Classic Dishes...



Get to the polls, beyotch

This morning I sent in my absentee ballot on the way to work. No, I’m not gonna tell you who I voted for, except to say that it WASN’T BUSH.

As an amateur comedian, I look upon voting as my a renewal of my licence. I have no right to gripe about the people running the country if I don’t take part in the process. Neither do you. So if you’re not already registered to vote absentee, get out to the polls Tuesday and vote for the candidate of your choice.

(Unless you’re Republican. Then you can stay home.)

If hearing it from me isn’t enough to convince you, watch this video. But do me a favor, REALLY watch it. Make an effort to listen to the lyrics. (If you can’t understand them, they are transcribed in the comments on the linked thread.) I dunno about you, but between that and the song he did for 8 Mile, my opinion of Eminem over the last year or so has pretty much done a 180. The man has flat-out TALENT.

The great philosopher and all-around hot piece of ass C.J. Cregg once said on “West Wing”: “Decisions are made by those who show up.” Go show up. It you think the system is broken, staying home and compaining ain’t gonna fix it. At least it won’t be your fault.

Control Freak

So I dunno if I’ve really mentioned it in the blog itself, but I’m a classic arcade game nut. MAME and a full set of ROMs occupy a prominent place on my game drive.

Well, being able to play all of these old games arcade-perfect is one thing, but it loses something when you have to do it with a keyboard, mouse, or a gamepad. Nothing feels like a real arcade joystick and buttons, and few computers are equipped with a spinner to play Tempest with.

As a result, a niche hobby-within-the-hobby revolves around building control panels (and often, entire cabinets) to complete the overall effect. John St. Clair runs the Build Your Own Arcade Controls website, which should absolutely be your first stop if you find any of this the least bit interesting. He’s also taken what he’s learned and written a book, Project Arcade, which includes step-by-step instructions and plans and other information about how to do it. Go buy six copies.

Anyhow, here’s what I did. Eventually, it will be part of a full cabinet when I have more room:

…and it is AWESOME. I can play Tempest with a spinner, and Marble Madness with a trackball. Games take on a new dimension. Not only that, but I have a flatscreen monitor that rotates now, so I can play games that usually run in portrait orientation the way they were intended to be displayed. It wasn’t cheap, but as far as I’m concerned, it was absolutely money well spent.

But Please, Call Me Tony

This little tale popped back into my head as I was brushing my teeth this morning, and I don’t think many of The Four Of You have heard it, so I thought we’d get it down in print for the first time. It’s good for a few chucks, anyhow.

The year was 1989. The month, June. I don’t remember exactly which day it was, save to say that I’m pretty sure it was on a Thursday. Nutshell, I was graduating from high school, freezing my ass off in a cap and gown (and yes, dress clothes underneath, you perverts) because it was a windy day and we were in the middle of I Don’t Remember The Name Of The Field Because We Played Home Football Games At The Community College.

I didn’t even want to be there. My existence in high school pretty much consisted of two objectives: 1) keep as low a profile as possible, and 2) get the hell out of there as soon as my four years were up. And, of course, I have regrets. Hindsight being 20/20, if I had it to do over again, I’d have done it completely differently. Outside of class, anyhow. But I digress.

The point is, and this at least remains true to this day, I believe that graduation ceremonies in and of themselves are a big dog and pony show for the parents. This belief was strengthened even further during the rehearsal that morning when the school Gestapo (we had several employees at the school who, as far as I could tell, had no other job than to bust kids for the tiniest of infractions. Unless they were football players. Oh, did I mention said employees were also football coaches? Dammit, there I go digressing again) told us in no uncertain terms that if we failed to follow the script to the letter we would see our Social Security checks before we saw our diplomas. (Back then we were still confident that we’d see Social Security. Remember, Bush The First had only been in office for six months, and he hadn’t started a war yet.)

So I didn’t wanna be there, I actually had plans to go see the premiere of Ghostbusters 2 (again, hindsight) with the Posse that night after the Big Event, but the grandparents were coming in from out of town, and the folks were basically shoving me out there at gunpoint. (I did strike a deal with them, tho. If I walked in high school, I didn’t have to walk when I finished college. Held ’em to it, too.)

But I made the best of it. I was suave and debonair with the girl I was escorting, who I had spoken perhaps three sentences to in four years of schooling, and everytime me and John Kanalakis would pass by each other (which was often, with him being a K and me being an L), we would favor each other with the Political Handshake (the two-handed one where the non-shaking hand grasps the other guy’s extended forearm), just to keep ourselves amused. Eventually, we’re at our part of the alphabet, and we’re on line to receive our diploma folders (because, remember, they weren’t actually going to let us have the official documents until the gig was completed), a hearty handshake and a few parting words from the administration.

During all of this, I’m listening to the PA system, where the students names were being read, wondering if my name would be butchered one more time. See, my given name is Jon Christopher Lemon, but because my parents have a sick sense of humor, I’ve become accustomed to being called Chris, to the point that I actively dislike being called by my given first name. (I swore I would change it officially when I turned 18. I never have, mainly because I have no faith in the system not to have it muck up any number of potentially important public records. I simply use “Chris Lemon” as my legal name, and leave it at that, save for my driver’s licence, where they force it on me.) So after spending twelve years correcting teachers who couldn’t be bothered to either recognize or remember that I had a prefrerence, I figured, okay, I’m already here against my will, the least these SOB’s can do for me is say my damn name the way I want them to. Inspired, I took great pains that morning to track down someone with a name list and beg them to change it so my name would be read as “Chris Lemon”. I was assured the change would be made, but I had been assured of many things over those four years, so I remained skeptical.

Meanwhile, Jenelisa Lara is receiving her stuff, and soon after that, the Leha’s from Guam had their turn, and then it was my big moment.

“Chris Lemon.”

Hey, kickass, they got it right! On top of that, there were scattered cheers through the class from the gang that I had gone all the way through school with, through Monte Vista Elementary, on to Colton Middle, and then here. (I’d even gone to preschool with three or four of them.) Pretty nice gesture, considering that I’d spent most of my lunch hours for the last two years shut up in the computer lab.

So I step forward to receive my diploma folder thingy, and my Adminstrative Handshake (only the one arm, this time) and Words Of Wisdom from our principal, Mae Johnson.

Now, at Monterey High, the job of principal has little or nothing to do with the actual students. They had vice principals for that. The principal gladhands the mucky-mucks from the district office and puts on a show for the media. Why sully your hands dealing with the paying customers, ya know?

But, part of the job is also to send off the hoi palloi once a year, and so it was that I accepted Mae’s extended hand, she looks me dead in the eye, and offers me the following thought, the last bits of wisdom to be imparted into my being by the public school system:

“Anthony, it’s been a pleasure.”

And if THAT doesn’t sum up four years of high school, I don’t know what does.

Order Up!

So the Four Of You have probably noticed a little change here at Chez Fred: there’s no more seperate Archive section. Instead, you have a drop down at the top of every blog page that allows you to select a past entry to read. I think it’s a lot more convenient than surfing the Archives, myself.

I’m going to TRY to add titles to the list (I THINK I can do it), so you can call up a favorite piece by name (for those that HAVE titles, and I may go back over the old ones and edit titles into them, if I end up liking how it works out), but I need your advice for another bit:

(QUICK EDIT: I just realized why I can’t add titles: since archives list by the day, there may be more than one post in a given day. I’ll have to read up on Post Pages and see if I can’t build an archive using those somehow. So for right now we’re stuck with dates, just as before.)

Right now the Archive drop-down lists the entries from first to last, that is, the first entry is when we went live on July 1, 2001. To my way of thinking, it’s easier to browse the Archives from most-to-least recent, the exact reverse of how it is now. (And it is a shame that an archive entry can’t have that day’s archive be the menu default, but based on how the code works I just don’t see a way around it.)

So, given a choice, do you a) want the archives to list first-to-last, b) list last-to-first, or c) do whatever, you couldn’t care less about the archives ‘cuz you only read me through RSS anyhow, in which case you don’t even see the comment link and therefore prolly wouldn’t vote in the first place.

As always, thanks for making Chez Fred even a small part of your day. It’s more fun writing it when I know people are actually reading it. :)

A Timely Death

So here’s a creepy little story for you.

Last week, I decided that since I’d been really good about not spending money frivolously lately, it was time for a gift. I was looking long and hard at a new laptop, since I’ve never been 100% happy with my purchase decision the first time, and now that I have some education with them I know how to do it right this time. (Plus I’ve been reading Ben’s Bargains on a regular basis, so I know when Dell is having the sick sales. :))

Anyhow, long story short, I decided against the laptop and bought a 19″ flatscreen monitor for my main desktop machine instead. I already have a laptop, and the main thing I would do with a new one is surf wirelessly from my bed. Well, I can do that with one I HAVE. Really, my only two complaints with this one are that the hard drive is a little small and the video adapter is kinda weak. Well, the hard drive can be fixed for $100 (a 60-gig drive is on the way), and I can live with the video thing for a while longer, since the types of games I play are old arcade games in MAME and Roller Coaster Tycoon and its ilk, both of which have meager video requiremnts. So I spend half of the money, get some toys I’ll use more, and maybe we’ll revisit the laptop around tax refund time.

So I feel pretty good about this purchase. Not sure what I’m gonna do with the 19″ tube behemoth sitting on the desk now when Mr. Slim arrives, but I figure I can jump off that bridge when I come to it. Maybe I can set up a full-time MAME/jukebox system until such time as I can finish the cabinet.

Then, the other day, Dell brings the deal of a lifetime via Ben’s. $500 off of any laptop over $1500, plus a $200 mail-in rebate. The monitor hadn’t shipped yet, so I can cancel the order no problem. And I think about it. And think. I have my machine customized on Dell’s site, in the cart with the coupon applied and ready to rock…and I don’t do it. Don’t need to spend the extra money. What I bought was the right decision. I close the page.

Here’s where it gets creepy:

Originally Dell was telling me I was gonna have to wait until the 24th for this thing to ship. Longer than I’d like, but I’m gettting a great deal on the monitor, too, so I’m willing to have a little patience. Well, this morning I get an email from Dell: my monitor is on the way, a full two weeks ahead of schedule, I’ll see it the latter half of the week. Cool!

Around 2:30 this afternoon, I’m sitting at the very desk I’m sitting at now, reading my RSS feeds, and with a silent <click!>, the monitor turned off.

Never to turn on again. It’s deceased. Ceased to be. ‘E fucking snuffed it. This, is an ex-monitor.

Weird, huh? I have a 15″ hooked up to it now that was living in my closet to keep me rolling until next week, but that has to be the very textbook definition of a timely death.

Much Respect

The world got a little less funny yesterday, did you notice?

Rodney Dangerfield passed away yesterday afternoon in Los Angeles at the age of 82.

Bob Hope? Milton Berle? Henny Youngman? Screw them. Couldn’t care less. Don’t miss ’em a bit. Never thought they were that funny to start with. But this is Rodney, man. This is Al-Freakin’-Czervik we’re talking about.

Of COURSE I have to sit down and watch Caddyshack again. His seminal performance, for my money. I have his “No Respect” album on tape. I should listen to that, too.

I’m a frustrated comic, and I know I’ll never acheive the greatness that Rodney did in his life. But, never mind making it to 82 years old, if I die, and someone says that something I did was “Rodney Dangerfield-funny”, I will have accomplished something significant.

See ya, Rodney. All I can give is my utmost respect.

  • “I don’t get no respect. A girl called me and said “Come over. There’s nobody home.” I went over. There was nobody home…”

Give Me Liberty, But I’ll Settle For A Free IPod

Okay, so my man Peter over at Static Zombie got me all tied up in this IPod thing. Well, I got in on the ground floor, and now it’s my turn to get hooked up. So maybe one or two of The Four Of You would like to help me out. (Well, help US out, really, ‘cuz the sooner we can confirm I’m hooked up, the sooner we get along to the next person on the list.)

So if you wanna help, just click this link and have a look at the offers on that page. If something strikes your fancy, by all means, feel free to sign up. You do that, I get credit for a referral. When I get five, they send me an IPod. (I’ve already got two, and one of them already has credit for his offer!) If you wanna get five for yourself, you can get one too.

(Yes, it’s a little pyramidish, but Wired did a story on them, and apparently they’re for real. Most of the deals are trial offers that cost nothing (for example, the Blockbuster Online deal is a two-week trial, but you’re credited for having completed the deal almost immediately, so there’s no reason you couldn’t cancel it at the end of the trial), and some even give you free stuff…the one for Infone asks you to register a credit card to sign up for their service, but it never gets charged as long as you don’t use it, and they kick you a free $10 Amazon.com gift certificate. Can’t beat that with a stick, right?)

(“But Chris, I don’t see the Infone offer!” you wail. Yeah, I did too. But we’ve got an angle. When yer on the offer page, copy and paste the following into your browser’s Address line: “javascript:OpenOfferWindow(‘433’);”. Voila, instant Infone offer. You might need to reload the page a time or two or surf their site a little to get the whole thing to load, but it eventually did for me. That seems to be the lowest-risk deal, and plus you get that ten bones at Amazon! Everyone wins!)

So, there’s my plea. Like I said, don’t feel obligated, I totally understand if the whole idea makes you squeamish, but Peter’s a bright guy and I figure he wouldn’t have thrown in his hat if he hadn’t checked it out. So, I figure, in for a penny, in for a pound. Just be careful about what deals you sign up for. (Again, I recommend either the Blockbuster or Infone ones.)

And I’ll even let you listen to if it this all works out! :)

Newsflash: Houseguests Outthink Fred

It’s genius, really.

After that idiot Jase managed to win Veto power last week on Big Brother 5 (sealing Scott’s fate, so it wasn’t ALL bad), and Nakomis scarfed up Head of Household, I had it all figured out: nominate Jase and one of your faction-mates, and the four people in the Veto contest simply ensure that neither Jase or his champion win the Veto. Certainly they can’t handle a four-on-two dogpile, right? But would they think of this? In the past, Big Brother contestants haven’t exactly been known for being mental giants.

She did me one better. Even I didn’t realize at the time that the Anti-Horsemen have enough bodies in the game now (especially with the addition of Natalie’s delightful body playing alongside her sister, and yes, that [CLANK] sound you heard when Natalie walked through the door was the sound of Jase physically shitting a brick) that they could COMPLETELY frontload the nomination block, thereby guaranteeing a Veto win, which would then be used to free up a spot to throw Jase onto, with no opportunity to defend himself. Freakin’ BRILLIANT.

This last week of shows, from the point of Scott’s ejection up to the present, has been about as satisfying as it gets for reality TV fans: Finally the asshole gets his, and he gets it through the thoughtful and clever strategizing of his opponents who he has wronged in the past, not some lucky vote. Jase even made it that much more enjoyable for us in that it actually took him several days to piece the puzzle together, and the Oh Shit moment when he finally figured out he’d been screwed was utterly priceless.

And now he’s out for revenge, he’s gonna try and break things up between Drew and Diane. Well, frankly, I’m not sure that would break my heart, either. So if he can make himself useful on his way out the door, all the better.

I picked up on The Amazing Race this season, and it’s been reasonably good, but that “screw you” moment hasn’t come yet, mainly because the soccer twit^Hns and Mirna & Schmirna are still in the game. (I was, however, delighted to see Alison’s attempt to extend her fifteen minutes derailed quickly and quietly.) I’m enjoying it, but host Phil Keoghan’s effort to be the Clint Eastwood of reality TV is starting to grate on me a little bit.

What A Difference A Day Makes

First off, loved I, Robot. Loved it. Will Smith did not let me down, there was plenty of high-tech eye candy, and the story had enough twists and turns to hold my attention for two hours. Good stuff.

That said, here’s the Big Brother 5 stuff I promised you:

Had I written this piece yesterday, I would have lamented over the math, which pretty much spelled out that unless Marvin realized that he was in fact the Token Horseman (in pretty much every way imaginable), that ditzy bitch Holly was gonna survive the eviction ceremony, and Adria, who hasn’t done a single thing (either as herself or as her twin sister Natalie) to upset anyone that I’ve seen, was gonna get tossed from the game.

What I didn’t know was that the Horsemen were effectively going to blow themselves up following Tuesday night’s show. Had I known that, the 7-1 vote against Holly would have come as much less of a surprise, because there was NO reason to keep the mean IQ of the house in single digits otherwise. Without someone protecting her, Holly has done NOTHING to suggest she belonged in this game one minute further. My hearty congratulations to the house for issuing just about as much of as a mandate as you can in this format.

So as of last night, I had it on good authority that the HoH standoff was down to Jase and Karen. Jase is pretty much wearing a bullseye for being a general asshole now that he has no alliance protecting him, and Karen is still looking for revenge for being forced to shove Lori under the bus when Jase rescued Holly the first time. So this is huge. I’m pulling for Kathy, simply because that pretty much guarantees Adria’s safety, and I want to see if the former Horsemen are in fact physically capable of shitting a brick when they see a second Adria walk into the house. :)

(The HoH competition _is_ over, and I know who won, and how, but I don’t know if I should post it before Saturday’s show. I don’t think I will. You guys can make it 28 hours, right? Anyone who HAS to know before then, contact me via one of the accepted methods and I’ll tell you the whole story.)

So in the turnaround of about a week, BB5 went from a fair accomplit to what should be a pretty entertaining ride to the end. And all that had to happen was for Jase to stick his tongue down Holly’s throat. Hope it was worth it, chief.

(I’d like to point out that I made it all the way through this post without using the word “Nakomis“. Oh, damn.)

Chez Fred, Silver Screen Edition, Vol. 2

So I’m up late on a Saturday night doin’ laundry and I have some time to kill. So let’s talk about some more movies:

Saw Spiderman 2, and it was every bit as good as had been reported. I was a little disappointed to get home and find this list of factual, logical, and continuity errors in the movie, especially because a lot of them are, unfortunately, dead right. But I still enjoyed myself and agree that it’s one of the better superhero movies out there, period. It may remain as such, as I don’t have very high hopes for Spiderman 3…I’d tell you why, but it would ruin the ending. Just go see it, don’t try to read too much into it, enjoy the effects and Alfred Molina’s performance, and have fun.

Also finally saw Pulp Fiction for the first time start to finish the other night on IFC, so it was still uncut and all the motherfuckers and various other obscenities were still in there. And I think we’ve finally found a Quentin Tarantino movie I actually like. I didn’t care much for Resevoir Dogs despite the existence of Steve Buscemi…maybe he has to be Rockhound (from Armageddon) to amuse me. I rather vehemently dislike Mr. Tarantino himself, felt that way ever since he had the bad taste to show up on Jay Leno shitfaced beyond recognition one night…that’s a part of Americana reserved for Shelly Winters and her alone. But my favorite scene in Fiction was his scene, where the guys marvel at the work of the esteemed Mr. Wolf.

Still need to see I, Robot…I have much of next week off, so I’ll probably try to get out to see it one of those weekdays, when the theatre is bare.

We’re a week and a half into Big Brother 5, so I’ve seen enough to have a good feel for the cast…when I next post I shall break down the gang and give you an idea how I think it’s gonna shake out…