Monday, January 29, 2007

Vista schmista

My how the times have changed.

Remember 1995? August of that year, to be exact. Microsoft released Windows 95 to extreme fanfare, enlisting the services of Jay Leno and the cast of "Friends," commenting on the exquisite concept of right-clicking.

Now the world is on the verge of another high-level OS release from the Seattle-based-people-who-rule-computerdom. Except this time there is not quite the same level of hoopla and, it seems, less excitement from the consumers. Oh sure, we will see some video of customers running into a store come midnight, but overall the buying public just appears, well, blase to the anticipation of upgrading.

Why? Some good reasons are listed here, but I also think some computer veterans are no longer lured by Microsoft's promises of The Next Big Operating System being "all that." Too many bad experiences with 95, 98, ME, 2000, and XP. And missing the holiday season didn't help.

I think another reason that February of 2007 will in no way resemble August of 1995 for Microsoft is that most buzz these days comes from hardware, not an operating system. If you doubt this, just go to CNET and check out the subjects for most of their articles. (Hint: HDTV, Blu-ray, MP3 players, and the iPhone.)

For the Geohouse, the introduction of Vista will go unnoticed. Most of you know I tap-tap my blog entries using a Macbook. I also use it for my photos, web browsing, e-mail, iTunes, recording and managing music using my cool Christmas gift from Geogal (a USB turntable). Why did I purchase a Macbook last fall? Many reasons, but one of the biggest was my overall disgust over how fat and sloppy Windows-based PC's had become.

I can still recall the words of Geogal when I brought home the Macbook: "Now we live in a divided house." By that, she was referring to our desktop PC, a Dell unit running XP. She has since become a believer in the Mac and in OS X. Now, when it is time to replace the desktop, we will buy an iMac.

That's what we think of Windows. So enjoy this OS release, Microsoft. It might be the last one of this magnitude you will ever enjoy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Evening snark

As Geogal was out most of yesterday evening, I set the TiVo to record "American Idol." Just got done watching it. New York City. The usual assortment of weirdos and those obviously under the influence. Geogal remarked how watching this episode seemed more painful than usual. I agree. While we watch the early editions of each season mainly to make fun of the "singers," is AI approaching jumping-the-shark territory when the producers focus too much on the post-audition meltdowns?

And are you, dear reader, in fact making fun of me for writing about the episode over 24 hours after it aired? Be more current, you say?

Hey, at least I got this to the Internet before Television Without Pity posts their summary. (Wait a moment. Does that site still exist?)

...a few minutes elapse...

Yep, still there. They have a "recaplet," keeping the sarcasm short and to the point.

Plus, their writer echoed what Geogal said about Carole Bayer Sager resembling Joan Collins.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How a TV series lost a fan

Average morning, flip through the newspaper. Came upon this piece, courtesy of the wire service. I can’t resist sharing my own thoughts about My Once Favorite Animated Sitcom.

First, my Simpsons fan credentials: I began watching the show in early 1990, while still in college. I remained an avid viewer until the end of last season. I own several seasons worth of DVD’s (one though three, then five and six–I do plan to add season four at some point, plus I will likely own seven and eight). My wife enjoys the series, although not to the extent of yours truly. Several Simpsons-esque expressions are now common in our household: “A little from column A, a little from column B;” “I spent last night in a ditch;” and “You promised to limit your servings of pork to six times per week.” I am a frequent visitor to The Simpsons Archive, and I own CDs of "Songs in the Key of Springfield" and "The Simpsons Sing the Blues."

I am (or at least, was) a big fan of the show.

But not presently. I was having lunch with a friend the other day (he is almost as big a fan as I am) and he asked me if I was looking forward to the Simpsons movie. I think my answer surprised him, as I said no. I pointed out how the writing has deteriorated over the past several seasons, and added I am no longer watching the new episodes on Sunday nights, given my disappointment over last season’s offerings. He listened, then offered his slight agreement. And after reading the aforementioned article, I am even less inclined to plunk down my green at the box office to see the flick. Apparently there are MANY creative people working on this movie which doesn’t give me great confidence in the final product. Just watch the 1967 James Bond parody “Casino Royale,” for a movie where there were too many cooks in the kitchen.

And James L. Brooks is either hopelessly optimistic or self-deluded when he said: “I think the last couple of years...have been among our best.”


Maybe just the reverse, Jimmy Boy. Although I cannot blame Brooks specifically for the series’ decline, he is culpable if he keeps it on its present course.

Why the decrease in quality? There likely are many reasons but I can enumerate a few right here.

1) Age. Time is taking its toll on the Simpsons universe. Face it, a series that exists purely for entertainment purposes just cannot remain consistently good for 17-18 years. In this respect, being an animated series is now working against the creative heads. Yes, the kids won’t ever grow up (as child actors in a live-action series do), but this has the reverse effect of the story-idea factory straining for every possible, but-not-necessarily-plausible plot. How else do you explain how the early seasons featuring stories that could easily have been developed on a live-action show, with the later seasons highlighting plots and storylines that are more outlandish and fantasy-inspired? Plus, many of its early fans have now moved on to other interests, including becoming middle-aged adults (yes, I am referring to myself) and I’m not sure if the series is attracting any new, younger viewers.

2) Recycling of plots. The Simpsons is not the only series guilty of this (“Frasier” was notorious for reusing some storylines in its later seasons), but do we really need to see another episode where Our Favorite Family sees itself in the future? (“Lisa’s Wedding” was the first future-oriented episode, and it was a gutbuster. All of the others fall well short in comparison.) I also am disappointed that the writers are falling back on the “let’s tell well-known stories from the public domain, and have three different stories in the three acts we are allotted” formula. And even though Sideshow Bob is one of my favorite characters, his shtick is wearing thin (see Point #1).

3) Topicality. The earlier seasons hold up well in reruns or DVD viewing. Now that the writers and producers aim more toward poking fun at current events (with inconsistent results), I cannot see most fans of the series laughing at jokes about the Iraq war when they watch the episode in, let’s say, 2021. Come on, there is a reason once-popular shows such as “Laugh-In” or “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” are not being rerun on TV Land or FX.

4) Lack of interest from Hollywood. Remember seasons two through six? Many of the biggest names in the entertainment industry wanted (and got) guest appearances on the show. And what other program featured guest appearances from all three (at the time) of the living members of the Beatles? And I have a feeling that had Lennon not been assassinated, he likely would have been a guest voice as well. But note the names listed in the article. Of those, only Natalie Portman could truly be considered A-list. And when James L. Brooks and Matt Groening appear as guest voices, you know the well has just about run dry.

I’ll leave it at that. And sometime in the near future, I will fire up the DVD player and laugh loudly at a Simpsons episode that aired when the series was still good. Will I even watch the movie when it comes out on DVD? I’ll answer that question later this year.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yep, sometimes the NFL is interesting beyond the games

Remember my earlier post about putting a bag over my head, as I am a Cowboys fan? I just cut me some eyeholes when I heard about this.

Already talk radio is buzzing about the replacement. Names such as Dan Reeves and Wade Phillips are being kicked (no pun intended) around. I personally would not want to see either failed Denver Broncos coach on the sidelines in Texas Stadium. Norv Turner might be a good choice.

Of course, whoever is hired will be going into the job with the knowledge of having to deal with the biggest discipline problem in the NFL. (I am referring to Terrell Owens, not Jerry Jones.)

I take solace in knowing the situation could still be worse. At least I am not an Oakland Raiders fan, nor am I a follower of the Mug Shot Team.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Brevity of Tuesday?

Not much to write about over the last few days. Or is there?

Cold snap is hitting us in Arizona just as it is in the rest of the country. We just don't get the ice storms although it seems some residents of the Valley of the Sun awoke on Sunday to frozen and/or burst pipes. Not at the Geohouse, though. You have to love the newer housing developments. What they lack in character they make up for in modern amenities. And Geogal is right. Since the time we bought this house, numerous retailers (both chain and locally-owned) opened up shop in our little area. At present, we really don't have to leave our own ZIP Code for any shopping.

Last night Geogal and I watched G4's first showing of Star Trek--The Next Generation, 2.0. If you've never seen it and are a Trekkie, you really must check it out.

While watching the aforementioned program, Geogal commented: "It's cold outside and I'm watching Star Trek--TNG. I feel like I'm back in college." Yes, except we live in a nice house versus crummy apartments; drive two nice late-model vehicles rather than the tempermental gas guzzlers of our youth; and have money in the bank account rather than having to make the small paycheck stretch beyond human comprehension.

Whenever I feel depressed or sorry for myself, I need to remember to step back and look at the bigger picture.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

New (used) wheels

What was occupying my time and energy over the last couple of days?

A vehicle change. Geogal and I spent the last several months looking to replace our aging Oldsmobile with a newer, more reliable vehicle. Plus, following a picnic jaunt to Roosevelt Lake in the late summer of 2005, I was desiring a vehicle that I could take off the road.

Finally found the truck that meets our needs (and our price range). A 2004 Toyota Tacoma crew cab, with four-wheel-drive.

No, the world did not stop turning. (However, I am no longer watching new episodes of The Simpsons, as the show’s quality has deteriorated significantly over the last several seasons. That subject will be reserved for a future blog entry.) Why am I referring to buying a Toyota as something that people thought would never occur?

A little backstory: In 1985, I was REALLY wanting a pickup. But, I wanted it to be an American pickup. A full-size truck. At the time, I was really enamored with the Ford trucks. (I still think the Fords from 1980 to 1986 were great-looking. Shame they don’t make ‘em anymore.) Yet it seemed that everyone who knew I was looking would ask the same question: “Are you going to get one of those little Japanese jobs?”

I bristled at the question. I was a patriotic American. I still am.

Take the following into account: These Toyota Tacomas are built in Fremont, California, and now, San Antonio, Texas. I bought this truck used, meaning none of my money went to Japan. I wanted a reliable vehicle, and Toyota Tacomas have a tremendous reputation for being reliable and long-lasting. I remain a proud American and will continue to own numerous American-made products. Yet, GM, Ford, and Chrysler trucks just don’t seem to hold up as well as the years go by. I have owned vehicles from all three of the Big Three. Now I am ready to try something new.

Plus, you cannot deny this is one cool-looking truck!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Plodding along

I don’t know if some of you were wanting to send me antidepressants after reading my last entry, but I assure you I just needed to vent a bit that day. It helped.

I’m not suffering from dysphoria currently, just quite tired. I spent some of today in a car dealership, working on one of my 2007 goals. So far all the ducks seem to be in a row. I’ll write more about that as the information develops. Lets just say that even if you are not financing a vehicle, the stay inside the dealership can become lengthy (apparently doc preparation does take some time). I don’t particularly care for being inside dealerships for any length of time (I really am becoming my father), but with my increase in years also comes an increase in tolerance for nonpleasant situations. Gotta keep my focus on the end goal.

However, once I got home I experienced a feeling of extreme fatigue, the likes of which I haven’t felt for some time. Mentally exhausted, plus not having eaten for several hours took their toll. But this evening, after some downtime and watching the penultimate college football game this season, I feel better. Old Geoguy will be sleeping well tonight!

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Maybe I am more susceptible to seasonal affective disorder (SAD) than I realize. So it must be a type of blessing that I live in the Arizona desert. Despite my recurring desire for occasional changes in weather conditions, I noticed over the past two weeks that my dysphoria seemed tied to cloudy, rainy conditions.

But sometimes the weather can produce beauty, even in the setting of suburbia. Hence the picture for today. Sunshine through the gray.

I need to learn from this observation. I don’t know if my sour mood stems from stress over Geogal’s medical condition, the rise and fall of the holidays, my ongoing existential crisis, the humdrum routine of the Geofamily life, but there must be a solution somewhere. Perhaps I need to shake up the normal pattern of my (and our) life, but not disrupt it too much. After all, some segments of our life are very healthy and supportive. Gotta make sure the cure isn’t worse than the illness.

Maybe I need to work this into a New Year’s goal. (See entry from earlier this week.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The sports world is a weird one

You've gotta feel for the fans of the Miami Dolphins. First the Ricky Williams debacle, now this.

What a liar Saban turned out to be.


On the subject of football, the gods of that world must be getting their share of laughter from messing with the state of Arizona. I can almost hear the conversation: "Let's saddle this state with the worst-ever NFL franchise, tempt them with occasional, but not sustainable, bouts of greatness from the Sun Devil and Wildcat gridiron squads, then let the bowl games they host in late 2006-early 2007 be among the most memorable in history."

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

For 2007...

It’s nice to return to routine. By that, I mean Geogal returning to work, taking down the Christmas tree (which has the resultant effect of furniture placement back as it should be), and being able to do the weekly Target shopping without having to endure lines 8 people deep at checkout.

I am no Grinch, but the holiday season can get a little wearing after a few weeks.

Did I make any New Years resolutions? No. I am, however, setting some goals for 2007. I have increased confidence as both Geogal and I decided to join a gym at the beginning of 2006. We stuck with it. Speaking only for me, I have since lost about 20-25 pounds, am back to wearing 32-inch jeans/slacks (for the first time since my college years), and am enjoying seeing my more-toned body in the mirror.

Knowing I could achieve all of this gives me impetus for more goals. So far, Geogal and I are committing to visiting Las Cruces this fall to attend NMSU’s homecoming game. I will return to work, in some capacity, doing what I enjoy. I will replace my aging Oldsmobile with a four-wheel-drive pickup. So there you have it (so far). Small, medium, and large goals.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Football Watch-And-Wait

It's just after 8 in the morning here and I'm wondering how much time will elapse before we hear the news of Dennis Green's firing.


The New York Post has this analysis of the NFL Network's calling of actual games. (Hat tip to the Jock Report.) Yes, Bryant Gumbel should be anywhere but in the broadcast booth. Keep Cris Collinsworth. Better luck next year. However, fate was a factor in the vapid level of most of the NFL Network games this season. Many of their contests were just boring, or didn't matter much in the playoff picture. Hey, it happened to Monday Night Football in years past.


Overheard on last night's NBC coverage of the Packers-Bears game: "If Brett Favre has tears in his eyes, he's retiring. If his eyes are dry, he's staying." How about this-- what if Favre hasn't yet decided?


I'm making a paper bag to put over my head this playoff season, as I am a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. Did any other NFL team go from the talk of the league to a laughingstock so quickly?