Saturday, January 30, 2010

Snowmageddon 2

If there are two things that I love, they are snow and movie sequels. Snow because...well...snow is just awesome. Things close, people go crazy, and you can play in it. Not to mention the preceding madness at a grocery store near you. What's not to love? As for movie sequels, the best part is that some movies feel the need to enhance their movie sequel by working a pun involving the number 2 into the title or giving it a tag line, or sometimes both!

Pun - 2 Fast 2 Furious
Tagline - Air Bud 2: Golden Receiver
Both - Step Up 2: The Streets

Anyway, snow and movie sequels may seem unrelated, but allow me to explain. In mid-December, the East Coast got rocked with a massive snowstorm. Many called it the "Snowpocalypse." Personally, I preferred "Snowmageddon." Anyway, last night we got hit, YET AGAIN with a massive snowstorm. This got me thinking - if there was a movie about the first storm called "Snowmageddon," What would the sequel be called?

(Sidenote: I fully understand the irony of this situation. An apocalypse or armageddon implies the END, so the idea of a sequel is pretty ridiculous. But, just work with me here, ok?)

Here's some ideas:
Snowmageddon 2: Just when you thought it was safe to drive again.
Snowmageddon 2: You're welcome, VTLA participants
Snowmageddon 2: Much Snow!
Snowmageddon 2: Global Cooling
Snowmageddon 2: Golden Receiver (Just cause...)
Snowmageddon 2: Return of the Snow
Snowmageddon 2: Plow This
Snowmageddon 2: WHAT???
Snowmageddon 2: Because Snowpocalpyse didn't work...

I'd go see any one of those! Everyone be safe in the snow. Don't drive if you don't have to. I'm off to make a snowman.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I saw a commercial for this website recently, and decided to check it out. It seemed interesting. It's called Swoopo, and it's basically an auction site with a little twist.

Here's how it works. You buy bids from the website for 60 cents a bid. Swoopo puts an item up for bidding - for example, bidding just ended on an HP TouchSmart Desktop. It retails for $999.99. It's a penny auction, which means the price starts at $0.00 and everytime a bid is placed, the price goes up 1 cent. They put a timer on it, and when the time hits 0:00:00, the last person to bid wins the item. But, every time someone bids, time gets added back onto the clock, so often the "last 10 seconds" will last like 15 minutes.

The $999.99 HP computer sold for $5.55. The winner placed 194 bids. So what does this mean? Well, the guy who gets the computer - he's a winner. He pays $5.55 + $92.40 (that's how much it cost him for his bids) + $19.90 (delivery cost) and he gets a real nice computer straight to his house. That's $117.85 for a $1,000 computer. So he wins.

For the site, their income is the 555 bids that were placed. At 60 cents a bid that's $333. Now I'm sure they got a deal, but I don't know how much it cost them to get to sell the computer, so maybe they made money on this item, maybe not. I am sure that overall they are landing in the black. Other items go for $30.00 or more, and a $30.00 item nets the site $1800. So the site wins.

So if the buyer wins and the site wins, who loses? The answer is those who bid, but don't win. On the HP, there was probably some guy who put in a lot of bids, but ran out eventually. We know the bidder bid 194 times. Say someone bid 100 times and wasn't the last bidder. Well that's $60 spent and nothing to show for it. Better luck next time.

It's a cool idea. Paying for bids rather than just having the eventual winner pay keeps prices down for the winner. You can check it out if you want at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Awkward Encounters

One of the most fascinating of human interactions is the greeting. When two people see each other, the potential for awkwardness is almost limitless. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't. That depends on a number of factors.

The way I see it, there are three important elements (or potential awkwardness pitfalls) to every encounter: body language, conversation, and departure. The tricky part is for a successful encounter, two people must be in-sync on body language and departure, but one-sided in conversation.

Body language. When you see you will encounter someone, a decision must be made. Should you raise your head? nod your head? raise your eyebrows? smile? high five? fist bump? handshake? hug? kiss on the cheek? turn the other way and run? pretend to be reveiving a text message to avoid eye contact all together? take your earphones out, or leave them in and just pause your music? The possibilities are endless. And when two people aren't on the same page, results can be disastrous. I don't know if you've ever witness a situation where one person goes in for the hug while the other goes for the handshake. Oh man. It was just bad.

The hug is like a game of tetris, only the bottom part would be shifting TOO. Who is gonna go low, and who is gonna go high? Or will it be the hybrid diagonal hug? These things are worked out telepathically in milliseconds as the hug is about to happen. I find the best situations are where someone takes charge from far away. They hold their arms out and high, declaring "this is a hug, and I'm goin high." However, this does not always happen.

Society can be blamed for a lot of the awkward greetings that happen. Handshakes are ok for meeting someone, and ok in the workplace, and ok between guys, but too formal for a guy and girl or just girls? Hugs - some guys do them some guys don't? The fistbump goes in and out of style so much that if it was the letter "L" I would never know whether to write Style or Stye. There's so much confusion about social norms that sometimes its just a flat out guess what to go with. But if you get it right, the encounter has potential for least for now.

Conversation. In today's world we have access to virtually every media outlet there is. Not to mention the always entertaining stories of our own personal endeavors. And yet how is it that you can run out of things to say to someone in 15 seconds? Conversation is an important element because it ties directly to the third and final element - departure. Awkward conversation almost guarantees an awkward departure.

The most difficult conversations can be the "walking with" ones. You meet someone, and it is clear you are going the same direction. You have a wealth of conversation topics to bring up, but you don't want to get into something and then have to cut it off at a weird time. Solution: A casual "where you headed" not only opens up potential topics but also allows you to estimate how much time you might have. Knowing this is a key to successful conversation and departure.

Another type of conversation is the "passing by." Here, there is often only an issue where a stop-and-chat might be warranted. This is a big pitfall. One person stops and the other keeps walking = disaster. However, a smile and head raise, a quick greeting, and a over-the-shoulder "have a good one" can be an easy 1-2-3. Some people develop there's signature sayings. The La Fratta "Livin' the Dream" is a personal favorite.

Departure. The final step. As great as a greeting and conversation might be, an awkward departure can shoot you in the foot faster than Nate Kaeding. The trouble arises usually from one of two situations: 1) 1 person thinks the conversation is over, while the other does not, or 2) a disturbing conversation topic is brought up, and another one is not quickly addressed. If you can avoid these pitfalls, you should be able to get through most encounters without too much trouble.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Estate Tax Vacation...Trouble Ahead

2010 is upon us. 2010: The year of ______. Obviously, that has yet to be determined. But there is one thing I'm pretty conifdent about. December 2010 will be the Month of Pulling the Plug on Grandma and Grandpa.

The Estate Tax has been repealed for 2010 (at least for now, see more below). The Estate Tax, also called the Death Tax, is a tax imposed, as you may have guessed, on the estates of people dying. In 2001, a plan to slowly reduce the Estate Tax was implemented so that by 2010 it would be completely phased out. However, it is set to pick back up again in 2011.

Therein lies the problem - come October, November, and oh-so-especially December of 2010, there will be some rich parents in poor health with some greedy children. The lack of estate tax + the return of the estate tax in 2011. Put it all together, and it's the perfect storm. Grandma and Grandpa are circling the drain, and you're going to tell their children that their $10 million estate will be worth $10 million if they die by December 31st, but will be worth less than $5 million dollars if they die on January 1st.

How is this a good idea? On the Things-That-Are-American List, being selfish and not caring about others, especially family members, ranks pretty high on the list. You might say, "well if someone is going to die soon anyway..." But with advances in science, who knows when someone is really "going to die soon anyway?" This is just going to expand that zone outwards. To children, more time in the hospital is already more bills to pay. You're telling them that more time in the hospital is ALSO gonna mean a whole lot LESS money coming to them eventually? Sounds like a recipe for disaster. It may sound horrible, but you know there's people like that out there. How can we ensure people will get the best possible medical care with such a large counter-incentive? We can't.

So here's the deal. If you are older, have a good amount of assets, and foresee any possible health problems in the next 12 months, and suspect your children might not actually be as perfect as you like to think they are, find someone to be your medical power of attorney who is NOT a beneficiary in your will. They'll make those decisions about giving you a shot without a boat-load of Benjamins breathing down their neck. That's my advice if you've lived a good life, but continue to keep living it into 2011.

Apparently, though, we might not even get there. There's a push not only to reinstate the estate tax, but also to apply it retroactively. So people who might think they struck it big suddenly get a $3 million tax bill. But it's ok. I'm sure that won't cause a flood of litigation or anything. Things will just work themselves out. They always do.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

HIMYM: The Tracy Theory

Last night's How I Met Your Mother was the 100th episode for the show, a pretty solid accomplished in this TV age. The musical number about Barney's suits was, for lack of a better term, LEGENDARY. But there was something else about the episode that I enjoyed as well.

We got as close to the mother as we have ever been - Ted dated her roommate (played by the awesome Rachel Bilson) We actually got a lot of details about the mother - music interests, etc. BUT despite referring to her multiple times, we never got her NAME. Older Ted always referred to her as "your mother" and Cindy, Bilson's character, always referred to her as "my roommate." These terms had to have been used at least 10 times.

You might say that they didn't want to give away TOO much about the mother - and so they just kept her name under wraps for now. This is entirely possible. However, I like to think of this as further evidence of "The Tracy Theory"

The Tracy Theory goes like this. In one of the earliest episodes, "Belly Full of Turkey," Ted owes Barney and goes with him to a strip club for Thanksgiving. He's talking to a stripper, who introduces herself as her stripper name, but then says her name is Tracy. Then, older Ted says that's how I met your mother. The kids are shocked. Older Ted quickly says just kidding.

Their shock produced the Tracy theory. The reasoning is that they wouldn't have been shocked if their mom was not named Tracy. For example, my mom's name is Jane. If someone told me a story about how they met, say, a fighter pilot, and her name was Sue, and then said "and that's how I met your mother" My reaction would be "...but my mom is Jane." BUT if they said they met a fighter pilot named Jane, and then said "that's how I met your mother." I would say "are you serious!?!?!??!" Thus, the Tracy Theory - the fact that the kids were shocked indicates that the mother's name is Tracy.

Some people say this was an unintended consequence - something fans came up with that the writers did not think of or anticipate at all. Personally, I think these writers are the best. A ploy like that is totally within their wheelhouse. I'm a believer. I think her name is Tracy, and they went out of their way last night to say "your mother" and "my roommate" over and over again to avoid confirming that.

Of course, the thing about last night is that as close as we got last night, I doubt we'll get that close for a while. They really don't have to revisit her again until they want to wrap the show up and finally introduce her. Well, I will continue to wait.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Awesome TV Actresses

For a couple years now, the Top 3 of my Favorite-TV-Actresses List has been as follows:
1. Kristen Wiig
2. Cobie Smulders
3. Tina Fey

Smulders and Fey flip flop for 2 and 3 from time to time, while Wiig's lock on the number 1 spot is rock solid. Occasionally a dark horse will make a run at one of the top three spots. Sarah Chalke, Jenna Fischer, Olivia Wilde, Jennifer Carpenter, Lea Michelle, they've all made runs. Recently, 2 strong actresses have emerged to challenge the top 3

One of the latest has been rising steadily up the ranks for about a year now: Eliza Coupe. Coupe plays Dr. Denise Mahoney on Scrubs: Med School. She started during the 8th season of scrubs as an intern, and was made a series regular on the new series.

Coupe nails the character: blunt, opinionated, and just generally doesn't care about other people. She tells patients that their conditions suck and sleeps with fatties because they are try hard and are grateful. At least that's the hard shell, even better is her revealing the cracks that show she might actually have feelings without wrecking the image as a whole. Random moments when you can somehow connect with this bizarre character, that's where Coupe is awesome. And the character has really started to shine a lot more now that she's out of JD's shadow.

Coupe's delivery of her jokes is awesome. One of my favorites came from last week's episode: "you and me - we're going to have a stupid jar. Every time you say something stupid, we're gonna put a nickel in that jar, and when it get's nice and full, we're gonna beat you with it." I'm not sure I had seen her smile before last night's episode "our white coats"

Which brings me to my main point. While her character is awesome and I love her humor, Coupe had a bit of a ceiling in climbing high in my rankings because we never saw her without the scrubs on. We saw her out of the hospital/school once or twice, but she never really brought it. That was the case until last night. In a 1 minute span, We got 1) a rare smile, and 2) a shot of Coupe in a dress and with her hair done. To say she brought it would be an understatement. Coupe is rising fast, yet again. Here's hoping Scrubs: Med School doesn't get canceled. But more on that later.

My other oncomer is Jane Lynch, who has done a lot of movies but has recently been playing the role of Sue Sylvester on Glee. Sue is a cut-throat cheerleading coach whose program is threatened by the rise of New Directions, the school's glee club. She makes it her personal mission to bring down the club.

Lynch's portrayal of Sue leaves little to be desired. Her hatred of Will is evident even when she is pretending to be nice. Her Sue's Corner speeches and Dear Diary voice-overs never fail, and her comedic delivery is awesome. One of my favorites: "I will go to the animal shelter and buy you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. Then, on some dark cold night, I will steal away into your home...and punch you in the face." Classic. Sue yells "inspiration" at her cheerleaders. Things like "You think this is hard? Try being waterboarded, THAT'S hard!"

I'd say Lynch is right on the verge, becuase I am just waiting for one thing: Why hasn't she sung on the show yet??? We know she can, she's sung before in the movies (my personal favorite was her singing Spanish textbook dialogues in The 40 Year Old Virgin) I cannot wait for it. Of course, apparently Glee doesn't come back til APRIL, so I'll just have to be patient. The top 3 is safe...for now at least.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Youth in Revolt

My first shout out of the new year goes to Michael Cera. Cera's been on TV (Arrested Development), or in the movies (Juno, Superbad, Year One, Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist)just to name a few roles. The rap on him all time is that he always plays the same character. He does it well, but it's always the same character. This kind of talk was especially prevalent after the release of Year One.

Well Cera stars is the soon-to-be released film, Youth in Revolt. He plays a character named Nick Twisp, who from the trailers I have seen could be very similar to Cera's other characters. But in the movie, Nick creates an alter-ego named Francois, who is more of a bad ass. Francois is ALSO played by Michael Cera, and the two are often on camera together.

And so my hat goes off to you, Mr. Cera. I can think of no better way to beat the "he can only play 1 character" reputation than to play 2 completely different characters AT THE SAME TIME. I'm hoping this movie is a good one, and I hope it helps Cera shake some criticism. Because really, why should we be criticizing him in the first place? Because he does something well? Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, that's all.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tribe Basketball: Our Time is Now

In the Fall of 2004, William and Mary football took their leap into the ranks of the Division 1-AA elite. A run to the national semifinals put the team on the map in the 1-AA (now FCS) circles. After a couple years of up and down results, the Tribe returned to excellence this year, narrowly losing to eventual champions Villanova 14-13 in the national semifinals.

We've seen it time and time again - all it takes is one season. One year of awesome results does wonders for a program in the years to come. Even when seniors graduate, and results don't always repeat themselves right away, things have a tendency of coming back around.

From early appearances, this could be a breakout year for William and Mary BASKETBALL. The Tribe have never been a basketball powerhouse. In reality, the were cellar dwellers in the CAA. Regular season victims for teams like George Mason and VCU who would go on to pull NCAA tournament upsets. But things have changed, and this years team has potential to do some serious damage.

The Tribe were picked to finish 11th in the CAA in the preseason. That's 11th out of 12 teams. Things looked promising though, fighting to a 9-point loss against Connecticut (now 10th in the nation). A heartbreaking triple overtime loss at Harvard was rough. But since then the Tribe have won ten in a row, and are on the verge of making the Top-25.

Notable victims have included Wake Forest, Maryland, Richmond, VCU, and Radford. Most recently, a 48-47 win at Hofstra was crucial. The Tribe shoot a lot of three pointers. Going 3-18 from behind the arc against Hofstra did not help their cause, but finding a way to win despite the poor shooting shows promise for the rest of the season.

Also helping the Tribe's cause is that the teams we play keep on winning. Connecticut is 10th in the country. Harvard game them a tough game, then beat Boston College. Richmond has wins over Mizzouri and Mississippi State. Wake is 10-2, with a win at Gonzaga and their only other loss coming to #4 Purdue. VCU beat Oklahoma and Nevada. This strength of schedule has the Tribe 6th in the RPI, a computer poll ranking all the teams in the country.

The Tribe are finally getting some well deserved media attention. A mention in a article or a tweet by an ESPN expert has been more and more frequent. After the MD win, Andy Katz, an ESPN writer, did a whole article on the Tribe.

An amusing moment came recently when I was watching the WM - Maryland game. For those who don't know the full name is the College of William and Mary. Comcast Sports Net covered the game. At the very beginning of the game, the bottom score box listed the teams as "MD" and "WSSU." A technical error, no doubt. It was quickly corrected however to "WMU" as in William and Mary University? At the start of the second half they had changed it. I bet some angry Tribe fans got on the phone and called them.

The Tribe are primed for a great season, and here's hoping their awesome play and winning continue. For more on the Tribe, see this article.