On this day: August 28.

On August 28, 1991, a mid-air collision between two Italian Air Force jets performing a maneuver called the Pierced Heart caused the deaths of three pilots and 67 spectators. The maneuver was being performed for a crowd of 300,000 at the Flugtag '88 airshow at the US Ramstein Air Base. One plane hit another as they were passing each other, crashed into the runway and sent a fireball into the spectator area.

Grammar peeves.

Simply put, this is a list of grammar mistakes that totally peeve me.

1. Incorrect use of "it's" and "its".
2. Incorrect use of apostrophes in general. I think people ju'st like to throw them in whenever they see an "s."
3. Incorrect use of "your" and "you're." and "their," "there" and "they're."
4. Incorrect spacing of words and phrases. It drives me nuts to see sentences like "do you want to workout?" That's a noun. "Work out" is a verb. Likewise with "breakthrough," "tryout," and a number of other terms. Also, if something happens every day then it's an everyday occurrence. "We go to the store everyday" is not a valid sentence.
5. Use of "an" in front of any word that starts with an "h" just because it starts with an "h." The rule is based on sound. If the word starts with a vowel sound (ankle, elephant, Ypres), then you use "an." If it starts with a consonant sound (cat, pharmacy, historic), you use "a."

Leave comments and add your own peeves, please. Feel free to correct my grammar and punctuation as well.

On this day: August 25.

I'm not sure how long I can keep this up, but here goes.

On August 25, 1944, Paris is liberated by the allies. Take that Vichy. 1,500 French freedom fighters were killed as well as 3,200 Nazi soldiers.

On this day: August 24.

On August 24, 1989, Pete Rose is officially banned from baseball for betting on his own team. I think he was just trying to show how much he believed in them. "Look I put my nest egg on this game, because I know you guys have a better than one in two chance of winning."

On this day: August 23.

On August 23, 2006, 18-year-old Austrian Natascha Kampusch escapes from her captor after being held captive in his cellar for eight years. During her time there, she listened to public radio and read books to keep her mind sharp.

On this day: August 22.

Sometimes I'll browse Wikipedia, clicking any link that interests me and reading up on a plethora of topics from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to beer to East Berlin. I'm amazed by what I didn't know and what I learn. It gave me the idea to write about important world events.

I remember after September 11, 2001, there were signs all over the place saying "9/11 Never Forget" or some permutation. I thought about all the other dates that we forget about as we go about our lives.

So here's the first important event: On August 22, 1992, FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot and killed Vicki Weaver, wife of Randy Weaver, at Ruby Ridge. Agents were at Weaver's home to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal firearms and for missing his trial date. Unaware to the Feds, the letter he received regarding his trial date was actually off by a month. During the 12-day siege, a US Marshal, Randy Weaver's wife Vicky, his son Samuel and their dog were killed. Afterward, Weaver was acquitted of all charges except for missing his court date, spent four months in prison and paid a $10,000 fine. He made that money back however after a wrongful death suit netted him $100,000.

The event was big news at the time, with people astounded by the FBI's extreme use of force for such a small charge.

2008 Olympics: The good, the bad and the fugly.

I've been watching the Summer Olympics pretty much every chance I get. I even stayed up until 5:00 am last night watching Nigeria stomp the pants off of Belgium in men's football (soccer). A lot of what I see is truly great, but almost as much of it isn't, mostly due to NBC's bizarro coverage. Here's a rundown of what I like, what I don't and what I abhor.

The good: Individual badminton. Who knew this game was so exciting?! It's not like the badminton you played at your family reunion while sipping on artificial ice tea. This is some serious shit, with these guys and gals hitting the shuttlecock at almost 200 MPH.

The bad: CNBC's boxing coverage. It seems like it's on constantly. I don't think they've shown any other Olympic sport. If I liked boxing, I'd love that, but I don't.

The fugly: MSNBC's Olympic Update hosted by Tiki Barber and Jenna Wolfe. The main problem I have with this show is that they don't really give you an update. I can see Jenna sitting there just waiting to make a snarky comment. If I wanted snark, I'd watch reruns of Dennis Miller. A google search for the show brings you straight to a MSNBC bulletin board bemoaning how terrible they are.

The good: You know, all that human spirit stuff. These athletes try so ridiculously hard. They've been training for this for four years and they're giving it their all out there in front of tens of thousands of people (plus millions watching on TV). To see them succeed is truly amazing. A personal favorite moment was when American middle-distance runner Shalane Flanagan took Bronze in Women's 10K. Her mom was in the stands cheering her on as she pulled around a runner into third. After she crossed the finish line, she held up three fingers inquisitively. When she realized she'd placed, she broke down into tears.

The bad: Marcelo Balboa's love of the "good foul." The commentary for the Olympic football coverage is actually quite good. JP Dellacamera and Marcelo Balboa both know their stuff and talk to each other pretty well. The main problem I have is with Balboa often talking about "good fouls." I understand that fouling to stop players from making a breakaway is a part of the game now, but I personally feel that it truly undermines the spirit of the game. It's a good thing it's on in the middle of the night because I can imagine kids in youth leagues asking coach about "good fouls" after hearing about it on TV.

The fugly: The hyperbolic grandeur. These athletes are truly amazing and are putting everything they have in their competition, but let's face it, they're not flying to Mars with the power of their farts or shooting rockets out of their crotches. They're doing things that humans can do; they're just doing it better than most everyone else. So enough of phrases like "the greatest BLANK ever." And don't say it will be argued over forever. That's a long time, and I've already forgotten what you're talking about.

The good: NBC's online live coverage. Watch any event live from your computer, and without annoying broadcasters!

The bad: Bob Costas. He just feels over the hill. He keeps cracking jokes that aren't funny, falling over his own words and acting like that awkward unfunny uncle who shows up at birthday parties. You know you've got to talk to him at some point, but you don't want to because you're sure he's going to bring up his timeshare at some point.

The fugly: China's human rights record. Tabet, Taiwan, Sudan, Falun Gong? You can't distract us with fireworks forever, China!

My 100 favourite films. Entry #22: The Spongebob Squarepants Movie.

The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (2004)
directed by Stephen Hillenberg
starring the voices of Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Clancy Brown, Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Tambor and Scarlett Johansson and the real live David Hasselhoff
country: USA
genre: family / comedy

Visuals: 9
Writing: 7
Everyday watchability: 7
Number of consecutive Employee of the Month awards Spongebob has earned: 374, making him an employee of the Krusty Krab for at least 31 years.

This movie doesn't have the best plot, and it's chock full of deus ex machina, but it sure brings the funny. The plot involves SpongeBob and Patrick heading to a place called Shell City to retrieve King Neptune's crown and save Mr. Krabs from his wrath. Meanwhile, Plankton has enslaved the entire town. The general outline is fine, but with all the bits where SpongeBob makes it through because of luck, it really starts to bog it down.

As for the jokes, they come at you constantly, and they're good! There's a montage where SpongeBob and Patrick get drunk on ice cream sundaes that has me cracking up everytime. There's a sequence with two hillbillies at a gas station who crack each other up, slapping their knees which set off fits of laughter. There are dozens and dozens of funny bits, great animation, and really well-done sound design.

I'm tired of writing. Here's a bunch of pictures.


A note on my job hunt.

I thought I would fill you in on my job hunt with some interesting statistics.

Number of jobs applied for: 70
Number of follow up pre-interviews: 4 (5.7%)
Number of interviews: 2 (2.9%)
Number of hires: 0 (0% in case you were wondering)

Number of temp agencies attempted to register with: 4
Number of temp agencies actually registered with: 2
Number of temp jobs they've contracted me for: 0

I even made a quick chart of the type of jobs I applied for (for the ones that I remember what they were):

administrative assistant16
customer service representative12
retail sales5
shipping & receiving4
data entry3
graphic design1

The "et cetera" section includes these jobs: graffiti removal; photographer's assistant; movie blogger; SAT instructor; box office sales; kennel attendant; assisted living weekend manager.

Wish me luck.

Korean shoes.

I found these shoes on a Korean clothing website. I might get them if I weren't broke and they weren't in Korea. They're also women's shoes and don't come in my size. But whatever. Any ideas on where to get shoes like this in the States? (For when I have money.)


Possible Portland soccer team names.

There was a suggestion on my last post to come up with a name for Portland's possible soccer team. I thought I'd come up with a few ideas for team names. Let me know what you think.

The Portland Beards - There are a very large number of people with beards here in Portland. I am one of them.

The Portland Brew - To celebrate Portland's many many microbreweries.

The Portland Pibbers - As in PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), the drink of choice for Portland's enormous contingent of hipsters.

The Portland Fixies - Because those same hipsters ride fixed-gear bicycles.

The Portland Bridges - You know, because there's a bunch of bridges. I don't know how many. I should probably figure that out.

Any other, better ideas?

I can feel it. Portland soccer.

On one of my excursions into the world, I saw the sign at left. Naturally, being a Phil Collins/Genesis fan, I stopped and took notice. I read the sign, and it made no sense to me. I felt like I should understand, if not at that moment, then at some point in the future. So I grabbed a snapshot.

When I came home later, I searched from "mls 2011" in Google, and came up with articles on Major League Soccer. It looks like they're thinking of adding two new teams in 2011. At the moment there are 14 teams in the league with two being added in Seattle and Philly in 2009 and 2010 respectively. And one might be coming to Portland in 2011! Oh shit! I was ready to root for Toronto. Portland has to beat out five of these six cities however: Atlanta, Las Vegas, Montreal, New York (it would be the city's second), Ottawa and Vancouver.

Keep your fingers crossed for my sake. I'd love to have a sports team to root for in a sport I actually enjoy.

Nerd alert: a mathematical approach to my ten favourite albums.

The list of my 100 favourite films was chosen deliberately. With the help of the IMDb, I looked at a list of every movie I had ever seen and sorted out all the dreck. I was left with about 400 films which I had given either an 8, 9 or 10. And I picked 100 of these.

For some unknown reason, I decided to come up with a list of my ten favourite albums in a much more mathematical fashion. Using Winamp, I was able to rate each song on a 1-5 scale. As I've been listening to songs while doing my work and surfing the web, I've slowly been rating 1000s of songs. I took all these ratings and plugged them into a spreadsheet. Then, I simply made a formula that averaged all the song ratings. After sorting them and was a bit surprised. I wouldn't have picked these 10 albums as my favourites, because there are obviously other considerations in what makes something someone's favourite. Some albums introduced me to an entirely new genre of music (The Chemical Brother'sDig Your Own Hole) or were played over and over on my tape deck (Phil Collin's No Jacket Required) or inspired me to make music (Yaz's Upstairs at Eric's), but these are all absent from the list because of minor missteps. This list really pinpoints those albums that I think are fantastic all the way through, not albums that inspired me, although many of them did.

Some criteria for this list:
1. Must have at least eight (8) songs.
2. Must not be a greatest hits, best of, or live album.
3. Must all be by one artist (i.e. no compilations or soundtracks)
4. US and UK releases are ranked separately.
5. In two-disc sets, the discs are ranked separately.
6. All songs must have a rating, including crappy intros, outros and interludes.

10. Elastica - Elastica
This album has 16 tracks (six of which clock in at under two minutes) and so many of them are simply amazing pop gems.

9. The Cars - The Cars
None of their other albums were anywhere near this consistently good.

8. Weezer - Weezer (the blue album)
I would never pick this album as one of my 10 favourites, though I do think it's a truly fantastic collection of songs.

7. Talking Heads - More Songs About Buildings and Food
I want Even More Songs About Buildings and Food.

6. The Radio Dept. - Pet Grief
I think I'd pick their other album "Lesser Matters" over this one simply because I heard it first.

5. Television - Marquee Moon
Would be higher on the list, but one track is simply really good as opposed to great.

4. The Prodigy - Fat of the Land
Yeah, seriously.

3. Klute - No One's Listening Anymore (disc 2)
Disc two sounds nothing like disc one. Disc two is some of the best drum and bass I have ever heard. Disc one is shit.

2. Orbital - Middle of Nowhere
I found this album in the drama room at school and it's utterly listenable all the way through.

1. The Beatles - Rubber Soul (UK)
I was surprised, but when I listened to this album again, it was hard to turn off because every song truly is great.


My 100 favourite films. Entry #21: Saving Private Ryan.

Saving Private Ryan (1998)
directed by Steven Spielberg
starring Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Giovanni Ribisi, Edward Burns, Vin Diesel, Barry Pepper, Adam Goldberg, Jeremy Davies and Matt Damon
country: USA
genre: war / drama

Visuals: 10
Writing: 8
Everyday watchability: 4
Number of deaths seen on screen: 206

If the editor of this film had handed me a pair of scissors and said, "cut this film strip in any two places," I would know exactly where to cut. The end and the beginning. I'd just lop 'em right off. This movie is truly amazing, but it really piles on the schmaltz with its present-day bookend scenes. I mean the movie opens with a freaking American flag waving in the wind.

Alright, enough dissing, let's talk about the film's merits, of which there are many. First off, the movie practically set the bar for all war films to come. Spielberg and his DP (that's Director of Photgraphy) Kaminski used a desaturation technique that reduces the color saturation by 60%. And it looks good. Colours are washed out and bland, making absolutely everything seem dreary and miserable. It's a technique that's been duplicated a number of times since: in the Spielberg-produced Band of Brothers and even in the video game Medal of Honor: Frontline.

Furthermore, the movie's action scenes are "realistic." I put realistic in quotes because I don't really believe in filmic realism. I believe that movies can seem real, which is what I mean here. (Maybe I'll write a post on the myth of film realism...) When I saw this film in the theatre, i had to leave during the D-Day battle because I physically felt ill. There aren't any other films that can have that kind of effect on me.