Monday, August 27, 2007

Picking your wedding music, a handy guide

While I was told I'd play a significant role in picking the music for the wedding, I'm quickly learning that my level of involvement will be largely ceremonial. This should be a familiar theme for any married men or any grooms-to-be.

Apparently my selections - culled from nearly 1,000 songs screened on a six-hour drive from Chicago to Minneapolis on Sunday - are going to be taken under advisement, but will likely be overruled.

Anyone who can't appreciate the wedding party walking in to Quincy Jones' epic composition, The Streetbeater - aka the theme from Sanford and Son - doesn't belong at my wedding, simple as that.

Still, I will cling to my hopes that Cold Lampin' With Flavor will be played in breaks between the band's sets. It's really all I have left.

For anyone else just beginning the process now, I offer the following observations:

* It appears that most of my musical library falls into two categories - the Old 97s and rap. So, if anyone who is attending the wedding is planning on dance lessons before October, I suggest paying attention to "urban" and "two step" in the class.

* You'd be amazed at how many songs are inappropriate for family functions. They are usually some of my favorites.

* The same goes for songs to fast to be "slow songs" and too slow to be real dance floor anthems. This was a major shock to my system.

* Despite my love for Shimmy Shimmy Ya I can't in good conscience, play Old Dirty Bastard at a wedding, no matter how awesome it would be. And believe me, it would be awesome.

* Be careful of songs you really, really like now. While I'm sure you love the new rock ballad of the week, are you sure you want Nickelback forever linked with your wedding? No, no one wants that. Not even the guys in Nickelback.

* You have a choice to make - Show off your musical tastes and complete of distrust of the mainstream music industry or people having fun and shaking their asses? Let's face it, no one plays The Polyphonic Spree at school dances for a reason.

That's what your wedding has essentially become - your very own high school dance, including the requisite amount of drama and alcohol-induced stupidity.

* Keep in mind people will know the names of the songs. Grandma will listen to the most inappropriate lyrics, much like a sitcom character who will hear the most incriminating portion of a conversation.

Aimee Mann's I've Had It is a perfect example of problems here. Same with Pete Yorn's Just Anotherr Girl.

* You're going to want to listen for objectionable lyrics four or five times, minimum. Songs that sound like a lyrical recap of an hour of playing Grand Theft Auto might not go over so well with the cottontops.

(Image from:

Monday, August 20, 2007

My week is officially shot

Ever stumble across a web site, where you just know you're going to spend the rest of the night clicking links or searching for old crap you already know the answers to? For me, Netflix and the IMDB come to mind instantly on this.

Well, a new site has launched under the same media umbrella as the sports site With Leather
called FilmDrunk and I've spent the past hour clicking links, watching streaming video and hollering, "Honey, have you seen this?"

Surprisingly, she had. I was shocked she had the goods on the upcoming Jack Black/Mos Def movie. I'm still recovering.

While I'm not sure you'll run through post-by-post like I'm doing, I will point you to the Ebert and Roper/Siskel searchable database with video and everything.

I'm not sure if this is why the Internet was invented, but it sure can't hurt its case.

God bless public debate

I can't prove it, but after listening to National Public Radio for two weeks, I'm pretty sure I've gotten smarter.

I'm now able to hold relatively intelligent conversations on all sorts of things from local government to finance to trapped miners in Utah. I've got to say that I'm pretty happy to have rediscovered the station with three offerings in the Twin Cities.

While two are musical offerings, the straight up news and commentary station is a step into a world of being a smartypants that I've been sorely lacking.

Still, there are plenty of questions left unanswered - I was driven crazy by the coverage of the mine collapse and the technology being used - but that is part of the appeal for me.

Especially on the heels of the bridge collapse and wall-to-wall coverage where nothing cracked the news cycle, it's disorienting to have an outlet that says what it needs to and then moves along.

More than that, the station does a good job of presenting the point - which admittedly, sometimes comes from a biased source - and leaving it with the listener to make their own decisions about what is valuable information and what is not.

Combined with a recent viewing of Control Room, it's startling to take a step back and realize exactly how much of my daily news content - especially televised news - is being given from a specific point of view.

When I hear discussions about the future of journalism and specifically the move towards a tailor-made news cycle where users would subscribe to a series of news feeds from bloggers and other gatekeepers who would compile daily links in real time, it makes me worry about how much of the news we don't want to hear won't ever reach us.

An open-ended news source leaves more to the intellect and forces the reader/listener/viewer to put more effort into the stories that interest them. At the very least, it leaves an echo that you can kick around for the day and try to come up with an answer.

While I was never really that disconnected from the world around me, I was definitely missing something by not having NPR as a preset on my radio. Besides, when you listen to NPR for a few hours straight, you don't feel nearly as guilty for watching reality TV that night.

(Image from: NBC)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wild and Wooly? Funtown, USA? Sold!

I didn't even know today was the 30th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death but if there's a silver lining to that, it's the Elvis movie marathon on TCM today.

Secondarily, it's nice to have the wedding date locked in (with the associated deposits!) so that if I watch this all night, there's no way I'll be dumped for such sloth, bad taste or overall weirdness.

I searched and searched for a Melvis clip from Eek the Cat, but apparently there's some Internet law against awesome, because those are nowhere to be found. Second place goes to this trailer for Viva Las Vegas which is a favorite of mine.

Bad acting, goofy songs and a formula made even more ridiculous by Melvis and Eek are hallmarks of any Elvis movie worth its salt and Blue Hawaii has all of those and more. With Elvis' range spanning from singing to not singing to kind of confused, I can't imagine anyone else taking his place on the silver screen.

Honestly, who would even attempt movies this ridiculous on a repeated basis? You know, other than R. Kelly, I guess. Any more ideas? That's what the comment section is for.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Happy Madden Day

Yes, I still went to work.

No, I don't own Madden yet, with baseball season running so hot still.

Yes, I'm a little sad that the ambulance is no longer a feature in the game. I'm telling you, if you made a mod to return the ambulance to Madden and to make little Wayne's head bleed in NHL, you'd be a rich man or woman, virtually overnight.

Thanks to Our Book of Scrap for the video.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I apologize a trillion times

I'm sorry, Ms. Jackson - I didn't see this until it was too late today.

While I enjoyed Armed and Famous it wasn't quite violent enough to make things entertaining for me. Sure, seeing LaToya Jackson get tasered totally made my holidays, but this might be more up my alley.

Hopefully Country Music Television's Ty Murray's Celebrity Bull Riding will quench my bloodlust.

I love bullriding - we nearly went to a bullriding event here for a proper New Year's Eve date last year - putting D-level celebrity washouts (and Nitro from American Gladiators) is my idea of television heaven.

Vanilla Ice, Leif Garrett and Rocket Ismail will appear, among other "celebrities" who may or may not "break their spines" while they "act stupid for a few, desperate dollars."

On the bull's side, Satan's Own will be the superstar bull. I'm honestly surprised that there's not a tab for the bulls on the CMT web site - CMT is totally selling out lately.

It premieres tonight, but knowing how CMT operates, they'll be playing it over and over again (CMT isn't really known for its original programming).

A quick called shot? Jon Fairplay will put bullcrap on someone's bed or somewhere else, causing a ruckus in the house. I'd put money on that.

(Image from

Monday, August 06, 2007

I'm almost sure there are laws against this

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this seems like a bad pitch for a buddy cop movie.

Mesa, Arizona police really want a monkey and in order to try and legitimize the request, they're almost positive that they can equip the monkey with cop gear and send it into hostile situations. (Note, this is just my guess, I'm sure this is the dawning of a new era in law enforcement.)

If PETA hasn't already organized a protest of some sort, they've officially disbanded.

According to the WTOP web site:

Weighing only 3 to 8 pounds with tiny humanlike hands and puzzle-solving skills, Truelove said it could unlock doors, search buildings and find suicide victims on command. Dressed in a Kevlar vest, video camera and two-way radio, the small monkey would be able to get into places no officer or robot could go.

Are they going to try and out-cute criminals now? No word on how the work on a tiny handgun or miniature grenade launcher is coming along.

Not that they'd really need them, I guess. When finding the graphic for this post, I learned one thing - even tiny monkeys will jack you up at a moment's notice.

(Image from

Friday, August 03, 2007

Bridge collapse, the days that follow

I went to lunch today with two coworkers today and had to head west of the north side of the highway that collapsed to get there. Surprisingly, traffic was moving along pretty quickly heading westbound over the north/south expressway with cars, bikes, media, cops and pedestrians all swarming the area.

On the way back, we hung a quick turn and headed towards the river, where you're allowed to drive, but only as far as the police tape will allow. We were able to see down the train tracks towards the bridge - and the train that is trapped under the road deck that has been on the news - and the north end that is up in the air now.

Heading back to work, we saw the media circus - and media folks would get a kick out of the pecking order, CNN and major national affiliates on the 10th Street bride east of the collapse and the overpass north of the accident site - milling around and eating box lunches, waiting for something else to happen.

We swung over through an apartment parking lot downstream a bit and saw the First Lady's helicopter buzzing the site before we headed back to work.

All told, there seem to be very few people actually working there today, with probably three-to-one coverage from the media of the divers and cops down near the river. The whole scene wasn't nearly as shocking as anyone had imagined and I've already heard some griping about the traffic patterns and gawkers who are plugging up the streets.

Just a few more quick thoughts from Minneapolis today.

* Both of us realized pretty early on that conversations Thursday began all day with, "Everyone OK on your end?" before moving on to whatever business you had to talk about. This went on all day, but was pretty reassuring. This dovetailed with the calls Wednesday night from family and friends checking in and e-mails that night and through the morning.

* Part of the problem with all of those phone calls were constant busy circuits and cell phones that just wouldn't work. There's more on that here. It's something to think about and also worth knowing that even when cell phones are down, text messages seem to get through pretty easily.

* For anyone interested in digging in further, here's a links list from that has some great resources regarding the paperwork involved, historical perspective and other links that you'll be seeing sourced over the weekend if past performance is an indicator.

* The factor I keep waiting to hear about but haven't is the water quality downstream. KFAN in the Cities is slowly getting back to its sports format, but they had a rescue diver on this afternoon who was speaking about the debris, nasty currents and other obstacles for the divers.

Between the brake fluid, gasoline, oil and other chemicals that are leaking from the cars that were crushed, it will put a major dent in the normal summer activities on the river from swimming to fishing and boating.

It's bad enough that the divers are reportedly in dry suits, but obviously isn't top priority right now. Given how much concern the Twin Cities show for the river, it's probably coming up soon, but the dog is bummed out that I'm home before 5 p.m. today and he's not swimming in the river right now.

* It's just a gut reaction, but I don't see the bridge hysteria being pimped by CNN and others dying down soon. With bridges an integral part of the national highway system, it's not like the levee problems in New Orleans during Katrina, where the Midwest and other parts of the country couldn't relate.

A bridge is a bridge, they're all over and apparently they're in worse shape than anyone thought.

As I write this, CNN has a feature on bridge safety, asking why the bridge wasn't shut down years ago for repair. I can only imagine the public outcry if that had happened without this disaster first.

* I never thought much about presidential visits until they were brought up on The West Wing but seeing Laura Bush buzz over our shop a few times today reminded me of the wonders of air travel. The President arrives tomorrow to make a bad traffic situation much, much worse...

* We'll be at the Twins game tomorrow night - I'm debating about bringing the camera to see what we can see and maybe post a few on Flickr for everyone.

(Image from
Getty by Mark Wilson / via

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The view from inside the bubble

I had no idea why I wouldn't be OK.

When one of the adoptions employees at the Humane Society came down from the front desk to the room where I volunteer with dog training classes every Wednesday for the past year and a half and told me that my fiancee had called and wanted to make sure I was OK, it made no sense at the time.

Watching TV now, safe at home, it probably wasn't a fun hour for her.

The bridge that came down runs up the east side of downtown Minneapolis, spanning the river that is crossed several times up and downstream, no more than a half mile from the Metrodome and carrying a highway that I'm on every morning on the way to work.

While anyone who is really interested can check the maps, the long and short of it is that Highway 35 is split south of the Twin Cities into 35E, which cuts through St. Paul to the east and 35W which jogs along Minneapolis in the west. The two then meet up again about 20 miles north as it continues up to the north shore.

This particular stretch of road is just west of the University of Minnesota and University Avenue, which runs along the north side of the campus jumps over the highway a few hundred yards north of where the bridge went down.

Strangely enough - and this is by no means an indictment of the road's condition - I've steered clear of the bridge lately because road work has made that stretch prone to traffic jams. The radio reports I heard tonight on the way home said that work was purely cosmetic and I have no reason to think otherwise, but I wonder tonight how many cars would have been traveling there if summer road construction season hadn't forced people to find other routes home.

Some other things to know about the bridges here in the Twin Cities:

* There are two roads - East and West River roads - that follow the banks of the Mississippi River and weave under the series of bridges up and down the banks.

* The bridges themselves are a pretty good height. Most are in the 50 foot range or so. When you're listening to firsthand reports of cars falling to the river, realize that it's a hell of a drop.

* There are plenty of bridges here in town - to get home, I have my choice of four to cross - so that's a pretty nasty double-edged sword. There's no really good way to get around town without crossing a bridge at least once.

It will be a strange commute tomorrow morning.

(Image from

We're fine

We're both fine, more later, but with the phones all jammed, figured it couldn't hurt to throw a post up here.