to their accounts, I am actually merging two memories.

Usually we ate in the kitchen, at the table. And as I believe I have previously recounted, I often had the unpleasant experience of remaining at said table until I had eaten the last bite of food on my plate. When this involved liver, particularly chicken liver, a large part of my evening was wasted.

But on two nights of the week, I knew I would be safe. On those nights, we ate fun stuff in the living room in front of the tv while we watched my parents’ favorite shows.??

The appointment viewing that I remember was for Mary Tyler Moore and All in the Family, and Lawrence Welk and Andy Williams. But I got my meals mixed up.

Those shows must have been for pizza night on Saturdays. On parent or the other would run downtown to pick up a pie from John & Toni???s, and then we???d sit on the living room floor and dine while viewing.

The routine I remember more vividly was Sundays, when we???d have grilled cheese sandwiches and sardines. My dad says the show we watched was Ed Sullivan, of which I have no recollection. But I do remember that minding the sandwiches in the oven was one of my early cooking responsibilities. My mom would prepare the sandwiches and pop them in to brown, and I was in charge of telling her when they were toasted and ready to be flipped. I took this duty very seriously.??

When the sandwiches were served, the plate was garnished with sardines. I thought it was just something we did; my dad said it was a tradition in his family. This weekend I enjoyed the combination for the first time in thrity years and it was delicious.

Favorite childhood book

April 28, 2010

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If I asked you what your favorite book is, you???d probably name one that you read, or had read to you, when you were a kid. Such is my case. Without a doubt, the first books I think of are the Nancy Drew series. I remember those yellow spines like it was yesterday, when in fact, it was 1973. Those were the ones that the public library had, and I diligently made my way through every one.??

For my first several years, we lived right across the street from the library (pictured below). At first, of course, my mom would check the books out for me. But then came the magical day when I was old enough to have my own library card. Boy, did I put it to use. In the summer, if I wasn???t at the swimming pool, I was reading. You could only check out six books at a time, for two weeks. I never needed the full two weeks, especially when I was was burning through the Nancy Drew books. And when I had finished with Nancy Drew, I took up with the Hardy Boys. I don???t really remember anything about any of the plots, only that I read them all.

(Just today there was an article about the 80th anniversary of Nancy Drew.)

I always liked to read, and right through high school, I continued to read quite a bit. In junior high, I made it through most of Robert A. Heinlein???s books. In high school, I tried to get into Kurt Vonnegut to impress a boy I liked, but I just couldn???t (on either count).??

When I was very young, I remember summer vacations at my grandparents??? and reading every book from my mom???s bookcase. A lot of those World War II era stories, I didn???t get. But I remember loving The Little Engine that Could. Back at our own house, I remember being vaguely scared of Where the Wild Things Are.

What is your favorite book from childhood?

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photo of library by Google Street View
book photos from here

March 17, 2010

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Maybe that???s overstating it a bit. But he does give the impression that he???d be a blast to hang out with. And I have dreamed about him. So I bought the opportunity to see him in person on Friday.

I don???t have any idea what his ???show??? might consist of. Is he hawking a new book? Does he tell stories about the making of ???No Reservations???? Is he going to editorialize for an hour? Does he have a stand-up routine? Dunno.??

Tickets were mostly sold out by the time I got around to making my purchase. See, I originally didn???t make an effort because for a number of weeks I was under the impression that he was appearing on the same evening as Craig Ferguson, whom I also adore and who, when push came to shove, was the one I chose. But as I was leaving the box office, I just happened to pause at the Anthony Bourdain poster to sigh at it and be sad that I had had to make a choice. Then it jumped out at me. The date on the poster was not the same as the Craig Ferguson ticket I was holding in my hot little hand. I could go! I turned around and marched right back to the nice young fellow at the box office window who probably already thought I was a loser for buying the first single ticket.

There were two choices on the seats???about halfway back on the main floor of the auditorium, or on the end of a couple of short rows in the orchestra pit. I went for it. I will be up close and personal (though slightly off to the side). I will sit there, attentive and steeled for the possibility that he might pick on people in front.??

Seeing this ad today in the Downtown Journal got me all excited again. Bring it on, Tony!

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I suppose there can be little discussion about this. It was the Bear from the Andy Williams Show.

I???m not saying I didn???t watch other shows. I can remember quite a few that I always tuned into, either on my own or as part of regular family viewing. But I didn???t have the same emotional connection as I had with the Bear. To be truthful, I don???t remember many details.??

There was Andy Williams himself, and I was just old enough to be grooving on his greatest hits record album that my mom had (???It???s my happy heart you hear, Singing loud and singing clear ??????). And there was the Bear. The Bear who was eternally optimistic despite Andy always slamming door in his face.

I loved the Bear. The Bear was a little bit goofy, but more importantly, he was always denied the cookie he so desperately desired. As I???ve thought about it in the last few days, I wonder if deep down I wasn???t, as an only child, secretly identifying with the Bear. I didn???t want for any things, but I wasn???t spoiled either. But I didn???t get my Lite Brite until I was 35.

How much did I love the Bear?

In my early childness, my dad was a university music professor (101, theory, composition), so my mom, dad, and I often attended recitals of one kind or another. The recitals were held in Lehr Auditorium and there were always refreshments served afterwards. After one recital, I remember working my parents hard to be allowed to take home an extra chocolate chip cookie because I was determined to mail it to the Bear. Now, I don???t know if the cookie ever actually was deposited into a USPS mailbox. What I do know is that I dutifully sealed it in an addressed envelope and my parents patronizingly assured me that it had been mailed. Forty years later, I think I can be pretty certain that my parents were just humoring me when they nodded and said yes, they had indeed sent the cookie off to the Bear.

Aren???t parents wonderful?

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April 14

My theme song

April 8, 2010

Of course I have very many songs that I love. But a theme song? I never thought about it. I mean, it’s not like I’m a baseball player going up to bat.

So I thought about it. And I decided on “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen from their album “Jazz.” This is for two reasons.

First, I have loved Queen since about 1975. As much as I love Del Amitri, which is a whole lot, Queen is my desert island answer. I can’t explain it. Justin Currie is one of the most best songwriters ever and is a brilliant, brilliant lyricist, but Queen overwhelms Del Amitri in musicianship and innovation. Del Amitri is the most awesome bar band ever. Queen is just awesome.

Second, “Don’t Stop Me Now” comes closest to embodying my personal joie de vivre. Do those of you who know me think otherwise? There are lots of other songs that shiver me timbers more, but for general mood and loose interpretation of the lyrics,  this one does just fine.

 

Don’t Stop Me Now

Music and lyrics by Freddie Mercury

Tonight Im gonna have myself a real good time
I feel alive and the world turning inside out yeah!
And floating around in ecstasy
So don’t stop me now don’t stop me
Cause Im having a good time having a good time

Im a shooting star leaping through the sky
Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity
Im a racing car passing by like lady godiva
Im gonna go go go
There’s no stopping me

Im burning through the sky yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me mister fahrenheit
Im travling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don’t stop me now Im having such a good time
Im having a ball don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don’t stop me now (cause Im havin a good time)
Don’t stop me now (yes Im havin a good time)
I don’t want to stop at all

Im a rocket ship on my way to mars
On a collision course
I am a satellite Im out of control
I am a sex machine ready to reload
Like an atom bomb about to
Oh oh oh oh oh explode

Im burning through the sky yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me mister fahrenheit
Im travling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic woman of you

Don’t stop me don’t stop me
Don’t stop me hey hey hey!
Don’t stop me don’t stop me ooh ooh ooh (I like it)
Don’t stop me don’t stop me
Have a good time good time
Don’t stop me don’t stop me ah

Im burning through the sky yeah!
Two hundred degrees
That’s why they call me mister fahrenheit
Im travling at the speed of light
I wanna make a supersonic man out of you

Don’t stop me now Im having such a good time
Im having a ball don’t stop me now
If you wanna have a good time just give me a call
Don’t stop me now (cause Im havin a good time)
Don’t stop me now (yes Im havin a good time)
I don’t want to stop at all

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13 March 2010

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How often have you wished you could draw? Or write, or sing, or whatever? You don’t have to be good to enjoy doing something. I fully embrace the notion of A for effort.

Take Albrecht Dürer’s Portrait of a Young Hare, for example. My former rabbit Bibi did a much better job of recreating it in the course of her daily life than I did this evening with aluminum foil and intention.

Here’s a question for those of you who live with freerange houserabbits. Have you ever noticed (if you ration their food and feed them at predictable times) that about forty-five minutes before mealtime, they start this whole stretching and yawning routine? Well, they do. At least four of my six rabbits have engaged in such activity.

Bibi was a master (mistress) stretcher-yawner. And one time, I managed fire up the camera quickly enough to capture this portrait. I think she did a far better job with her ownself than I did with foil. I entered her posthumously for the mission of standing in front of a portrait and making the same expression. How could I resist? Who doesn’t think their pet is the cutest ever? (p.s. They are!) 

Later that same day, which was a Friday, I eschewed actual work work in order to create my own entry for the mission—a self-portrait in front of the artist’s self-portrait. I swear I could have kept doing it all day. And, it just happened I was wearing brown that day. Dürer’s hair is curlier, though. 

It’s weird taking pictures of yourself when there are plenty of other people around who you wouldn’t mind not seeing you doing it. I managed to escaped scrutiny.

Going into the day, my plan was to make my 3D sculpture of the 2D painting with Fun Tak, because I could have worked on it discretely at my desk and nobody would have been any the wiser. But today, unlike that January Friday, work tasks conspired against me and I did not have the opportunity to goof off as much as I sometimes do. The trade-off? I am redesigning the Black & Decker DIY books that you will soon find in your local Menard’s, Home Depot, or Lowe’s. It’s the highest-profile thing I’ve ever worked on. I can live with that.

So I present you with this inadequate foil replica of a masterwork. But as I’ve declared on a few previous occasions, the fun part is that I’m doing something that I wouldn’t have, ordinarily. But I did today.

(For those of you paying attention and remembering my “What’s in a name?” entry, my D does not stand for Dürer. It’s merely a convenient coincidence.)

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