Happy Canada Day (a little early)
Oh yeah, one more thing. Since we'll be traveling on July 1st, I want to wish everyone a Happy Canada Day a little early!

Canadian Maple Leaf

Have a good one, eh?
posted by Josh @ 6:01 AM  
Time for Vacation!
Wow, so today really crept up on me. We're leaving for London, Paris and the United States in a few short hours. Thus brings the end to "Dubai: Year One".

I feel like I should sum up my first year here in some dramatic fashion. A lengthy entry of what I've learned, what I've enjoyed, what's driven me crazy, etc. But the rush of getting everything done really didn't leave me much time.


Once I spend a few weeks at home in Maine and reflect a little, maybe then I'll have some words of wisdom. Right now I'm just spent.

Outline of the state of Maine

So yeah, check back in a week and a half. Even if I don't have some dramatic words, I might have neat photos of our Eurotrip ...
posted by Josh @ 5:58 AM  
Palm Jebel Ali
Just came across this illustration of the second Palm-island in Dubai, the Palm Jebel Ali.

Illustration of the Palm Jebel Ali

Reminds me of when we tried to go camping out there (see Camping Schmamping).

If you look at the inner ring, you'll see boat launches that are laid out so they form Arabic words. In fact, the words are a poem by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that roughly translated (by SkyscraperCity.com) says:

    Take wisdom only from the wise,
    Not everyone who rides a horse is a jockey.
    It takes a man of vision to write on water,
    Great men rise to great challenges.

posted by Josh @ 10:21 PM  
Disney production logo
Thanks to reader 'B' in Emeryville, California who let me know that an animator I know and respect was in charge of the new Walt Disney Pictures logo (see Walt Disney Pictures Logo Change).

I don't have anything against the logo, per se, it's just I like the old one better.

But I'm a stanch traditionalist in most regards, anyway.
posted by Josh @ 10:17 PM  
Die Hard: Again
Hey, so what's the title of the new Die Hard movie where you live?

Here in Dubai they're calling it: Die Hard 4.0.

Die Hard 4.0 logo

Personally I think that's ludicrously lame, but then I saw a review from the States that called it Live Free or Die Hard.

Which, quite honestly, isn't much better.

Unless, of course, the movie takes place in New Hampshire ...

(Which I highly doubt).
posted by Josh @ 4:15 PM  
The Continuing Adventures of my Motorola SLVR (sans iTunes)
Where has the time gone?!

It was ten months ago today that I wrote about my Motorola SLVR (see Phone fun).

Illustration of Motorola SLVR

If you recall we had just bought it and I discovered that the international version doesn't come with iTunes. Then I I downloaded some hacked version, but it turned out to be in Russian.

Needless to say, in the last ten months I haven't learned Russian.

Nor have I found a better solution.

You would think I would have had time to learn how to "flex" or "flash" the phone, or learn what a "boot loader" or "DSP S/W" is.


And now we're leaving for the summer tomorrow, so I guess I'll wait to figure this out in mid-to-late August.

How do you say "bummer" in Russian?
posted by Josh @ 4:10 PM  
More than meets the eye ...
I was eight years old when the Transformers cartoon came out. And just like every red-blooded American boy I loved the giant robots who could change into cars and trucks and jets and ginormous cassette tape players.

That being said, I'm terribly upset that the Transformers is going to become the next summer blockbuster from director Michael Bay, who ruined sci-fi with "Armageddon", U.S. History with "Pearl Harbor", and the buddy action movie with "Bad Boys 2".

Autobots logo

Oh I'm sure the effects will be great. I'm sure the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons will look like they're really alive, or booted up, or turned on, or whatever state it is that robots would be in when they're moving about, walking and talking.

But some of it is really painful. I particularly don't like that actor Shia LaBeouf is playing Sam "Spike" Witwicky.

Remember Spike? He was the pre-teen boy who taught the Autobots all about Earth customs, and was pretty much the comic foil because a human boy fighting alongside giant metal robots as tall as the Burj al-Arab would really be frightening as all get out.

I know Kevin Smith has already made this joke in the Clerks Cartoon, but seriously - how in the world could Spike sit inside the transformed Autobot and not get squished like a grape?

I'm just so annoyed that they're making this a live-action movie. Why does Hollywood feel the need to redo and reuse old ideas? C'mon. Get original. Let's leave Transformers happily in our childhood, and go make something fresh and different.

One caveat - the whole Autobot / Decepticon war was always over energy - energon cubes, to be exact. If this film is made into a parable for the current war in Iraq over oil then I'll officially rescind my objection to this movie.
posted by Josh @ 9:26 AM  
Salik Toll
Wow, I am so glad we're leaving on Thursday.

See, Sheikh Zayed Road here in Dubai is going to become a toll road on July 1. This is new for Dubai, and the system they have set up seems a little wacky. I think there are going to be some bugs.

As you can imagine that this is the talk of the town right now.

The toll system is called 'Salik' which means "open" or "clear" in Arabic. Sounds more like a blood parasite to me. The standard joke around town is that with this new toll Sheikh Zayed Road is now going to be clear, but all of the other roads are going to be jammed.

Now, I'm hardly an expert on toll collecting systems, I'm mostly used to the old-fashioned toll booth. Salik is going to be more like the E-ZPass electronic method, where you slow down as you pass under a gate and the toll is deducted electronically.

Dubai Salik Toll Collection

So no Toll Booth Willie saying, "Welcome to Garhoud. Dollar twenty-five please."

It's actually only $1.09, or 4 dirhams.

There are two tolling points - Al Garhoud Bridge and Sheikh Zayed Road near Mall of the Emirates, around the corner from where we live.

Dubai Salik Toll Map

The problem that most people have with this system is that Dubai is pretty much a one road town. Sheikh Zayed Road is at least four lanes in each direction, mostly six or seven lanes in each direction. The other roads, Beach Road, Al Wasl and Al Khail Road are only two lanes in each direction. There's not nearly the roadways available if everyone stops using Sheikh Zayed Road. It'll be gridlock and chaos on Beach Road and Al Wasl, and the sad part is that those two are already gridlocked and chaotic on a nightly basis.

The best part is that the Dubai Metro isn't done yet, and won't be until May of 2009 (Insha'Allah). So there's no alternate public transportation system in place. That right there shows the all-around excellent planning and forethought that's regular in Dubai.

Oh, sure, there's the bus system. But from what I've heard / been told, is woefully inadequate already. Buses aren't on time, and the routes don't cover much area.

Why can't Salik wait a year until the Metro is up and running? Is a year of bad press and piss and vitriol among the citizens worth it?

I see two options here. The first is that, since it starts during the quieter summer months, there'll be some hassles but things work fine ... until everyone comes back in the autumn and schools start. Then all hell breaks loose. People will get off Sheikh Zayed Road before the toll booth and then get back on after - I bet you. This will only cause more chaos than the roads are used to.

The other option? The wheels come off the bus at the start, leading HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to cancel Salik outright.

Personally? I'm not getting too worked up. I bet you when we return mid-August Salik will be no more ...
posted by Josh @ 7:59 PM  
Disneyland Resort Paris
So I'm getting excited to go to Europe at the end of this week. Did I ever mention officially that we're going to go to Disneyland Resort Paris (the former Euro Disney)?

Disneyland Resort Paris logo

I'm really kind of excited for that, which is kind of geeky, I know, but hey, I admit it - I've wanted to go to Disneyland Paris for fifteen years, since it opened in 1992.

In fact, I still remember the magazine cover of The Disney News about the park from that summer.

Disney News, Summer 1992

Euro Disney Resort - The Dream Awakens.

Anyway, we're only going for one day, so I think we're going to skip the new Walt Disney Studios park. And I just discovered on the day we're there (Friday, July 6) Disneyland is only open from 10 am until 9 pm ... which is kind of a short Disney park day for the Edwards family.

But since this is the first time that Liz and I are going to a Disney park together, well, that'll do just fine.

In order to get myself even more excited, here is a list of some fun facts about the resort:

  • Disneyland Resort Paris has as many visitors every year as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre put together.

  • Disneyland Resort Paris is owned and operated by French company Euro Disney S.C.A., a public company of which 39.78% of its stock is held by The Walt Disney Company, 10% by the Saudi Prince Alwaleed and 50.22% by other shareholders.

  • Investors who paid 11 euro a share when Euro Disney went on the stock market in 1989 now have stock worth about 0.09 euro each.

  • In June 1994 the resort (and park) were renamed "Euro Disneyland Paris".

  • In September 1994 the 'Euro' was lost and both the resort and park were renamed "Disneyland Paris".

  • On July 25, 1995, parent company Euro Disney S.C.A. reported its first ever quarterly profit of US$35.3 million.

  • A second theme park, Walt Disney Studios Park, opened its doors on March 16, 2002.

  • The resort lost more than 70 million euro in 2006, its fifth consecutive year of losses.

  • Disneyland Park had 10.6 million visitors in 2006, making it the fifth highest attended theme park (compiled by Economic Research Associates in partnership with the Themed Entertainment Association). (1-4? The Magic Kingdom at WDW, Disneyland, Tokyo Disneyland, and Tokyo DisneySea. Epcot was just a hair behind, with 10,460,000).

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm getting excited!
posted by Josh @ 7:15 PM  
News: Paramount acquires 'Dubai'
Um, shouldn't that read "Dubai acquires Paramount"?


Imagine if Dubai bought media conglomerate Viacom, though. Lots more exposure in mainstream media. That might be fun. I wonder what would happen ...

Doodle-oo! Doodle-oo! Doodle-oo!
(That's like the dream-sequence noise from 'Wayne's World', okay?)

Mission: Impossible 4 takes place in Dubai. Ethan Hunt gets stuck in construction traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road and can't save the world in time, and the bad guy wins and blows up the world. The end.

Indiana Jones IV (Indiana Jones and the City Of Gods? Indiana Jones and the Monkey King? Indiana Jones and the Bad Back and Incontinent Bowels?) has Harrison Ford (now pushing 70 years old) running around the desert complaining to Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) about the heat, the Nazis, the young people with their lack of manners and Fedoras ...

The next Star Trek will finally have an Arabic spaceship captain. Maybe the can get that guy from Syriana ...

And lastly this summer's blockbuster-to-be Transformers now opens with the Decepticons lounging on the Palm Jumeriah instead of attacking an army base in Qatar.

    Paramount acquires 'Dubai'
    Eric Bana to exec produce drama

    By Michael Fleming
    June 25, 2007

    Paramount Pictures has acquired "Dubai," a geopolitical drama spec script by tyro scribe Adam Cozad. Lorenzo di Bonaventura will produce, and Eric Bana will be executive producer.

    Story centers on a young economist who is set up by Iranian operatives in Dubai. They use him in a plot to instigate the collapse of the U.S. economy; he's forced to go on the run to prove his innocence.

    Script made the rounds last week, helped by the godfathering efforts of Bana. At this point, Bana is only committed to be involved as producer. Thesp just finished playing King Henry VIII opposite Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson in Sony's Justin Chadwick-directed film "The Other Boleyn Girl," and he's next starring opposite Rachel McAdams in Robert Schwentke's "The Time Traveler's Wife" for New Line.

    © Reed Business Information
posted by Josh @ 10:54 PM  
Tom, Jerry and my Wife
Today we're going to delve into the "Newlywed" more than the "Dubai". A little change-of-pace for this final week of the blog for the summer. Yep. On Thursday morning we leave for our European Adventure. But more on that soon.

So this weekend Liz was flipping through the television and I was typing on the computer (probably writing here, no doubt). I heard the familiar piano of Hungarian Rhapsody and thought that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was on (you know, the part where Daffy Duck and Donald Duck are dueling with the pianos).

Turns out it wasn't Roger Rabbit, but the old Hanna / Barbera era Tom & Jerry cartoon "The Cat Concerto".

Liz stopped even after I said, "oh, it's not Roger Rabbit".

But it turns out that Liz loves Tom & Jerry. She watched it for a half-an-hour.

Tom & Jerry Cartoon Title Card

This is news to me - I guess we have only been married for a little over ten months. But don't you think, with the amount that I talk about cartoons, that her love for Tom & Jerry would have come up in conversation earlier?

I find it a little odd that she loves Tom & Jerry, though. They really are the most repeating of the cartoon duos - I mean, all that ever happens is that Tom chases Jerry. Amazingly, Wikipedia says that they made 114 episodes - which really is a lot of chasing.

While I can appreciate virtually all traditional animation, just about everything that Hanna-Barbera worked on / created are my least favorites. From their time at Terrytoons Studios (Mighty Mouse, Deputy Dawg, Heckle and Jeckle), to the Harman-Ising shorts for MGM (Bosko, Happy Harmonies), to their own Hanna-Barbera Productions (The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Doo, Pixie and Dixie, Huckleberry Hound) I'm not really a fan.

Except for, of course, the Great Gazoo. That's so horrible it's awesome.

Annnnyyyway, Liz likes Tom & Jerry, which is good because it shows she's not opposed to all cartoons, so with my constant meddling and prodding maybe someday she'll end up an animation fan.

And that's my end goal, of course, to alter and change my wife completely.

posted by Josh @ 11:07 AM  
Walt Disney Pictures Logo Change
So this bothers me - and it's kind of embarrassing to say so.

But I'm a geek, and this is the internet, and isn't that where geeks go to complain about the minutia that the general population couldn't give a fig about? So here goes ...

If you've seen a movie released by Walt Disney Pictures then you are probably familiar with this logo:

Old Walt Disney Pictures Logo

But then last year, with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (which incidentally premiered a year ago yesterday) the company had a new production logo:

New Walt Disney Pictures Logo

This computer-generated logo runs longer and is much more elaborate than the blue background standard. That I have only minimal fault with. My biggest issue?

The first logo, the blue background, is of Sleeping Beauty's Castle from Disneyland.

Walt Disney's original theme park, Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California in 1955. Their castle is 77 feet tall.

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's Castle Photo, from wikipedia
Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's Castle

The new logo is clearly Cinderella's Castle, which is found in the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, after Walt's death in 1966. The Floridian castle is 189 feet tall.

Cinderella Castle at Walt Diseny World, from wikipedia
Walt Disney World's Cinderella's Castle

Clearly - and I say this next line with only minimal sarcasm - this change in logos is a staggering paradigm shift for the Walt Disney Company.


Ever since 1954's Disneyland television show, Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty's Castle has been the public logo of the Disney company. Disneyland is the original Disney park, the one that Walt built. Disney corporate headquarters are an hour drive north of Disneyland on the 5 freeway.

Florida is a five hour and two minute flight from Southern California, but more than that it's lightyears away from what Walt Disney had invisioned for the Florida property.

People get up-in-arms about Disney changing anything at Disneyland - fans protest when rides get replaced, and make websites about the crummy executives who run Disneyland. Seriously.

The fanbase of Florida is much more fleeting - the park has been around for 35 years, but executives are hardly public figures, and park attractions come and go with marginal complaints (the one exception, of course, is the huge online effort in 1998 to save Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Again, totally serious).

Granted, in recent years Florida's Magic Kingdom has become the most attended theme park in the world. In 2006 the Magic Kingdom had 16.6 million guests while Disneyland pulled in 14.7 million (as reported in the Global Theme Park Attendance Report published by Themed Entertainment Association and Economics Research Associates). In fact, Disneyland hasn't beaten the Magic Kingdom in attendance since 1996.

So from an attendance standpoint this new logo makes a certain degree of sense.

But still, I can't agree with this seemingly arbitrary change. I'm not down with it, not at all. Not that I'm going to complain or protest, other than what I've just done here. But if you're so inclined, feel free to drop a line to one of these guys below and tell them what you think:

    Bob Iger, President and CEO The Walt Disney Company
    500 South Buena Vista Street
    Burbank, CA 91521

    Dick Cook, Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios
    500 South Buena Vista Street
    Burbank, CA 91521

    Roy E. Disney, Consultant and Director Emeritus
    500 South Buena Vista Street
    Burbank, CA 91521
posted by Josh @ 10:18 AM  
Safari for Windows
Last week Apple released a version of their Safari internet browser for Windows. And, being a faithful Apple-devotee, I've downloaded it for use on Liz's laptop.

Apple's Safari logo

It's not bad!  I mean, it's way better than Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, but what isn't?  Safari actually runs very quickly, though, and has a pretty Apple look to it.

I think I'll stick with Mozilla's Firefox, however.  The Google Toolbar works on Firefox, and I love being able to access bookmarks from any computer. That's cool stuff.

But it's nice to have a second option for my internet needs.  Thanks Apple!
posted by Josh @ 4:21 PM  
Happy International UFO Research Day!
Hey guys, wanted to wish you all a happy International UFO Research Day!

Sixty years ago today in Washington State a man named Kenneth Arnold saw nine objects flying in formation around Mount Rainier.

This was the world's first recorded UFO sighting.

Fox Mulder's UFO Poster from the X-Files

From there the sightings snowballed. On July 4 there was another report of nine objects over Idaho, and then on July 8, 1947 in a town called Roswell, New Mexico there was a ... well, nobody really knows what happened.

Hence the need for an international day of research.

posted by Josh @ 8:54 AM  
Seven More Wonders
Have you guys seen this - the online poll to pick the New 7 Wonders of the World?

For reference, the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World:

  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • The Temple of Artemis at Epheseus
  • The Colossus of Rhodes
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
  • The Great Pyramid at Giza

But gosh, after 2147 years don't they deserve an update? (Especially considering of the seven only the pyramids are still around.)

Here's the list of 21 wonders that this group has put together for all of us to vote from:

Wow, hopefully we're going to see two of these in the next two weeks (Stonehenge and the Eiffel Tower).

So what am I going to vote for? Well, a few years ago it would have been Machu Picchu, hands down. But I'm a little out of my Incan phase now, and more onto a Mayan thing - so maybe Chichén Itzá. But Easter Island has always been visually so stunning - and there are still lots of unknowns about the statues, too, and I do like a good mystery ...

Anyway, I still have twelve days to vote.

(For the record, my wife will pick Angkor Wat. I bet you a dirham she will.)

The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday, July 7, 2007.

Yep, 07.07.07.

posted by Josh @ 8:18 AM  
Stay Classy, San Diego
So this weekend the Boston Red Sox are in San Diego California playing the Padres. Right now they're finishing up last night's game (I so love time travel).

Tonight, er, last night, well, whenever ... is 80's Retro Night - both teams are wearing retro 1982 uniforms, and after the game there's an 80s cover band in the parking lot.

The funny thing is, Red Sox Dustin Pedroia was born in 1983, he's still 23 years old. Starting pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, good old number eighteen, was born in 1980. I bet there has to be a Padre player who is the same age, too. That's so weird. They were barely, or not even at all, alive for these uniforms the first time around.

Photo San Digeo Padres Retro 1982 uniform AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
The Padres 1982 uniform last night
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Photo Boston Red Sox Retro 1982 uniform AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
23 year old Dustin Pedroia in the retro Red Sox Uniform
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Photo Boston Red Sox Retro 1982 uniform AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
Dice-K was two when the Sox wore these uniforms
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Photo Boston Red Sox Retro 1982 uniform AP Photo/Denis Poroy
This shot from Thursday shows what the current
San Diego Padres uniform looks like. Classy.
(AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

Hey, the game's over now, the Sox won! Sweet!

What a way to start my day!
posted by Josh @ 9:28 AM  
AFI Top-100 Movies
So usually I don't agree with these top movie lists. They always seem to put a few recent tear-jerkers a little too close to the top for me. But the American Film Institute's 2007 list of the Top-100 American movies is pretty good. I took the liberty of making a few of my top films bold and striking a few I don't think belong.

AFI's Top-100 American Movies:

    1. "Citizen Kane," 1941.

    2. "The Godfather," 1972.

    3. "Casablanca," 1942.

    4. "Raging Bull," 1980.

    5. "Singin' in the Rain," 1952.

    6. "Gone With the Wind," 1939.

    7. "Lawrence of Arabia," 1962.

    8. "Schindler's List," 1993.

    9. "Vertigo," 1958.

    10. "The Wizard of Oz," 1939.

    11. "City Lights," 1931.

    12. "The Searchers," 1956.

    13. "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope," 1977.

    14. "Psycho," 1960.

    15. "2001: A Space Odyssey," 1968.

    16. "Sunset Blvd.", 1950.

    17. "The Graduate," 1967.

    18. "The General," 1927.

    19. "On the Waterfront," 1954.

    20. "It's a Wonderful Life," 1946.

    21. "Chinatown," 1974.

    22. "Some Like It Hot," 1959.

    23. "The Grapes of Wrath," 1940.

    24. "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," 1982.

    25. "To Kill a Mockingbird," 1962.

    26. "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," 1939.

    27. "High Noon," 1952.

    28. "All About Eve," 1950.

    29. "Double Indemnity," 1944.

    30. "Apocalypse Now," 1979.

    31. "The Maltese Falcon," 1941.

    32. "The Godfather Part II," 1974.

    33. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," 1975.

    34. "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," 1937.

    35. "Annie Hall," 1977.

    36. "The Bridge on the River Kwai," 1957.

    37. "The Best Years of Our Lives," 1946.

    38. "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre," 1948.

    39. "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb," 1964.

    40. "The Sound of Music," 1965.

    41. "King Kong," 1933.

    42. "Bonnie and Clyde," 1967.

    43. "Midnight Cowboy," 1969.

    44. "The Philadelphia Story," 1940.

    45. "Shane," 1953.

    46. "It Happened One Night," 1934.

    47. "A Streetcar Named Desire," 1951.

    48. "Rear Window," 1954.

    49. "Intolerance," 1916.

    50. "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," 2001.

    51. "West Side Story," 1961.

    52. "Taxi Driver," 1976.

    53. "The Deer Hunter," 1978.

    54. "M-A-S-H," 1970.

    55. "North by Northwest," 1959.

    56. "Jaws," 1975.

    57. "Rocky," 1976.

    58. "The Gold Rush," 1925.

    59. "Nashville," 1975.

    60. "Duck Soup," 1933.

    61. "Sullivan's Travels," 1941.

    62. "American Graffiti," 1973.

    63. "Cabaret," 1972.

    64. "Network," 1976.

    65. "The African Queen," 1951.

    66. "Raiders of the Lost Ark," 1981.

    67. "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", 1966.

    68. "Unforgiven," 1992.

    69. "Tootsie," 1982.

    70. "A Clockwork Orange," 1971.

    71. "Saving Private Ryan," 1998.

    72. "The Shawshank Redemption," 1994.

    73. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," 1969.

    74. "The Silence of the Lambs," 1991.

    75. "In the Heat of the Night," 1967.

    76. "Forrest Gump," 1994.

    77. "All the President's Men," 1976.

    78. "Modern Times," 1936.

    79. "The Wild Bunch," 1969.

    80. "The Apartment," 1960.

    81. "Spartacus," 1960.

    82. "Sunrise," 1927.

    83. "Titanic," 1997.

    84. "Easy Rider," 1969.

    85. "A Night at the Opera," 1935.

    86. "Platoon," 1986.

    87. "12 Angry Men," 1957.

    88. "Bringing Up Baby," 1938.

    89. "The Sixth Sense," 1999.

    90. "Swing Time," 1936.

    91. "Sophie's Choice," 1982.

    92. "Goodfellas," 1990.

    93. "The French Connection," 1971.

    94. "Pulp Fiction," 1994.

    95. "The Last Picture Show," 1971.

    96. "Do the Right Thing," 1989.

    97. "Blade Runner," 1982.

    98. "Yankee Doodle Dandy," 1942.

    99. "Toy Story," 1995.

    100. "Ben-Hur," 1959.

I struck "E.T.", "Saving Private Ryan," "Forrest Gump", "Titanic," and "The Sixth Sense."

"E.T." is a cute movie, and nice for it's time, but it's no "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

"Saving Private Ryan" probably could stay, out of all of these I was the most iffy about cutting it. Is it the best WWII movie ever made? I think it's the only one on this list, so they're saying it's the best ever.

Don't get me started on "Forrest Gump", though - I think it's the most over-rated movie of my lifetime. The main character in that movie doesn't do anything, he just reacts to the decades around him as they march by - stumbling through history with increasing success. Sure, it's entertaining, but also very pandering to the people who lived through those decades ("remember this event from your youth? Well Forrest Gump was there and he said something inappropriate!" "Remember this bumper sticker? Forrest Gump made it up!") One part absurd, one part mushy and overly-sentimental, the movie fails to do anything particularly new or special. The only way I can even sit through the movie is assume that the writers and directors are mocking Gump and his backwards ways. Even then it's still painful.

"Titanic" is a cute love story, but it doesn't belong here.

"The Sixth Sense" was clever, don't get me wrong, but in ten years it'll dropped.

So what's missing from this list, you might ask? Well, I've rounded up a few of my favorites from history. Sure, some of them might be a little too flashy or too recent, but I think that these will stand up to the test of time.

The 19 the AFI forgot:

    "Out of the Past," 1947. A really good and oft-overlooked Film Noir. Plus, there's this guy in it who looks just like Ben Affleck. I swear.

    "The Killing," 1956. If you liked Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, then you'll love this movie about a heist gone wrong that's told out of sequence, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

    "Blazing Saddles," 1974. I can't believe this isn't on the list. Wow.

    "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," 1977. See notes about "E.T." above.

    "Alien," 1979. It's a little slow at points, but when it's moving it's moving.

    "The Muppet Movie," 1979. It's the Muppets. You have to.

    "Back to the Future," 1985. My favorite movie ever made. Hands down the best screenplay in the history of screenplays. It's so freakin' clever. And the performances? Genius. Christopher Lloyd was born to play Doc Brown. And fantastic direction. Down to the details. Each time I watch the movie I see something new. All around perfection.

    "Lethal Weapon," 1987. It's more touching then you remember.

    "The Princess Bride," 1987. Amazing and clever.

    "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", 1988. So what if the story is copped from "Chinatown" - this is a movie that couldn't / wouldn't be made today. Everything came together at the right place in the right time for this one.

    "Glory," 1989. Maybe the best Civil War movie ever?

    "Beauty and the Beast," 1991. Classic.

    "Malcolm X," 1992. One of my favorite biographical movies ever.

    "Jurassic Park," 1993. The movie that started the whole CGI computer train that we're on today. An innovator.

    "Braveheart," 1995. Very good war movie. Brutal.

    "The Usual Suspects," 1995. So clever. Even more twisted on multiple viewings (unlike "The Sixth Sense").

    "The Big Lebowski," 1998. Each of the Coen Brothers movies is so very different, thus it's difficult to pick the best. Maybe this one?

    "The Matrix," 1999. Again, so much of our recent cinema steals heavily from this Wachowski Brothers ... Siblings ... movie.

    "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," 2003. Is it too soon to call this an instant classic? I don't think so. He is Captain Jack Sparrow, after all ...

And lastly, for fun, my other favorite movie that does not belong here, but I have to mention it anyway - "The Cannonball Run," 1981. Probably more fun to make than to watch, it's still pretty amusing ...
posted by Josh @ 10:21 AM  
Some of you might have seen Dubailand in the news in the last day or two. There was an AFP article ('Dubailand' aims to be Middle East Orlando) that Yahoo was floating around, and also golfer Tiger Woods just broke ground yesterday on a golf course ("Al Ruwaya") and a 197 resident community ("The Tiger Woods Dubai").

But I don't buy this. I think I have to call "shenanigans" on Dubailand.

Dubailand Logo

If I have to hear "Dubailand is Disneyland in the desert" or "Dubailand will be twice the size of [Walt] Disney World in Florida" or "Dubailand is Disneyland on steroids" I'm going to puke.

Because Dubailand is fictional.

Fik shuh nal.

Just because there's a billboard and a logo and some really pretty visual development artwork doesn't mean that this thing exists or will ever exist.

I mean, heck, I could send out a press release saying that I'm going to build a theme park three-times the size of Japan in the woods of Wyoming, and there are going to be dinosaurs and martians and bigfoot and flying cars and more roller-coasters than Cedar Point and happy family-land and shopping and hotels and spas and a artificial lake with artificial islands in that lake, and artificial lakes on those artificial islands, and the whole thing will be staffed by supermodels and it'll be powered by cold fusion and be carbon neutral and it opens to the world at noon on Friday ... but that doesn't mean that it's reality.

Dubailand Map

To back up, Dubailand is a proposed $64 billion set of theme parks that will cover 278 square kilometers, and include an indoor ski slope, car-racing track, dinosaur theme park, indoor rain forest, Universal Studios theme park and 55 different hotels - including the world's largest with 6,500 rooms. The whole thing should open by 2015.

Or 2018.

Or 2025.


See, all of the details are a bit murky. Somewhat sketchy, if you will. The whole thing was announced by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum on October 23rd, 2003. And then every time you see it in the news it gets bigger and more outrageous. "2.5 million people are going to live in Dubailand"? Are you kidding?

But yes, they do have some pretty pictures. (Then again, the visual development for Disney's California Adventure was nice looking, and that park sucks).

Dubailand visual development

Dubailand visual development

I'd tell you what these pictures are of, but nobody seems to know. That thing in the bottom left of the top one looks like it's a roller-coaster, maybe? And the bottom one, um, looks like twinkling city lights around a lagoon.

See? No specifics.


One solid fact that they always mention, however, is the indoor ski mountain - SnowDome.

Dubailand Snowdome visual development

Dubailand Snowdome visual development

Dubailand Snowdome visual development

Yeah, I have absolutely no faith in this at all. Right now, this very minute, it's well over a hundred degrees outside and sunny as all get-out. Do you really think that they could have a clear-glass roofed dome over "real snow" in the middle of the desert? How is this possible? Someone, tell me. Please. Use science words. It's okay.

See? Not possible.


At least the Sports City is a little more workable a concept. Although I think the months of May, June, July, August, September and October would be mighty warm for an outdoor sporting event. How about a retractable dome? Or four?

Dubailand Sports City visual development

And then there's the space and science park. Hope they're not too attached to the space shuttle design, though, because I'm pretty sure by the time this sees the light of day the Orion will have replaced it.

Dubailand visual development

I don't even know what the whole dinosaur thing is. It's like one of the sheikhs just saw "Jurassic Park" for the first time and is now all excited about Brachiosaurs.

Dubailand visual development

But photoshopping a dino into a photograph of Florida swampland is exponentially easier than building the real thing.


I'd go on more about Dubailand but the details are so sketchy, murky, ever-changing, that I don't think any one website has a good fix on it - heck even the some of the official website pages don't work (yes, that's Lorem Ipsum dummy text).

From what I can gather, though, these are some other parts of Dubailand, as well:

    Dubai Outlet City
    City of Arabia (including Mall of Arabia, the largest mall in the world)
    LEMNOS (Women’s World)
    Extreme Sport World
    Motor City
    Kids City
    Giants World
    Emerat Sports World
    Plantation Equestrian and Polo Club
    Dubai Golf World
    Dubai Heritage Vision
    Falcon City of Wonders (with replicas of the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon)
    The Great Dubai Wheel
    Pet Land

I still say: shuh nan i guhns.
posted by Josh @ 2:31 PM  
Shipyard Beer wins in San Diego
Every once in a while my favorite brewery in Maine sends an email out to mock my lack of beer keep me informed of their comings-and-goings.

Shipyard Brewery Logo

Just got this today:

    Shipyard Export Wins Best of Show and Gold Medal in San Diego

    Shipyard Brewing Company's Export Ale was named Best of Show at the San Diego County Fair's Commercial Beer Competition on Saturday, June 9. Export Ale is Shipyard's flagship beer and this month marks the 15th anniversary of this popular brew.

    Export Ale was also awarded a Gold Medal for English Ales and Shipyard's Chamberlain Pale Ale took home the Silver in the same category.

    Additionally, Silver medals were awarded to Sea Dog Brewing Company's Riverdriver Hazelnut Porter and Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Ale.

    Last month, Shipyard's Chamberlain Pale Ale won 1st place in the English Pale Ale category at the prestigious West Coast Brew Fest's Commercial Craft Competition in Sacramento, California.

    Shipyard's Chamberlain Pale Ale, Brewer's Choice Honey Porter, and Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat Ale also took home bronze awards in May at the 2007 Australian International Beer Awards in Melbourne, Australia. AIBA is the showcase awards event in the Asia Pacific Region and entries were received from 39 countries. Sea Dog and Shipyard were two of just nineteen U.S. craft brewers to win medals at this competition.

    Sea Dog and Shipyard beer is available in over 35 states across the U.S., and not at all available in the U.A.E.

See? They're mocking me.

Okay, I made that last bit up.

But still, it's true.
posted by Josh @ 9:55 PM  
The hottest I've ever been
So far today I've walked to the HSBC bank a few blocks away once, FedEx at Dubai Media City twice and across campus four times already.

While this might not seem too difficult, right now it's 97 degrees out with 63% humidity - so it feels like 118 degrees.

I've already sweat enough that three tee shirts are unpresentable, and I still have to go to campus and back at least once more, probably twice more, today.

This is the hottest I've ever been in my entire life. Hands down. The summer in Orlando, Florida and the six summers in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley were nothing compared to this.
posted by Josh @ 2:56 PM  
News: Hooters in Dubai?!?
Yeah, I figure I'd better jump on this grenade before my feminist wife gets wind of this article. Personally I file this story under "yeah right, in about a million years will this happen":

    The Associated Press
    Dubai may host Arabic peninsula's first Hooters restaurant
    June 19, 2007

    Hooters, a U.S. restaurant chain famous for its scantily clad waitresses, may open this year in Dubai as it expands to the Arabic peninsula for the first time, the company's local partner said Tuesday.

    "I am trying to secure a location to open one restaurant this year. A year
    from now I will have two to three potential locations," Jamal al-Shaheen, a Kuwaiti investor, who has the franchise rights for Hooters in Dubai, told Dow Jones Newswires.

    Waitresses at Hooters, which describes itself as a 'beach-theme' restaurant, wear tight revealing tank tops and skimpy shorts. The restaurant's name stems from an American slang term for women's breasts.

    "The element of female sex appeal is prevalent in the restaurants, and the company believes the Hooters Girl is as socially acceptable as a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader," Hooters of America Inc., says on its Web site.

    Al-Shaheen said the original plan was to open a restaurant on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah, a huge tree-shaped artificial island that has been reclaimed off Dubai's coastline. But delays on the gigantic construction site caused him to opt for a new location on the city's glitzy Jumeirah Beach Road.

    The new location for Dubai's first Hooters ought to be sealed by summer's end, al-Shaheen said, and the restaurant should open about six months later.

    Al-Shaheen, a partner in Kuwaiti firm Marketing Management Group, or MMG, doesn't expect any conservative backlash over Hooters' staff uniforms, saying the tight tops and shorts are no more revealing than normal outfits on the nearby Dubai beach.

    The Dubai Hooters isn't the first one planned for the Middle East. Plans to open a Hooters restaurant in Lebanon have been shelved because of fighting in the country, al-Shaheen said.

    The franchise has more than 430 restaurants in the U.S. and 23 other countries, including China.

    © The Associated Press

Okay, so if this restaurant opens before we leave Dubai in the next year or two, I'll publicly eat my Red Sox baseball hat. Perhaps even at the Hooters.

I can't tell you how insane this idea is. Yes, Dubai is very Westernized, and yes, they seem to love all American themed restaurants here ... but one that focuses on breasts? Never in a thousand years. They don't expect backlash? They're idiots, then. Yes, there are bikinis on the beach, but not in public restaurants or malls. Nooooo.

Remember, the national dress for local women in Dubai is the abaya - covering the whole body in black. While older women wear a face veil, younger women generally only cover their hair - just like other Muslim women around the world.

So yeah, I think Hooters low-cut shirts and short-shorts might not go over well.

And, lastly, Beach Road isn't "glitzy". That's just dumb. It's not glitzy by a long shot. It's the same kind of road that in the states would be named "Atlantic Avenue" or "Pacific Street", depending on which coast you favor. It's just a street that's near the ocean. I'll take some pictures this week.

So not glitzy.
posted by Josh @ 11:27 PM  
Middle East Coast Customs
So I heard rumors about this a few months ago, and foolishly never followed up. Apparently car restoration / customization house West Coast Customs, known mostly through their MTV show Pimp My Ride (hosted, by the way, by the surprisingly genial rapper Xhibit), is opening an office in Dubai.

West Coast Customs logo

Don't believe me? They have a website to prove it.


Even more genius, the Discovery Channel is already filming a documentary series in Dubai on the shop, not unlike their series American Chopper. (If you don't know the show, you actually do but just don't know it. You totally know the dad who runs the shop, the guy with the 'stache. See? I told you you knew him.)

Anyway, according to news reports, West Coast Customs Dubai will work on the cars of U.A.E.'s "high status individuals".

Now all we need to know is the Arabic verb for "pimp", and we'll be all set ...
posted by Josh @ 9:10 AM  
QE2 to DXB
Wow, Dubai likes big and gaudy stuff, eh?

Cunard Line announced on Monday that the luxury ocean liner the Queen Elizabeth 2 is being sold to Dubai World - who will turn the big boat into a hotel / tourist destination on the Palm Jumeirah.

I guess that makes it a little bit like the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

Ooh, maybe now that means Dubai will get their own version of the Queen Mary Shipwreck Annual Halloween Terror Fest. Sweet.
posted by Josh @ 9:00 AM  
Zara in Dubai
So yeah, I'm an idiot.

This morning I was lost in the Mall of the Emirates (yes, it's just too confusing / embarrassing a tale to tell) and I noticed a shop I'd never seen before - Zara.

I was just saying the other day how one's moving into Boston and another into Hollywood, and I'd never even heard of them (see News: Zara at Downtown Crossing).

Guess I should go to the malls around here more often, eh?
posted by Josh @ 4:21 PM  
Meet the Robinsons video online
Wow, so, yeah, this isn't legal. I just found the entire movie of Meet the Robinsons online. 'Robinsons' was, of course, the last movie I ever ever ever worked on at Disney.

Meet the Robinsons Part 1 of 3

And I still haven't seen the movie yet, as you might recall the movie doesn't open here until late June (see The Future Begins March 30 ... unless you live in Dubai).

Still, I can't watch it here - not like this. The last time I saw the movie was in the spring of 2004, before a frame was animated and it was all just story sketches with a temporary soundtrack. (Although many of the temporary voices stayed on to be the final voices). So the first time I see it for real I would like to be in a theater with popcorn and a soda, or at least on a full-screen DVD with no Russian subtitles.

Anyway, if you want to check it out do it quickly as I can't imagine this sort of thing stays around for very long ...
posted by Josh @ 6:59 AM  
Red Sox and Dave Roberts
So the San Francisco Giants are in Boston playing the Red Sox this weekend. Thankfully last night Barry "BALCO" Bonds didn't hit any home runs, keeping him at a career 747, eight shy of Hank Aaron's record of 755.

But who even cares about Bonds? I want to say how cool it was that Giants player Dave Roberts got a standing ovation from the crowd.

Roberts, as you may recall, played for the Red Sox in 2004, when they won the World Series. And he'll forever be remembered in Boston for just one play in one game, kind of the anti-Bill Buckner, if you will.

Picture it: Game Four of the playoffs with the Yankees, who lead the series three games to nothing, and the game four to three. Ninth inning. Yankee pitcher Mariano Riviera, alternatively called the "greatest post-season relief pitcher of all time" and "the greatest closer of all time", walks the leadoff man. Dave Roberts replaces him as pinch runner.

And he steals second on the first pitch.

Photo of Dave Roberts stealing second base in 2004's ALCS Game Four

"Dave's one of the few runners in the league who can steal a base when everyone knows he's going to try," Boston manager Terry Francona said after the fact.

Of course, Roberts then scores on a single by Bill Mueller. The game is tied.

Twelfth inning. David Ortiz. Walkoff home run. The Sox win the game, then the series. The greatest post-season comeback in American sports history. (Or, alternately, the biggest choke in sports history, if you're a Yankee fan).

Anyway, Roberts went to San Diego to get more playing time (he didn't play one minute of the World Series, but dang, nobody in Boston will ever hold that against him!) And now he's on the Giants. And also in the Red Sox Hall of Fame.

For more on the steal, Bob Ryan has a nice column "A stolen moment of fame".

Man, I love baseball.
posted by Josh @ 7:18 AM  
Orbit ESPN
Holy cow, Orbit ESPN just showed American SportsCenter!! I temporarily take back all of the mean things I said about them (see I hate Orbit ESPN).

Sadly, the guys on the show today are just gushing about the San Antonio Spurs win yesterday. Not that I'm a huge LeBron James fan, but I really can't stand Tony Parker or Tim Duncan. Duncan especially. Does that dude ever smile? Is he having fun? Is this too much work for him? Enjoy it, man, you play basketball for a living! I really don't have feelings either way on Manu Ginobili, but I do think his first name is cool. Manu. Manuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Manu. Oh, but jeesh - I've had it up to about here (putting my hand about ear-level) about Parker and Eva Longoria. Criminy. They're almost as bad as the Beckhams. And nobody likes the Beckhams. I do like Robert Horry, though. Very good, very understated player.

But all this stuff about "dynasty"?! Uh, please. Four titles? Yeah, call me when you break into the double digits. Then we can start comparing you to the Celtics, the Bulls, the Lakers. Until then? Let's call this a good run.

Oh, as for LeBron's child being born the night he lost his first finals, funny story. When Stewart Scott said the kid's name, I misheard him and thought the baby was named "Christ Maximus James". I was like, "Whoa - that's wicked gutsy." Turns out his name is "Bryce Maximus James". I'm sure he'll be a big basketball star in about twelve years. Reportedly he already has a contract with Nike, and is working on one with Gatorade.

As for baseball - I saw a few highlights on SportsCenter, too. Wow. I almost forgot what it looked like to see baseball moving images. Pretty neat.

I was confused, however, by the Yankees highlights - I couldn't tell what team they were playing. I knew it was interleague, but the hats were too dark for St. Louis or Cincinnati. They were almost maroon. Duh. They're "Sedona Red" - the Yankees are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks. I've even talked about the logo before (see Diamondbacks Logo). Living my life of baseball exile I totally forgot Arizona changed colors, I still expect them to wear that tacky purple and turquoise color scheme. My bad.

Anyway, that was a nice little break. Now back to my hating Orbit ESPN.
posted by Josh @ 5:58 PM  
Universal Studios Dubai
How the heck did I miss this?!? Apparently on April 30th Universal Studios Dubai was announced!!

C'mon people! You've got to tell me about these things if I miss them - April 30th was the end of the semester, we were planning our trip to Al Aqqa - things were busy.

The only reason I told you all about Dubai's planned Marvel Comic Theme Park (see News: Marvel Comic Theme Park ... in Dubai) was because an eagle-eyed reader sent me the tip!

I can't know everything about Dubai, folks! This isn't a solo project, you know, it takes a village! It takes a village ...
posted by Josh @ 7:43 AM  
Dubai to buy Barneys
When I hear the word "Barneys" I think of a large purple anthropomorphic dinosaur from the 1990s (I believe that was the Clintoneous Period) - and not that high falutin' fashion chain Barneys New York.

But, since this is Dubai, we ain't talking children's playthings.

According to yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Dubai's Istithmar private equity firm, is in talks to buy the Barneys New York chain for $800 million.

Istithmar, you might recall, is the group that purchased the Loehmann's chain last year.

I wonder if they sing, "I love you, you love me" every morning before the store opens?
posted by Josh @ 7:24 AM  
News: Zara at Downtown Crossing
If you're familiar with shopping in Boston, you've probably been to Downtown Crossing. The home of Filene's Basement, it's right in the center of town next to Boston Common.

Liz and I stayed right there at the Hyatt Regency when I picked her up at the airport a year and a half ago. That was the famed "Weekend of Pachelbel's Canon", right before we got engaged. Dang, that's a good story - remind me to tell that one sometime soon.

Anyway, Downtown Crossing was the home of the flagship Filene's department store until last year, when it closed after 116 years in business due to the whole Macy's taking over the world thing.

So anyway, apparently this Spanish clothing company named Zara is moving in to Downtown Crossing - and also the former Emporio Armani store on Newbury Street.

Zara clothing logo

After a little internet searching (okay, wikipedia) I saw that they're also just about to open at the Hollywood and Highland mall in Hollywood, CA, another of my old stomping grounds.

Wow, who are these people, and why have I never heard of them before?

    The Boston Globe
    Spanish fashion chain Zara becomes the first to sign on for Filene's site
    By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff
    June 13, 2007

    Spanish retailer Zara plans to open a store at the former Filene's building in Downtown Crossing, making the fast-fashion merchant the first to sign on with the $625 million redevelopment of the historic site, according to local officials.

    Zara, which currently has no stores in Massachusetts, is opening this year in the Natick Collection and taking over a three-story shop next year on Newbury Street at the former Emporio Armani. Zara is a step above cheap chic rival H&M, which already has a store in Downtown Crossing, and Zara's entry will help elevate the reputation of the struggling shopping district, retail analysts said.

    The redevelopment of the Filene's flagship, shuttered last year after Macy's took over the New England chain, has garnered significant interest from merchants. Developer Vornado Realty Trust has already expanded retail to four floors above ground (the plans initially called for three) along with Filene's Basement to operate on two floors below ground.

    Construction is expected to begin this fall and the massive project is to include a 38-story tower, condominiums, hotel, office space, and retail stores.

    "It's a great endorsement and it speaks to the power and opportunity of the market in Downtown Crossing to have someone like Zara place their store in this location," said Kristen Keefe , retail sector manager for the Boston Redevelopment Authority. "It's a great win for the district and it speaks volumes that more and more retailers are recognizing the strength of Downtown Crossing."
    Photo Gallery Downtown Crossing through the years

    Keefe declined to comment on details of the deal. Zara also would not discuss the Downtown Crossing site, but spokeswoman Rocio Diaz Fernandez said, "For Zara, Boston is one of its target markets for expansion in the US and the company was looking for the best premises in the city. Boston fulfills all the requirements considered essential to the company."

    New York firm Vornado Realty Trust did not return calls seeking comment. At the redeveloped Filene's site, Zara will be joined by Canadian merchant Club Monaco, according to a local official briefed on the deal who asked not to be identified because the agreements with Zara and Club Monaco are not yet finalized. A Club Monaco spokeswoman said the company "isn't scheduled to open a store."

    Zara, which is owned by publicly traded firm Inditex SA, opened its first store in 1975 and now has more than 1,000 worldwide. The first shop in the United States opened in New York in 1989 and today there are 25 nationwide. The Spanish chain, along with rival H&M, pioneered the concept of fast fashion that has rapidly grown in popularity in recent years.

    It's a lean business model that enables Zara to manufacture merchandise and get the garments on the shelves worldwide within two weeks. Clothes are dispatched twice a week to Zara stores, giving a constant renewal of fashion offerings and helping to drive frequent traffic, according to retail analysts.

    "Their brilliance is getting from design to the floor in a matter of weeks," said Candace Corlett, a principal with retail consultancy WSL Strategic Retail in New York. "Zara isn't just cheap chic. It's better chic. Better fashion and price points that are higher than at H&M."

    Zara's expansion in Boston reflects how merchants are recognizing the city's interest in fashion and the area's growing disposable income, said Madison Riley , a retail analyst with Kurt Salmon Associates. The arrival of stores like Barneys New York and Jimmy Choo in recent years underscores the growing importance of the Boston market. The city is hoping to capitalize on this interest to improve the retail mix and image of certain shopping districts -- with Downtown Crossing at the top of the list.

    At a recent retail conference in Las Vegas, Mayor Thomas M. Menino courted department store JCPenney and North Carolina specialty grocer Fresh Market to locate at the new project in Downtown Crossing. Local officials who met with Vornado said the developer is open to talking with these potential merchants. Officials for JCPenney and Fresh Market said the retailers are looking to expand to the Boston market, but could not talk specifically about the Downtown Crossing site.

    © Globe Newspaper Company
posted by Josh @ 8:35 PM  
Lost season 1
So it took two or three weeks since we started (see We Got Lost), but we're finally done with Lost season one.

Lost TV Show Logo

It actually would have gone quicker, but school has been hectic lately, and one of the discs was all crummy and we had to watch it on the laptop instead of the DVD player. It appears that the quality control division of bootleg DVDs manufacturers is severely lacking. Who would have guessed?

But now we don't have season two, and all of our friends who do have it are already out the door on summer vacation. Aw crap! What'll I do without Lost? I feel so ... lost ...

(ha ha)
posted by Josh @ 9:27 AM  
Unclear Windows
Man, sometimes Microsoft Windows drives me batty.

I know, I know, having Liz's laptop has been crucial since my Macintosh died a few months ago (see My iBook is dead). But sometimes I think an old Amiga or Commodore 64 would be easier and more user-friendly.

Take this morning, for example. As I jumped on the computer, a little dialog box opened, telling me that Windows was downloading some new software, and would have to restart when it's done.

Screenshot of a Windows Warning Message

This happened a few weeks ago and really screwed me up. See, unlike a Mac, when the download is complete the Windows machine just up and restarts. I figured that it would tell me that the download was complete, and then I could click the "Restart Later" button. Nope. I was literally in the middle of an email when the internet browser quits and the computer reboots. ACK!

The time before that I clicked the "Restart Later" button and it killed the download until the next time I was on the computer.

You can't win with these punks!!

Macs are different, though. Yeah, they like to download updates too. But first they A) ask you if now is a convenient time to start the download, and B) give you a little freaking warning before quitting. I mean, what if I'm trying to shut down Skynet and prevent the rise of the machines? What if I was in the middle of running WORP? If that shut down then I'm pretty sure Norad would automatically launch every nuclear weapon ever.

Good job. The entire world is dead now. Thanks Microsoft. <sarcastic>You're the best!!</sarcastic>

Luckily, this morning I wasn't stopping any fictional evil supercomputers from an 80s movie, and I anticipated that Windows was going to shut down, so I quit everything I was doing and just waited. Yes, I tailored my behavior to the actions of the machine. Aaah, the wonder of Windows - so inconvenient, not at all user-friendly, 95% of the market-share.
posted by Josh @ 8:43 AM  
News: Mohammad is No 2 baby name in Britain
Saw this the other day, thought it was pretty interesting. We have a few Mohammeds around these parts, too ...

    The Times (London)
    Muhammad is No 2 in boy's names
    June 06, 2007
    By Helen Nugent and Nadia Menuhin

    Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year, a study by The Times has found. The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver.

    Scholars said that the name’s rise up the league table was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honour of the Prophet.

    Muhammad Anwar, Professor of Ethnic Relations at Warwick University, said: “Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with the Prophet.”

    Although the official names register places the spelling Mohammed at No 23, an analysis of the top 3,000 names provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts Muhammad at No 2 once the 14 spellings are taken into account. If its popularity continues – it rose by 12 per cent last year – the name will take the top spot by the end of this year. It first entered the Top 30 in 2000.

    The spelling Muhammad, like all transliterations, comes from replacing the Arabic script with what is deemed its closest Latin equivalent. There are many versions in Britain, depending on where the family are from and variations in pronounciation.

    Muhammad, which means “one who is praiseworthy”, is often given to boys as an honorary prefix and is followed by the name by which they are commonly known. It is regularly cited as the most common name in the world, though there is no concrete evidence.

    Mufti Abdul Barkatullah, a former imam at the Finchley mosque in northwest London, said: “Parents who name their son Muhammad believe that the name has an effect on their personality and future characteristics. They are saying that this boy will be of good character.

    “Some people may not really understand the history of the Prophet Muhammad and the name but they still want the association so they can be recognised as one of his followers.

    “In Arab countries, the name Muhammad is said when you don’t know the name of someone. On the sub-continent, it is different: Muhammad can be used either before or after another name.

    “When you get to the UK, it is essentially about translating the sound of the Arabic into English. A nonArab Muslim would have the name ending in -ed while an Arab Muslim would adopt the -ad ending.”

    Overall, Muslims account for 3 per cent of the British population, about 1.5 million people. However, the Muslim birthrate is roughly three times higher than the nonMuslim one.

    Statistics from the ONS show that Muslim households are larger than those headed by someone of another religion. In 2001, the average size of a Muslim household was 3.8 people while a third contained more than five people.

    According to data from CACI Information Solutions, men who are named Muhammad are 5½ times more likely to go on holiday in Asia and twice as likely to live in Yorkshire than most other people.

    Additionally, a man named Muhammad is most likely to be aged between 25 and 34 and to have an average salary of £25,000.

    The leading name for girls born to Muslim parents in 2006 was Aisha, in 110th place. Its meaning is “wife of the Prophet” or “life”.

    How do you spell that?

    The different spellings of Muhammad in 2006 and the number of occurrences

    Mohammed 2,833

    Muhammad 1,422

    Mohammad 920

    Muhammed 358

    Mohamed 354

    Mohamad 29

    Mahammed 18

    Mohammod 13

    Mahamed 12

    Muhammod 9

    Muhamad 7

    Mohmmed 6

    Mohamud 5

    Mohammud 5

    © Times Newspapers Ltd
posted by Josh @ 3:21 PM  
News: Mr. Wizard is Dead!
Aww, this is sad - Mr. Wizard died yesterday.

His show Mr. Wizard's World on Nickelodeon ran from 1983 to 1990, making it the longest running show on the channel.

    The Associated Press
    Television's 'Mr. Wizard' dies at 89
    June 12, 2007

    LOS ANGELES, California - Don Herbert, who as television's "Mr. Wizard" introduced generations of young viewers to the joys of science, died Tuesday. He was 89.

    Herbert, who had bone cancer, died at his suburban Bell Canyon home, said his son-in-law, Tom Nikosey.

    "He really taught kids how to use the thinking skills of a scientist," said former colleague Steve Jacobs. He worked with Herbert on a 1980s show that echoed the original 1950s "Watch Mr. Wizard" series, which became a fond baby boomer memory.

    In "Watch Mr. Wizard," which was produced from 1951 to 1964 and received a Peabody Award in 1954, Herbert turned TV into an entertaining classroom. On a simple, workshop-like set, he demonstrated experiments using household items.

    "He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. ... The show today might seem slow but it was in-depth and forced you to think along," Jacobs said. "You were learning about the forces of nature."

    Herbert encouraged children to duplicate experiments at home, said Jacobs, who recounted serving as a behind-the-scenes "science sidekick" to Herbert on the '80s "Mr. Wizard's World" that aired on the Nickelodeon channel.

    When Jacobs would reach for beakers and flasks, Herbert would remind him that science didn't require special tools.

    "'You could use a mayonnaise jar for that,"' Jacobs recalled being chided by Herbert. "He tried to bust the image of scientists and that science wasn't just for special people and places."

    Herbert's place in TV history was acknowledged by later stars. When "Late Night with David Letterman" debuted in 1982, Herbert was among the first-night guests.

    Born in Waconia, Minnesota, Herbert was a 1940 graduate of LaCrosse State Teachers College and served as a U.S. Army Air Corps pilot during World War II. He worked as an actor, model and radio writer before starting "Watch Mr. Wizard" in Chicago on NBC.

    The show moved to New York after several years.

    He is survived by six children and stepchildren and by his second wife, Norma, his son-in-law said. A private funeral was planned.

    © The Associated Press
posted by Josh @ 8:23 AM  
Coup Fourré!!
Wow, did I just score!

You know at the end of the year at school when teachers are leaving and not coming back, they give away all sort of crap stuff? Well today at school someone was giving away the classic Parker Brothers card game Mille Bornes!

If you've never heard of it, Mille Bornes (pronounced "Meel Born") is a French card game where you and a teammate try and drive 700 kilometers before other team does. We used to play it in high school French, and then my brother and his roommates got a copy when they were buying every old random game off of eBay that they could.

But the best part of this find today is that it's the old-school version with the really cool artwork:

Photo of old school Mille Bornes cards

Although apparently some company called "Winning Moves" makes a new retro version of Mille Bornes using the same artwork.

Either way, I totally scored today.

posted by Josh @ 4:46 PM  
Funny Cat Story
So as you know, up until this whole marriage thing I wasn't really a "cat person". I like dogs. Dogs wag their tail, and look like they're happy and smiling. Cats climb on tables, counters and bookshelves, and poop in the house.

Then, of course, I moved to Dubai ... and into an apartment with two cats.

Lily is a Maine Coon Cat that Liz brought over from Maine. She's generally pretty mellow and calm, but when I first moved in she was really skittish, always hiding under the couch or in whichever room I wasn't in.

Kitty is a stray-ish cat that Liz found on the streets of Dubai back in 2005. I say "stray-ish" because Liz found him when he was a tiny kitten, so he's been living indoors and on fattening American cat food for the majority of his life. But sometimes he's a little feral and crazy, and makes the most God-awful noises you've ever heard at five in the morning.

Over the weekend, though, Lily took the cake with the funniest thing I've ever seen happen to a cat. Wait, I should quantify that - Lily took the cake with the funniest thing I've ever seen happen to a cat that wasn't on YouTube.

Backstory - I'm not sure if this is all cats or just our cats, but these two love plastic shopping bags. They play with them, they smell them, they chew on them, it's freaking bizarre behavior but what are you going to do?

So this weekend. Liz and I grocery shop at Mall of the Emirates. I finally remembered to buy eggs after about a month of forgetting (and sadly not being able to make Disneyland Cornbread for several weeks). But we had the world's slowest / worst grocery bagger in history - I swear that he put the plastic bag of eggs in the cart first and then the rest of the groceries. Yikes.

For some reason, and I never really asked her why, when we put all of the groceries in the trunk Liz put the bag with the eggs in the backseat. To protect, them, perhaps. And after a somewhat harried Saturday afternoon drive back from the mall, Liz actually double-checked the eggs when we got home.

They were fine. and now safe and sound now at home.

We thought.

Of course, we had to make two trips to the car because we bought so much good stuff, and when we're bringing in the second load, we see the two cats have made their way into the kitchen and are smelling the food / bags.

We must have scared Lily when we walked in and somehow, and I've tried to relive this moment over and over in my head, somehow Lily must have been smelling the eggs, or had her head inside the bag with the eggs. Anyway, she gets scared, and goes to jump off of the counter. But the handle of the bag gets stuck around her neck - and the bag follows her to the floor.

This, of course, spooks her even more, so she bolts out of the kitchen, bag in tow.

When she got to the dining room table she evaded the bag, again, not quite sure how. Needless to say, the eggs didn't make it. We literally had scrambled egg all over the clean floor in this zig-zagging pattern.

The cat wasn't seen for about five hours afterwards, either.

Man, I wish we had known this was going to happen. I would have had the video camera ready, and put it on YouTube.
posted by Josh @ 1:03 PM  
News: ESPN and Cricket
Aww jeeze. Just saw this article. I can't even bare to show you the whole deal:

    Disney's ESPN buys world's biggest cricket Web site
    By Gavin Haycock
    34 minutes ago

    LONDON - Walt Disney Co's sports network ESPN is buying cricinfo, the world's largest specialist cricket Web site, as it expands beyond its traditional strengths of American football, basketball, baseball and Nascar.

posted by Josh @ 6:11 PM  
Flickr Update
Hey, so over the weekend I took some photos and threw them up over on the old Flickr Gallery.

Photo of the Burj Dubai construction as of June 02, 2007

Here's the Burj Dubai construction as of last week.

Check the rest of them out!
posted by Josh @ 6:12 AM  
Gonu Gone
So it appears that Tropical Cyclone Gonu is done now. Something like 25 Omanis died, and three Iranians.

I had a funny thought yesterday, more of a picture in my head, really. Vice-President Dick Cheney at the helm of some weather machine deep in his undisclosed location secret lair, shooting laser beams into the Arabian Sea churning up the water and creating hurricanes in hopes that they'll destroy Iran.

Oh wait, wasn't that the plot of Superman III? You know, the one where Gene Hackman didn't come back to play Lex Luthor because he was upset they fired Richard Donner during Superman II, so instead they had to hire Robert Vaughn to play pretty much Lex Luthor-Lite?

Anyway, Robert Vaughn wants to destroy the world's coffee supply, so he hires computer super-genius Richard Pryor to reprogram some satellite and ruin the weather in Columbia?

Yeah. For a crummy movie, Superman III sure has a lot of plot points that are cool. Like stealing the fractions of a cent - salami slicing - that they copied in Office Space.

Anyway, ironically last night we got this email from the American Consulate here in Dubai:

    This Public Announcement is being issued to alert U.S. citizens to the Hurricane Season in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Caribbean, and the Gulf of Mexico. The official Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June through November. This Public Announcement expires on December 7, 2007.

It was meant to be mailed on May 31 (the start of the hurricane season) but they forgot. Probably Gonu jogged their memories ...
posted by Josh @ 9:30 AM  
Special Drawing Rights
A quick little money blurb today.

Up until last year I really didn't know a whole lot about currency exchange, international business, or even basic economics. But boy, living in Dubai and working on my MBA really have changed all that.

First off, it's amazing to see U.S. Dollars being used as currency here. I've seen students at the university pay for a semester in American hundred dollar bills. I guess it really is all about the Benjamins.


But it makes sense, the U.A.E. Dirham is pegged to the U.S. Dollar at a fixed exchange rate - 1 dollar = 3.67259546 dirhams. Every day, any day of the year it's the same.

I did some poking around, and the list of countries who have their currency pegged to the dollar is really too long to list.

But even more amazing to me, did you know that Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Turks and Caicos and (somewhat ironically) the British Virgin Islands don’t even have their own currency, and just use U.S. Dollars?

Anyway, this last week Syria announced its plan to drop its peg to the U.S. dollar this summer, after sixty years.

Instead, they’re going to peg the Syrian pound to the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights.

Special Drawing Rights Is a basket of major currencies used in international trade and finance, each with a different percentage.

The percentages are:
    44% the U.S. Dollar
    34% the Euro
    11% the Japanese Yen
    11% the British Pound
Apparently SDRs were created to replace gold in large international transactions, a sort of "paper gold". That way if one currency falls, it will only alter a percentage of the total.

This is of special interest here in Dubai with our British and European friends, as they're all getting paid in Dirhams - a currency pegged to the Dollar, which is falling compared to the British Pound and the Euro.

So this year, because of exchange rates, they’re making less money than they did last year.

I'm hardly an economist, but pegging a currency to SDRs seems like a better plan than fixing it to one currency. In fact, the gulf has their own mini-European Union - the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The GCC comprises of the U.A.E. along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In addition to working together on economic and social conditions, they’re planning a common currency for introduction in 2010.

It’ll be interesting to see what they peg it to.
posted by Josh @ 6:54 AM  
News: Chickens beat Columbus to America
I love pre-Columbian America studies. And this one is really pretty cool ... even if it starts with a bad pun.

    The Associated Press
    Study: Chickens beat Columbus to America
    June 04, 2007

    WASHINGTON - Why did the chicken cross the ocean? To get to America before Columbus — and from the other direction — according to a new report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Many scholars had thought chickens arrived in the New World with the early Spanish or Portuguese explorers around the year 1500.

    When Juan Pizarro arrived at the Inca empire in 1532, however, he found chickens already being used there, raising the possibility they had been around for some time.

    And now, researchers led by Alice Storey at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, report finding evidence that may ruffle some scholarly feathers. They found chicken bones of Polynesian origin at a site in what is now Chile.

    Radiocarbon dating of chicken bones at the site on the Arauco Peninsula in south central Chile indicated a range of A.D. 1321 to 1407, well before the Spanish arrival in the Americas.

    The researchers were able to obtain DNA from some of the bones of these early birds, and found they were identical to ancient chicken bones previously found in Tonga and Samoa.

    Chicken had been used in the Pacific for at least 3,000 years, spreading eastward across the region as Polynesians gradually populated the islands.

    The DNA from these chickens also shared some unique sequences with modern Araucana chickens from South America and some current chicken types in Hawaii and Southeast Asia, the researchers found.

    © The Associated Press
posted by Josh @ 6:36 AM  
Tropical Cyclone Gonu Update
So I've got a little more info on Gonu, the tropical storm that's heading towards Oman and Iran (our neighbors).

First off, make no mistake, this is a Hurricane.

In fact, if you look up "Hurricane" on wikipedia, it redirects you to "tropical cyclone". Apparently only the Americas use the word "hurricane". But that kind of makes sense - to quickly delve into some fun Wednesday etymology - "hurricane" is derived from the pre-Columbian Mayan god of winds and storms, Hurakan.

(Also, sidebar - Hurakan was responsible for the Mayan myth of the great flood - anyone else think it's odd that so many civilizations have that same myth?)

Anyway, right now Gonu is a Category Four hurricane, with winds in the ballpark of 150 mph, with gusts up to 185 mph. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans it was a category three with winds of 125 mph.

This info is current as of 6 am GMT, which was about 8 minutes ago, from the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Lastly, our friends at the NASA Earth Observatory have some neat satallite images of Gonu up at their website.

So anyway, Dubai appears to be safe for now - the reports say we'll probably get some thundershowers in the next day or two.

I'll have updates as they're available.
posted by Josh @ 10:09 AM  
Cyclone Gonu
Wow, so this is something different for us ... there's a cyclone heading towards the Gulf region. Check it:

Satellite photo of cyclone gonu

A handout satellite picture released by the United Arab Emirates'
Civil Aviation Department June 5, 2007 shows Cyclone Gonu approaching
the Gulf states. Oman said on Tuesday that an unusually powerful
cyclone in the Arabian Sea had begun to hit its eastern coastal areas
with winds of up to 160 mph and waves as high as 39 feet.
posted by Josh @ 10:10 PM  
My Thoughts on the Boy Scouts of America
So after yesterday's post about the UAE Scout Movement commemorative coin, I've been thinking about my own involvement in Boy Scouts. For those of you who don't know, I was a Boy Scout back in the day, and I reached the Eagle Scout rank.

Sadly the Boy Scouts of America in the last decade or so have courted some real controversies, primarily including revoking memberships (of both boys and adults) for being atheists, agnostics or homosexuals.

And of course, women can't join, either.

One webpage I found about the discrimination in the Boy Scouts - bsa-discrimination.org - lists their exclusions as the 3 G's - gays, girls and the godless.

Our friends at wikipedia have a good list, too - Boy Scouts of America membership controversies.

It's really too bad, all of these recent controversies, because I enjoyed my time with scouting. I got lucky that the other scouts were bunch of my very good friends, and that their fathers and my own dad were the leaders. Granted, we weren't really by-the-book scouts - we famously skipped the "official" olive colored shorts for Hawaiian shorts, and instead of the red neckerchief we sported day-glow yellow ones (hey, keep in mind this was the late 80s, okay?) We weren't quite the Bad News Bears, but we were probably close.

We kind of fit in to the whole Groucho Marx, "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member" thing. The counterculture troop, if you will.

But then there was this one troop from Scarborough - Troop 39. They were the ones who had custom-built trailers to put their gear in, the ones who brought generators on weekend camping trips, the ones who were just a little bit too into it. If, continuing the "Bad News Bears" metaphor, we were the underdogs than they were the bad guys. The evil empire of Southern Maine scouting. The New York Yankees of the Pine Tree Council. The Globo Gym Purple Cobras to our Average Joes.

(Okay, phew, that's one too many references for this early in the morning.)

Anyway, while we had a blast with scouting but nowadays I don't really know where I stand with my views. I mean, a "Declaration of Religious Principle"? Are you kidding me?

(And, just for the record, the Girl Scouts accepts homosexuals and allow members to substitute another word in place of "God" when reciting the Girl Scout Promise).

Now, I'm not saying that I'm going to go all crazy and write to the New York Times like this guy did - An Eagle Scout No More, but I am going to look into the Scouting for All.

It'd be nice, in the estimated decade or so before we have kids of proper scouting age, if the Boy Scouts of America could get their shit together and join us in the 21st century. Because I'm for sure not going to tell my kids that gay people are bad and that they have to pray to God.

I want them to grow up trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and not a damned bigot.
posted by Josh @ 6:48 AM  
News: Comet Killed First Americans
Wow, this is a crazy article:

    Discovery News
    Study: Comet Wiped Out First Americans
    By Rossella Lorenzi
    May 30, 2007

    A large extraterrestrial object exploded over the heads of the first Americans about 13,000 years ago, wiping them out and making big mammals and other prehistoric creatures disappear, according to a new U.S. study.

    Presented last week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico, the controversial research proposes that the extraterrestrial blast triggered a catastrophic millennium-long cold spell.

    The dramatic climate change would have been the major cause for the sudden disappearance of mammoths throughout much of Europe and America and the demise of the Clovis people, the New World's most sophisticated hunters.

    "The impact occurred precisely when the megafauna suddenly disappeared from North America. The Earth, which was warming from the last ice age, was plunged suddenly into a 1,000-year period of cooling known as the Younger Dryas," nuclear scientist Richard Firestone of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California, told Discovery News.

    A sort of "mini ice-age," the Younger Dryas swept across the globe at the end of the Pleistocene epoch — a period of time spanning from about 1.8 million years ago to 11,500 years ago — making Earth shiver through one final cold spell before entering the warm Holocene epoch.

    The major cause of this dramatic climate change has long been seen in the melting of a massive ice cap that covered most of North America.

    Running off the ice cap, the cold meltwater ended up in the northern Atlantic Ocean, interrupting the motion of the North Atlantic Drift, a powerful warm ocean current that had acted as a sort of heater for the northern hemisphere. The result was an abrupt climate cooling.

    The explanation fits well with the extraterrestrial theory, according to Firestone and colleagues, who suggest that the major cause for the ice cap melting was heat from the extraterrestrial impact.

    The main evidence for the new theory lies at various sites in Europe, Canada and America, Firestone and colleagues reported at the conference.

    "We have discovered a narrow layer of metallic and carbon microspherules and grains at 26 sites from California to Belgium and Canada to Arizona. The layer is a clear indication of an impact event," Firestone said.

    Geochemical analysis revealed that metallic microspherules are enriched in iridium, while the carbon spherules contain nanodiamonds and fullerenes — all extraterrestrial markers.

    According to the researchers, they are possibly the remains of a giant carbon-rich comet that exploded and spread debris across the continent.

    While intriguing, the controversial theory has raised widespread skepticism among scientists.

    Missing in the theory is a crater marking an impact, though the researchers argue that the comet burst either in the air or into the Laurentide ice sheet north of the Great Lakes, which would have absorbed much of the impact.

    But most of the debate is focused on whether the comet impact could have triggered the Younger Dryas. That theory "requires an extraordinarily huge leap of faith," according to climatologist Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria, Canada.

    "Over the last glacial cycle, there have been many millennial scale oscillations in climate of which the Younger Dryas is the last major one. If you want to evoke a comet for the Younger Dryas you have to find comets for every other such event," Weaver told Discovery News.

    © Discovery Communications Inc.
posted by Josh @ 6:37 AM  
News: Jerry Trupiano
I am so glad to see this article. Over the winter I was so upset when Entercom didn't renew Jerry Trupiano's contract - last year on the way home from work I listened to the first hour or so of almost all of the Sox games, and Jerry was a great announcer.

It's going to be sad when I get home and he's not there on the radio, waiting for me ...

    The Boston Globe
    The lost voice of Red Sox Nation
    By Ted Weesner Jr.
    June 4, 2007

    This season Red Sox Nation suffered an unexpected early loss. Though it's an absence that continues to haunt, no one in any official capacity wants to talk about it. Tune your radio to a game and you might have been taken by surprise.

    A special voice, a voice we'd come to count on like Opening Day, had disappeared. Longtime broadcaster Jerry Trupiano's contract was not renewed by the organization, and many feel like a loved one has been stolen away.

    The degree of unhappiness is both surprising and not hard to locate. Google "Trupiano" and you get a glimpse of live grief on display. And just as Entercom, the communications corporation that broadcasts games, made no mention of Trupiano's non-renewal when it announced his replacements, if you listen to the new team of broadcasters -- there are two who alternate with Jerry's old partner, Joe Castiglione -- there's been no mention of the missing personality.

    This despite the fact that baseball announcers refer regularly to the past, both near and far. It's a little eerie. In the way that Lenin purged Trotsky's image from official photographs, it's as if Trupiano never existed. Fans are left to carry the burden.

    And what a burden it can be. Radio baseball occupies a special place in many fans' hearts. Unlike television, where the action sits before your eyes for passive digestion, radio provides listeners the very active satisfaction of using one's imagination. Like a movie projector you get up and running in your head, you're responsible for springing the game to life. In this sense listening to baseball is like reading a well-paced novel.

    A good broadcaster is also a good storyteller, providing sharp detail, colorful character, a lucid view of unfolding scenes, all the while trying not to get in the way of "our" picture. Though players come and go, announcers remain loyal guides. Trupiano had been calling Sox games for 13 years. For more than a decade, his voice sounded in our cars, kitchens, backyards, workplaces.

    Like all baseball announcers, he was a lifeline to the game, but also a lifeline of a more significant sort. Flip on the radio and you could on count on hearing his deep tones: playful, blustering, supremely in control. Something like the platonic ideal of the father. It may not be too much to say that Trupiano's paternal gravitas offered -- much like the experience of listening to baseball itself -- a kind of temporary shelter from life's storms.

    I'll never forget the summer I had to drive across New England to visit my mother in the hospital. At the age of 24, I felt unequipped to handle what was coming my way, anxieties arriving from every direction. Desperate to escape my own racing mind, I flipped on the radio. Music didn't work; it only caused a pile up of more painful memories. But then, in the far corner of Connecticut, I had the good fortune of finding that afternoon's Red Sox game on the air. With some frantic turning of the dial, I kept it going all the way to New Hampshire.

    There it was: the sweet enclosure of Fenway Park, the leisurely and sometimes high-stake action contained by lines of chalk, umpires on duty to keep any potential chaos at bay. This vividly green and soothing picture, filling the interior of my broken-tailpiped Jetta, July wind blowing through the open window as I barreled up Interstate 95, was rendered by the steady, certain voices of two play-by-play announcers.

    And play by play was exactly what I needed. For the length of a three-hour game, my troubles drifted off. At such times, baseball on the radio provides excitement and reliable consolation.

    The invisibility of the radio announcers is crucial to this emotional transaction. We listeners can't help but project our own ideas, feelings, and needs onto the blank screens the simple voices offer up. These unseen men in turn are invested with a meaning and importance that surely extends beyond whoever they are in real life. This may explain the disappointment one can experience in seeing a radio personality or favorite writer. What develops in the ether is not just a relationship with that voice, but with yourself.

    Someone once told me we can never have too many mothers. The same can surely be said of fathers. For many of us, for a while, Jerry Trupiano was one, unseen but very much heard.

    Ted Weesner Jr. is a writer in Somerville.

    © 2007 Globe Newspaper Company
posted by Josh @ 5:57 PM  
UAE Scouts
I love currency, and I love that the currency in Dubai seems to be altered so frequently (See Giant Dirham and More Giant Money.)

So the other day in my returned change it didn't shock me to get yet a different coin.

Photo of a UAE Dirham coin recognizing the UAE Scouts

This one celebrates fifty years of the UAE Scouts Movement.

Coincidentally 2007 is also the International Scout Movement's 100th anniversary.
posted by Josh @ 7:04 AM  
Toasty No More
Nope, I'm not talking about the temperature in Dubai. Don't worry. It's still hot. The other day (I think Thursday) it hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

That's warm.

No, I'm talking about Quiznos.

Quiznos  Subs logo

I forgot to express my sadness and shock when my brother told me the other day that the Windham, Maine Quiznos has closed.

You want to know my theory?

That I left Maine for Dubai.

Seriously, last year I used to go there every week on Monday night, get two subs, and go to my brother's now-defunct coffee shop to watch 24. Sometimes I'd get three subs, and not have to make lunch the next day.

Waitaminute, is that why my brother's coffee shop went under, too - because I left?

Oh no! The guilt! The guilt!
posted by Josh @ 6:42 AM  
More Herb Ryman paintings
The other week I promised a few more Herb Ryman visual development paintings from Disney parks (see Ryman-esque Painting). And I always make good on my promises.


Herb Ryman concept painting for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, 1969
© Disney

Here's one of Cinderella's Castle from the Magic Kingdom in Florida's Walt Disney World Resort. Pretty spot-on to the castle they ended up constructing, eh?

Herb Ryman concept painting for Communicore, EPCOT Center, 1964
© Disney

But this painting here is my favorite. Ryman painted this one of Spaceship Earth at Epcot (formerly EPCOT Center) in 1964 - eighteen years before the park opened.

Now, granted, the geodesic sphere took twenty-six months to build (why in the world do I know that off the top of my head? It's true - look it up for yourself). But still, Ryman knew what EPCOT Center was going to look like a good decade and a half before everyone else.

If I come across any other good paintings I'll share them here. At some point I plan on springing sixty-five dollars for the book on him, A Brush with Disney: An Artist's Journey, Told through the words and works of Herbert Dickens Ryman - it's supposed to be fantastic.
posted by Josh @ 9:20 AM  
Yankee Implosion
You know that the New York Yankees baseball team must be doing very poorly when the New York papers start running stories like this about their all-star shortstop Alex Rodriguez: A-Rod's A Yankee Doodle Randy

Cover of the New York Post newspaper for May 30, 2007

Blood is in the water and New Yorkers have turned on their own! The implosion has begun!
posted by Josh @ 9:13 AM  

Josh and Liz are two American kids who got married in August. Liz has lived in Dubai since 2003, Josh since August of 2006.

Follow along in the culture shock of being recently married and (for Josh, at least) recently transplanted to Dubai.

About Us

Right now in Dubai

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