Grand Master Masaaki Hatsumi, a shockingly fit 76-year-old man who bills himself as the world’s last ninja, espouses ninja wisdom in this fascinating article. Bigups to Larry for sending it to me.

“Nuestro Himno,” the Spanish-speaking version of “The Star Spangled Banner” which means “Our Anthem,” is causing a stir and sparking a national debate about freedom of speech, national identity, and immigrant rights. There are mixed reactions from the song that vary from elation to utter indignation. The reactions stem from the fact that it is not a straight translation of the English version, because it has to rhyme, and because its release coincides with a planned May 1 national boycott in support of immigration reforms.

Surely, we should all be proud that we live in a country where we are free to make any version of the national anthem that we see fit. “The Star Spangled Banner” is in the public domain and the music can be played on an accordion, a bassoon, an electric guitar or anything else anyone wants. Additionally, words for the music can be written or rewritten at will by anyone in any language. It is called freedom and we should all embrace it. However, some see this Spanish-speaking anthem as a threat to our national identity.

The truth is that no matter how many versions of “The Star Spangled Banner” are made, there is only one national anthem in the United States. We should all be secure in knowing that there likely will never be a congressional action to change the national anthem. For example, even though Canada has two official languages and there are English and French versions of “O Canada” the English version is the official version of the song.

That being said, even if this Spanish-speaking version of “The Star Spangled Banner” is officially recognized by congress two hundred years from now when the official languages of the United States are English, Spanish, and Chinese, or a mixture of the three like in Blade Runner, the English version will likely still be the official version.

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A huge car crash killed a driver and engulfed a Castro block on fire last night burning eight cars. After the crash a homeless man pulled the unconscious victim out of one of the burning cars but he died from his injuries in an alleyway. A police sergeant on the scene was quoted as saying “We’ve had some wild and bizarre things in San Francisco, but I’ve never heard of anything like this.”

The Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns last night in game two.

Construction of the 1776 foot tall Freedom Tower finally begins.

Old Farts Eliminated

In this episode, teams made their way from Jabreen, Oman to Perth, Australia. Right from the start the Old Farts were gloating about how their travel experience will get them past the other teams on the race. Right! This is their first time in first place and they are talking smack. Whatever!

All the teams except for The Jocks and Ken & Barbie actually left money for The Hippies as a good will gesture. The Jocks left a $100 IOU payable to the Hippies after the race, which was smarter than not leaving anything at all. The Hippies vowed to go after Ken & Barbie for their insolence. We’ll see what happens. It’s a win-win if either one of those teams go.

The Hippies actually picked up a hitchhiker on the way to the airport, which was a really cool gesture. The amazing thing is that they still made the flight with apparently just minutes to spare. The other teams were really bummed to see them board the plane. It reminded me of the episode a couple of races ago when Boston Rob boarded the plane much to the dismay of all the other teams.

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“Hello I am Martin I have 21 anuses and alive in Madrid gustaria me toknow women with desire to pass good moments, I have good sense ofhumor, am trigueno green eyes, deportista and equipped verywell.”
–Martin of Madrid, Spain in June 2005 Wikilist.net Personals Posting

This poor schlub wrote something semi-seductive in Spanish and used an automatic English translator to post it to an online forum. Sadly the title of his post turned into “Male, ninato 21 anuses equipped.” Wow, 21 anuses equipped!? Say it ain’t so–that’s so sexy! I am sure the women are lining up to contact this guy. Also he’s looking for women with desire to “pass good moments.” Pass good moments? Isn’t that a euphemism for having healthy bowel movements? That’s just sick!

Ladies, if you keep giving guys like this the opportunity to show you their 21 anuses or watch you have healthy bowel movements you are just encouraging more ridiculous posts like these. On second thought, these are so funny that it may be worth searching Google for “18 anuses”, “19 anuses”, and “20 anuses” just to see what these young “anuses” are posting online in their futile search for international online love.

March new homes sales gain is the biggest in 13 years, but prices are still coming down. Don’t believe the hype. The media tries to spin the number new home sales, but fundamentally prices are down 7.1% for new homes. We won’t know the price trend for existing homes prices for two months due to reporting lag. If prices are down nationally they may go down in highly desirable markets, like San Francisco, soon. If prices don’t fall here they may at least go flat. Stay tuned.

A group of teenagers tried to hold up David Copperfield and two of his assistants at gunpoint in West Palm Beach, Florida on Sunday night. Copperfield’s assistants handed the robbers money, passports and cell phones, but Copperfield refused to hand them anything at all. Instead he used slight of hand to turn his pockets inside out and reveal nothing in them even though he had his wallet, passport and cell phone.

As the teens drove away he read the license plate on the car as his assistant dialed the authorities. The teens were arrested ten minutes later and the stolen items returned. Copperfield was quoted as saying, “I’m pretty good under pressure. That’s my job…call it reverse pickpocketing.” How cool is that!

We went to see Burnie Burns’s Cock Byte: Masters of Machinima on Monday night. The makers of Red vs. Blue: Blood Gulch Chronicles, Rooster Teeth Productions showed a 60-minute summary of the first season instead of the “greatest hits” collection that they were supposed to show according to the program. This was a bit disappointing, but the first season of Red vs. Blue has a redeeming exploration of philosophy. The characters humorously ask, “why are we here, in this canyon” and ponder the meaning of their lives in the Halo video game. Sophomoric teen humor, yes. But entertaining to fans of Halo everywhere. One kid even flew in from Alaska to catch the screening.

Burnie was not on hand but he sent two of his minions, Jason ans Gus, to address the crowd. And yes, they used the same sophomoric humor to address the crowd during the Q&A session as the characters in the film, after all they voice a few of them. I wish these guys the best of luck, maybe they can make a feature film comedy from these Halo shorts. Who the hell knows?

We missed our Tuesday night screening of Obaba out of sheer exhaustion. Our next film is Thursday.

Golden Gate Park’s JFK Drive is to be closed on Saturdays for six months in addition to the regular Sunday closures. This is good news for people that want to walk, skate, or bike through the park over the weekends.

Scott McNealy announced today that he is stepping down as CEO of Sun Microsystems after twenty years.

On Friday we saw Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey, our first screening of the festival. On Saturday, we were at the film festival all day and saw a total of four films. Well, actually we saw three and a half films. Because of the parking situation caused by the Cherry Blossom Festival, we arrived late to the screening of Domestic Dramas, a program of narrative shorts from all over the world. We missed the first two of the shorts in the program titled “The Light,” and “Kitchen.” We were particularly bummed to have missed “The Light,” since it is a local entry from San Francisco.

The other shorts were interesting, particularly “Remain Upright!!” and “The Pretty Boy Project.” The “Pretty Boy Project” was about urban kids settling their disputes not with guns and knives, but with a double dutch jump rope competition. It was pretty damn funny. The producers, director, and cast for “The Pretty Boy Project” were on hand for the Q&A after the program.

The Pretty Boy Project
An actor from “The Pretty Boy Project” shows his lack of double dutch skills to the audience.


After Domestic Dramas, we retired to the press hospitality suite to check out another movie, Al Franken: God Spoke. We used the Kaleidescape kiosks to check this one out. It was an interesting film that followed the political pundit for two years, from the late 2003 of his bestselling book “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right” to his recent announcement that he is considering a run for the U.S. Senate representing the state of Minnesota in 2008.

We then left the suite and made our way to the screening of Perpetual Motion, a charming Chinese film by a female director that explores feminist themes. A woman invites her best friends to her home during the Spring Festival celebrations to figure out which one of them is sleeping with her husband. Witty dialogue and a mesmerizing meal scene involving chicken feet made for an entertaining look at the lives of Beijing upper-middle-class women.

Immediately following the screening of Perpetual Motion, we waited at the same theatre to watch Factotum. Starring Matt Dillon, the film is an adaptation of Charles Bukowski’s 1975 book by the same name. Although we weren’t fans of Bukowski’s work, we decided to see the film because Matt Dillon would be around for the Q&A. The film was very well made and interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes brutal. The film is a semi-autobiographical account of Bukowski’s own life, which included a lot of drinking, screwing and writing, usually in that order. Again, not our favorite, but well made.

Graham Leggat and Matt Dillon
Graham Leggat and Matt Dillon at the Factotum Q&A session.


At the factotum screening we met Jason Wiener, a consummate film fan that has been to three festivals and seen over 148 films this year, and it’s only April! It was such an amazing feat that I just had to take a picture with him. We had seen him the night before at the “Metal” screening and finally got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes. Immediately after the Factotum screening, he skipped before the Q&A with Matt Dillon to see another film, The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai. Jason is a true fan of film and not of celebrity and a really interesting guy. I hope to get a chance to interview him at length before the festival is over.

One interesting item of note is that during the Factotum film screening, which was being cycled through two projectors in adjoining theatres, the film jammed and the projector lamp burned through the film print in two places. I had seen this happen in films, but never in a live screening. The burn-through caused a 15 minute delay as the film was re-spliced together about two thirds of the way into the film and quite the discussion amongst those in the theatre. That was cool.

Please go to my Flickr 2006 SF Film Festival set for more photos from the festival.

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey

“I never questioned my sexuality at any point, and I was up there in lingerie.”

— Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister

We went into this film expecting it to be about metal fans in Canada. Instead what we were treated to a very well organized film essay about the history of heavy metal. From Black Sabbath to the most extreme current Norwegian black metal bands, the film explores the history of metal, its origins, its fans, its culture, and its themes: sexuality, religion, violence, and death. The film also seeks to find out why metal has been dismissed by many critics over the years.

Filmmaker, co-director, and narrator Sam Dunn, an anthropologist, uses academic efficiency in breaking down the history of metal. The film even boasts a metal genealogy chart that just has to be seen to believed. A lifelong metal fan, Dunn interviews metal luminaries like Bruce Dickinson, Tony Iommi, Ronnie James Dio, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and Vince Neil. He also visits metal meccas like Los Angeles, California; Birmingham, England; Wacken, Germany; and Norway. Dunn was like a mad metal professor teaching class as he answered questions from the crowd after the screening. A smart and articulate scholar, he effectively breaks down the stereotype of the “stoner metal fan.”

Perhaps this documentary can bridge the gap between metal heads and the rest of the world. It is only a shame that the film wasn’t longer so that each metal branch could have been explored in greater detail. Dunn said that in order to do the film he wished to make it would have had to be eight hours long! I definitely would like to see an extended version of the film that he said will be released on DVD soon. Until then, please visit www.metalhistory.com for more info and go see this film. Whether you are a metal fan or not you will enjoy it.

We have been attending the film festival for many years and have seen our share of good and bad at the festival. However, you get the feeling that this year is a special year for the festival and that there is the proper leadership to lead the festival into next year’s big 50th Anniversary celebration. Here are some thoughts from walking around the festival last night.

Attendance
The parking lot at the Japan Center Parking lot was almost full. This was a good sign since we were getting there at 9:00PM to see the Late Show at 10:30PM. We will be able to better guage the turnout at the festival today since the first weekend is the busiest.

Will Call and Volunteers
When we arrived to the festival, we went to the will call desk and picked up our tickets. This was rather uneventful which is exactly what you want. It was nice to see that our order for 26 tickets, 13 pairs, was filled without any errors and the volunteers were cordial and helpful.

Press Hospitality Suite
The press hospitality suite is amazing this year. They basically turned one of the smaller theatres on the bottom floor of the Kabuki Theatres into a lounge for press to sit and file their stories. It hase food and beverages. And it even has WiFi for realtime blog updates and a movie kiosk screening system. The system is made by a company called Kaleidescape and works like a TiVo that lets you screen over sixty of the festival entries in one of four kiosks using 26″ LCD panels and headphones. We plan to take advantage of these when we have more than a two hour wait between films. In fact, I am posting this from the festival right now!

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Although opening night was last night, the SF Film Festival starts for us tonight with the first of fifteen films.

In last night’s tenth episode of Survivor: Exile Island, Bruce suffered a digestive system obstruction that had him writhing in pain and put his life at risk. Apparently he had not had a bowel movement for almost a week on the island and finally collapsed in pain. The Survivor medical team had to be called in.

I guess you could have said “Bruce is full of shit, he’s faking it” and would have only been half right, he wasn’t faking it. Well, that’s reality for you. Now for the surreal part. Since crazy ass Shane didn’t want to get his pants wet before going to sleep, he helped carry Bruce on a stretcher to an awaiting boat in the nude.

This is another case of reality being stranger than fiction. It’s a shame that Bruce has the title of “first to be involuntarily eliminated for medical reasons” on the show. He seemed to be a really healthy and cool guy at the beginning. It just goes to show that you don’t know what the hell will happen to you when you are stuck on a deserted island. Big ups to Bruce for surviving the experience.

A new Star Trek film is now in pre-production for release in Fall 2008.

A German retiree flushed 30,000 German marks (worth about $18,900 ) down the toilet because he thought they were worthless after they were replaced by the euro. The only reason this made the news is because the money clogged his toilet and he called the city to clear the clog. That’s crazy! Thanks to Masher for sending me the link to this story.

Hippies in Last Place

In this episode, teams made their way from Rio, Greece to Muscat, Oman. The Hippies started the race just 9 minutes before the departure of the first bus, so they were the only team on the second bus to the airport and an hour behind all of the other teams. It was funny that all of the other teams were ecstatic to see the Hippies walking while they were on the first bus. But it didn’t matter; all of the teams would eventually bunch up at the first task in Oman.

In this episode the Tokens had a little breakdown. They started out teasing each other and ended up giving each other the bird. Then they made up, then they started fighting on the way to the Pit Stop. It’s amazing how fast relationships can break down with the stress of the race. Especially true for these two, since before the race they had never spent more than four straight days together. Ouch!

By the way, Oman is a beautiful country. The urban centers look incredibly clean, with opulent temples and palaces. The rural areas have breathtaking scenery and the people seem really nice. I bet that it’s a beautiful place to visit for a couple of weeks, as long as you are not digging Shuwa.

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Donald Trump is donating 436 wooded acres located about 45 miles North of Manhattan to the state of New York to create a park that will bear his name. In a press conference he’s already said that the park will be “…one of the most beautiful parks anywhere in the world.” Shameless self-promotion at its finest.

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake and fire, the Great Quake. At 5:12AM one hundred years ago the earth shook violently for only 40 seconds, but in those seconds, energy equivalent to several nuclear bombs was released. The destruction killed many, but the ensuing fires which lasted for four days after the quake killed many more and displaced 250,000 people.

In order to commemorate the event, thousands of spectators are expected to join a handful of centenarians who survived the quake at a solemn wreath-laying to mark the exact moment when the temblor struck the city. The annual pre-dawn ceremony is held annually at Lotta’s Fountain, the downtown landmark where San Franciscans gathered in the aftermath. Additionally, MUNI rides (our city public transit system) are free for the entire day. Today is a historic day in a historic city.

Update: While I slept, thousands gathered at Lotta’s Fountain this morning.

Technorati founder, David Sifry, has posted his quarterly State of the Blogosphere address. It is chock full of information regarding the growth of the blogosphere over the last three years. Technorati now tracks 35.4 million blogs and the blogosphere is doubling every six months, that’s faster than Moore’s law! The blogosphere is 60 times bigger than it was just three years ago. Currently a new blog is created every second of every day and 19.4 million bloggers are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created. Check out the post, if only for the cool charts and graphs.

I started The Daily Nugget in June 2002 and if memory serves me correctly there were only about 500,000 blogs at the time. Even back then, people marveled at how fast the blogosphere had grown from just a few thousand blogs in 1998. Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs in late 1999 and helped spark (pun intended, get it pyra and spark) the blogging craze. Movable Type was launched nearly two years later. Movable Type’s server-based software is what I use to run The Daily Nugget today.

While I was going to school my posts fell off to about one per week. According to Technorati, only about 3.4 million bloggers currently update their blogs weekly. Based on that figure, I would assume that only 20% of those bloggers update their blogs daily. Either way, whether The Daily Nugget is updated weekly or daily, it is part a rare group of “old school” blogs that are still frequently updated. I would like to thank my readers–all 23 of them–for making it all worthwhile.

I didn’t think it would happen, but the Lakers clinched a playoff spot earlier today with their win over the Phoenix Suns. They are currently 1 1/2 games ahead of the eighth place Sacramento Kings. If they finish the season in seventh place they will face the Phoenix Suns in the first round. Big ups.

Mohamed on South Park

In the latest South Park episode Comedy Central censored images of the prophet Mohammed even though Mohammed had already appeared in the “Super Best Friends” episode that originally aired in July of 2001. The “Super Best Friends” episode features Jesus (Christianity), joined by other religious deities and prophets in the fight for good, including Mohammed (Islam), Buddha (Buddhism), Krishna (Hinduism), Lao Tsu (Taoism) and Joseph Smith (Mormonism). Well I’m posting this vidcap from the episode to do my part to stop censorship. I certainly hope that Islamic Fundamentalists spare my website from retaliation. Go jihad somewhere else bitches!

Google is called ?? (goo-guh, song of the grain) in China. Link.

A chunk of ice the size of a microwave oven fell from a cloudless sky through the roof of a Loma Linda University recreation center Thursday. The piece of ice left a hole two and a half feet wide on the roof of the building before shattering into pieces inside. Nobody was hurt. A similar incident happened last week in Oakland. These “megacryometeors,” as they are called, have been studied recently by a scientist named Jesus Martinez-Frias in Madrid, Spain. He hypothesizes that the ice is being created in the upper reaches of the outer atmosphere, which is being pushed further out by the lower atmosphere due to global warming.

Another scientist theorizes that the ice is building up on plane skins and breaking off while planes are in flight. And the conspiracy thoeorists claim that the ice is falling from secret goverment spy planes being tested over California. In any case, these are all theories for something that according to scientists has happened at least 40 times around the globe since 1999! This is scary. The entire world needs to do something about global emissions soon otherwise we will have to build force fields for our cars to deflect the falling ice meteors during rush hour.

We’ve finally purchased tickets for the films that we plan to screen this year during the 49th Annual San Francisco Film Festival. We will attempt to watch a record 15 films, up from the 12 of 14 we saw in 2003. This is a lot of films to watch in the first 10 days of the festival, but somebody’s got to do it. Anyway, here’s our list of films (in screening order):

Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey (Canada, 2005)
Domestic Dramas (Shorts from Several Countries, 2005)
Perpetual Motion (China, 2005)
Factotum (Norway/USA, 2005)
A Perfect Couple (France/Japan, 2005)
Cock Byte: Masters of Machinima (USA, 2000)
The House of Himiko (Japan, 2005)
Viva Cuba (Cuba/France, 2005)
Obaba (Spain/Germany, 2005)
The Life I Want (Italy, 2005)
American Blackout (USA, 2005)
Runner’s High (USA, 2006)
The Bridge (USA, 2005)

We are also trying to obtain press passes for the following sold out films:

Jonestown: The Life and Death of the Peoples Temple (USA, 2006)
Romance & Cigarettes (USA, 2005)

It’s fitting that the last film we will screen at the festival is The Bridge. It is an exploration of the mythic beauty of the Golden Gate Bridge, which also happens to be the most popular suicide destination in the world. Eric Steel and his crew filmed the bridge during daylight hours from two locations for all of 2004, recording most of the two dozen deaths that year and preventing several others. They also taped over 100 hours of footage with friends, families, and witnesses that recount tales of struggles with depression, substance abuse, and mental illness. In related news, a $2 million study into erecting a suicide barrier on the bridge received final funding this week.

Bring Your Own Big Wheel Race

The Sixth Annual Bring Your Own Big Wheel race down Lombard street will be held this Sunday at 4:00PM. All those that wish to participate need to simply bring a Big Wheel or similar kids toy without rubber wheels to the top of Lombard Street and be ready to rumble. All spectators and contestants should remember that parking in this part of the city is awful, so give yourselves plenty of time to get there. I had never heard of this before today and I am considering going up there on Sunday afternoon to check it out.

Asshole Eliminated

In this episode, teams made their way from Aretusa, Italy to Rome via train. Unfortunately, the earliest transportation caused all of the teams to bunch up on the way to Rome. Once in Rome, teams found a couple of clue boxes and then headed to the airport to head to Athens, Greece. And again, all teams were bunched up on the same flight into Athens.

The Jocks found the Fast Forward almost immediately and headed to the Pit Stop. The other teams needed to fend for themselves by heading to a bungee jump Roadblock. The story of the Roadblock was Fran, of the Old Fart team, that seemed to freeze when she reached the end of the platform. But she managed to do an awkward almost feet-first jump that I thought would break her neck, but she survived.

Lake & Michelle had a little breakdown in the car on the way to the Detour. Michelle threw the map at Lake, who was driving, and he threw it back at her violently. It reminded me of the Jonathan & Victoria moment of a few races past. Lake is such a dick to his wife it pisses me off. I couldn’t wait until his ass was eliminated, even if his wife is an innocent victim in this scenario.

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Convicted Survivor winner, Richard Hatch, was separated from other prison inmates in prison. Hatch is being detained until sentencing for tax evasion charges in a Massachusetts prison. His fate will be decided on April 25th.

Otto's Family Line Coat of Arms

I want to wish a happy birthday to my friend, Otto-Ludwig Christian Alexander Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, or just “Otto” for short. He is turning thirty-four today and even though he’s half way around the world in Dusseldorf, Germany, I wanted to wish him the very best on this special day. Also, here’s hoping that his wife, Ilka, and son, Justus-Casimir, are doing well.

You know, for someone who has a family coat of arms (pictured here) and a name that can be traced back to the Age of Charlemagne through extensive land holdings, he’s really down to earth. We can’t wait to meet his son one of these days. Happy Birthday to the only prince I’ll probably ever know.

A big chunk of ice fell from the sky and landed in a public park in Oakland, leaving a hole 24 inches wide and 18 inches deep in the ground. Nobody was injured and apparently nobody is investigating this.

Battlestar Galactica wins Peabody Award for excellence in electronic media.

In a recent Fortune article, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO was asked if he had an iPod. Here’s his looney answer:

“No, I do not. Nor do my children. My children–in many dimensions they’re as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I’ve got my kids brainwashed: You don’t use Google, and you don’t use an iPod.”

I guess being the son or daughter of one of the richest men in the U.S. has its drawbacks. You do have to submit yourself to being brainwashed. Do you think he does it himself, or do he have a brainwashing staff? Either way, how bummed are these kids?

In order to weed out comment spam created by spam bots, I know require a passphrase to be typed into each comment form in order to validate the comment. Since almost all spammers use bots, rather than coming to your site to type in the comments themselves, this eliminates all the bot generated spam in the comments. Another new feature is the ability to subscribe to an email notification of new comments for a particular entry. This will allow people to track blog entries much like threads in a community forum.

Check these features out and let me know what you think.

Jared Paul Stern

They put me in the lineup and let the bright lights shine
There was ten poor dudes like me standing in that line
I knew I was the victim of somebody’s evil plan
When this scroungy looking dude came up and said, yeah that’s him, man
— Excerpt Lyrics from “Framed” By Cheech and Chong (1975)

New York Post gossip writer, Jared Paul Stern, accused of trying to extort money from a billionaire in exchange for good press said today he was framed. He claims that the idea of giving him money as an investment in his clothing company was suggested by billionaire Ron Burkle through a “middleman.” Well, he better get his story straight if he doesn’t want to become the middleman in his cell.


The trailer for Clerks II is here, slated for an August 18, 2006 release.

In February, a $1 million Ferrari Enzo crashed doing 160 MPH on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. Surprisingly enough, the driver of the car survived the crash. From there the story turns into a mix of anti-terrorism agents, imported stolen cars, counterfeiting of Swedish currency, and a huge stock pump and dump scheme. It turns out that the driver, Stefan Eriksson, and his circle of friends milked millions from Gizmondo.com and may be a part of a Swedish organized crime ring. Eriksson was finally arrested last night in his Bel-Air home. Riveting story, reminds me of a less successful con man I once knew.

Ikea Swedish Meatballs are awesome. I had some about five years ago when I went there with Mama to buy a lamp. Very tasty and delicious. This was confirmed by my co-worker, Lauren Easom, this weekend, as she braved the Saturday go-to-Ikea-with-all-my-kids rush to buy some stuff for her new apartment. You are brave Lauren! Chances are that I will never return to Ikea, not even for the meatballs.

Nerds Eliminated

In this episode of the race, teams initially made their way to the city of Catania, Italy on the island of Sicily to find their first clue. Thankfully, only the Hippies and the Jocks made it to the amphitheatre when it opened and all the teams didn’t “bunch up” like they normally do. Everyone knows how much “bunching up” makes the race almost unbearable to watch.

The ride to Catania was a long one. By the time the other teams got to the city there was an obscene amount of traffic in the city. It seems that the first two teams managed to get a huge advantage over the other teams by allowing them to complete the Detour and leave the city before morning rush hour. The Jocks managed to make their way back into first place by driving faster than the Hippies to the Roadblock in Syracusa.

All in all, I have to say that this episode was pretty boring. I mean, Sicily is beautiful and all. But the teams didn’t so any tasks that were very adventurous or exciting. I am looking forward to the teams getting to leave Italy and do something a little more exciting. Thankfully, the previews for next week show that teams will be in Greece doing Olympic events and doing bungee jumping. That’s more like it!

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The eliminated Pink Hoes completely deny hooking up with the Jocks on the Amazing Race. They claim to have only flirted and cuddled with the guys and that’s it. According to them, not even a kiss was exchanged. Uh huh, yeah right!

Apple released software today that allows Windows XP to run on Intel-based Macs. I think it is safe to say that Apple’s journey to the dark side is complete.

A Philadelphia man plead guilty today to weapons of mass destruction charges for sending a mail bomb to a Chicago surgeon he said botched his penile enlargement surgery. The man was “extremely unhappy with the results.” I’ll say, unhappy enough to blow someone up! Still, a weapon of mass destruction charge seems harsh for this crime. He is guilty of sending explosives through the U.S. mail, but it is clear that he doesn’t have a weapon of mass destruction. I think that’s why he wanted the surgery in the first place.

Poker players unite in fighting Congress over a proposed online gambling ban. The president of the National Poker Players Alliance is from San Francisco. He’s trying to talk Congress into regulating and taxing online gambling instead of banning it in its entirety.

I just registered nugget.net and nugget.org–now I own the full trifecta. I would like to thank the other Nuggets that owned these for being cheap asses and not re-registering their domains. Gracias.

In the book “How to Be a Rainmaker” it says that “coffee kills deals.” Well, this morning coffee kills driver. A spilled cup of coffee may have caused a fatal accident that closed Highway 121 in Sonoma County for nearly three hours this morning. Distracted after spilling coffee, the driver of a pickup truck veered into oncoming traffic causing a head-on collision.

I just saw a commercial and noticed that the Amazing Race 9 is moving to Wednesdays at 8:00PM, which is its old night, but not its old time slot. Apparently the ratings for the show have been pretty low on Tuesdays at 10:00PM, averaging less than 10 million viewers per episode. For those without TiVo, 10:00PM is awful late to watch the race and I am glad that the race is moving back to Wednesdays at a much more reasonable hour. Watch it damn it!

A-SS Video Game Rating

Industry ratings board approves A-SS rating for bad video games.

We headed off to Tahoe at 2:30PM yesterday and reached Auburn at 6:15PM due to traffic through Sacramento. The news account is not exactly accurate, I-80 wasn’t closed at Applegate until after 6:30PM, since we were allowed to pass the Applegate at that time. When we passed, highway patrol was diverting only large trucks off the highway, but allowing passenger cars to continue. We reached Alta a little after 6:45PM, where the highway was completely closed there.

We were only about 300 yards from the roadblock and probably could have passed the roadblock had we been only 10 minutes ahead. But who knows what would have happened then. There were so much snowfall that multiple accidents happened near Donner Summit. We waited for I-80 to open for almost four hours, until about 10:45PM, and then headed back down the hill searching for food and a hotel room.

Since I-80 was closed at Applegate, there were literally tens of thousands of people looking for a hotel or motel room at the same time. We found food, but no hotel rooms. We searched almost every hotel from Auburn to Roseville and they were all packed because of the highway closure. In Roseville, at about 12:30AM, we decided to head back to San Francisco and abort the whole trip. We made it back at 2:30AM, 12 hours from the time we left. We’re glad to be back home safe and sound.