Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Joining the 21st century (thanks to BMZ)

While on the road from Penguicon in May, one of the people I was driving told me he had an ipod he was no longer using and after he cleaned it up, he sent it to me.

I was reluctant to use it at first but I soon discovered how useful it is especially when I worked on a Saturday and instead of having a beat up cd player and cds, I had my music in my pocket and with a set of headphones was able to listen to over 130 tracks for 9 hours without even coming close to draining the power or bothering the people who work with me. (ok, it is not perfect)

Just before I posted this I added more songs (including a disturbing brilliant track posted to the FuMP yesterday @ to get to 200. I noticed something unusual in what was on the device and created this chart:

With the Circue du So What Cd completely on my device, the sketch quantity is high but I was surprised to have over 4 times the number of original comedy songs compared to parodies and that does not include original songs from movies or musicals.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

request denied

The summer of 2010 marks the return of Weird Al Yankovic on tour and through Facebook and from others telling me or asking about riding with me, there was no way I would not know even though having decided following the last concert I saw him perform in September, 2007 that I would not spend another penny on him.

My curiosity did get the best of me and I decided to look at this tour's set list and got interested especially knowing that the songs on his new unreleased polka is something my daughter (who expressed interest in seeing a concert) would enjoy since she knows more of them than I do. I looked at getting tickets but realized that except for the time between "Fun Zone" and "Yoda" (opening and closing of concert), it would not be worth the money, time and aggravation and decided against it.

Looking at the tour schedule, I would have normally attended four different concerts in four different states. My total expected personal costs for the shows are listed here:

The one with lodging would involve a party the following day in the Detroit area.

Thinking about my decision to boycott AL and my post about what happened on my wedding day, I realized I am now being the same passive aggressive person I was then. I decided to send a e mail to the drummer of the group Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz who I've met before. I asked about four backstage passes (me, my daughter, best friend and her husband) to the Detroit area or Rockford show since the Chicago area ones are taken by the same 15 or so people who I see every local show along with Bermuda's family. That idea was suggested three years ago to do by one of those 15 people.

As with the last 6 times I asked over the past 8 years, I got a courteous "no" reply. Apparently, I am not "good enough". I could really be bitter about it and be passive aggressive towards them like the time a couple of years ago I saw one of the "Chicago AL fans" at a Jonathan Coulton concert and knowing he won $82,000 on Wheel of Fortune asked him why was he guessing "L" when "N,R,and T" were available?

I have made this mountain out of a molehill high enough and really don't want to add any more than I already did. Anyway, looking at myself in the mirror, if I ever got that opportunity to meet Al backstage, I would most likely do what I did at W00tstock a couple of weeks ago upon meeting Mythbusters Adam Savage:

She looks better than me anyway.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Whammy burger (again!)

For the past four weeks, I have avoided McDonalds because the last three times I went through their drive thru in three different places, the price on the menu board for the 6 nuggets mighty kids meal was between 10 to 40 cents less than what I was charged and when I checked one of the locations a couple of days after, the price was not changed.

On June 16th, my daughter had a 6PM softball game on the same day the park district had a field trip at Lincoln Park Zoo and due to traffic, she did not get back until 5:15.

Knowing she takes her time to eat, we went to the closest place to get food which was a McDonalds and when the price was displayed, I noticed I was charged 20 cents more than listed. When I went to pay the bill, I tried to explain to the manager that this is the fourth different McDonalds in a row that had the wrong price on the drive thru menu board for the same item.

Wanting to get to the game I decided to not continue my complaint but as I drove around the building, I noticed the other menu board as the place had two and had to get out of the car to confirm what I saw.

When I got to the park, I called them:

"This is McDonalds, Can I help you?"

"Yes. This is the person who complained about your menu board having a wrong price ten minutes ago. I looked at your menu boards. One of them has it listed as $4.29 and the other at $4.39. You are charging $4.49 for the 6 piece nuggets kids meal." *click*

This confirms what I suspect. They don't care and no doubt the price has probably been wrong on the board for a while. Here is a map of the four locations and when I was there:

On my way home from work today, I stopped at the McDonalds where I had the discussion on May 18th. The price was still incorrect on the drive thru board.

All this leaves me to ask one question: "Am I the only person in the northeast part of Du Page county who pays attention when ordering and cares that the price listed is wrong?"

To compare, I have not seen any similar error at any other place. Just McDonalds who probably will not be seeing me again until the Mc Rib returns if at all.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

from 203 to 32

I have been asked how the World Cup field is determined so I figure I will summarize it the best way I can.

First of all, the host country, South Africa, automatically is in the tournament. The other 202 countries who entered played starting in August 2007 for the remaining 31 spots within their region of the world. 13 from Europe, 4 from Asia, 5 from Africa, 4 from South America and 3 from North/Central America make the field. The other two spots are determined by a playoff between the first non qualifier from North/Central America and South America regions along with the first non qualifier from Asia playing the Ocenania region winner.

For the United States, they had to qualify as one of three teams from 35 countries in the region. Seeded as one of the top 13, they did not have to participate in the first round where 22 teams played for 11 spots. The 11 advancing teams played a head to head match with one of the 12 seeded teams and the 13 seeded team played a match against one of the top 12. The US defeated Barbados 9-0 total goals in two games to advance.

The third round had the 12 teams play in three groups of four round robin home and away (6 total games per team) and the top two teams from each group advanced to the region final. Those 6 teams played another round robin home and away match (10 games per team) finishing last October 14 where the top three (US, Mexico, Honduras) made the final and the fourth place team (Costa Rica) went into a playoff with the 5th place team from South America (Uruguay) which Uruguay won. The United States had to play 18 total games from June 15, 2008 to Oct 14, 2009 with a total record of 13 wins, 3 losses and two ties to qualify for the final.

The 32 teams are seeded in four groups of 8 and one team from each group by random draw is placed in one of 8 groups of 4 as shown here:

The teams in each group play one match agains the other three teams and the top two advance into a 16 team single elimination format where the champion is crowned on July 11th.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time to look back

Since one of my co workers recently got married, the topic of weddings became a hot topic at work. After hearing about my wedding day 11 years ago from the date this post becomes public, one of the regular readers suggested I devote an entry to that day. With the regular Thursday topics date specific, I decided to make this seperate one.

I can say without a doubt that my wedding day, June 12, 1999, is one of the most frustrating days I have ever lived. Because it is the day I got married, the memory of it has not dwindled even after 11 years. It is possible that by making this post some of the bad memories will leave since in the past putting thoughts onto a screen have taken them out of my head. That is the main reason I am going to write this.

I decided to look at what happened from a third person perspective and realized that everything boiled down to four main things that caused my day to end up like it did. However, all of those things could have been resolved or made a non issue by actions made on the date and up to a couple of years before.

First of all was the hotel situation for me. For the out of town guests and myself, we reserved a block of rooms at a hotel in the area. When I got there, I discovered that my room was not a hot tub suite as I reserved. Apparently, they lost the note stating that the groom had a hut tub room reserved on his wedding night. After checking into the room they had for me and finally falling asleep, the phone rang shortly after midnight. They told me they were able to get me the hot tub room and I could move into the room now.

The only way this could have been prevented aside from staying in another hotel which would have not worked since the best man was also staying in the hotel was to confirm things with the hotel the night before so any problem would have been resolved before I got there. Then I would have not gotten upset at people the night before. However, last minute plans including getting my credit card left behind at Best Buy took over my thought process.

It makes sense for a hotel to place all people in a room block in the same area and that is what happened with me. The only good thing about it was when I saw my 2 year old nephew naked in the hallway after escaping the hotel room. I stayed with him until my sister realized he was missing and came running down the hall looking for him. Had I been in the suite I reserved, I would have not seen him on my way to the pool.

Anyway, I had everything moved into the new room and eventually fell asleep about 2 AM knowing that I had a tee time in 7 hours.

The next morning I had something special planned. I was going to play a round of golf with the men in my bridal party. On the 18th tee, I was going to grab a special ball out of my bag and state, "On the day Jack Nickalus got married, he played a round of golf with the men in his bridal party. On the 18th tee, he announced like I am doing today, 'This is the last drive I am going to hit as a single man!' He teed the ball, gave it a mighty swing and barely hit the ball as it rolled into a pond just off the tee just like this hole here. With this old golf ball with his logo on it I have saved since I first heard this story in 1988, I will beat Jack Nicklaus."

Well, the Joliet area had about two inches of rain that morning and the golf course was closed since it floods easily. I was very disappointed when I woke and confirmed what the news stated the night before. In spite of my best efforts, I could not get back to sleep after waking up at seven.

Since the 18th tee at that course was close to the entrance of the golf course and on a little hill, I could have easily gone there and just hit one ball even in the middle of pouring rain. Had I explained what it would mean to me, they probably would have let me hit one ball of the 18th tee. Of course, had I let someone who was not getting married that day know my plans, he could have suggested it to me. Ten years later, I allowed my plans to make a wedding special distract me from what I should have been doing in the role I had. Two opportunities forever lost in time.

By the time for the ceremony, the skies had cleared and though it was humid, it was a nice day. After what seemed like an eternity in the room off to the side it was time for the ceremony and after the woman I plan to spend the rest of my life with joined me at the altar and we nervously looked at each other for the precher to begin.

She started, "I, your name," I replied properly though it was difficult for me to not say, "your name". Then she said, "in the name of God." There was an uneasy pause for about 10 seconds as just about everyone on my side on the building and half the other side were wondering what my reaction would be. Nervous, I just repeated her words and everything else went without a hitch.

As someone who as George Carlin stated was Catholic until he reached the age of reason (which for me was a year after graduating St. Rita High School) our vows were meaningless. In the few seconds we had together before greeting everyone we wondered why the preacher did not use what we wrote and instead went by the book.

After the pictures were done and most everyone was out of the building, I stormed into her office and screamed, "Why did you not use what we wrote? You embarassed me and my bride in front of our whole family!" She stated she did not find what we wrote appropriate. I yelled back, "Couldn't you have told me this before we were on the altar?" She said she did not look at what we wrote until just before the ceremony and decided then.

I slammed the door on the way out and discovered my wife was already being escorted out of the building my her mother who heard me and was trying to get her out of there. I grabbed her arm and told my mother in law, "She is with me now."

Why did we get married there as opposed to city hall? Having grown up and seen numerous weddings in a church I was wanting a similar one myself. Since the weddings of my wife's brother and sister were civil, I knew my mother-in-law wanted a nice looking one herself. Except for one problem the preacher solved, using her was not a good idea. Since then I have seen weddings at other places that were just fine.

Then the reception. There were discussions with music and all I wanted was a couple of specific songs played. I even allowed my wife to choose our first song though I had something I would rather hear. Heck, I wanted us to be introduced to the Weird Al instrumental Fun Zone but decided to not be assertive. Anyway, the individual numbers in the date of the wedding 6+1+2+9+9 add to 27 which has been on a Weird Al song on every album but his first and as of now has appeared on the cover of his last 3 CDs. On the book provided by the DJ, I marked songs I wanted to hear. Having seen him work an event on my wife's side of the family, I figured he was fine even though I would have preferred the person who did my sister's wedding.

At the recpetion, I notice a strange young face with the DJ equipment. Apparently the person that was hired sub contracted the job to a 20 something year old. I asked him if he has the list I marked and he assured me he will follow the instructions. After food, I walk on the dance floor with my bride and then hear the most awful voice in music by someone other than Whitney Houston. It was the first time I had ever even heard the song though I had heard other crap by that artist before. (Note: There is no way I would consider telling you the artist's name let alone the song. I have walked out of a grocery store leaving behind a cart of groceries when it was played on their PA system.)

I did manage to suffer through the dance trying to remember how happy I am supposed to be. I had just enough alcohol in me to be an asshole but not enough to feel drunk happy and I was in no mood to try to get that way. Eventually more music is played and I am just watching everyone who is between 15 and 25 on the dance floor as I wonder to myself, "What the hell is the DJ playing? I have never heard these songs in my life."

I followed current music until Whitney Houston embarassed the country before Super Bowl 25 and then got popular from it. Eight years later, I had never heard of people like Ricky Martin, Lou Berga or Marc Anthony nor the songs they did. Since I was taking pictures away from the dance floor during Mony Mony, the only non slow song after the first dance I was on the floor was the Hawaii 5-O theme since it was the only thing I knew.

The one person from my work who was there could tell I was upset and asked me what was up. I angrily explained to him that in spite of what he said before the reception and then me nicely asking him to play songs on my list, the DJ is not listening to me and is playing what he wants. Apparently my tirade was picked up by the microphone of the person video recording and she had to edit it from the video which I have only seen once and will never see AGAIN! I then asked my wife who was with me about a woman who was dancing that neither her nor I knew.

When I wrote a note to the DJ about it after we returned from the honeymoon, I found out my mother-in-law gave him specific instructions to not play what I wanted to hear.

Now, what could have been done? First of all, I made a mistake when I got involved with the profit sharing program at work. I had a clever idea to save money for the wedding. Once I knew I was going to marry her (which was a couple of months after we met) I had my work take as much as possible out of my check so I could get it back for the wedding. I then found out a couple of months before the wedding that once the money is taken out, I can't get it back. I was mis informed by the person who worked in that departement at that time.

The only other option for financing the wedding myself was to borrow. Since my wife was still in college at that time and had student loans to repay, I did not want to add an additional burdeon at the start possibly preventing us from having the boy child we wanted to have. Because of that, I had to relegate control to the person who could pay for it.

At the end of the reception, I confronted the DJ who was packing asking him why he did not play what I wanted. When he gave me a shrug, I had to be restrained and taken away by my brother in law and co worker since they did not want me to spend my wedding night in jail. I then realized the strange girl who was on the dance floor was his girlfriend who crashed the reception. That would explain why he was playing songs for the 15-25 crowd and not the 30s bride and groom.

The time to be assertive about the music was after the third of fourth song. Being nice and not getting assertive with him until the end was stupid. I had never heard the phrase passive agressive at that time but it definitely fit me that date and on many occasions since.

Now what have done in the almost 25% of my life since? I left the place bitter and angry and it stayed with me all honeymoon almost landing me in jail at Walt Disney World arguing over $80. I have been asked about forgiving or forgetting. I have never forgiven anyone unless they admitted to me their error and now, 11 years later, I have long since stopped waiting for an apology. Forget ... me? The person who was able to name 27 of the 28 players on the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks (missing one skater who played three games) and can if given a number from 1-44 recall the score, MVP, site and one thing 99.9% of people don't know or realize from that game. All I have been able to do is to move on.

Whenever a wedding is coming up for anyone, I advise people to NEVER give up control and borrow money if necessary to keep it.

A couple of years later, I reluctantly attended a wedding reception on her side of the family next to a farm across from the Joliet Motor Speedway. As it was a buffet, I let the other seven people from my wife's immediate family go first since I eat fast. When I was walking back to the table with food in my hand after talking to someone else, everyone at the table (just their table, no other one) including my wife had a glass raised and my mother-in-law said "to family". After a few seconds of disbelief, I decided it was best to eat in my car.

45 minutes later, my wife came to the car and asked me if I was done embarassing her family. After heated words, I was told her family did not include me in the table toast since I don't drink alcohol. Having to drive 45 minutes home after being with her family, I don't drink with them since my fast metabolism could create a problem for the drive home. Also, I do not want to create a problem with them by allowing alcohol to let me tell them what I have held back for years.

I decided this was time to show them I can drink. I chugged as much foul tasting Bud Light as I could handle and in spite of the food, I was drunk quickly. After the dancing started I would shout, "Hey one more decent song than was played at my wedding!" whenever a song I liked was played.

That night was the first time I ever heard the Cha Cha Slide and being 2002, I was still physically decent enough to join them on the dance floor. Hearing the phrase "Charlie Brown", I took two quick steps, swung my right leg launching myself into the air while screaming "AAUGGH" and landing on my back. I then got up to the shock of people there and finished the song. 90 minutes later, I was sober having given the portable toilets a good workout.

Being older than many of my friends, I have had the opportunity to be at four of their wedding receptions. One of them was similar to mine in structure. While watching the ceremony and reception, I had a surprise revelation. For many years, every thought about my wedding date was negative. All throughout the day while watching the ceremony and reception, I was able to recall good memories from my wedding day. Unfortunately, they returned to the recesses of my mind by the time I woke up the next day but now I know they are there. There is a wedding I will be attending later this year. Hopefully, the good memories of my wedding day will return and this time I will be waiting to not only relive them but to hopefully reassign them in the front of my mind so I can look upon that once in a lifetime day without complete regret and bitterness.

The most unusual wedding I saw was at my first con in 2002. The couple got married traditionally but had a second ceremony for fandom. Here is the bridal party picture:

The seven in front from left to right are the flower girl who the night before gave me a shot with her glass between her boobs and later that night ended up joining two ladies and a very lucky guy, the maid of honor, Dr. Demento, who gave away the bride, the happy couple, the best man wearing a Star Trek TNG outfit and Commander Data face paint, and the ring bearer who had the ring tied to one of the teats in the cow costume. In the back was the man who performed the ceremony wearing nothing but a loin cloth and a crown of thorns.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The world's game

This weekend marks the start of the 2010 World Cup finals held in South Africa. Over the previous two years all the countries in the world which were interested (almost 200) had their teams play in qualifying matches to determine which 31 teams join the host country.

The 32 teams are divided into 8 groups of 4 teams each and the teams in each group play each other once. The best two teams in each group advance to a 16 team single elinination event and play until one country wins on July 11.

As with most international events, the host country has an distinct advantage. This chart explains how they have done since it was first held in 1930:

For 5 of the champions, 1 of the finals losers and 2 of the semi-final losers, the event as the host country is the best performance in the event. Also only one time has a team crossed the Atlantic Ocean to win the final and that team had Pele on its roster. (Note: The 2002 finals held in South Korea/Japan had Brazil win but I don't count that since all the South American and European power countries played over 6 time zones away from their home country.)

Though the home team has made the second round all 18 times, I can't see how the overmatched South Arfican club can advance in a difficult group with France Uruguay and Mexico.

Knowing that it is late fall and soon winter in South Africa right now, it will be in the 60s during the day and 50s in evening. Though rain is unlikely as it is also dry, I believe it benefits the northern European countries like England while hurting those used to hot weather like Spain and Brazil.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

out of time

Over Memorial Day weekend I was finally able to state I have seen every Dr. Who episode made from the first four seasons since the show was revived in 2005.

What took so long was my inability or desire to torrent the show as many I know have done. The fact people were able to see the show weeks if not months before it aired on tv made me not interested. I desiced to wait and see an edited version on my 37 in flat panel tv than on my 10 in circa 1998 computer monitor. I have only recently been told that through my XBox I could watch a torrent on my regular tv.

What also made it difficult was not having the ability to record from my tv until a couple of years ago so if I was not home when it aired on BBC TV, I missed it. By seeing episodes out of order I missed out of enjoying the story arcs that were created during each season as many times the clues to future events are given.

Anyway, this is how I saw them (including the specials):

Thanks go out to Mr Tuesday and i got nothing for allowing me to see the episodes on DVD.